Science Diagnostic: Analyzing Star Trek Into Darkness IMAX Preview

On December 14th a 9-minute preview of Star Trek Into Darkness premiered with IMAX 3D screenings of The Hobbit. TrekMovie was quick to publish early impressions along with a later (more spoilery) detailed review on release day. But, was any of it scientifically realistic? Today Science Saturday is dedicated to an in-depth look beyond what we saw on the screen. Get your tricorder ready, and reverse the polarity of the warp nacelles; it’s time for a science diagnostic of the Into Darkness IMAX preview.

 

Red Plants on Planet Nibiru
One aspect of the preview that caught a lot of peoples’ eyes was the red colored plants on planet Nibiru. Although we have never seen (and therefore can’t necessarily comment on) plants on another planet, studies have determined that extraterrestrial plants are probably not the green leafy things we’re used to here on Earth. In fact, some scientists say that plants with a red dwarf star for a sun could even be black in color. Plants are green on Earth because it is the part of the EM spectrum where they can absorb the most light (and, for photosynthesizing organisms, light is energy). On a planet where the most energy was available as red light, the plants might adapt to that and color themselves red in order to harness the most energy from their sun (or suns, as it were).

Verdict: Completely believable


Kirk and Dr. Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy running from aliens on planet Nibiru

Kirk and Bones Jump Into the Sea
Taking a look at the red-planted planet Nibiru takes us directly into the next questionable science — Kirk and Bones jump (quite a long way down) off of a cliff and into the sea, where the submerged Enterprise awaits them. My first instinct? “Wow! Cool!” My second instinct? “Don’t you think they would be seriously hurt?” For some reason, movies like to make people believe that jumping off of a very tall building or cliff is okay so long as you fall into water. That’s not really true. In fact, the surface tension of water means that the impact might be a bit more jarring than you’d imagine.

Let’s assume the cliff face that Bones and Kirk jumped from was approximately 30 meters (~100 feet) from the water’s surface. When they hit the water, Bones and Kirk would be travelling at over 24 meters per second; that’s over 50 mph. After hitting the water, they’d be travelling only a few mph, meaning they would experience a deceleration of about 50 mph instantaneously (or at least within a few seconds) — almost like being in a car crash. Some say that jumping into the water feet first will alleviate the dangers, but that is definitely not true. Although you’ll avoid the “belly flop” scenario or a strange positioning of your body that could make the impact much worse for you, hitting the water feet first can cause spinal compression, bone fractures, and even concussion.

Verdict: Unrealistic.


Kirk and Dr. McCoy take a leap of faith

Underwater Enterprise
After Kirk and Bones take the plunge, so to speak, they use some convenient underwater propulsion boots (or something) to swim over to the submerged enterprise that awaits them on the ocean floor. The first question: could the Enterprise survive and operate underwater? Almost certainly yes. It was designed to work in some insane environments — from the vacuum of space to areas of extreme radiation to entering and exiting planetary atmospheres (including Saturn’s moon Titan as we saw in Star Trek 2009), not to mention travelling at warp speed. The high pressure underwater environment should be no problem for a vessel like the Enterprise.

The second question: would the salt water really have a bad effect on a starship, as Scotty claims it’s doing to the Enterprise? I’d wager that Scotty is just being a whiny engineer and that there’s really nothing to be worried about. Scotty says that big E has been underwater “since last night”, so, for less than one day. “Normal” metals like steel or other ferric alloys do corrode in salt water, it’s true, but it takes a lot longer than less-than-a-day to have any real effect. Moreover, the Enterprise is most likely made of tritanium, a super strong alloy. If tritanium is anything like our terrestrial titanium, it should be super-resistant to corrosion by salt water.

Verdict: Underwater Enterprise? Totally. Salt water corrosion? No way.


The Enterprise rising out of the Niburu ocean (presumably after the first nine minutes)

Into the Volcano
The biggest science “mistake” made in the Into Darkness preview was the depiction of the Nibiru volcano (full disclosure: I’m biased about this part; I’m a volcanologist). There are two things I’d like to touch on: the appearance of the inside of the volcanic crater and the effect of the heat on Spock and on the shuttlecraft.

