Nerd Reviews: Star Trek I & II

I’m going to start reviewing the movies I see, just for the fun of it.  I’m calling these my “Nerd Reviews”, and I’m going to start out critiquing based on two characteristics:
  • Plot Holes
  • Suspension of Disbelief Killers – these are the elements in a science fiction film (or, for that matter, any film) that jar the viewer out of the “willing suspension of disbelief” you need to enjoy a film.
To start with, although I saw Star Trek Beyond a couple of days ago, it is still in theaters, so I shan’t Nerd Review it at this time, but shall back-review its two predecessors.
st12posters
So, here my picks for the biggest plot holes and suspension of disbelief killers in the previous two films:

Star Trek I (the Reboot)

    • Overall Impression
      • I totally loved this film!  I loved that Spock Prime was a big character in it, the writing was excellent, and the backstory elements were much appreciated — specifically, Kirk and Spock’s backstories.
    • Plot Holes
      • So, the Romulan mining ship (the Narada) just floated around for 25 years after George Kirk damaged it while covering the escape of his crew? Where was it hiding?  What were they doing the entire time?
      • They were apparently waiting for Spock to show up for those 25 years, but
        • how did they know that Spock had even gone into the black hole?  They apparently went first
        • even knowing that he went into it, how did they know to the day the exact time he would show up in their time line, or even that he would show up at all?
      • Nero tortures Captain Pike to obtain codes to bypass Earth’s defensive energy shields, but he apparently had no need to bypass Vulcan’s shields, and just started drilling.  What?  One of the most advanced and important planets in the Federation doesn’t have defenses?  Of any kind?
      • The Vulcan Science Institute created Red Matter, which only requires a drop in order to create a black hole.  And so the VSI sends Spock out to Romulus with the entire supply of Red Matter on board?  There was enough Red Matter aboard that ship to create several hundred black holes.
    • Suspension of Disbelief
      • Falling into a black hole
        • The process of falling into a black hole includes being torn into tiny pieces by tidal forces.  Time travel might occur (who knows?), but it would only be little pieces that made the trip.
      • Red Matter
        • What the heck is it?  In the film, one drop of the stuff is enough to turn a planet into a black hole.  This is so ridiculously hard to believe that it almost ruins the entire film. The plot turns on this piece of idiocy, which means that Red Matter is a Deus ex Machina.
        • Even assuming a drop of Red Matter could create a black hole in the first place, the resulting black hole would be of such low mass that:
          • it would evaporate within nanoseconds through Hawking radiation, leaving nothing at all behind
          • or, even disregarding Hawking radiation, it’s event horizon would be mere nanometers in size and it would take literally years and probably centuries to grow large enough to destroy the planet.
      • Spock tries to use Red Matter to stop a supernova from engulfing Romulus. 
        • If there were a star near Romulus that was large enough to explode into a supernova that would endanger Romulus immediately upon its exploding, then it would have made Romulus uninhabitable long before it ever exploded. Supernova candidates are incredibly active and violent stars, and they emit enormous quantities of radiation and superheated gas for millions of years.
        • Dropping a black hole of about a milliliter in size into a supernova would have all the effect of farting into a hurricane.  If that.
        • If the star that turns into a supernova is large enough, its explosion will create a black hole whose mass is many times greater than our sun’s.  But even such a black hole could not stop the radiation and gases emitted by the supernova from moving outward at light-speed or near light-speed and destroying Romulus.
      • Nero leaves Spock on the ice planet so he can watch Vulcan implode
        • What kind of solar system is Vulcan part of, anyway?  Major planets in any reasonable solar system are not close enough to each other to allow an observer on one to see in detail what is happening to a neighboring one without artificial aid, such as a telescope, which Spock is not shown to have, and in fact it is strongly implied that he sees it with his naked eyes.
        • Enterprise has departed Vulcan (now a black hole) and is under way under warp for long enough for it to have arrived back at Earth — yet when Spock ejects Kirk for mutiny, he ejects him onto the planet where Spock Prime is marooned, which is in the Vulcan system!  Did Spock swing back to do the ejection, or did that little lifeboat have warp capability?
      • Half the Federation fleet has just been destroyed in Vulcan space
        • The Enterprise does not check for survivors, of which there ought to be at least a few, including those who were able reach a lifeboat, and those surviving in the wreckage of all those starships.
      • Giant predators on an ice planet
        • Kirk has to run to escape two huge predators, neither of which are covered in insulating blubber or fur on an ice planet.  These huge animals would have frozen.
        • The larger predator continues to run after Kirk, a tiny morsel, when it has just killed another predator that represents a substantial meal. With instincts this poorly developed, the larger predator would have starved to death.
      • The Narada’s drill platform and the operation of its drill
        • The drill appears to be able to burn a cylindrical hole a hundred meters across, through solid rock, to the planetary core.  Assuming Vulcan to be earth-sized, this means that the drill must vaporize 64 cubic kilometers of rock in a shaft that, as it grows deeper, would be subject to enormous pressures trying to close it.  The amount of energy required to do this vaporization is so large, that even if the mass of the Narada itself were to be converted to energy at 100% efficiency it still would be insufficient for the task.
        • Even if the Narada were capable of drawing enough energy for the task of vaporizing the rock (from where?), the heat emitted by the drill platform would be so large that mere spillover would have instantly vaporized anyone coming anywhere near it.
      • Saturn’s rings
        • In order to explain why the Narada doesn’t detect the Enterprise’s arrival in the Sol system, it is explained that Saturn’s rings provide electromagnetic interference that masks the Enterprise’s presence
        • In reality, Saturn’s rings generate no such thing.  This is glaring.  At least to someone who knows something about astronomy.
      • Nero tortures Captain Pike in order to obtain the codes that will permit him to bypass Earth’s planetary shields.
        • If his drill platform can vaporize 64 cubic kilometers of rock, a mere energy shield is no protection. He has already demonstrated that he can tear through Federation energy shields like they were made of wet tissue paper; torturing Pike is completely pointless. But it does give an excuse for sending an away team to try to rescue Pike.

