The Science of Star Trek Into Darkness |
jump to navigation

The Science of Star Trek Into Darkness May 18, 2013

by Kayla Iacovino , Filed under: Science/Technology,Star Trek Into Darkness , trackback

So, by now, we’ve all seen Star Trek Into Darkness. Some of us loved it, some of us hated it, some of us said, “meh.” But, forget about what you thought of the movie for a second. What did you think of the science? Let’s take a more in depth look at some of the most sciencey moments from STID. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways, that this review contains SPOILERS!!!


Into the Volcano
The Nibiru volcano scene was revealed in the IMAX preview of STID last December. We basically saw the entire scene back then, but there are a few points that I didn’t catch the first time around that I’ll touch on here.

Spock takes a stroll in the Nibiru volcano

The look and feel of the volcano is pretty spot on

For the most part, they get this part right. Speaking as a volcanologist who loves to nitpick geology scenes in movies, there is not much for me to gripe about in Into Darkness. Of course, the visual artists did dramatize the scene a bit, but for everything they got wrong there’s another detail they got right.

What was wrong visually? I can tell you from experience that the inside of an active volcano doesn’t look quite like what we saw in STID. The biggest flaw? Flames. Too much fire and brimstone. Yes, volcanoes produce hot steam, ash, and magma, but what’s depicted in STID looks more like a forest fire — embers and flames swirling around Spock. Again, this is a somewhat minor point, so it’s forgivable.

The visual details that are spot on. The geologist in me was giggling with joy when she saw Spock standing atop real lava! The ropey, black rock beneath Spock’s feet is really something that came out of a volcano: a type of lava rock called Pahoehoe. And, if one was to flash freeze molten volcanic rock as Spock’s “cold fusion device” did, it’d look a lot like what we saw on screen: jet black volcanic glass. The best part of the volcano, though, was the bubble burst. A gigantic bubble of gas rose through the lava lake and formed a huge dome of lava that loomed far above Spock’s head. The pressure built up inside the bubble until it burst open, sending bits of molten rock flying in one large catastrophic explosion. That is EXACTLY what happens in real lava lakes.

Spock in a seriously cool looking volcano

BONUS: Fumaroles on a nearby planetoid! Recall the scene where Carol Marcus and Bones shuttle down to a nearby planetoid to have a go at diffusing of the mysterious photon torpedoes. What you probably didn’t realize was that this was a “volcanic” scene, too! My eyes immediately jumped to the flat plain of lava rock (scoria, a type of basaltic volcanic rock) where Carol and Bones were fiddling with the torpedo. In the background was a beautifully rendered fumarole – a crack in the ground where volcanic gasses escape into the atmosphere. The look and feel of the scene was completely scientifically realistic. What’s even better is that it felt like a barren, vast, wasteland. No vegetation, no animal life. This made it really feel like some small volcanic moon or “planetoid”. I’ll go out on a limb here and say this is in my opinion the most realistic looking planetary body I’ve ever seen in a movie. Props to the visual artists! Below is a couple of examples of real world locations reminiscent of the torpedo disarming scene in Into Darkness.

Volcanic plains resembling the torpedo disarming scene in Into Darkness

Verdict: The visuals were great. The volcano looked more realistic than any film I’ve seen, minus the swirling embers.

What a real volcano looks like

The science behind the volcano: Oh so close, but not quite right

We cannot take the heat, cap’n! Here’s where the volcano scene took a turn for the less believable. Both Sulu and Scotty suggest that the heat from the volcano is too much for the shuttle or the Enterprise to withstand. Huh? Let’s count the logical fallacies, shall we?

  1. Spock’s volcano suit. How is it that a human(oid) in a special suit can stand INSIDE OF THE VOLCANO literally feet from the lava, but a shuttlecraft (or, heck, the Enterprise herself!) cannot withstand the heat? Are we really supposed to believe that Spock’s magical volcano suit is made out of stronger stuff than starships? Why not make the whole ship out of that suit, then??
  2. We’ve seen starships like the Enterprise or even shuttlecraft fly through much hotter places than a volcano. Just entering the planet’s atmosphere would subject the Enterprise to temperature of around 3000 °F (1650 °C), which is hotter than the hottest lava on Earth’s surface, typically around 2200 °F (1200 °C). But, even crazier, we’ve seen shuttles and starships fly very close to suns, which are more like 8000 °F (4500 °C). I think big E would be able to handle a little old volcano, don’t you?

Let’s get even more sciencey. The graph below shows the temperature experienced by a Space Shuttle orbiter on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere. The hottest lava on Earth is around 2200 °F. The Space Shuttle, the first flight of which was in 1981 can withstand temperature of up to 2500 °F. Nineteen Eighty One. In 200 years, I hope we will have advanced far beyond even that!

How they could have made this right, while keeping the stakes high for Spock and the crew. Sulu has one line that I wish they’d have played up more in this scene. He mentions that the ash from the volcano is getting into the shuttle’s systems and causing all kinds of damage. THIS is extremely plausible! Volcanic ash is very corrosive, especially to electronics. And, it interferes with air intake systems in engines, which is why airplanes can’t fly through volcanic ash clouds here on Earth. This would have been the scientifically accurate reason that the shuttle was struggling, and why it’d be dangerous to take the Enterprise in. I’m not sure why anyone mentioned the heat being a problem at all.

Verdict: The heat would NOT cause any problems for a shuttle or a starship. They should have used volcanic ash as an excuse.

How ash can damage airplanes (and maybe shuttlecraft, too)

Spock’s Planet Saving, Volcano Stopping “Device”. Here’s where things get really hairy. Spock has some device capable of stopping a volcano. You know what? It’s the beginning of the movie, things are pretty crazy, so as a moviegoer I’m going to go ahead and accept that humans have developed the technology to somehow “render a volcano inert”. But, the geologist inside of me wouldn’t let it stand when we saw how the thing worked. As said above, the visual was very cool and quite realistic — if one were to “flash freeze” some lava, it woud turn into exactly what we saw. But, flash freezing lava in a volcanic crater would not, by any means, stop a volcano from erupting.

Volcanoes are essentially surface expressions of the deep, churning earth. It’s where our planet is turning itself inside out — the very hot, very pressurized molten rock living deep in the Earth’s crust (and sometimes even below the crust) finds its way to the surface in a grand explosion of fire and light. Freezing the top layer of lava at an erupting volcano is like putting the lid on a pressure cooker turned to 11. The pressure beneath that lid is just going to build up until that volcano erupts even more explosively than it otherwise would have. Of course, sci-fi caveat, one could assume that the device somehow managed to penetrate all the way down (we’re talking 10’s of kilometers deep) to the source of the volcano and freeze it from the inside out, but I just have a very hard time believing that.

Spock, get your volcano suit on. We need you to detonate a cold fusion device inside an active volcanic crater.

The NIF Warp Core
One of the aspects of the film that I really enjoyed, and not everyone will agree with me on this, was the warp core. Particularly, the shots of the outside of the warp core, which were all filmed at a real life science facility: The National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California. When I imagine what a starship’s engine room should look like, I certainly don’t imagine this. I imagine a massive piece of equipment that looks like something that could accelerate particles fast enough to create anti-matter. Something thats so massive and complex, it is essentially built into the ship itself. In modern facilities, instruments like particle colliders are a part of the building in which they reside — it’s not like wheeling a computer into the middle of a room.

Some have argued that the NIF warp core feels too modern; that we would be miles beyond that kind of technology by the time Starfleet is around. But, I’m not so sure. Warp cores are essentially gigantic particle colliders that can store massive amounts of antimatter and use it to power the ship. Why wouldn’t a warp core of the future to some degree resemble their 21st century ancestors? Besides, maybe this scene will encourage a few kids to learn about particle physics, and that’s just fine by me.

Verdict: Up for debate

The NIF Target Chamber (click for super high res version)

Another of the many scenes filmed at the NIF

Transwarp Beaming: A forgivable plot device?
In Star Trek (2009), we are introduced to Scotty’s magical transwarp beaming technology. Yes, Scotty invents a way to beam from place to place across insane distances while at warp. This, if you remember, is how Kirk gets back onto the Enterprise. Okay, so it doesn’t work perfectly (Scotty ends up inside one of the water tubes in the engine room), but it works. Enter Into Darkness. Khan needs a way to get from Earth to Kronos, and he’s on the lam so he doesn’t have access to a starship. Khan is also involved in Section 31, the secret agency within Starfleet who, we’re told, confiscated Scotty’s transwarp equation. That’s how Khan was able to beam over to Kronos. Thanks, at least, for being internally consistent with the 2009 film, but I still have to point to this as a totally unrealistic plot device, which moreover makes it way too easy for our heroes to get around. What’s the point of a fleet of starships when we can simply beam across light years?

It’s hard to comment on the real life science of the transwarp long-distance beaming, since to beam a person even a short distance with today’s knowledge of physics would cost unimaginable computing power, and the reassembly of a human being would require the energy input equivalent to about 3,200 suns. So, yeah, transporter technology’s not in the near future. But, this transwarp thing isn’t even good Trek science. It’s not even good writing! It just makes it far too easy. It was a forgivable plot device in the first film, but let’s just forget it ever happened and move on. Otherwise, we might as well scrap the fleet and just beam everywhere.

Verdict: A poor plot device. Not internally consistent with other Trek technology

Transwarp beaming in Star Trek (2009)

Ludicrous Speed! Travel to Kronos in minutes!
This is one movie “mistake” that almost everyone I’ve talked to, scientist or not, has picked up on. Kronos (or Qo’noS), the Klingon home world, may be relatively close to Earth, but according to the pilot episode “Broken Bow” of Star Trek: Enterprise, Kronos is about 4 days away from Earth at warp 4.5. In a later Enterprise episode, “Two Days and Two Nights”, it was established that this was around 90 lightyears from Earth, as that is the farthest distance anyone had traveled up to that point. In Into Darkness, the Enterprise apparently travels at Ludicrous Speed and somehow manages to reach Kronos (and get back to Earth from Kronos) in what seems like only a few hours.

Verdict: Another poor plot device that defeats the idea of the Final Frontier.

They’ve gone to plaid…

Pointing out what’s wrong (or right!) with the science of Trek might seem like pointless nit picking. But, that’s what we Trekkies do best, and having a meticulous community with such attention to detail means that we demand a certain standard from the people who create new stories that fit within the Star Trek universe. There are volumes dedicated to establishing what is “canon” in Trek, something fairly unique to our franchise. But, the Transwarp long-distance beaming and the ability of a starship to travel at Ludicrous Speed are two things that transcend nit picking. There are multiple references in the movie about “deep space” and the upcoming five year mission of the USS Enterprise. But, if you have ships going from Earth to Kronos in a matter of minutes then there is no “Deep Space” within the galaxy. And, going back to Trek canon, it essentially wipes out the premise of Star Trek: Voyager and most of Deep Space Nine (who needs wormholes?). More to the point, these two seemingly harmless plot devices completely dismiss the idea of the Final Frontier. The Enterprise and her crew are taking a risk when they are out there exploring the unknown, days or even months from home or the closest reinforcements. It’s what makes Trek work as a “western in space”. Without that peril, that feeling of isolation, you loose one of the things so intrinsically interesting to the exploration of space: the vastness of space itself.


Follow me on Twitter: @kaylai.


1. Blake Powers - May 18, 2013

You should consult for the next Star Trek movie.

2. ShinRa Actual - May 18, 2013

I recall that there was some shooting in Iceland for this movie…and If so, I think they filmed the Torpedo Autopsy there, given the locale….so it’s not so much Kudos to the set designers, but to the location scouts

3. Brett L. - May 18, 2013

Precisely. Fans will overlook an occasional flimsy plot device to help advance the narrative, but not when the same device is used in consecutive films, then made even more absurd. The implausibility of beaming all over the galaxy becomes an unnecessary distraction.

4. J - May 18, 2013

The “instantenous travel” could have been avoided by simply adding a short “Captain’s Log” narrative along the lines of “stardate 2259.60 – we have been on our way to Kronos for 3 days”. Simple as that, isn’t it?

“Transwarp beaming” encore could have been avoided by beaming Harrison to a ship in orbit which would have taken him to Kronos.

5. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

Spot on.

6. pilotfred - May 18, 2013

yeah i have problems with transwarp beaming
the only way out of it from a story point would be both the prime timeline and the jj timeline section 31 has it, and will not give it up to anyone, which will explain how sloan gets around,and ok you can travel to distance stars so quickley but how many planets will you miss along the way?the 5 year mission is about exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new lifeforms, so even with transwarp beaming, you will still need a slower form of travel
thank you for the science for it

7. JohnRambo - May 18, 2013

The Science of Star Trek after the Original Series was always more Fantasy than Science.

8. Commodore Adams - May 18, 2013

There a show on last night on the History channel about Star Trek and how it has been influenced by science and how it has influenced science. It was two hours but I only caught the last hour. I hope they play it again. They talked about the SETI program, and number of other things, they showed a ton of behind the scenes clips of STID. They talked about fusion power and the location where they filmed the warp core. It was great.

9. Star Trek: Nemesis blows, is the point - May 18, 2013

They’ve traveled extraordinary distances in little time in Trek before. The Final Frontier is pretty ridiculous in the time it took for the A to get to the center of the galaxy. There have been episodes where they’ve traveled further than expected in little or no time. In Unification, the Enterprise travels between Vulcan and the Romulan Neutral Zone while stopping off at the ship depot facility, implied to be rather far away from the Romulan border.

Also, Voyager, traveling as far as it did, without the various boosts they got, is rather unrealistic.

10. Matt Wright - May 18, 2013

Great stuff Kayla!

When the word got out that the new movie was filming at Lawrence Livermore I was happy, it looks much better than the brewery stuff :)

11. Matt Wright - May 18, 2013

@8 The History Channel repeats things ad-nasum, so don’t worry it will be on again. I have one of the repeated showings that I recorded to watch in my DVR right now.

Upcoming times:

12. craig keith - May 18, 2013

I agree with all of this .. but the one thing that gets me about this whole film is… while the ships were drifting into the atmosphere, why didnt a ship tractor them back up, thus avoiding 100s of people getting dicked on the ground by a falling starship!

13. bjdcharlie - May 18, 2013

Good stuff Kayla…

I have to agree that the careless story-telling and implausible scenarios, what we are asked to believe about the plot and characters really detracted from what was otherwise a helluva a lot of fun by some insanely talented people who made it happen. Phil Plait (Bad Astronomer) has an interesting review on his blog at

and also

BTW, shooting at Lawrence Livermore was a good move; shoulda stayed out of the brewery altogether.

14. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

12. craig keith – May 18, 2013
“…why didnt a ship tractor them back up, thus avoiding 100s of people getting dicked on the ground by a falling starship!”

For the same reason they didn’t beam the crew off the falling ships to the planet or no Starfleet vessel came to the aid of either ship during the standoff.

15. Vorus - May 18, 2013

Don’t forget the fact that they fell to the Earth from LUNAR ORBIT, and did so in a matter of MINUTES!

That whole scene was so badly written and filmed, it was painful. I literally looked away from the screen. I hope the writers and directors are properly ashamed of themselves for that whole sequence.

16. Boldly Done - May 18, 2013

Funny article. It implies there was science in this movie. Obviously, there was none.

Harry Potter had more explainable science than this.

It kills me how JJ Abrahms’ Trek is still being labelled as sci-fi but some people. More and more, it’s being thrown under the “fantasy” category where it should be.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

17. BeyondtheTech - May 18, 2013

I was hoping they could say that transwarp beaming isn’t instaneous. Harrison could have been bits of molecules for a few hours until he reached Kronos.

18. opcode - May 18, 2013

Not just Kronos is a few minutes away from Earth at ludicrous warp speed, but when they leave the Enterprise (which is supposedly inside the neutral zone) using Mudd’s ship, Kronos is visible by naked eye.
That means the neutral zone is within the Klingon solar system!
If you think about it, the plot doesn’t make any sense. Kirk agrees to go close enough to Kronos to be able to see the planet by naked eye, fire 72 torpedoes on the planet’s surface (and probably cause major damage) and get out without being noticed by the Klingons, which are as technologically advanced as the Federation. Really?

19. sean - May 18, 2013

The thing is, the Trek movies have often been highly inconsistent about distances. In TUC they travel from Earth to to the Neutral Zone to Rura Penthe to Khitomer in what appears to be a few days. In Trek V they infamously travel all the way to the center of the galaxy in about an hour. In First Contact they appear to go all the way from the Neutral Zone to Earth in minutes. Given that history, I say the new team are merely keeping with tradition.

And I’ll also dissent on the Transwarp Beaming issue. Trek also has a history of introducing miraculous tech in one episode/movie and then conveniently forgetting about it in the next. I appreciated that they kept connections to the previous story and transwarp beaming wasn’t simply another macguffin of the week.

20. Slornie - May 18, 2013

@4: But if Harrison had just beamed to a ship and then flown to Kronos how would Kirk et al know where he was?


With regard to the issue of time taken to travel between planets, as far as I can tell there’s nothing in-film which categorically precludes extra hours off camera. In the 2009 film there was the indeterminable time that Kirk was unconscious on the way to Vulcan; and plenty of opportunity for extra time on the way back to Earth while chasing the Narada as well.

The same is true of STID. We don’t know how long it took between jumping to Warp and the emergency shut-down. And they didn’t make it all the way to Kronos in any case, they travelled the last part in the freighter; again with no indication of how long they spent in that craft on the way there and back to the Enterprise.

Admittedly things get slightly more complicated once they capture Harrison. How long did it take Chekov to repair the coolant leak? Enough time for the Vengeance to warp from Earth after Starfleet was informed? And then the limited opportunities for time passage off-screen during the chase back to Earth.

But that said, even Scotty’s statement that he was only off the ship for “one day”, which I’ve seen some people use as categorical proof of the lack of time passage in the film – he could easily have been exaggerating for effect!

21. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

20. Slornie – May 18, 2013

“With regard to the issue of time taken to travel between planets, as far as I can tell there’s nothing in-film which categorically precludes extra hours off camera.”

But there is. When they hit warp again Carol races from sick bay to the bridge to warn Kirk. When she arrives they’re attacked and drop out of Warp near Earth. So the travel time is minutes unless she took a nap somewhere in between running.

22. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

19. sean – May 18, 2013

“The thing is, the Trek movies have often been highly inconsistent about distances.”

Yes, but in those movies the actual travel time is usually not given. E.g. in FC we do not know how long the battle with the Borg raged until the Enterprise arrived. In this one we can quantify the travel time from the Neutral Zone to Earth at Warp as the time it takes to get from sickbay to the bridge.

“Trek also has a history of introducing miraculous tech in one episode/movie and then conveniently forgetting about it in the next.”

True and I was ready to ignore that from ST09, but then they used it AGAIN in this movie.

23. Pensive's Wetness - May 18, 2013

as for the transwarp beaming, maybe after action reports on the Nero Attack point out the security flaw that Transwarp Beaming creates to the UFP, and Star Fleet comes up with a protocol to prevent that in the future (use of shields of some sort, perhaps a new functional use of Deflectors, etc), thus making it impossible to use TWBing… derp?

24. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

23. Pensive’s Wetness – May 18, 2013

” Star Fleet comes up with a protocol to prevent that in the future (use of shields of some sort, perhaps a new functional use of Deflectors, etc), thus making it impossible to use TWBing…”

Regular shields should already do that, but do they also put transport inhibitors on all planets and colonies? That would be a bit impractical as they would have to shut down once actually wants to transport sth.. And for exploration there’s nothing stopping them. I thought about it causing a deadly disease etc. but Spock Prime would likely not have given it to them if it did.

25. George Kirk - May 18, 2013

Kind of surprised no one has talked about the magical healing blood. That’s pretty biochemically preposterous

At the end Dr. McCoy says he’s made a serum out of it, which means it’ll be a lot tougher to have characters die without someone just whipping out the Khan-blood-serum hypospray.

That serum along with the transwarp beaming situation really is going to make it tough to avoid gaping plot holes in future stories. For example, if they’ve got transwarp beaming, why not just beam one of the fancy super-scary torpedoes to Khan’s location and let that be the end of it, as opposed to sending an entire ship a little bit closer to fire that same torpedo. I enjoyed the movie, but some of the “science” decisions have me worried long term.

26. Grand Marshal Skaldak - May 18, 2013

This article:

A: Exists on multiple levels of awesome
B: Is easy to fap to.

27. KamenRider - May 18, 2013

Would it be wrong to maybe assume that Starfleet vessels in the new timeline now travel using transwarp? The “at warp” effect does look similar to the transwarp effect in Voyager. If the reason why the Enterprise and the technology works differently is because of the Kelvin’s sensor scans of Nero’s ship, then couldn’t it be possible that Starfleet could develop transwarp travel and rewrite the warp scale to accommodate the increase in speed because of those scans?

28. CmdrR - May 18, 2013

Does the term “cold fusion” have anything at all to do with what we saw on screen, or did Orci et al just grab another science-for-millions term and paste it on “Lost In Space” style?

I totally agree that inter-planetary beaming is a huge mistake. It not only makes Starfleet obsolete, it also makes most of the oh-so-devious plots by Khan and Admr. Marcus cumbersome and foolish.

Also — anyone… Why did Khan set his personal transwarp beam to Q’on’os (or however you spell that)? Marcus wanted Khan there, but wouldn’t Khan have wanted to go directly to the Vengeance so he could crack a few heads (literally) and take over? Also, he killed a dozen top brass at Starfleet and beamed out within a few hours, right? He later says he did his killin’ while under the (wrong) impression that his augments were dead. But, in the time between killin’ and leavin’ Earth, he found time to discover his crew, redesign photon torpedoes, and put his crew in them. And again, knowing his crew was alive, he went to Klingonland (with its already-blow’d up several movies too early moon) hoping that Kirk would fire and soft land his buddies in their torpedoes??

Which part of this plan makes sense?

29. dixonium - May 18, 2013

“It’s hard to comment on the real life science of the transwarp long-distance beaming… But this transwarp thing isn’t even good Trek science. It’s not even good writing!” Spot on.

30. Minnesota Bruin - May 18, 2013

Nice article that hits on some of the bad science. I take this flavor of Trek for what it is and don’t sweat the implausibilities too much. But as a NASA lunar scientist, I did have to shake my head when they stated the wrong distance for the Moon’s orbit!

31. Paul - May 18, 2013

@ “We cannot take the heat, cap’n!”

You mean they left that nonsense in? After fans alerted them about it, literally half a year ago on this very website, they couldn’t find a handful of $ to re-dub a single sentence? Respect, lost. :-P

32. NCC-73515 - May 18, 2013

The platelets biology and free-fall physics would still be worth a paragraph here… or the comparative pressure values of the Nibiru ocean and similar situations from other episodes ;)

33. KMKProd - May 18, 2013

On the way home from seeing STID last night, my 8-year-old son asked me why Kahn didn’t just thaw out his people when he had the chance instead of hiding them in torpedoes. With his people with him, he could’ve been more deadly and not easily been stopped.

34. Capt. of the USS Anduril - May 18, 2013

I LOVED the new warp core! It seemed more like a reactor than the giant, glowy tubes.

35. pauln6 - May 18, 2013

I agree 100%.

I also couldn’t work out why one volcano would threaten the planet. Earth was poisoned by volcanoes and we turned out fine. Threaten the local natives, maybe. If it erupts for years I suppose it might warm the planet or disrupt global weather patterns to a small degree but I suspect that we’re pumping out way more pollution every day than one volcano can in a year.

And as I’ve said before, Uhura had no real purpose on that mission. They really should have had a volcanologist or geophysicist on board. Sulu is a physicist as well as a pilot but Uhura is a technician. I can accept that she was there as technical support for the shuttle but they still needed a scientist on the shuttle as well.

36. Robman007 - May 18, 2013

Great article. The science aspects didnt take away my enjoyment of a great film. The film series already hit rock bottom when Riker piloted the Enterprise with a joy stick, so I just ignore stuff like this and enjoy a good movie.

37. NuWisdom - May 18, 2013

@Kayla on that last part of the article, namely the Transwarp beaming and the fallout for space travel, different universe. Warp drive developed differently, due in part to Nero’s incursion. What I surmise happened, is that, as the post-Nemesis novels detailed, after Nemesis Prime Starfleet began developing quantum slipstream drive, and there already was a proto-transwarp beaming in effect: In Star Trek The Next Generation, episode Bloodlines, Picard used a subspace transporter modification to beam to Bok’s ship from light years away at warp. Additionally in DS9 The Dominion had similar transport capabilities. Not to mention the fact that Nero’s ship was supposed to also be hybridized with Borg technology and an encounter with V’Ger (Countdown comics and the Nero comic series, both IDW).

It’s probable that Starfleet in Abramsverse, after deciphering the scans of Nero’s ship sent by The Kelvin before it was destroyed (which no doubt had a detailed database of the technology of the era from various powers, including Typhon Pact technology (they, in the novels, worked on their own quantum slipstream drives etc.), tried to reverse engineer the quantum slipstream technology and it resulted in a much, much faster warp drive for Starfleet. The warp effect in the Abrams films does more closely resemble Voyager Quantum Slipstream effect and Borg Transwarp effects than Prime Starfleet Warp Drive, and Spock did give the transwarp beaming equation, which Scotty probably developed AFTER his release from The Jenolen in ‘Relics’ and which was probably based on Dominion tech and Borg tech and insight derived from Seven of Nine.

As for what this means for the concept of ‘Deep Space’ and exploration: the scope of New Trek is bigger. No longer would Starfleet be limited to exploring one Quadrant of the Galaxy but the whole of The Milky Way and beyond. The Universe IS an INFINITE PLACE, full of countless galaxies.

Remember, JJ rebooted Star Trek to its base operating system. Clean slate. What we knew of the old Trek is but a guidebook, not a, pardon the pun, script.

Back to the wonder of TOS. Where we were not constricted by rigid canon. True, it can hint at later stuff, like The Cardassians, the Borg, The Ferengi, The Dominion and The Breen, The Hirogen and the Krenim and Xindi and Suliban, and more… and can move freely incorporating The Best of All Worlds into a New Paradigm, one where the Imagination and Wonder of TOS is restored, as Kirk and crew can travel now thousands of light years in the time it would have taken them to travel a couple hundred in TOS.

38. sean - May 18, 2013


First Contact makes it clear the Enterprise is in the Neutral Zone, and based on what we see, there’s no way the fleet could have lasted an hour, let alone several. So either way, the time it takes the Enterprise to reach the battle is ridiculous and inconsistent with where they’ve always told us the Neutral Zone was.

“True and I was ready to ignore that from ST09, but then they used it AGAIN in this movie.”

And that was my point, they stayed consistent within their own universe. I prefer that to the old ‘Oh look at this miraculous thing we’ll forget we have next episode’.

39. michael Li - May 18, 2013

I don’t really care. Movie have less science screw ups than other features with less sci-fi in them. in that sense ST was a great success.

40. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

37. NuWisdom – May 18, 2013

“Back to the wonder of TOS.”

The wonder of TOS was based to a large degree on the Enterprise having clearly defined limits in the vastness of space. Those limits were often based in Treknology and overcoming them was what presented the challenge. Now humans have powers similar to those of Q, which creates a huge problem for storytelling in this universe. It’s not a clean slate. Those new rules are in a way more limiting than the old canon since there are only three ways to deal with them.

A. Embrace them. Ok, so the next Star Trek will no longer feature the Enterprise. It’s become obsolete.

B. Ignore them. Which will make many people wonder about logic of the movie and take them right of it, i.e. why go to Kronos with a starship if you can beam there? I mean, if you could beam to a different continent, would you still use an airplane and fly there for hours?

C. Put a latern on them. I.e. explain in everytime why a certain technology does not work in the specific situation, which can be quite annoying.

All three of those ways are bad. If people start to wonder how sth. makes sense, they are taken right out of the moment. In ID that happens to lot of people – at least to those who don’t as a rule switch of their brains on arrival. You can say that this is a Trekkie problem – it’s not. The explanation you have given above is based on Trek canon. You know some SciFi and even Trek examples where sth. similar happened. General audiences don’t. They don’t go “they’ll explain it in a comic book” or “I’ll fix it in head-canon”. They go: WTF?

41. sean - May 18, 2013


“I also couldn’t work out why one volcano would threaten the planet. Earth was poisoned by volcanoes and we turned out fine. Threaten the local natives, maybe. If it erupts for years I suppose it might warm the planet or disrupt global weather patterns to a small degree but I suspect that we’re pumping out way more pollution every day than one volcano can in a year.”

And you would be incorrect. A volcanic eruption of sufficient magnitude can be an extinction-level event, and is far more hazardous than any co2 we might be pumping out.

42. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

38. sean – May 18, 2013

“…based on what we see, there’s no way the fleet could have lasted an hour…”

Yes, if you assume that it was just one fleet like at Wolf 359. However, this time they could have opted to have several hurdles for the Borg to cross. We also don’t see the initial size of the fleet, maybe what we do see is merely a small remnant. The point is: We don’t see it. It allows us to speculate. We can gloss over it and make it work for ourselves. STID spells it out, i.e. no room for speculation.

“…they stayed consistent within their own universe.”

They stayed consistent with something that will come to haunt them. See my response to 37. NuWisdom – May 18, 2013

43. danjonwig - May 18, 2013

How about the Enterprise ‘falling’ from the moon to earth (380,000km, though they get that figure wrong) in just a few minutes? It would take DAYS, even if it were physically possible.

44. sean - May 18, 2013


And yet, unless the battle lasted a week, it still is inconsistent. Face it, the show has played fast-and-loose when a plot required it, and in that sense, the new bunch are simply upholding a fine tradition.

45. JohnRambo - May 18, 2013

@43 danjonwig

How about THIS! According to sulu the Moon to Earth distance is just 237000 km:-)

This is the REAL major error in the Movie:-D

46. porthises bitch - May 18, 2013

Kayla.. is the pahoehoe pretty much the same as the “Black Smokers” that Ballard discovered? Spent a few days at Woodshole a few years back awesome stuff.

47. Cygnus-X1 - May 18, 2013

Great article, Kayla! Very much appreciated!!

TOS and TNG both had science consultants that reviewed each episode for precisely the sort of stinkers that you point out and that we all noticed in the movie, whether consciously or not. With their $190 million budget, it’s unforgivable that Abrams, Orci, Kurtzman and Lindelof didn’t bother with a consultant. Again, it’s yet another example of the makers of STID going for style over substance. They could have fed us a balanced three-course meal that would have satisfied our bodies, minds and souls as well as our palates. But instead they served us birthday cake and little else.

48. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

44. sean – May 18, 2013

“Face it, the show has played fast-and-loose when a plot required it, and in that sense, the new bunch are simply upholding a fine tradition.”

I never said it didn’t. It just didn’t stare you in the face most of the time. Much of FC was very strange, e.g. why didn’t the Borg travel back in time at some other place and then warp to past Earth neatly avoiding Starfleet altogether? However, I only remember realizing that after seeing the movie – not during. This time: Ok, they go to warp. Carol starts running. Carol arrives. They’re back in the sol system. It’s so obvious, you can’t ignore it. I couldn’t care less about how long it actually takes from Klingon space to Earth, but if you portray it that way, it makes the universe small and uninteresting. It kills the fun. It kills the wonder. “Oh, wow we just went to the edge of the galaxy. Let’s go back to Earth and meet at the pub in an hour. No biggie.”

49. sean - May 18, 2013


Eh, I just view it as a flub, like the flub in FC.

50. Jack - May 18, 2013

“Verdict: The heat would NOT cause any problems for a shuttle or a starship. They should have used volcanic ash as an excuse.”

They did, didn’t they?

Also… “cold fusion” device?

Okay, so how was the Enterprise (and Vengeance) able to be in visual sight of Kronos (and, later, Earth) for hours without being detected? This doesn’t fit known Trek science so well where positronic signals can be detected across the galaxy — but does it fit modern science?

So, they showed Praxis already blown up? And that’s why that province was abandoned? It would have to be some other reason, wouldn’t it? Hmmm.

Although, everything being super-close actually makes the prospect of real unexplored space that much more interesting — how far away would they have to be? Pretty cool.

51. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

49. sean – May 18, 2013

“Eh, I just view it as a flub, like the flub in FC.”

That’s good for you. I wish, I could. Half of my colleagues have pointed that one out to me (I’m the only Trekkie in the office. The one with the Enterprise model on the desk). I might be able to let it go, if it weren’t for all the other things that don’t make sense. Together it has formed the perfect storm of nonsense in my head. Now, I’ll have to switch off my brain for Star Trek films as well in order to enjoy them. Which makes me kind of sad :)

52. Jack - May 18, 2013

The science of the warp drive and transporter isn’t science at all, of course, just a matter of what Trek did previously. I think the transwarp beaming is kind of cool — obviously there are written-in limits to it. It leads to some interesting story possibilities.

And I quite loved the warp core.

53. Unbel1ever - May 18, 2013

52. Jack – May 18, 2013

“…obviously there are written-in limits to it.”

Which ones? Did I miss something?

54. porthoses bitch - May 18, 2013

Funny I’d always assumed the Gorn were egg layers.

55. VulcanFilmCritic - May 18, 2013

Magic Blood is as silly as Red Matter, a deus ex machina if ever there was one.

56. ObsessiveStarTrekFan - May 18, 2013

@54. porthoses bitch

As they seem to us to be ‘reptiles’, that would be a quite natural assumption. I hadn’t really thought about it, but if you’d asked me prior to seeing STID, I’d have said Gorn were egg layers.

That said, here on good old Earth, we have viviparous reptiles, viviparous fish, and oviparous mammals (Echidna & Platypus), so really we shouldn’t be surprised.

57. sean - May 18, 2013


Well, I believe there was Scotty’s line, ‘like trying to hit a bullet with a smaller bullet, whilst wearing a blindfold, riding a horse.” We’ve only seen it done successfully twice, so I’m still not convinced it’s the end of starship travel as we know it.

58. sean - May 18, 2013


The blood could be viewed as a deus ex machina, however Red Matter is not. It does not solve anything for our heroes in a previously unexplained way. It’s a MacGuffin.

59. rm10019 - May 18, 2013

Instead of inspiring new technologies the production team seems consumed with making their version of the Trek universe more ‘relatable’ than inspirational.

Making phasers sound like guns and engines that look all too contemporary. I like these films but I miss the wonder of set design that stretches the imagination.

60. J Lewis - May 18, 2013

I can’t believe they were at warp speed and just knock out of it on earths doorstep by the admiral. Wouldn’t there be more earth defenses and others observing making it harder just to murder the crew of the enterprise. That transition was made to have the new starship crash in the city.

61. Weerd1 - May 18, 2013

I don’t see why transwarp beaming needs to mean the end of starship travel. We don’t know how much can be moved at one time, and moving supplies one or two humanoid masses at a time would be time consuming. Further, so far we have seen them go from known location to known location (and even that didn’t work right the first time). Randomly beaming explorers onto uncharted planets may be a shade more dangerous than parking a ship in orbit. I think it is an interesting addition to Trek lore though, and could be a very effective story device. How will the Federation develop differently with this capability? I want to see that. And remember, a nice transwarp transporter may only be marginally effective against a fleet of Klingon Warships entering your system. I think we still need starships.

No issue with Khan’s blood doing some pretty amazing things; as I recall blood like that once converted millions of Klingons on a genetic level, why can’t it overwrite cellular level DNA damage in an irradiated human? As I recall, TNG was “vaccinating” against radiation sickness, so we developed that somewhere.

Distance plays a little loose in this film, but that’s certainly not new to Trek. The four days to Kronos was a big deal back then too. It is my assumption warp physics have changed a bit in general following the Narada incursion. 09 Trek played with the distance to Vulcan. According to the TNG tech manual, a starship at warp 9 would take years just to cross the Federation, yet the 1701D seemed to get back and forth pretty well.

62. Dr. Cheis - May 18, 2013

I don’t know, it seemed pretty likely to me that the volcano freezer would have affected all the way down into the planet’s magma center. Otherwise there could just as easily be a second volcano that erupts when the first is sealed. Just because they didn’t do a CSI-style camera zoom down inside the planet doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

I agree about the Transwarp beaming though. Maybe he used a series of relays and other ships to get to Kronos rather than transporting directly. It was a few minutes after all before we saw him appear. But I hope the secret to that tech was destroyed in London, because otherwise it just makes you wonder why they don’t just use that stuff all the time…

I like to pretend that the journey to Kronos took a lot longer than they made it seem too, because otherwise… yeah article already explained it pretty well.

63. smike - May 19, 2013

Transwarp beaming is CRAP! Excuse my frenach but when on earth or even Vulcan should Scotty have invented that in the future. Well after his Dyson Sphere “hiatus”?

But even IF it was possible to transport one person to a location while at warp, it still would require a TRANSPORTER! A portable transportation device has NEVER been showed on any 24th century Trek, so why it is now available for such highly sophisticated transwarp beaming?

It simply doesn’t make no sense within ANY established Trek science. It’s a deus-ex-machina device that serve no further purpose that to keep the story going…

64. smike - May 19, 2013

Even meantioning SCIENCE in relations to NuTrek hurts. NuTrek is PURE space fantasy. There is absolutely no conceivable elemant in buying all that. What’s next? Beaming all the way to the Borg Homeworld via an App? Downloading of that that’s V’ger via a simply mouseclick? It simply is bad writing, as are those “manned-torpedoes-without-fuel-posing-a-real-threat to-Khan-without-having-any-fuel”…

65. smike - May 19, 2013

Having watched it a third time, this movie is so full of “plotholes”, or rather “scienceholes”, it really really hurts even being an avoid fantasy fan. I’m kinda glad JJ’s leavingfor Star Wars, but even within this world he’s to be VERY careful about which items to tackle. His take on Trek is scientifically abscent, if that makes any sense to you…. Sorry, lost my speeck on so many incredibilities,,,

66. smike - May 19, 2013

“avid fantasy fan” that is… but “avoid” is a nice Freudian slip, isn’t it?

67. The Great Bird Lives - May 19, 2013


I noticed that National Geographic on demand is showing a 2 hour documentary titled: The science of Star Trek: The Science behind Star Trek Into Darkness. I live in the North East USA, so I’m not sure If the formatting is the same but- Just a heads up-

68. smike - May 19, 2013

Your original premise BTW is rather interesting… let’s forget the MOVIE, talk about the science???? This MOVIE is brought down to its knees by its unforgivable science… No matter how good the score is, no matter how well-received the characterization is… it all comes down to unforgivable science plotholes… portable transwarp beaming, long-range torpedoes without fuel tanks, Khan being an Englishman In NuTrek, your average incoming Frisco call from Outer Space…It’s CRAP…C.R.A.P… not to mention Praxis having already exploded, Ruk being an average Starflleet officer and private security services being around in the future….*that being the worst of all*

69. Jack - May 19, 2013

68. Uh, yeah, smike, none of those are actual “science plotholes.” Star Trek isn’t real.

“Turns out that Khan isn’t just a genetically enhanced superhuman; he’s a genetically enhanced superhuman with magic resurrection blood that can cure all ailments and even bring you back from the dead, as long as you’ve only been dead long enough for one final climactic action scene.”

Darren Franich at EW.

70. Jack - May 19, 2013

61. “I don’t see why transwarp beaming needs to mean the end of starship travel. We don’t know how much can be moved at one time, and moving supplies one or two humanoid masses at a time would be time consuming.”


71. smike - May 19, 2013

@69:” Star Trek isn’t real.”

Wonderful. So now let’s explain it all away by “not being real”? Why bothering about Star Trek science in the first place then? If anything’s possible, let’s have Hobbits and Hookers in space…oh…well…we got Keenser and NuHura….Oh it’s not real… you sound like a certain Scottish bartender I know…it’s all make-believe…the guy hasn’t even seen Star Trek II though…

72. smike - May 19, 2013

@61&70: That’s the single-most lamest excuse available. Transwarp beaming is a LAME device. They don’t care about the mass they could beam around the galaxy. For what we know it could be George and Gracy beamed to the Founders’ Homeworld….Same with that massive torpedo beaming involved in STID… Definitely more than two humpback whales… but it all doesn’t count anymore… Let’s flush it out of the toilet with 46 years of Star Trek history…

73. Weerd1 - May 19, 2013

@Smike- it’s cool, I checked my DVD shelf when I got home, and all the series are still there! Huzzah! Nothing was erased!

74. cd - May 19, 2013

I just kept thinking about the mashers in Galaxy Quest when watching this movie.

75. cjlp88 - May 19, 2013

I’m actually surprised nobody mentioned how the Enterprise ‘falls’ to Earth from Lunar orbit over the course of a few minutes.

76. somethoughts - May 19, 2013

Its a movie, it entertained, do you guys go through every good movie like say terminator2 and nitpick oO smh im proud to be a trekkie and say stid was awesome and loved it. Every space movie is flawed science wise in one scene or another, get over it :)

77. Minnesota Bruin - May 19, 2013

@75 cjlp88

Yeah, that’s a doozy. But I think it was mentioned early in the comments.

It takes minutes to travel 400,000 km and then a much longer amount of time to fall the final hundred km!

78. Minnesota Bruin - May 19, 2013

@41 sean

Kayla is a better expert on volcanoes that I am but that appeared to be a stratovolcano. Supervolcanoes are much larger and form large igneous provinces or calderas.

79. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 19, 2013

I don’t really have a problem with the idea of transwarp beaming since what we have seen so far is that it is only one or two individuals who have successfully done it. Scotty was lucky to end up in water coolant tubes. It could have been worse. I think that this Star Trek technology will not become the norm for all kinds of reasons – the main one being its serious risks compared with ordinary Star Trek transporter technology.

Interesting stuff about real volcanoes and how the producers got so much right. When you think about it, it is surprising that they would use the idea of heat causing problems for the shuttle when it was not so long ago that Britain’s main airports, along with some European ones, were closed due to the severity of the volcanic ash spread by the huge eruption of a volcano in Iceland (can’t remember its name). The closures continued for a couple of weeks…(from memory). It is a shame that the writers/producers missed this.

The feeling the movie(s) give that it takes a very small amount of time to get from one planetary system to another could easily be addressed by the appropriate dialogue. I actually mentioned this to Bob Orci but it seems that my suggestion has gone unheeded. Because this has not been addressed, sense of timing is off and makes the universe seem an inordinately small place, which it really isn’t…doh

80. pauln6 - May 19, 2013

Transwarp in the first movie was used two people roughly 1 light year onto a Federation ship that could be tracked by other Federation sensors where a Federation base, it might be argues, would have access to its exact schematics. I can see SOME argument that it could work, particularly if you are aiming for the transporter pad, with the challenge being that you have to transport through a warp field.