Like standing amongst the flames of Hell. What would it really look like to stand inside of a volcano? To see the active magma burning and churning, steaming and burping, sending ash and gas and even giant boulders hundreds of feet into the air. I can tell you; I’ve seen it (that’s my day job). And, I can tell you it doesn’t look exactly like what we saw in Into Darkness. My biggest nitpick? The fire. Sure, fire and brimstone and all that — but, what comes out of a volcano is toxic gas (sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, water vapor, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide) and solid, molten rock. An eruption sends lava into the air, not flames and certainly not embers like we see in Trek. Some combustion can occur at the surface, but the real danger is in volcanic bombs, big slugs of molten red-hot lava, that fly through the air, deforming plastically and cooling as they fall back to earth. What they did get right was the type of rock they show Spock standing on (the non-molten one!). That is a real bonafide volcanic rock called “pahoehoe“. The lava movement around where Spock is standing isn’t bad either, but it’s hard for me to forgive the flames and embers. Have a look at the picture below, which is a good example of what it looks like when material comes out of a volcano, and the video that shows the lava lake of Vanuatu Volcano.


Spock takes a stroll through the Nibiru volcano

And, I’ve heard the argument that Nibiru is an alien planet meaning that the volcano might look different. That’s not untrue, but we know that Nibiru is a Class-M planet (it says so right on the screen in the IMAX preview) meaning that it has a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere that is breathable by humans. I don’t see what could be causing severe combustion akin to that of a house fire in Nibiru volcano that is so different from here on Earth. And, we do know something about volcanoes on other planets, so we know what materials they’re made out of. Spoiler alert: it’s rocks — the same kind that make up the volcanoes here on earth.


Material being ejected from an erupting volcano


Incredible footage of the lava lake at Vanuatu Volcano is what Spock should be seeing in Nibiru

Too Hot to Handle. According to Sulu (and everyone else who says that the heat from the volcano has “fried” some other system), a shuttlecraft cannot withstand the intense heat from a volcano. This is just crazy. First of all, a shuttlecraft, not unlike a starship, was designed to be in EXTREME environments including very hot places. Typical lava is anywhere from 900-1200 °C (about 1650-2200 °F). If hovering tens of meters above that lava, the temperature will be considerably less. For reference, the leading edges of space shuttle wings get to almost 3000 °F during a typical reentry into earth’s atmosphere. Considering the Enterprise shuttles can enter a planetary atmosphere, I’m guessing they can withstand the heat coming from a volcano. Secondly, and possibly more to the point, SPOCK IS STANDING INSIDE OF THE VOLCANO. Am I supposed to believe that Spock’s nifty volcano suit can withstand more heat that a shuttlecraft? Who designed this incredible suit, and why don’t they make spacecraft out of it?!

“If this volcano erupts, the planet dies” If by “planet” Spock means “the people of this planet”, this one is scientifically spot on. The volcano on Nibiru is HUGE. I have no trouble believing that it could cause a world-ending volcanic eruption. Such “supereruptions” have even occurred here on Earth. Okay, the planet didn’t “die” per se, but supereruptions have caused mass extinctions here on Earth and have even altered human history by killing off tens of thousands of people and by influencing migration patterns of early humans. One problem I have with the statement made by Spock that they must save the Nibiru people — aren’t they violating the Prime Directive? Spock makes a big speech about how Kirk must not interfere in any way with the Nibiru (even them seeing Kirk’s face is a violation), but Spock wants to stop a volcanic eruption that could seriously change the course of the Nibiru people’s history? I’m no expert here; what say you readers? Does the Prime Directive permit interference if the act of not interfering would result in the species’ extinction?

Verdict: Depiction of the volcano? Half right (minus the flames and embers). Showing real volcanic rock under Spock’s feet wins bonus points. The heat affecting the shuttlecraft while not affecting Spock in his volcano suit? Completely and utterly unbelievable. Bonus WTF: Violation of the Prime Directive!


Spock watches lava erupt in Nibiru volcano

The Floating Gurney
Although not a major part of the plot, I just had to comment on the floating gurney seen in the hospital where we see two parents visiting their sick daughter, since it’s what I feel is a fantastic example of a realistic technology. A floating gurney (ie one without wheels that could transport patients) would be extremely useful in hospitals. We know that the enterprise employs some kind of gravity plating (in fact, a lot of tech in Star Trek is used to manipulate gravity, e.g. inertial dampeners), so presumably the technology is readily available and, in fact, quite simple. And, the application to something like a hospital bed is just so believable. It’s little details like this that make me really feel like I am inside the world of Trek — when “simple” tech like that is common place and almost easy to miss.