Star Trek II – Into Darkness

    • Overall Impression
      • Enjoyable, yet problematic.  Not as many annoying plot holes and suspension of belief problems, but what holes I found were rather egregious. Benedict Cumberbatch was an excellent Khan, and the reversal of roles between Spock and Kirk with respect to the Original Series “The Wrath of Khan” was intriguing.
    • Plot Holes
      • Khan can activate a wearable transporter device that can instantly send him all the way from Earth to Chronos, the Klingon home world, but Kirk and crew have to ride the starship Enterprise all the way there?
      • Khan’s blood can even cure death, but knowing this, Bones still has a job in the new film Star Trek Beyond?
      • The Enterprise is under water on the primitive planet while Spock is setting up to activate the cold fusion device.  If they’re trying to avoid being seen (Prime Directive), why is there an away team where the primitive people can discover them?  If the away team wasn’t screwing around near the natives, they wouldn’t have been chased, and no native would have been able to see the rising of the Enterprise from the sea.
    • Suspension of Disbelief
      • Spock uses a “Cold Fusion” device to freeze a supervolcano’s eruption in order to save an intelligent species from extinction.
        • In the real world, cold fusion is a theoretical energy source, not a freezer capable of instantly turning several cubic kilometers of magma into cool, solid rock.
        • Even allowing that the writers just misnamed a technology able to suck trillions of kilocalories of heat out of a huge volume of molten rock and superheated gas, where did the heat go?
Posted in Film, Science Fiction | Leave a comment

Miracles

I haven’t posted anything here for quite a while! At first, I was still in mourning after the passing of my dear wife, and then three months later things started happening in my life that I hadn’t expected. I found new love and a renewed desire to live! I got quite busy making it real!