The silly thing is that they were able to do it using a transporter from a damaged shuttle WITHOUT ANY MODIFICATION or additional power requirements. All it took was a modified equation… They could have dialled it back further if Spock had just beamed Kirk to the outpost brig to save us 24 hours of travel through deep snow, they could have removed the ludicrous coincidence of meeting Spock in a cave, and Spock Prime could have been working on modifying Scotty’s tech since he’d been on the planet.

The problem with STID is not just that they re-used something that was best forgotten BUT THEY MADE IT BETTER. Now its limit is not a single light year but 90 light years into enemy territory (and the enemy seemingly has no way to notice) without having any current scans or schematics of the area – unless of course sensors are now so powerful that they can work at 90 light years, which is a whole other issue.

You can beam bombs 90 light years onto an enemy vessel. Or just beam your enemies off their ship and into space since ships, presumably due to power consumption, can’t keep shields running all the time.

81. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 19, 2013

“long-range torpedoes without fuel tanks”?

Who said they had no fuel tanks? Scotty could get an analysis of these new long-range torpedoes which is why he refused to allow them on board the Enterprise…

I cannot recall what looked like a partially destroyed moon was the Praxis moon shown exploding in Star Trek VI was said to be the very same moon. Even if it was indeed the Praxis moon, this is an alternate universe and so events may not happen at the same time, in the same way…

The portable transwarp mechanism would provide the transporter pad. Khan had the co-ordinates for where he wanted to land on Kronos. He activated the mechanism and within time, he came to be where he wanted. Other than transporting at warp speed, the transporter behaved no differently from the ordinary transporter used on starships within and outside of Starfleet.

What has science got to do with this Khan being an English man?

Star Trek has two science-fiction/fantasy notions that have not come about in any verifiable form at all – the ability to travel at faster than light speed, ie warp drive and the ability to teleport/transporter technology which allows for the almost instantaneous travel through time and space of living beings and inanimate objects from one place to another, whether that place be across a room or hundreds (even thousands/millions) of miles away.

If a person accepts these concepts to be part of what can normally be made to occur within the Star Trek universe(s), then it is surely reasonable to expect that, within the same universe(s), that variations and developments can occur with the said technologies.

smike – I find your objections and nitpicking lame and unreasonable. The only person talking about flushing anything down any toilet is you.

82. George Henry - May 19, 2013

Another mistake in the movie is the fact that two starships are attacking each other in Earth’s orbit, And Starfleet Command does nothing about it.

83. Adam - May 19, 2013

What about more obvious errors:

When they are in freefall they would be weightless (earth’s gravity is pulling down on them as much as on the enterprise). This is so basic yet they suspend it for a stupid action sequence ala inception.

Also They are travelling at warp from Kronos to earth… something like 90 LY (80 million million km)? The super ship knocks them out of warp. Chances of that happening 300000 km from earth? More than astronomical.

84. Colin - May 19, 2013

Risa was 90 light-years from Earth. Qo’noS was located in a sphere that went out 90 light-years from Earth, but itself was not 90 light-years from Earth.

In “Assignment: Earth”, Gary 7 was transported 1000 light-years to Earth.

85. Stan - May 19, 2013

Another glaring mistake is the scene where Scotty opens the cargo bay hatch to allow Kirk and Khan to enter the ship. They make a point of showing how huge the bay with comedic effect of Scotty having to run a distance from the hatch to the console that has it’s controls. When Scotty opens the hatch the depressurization causes the crewman near him to be sucked all the way across the bay and through the hatch. Given the size of the bay and the relatively small diameter of the hatch at the distance Scotty and the crewman were standing they would barely have felt the effects of the depressurization.

86. KHAAAN the weasel - May 19, 2013

Nice article!
One thing is kinda funny: I was actually just ASSUMING that Harrison had already been hiding on Qo’noS for some days when the Big E arrived… plus: It wasn’t even the Enterprise that arrived, it was Mudd’s ship. The Enterpise was actually still kinda close to the Neutral Zone by the time they fell out of warp.
That of course still doesn’t explain two major problems:
a) How can it be that the Klingon Neutral Zone is not heavily patrolled?
b) How did the Enterprise get BACK so fast (while being pursued by the Vengeance)

So all in all, I acutally have the same concerns in regard to that sequence.
This, plus the fact, that the small and handy trans-warp beaming McGuffin was a terrible idea for a plot device.

87. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 19, 2013

Yes, that is what I assumed as well – that Harrison was already at Qo’noS and in fact was waiting for Kirk and co to arrive, which could also explain why that area was not so well patrolled. Then again, the Enterprise had been lead to believe that that area was pretty much uninhabited with Harrison only, in hiding…It was a set up, an ambush.

Admiral Marcus had told Kirk to kill Harrison, no doubt using one or more of those torpedoes. A battle would ensue with the Klingons accusing a Federation ship of violating their territory and attacking. Admiral Marcus would get on his high horse about the Klingons being conquering imperialists who could not be trusted etc etc. The Klingons would go into full batleth mode and all out war would follow, which is exactly what Marcus wanted. He was a warmonger…

The problem was that the Enterprise did not fire on Qo’noS and brought back Harrison/Khan alive….

Engineer Scotty managed to knock out some of the Vengeance’s systems – their weapons and warp drive, I think, but not for very long. That gave the Enterprise a chance to get away…

Why was the portable transwarp beaming device such a terrible idea? It was more than likely a prototype developed by Harrison/Khan himself, using the *stolen* transwarp beaming calculations of prime Scotty/Spock. He probably made it so that it would only work for him.

88. porthoses birch - May 19, 2013

As Uhura said long ago “this isn’t fantasy, this is reality”

A little nitpick….where does Khans tube come from ? 72 other people…the tube Kirk is in is accounted for.

I would love to see the next film open mentioning (via a log entry) that Khan and his people were dropped off on Ceti Alpha V. To begin a new life…to explore and conquer a new world…and establish a new civilization.

89. Unbel1ever - May 19, 2013

86. Keachick – rose pinenut – May 19, 2013

“Why was the portable transwarp beaming device such a terrible idea?”

Because you now have a sports bag sized device, which allows you to beam anywhere in the galaxy. I.e. Starfleet is useless. Even if they had to use a regular transporter: they don’t have to leave Earth anymore. They can just beam probes anywhere to explore like in Stargate. Except that Stargate only had some planets with gates in well defined locations. It breaks the premise of Star Trek.

“He probably made it so that it would only work for him.”

Well, he could have gene-coded or whatever this particular device for his needs. However, the general principle has to work for everybody. So Starfleet has the specs (it was in their hands after all, built with their technology and knowledge). They can easily built a new one without those limitations.

90. Anthony Lewis - May 19, 2013

Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

91. NCC-73515 - May 19, 2013

What is so difficult about 31 having confiscated transwarp beaming tech to only use it for themselves? Someone pointed out earlier that this could explain Sloan’s sudden appearance in Bashir’s room! I always though it’s a cloaked shuttle nearby, but why can’t 31 have super secret tech that nobody else knows about? Also I read that in the novel they explain that it’s not direct site-to-site, but relayed through a network, kinda like the Doc transfer to the Prometheus.

92. Slornie - May 19, 2013

Also on the note of the length of the trip, and regarding my previous point about Scotty’s comment about being off the ship for “one day”, see the below from boborci posted on the open thread:

647. boborci – May 16, 2013
463. Jack Zymurgy – May 16, 2013

I loved the movie- but I’m begging you, get JJ and Pegg to turn “I’ve been off this ship for one day” to “I’ve been off this ship for one week” so that you don’t throw people out of the film.


Damn it, good catch. Shoulda’ done that! Slipped by me.

93. Jack - May 19, 2013

“Why was the portable transwarp beaming device such a terrible idea?”

Because you now have a sports bag sized device, which allows you to beam anywhere in the galaxy. I.e. Starfleet is useless. Even if they had to use a regular transporter: they don’t have to leave Earth anymore. They can just beam probes anywhere to explore like in Stargate. Except that Stargate only had some planets with gates in well defined locations. It breaks the premise of Star Trek.

Not really. It’s a one-way trip. And maybe 31 had already planted some sort of recover/transponder on Kronos (easier to spell) in a previous spy mission The range is unknown. It’s all fictional tech — they can write in limits. Maybe it causes impotence or cancer or herpes or something after repeated uses.

Heck the E got from the edge of the neutral zone to Earth very very quickly in a couple of Trek movies.

94. sean - May 19, 2013


Oh, I wasn’t saying the volcano was accurately represented, I was simply refuting the idea that a volcanic eruption isn’t that big of a deal on a planetary scale. It obviously can be.

95. sean - May 19, 2013


“But even IF it was possible to transport one person to a location while at warp, it still would require a TRANSPORTER! A portable transportation device has NEVER been showed on any 24th century Trek, so why it is now available for such highly sophisticated transwarp beaming?

It simply doesn’t make no sense within ANY established Trek science. It’s a deus-ex-machina device that serve no further purpose that to keep the story going…”

A deus ex machina is when a seemingly unsolvable problem is solved for our heroes seemingly out of thin air. Transwarp beaming does not accomplish that in STID. You are describing a macguffin, which is a completely separate thing.

Additionally, you must have missed the emergency transport unit in Nemesis, which was indeed a portable transporter. There was also an episode of Voyager where a race had a device called The Trajector, which could transport individuals more than 40,000 light years at a time. So actually, we’ve seen both concepts in Trek before.

96. richpit - May 19, 2013

I didn’t read all of the posts in this thread…because I didn’t have hours to sit in front of my computer! ;-)

I just wanted to say someplace (so i chose here)…I wonder if we’ll ever get past all this JJ Trek hating?

Just sayin’.

Oh, also…great article as always, Kayla.

97. Mantastic - May 19, 2013

An excellent article, but I’m really surprised you didn’t mention the Enterprise and Vengeance free-fall at the end of the movie. Not only is the ship plummeting straight downward the whole time, but even after Spock mentions they’ll be incinerated in orbit, they make it through the atmosphere and into the clouds in one piece BEFORE they get power back!

From that point the movie was just painful to watch. That was so ridiculous that anything that came after it was ruined for me.

Intelligence in Star Trek is completely gone.

98. Brett L. - May 19, 2013

Agreed. Flip phones, PADDs, holodecks, warp drive, etc… TOS and TNG are often credited with inspiring the direction of current tech and/or current research.

Nowadays, cell phones, tablets, and laptop monitors have long surpassed the Trek versions of these staples. Movies like Minority Report, Oblivion, etc. are doing a better job projecting the likely course of future tech than Trek these days. We love transporters, warp drive, etc., but audiences were introduced to these concepts almost 50 years ago! If the new timeline can speed up the pace of Treknology and give us the U.S.S. Vengeance, then the sky’s the limit. Let’s see some imagination-stretching stuff the next time around rather than more riffs on the same old stuff.

99. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 19, 2013

(Portable) transwarp beaming is only useful, but still not without risk, if the person has the co-ordinates of the place they are beaming to. Harrison had those co-ordinates and so did Scotty in Star Trek 09, more or less. In fact, the first transwarp beaming of Kirk and Scotty to a moving Enterprise was more risky than the beaming that Harrison made in this movie.

If where you are going/exploring is unknown, then this kind of transporter technology is beyond useless…

100. Dswynne - May 19, 2013

@25: And Spock Prime’s return is accepted as canon? At least with the blood thing, there is some science involved (ie. preparing blood transfusions using filtering methods).

101. Dswynne - May 19, 2013

Everyone should remember that I was Gene Roddenberry who changed what warp speed means in Star Trek, when he introduced TNG. I can clearly remember several TOS episodes, like ‘Arena’ and ‘By Any Other Name’, where the Enterprise was not bound by the distance of space. Back then the story was more important than the physics, but even then you can make up some technobabble as long as it makes sense within the confines of the series. In fact, it was Mike Okuda and others who had the task to make the science fit into whatever the writers wanted, and not even GR was consistent as a writer. He just wanted to tell a good story with a message.

But within the JJ-verse, again, the science and technology wss accelerated thanks to what Nero had done. Secondly, you would still need a support mechanism like a spaceship since not all planets will have conditions that are right for beaming. Tanswrarp beaming will be good for transportation within territories, but something one could use consistent for Deep Space exploration, something that some of you have complained about is lacking in JJ’s ST.

102. ME!! - May 19, 2013

Thank you, Kayla!! It’s what I’ve said before…lazy writing!!

103. Unwanted - May 19, 2013

Kayla, I have to ask you if you did your examination of the ship over the volcano bit using figures based on the Yellowstone super-volcano or some other “normal” volcano.

The reason I ask is this, according to my research, the last time that Yellowstone blew it had a force more than 1000 times that of Mt. Saint Helens (which was roughly 48 Megatons), and I have a hard time believing even a Borg cube could withstand 48000 Megatons.

So far as I can tell the volcano in the film is supposed to be such a super-volcano, 1 because Bob Orci called it one here on this site, 2 because of Spock’s statement that “if it erupts, the planet dies” which is only possible when dealing with such a volcano.

After Krakoa may have altered weather patterns, and made for some awesome sunsets, but it didnt kill everything, neither did Mt. Saint Helens, or all the ones in Hawaii.

104. Unwanted - May 19, 2013

Also, interstellar beaming fist appeared in season 2 of the original series, in the episode Assignment: Earth, and it has been used quite a few more times since then, on TNG, and Voyager, heck Voyager did interstellar beaming through time. Gene didn’t have a problem using it, since Assignment: Earth was supposed to be a “back door pilot” for a spin off he was trying to sell, and it was a core plot point of the episode.

105. Mr. Alternate - May 19, 2013

JJ’s alternate universe is void of science. That much was obvious when prime characters not only travelled back in time but into an alternate universe? So unlike every other situation in which the past was screwed with and needed fixing, this one is completely different? How great of a movie would First Contact have been if after the Borg changed the past, Picard sais “screw it, let’s go to Risa! This is just an alternate timeline.”

The truly great thing about JJ’s trek is that because it is self labelled as “alternate,” it’s also not part IFAD the star trek universe and entirely ignorable. Parody in fact.

106. CaptainKirok - May 19, 2013

One thing that bothered me as far as the science goes, is that Marcus’ ship was able to fire upon the Enterprise during Warp. Both ships have a warp engine that allows them to travel at warp speed. But once a photon torpedo or a phaser is fired, what could possibly allow them to travel at warp speed? It’s not as though momentum could keep something traveling at warp speed. You actually need an engine that can warp the fabric of space. And a phaser blast does not have such an engine. So, as soon as phasers or photon torpedoes are fired, they should drop out of warp immediately.