Verdict: A nice, realistic touch!

Some Familiar Technology
It’s great to see the new and improved toys and gadgets, but what about the technology that hasn’t changed by the 23rd century? It’s nice to see that children still enjoy teddy bears — we see the parents giving one to their sick little girl in the hospital — but are we still using that awful digital bedside alarm clock? And, apparently cars haven’t changed all that much, except for the fact that they look like the Toyota Fun-Vii concept car but without the wheels. Oh, and they float. What other modern-day tech did you spot?


The car seen in the Trek preview looks something like this

 

Follow me on Twitter: @kaylai.


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Well Of Souls
December 29, 2012 9:10 pm

Thank you Kayla. Love the Science feeds. Keep on Trekkin’…

Legate Damar
December 29, 2012 9:14 pm

I’m pretty sure they were violating the prime directive just by saving them. There were a couple of episodes of TNG where they had to decide whether to let a culture die, or violate the prime directive (the episodes with Worf’s human brother and Data’s pen pal come to mind). Still, it’s not like the rules of the prime directive have ever been consistent.

irishtrekkie
December 29, 2012 9:19 pm

hmm is it me or did there not seem to be alot of aliens on earth in the trailer, come to think of it , not that many aliens in the first movie. very few of them in the star fleet cadets crowd shots.
i want more aliens (physical make up only please no cgi !)

Jeff O'Connor
December 29, 2012 9:20 pm

#2

Keep…

Jeff O'Connor
December 29, 2012 9:22 pm

I’m sorry, I just had to.

More relevantly, great article. As for the Prime Directive, I don’t know. Tough call. My verdict is pretty loose. All I can say for sure is that it might be more excusable in the TOS era than the TNG, since Kirk was a bit of a space cowboy compared to, say, Picard, and by extension Starfleet was a less strict sort of an overseer. So I guess in that regard at least it sits right with me.

The Great Bird Lives
December 29, 2012 9:23 pm

Perhaps the volcanoes irruption was caused by outside interference. Maybe Enterprise itself is responsible for the volcanoes premature irruption. In this case additional interference would be mandated under General order one.

Red Dead Ryan
December 29, 2012 9:30 pm

Well, “Homeward” was a stupid episode. I mean, c’mon, Picard was really going to let an entire population die? But the thing is, I’m pretty sure there were previous episodes where Picard did intervene.

Ultimately, there is going to be risk involved in saving a less advanced race from extinction. But the moral responsibility of not allowing a race of people has to take precedence. And yeah, the people that are saved could end up being resentful because of unintentional cultural “contamination”, but it would be up to them to deal with that.

Allowing an entire race to die because of some document is pretty cold blooded.

Sure, I can understand not interfering in civil war, that’s not in dispute as both sides would be to blame, and any third party involvement would surely result in the worsening of the conflict with the outside group(s) possibly becoming the target of one or both factions.

The Prime Directive is a good idea, but sometimes it becomes an obstacle if writers treat it like a holy book instead of a guide.

Devon
December 29, 2012 9:35 pm

What’s to say that the Prime Directive wasn’t different 100 years before Picard’s time?

For instance, 100 years ago Minorities and Women couldn’t vote in the U.S. Now they can. Laws, constitutions, etc., evolve over time. In this case, the interference by trying to save the people of this planet may have been okay in the 2259 version of the PD. Perhaps Spock’s near death experience will give the higher-ups a reason to add an amendment that says Starfleet officers shouldn’t interfere with such things? Who knows. But if we’re going give a history and evolution to the technology and characters of Star Trek, we should also take into consideration that an evolution of laws and thinking will take place too.

December 29, 2012 9:38 pm

As far as the PD issues of stopping the volcano go, the TOS version of the Prime Directive was more permissive than how it was depected in the later shows. The best precident for what happens in Star Trek Into Darkness is “The Paradise Syndrome,” where the Enterprise spends months trying to deflect an asteroid that’s about to collide with a planet inhabited by a primitive society. “Noninterference” in TOS was more about not vaporizing some people with a phaser and then claiming to be the God of Lightning than the TNG version that you don’t dare swat one fly for fear of diverting a world’s “natural development.”

As for surviving the jump from the cliffs, maybe the space-wetsuits Kirk and McCoy were wearing under their robes protected them somehow.