Waltraut had told me that she expected me to re-marry after she was gone, that she was worried about me remaining single. I had kind of thought I would just stay single for the rest of my life — and I really hoped that the rest of my life would be a rather short time. For those first few months, every little twinge my body gave me made me momentarily hopeful that maybe I was going to get my “call home”, as it were. But no such luck!

Rather hesitantly I had signed up on a dating website that I felt comfortable with, one specifically for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormons), and did a little desultory looking around at the possibilities. Of course there were some interesting women to be found, but I didn’t really want anything more than friendship or penpalship! I did initiate a few correspondances with some nice ladies, but I made sure that they lived a longish way away so that there would be little chance of actually getting to meet them in person. Smart plan, right?

Well, it didn’t work out like I thought it would. Around Christmas time I got a “Smile” from a nice lady who lives in England, and since I had lived there once myself many many years ago, I jumped at the chance to email someone from a country that I had grown to love.

To make a long story short, we fell in love with each other over the Internet, and when she came to visit me in March we got married! Quick work, but I believe I made the biggest score of my life in convincing her to marry me! I consider it a miracle to have found such a woman.

Love is grand, especially after living through such sadness.

Oh, yes, and her name is Wendy, and she has a great package: beauty and brains!

WendyTheFascinator

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

After the Funeral

I did not post the passing of my sweetheart here on my blog, but I did so on Facebook.  It has since been a very, very busy week and I didn’t have time to post anything, anywhere.  But her funeral was yesterday, and now things have calmed.  In the evening it was time to sleep, but I could not do so immediately.

In the deep of night after my sweetie’s funeral, I needed to express my feelings, and Twitter was the medium. Since not so many follow my Twitter feed, here’s that series of tweets.

  • Today I said a sad au revoir to my sweetheart of 35 years. Her funeral was beautiful and reminds me that the love doesn’t die, but lives on.  (11:39 PM – 26 Sep 2015)
  • Time and disease will no longer touch her! My beloved is free. I follow when my own is time is up, but not soon I hope. So much yet to do… (11:51 PM – 26 Sep 2015)
  • Do you appreciate your beloved? What will you be when he or she is gone? Better love more and complain less! Leave the bickering behind. (12:02 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • I’ve lost the light of my life, yet there is no darkness. Her light is now in my heart, where it illuminates my soul! Shine on, my Queen.  (12:19 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • Sad to realize that I will miss her more over time, but now she lives in me every day, so I am content.  (12:28 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • Poetry? Can’t do it. Song? My throat hurts. Love? I’m swimming in it! My beloved has set sail yet the water is still warm.  (12:43 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • 890 Waltraut is an asteroid named for a character in a Wagner opera. I pretend it’s named for my beloved. Contact the IAU!  (12:56 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • I thought I watched her breathe her last. I realize now I witnessed the first flight of an angel. Soar high, my love!  (1:03 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
  • I’m tweeting about my beloved. Meet her here: http://www.mikeclark.co/index.php?title=Waltraut_Clark … (1:17 AM – 27 Sep 2015)
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A Bittersweet Wedding Anniversary

Today my beloved wife Waltraut and I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary!  35 is a good number, and while not as amazing as 50 or 60, it is still respectable.  We’ve had our frustrations, our disagreements, and our grumpy days together, but through it all love has shone through.  She has made my life worth living, and without her I doubt I would have achieved as much as I have, nor will it have been anywhere near as happy.

It’s bittersweet, though, because she will not be with me much longer.  Cancer, or “The Big C” as John Wayne called it, has shortened her days, and our path as one will soon part into two as she goes to that far country from which none return.  I’m trying to be poetic here, but there is no poem in my heart.  Faith comforts me that we will be together again, and in a far better condition than now, but that is the future.  At this time it is still the present cold reality that confronts me, and in just a few weeks the inevitable will happen.  I will take full advantage of the time remaining to us, of course.  But it will be a sad “au revoir”, or, in her native tongue, “auf Wiedersehen”.

As those words suggest, this will only be a temporary separation, and I rejoice for that reason!  And as I rejoice at having had a fine 35 years of glad partnership!

