Tyson v. Abrams
Can somebody please introduce Neil deGrasse Tyson to J. J. Abrams?
The last Star Wars movie, this planet killing weapon destroys a bunch of planets that are across the sky as viewed from another planet. Apparently orbiting another star. Far away. Hello? Seen any planets orbiting other stars when you look up at the night sky lately? And, um, seeing this would involve light which, you know, travels at light speed. Hard to imagine this taking less than a year. Kind of muddles up the plot if the Republic was demolished for a year and nobody noticed.
Fire from one solar system to another in a couple of minutes? Yes, they did say it was a hyperspace weapon, but that fast? That far?
Sucking hot gas off a star won’t just turn the star off. Or be a wonder fuel for destroying other planets. Or fit inside your little planet killer. Unless this all goes into Hermione Granger’s magic bag.
Wonder what atmospheric pressure is like at the bottom of a pit hundreds of kilometers deep. Or the temperature for that matter.
Wonder what they use to keep such a pit from collapsing gravitationally. Deviatoric stresses are truly incredible at that scale.
For all his failings, George Lucas did have a sense of cosmic scale that Abrams lacks.
While Star Wars is really fantasy rather than science fiction and so maybe can absorb this silliness, Star Trek was more mainstream science fiction in the pre-Abrams universe. Trekkers had the scales for how fast warp speeds and how far things were, etc. This all went by the boards (along with a lot of other stuff).
In Abrams’s version of Trek, there is a planet with a breathable atmosphere so close to Vulcan than that planet is moon sized in its sky. And yet all that is on this planet is a piddly Federation base. Um, this would have to be orbiting Vulcan…and they didn’t colonize it to some degree? Or is there just a big magnifying glass in the sky?
Vulcan is a few minutes at warp from Earth. The Klingon home world is only a bit farther (seemed a lot closer when coming home than heading out–did they take the scenic route?). Quite the cozy neighborhood.
This all bled into the latest Trek where a nebula suddenly becomes a goofy dreamscape of colliding rock-like things that again only required a few minutes to pass through. Super challenging going in, piece of cake going out.
Look, space is really, really, really big. Distances are equally big. Is it really that impossible to develop dramatic tension without ignoring that?
If Tyson can help us to come to terms with an unpleasant election outcome, maybe he can convince Abrams that keeping space big is OK?
(Yes, those long drives do end up inducing odd wandering thoughts…)