Red Dead Ryan
December 29, 2012 9:40 pm

#8.

Conversely, the Federation (and Starfleet to a lesser degree) becomes more bureaucratic during Picard’s time, thus amending the Prime Directive to include more restrictions on policies involving intervention/interference. We saw that during a number of TNG episodes, where political correctness became the norm.

“Deep Space Nine” broke away from that, with Sisko breaking the rules a number of times.

son of jello
December 29, 2012 9:48 pm

Kayla you come across as someone who buys christmas presents for people and then burns them in front of the people you bought them for on christmas day due to some technical aspect that they may not have followed as a designated present recipiant. You have to remember Its just a movie and once again the StarTrek fans cant wait to nitpick and undermine the enjoyment of a movie that hasent been released yet. Keep this in the front of your mind when you eventually see Star Trek. Its 100 of millions of dollars 1000 of hrs of dedicated work from people who want you to be happy watching the movie for the experience it is, a Movie. and all you can do is gripe about Spock standing in a Volcano and debating the quality of hull material in an imaginary space ship/shuttle. If you were making star trek nothing would happen the movie wouldent be made and if it was who would go and see a movie with all the entertainment,spectical and life sucked out of it. Thank god JJ Abrams has wrested Star Trek from the quibbling fan. The prime Directive is a plot device not a law etched on some poor Horta back. Sure you talking about science but science is a departure point for star trek. Fans always forget this. GRRRRRRR

Data Logan
December 29, 2012 9:50 pm
I think the version of the Prime Directive being used in STiD is more in keeping with the PD as it was stated and used in the Original Series. Like in “The Paradise Syndrome” [9. David Gian-Cursio beat me to this point], when the Enterprise spent months and considerable resources to stop an asteroid from hitting a pre-warp civilization. In TOS, anyway, not so much TNG-on, it’s OK to help prevent or stop massive-extinction events as long as you don’t reveal the existence of your (Starfleet’s) advanced alien culture. And in some episodes, even, Kirk got away with revealing a little bit about the existence of advanced alien cultures as long as it helped save lives of his crew and he tried his best to minimize the effects (TOS “Bread and Circuses”; or McCoy’s actions in the early part of “Private Little War”). This is the Prime Directive I can really get behind. And I’m glad the new film seems to be backing that version of the PD. I’m fairly sure Kirk will reveal the (possible) existence of advanced alien cultures to the people of Nibiru (by flying a big starship over their heads) in order to save Spock’s life. And he hopefully won’t get in too much trouble for doing so; because it’s the right call to make. As long as you minimize the possible cultural contamination, life is more important. That does beg the question of why he would NEED to reveal the Enterprise to save Spock. As… Read more »
Zinc Saucier
December 29, 2012 10:01 pm

I thought the TNG interpretation of the Prime Directive was way too strict and just made the Federation look like a bunch of jerks. Sure, not interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations is important, but it should really be secondary to preventing a mass extinction. It kinda comes down to the letter of the law verses the spirit of the law. The letter says not to interfere in any way, but the spirit is for the betterment of those civilizations. How does letting them all die better them at all?

Emperor Mike of the Empire
December 29, 2012 10:01 pm

Thank you Kayla. I myself also like to study Volcanoes a but. it’s kind of a hobby along with storm chasing I thought your article was dead on.

December 29, 2012 10:04 pm

Thanks for the great real-world article Kayla!

Legend of Link
December 29, 2012 10:10 pm

@11
This is just fun speculation. She’s not griping. Good article!

Mad Man
December 29, 2012 10:16 pm

11. son of jello:
Hmmm, As a science teacher, I rather enjoy picking apart the science faux pas in movies. That’s how I enjoy the movie! We all enjoy movies differently, so leave Kayla and other science-minded people alone when we point out all the mistakes a movie makes with science concepts. For me, it’s like a game to find the mistakes, since every sci-fi movie ever made has made them.

Also, I will routinely use popular movie mistakes as a discussion point in my lessons, it brings some humor and spice to the way I teach. For example, I used the last Star Trek movie in a lesson on black holes. We discussed the difference between black holes and worm holes (there is not a worm hole in a black hole!) Anyway, I appreciate Kayla’s article. Thanks!

enterprise1965
December 29, 2012 10:19 pm

Science diagnostic? You people have to much time on your hands

MJ
December 29, 2012 10:20 pm

@13 “I thought the TNG interpretation of the Prime Directive was way too strict and just made the Federation look like a bunch of jerks. Sure, not interfering with the natural development of alien civilizations is important, but it should really be secondary to preventing a mass extinction. It kinda comes down to the letter of the law verses the spirit of the law. The letter says not to interfere in any way, but the spirit is for the betterment of those civilizations. How does letting them all die better them at all?”