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Death, where is thy sting? Or Grave, thy victory?

Just a few days after my last post here my wife and I discovered that her cancer had advanced past the point where the medical types thought they had a chance of a successful treatment outcome.  One of the physicians told us that she thought that at this stage any attempt to arrest the cancer would likely result in a faster and more painful demise than if it were just left to take its course.  And my wife agreed that she wasn’t going to fight it any further.

I haven’t posted anything in the meantime, but as the matter has progressed I thought I should take a moment to report.

With the help of Providence Hospice Services my sweetheart has been able to deal with the inevitable health decline and the increasing pain.  There is still much to expect along that line, unfortunately.

She had a rather rough night last night and I stayed home for part of the morning in order to consult with the hospice nurse who visited us then. The nurse advised her to increase the dosage of painkiller, as it does her little good to put up with it, there being no glory in enduring pain if you can avoid at least some of it.

As for myself, it is getting harder to concentrate on work. For the past three months I could bury myself in coding or problem solving and get some temporary respite from what is happening to my wife. But this is gradually getting harder to do. I shall soldier on, however. How can it be otherwise? It is she who must be brave in the face of the enemy, and deal with what is happening to her – how can I, who am in no pain, be weak and a crybaby when she does not herself yield to the weakness, despite knowing what the outcome will be? If I were back in the Army and were ordered to storm an enemy bunker with only a rifle and a grenade, I know very well that I would have a better chance of survival than she does right now. And who deserves a medal if she does not?

But all is not lost. Because of the love of Christ for mankind there is no string in death, nor will the grave be victorious in the end. And while we must temporarily surrender to the consequences of the fall of Adam, in the end the Lord’s triumph at Gethsemane and Golgotha will prevail!

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

No April Fool’s Doodle on Google?

This isn’t an April Fool’s in and of itself, but I went to Google.com in order to see what they had come up with for an April Fool’s Doodle this year.  But apparently they have decided that it’s Opposite Day and no special doodle is displayed, just the regular Google.

WhatNoDoodle

That’s my screenshot, just proving that I did see this.

I am actually amazed at this.

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Global Climate Change One More Time

My earlier post on global climate change, “We’re All Going to — Die? Warm Up?“, got some interest lately when someone in a forum I participate in challenged me on it in a private message exchange.  Since it was a private message exchange I shall not identify my correspondent by screen-name, but I will call him ClimateChanger.  As background I will say that ClimateChanger is all on-board with Anthropogenic Global Warming.

The apparent intent of his challenge was to convince me that (1) global warming is happening, and (2) it’s all our fault.  I also got a sense from him that (3) this is bad.

Do you ever find yourself trying to convince someone that you agree with them on some issue, but they continue to try to persuade you over to their side of an issue?  Does this annoy you, too?  I know, right?

Anyway, he wrote:

“In other words, up until just very recently, since the end of the last glacial period, 8,000 years ago when we were at a peak in temperatures, we’ve been trending colder, not hotter”

It was a regional temperature, not a Global Temperature

The The Holocene Climate Optimum was generally warmer than today, but only in summer and only in the northern hemisphere. More over, scientists know the cause of this natural warming, and know without doubt that this proven “astronomical” climate forcing mechanism cannot be responsible for the warming over the last 100 years.

This was in reference to the Holocene Temperature Variations chart I posted.

As to the matter of “regional temperature”, the graph actually consists of several temperature tracks as found in many locations throughout the world, and provides an average of them all (the dark black line).  Note that he is right that some regions were colder and some were warmer than the average.  But that is characteristic of “average”, and not an argument against the graph.  Seeking an average in this case is not to say that everywhere on the globe marched in lockstep to the graph.  The average temperature merely identifies the trend.  And he is also correct that during the HCO the northern hemisphere experienced warmer temperatures — he left out the fact that the southern hemisphere had lower temperatures.  Oh, well.