107. Unwanted - May 19, 2013

@105. Actually you are wrong, what happened with Spock Prime and Nero was worked almost exactly as the Multiple Worlds Theory says it would according to Steven Hawkings. MW being explicitly stated as being the temporal/dimensional theory used in the 2009 movie by the movie’s writers.

@106. Many times in TOS the Enterprise used their weapons, both Phasers and torpedoes, at warp. Additionally Photon Torpedoes, according to the tech manuals, have components that maintain a warp field around them when fired

108. Avi - May 19, 2013

That sequence in the final credits of both this and the last movies was cute, the way it has all of the distance between objects in space removed. The planets are close enough together to see with the naked eye and stars or only a hop away from each other.

What’s disturbing is I now realise that the writers actually think of the universe this way. The Enterprise is always close enough to a planet to be able to see it with the naked eye. Vulcan is close enough to Delta Vega to see with the naked eye. The neutral zone is close enough to Kronos. Earth and Kronos and Vulcan are minutes apart at warp.

I can’t think of any way to make sense of it other than to think that this Star Trek is not science fiction occurring in our universe, but rather fantasy occurring in a fantasy universe that actually looks like what’s shown in the end credits.

109. William Bradley - May 19, 2013

This is an awesome article!

110. Basement Blogger - May 19, 2013

Great stuff Kayla. I think Vorus brought up the gravity issues when the Enterprise is falling to earth and the failure of the artificial gravity. Maybe you could discuss that in another episode, along with the fact that the Enterprise can fly underwater and in the atmosphere. Was prepared for that from the episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday.”

I appreciate that you say one line could correct the shuttle’s problems. Writers are so afraid of explaining too much. It’s like the use of the phrase ‘alternate reality” and expecting the audience to figure out that a parallel universe was created. I’m a blogger not a physicist. Perhaps the solution is for you to be made science advisor for Star Trek. I mean Star Trek used to have science advisors. I’m wondering if STID had a science advisor.

111. Kev - May 20, 2013

Let’s just say Johnny had a bunch of warp enhancers on standby that acted like a slingshot from earth to khronos, he is you know who and why no mention of the famous only ship in the system thing with the lego vengance and the enterprise

and no one noticing hey theres two federation like ships beating the shit out of each other up there right next to earth and no one decides to break up the fight or ask what the hell is going on

I mean you do kinda have to ignore these things to enjoy the film, hell the only explanation for that is them being behind the moon and covering up the fighting and the sensor readings of the enterprise being flinged out of warp.

plus you wanna nitpick something what about the whole thing of two ships at warp not meeting with each other.

theres alot of nagging little things like the NX01 being regarded as cannon (its NOT, never happend! The federation was never that stupid to put Johanthan Dutchess Archer in command of a 24th century Akira class that somehow ended up in the pre REAL enterprise era)

Enterprise NEVER happened, Dear Doctor NEVER happened, that abomination of a show never happened period.

not to mention why did he have a model of the USS vengence on his desk already?!

so much for a secret.

Hey Robocop what’s that ship on your desk, that giant ugly one.

you didnt see nuthin!

pulls out the beretta from robocop, OKAY OKAY! I didnt see nuthnig!

112. Kev - May 20, 2013

actually glad to see SFdebris is gonna have alot to make fun of, but I enjoyed the film and enjoyed it better than the last one.

and the enterprise gets refitted at the end and with movies theres just certain weird things with modern films you gotta accept to enjoy them.

Like anything else, take the good with the bad and the good certainly outweighs the bad here.

Gonna miss Greenwood though, had this whole general lee look going to him there and I really liked him.

and yeah the whole earth to any place in the universe thing is kinda stupid but do you really want to sit around waiting for them to get to everywhere for an hour or days?

best thing they could do is go to another shot that says a few hours latter or days latter.

but that’s the plot conveyance fairy for you, ah well I enjoyed the film and that’s all that matters in the end.

Its star trek not star reality.

113. Rich Civil - May 20, 2013

I hat transwarp beaming (sorry Scotty) It creates to much of a plot problem when you can beam anywhere. And as it was used in the first movie… “how can you possibly know where the ship is?

The short travel time between Quonos to the Earth/moon system as well as moon to the Earth was too much.

One thing that didn’t bother me was that no other ships helped. Throughout Star Trek no other ships help the Enterprise, so what’s new?

114. Unbel1ever - May 20, 2013

113. Rich Civil – May 20, 2013

“Throughout Star Trek no other ships help the Enterprise, so what’s new?”

How about the Excelsior in Undiscovered Country?

115. Jim Nightshade - May 20, 2013

Hey we can get Admiral Pike Back…Just use a lil of that Khan Magic Blood on him…..then next movie we have….ZOMBIE PIKE!!!

I never understood Shields in the two JJ movies either….they both have like 40% shield left yet torpedos are slammin into them causing damage…isnt the shield up until it goes down??? I guess if shield is about to collapse a torpedo exploding might cause it to collapse early…but shields in JJverse dont operate like Prime or am I wrong?

Also Jjs Verse is just too hyped up on caffeine or starbucks or something cuz obviously they cant even slow down for normal warp speed they have to get where they are going in Moments instead of Minutes or hours or days no matter where they are where they are going….maybe they use multiple Wormholes at the same time to make everything FASTER….kinda like how there are 150 warp cores now instead of just one….faster..bigger….crazier hahah

I mentioned elsewhere how I loved that the Natives on the volcano planet were drawing an image of the Big e in the dirt to worship it…alright….Now that is also a more realistic science moment as we have seen other tribes making straw effigies of our wwii airplanes when we had to land on their Non Mechanical pre industry islands….course they thought the planes n people were gods…

116. Disinvited - May 20, 2013

#99. Keachick – rose pinenut – May 19, 2013

“(Portable) transwarp beaming is only useful, but still not without risk, if the person has the co-ordinates of the place they are beaming to. Harrison had those co-ordinates and so did Scotty in Star Trek 09, more or less. In fact, the first transwarp beaming of Kirk and Scotty to a moving Enterprise was more risky than the beaming that Harrison made in this movie.” – Keachick

I think you are forgetting that the Klingon planet, Earth, their star systems, and the galaxy itself are ALL in motion. There’s a little bit more involved than just knowing some coordinates.

117. Damian - May 20, 2013

Agree with your assessments. On the way to Kronos, there was enough going on with different scenes, you could almost assume it could have been a day or 2 (or more).

But when they were returning to Earth, there’s just not enough there. It’s basically a few minutes and their home.

Also agree on transwarp beaming. They really ought to address that somehow (explain it’s highly dangerous to do, or that you need highly specialized equipment, something). Otherwise you’re right. You could almost beam anywhere.

Good movie overall. But too many easy plot devices thrown in. All Star Trek has used some plot devices to advance the plot. Trekkies have come to expect that. But so many in one film. The writers should challenge themselves a little more. Instead of “How do we move from plot point A to B–let’s create, oh, transwarp beaming,” how about he has to have a secret ship hiding behind the moon. He has to somehow transport to a space station in orbit, then to the moon, then on to his ship and high tail it out of there. Then you could have had an elaborate chase sequence as they try to follow him out. TNG did something like this with “The Hunted”. It really would have matched Khan’s ingenuity with that of Starfleet as they try to track him down.

All I’m saying is don’t make it too convenient. Challenge yourself.

118. shadan - May 20, 2013

Sulu just got the units wrong when stating the distance between the Earth and the Moon….something we’ve all done at one time or another. #Mars99 ;-)

119. Aqua - May 20, 2013

Why would the shuttle, a spaceship, have an air intake in the first place as part of the engine?

120. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 20, 2013

Yes, of course, everything is in motion, including the Earth we are on right now. Can you actually feel that it is moving at great speed under your feet though? Qo’noS is more *stationary* than when a ship going at warp speed, which is what was happening when prime Spock transwarp beamed Kirk and Scotty onto the Enterprise in ST09.

It is all relative.

121. LtSheridan - May 20, 2013

63. smike

A portable transportation device has NEVER been showed on any 24th century Trek, so why it is now available for such highly sophisticated transwarp beaming?
It simply doesn’t make no sense within ANY established Trek science.
Just because we’ve never seen it before should not mean it does not exist!. How many other Starfleet ships and crews are out there having missions and encountering new and wierd stuff? If we’ve never seen a “Ring-a-ding Battle Cruiser” before does not mean some other ship can never encounter it and it can never exist? If a tree falls in the woods….
Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations anyone?
Another note- I think that the transwarp beamning device here is a unique piece, not standard issue (while Scotty didn’t seem impressed by it- he shouldn’t be since he invented transwarp beaming anyway).

122. Randy H. - May 20, 2013

For context, I’ve been a Trek fan for over 40 years. I have to say I enjoyed the film and thought it – largely – worked. My take (and associated rationalizations) on the most troublesome science bits:

– Transwarp Beaming. As noted, this was established as possible in Assignment: Earth. It was established as practical for Starfleet in ST09. From a dramatic standpoint its future use can be limited by assuming a limited aggregate mass of transported objects, impractical energy consumption, and high chances of failure. It may also require repeaters for travel more than a few light years (explaining why Harrison’s device was not very large – it boosted him to a larger unit which forwarded him further). And maybe it can only be used in areas of space where variable subspace conditions are favorable.

– Distance. As a dramatic representation, the time spent travelling between places was edited out. A sign of sloppy craftsmanship, and it is unfortunate a throw-away line couldn’t have been used to explain things. But it’s not like this kind of thing hasn’t happened before, especially in TOS. I’ve always thought that distance travelled over time was variable anyway based on localized subspace conditions – rather like travelling through bad weather. Otherwise most time/distance calculations are nearly impossible to reconcile in the TOS world. But here, chalk it up to editing.

– Gravity. Artificial gravity was established in TOS as not always working (“gravity down to point eight”). If the synchronization of artificial gravity and inertial stabilizers was broken then each could be fighting the other such that you get wildly varying “directions” for gravity. As shown in the film.

– Underwater Enterprise. If the idea was to hide a ship in the ocean, a shuttle underwater would suffice with the Enterprise still in orbit. It was a stupid idea. However, let’s try to work something out. Assume the planet is such that communications are affected similarly to the transporter, meaning they have to be close to talk. And having heard it was possible to submerge a starship Kirk decided to try it out. That actually would fit with his “I’m too cool for rules” persona early in the film. (But if so, then Kirk was as stupid about that as he was in filing a misleading report.)

– “Too Hot for a Shuttle”. Random and massive thermal layers in the air can make hovering difficult, even for a spaceship. It doesn’t have to be ash, although that could play a part since most shuttles are shown working in vacuum or a low-particulate atmosphere. So the heat wouldn’t melt the shuttle or the Enterprise, but could make it hard to hover nearby.

– Magic Blood. McCoy had two problems to overcome with Kirk: (1) he was brain dead and (2) his body was irradiated. Pointless to resuscitate his brain if his body was full of radiation. But if Harrison’s blood could purge the effects of the radiation, then restarting his brain (having been frozen in time) might be okay. So do the blood transfusion while Kirk was “cold”, then resuscitate his brain. Meaning, from a dramatic standpoint, we don’t have a “cure-all” for death here, anymore than in TNG’s “Unnatural Selection”.

I don’t like having to work so hard to fix sloppy writing, so I hope the next film is a little better in that regard.

123. smike - May 20, 2013

Transwarp beaming itself might be feasible, but only from a TRANSPORTER to a nearby starship or object, not to an alien world that is lightyears away.

Portable transportation devices may also be thinkable…I was wrong. They had one in NEM, which is late 24th century…

But a super-long-range portable transwarp beaming device, is, standard-issue or not, simply something not conceivable for any version of the 23rd century…it’s 31st century at best. And if ever established a standard issue, it would render Starfleet pointless and turn mankind into the next Q-Continuum.

And this is nothing that can be explained away. It’s a central plot point of this film and it takes away A LOT of its credibility, not to mentioned theycould have used the same device to follow Harrison…

And please give Dr Soran one of these! Maybe he can beam directtly into the Nexus that way…oh right…he could have just used another starship :-)

124. smike - May 20, 2013

The other science quibbles I don’t have any problems with. The lava being to hot for a shuttle or the Big-E although EARTH’S LAVA would be much colder than re-entry? It’s NOT Earth’s lava…and on Earth, any vulcano erruption would not destroy a planet anyway. So maybe there are components in this vulcano that makes it a lot hotter than Earth’s lava could ever become…

And the Enterprise under water is a non-issue. If a starship can go to warp, enter the atmosphere of a gas-giant, fling around the sun at warp 10, it can stay a couple of hours under water…

Even the long-range torpedos I buy. But the transwarp device is simply too much…

125. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 20, 2013

#122 – Kirk was not brain dead. His body had been irradiated. Dr McCoy quickly got Kirk into a cryotube in order to preserve brain function.

126. Aaron M Walker - May 20, 2013

” I enjoyed Star Trek into Darkness in 3d, and as fan of TOS, Next-generation, and spin offs…I am not ashamed to say it. Yes, its a new timelime/alternate reality, and their are differences in Trek tech, and still pays homage to TOS timeline/ prime history . Yes, its a llittle more military based. Through Star Trek TOS in general was a military/ explorational adventure. Yes, There are niggles here and their, but I liked the fast pace action, and the run and gun. The gunfights, and combat were well choreographed, better action wise than any of the next-generation,or spin offs. One nerd rage issue, * photon torpedoes, those so called new long range WMDs were re classifieds a type of missile under jj trek. Where we all know they don’t use any fuel, carry a variable yield warhead of matter/anti matter, are discharged from the enterprise via a hypervelocity mass driver launcher,at variable speeds up to warp, and can main with a limited guidance system, and driver field coil to main a warp field. Another, deflector shields, where are they!?! Also, phaser don’t appear to able vaporize anything! Oh well, still cool though! End of rant.

127. Aaron M Walker - May 20, 2013

Oh and the transwarp beaming issue. I might remind folks about Next gen ,and DS 9 encounters with hyper dimensional transport, and long range instant travel of the Iconian transport portal holes!!!! Bet you dont remember those….