Agreed. It was like Jimmy Carter was running the Federation…..

Nick
December 29, 2012 10:20 pm

11

I think we are just having some fun with this. Love it!

Bradley
December 29, 2012 10:36 pm

It is only a violation of the Prime Directive if the people of the planet KNOW the disaster is going to happen. Stopping the volcano only stops them from becoming extinct, not changing their future course of development.
If, say, a civilization was more advanced, particularly in geology, and knew the volcano was going to erupt. If the Enterprise came in and stopped it, then it would change the future of the planet’s development.

Also, I guess we should re-canonize life support belts. :P

Schultz
December 29, 2012 10:40 pm

The volcano-shuttle-temperature error was the thing that came to my mind immediately, when watching the preview… and I wasn’t even looking for scientific errors. That’s the writers really forcing it for some artificial drama. If they care, they may be able to fix it with ADR. Still wouldn’t solve the aspect of Spock’s suit, though.

As for the digital bedside alarm clock, this might (just might!) be a nod to RedLetterMedia. :) In one of their reviews (Plinkett or Half in the Bag?) they said something about two basic filmmaking rules… tongue-in-cheek, of course: never start a film showing an alarm clock ringing, never end a film saying it was just a dream.

December 29, 2012 10:42 pm

Kayla great fun article. Cant wait for the science scanner look at the rest of the movie!

BTW How do we know that was just a teddy bear (and rabbit). It might have been coated with some nano technology that monitors the kids and notifies parents of any changes, like a super-nanny cam. It might also interact with the child possibly able to teach games or lessons. It may even have built in phaser eye beams to help protect the child from danger!

Thomas
December 29, 2012 10:45 pm

I personally appreciate Kayla’s scrutinizing of the volcano sequence, if only because someone pointed out that there was some kind of science error about it in a previous thread but never specified what it was.

As to diving off the cliff, the La Quebrada Cliff Divers of Acapulco do this from a height of 125 feet (higher than an altitude that Kayla states) into the water on a routine basis. If there’s a problem with Kirk and Bones’ jump, it’s that they just take a flying leap rather than trying to time their jump appropriately.

I am not Herbert (retired)
December 29, 2012 10:56 pm

I love you Kayla! and i love the thrust of your article… =)

but i’m not impressed with your idea(s) of what is scientifically realistic or believable… (but you DO sound like you know volcanoes!)

here, plausibility, let alone believability, is a distant after-thought at BEST!

it’s SO FAKE, i can’t stand it! it makes me SICK! =(

the problem with the water is entering and exiting and maneuvering, especially in a hovering motion… ok? not high pressure or corrosive salinity… (facepalm)

I accept the possibility of non-green vegetation, but doubt the probability, as well as the correlation between organic color and highest light-energy bandwidth (but red plants are a SMALL THING ANYWAY!)

just make the tech work in a way that seems plausible… PLEASE!?

stunkill
December 29, 2012 11:03 pm

is anyone else wondering why the enterprise isnt simply in orbit? Why does it have to submerge into the ocean in the first place to be unseen? i hope they explain this in the movie. otherwise it would drive me nuts if they did it just because it looks cooler, they need a plausible reason to go through the trouble of entering the atmosphere. we need reason, this isnt star whores after all.

Capt. of the U.S.S. Anduril
December 29, 2012 11:10 pm

It does NOT contradict the Prime Directive. One of the exceptions to the Prime Directive listed on Memory Alpha: “Helping a society escape a natural disaster that is unknown to the society and where the assistance can take place without the society’s knowledge.” This was shown in the Original Series episode “The Paradise Syndrome”.

rogerachong
December 29, 2012 11:38 pm

@25 I am not Herbert: In the Caribbean there is a leafy decorative plant that grows in many hedges (my Mom God bless her soul had some in our yard all my life) called locally by the name “Croten”. This plant has mostly reddish leaves with only a tinge of green. Venus Fly Traps also have a modified red colored leaf that it uses to attract insects. Nature is more diverse than you might imagine even on this one planet. I concur with Kayla’s assessment. Red leaves are no biggy in a SiFi environment.