At risk of repeating myself I shall post this graph again, but with a trendline in RED.  The trendline goes from about the midpoint of the graph’s highpoint, about 7,900 years ago, and continues to the midpoint of the beginning of the recent dramatic increase, about 200 years ago:

Holocene_Temperature_Variations_Trendline

As you can see, the trend is downwards toward the next period of glaciation.  However, when you examine the inset graph continuation it shows a disconcertedly rapid rise in temperature.  In my original post I point out that the temperature goes up to 0.5 degrees in a very short time.  And then I get the following.  My correspondent first takes a quotes from my post and then pulls a Straw Man on it:

He quotes me thus:

we are not yet out of the last Ice Age! We are presently in a period known as the Quaternary Glaciation, which started 2.6 million years ago and hasn’t ended yet. The only reason why you’re not sitting on a huge pile of ice reading this is because we happen to be in what is called an Interglacial Period

And then he responds

Even if true, even if we are still not out of the last ice age, that does not explain the rapid rise of the global temperature since 1980. The global temperature increased more than 0.5 degrees in just 30 years. Why did it accelerate in a few years?

Your own graph shows the Earth was getting colder, but now the Earth is hotter than it has ever been in the last 12,000 years, see your own graph.

First of all, his quotation of me occurs AFTER I wrote this:

…as we move off the chart to the right, the temperature line goes up to near 0.5 degrees.

I said this twice, in fact, but he either ignored or missed it entirely — all the while telling me to look at my own graph!

Yes, my own graph shows an sudden increase to 0.5 degrees, and I mention it twice in one paragraph.  Who is he arguing with?  I can’t be with me because I wrote what he appears to be trying to claim I didn’t write several months ago.

He wrote “Even if true…” to my statement that we are still in an Ice Age but in the midst of an Interglacial Period, presumably because he disagrees with me about the Ice Age / Interglacial, but he’s generously allowing it for the sake of argument.  How kind.  I responded:

What do you mean “even if true”? I’m not stating my opinion, I’m stating fact, and fact backed up by climatology. And who says that being still in a current ice age “does not explain the rapid rise of the global temperature since 1980”? That’s a non-sequitor since I did not link the current ice age with any rise in temperature. You’re trying to refute what I haven’t claimed, which is what makes me think you read me very superficially. As to “even if true”, I can back up what I wrote. From a portion of the relevant article in Wikipedia, which is sourced from Science, Nature and ScienceDaily:

“The earth has been in an interglacial period known as the Holocene for more than 11,000 years. It was conventional wisdom that the typical interglacial period lasts about 12,000 years, but this has been called into question recently. For example, an article in Nature[35] argues that the current interglacial might be most analogous to a previous interglacial that lasted 28,000 years. Predicted changes in orbital forcing suggest that the next glacial period would begin at least 50,000 years from now, even in absence of human-made global warming[36] (see Milankovitch cycles). Moreover, anthropogenic forcing from increased greenhouse gases might outweigh orbital forcing for as long as intensive use of fossil fuels continues.[37]”

[36] – http://www.webcitation.org/5qnO3Fw2p
[37] – http://www.sciencema…/5585/1287.full (Sorry, it’s a paywall)
[38] – http://www.scienceda…70829193436.htm

I love it when someone tries to argue with me as if I were a climate change denier, and on top of that, doesn’t have his facts straight about even this basic concept in climatology: we’re in an Ice Age, dude.  It’s only looks mild because we’re in a temporary interglacial period.  I also love it when I write about how greenhouse gases are apparently providing some forcing of the global temperature, only to have someone turn around to try to convince me that science has shown that CO2 is causing temperatures to rise, as if I said something to the contrary.  Now, I will admit that I don’t believe that humans are 100% responsible for all this.  So far, anyway.  I’m persuadable — in fact I used to believe that there was no anthropogenic global warming, but I’ve come around on that.

There is more to the conversation, but I am not going to extend this post to go on and on about it.  I think I have demonstrated my point, which is that people should actually read what they are supposedly responding to before they attempt to respond to it.

Posted in Science | 1 Comment