128. Phil - May 20, 2013

@125. And his head is not a part of his body? Even if he had on head protection, his circulatory system would still be flushing irradiated blood into his brain. And if McCoy put him into a cyrotube, then he wasn’t dead, just on life support. If they stuck him in the morgue, then he’s dead, and it’s magic blood to the rescue…

129. Phil - May 20, 2013

@122. To expand on your point, that level of exposure would not just be radiation poisoning, but severe radiation burns as well. The shock alone from being cooked in such a fashion would be fatal. Further, the damage to his circulatory system is would really prevent him transfusing later, as a non-function heart is no longer maintaining and pressure at all to circulate bodily fluids. That, and no one has mentioned rigor mortis, but then, maybe Dr. McCoy has a shot for that, too…

On a ship that has just had the s**t kicked out of it, I can’t imagine the medical teams wasting resources on keeping a radioactive dead man on life support, considering there ore others that can be saved. Considering that pumping irradiated blood into his brain and other organs will just keep him cooking for a while longer. Maybe the cyro-tube dings when he hits ‘well done’….

130. Neal - May 20, 2013

I was bothered at least two other science mistakes in the movie.

First, KIRK’S CONVERSATION WITH SCOTTY by communicator should not have been possible. Kirk was stuck in the heart of Klingon space while Scotty was in a bar on Earth, yet they were able to converse as though they were using cell phones from a much more earthly distance.

A radio signal takes many years to travel that distance, which is why–in the Star Trek universe–interstellar communications are achieved through subspace, another dimension where physical laws behave differently. While a subspace transmission is a lot faster than travel by warp drive, it has been noted in the original series that it could still take days or even weeks for a message to reach Earth from deep space. The kind of casual chatting Kirk and Scotty did just could not have happened.

Second, while making their space-suited leap from the Enterprise to the admiral’s starship, KIRK AND KHAN EXPERIENCED AN AWFUL LOT OF TURBULENCE! Maybe I’m nitpicking, but we heard wind howling past their space helmets and saw the camera shuddering (much like we saw in the previous film’s planet drop on Vulcan) as if the pair were dropping through an atmosphere. There must have been more than debris in that debris field.

One more obvious (but unscientific) mistake:

Really, Spock? That barely made sense when Kirk said it, but you?

131. sean - May 20, 2013

All they have to do to neuter transwarp beaming in future installments (besides the whole, like riding a horse blindfolded, etc.) is say it has some sort of degenerative effect on human tissue if a subject is beamed too often. It’s a concept we’ve already seen in Trek (like the subspace transporter in Bloodlines or the dimensional shift in The High Ground) so it wouldn’t be that strange.

132. Unwanted - May 20, 2013

Seriously HOW can interstellar beaming be inconsistent with other Trek technology when the concept has repeatedly been used starting with Assignment: Earth in season 2 of TOS, and continuing through TNG, DS9, and Voyager, which ALL have stories featuring interstellar transporters?

133. Qax - May 21, 2013

Re: travel time to Qo’nos: Okay, so I just did some calculations, and it looks like the numbers from Enterprise aren’t entirely consistent.

Using velocity = distance / time, I calculated that Enterprise NX-01 must have been moving at 8212 times the speed of light to travel 90 light-years in four days.

From Wikipedia, which cites the Episode Writer’s Guide for the Original Series, this is the formula for warp travel in the 23rd century: velocity = (warp factor)^3 c.

So the NX-01 would have been traveling at Warp 20 by the 23rd century standard. Even if we ignore the 90 light-years number, and solve for the distance to Qo’nos based on the travel time of 4 days and a travel speed of Warp 4.5, we find that Qo’nos would then be a little under a light-year away, which is, of course, impossible, since the closest star is Alpha Centauri, which is about four light-years away.

But all of that aside. Even though the numbers don’t work out for Enterprise, it does make sense conceptually that the Enterprise in Into Darkness should be able to get there significantly faster, judging by the above formula for Warp Factor. We know from the Original Series that the Enterprise NCC-1701 can travel at warp 9 if necessary. Warp 9 is 729 times the speed of light; where warp 4.5 is just 91 times the speed of light. I calculated that a distance which would take 4 days to cross at warp 4.5 would take only 12 hours at warp 9. Which is much more plausible. And who knows? Since this is an alternate reality, and the Into Darkness Enterprise might not be identical to the TOS Enterprise, it might even be able to go faster than that.

So the travel time doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Re:transwarp beaming.
The reason this makes sense is because it was brought back in time by Spock Prime from the future. Presumably, the formula was invented sometime after Nemesis (2379) but before Spock’s departure from the future (2387). You’re absolutely right, that this makes starships unnecessary for the most part. But just in the same way that DVDs took a while to completely supplant VHS, Starfleet wouldn’t immediately abandon starships as soon as they get their hands on the new technology.

It doesn’t supplant DS9 or Voyager because it was invented after the events of those shows. Plus, we know they exist, from episodes like Assignment: Earth. There’s no reason Starfleet couldn’t develop one eventually.

The Enterprise being able to travel quickly doesn’t remove the vastness of space. It makes travel between stars in this section of the galaxy pretty doable, which is pretty necessary to have a Federation in the first place. The faster a ship can move, the further out it can explore. Also, as for transporters: I think that you still need to explore a system first with a ship before you can beam there, because even if transporters can reach that far, detailed sensors can’t.

134. Qax - May 21, 2013

@130. Not true, we’ve seen various starship captains have live conversations with Starfleet Command via subspace. If they get extremely far away, there is some significant delay, but as I calculated above, there’s some uncertainty about how far away Qo’nos is. So there’s no guarantee they’d be out of range. I’m assuming they can contact Scotty because they can contact some sort of communications grid for Earth, which then routes the call to Scotty’s communicator.

135. Disinvited - May 21, 2013

#120. Keachick – rose pinenut – May 20, 2013

That’s not entirely accurate. “Warp” drive works not by the ship hurtling through space but rather by the ship staying stationary and bending space around it. It presents its own set of problems for solution which aren’t comparable to the motion of celestial bodies. If any transporting device can’t match whatever is being transported’s speed and direction, to that of the surface of the celestial body that the attempt to beam to is being made, it’s going to get creamed.

136. Damian - May 21, 2013

134–The Enterprise in Enterprise was seen leaving subspace relays to make real time contact with Starfleet possible. We also heard a number of times in different shows when a relay is down or being jammed, making communication impossible (and of course there are times the ship was so far away they couldn’t make contact).

But I think what 130 was getting at is that generally communicators were used to contact a ship in orbit. We generally don’t see a ship in another star system making contact with someone on a communicator. Usually they need something with more power, like a communication station.

137. Damian - May 21, 2013

133–True, the Dominion had the ability to transport over large distances. It’s certainly possible Starfleet found a way to adapt that (through Captain Scott from the future).

The writers for the next film really ought to find a way to make that difficult to use because it is a big plot hole. Obviously a lot of people have noted that you don’t need ships then. As someone else noted, maybe some risk to body tissue as seen in other shows, or maybe the power consumption needed makes it unrealistic for large scale use. Something to negate transwarp beaming as a viable travel method for large scale space travel.

138. Yanks - May 21, 2013

OK, transwap beaming was barely forgivable in ST09. To use it again in STID shows a blatent disregard for anything that matters in Star Trek.

For gods sake they just trans”warped” a guy to another planet (moon or whatever) using the power that can be contained in a frakin suitcase.

I mean really, do they sit around and try to drum up crap that they know will piss us all off?

Sure seems like it to me.

Another thing. The whole volcano thing….

Lets just say that the super-wamodine cold fusion device did what it say it did, stopped the volcano.

Fine, but does it cool all the planets’ lava in the process? If not, it will just find another place to errupt… if it does cool the core, the magnetic field will eventually disappear, along with the atmosphere and all life. (see Mars).

Guess there ARE reasons for the Prime Directive.

139. Joseph Yu - May 21, 2013

What about Kirk’s magic communicator, in which he is able to call Scotty, who is back on Earth, while the Enterprise is at the Klingon home world?

140. Phil - May 21, 2013

Magic blood, magic communicator, magic transporter, magic submarine, magic volcano cork….

Have not seen the movie yet, but it sounds like my disbelief suspender is going to get a workout….

141. Qax - May 21, 2013

@136. I know, communicators are usually used for a ship in orbit — my point was that there might be an exception to that in this case because Scotty was on Earth, and it’s quite possible his communicator could communicate with Earth’s communications network, like a cell phone near a cell tower. If they were on, say, Nibiru, they might not have been able to contact him from light-years away because, as you say, there wouldn’t be so many subspace relays between them and Earth.

@137. Not necessarily a plot hole, just something that should be dealt with. Maybe ships DO start to get phased out by the third movie’s time, who knows? Or if not, maybe there’s a good reason why we still need ships — as I noted before, you probably need detailed scans of the place you’re beaming into before you beam there, which entails going there with a ship. As for Khan beaming to Qo’nos, he probably scouted the site he beamed to far in advance of actually beaming there. We’ve already seen that the transwarp transporter can have problems in targeting, from Scott materializing inside the water tube in the first movie. So, it’s probably not even close to ready to replace transporters.

142. Damian - May 21, 2013

141–That was probably why some people were bothered by Scotty speaking to Kirk on a communicator though. For me, the thought did cross my mind about using a communicator for such a large distance, but I sort of let it go.

I do think it would be helpful to address the transwarp beaming though, because a lot of people are asking about the necessity of having starships in the first place if you can just beam where you want. I assume they’ll want to continue to use the ship for obvious reasons, so the best way is to explain that it is just not feasible for large scale use for some reason (energy consumption, causes biological problems, targeting problems, etc.) just to put it too rest.

For me, those 2 things were more minor. My 2 biggest problems were the travel time from Qu’onos (or Kronos if you prefer) to Earth being a few seconds and the magic blood. The first (travel time) could have easily been fixed with a scene or two showing a certain amount of time has passed. The 2nd, well, I got nothing to fix that. Khan’s magic blood just can’t be explained away. It was something completely new. As much as I liked STID (I saw it twice and loved it both times) the magic blood thing just strikes me as being a bit on the lazy side. There had to be some more creative way to bring Kirk back from the dead. It would have been far better if McCoy had worked some miracle while desperately trying to brink Kirk back (and more dramatic). Magic blood was just too convenient.

143. pauln6 - May 21, 2013

I get frustrated at the disregard for power consumption. Beaming a few thousand miles to a planet takes a LOT of energy. Beaming light years takes more and yet they hand wave this away as requiring no additional power and no additional equipment.

I’d be happy if the system required relays like Stargate (although in the comics they used ordinary communications relays, which should not work because they do not use annular confinement beams to maintain the integrity of a shed load of information – waaay more than a communications signal.

I understand them wanting to avoid technobabble but they should at least have some awareness of what should be the reasonable limitations of the tech.

And we have air traffic control today, it doesn’t make sense that Starfleet Command would have fewer controls in the 23rd century and not even the ability to raise shields to protect headquarters from attack. The same holds for basic security to prevent unauthorised personnel gaining access to a secure facility. If the writers are going to up the tech, they should at least up the colalteral tech that protects against that increased tech.

144. sean - May 21, 2013

Beaming of any kind is 100% unrealistic from a power consumption angle. It doesn’t matter if it’s happening on a starship or from a portable reactor. Lawrence Krauss discusses it in considerable detail in one of his books. Transporters are fantasy, but they’re good fantasy from a production & plot standpoint because they relieve the necessity of getting into a shuttlecraft every damn time someone needs to leave the ship. And again, Trek has used portable transport tech before, so it’s not like these guys were going way out on a limb with this.

145. pauln6 - May 21, 2013

Oh And the impression I got with Gary Seven is that he was travelling via wormhole rather than subspace carrier wave so the energy needed to warp space and time to that degree would be waaaay beyond Federation power generation. These things do matter and I wish the writers would understand that challenging the characters within defined limits is usually more fun than than just amping up and up and up until you have nowhere left to go.

146. Qax - May 21, 2013

142 – Very true, though to be honest I would have been more annoyed if they didn’t do anything with the transwarp beaming. I hate it when someone introduces advanced tech from the future and then Starfleet forgets about it, like that time that Voyager brought back that crazy powerful armor and torpedo stuff that made them able to blow up a Borg cube in like 2 shots; and then we never hear of it again, in the TNG movies that followed (Data wouldn’t have had to die if the Enterprise had that junk equipped)! I’m glad they’re dealing with it a little — we’re seeing some of the consequences of that technology from the future existing. But I agree, I hope they explore that more in the third movie.

As to the magic blood. I totally agree. Way too convenient. They should have kept Kirk dead. Nothing against Kirk, but if they want a dramatic death scene like that, they should have then explored what happens as a result of Kirk being gone — who’s gonna be captain now? What happens from here out? That would have been interesting to explore. I think it was a cop-out that they brought him back so easily.

143 – Stargates don’t use relays to my knowledge. There’s one on each planet and they open a wormhole between the two. Except in Stargate Atlantis, when they need to use a relay between the Pegasus galaxy and the Milky Way. But that’s a much greater distance than we’re talking about in Star Trek. But you do have a point, there isn’t really a greater energy need discussed. That’s a chronic problem of sci-fi in general, I think.

147. pauln6 - May 21, 2013

If power consumption is unrealistic over 80,000 km, which I agree it is, how does that make it acceptable to increase the distance by a factor of… actually I need a mathematician to work that out for me. But don’t get me wrong, beaming crew up from the planet without a portable quantum scanner isn’t very realistic either, and by that I mean within the confines of the tech itself.

BTW – I was referring to the Stargate bridge where they linked a load of stargates toegther so that they could increase their range and get to Atlantis. Now that was a sensible, well thought out use of the existing technology within the limits previously established.

148. sean - May 21, 2013

What I’m saying is that if you are dealing with a fantasy tech that can’t exist according to all known physical laws, what does it matter if the range is increased? The only reason it matters is from a dramatic perspective, but I think they’ve left the door open to limit the tech in future installments.

149. Unwanted - May 21, 2013

@145. Your “impression” is not supported by the episode in question, there was nothing unusual about Gary 7’s trtansporter beam except that it originated outside the Sol system (Earth system), it does not matter what anyone’s opinion on the matter is, interstellar beaming was added to Trek under Gene’s watch, and it never went away. Any suggestion that it is somehow inconsistent simply displays an appaling ignorance of prior Trek.

Re: “Magic Blood” Season 2 TNG episode “Unnatural Selection” had a group of genetically engineered individuals whose blood carried antibodies capable of leaving their body and becoming an airborne plague, “superblood” due to genetic engineering, also added to Trek under Gene’s watch, and not a new thing in Trek, sheesh people, didn’t any of you ever actually watch the show.