As to the Leap of Faith: Kayla assumed that the gravitational forces on Nibiru are exactly the same as earth when she calculated the speed that our heroes were travelling at the point of impact, assuming a cliff height as well. I could just have easily assumed the cliff was a 80 foot drop and the gravitational force involved was 0.8G that of earth’s. That will easily make the jump likely and Kirk already knew he was jumping into a natural deep water harbour. There are some in the Caribbean as well. Someone earlier also mentioned the wet-suit design had special propulsion boots seen in the preview, that could easily be and most likely be required to be reinforced. This special footwear would have to withstand great underwater pressures and would then naturally protect Bones and Kirk as long as they hit the water feet first as per their starfleet training.

mike
December 29, 2012 11:43 pm

In a TNG episode where Warf must help his brother secretly migrate his brother the people of a planet using the enterprise’s hollowdeck, Picard allows the planet’s atmosphere decay which rendered all life impossible. Picard knew his crew had the ability to save the planet, but he said it violated the prim directive to do so. Therefore i think that the writers for Abrams film got it wrong a little, but there is wriggle room considering the prime directive mgiht not be exactly the same as it was in roddenberry’s universe.

CmdrR
December 30, 2012 12:23 am

Black plants on another world? So you’re saying my plants are from another world??

Thanks, Kayla.

Tuomas
December 30, 2012 12:41 am

Thanks for the article. However, I have to point out that the theory attempting to explain why plants on Nibiru are red is flawed.

Plants that appear green are not so because they absorb green light, it’s actually the opposite. The reason they appear green is because they reflect most of the green light away while absorbing other colours. You can look up chlorophyll in encyclopedia for confirmation. The same would be the case with red plants: they absorb everything else, just not red.

The mention about black plants is correct, though. Objects appear black to human eye when they absorb all visible light they are exposed to.

Jack
December 30, 2012 12:43 am

This is great. Could one argue that the gravity’s a bit less on this planet — er, do they’d be falling a bit less fast? Although, yes, they weren’t running and jumping 20 feet in the air like John Carter.

Wait, your day job is volcanoes?

Jack
December 30, 2012 12:57 am

Bob Orci, if you’re reading — I’d absolutely love to see a bonus feature where experts are doing exactly what Kayla’s doing here (heck, interview her for the volcano part). You joked on a thread about giving science teachers an opportunity to teach that supernovas can’t really threaten the galaxy — heck, give ’em an actual resource here that they could pkay to students.

– or a commentary track by a panel of interesting experts (who could get into an entertaining debate) and, say, you (explaining why a choice was made, say, because it looks awesome… or talk about what , or if, you researched it )
– or a subtitle ‘track’ or pop-up video style thing where science stuff — this disease doesn’t exist but was named after…’ , along with ‘here’s a Trek reference’ etc. come up — as was done with Lost

cd
December 30, 2012 12:58 am

I enjoy the quibbling. It is an essential part of being a Star Trek fan, or at least it used to be. I did not see the preview, but maybe those embers are from spores from the red plants, falling into the volcano and catching fire. Great article!

J
December 30, 2012 1:06 am

“What other modern-day tech did you spot?”

The Budweiser brewery I guess

December 30, 2012 1:27 am

Great article. One thing I was wondering – WHY do they have to take the disk to dive the whole Enterprise when it would be so much easier to go in with a shuttle? I hope that gets answered in the movie…

December 30, 2012 1:27 am

risk not disk….

Jose kuhn
December 30, 2012 2:20 am

Your science is wrong!

We see an objects color, we see the color it reflects, not the color it absorbs. Black objects absorb the full visible spectrum while white reflects the full visible spectrum. This is why you would wear black on a cold sunny day.

If you were on a planet that orbits a red giant, with our visible spectrum red would be the new white. Plants would be black because they would absorb everything in the red spectrum, in fact our green plants would look black on such a planet.

Here is an experiment: in the pre dawn light look at a coke can and a sprite can. The coke can looks red but the sprite can looks almost black since there is little to no green light to reflect back!

I

Smike
December 30, 2012 2:23 am

Yeah, “Star Trek” and sciene…long story…I know it’s called “Science” Fiction but my focus is more on the fiction than any scientific quibbles. I’m not a scientist and so I don’t share your sensibility for scientific accuracy.

