Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Physics of Star Trek (1995)

Author: Lawrence Krauss  |  Page Count: 188

'Thanks to Albert Einstein and those who have followed in his footsteps, the very fabric of spacetime is filled with drama.'

It's common knowledge that Star Trek not only 'boldly' ignored the laws of grammar, but that it wilfully ignored the laws of physics, too,  However, in some instances the real-world science behind the fictional quick-fixes is surprisingly close to the TV show technobabble.  Most fans will know why transporters were introduced, but not how they would theoretically work.  TPoST provides answers.

It doesn't set out to debunk or discredit TV writers—it’s not trying to achieve credibility by standing on the ashes of others—instead it aims to inform and explore the reality of what would be needed to achieve the life-changing physics used in the show.  It’s not just another boring cash-in / tie-in / stick-the-arm-in book designed to milk the wallets of every weak-willed Trek fan ever.

Thankfully, you won’t need a degree in quantum mechanics to make sense of the text, but some basic high school science knowledge will help.  If you know why Newton owes a debt to an apple, or why Einstein is more than a black and white poster in a student dig, then you’re all set.  I don’t know if true physicists or mathematicians would agree, but for an average Joe like me the structure of the book is a credit to the author.  Complex theories are built bit by bit atop a foundation of easier concepts, making it very easy to follow.

Not everything pertaining to a hobby or interest need pander to its target audience.  Often the best additions are the ones that teach us something of value at the same time, whether it be academic or emotional.  I think a large percentage of Trek fans would agree with that statement because even if Paramount weren't in it to challenge norms and teach by example, Gene was, and the people he reached keep that vision alive.  Ultimately, TPoST is perfect for Trek fans who possess a passion for learning and have an interest in the wonder of science.

4 cosmic poker games out of 5

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