150. Phil - May 21, 2013

@149. Plenty of people watch the show, and the more brain-farted concepts have been debated at length. As I recall, that episode also saw the transporter used as the restorer of youth – which begs the bigger question, if the transporter can fix up medical problems by comparing your transport pattern to a healthy pattern, why would Starfleet need doctors at all, when all you need to do is transport somewhere to get rid of that pesky head cold?

If we want to be nit-picky, what was shown in Unnatural Selection was probably a better example of biological warfare, exposure was designed to kill by rapid aging, all it did was accelerate a natural bodily process. Harrisons blood does the opposite, regenerate, an infinitely more complicated process.

151. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 21, 2013

The fact is that, within Star Trek canon, transwarp beaming is possible. Someone designing a portable transwarp beaming device is entirely possible, given what has already been discovered within these particular universes. In other words, this device is consistent with Star Trek canon up to this point.

This has nothing to do with what is possible in our real world 2013, otherwise many of us would (I suspect) be on starships having space bend around us…

“Magic blood” of some of the Kenyan female prostitutes who do not get infected with the HIV virus, despite repeated exposure, once the antibody component has been discovered/isolated and a serum produced, may well be what saves the life of a near death AIDS patient. Dr McCoy was doing much what medical scientists are attempting to do today.

Harrison/Khan made the comment that he and his *family* did not need an oxygenated environment in order to survive. It may also be that he is able to survive (without much, if any, injury) in a radiated environment, like the antimatter chamber where Kirk went and suffered radiation poisoning.

Kirk was not on life-support because Dr McCoy had declared him dead, for all intents and purposes. Once he realized that this blood could bring a dead tribble back to life, he had Kirk put in cryostasis in order to halt (further) degeneration of Kirk’s brain function. I have no idea how fried Kirk’s brain and insides were, due to the particular type of radiation he had been exposed to. Obviously Dr McCoy thought that it was worth a try…

152. pauln6 - May 21, 2013

Just because something is Star Trek canon does not mean it isn’t sill or that they should not have gone that far. If nobody upholds the standards… well, you get Revenge of the Sith.

153. Phil - May 21, 2013

@151. To clarify…

RE: Transwarp beaming. It’s not it’s existence that’s the issue, it’s now that the ability to accomplish it has been miniaturized and is portable. It’s a legitimate question, if you can throw on a backpack and go anywhere in the galaxy, what use is Starfleet?

RE: Magic blood – there is a difference between not getting the disease to begin with, and repairing the damage once you get it. While 23rd century medicine may be able to do lots of things, returning life to dead tissue, especially traumatized tissue, probably isn’t on that list. Without a functioning circulation system, injecting anything into a dead body accomplishes nothing.

RE: Air for Harrison. Okay, not having seen the movie, that sounds like a bit of bravado to me. I could get someone possibly surviving short exposure to space, free-divers today can survive underwater for extended periods of time with proper training. If he doesn’t need oxygen, then why is he breathing?

RE: Cooked Kirk. He was fried enough to die. Does it really matter if he was medium rare or well done? As long as he wasn’t reduced to charcoal, it seems there just needed to be something there for the good doctor to inject.

I enjoyed Trek09, and will probably enjoy STID as well. But for both movies, it appears that it is wise to not look to close. And we should probably stop debating the nonsense science fantasy, as it appears that in this universe the writers don’t have issues doing stuff because it looks good on screen. That’s the sandbox we have chosen to play in, it’s best to ignore the turds….

154. sean - May 21, 2013

Khan says his family doesn’t require oxygen because they are in cryotubes, not because he or his crew don’t need oxygen.

155. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 21, 2013

You can’t go anywhere in the galaxy just because you have a portable transwarp beaming device…duh

#154 – I got the impression that Khan meant that he and his *family* did not need to breathe oxygen if it was not available, not because his family were in cryotubes.

Seeing the movie again tomorrow – will listen intently…

156. Pablo - May 22, 2013

I miss Rosemberg. Startrek never will be the same!!

157. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 22, 2013

Who is Rosemberg? Do you mean Gene Roddenberry?

158. Admiral_Bumblebee - May 22, 2013

In the next movie, when the Klingon War breaks out, Starfleet transwarp-beams special forces to Kronos, who plant some bombs there, beam back and detonate the bombs. End of the war.

159. Phil - May 22, 2013

Yeah, we can have a little fun debating miracle cures, beaming all over the galaxy, or whatever, but there really isn’t any reason to get to worked up over this. Trek has a long and glorious history of creating really bad plot devices to further stories along. So lets just embrace the science fantasy and move along… that Kirk has the magic blood, too, he can spend the next movie healing dead redshirts…..

Wait a minute, this magic blood completely destroys a cherished Trek trope – the expendable redshirt!!! Now I’m offended!!!!

160. sean - May 22, 2013


You have to think about the context. Spock says if he destroys the Enterprise he’ll also kill his crew. Khan retorts that he’ll target the life support. His crew are all in cryotubes with independent life support systems. I am quite certain he was not implying that he didn’t require oxygen.

161. Jerry Modene - May 22, 2013

Asimov’s essay, from his magazine and later re-printed in at least one or two of his essay collection books, deals with the whole “it’s just science fiction” argument.

Isaac was, of course, known for his “hard science” style of fiction, and took particular umbrage at the kind of attitude that says, “It’s just science fiction, why does it have to be accurate?”

It’s too lengthy to quote, but look up the article – and then realize that this essay came up in connection with a little movie called “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” I daresay Isaac (who was a science adviser on STTMP and a long-time friend of GR’s) would have had a field day with STID.

(One quote I from the article that *is* short enough for this post is one of my favorites: “Going to see a bad science fiction movie for the special effects is like eating a bad steak for the grilled onions.”)

162. Damian - May 22, 2013

153–I agree about transwarp beaming. I don’t have an issue so much with the existence. As noted it has been used before in some fashion, most obviously by the Dominion in Deep Space Nine. But even there it apparently had limitations since they didn’t use it to just beam soldiers onto DS9 from afar.

The main thing is just to answer many of those asking with such a device, why use Starships. It could become the Iconian gateway in a sense. The writers should set certain parameters, basically making it something that can’t be used large scale (that you still need Starships and standard transporters are still the best way to travel).

146–The relaunched Voyager novels did a decent job explaining why the technology was not adapted (not canon, of course). It became top secret and was removed from Voyager upon it’s return, though some of the technology was adapted and used in the Borg invasion at Azati Prime (from the Destiny series). particularly the torpedoes (they had to use those sparingly because of the Borg’s ability to adapt).

Magic blood, though. That was just a step too far into fantasy. I can write off most of the disbelief (as noted, Star Trek frequently has convenient technology), but magic blood takes the cake. I can even forgive Spock screaming “Khan” (though it did initiate an eye roll), but the magic blood had me saying “You’ve got to be kidding me”.

Overall, I enjoyed STID. A lot. It was entertaining (which is what it’s all about after all). The writers took a lot of what we had to say into account without detracting from the movie. There were less intrusive lens flares. But these little things–and one big thing (magic blood) that still keeps it behind TMP, TWOK, and First Contact for me.

163. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 22, 2013

“Please explain to me how essentially a bomb that jumpstarts evolution from atoms and elements can (after the process is already mostly complete and a planet formed) take a dead body, somehow reverse age it down to an infant? [because it can’t be an embryo outside of a womb] and then have it age back into exactly the same person?

To me antibodies or supercells that kickstart someones heart and fight off radiation poisoning sounds a lot more plausible.”

This is a quote from another poster on another thread. I agree that “magic blood” sounds more plausible than the Genesis effect.

164. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 22, 2013

I think that the portable transwarp beaming device and the so-called “magic blood” will have limited application. There are too many variables in each case.

165. Underhill - May 22, 2013

There are a LOT of inconsistencies in distances traveled vs. elapsed screen time, but I’m willing to overlook those in light of the fact that it’s a movie, where pacing trumps.

When I view a Star Trek movie, I have no problem with scientific inconsistencies. Star Trek is based on the illusion of scientific limitations, but those “limitations” relative to today’s understanding of physics allow only your imagination to be the limit. Which is kinda why Star Trek is so cool.

Btw, it’s possible that the boundaries of the neutral zone are in different locations in the new timeline, thus accounting for the Enterprise to be perched within view of Qo’nos.

166. Jim Nightshade - May 22, 2013

Tonite Wed 5-22-13 at 900 pm on H2 History channel 2

New Premiere STAR TREK: Secrets of the universe!

just saw an commercial for it…..

167. jesustrek - May 22, 2013

hello Antonhy this scene reminded me STID in this volcano are big tides of lava.

168. Matias47 - May 23, 2013

@62 — (I haven’t read everything yet, but I had to respond to what you said, which follows.) — “I don’t know, it seemed pretty likely to me that the volcano freezer would have affected all the way down into the planet’s magma center. Otherwise there could just as easily be a second volcano that erupts when the first is sealed. Just because they didn’t do a CSI-style camera zoom down inside the planet doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

Well, there’s a little problem with that scenario. If the magma center was “frozen,” or whatever you want to call it, then the planet’s magnetic field would disappear. The magnetic field acts as a shield against the more destructive rays of the sun. The first thing that would happen is that the ozone layer would be wiped out almost immediately allowing for very poisonous rays to kill plants and in short order, people. In addition the magnetic field helps hold the atmosphere in place around the planet, what with gravity actually being a weak force. Without it, even if the sun didn’t kill you, the atmosphere would drift into space and you’d wind up with a Mars-like planet instead of an Earth-like one.

So, If the “super Ice cube” only froze the surface, the pressure building up would explode elsewhere and if it goes to the magma center the planet’s magnetic field goes away. Either way (given that the volcano was a supervolcano) the planet is destroyed.


And on to a couple other things, how were the 72 photons supposed to be fired when, according to Dr. Marcus, the fuel systems had been removed to make way for the cryotubes?

And with transwarp beaming, why not just beam a planet-killer device or bio-weapon to Kronos? Who needs a big ship? (Although I will admit the desire a guy like Admiral Marcus would have to possess the baddest toy on the block.)

I know others have brought up the ridiculously fast fall to Earth from the Moon, Kronos visible from the Neutral Zone, the ultrfast speeds from system to system (according to Scotty, this all happened in one day) etc.

“… not even good writing,” indeed.

169. Disinvited - May 23, 2013

#149. Unwanted – May 21, 2013

Nothing unusual?!! According to Scotty it was of such extreme power as he head never seen before. In fact, it was so powerful that it caused the E’s transporter to self activate and intercept it even though it wasn’t aimed at it’s coordinates.

170. Disinvited - May 23, 2013

#153. Phil – May 21, 2013

Wait, wait, wait, wait….are you saying the portable transporter can transport itself as well? – Because that’s a nitpick of a whole different color!

171. Disinvited - May 23, 2013

#168. Matias47 – May 23, 2013

If you recall TWOK, photon torpedoes can, indeed, be launched with no guts (well, Spock’s guts) inside. Now whether they’d make it to Kronos before everyone on the E grew old is another matter.

172. Disinvited - May 24, 2013

Much hay has been made of Carol’s bra in the shuttle; but how about the science of the scene?:

173. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 25, 2013

Interesting that constantly wearing a bra may actually increase sag…hmmm

174. Trek Fan - May 25, 2013

Here is a question that I would like answered. When the Enterprise and Vengeance were at warp and the Vengeance fires on the Enterprise, the Enterprise develops a massive hull breach where some of the crew are pulled out into space, at warp. Shouldn’t a hull breach of this size at warp cause massive damage to that section of the ship? I.E. rip the hull apart?

175. oblivion7-May 27, 2013 - May 27, 2013

I don’t know if this was mentioned before, but in addition to agreeing with much of the other nit-picky thoughts, this one bothered me a great deal:

When the Vengeance fell to earth and landed into the ocean near Star Fleet HQ, shouldn’t the tidal wave it produced have taken out the entire West Coast? That ship was at least the size of the asteroid that struck Russia in the early 1900’s, and the damage should have been far greater than the destruction of a few buildings. Granted, I may need to see the film a second time but I kept shaking my head while that scene was happening…

I agree with the transwarp problem, and can only hope they get a different director and writers who will come up with a story leaving that out. However, I fear that science will continue to take a back seat to eye candy.

176. Keachick - rose pinenut - May 28, 2013

Large airplanes crash on land or in the sea without causing earthquakes or tidal waves or if they do, are small and of little consequence.

177. Disinvited - May 29, 2013

Well, I suppose this could be taken as an argument for cement in space:

178. Elton - May 29, 2013

As I understand Warp Drive it is exponential speed increases and not liner. This means that warp 5 is actually twice warp 4. The Enterprise from Enterprise made it at warp 4.5 in four days. The Original Series Enterprise could go warp 8. But warp 8 is about 15 times the speed the Enterprise is going. So the speed might not be as bad as it seems. On the other hand, why build a giant spaceship to fight the Klingons if you can beam people onto their planet from Earth.

179. Joe - May 30, 2013

I think the “danger” of transwarp beaming replacing ships is actually addressed in the background of the series. Notice how when ever the crew is on Earth they get back and forth on shuttle craft instead of beaming? We actually see shuttles going about all over the place, not people just beaming about. My assumption is that having a few people beaming is ok, but the more people do it the more interferece you get. Khan was able to do it becouse he set up the device and is suppior if a bunch more people try and do it at the same time you get too much of the band width used up and nobody gets anywhere.

As for the magic blood, I’m sure Bones did a lot more than just give some blood, but it also had to Khan’s blood so there was a reason to stop Spock from killing Khan, don’t want to end a villian that is this good. I can’t wait to see how good at being bad he will be the next time he gets loose now that he has a grudge against Kirk and Spock.

The time between leaving Kronos and getting to earth doesn’t bother me as much now as at first since I’ve been thinking about the American Civil war, DC and Richmond are increadably close. So why can’t the home world of the Klingon’s be minutes away from Starfleet HQ and at the same time is Klingon HQ still on their homeworld? Perhaps they have made changes as well since the change in the time line.

180. Jovius the Romulan - May 31, 2013

… anyone else but me think Kayla should be hired as a science — and possibly feminism — advisor for the next movie? Just saying, she’s got some really on-point things to say about both that enhance, rather than take away from the movie’s credibility with either subject.

181. Phil - June 1, 2013

@181. I’d second that motion…

182. oz - June 2, 2013

transport tech is a lie so who cares how big jj makes it. rodenbery said the transporter was invented to tv save time rather than shuttle down.
how come nobody mentioned that 71 torpedoes and any secondary explosions still didn’t utterly destroy the vengeance. our 1st atom bomb would have been a 100 fold overkill, right?