But I’d rather say this: if ONE single law of physics is violated regularily on Star Trek, all of them are basically rendered irrelevant IMO. We’ve got starships producing sounds in the vaccuum of space already, so no, any scientific accuracy is pointless.

The Vulcano has got burning fire because it LOOKS cool and is reminiscent of Mustafar, and not because it’s scientific. For the same reason they’ve got sound in space… It’s not meant to be scientifically accurate, it’s just supposed to be entertainment…

Just my two cents…

Luke montgomery
December 30, 2012 2:37 am

Great article! Here’s a few work arounds for some of your points of the unrealistic stuff.
– The bed-side alarm clock was an antique. That’s why it is digital.
– Kirk and McCoys jet boots were turned on as they were falling with the thrust breaking the surface tension of the water before they impacted softening the blow. This was not shown just as close ups of the boots were not shown under water except for their thrust wake of bubbles
– Perhaps in this time line after the destruction of a federation world (Vulcan) the federation has a different interpretation of the prime directive that draws the line at letting a world be destroyed (and with fewer Vulcan voters left to argue the illogic of this they can save worlds from destruction)

Again, I really loved this article.

Pah Wraith
December 30, 2012 2:55 am

Hey, prime directive violation was the first thing that grabbed my attention. I wholeheartedly agree with the reasoning that PD is different in TOS time and that it is the ’embetterment’ spirit of PD that is important.

Afterall – who would like to see Starfleet captain letting a planet of people getting killed if they had the means to save them? It would be a great mistake… It would be… Wait – just two words – ‘Dear doctor’!

Alex
December 30, 2012 2:57 am

Couldn’t the same boots or whatever propulsion system they use underwater slow down their fall from the cliff as well? Like Spock’s gravity boots in The Final Frontier?

As for PD: The thing is way to inconsistent to even speculate about it. Every writer on Trek had his or her own interpretation of the non-interference concept, and frankly, it only works if there’s no drama and tension involved (if you don’t interfere, just don’t go there). But since every story depends on dramatic turns of events, we usually come into touch with the PD when it basically fails. It’s exactly the kind of dilemma depicted here (and in countless other episodes and movies) that Starfleet would have needed to come up with a solution to a long time ago. And from a personal, humanitarian point of view: what’s worse, letting them survive with the knowledge of the existence of alien life letting them die? I’d say anything is better than the latter alternative.

Markonian
December 30, 2012 3:00 am

Save the pre-warp cultures from extinction, Prime Directive be damned. I’d rather have their natural evolution tainted than having them no evolution at all. We are not social Darwinists like Picard about the Boraalans.

Wayne Burman
December 30, 2012 3:11 am

Interesting stuff. Thanks.

December 30, 2012 3:21 am

We’ve discovered life on other planets now or are we speculating?

December 30, 2012 3:23 am

The trailer was great anyway.

Paul
December 30, 2012 3:25 am

– I guess Spock would have a strong opinion about extinctions, after what happened to Vulcan. Also, things that could be classified as “act of God” don’t really count as a “natural development”, do they? If you get killed by a lightning, a piece of frozen airplane refuse, or a falling flowerpot, it isn’t a “natural death” either.

– Maybe that burning stuff in the volcano could be organic sediments? Wind-borne plant matter that gathered there over time?

– Those convenient underwater boots/belts/whatever might include maneuvering thrusters as well, thus slowing the fall reasonably.

– Well there is still enough time for JJA&gang to cut the offending shuttlecraft line and replace it with some other explanation (like, for instance, “there was a cave-in in the volcano pipe, it is too narrow for the shuttlecraft to pass”). I hope they’re reading this. :-P

Elias Javalis
December 30, 2012 3:38 am

This kind of analysis is pretty sweet, cant wait to tare it apart my self when I see the full movie..

Spoilers can be really annoying!

Rudy 'Stretch' Twigg
December 30, 2012 3:49 am

The Enterprise travelling underwater?

No, No, I cannot accept this.

I was looking forward to seeing this film, but if they are going to include such nonsense as starships sitting on the bottom of oceans, I’ll pass on this.

Sat'Rain
December 30, 2012 4:17 am

regarding “Kirk and Bones Jump Into the Sea” do you consider Nibiru has less gravity than Earth? Body damages are the same in a planet with gravity as Mars (for example)?

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