183. Jovius the Romulan - June 3, 2013

Phil: Meant to say “that /would/ enhance”, but I think you got my meaning.

oz: In its defence, the U.S.S. Vengeance is a pretty huge and tough ship. Why are we comparing photon torpedoes to atom bombs, though…?

184. oz - June 4, 2013

Jovius: because we are looking at future weapons systems that are less effective than our past and present. i would think that in the future we would clearly be able to project more power not less. these aren’t aircraft carriers on the water. these are ships in space protected by energy shields…nothing is more disruptive than nukes. and i think that in our future we will have nukes the size of a baseball that would have gigaton yields. for that matter
romulan self destruct on “their” bird of prey in the 60s series was atomic, considered crude.
i thought the borg weapons fire on the zepheron chochron installation was just as dumb. one shot from the most technologically advanced enemy should have destroyed all of Montana, but they were lobbing yields equivalent to 1st generation RPGs.
i just think that a photon torpedo should have a yield 1000 times more than what we currently have in our nuclear cruise missile…or what we can let loose from a B1 bomber. i mean what are they doing in the future–holding back? the picard enterprise is the penultimate weapons platform and he had section 31 around, but that’s staying from my point.
shatner’s general order 64 destroys ever city on an advanced planet using photon torpedoes with a max inventory of 250…i ramble in defense of continuity…you can’t leave a star base at 1/4 impulse then troll along like a prius in reverse like they did in the star trek movie with that vulcan chic at the wheel, whom later showed up bar tending on Cheers.
end of story… all they had to do is say” we we’re only able to arm one torpedo.”

185. Phil - June 4, 2013

@184. Not necessarily. Treks ships of the line were intended to project power, but as a defensive capability. What I would expect to see are ships that would have specialized weapons, capable of disabling shields, or for surgical strikes, and not just used as an overpowering projection of power.

Recall that the Borg assimilated, so even their weapons would be used for overpowering defensive capabilities first.

Even though there are political tensions in the Trek universe, as originally presented, the Federation was largely at peace, and Starfleet was as much an exploration and research service as it was a military one. Sadly, as the show progressed that balance tipped toward more focus on the military aspect. It would be nice to see the franchise regain some of that old balance.

186. oz - June 5, 2013

the vengeance is military, the 72 torpedoes were section 31, the 1960s kirk gave general order 64, an offensive strike to destroy an entire planet. i understand the concept that the ship was supposed to be on peaceful mission, but bringing powder puff in a galaxy full of klingons and romulans makes as little sense as believing the future did away with pay incentives to work. nobody peals potatoes for free like capt. sisko did on earth. but that is straying– the S T hand weapon is 1000 times more lethal than anything our military carries. if S T was all candies and nuts every phaser would only stun. i say it again, this is just an example that no S T show or movie is consistent, save S T 2009… i don’t care about trans warp beaming because it’s theoretically impossible just standing still. again, the borg dropped hand grenades from orbit on the zepheron choceron installation instead of some biological agent or something that does what a fuel-air bomb does only the size of montana. hey, there are much worse ideas like war of the worlds burying those walkers a million years in the past and wait all that time for tech to be reasonable exchange rather than wipe out earth during the bronze age and far earlier. lastly…
a borg cube is a 1000 times bigger and tougher than the vengeance…
piccard only needed to beam over only 1 torpedo– though it was disabled
and… stargate the movie 1 nuke took out Ra’s mother ship exactly as i expected…much bigger much more advanced than star fleet… the problem i had with them was their death gliders’ weapons couldn’t hit jack…
which brings to mind the nuke that obliterated the mother ship in independence day…their silly thing was uploading that virus from a laptop and the aliens not having macafee

187. oz - June 5, 2013

the vengeance is military, the 72 torpedoes were section 31, the 1960s kirk gave general order 64, an offensive strike to destroy an entire planet. i understand the concept that the ship was supposed to be on peaceful mission, but bringing powder puff in a galaxy full of klingons and romulans makes as little sense as believing the future did away with pay incentives to work. nobody peals potatoes for free like capt. sisko did on earth. but that is straying– the S T hand weapon is 1000 times more lethal than anything our military carries. if S T was all candies and nuts every phaser would only stun. i say it again, this is just an example that no S T show or movie is consistent, save S T 2009… i don’t care about trans warp beaming because it’s theoretically impossible just standing still. again, the borg dropped hand grenades from orbit on the zepheron choceron installation instead of some biological agent or something that does what a fuel-air bomb does only the size of montana. hey, there are much worse ideas like war of the worlds burying those walkers a million years in the past and wait all that time for tech to be reasonable exchange rather than wipe out earth during the bronze age and far earlier. lastly…
a borg cube is a 1000 times bigger and tougher than the vengeance…
piccard only needed to beam over only 1 torpedo– though it was disabled
and… stargate the movie 1 nuke took out Ra’s mother ship exactly as i expected…much bigger much more advanced than star fleet… the problem i had with them was their death gliders’ weapons couldn’t hit jack…
which brings to mind the nuke that obliterated the mother ship in independence day…their silly thing was uploading that virus from a laptop and the aliens not having macafee

188. oz - June 5, 2013

klingon and romulan ships are not defensive they are warships and were no more dangerous than the enterprise and yet their tech was equal. nukes were considered weaker by roddenberry, used only as self-destruct on a romulan warbird. he also used a 25 (i think) megaton explosion overloading the impulse engine on the u s s constellation to put out the lights on the “Doomsday Machine” episode. photon torpedoes should be able to dial up into the gigaton range

189. oz - June 5, 2013

i’ll bottom line the google search below: a photon torpedo yields 95.73 megatons
THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! this makes general order 64 sound right.
the vengeance should have been vaporized with 1 torpedo

and the guy who wrote the following must need rest…

Section 2 Technology
2.3 Weaponary
2.3.3 Explosive Yield of a Photon Torpedo.

By the 24th century the explosive yields of weapons are described in terms of isotons as compared with today’s convention of using kilotons. However, given that we know the quantity of antimatter and matter used, we should be able to make some assumptions about the comparative yields of the weapons of the Federation.

The current convention is to measure yields in multiples of the explosive yield of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene CH3C6H2(NO2)3. We know that TNT has an explosive yield of 700 calories per gram, (Encyclopaedia Britannica) so we can begin by converting into SI units; specifically the joule. To do this we will multiply the given figure by 4.1868.

1 gram of TNT = 700 calories = 700*4.1868 joules.
1 gram of TNT = 2930.76 joules
Now we need to know how this works in tons. Given that 1 ton is equal to 2240 pounds or 1016.046909 kg we should be able to scale up the explosive yield simply.

It is convention to use ton compared to short ton, net ton American or tonne (1000 kilogrammes.)
1 kg of TNT = 2930.76j*1000g = 2930760 joules.
1 ton = 2930760j*1016.046909kg = 2,977,789,639.02084 joules.
1 megatonne = 2,977,789,639,020,840 joules.
According to Einsteins’s theory of special relativity the enrgy E, and momentum, p, of a particle are related by the equation :


However, given that the antimatter is injected into the matter and held by fields around each packet of antimatter until the detonation signal it would seem that the matter is not in movement and therefore p tends towards zero.



Where c is the velocity of light and m is the mass of the particle when at rest.

What we will do is calculate for a detonation of 100% efficiency for simplicity. The amount of matter is therefore 3kg (1.5 antimatter mass combined with 1.5 mass of matter, energy must be conserved in any reaction) and the constant c is the speed of light which we will approximate to 299,792,500 ms-1

Using the mks unit system for SI measurements:

E(joules) = 3 (kg) * 299 792 500 2 (ms-1)

E(joules) = 3 (kg) * 89,875,543,056,250,000

E(joules) = 269,626,629,168,750,000 joules.

E(joules) = 2.6962662916875*1017 joules.

Now if 1 megaton = 2,977,789,639,020,840 joules; then 1 photon torpedo yields 90.5458953968987946834375526278729 megatons. (90.55 to 2 D.P.)

This has been upgraded recently to increase yield by 5%. (Zimmerman et al. 1998)

This gives 95.73 (to 2 D.P.) megaton yield which rates at 18.5 isotons. This would mean that 1 isoton is approximately 5.14 megatons to 2D.P.

A typical quantum torpedo has increased the typical yield to 21.8 isotons approximately 112.03 (to 2 D.P.) megatons but by using the zero point motion the yield increases to an equivalent of at least fifty isotons. This would give a megaton yield of 257 megatons. In 1987 the Soviet and American stockpile of nuclear arsenals measured 15 gigatons. This is only 58 times the yield of a single quantum torpedo. In fact the detonation of a single torpedo would release more energy than 13 times the explosives ever used in war from the discovery of gunpowder to the 1990’s.

The yield rate for a photon torpedo is therefore 95.73 megatons per 3 kilograms. This is equal to 31.91 per kilogram or 14.51 megatons per pound. This compares with modern weapons as below:

Name Date Weight Yield/weight Y/W ratio kton per pound Destructive Area
Little Boy 1945 9000 lb 1 kton to 600 lb 0.0017 3 sq. miles
MX missile 1986 800 lb 1 kton to 2.4 lb 0.417 234 sq. miles
Photon torpedo Circa 2374 410.74 lb 1 kton to 0.000069 lb 14510 unknown
Groombrdige 273-2A Test 2355 unknown 1 kton to 0.000025 lb 40730 Confined to 900 metre sphere.
Comparative Destructive Size

An asteroid of 2000 metres diameter would have an equivalent yield of one million megatons and would be sufficient to cause a global cataclysm. The crater at Chicxulub was caused by a considerably larger asteroid of almost 9000 metres across and had an explosive yield of 108 megatons (Wynn 1998) (further calculations below). Even the impressive yield of Starfleet weapons and global extinction events pale compared to mines used by the Borg Collective. In the first episode of season 4 of Voyager, Scorpion Part 2, (Braga & Menosky 1997), 7of9 wishes to use a Borg multi-kinetic-neutronic mine with an explosive yield of 5 million isotons. The equivalent of 25,700, gigatons.

While Starfleet was testing the Marx IX warhead it was determined that a theoretical limit of 25 isotons had been reached for matter/antimatter explosions. However the Type 6 torpedoes that came into use in 2371 and which were utilised onboard intrepid class ships had a considerably larger explosive yield. The Borg examination of Voyager (Braga & Menosky 1997) described the type 6 as having a maximum yield of 200 isotons. Later that year a torpedo (Diggs and Kay 1998) was modified with a gravimetric charge for a 54 isoton explosion though this charge was not standard issue. The charge was later upgraded to 80 isotons.

Another weapon of mass destruction that is worth considering is the Long Range Tactical Unit from Star Trek Voyager’s Warhead. The Unit is a self aware artificially intelligent weapon found on a planet; the destruction caused by the units companion weapon allow us to calculate its explosive yield.

To calculate the energy we could compare with an incident meteor impact, from these we can deduce the size of crater and using simple kinetic energy equations, calculate the energy required to excavate a crater of said size.
First let us consider the dimensions of the impactor at Chicxulub.

Given the uncertainties let us begin by considering the arbitary figure of
10,000 metres (usually stated diameter approx. 6 miles)
we will round down due to unknown dimensions with a 20% volume loss due to
deviation from perfect sphere and consider a radius of 4000 metres.

Volume of a sphere is 4/3 (pi r3)
4000 cubed = 64000000000
4/3 * pi * 64000000000 = 268082573106.329 (3dp)
volume = 268082573106.329 m3

Mass is given by v*d
(density The densities of Ceres, Pallas, and Vesta are 2.3, 3.4, and 4.0 grams per cubic centimetre)
Considering a density of 3 for a type S meteorite.
Converting into SI 3,000,000 grams per cubic metre which is 3,000 kg per cubic metre.

268082573106.329 * 3000 = 804247719318987.069 (3 d.p.) kg

Given that normal velocity of impact would average 25 kms-1
This impact velocity is probably too high, most impacts are slower than this and are severely retarded in the atmosphere, the Chicxulub event would not have been significantly retarded so we will keep this value for the larger body. (For a discussion on this see Wynn and Shoemaker 1998)
Energy at impact is:

Ke = 1/2mv2
25000^2 * mass/2 = 625000000 * 804,247,719,318,987.069/2 = 251,327,412,287,183,459,077,011.471 (3d.p.) joules

The kinetic energy at impact is therefore: 251 *1021 joules

Now given that 1 megatonne =

1 gram of TNT = 700 calories = 700*4.1868 joules.
1 gram of TNT = 2930.76 joules
1 kg of TNT = 2930.76j*1000g = 2930760 joules.
1 ton = 2930760j*1016.046909kg = 2,977,789,639.02084 joules.
1 megatonne = 2,977,789,639,020,840 joules.
2,977,789,639,020,840 joules

The impact is roughly 84,400,660.474 megatonnes.

A two hundred kilometre crater would require above 100,000,000 megatonnes.

Now the total annihilation of 1 kilogramme of antimatter with 1 kilo of matter will release:
E = mc2
(this assumes all useable energy, all matter destruction, 100% efficiency and no inert particulate matter generation.
179,751,086,112,500,000 joules of energy or 60.364 megatonnes.(3 d.p.)

Therefore for the crater seen in Warhead we would need a payload of: 1,656,618.440 kilos or 1,656.6 tonnes of antimatter. However, care must be given to the shape of the crater. Though we do not know about the photogramteric accuracy of the Voyager sensors and the orthographic corrections, the crater still looked very deep given the width; far deeper than a normal blast crater. This could effect the over-all energy of the impact.
The interesting side note becomes, if the Tactical Unit is an antimatter device (seemingly indicated by Tuvok) then how are two crewmen able to carry the unit, it is possible that the units explode and whatever they use for explosive yield does not detonate or that they some how replicate their own supply of antimatter before detonation.

return to homepage

190. Phil - June 5, 2013

Whoa….slow afternoon in the lab?

I’m kidding. That’s quite a thesis for fake weapons

191. John V - June 6, 2013

I found this warp core to be the most plausible ever. Now I know that it really is. Makes the engine room scenes the best in the movie. I must note that the ultimate villain’s enhanced abilities and “Super blood” are at once scientific anomalies, possibilities, and plot devices.

192. Gary Makin - June 16, 2013

Bob Orci – hire Kayla Iacovino as science advisor on the next movie. is represented by Gorilla Nation. Please contact Gorilla Nation for ad rates, packages and general advertising information.