Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

The Metric Contraction of Matter vs. The Metric Expansion of Space

By Perry Bradford-Wilson
Author of Tales of McKinleyville: Big Doin’s at the Chinese Baptist Church, Tales of Placerville: Booksellers to the Savage West, and co-author of Midnight in Never Land

This matter (pun intended) has been floating around my temporal lobe for some time (that pun intended as well).  Physicists, cosmologists and astronomers have long believed that space-time is expanding and that any two points in the universe (or polyverse, or whatever multidimensional structure this expansion may include) are growing further apart as we follow the arrow of time from the past toward the future.  I have no reason per se to discount this accepted theory.  I enjoy mental puzzles, however, and the theory of spatial expansion seems on its surface to have potential holes (ooh, more puns.)  The following discussion is strictly for intellectual exercise and the potential for learning a few new things:  I have no interest in being lumped with superstitious flat-earthers, creationists, and other crazies.

As a non-mathematician I have a difficult time reading the calculations which support the theory of spatial expansion, although I will take it as gospel from those who eat numbers for breakfast that they do confirm it.  Personally, I tend to gravitate (enough with the puns) toward the observational evidence.  The first and most famous piece of observational evidence, first suggested by Edwin Hubble, is the redshift of electromagnetic spectra, a “Doppler effect” in which light waves shift toward the red due to expansion of wavelength caused by the “stretching” of space.  This is a good clue, although I might note that it turns out space is full of Dark Energy and Dark Matter, the nature of which we have virtually no understanding.  It’s possible, is it not, that an undiscovered property of these mysterious elements, whether on a level of quantum or celestial mechanics, is that electromagnetic spectra extend their wavelength as they pass through or around them, and therefore exhibit the redshift?

But I digress.  Let’s just say that the redshift is caused by exactly what has been supposed:  the space between us (the observer) and the electromagnetic source is increasing.  What if it’s not space that is expanding but, rather, matter that is contracting?  On an atomic or quantum level matter is growing smaller?  If that was the case, all sources of electromagnetic wave/particles would be moving away from each other as they contracted.  As opposed to the universe modeled as an expanding balloon we instead have every atom in it as a deflating one.  Space seems to expand because everything in it is shrinking.

Whether or not this theory still supports the isotropic & homogenous models of the universe I leave to cosmologists.

But it does explain why my mother, as she has gotten older, has gotten shorter.

You can hit me now.

© 2011 Perry Bradford-Wilson

Okay, upfront:  Star Trek was a really good film.  Especially the casting, which should have been the hardest part of a reboot like this.  Pine, Quinto, Urban, et al, were uniformly good as these iconic characters without ever becoming caricatures.  The action is stunning, the direction is solid, and it looks better visually than any Star Trek film ever made.  No doubt about it.  But there are several weaknesses that still leave "ST II: Wrath of Khan" as the best film in the series.  And, as might be expected considering that these writers are the same folks who gave us "Transformers," the weaknesses are all in the writing.  The moments that stand out like sore thumbs:
1) The amazing faux science which suggests that a single supernova could "threaten the galaxy."  Okay, maybe they skipped having a science consultant on this film, but even my daughter could figure this one out, and she’s ten.  "Red Matter" I can go with (although "Protomatter" might have been better and a nice nod to ST III:TSFS.)  But supernovas are a real celestial phenomenon.  We know how they work.
2) Spock Prime standing in the snow on Delta Vega, looking up, and watching Vulcan – hanging in the sky about ten times the size of Earth’s moon – implode. In this new universe does Vulcan have a moon? An incredibly close sister planet? If its so close to Vulcan and can support life, why no Vulcan colonies?
3) Spock The Younger shooting Kirk off in a life capsule to a planet with dangerous life forms which might eat him… instead of just locking him up in the brig.
4) The SUDDEN INEXPLICABLE PROMOTION of Kirk, with absolutely no field experience, from Cadet to First Officer/Captain.
I’d add more (there are many more), but I don’t want to nitpick.  The sad thing is, every one of these weaknesses could have been cleared up easily with some better writing.  For instance:
1) It’s Romulus’s own star that is going supernova, threatening just Romulus.
2) Spock doesn’t "see" Vulcan imploding but, rather, "feels" the death of billions of Vulcans (as he did when the Vulcan ship Intrepid was destroyed in the TOS episode "The Immunity Syndrome.")  Plus it would have been a great acting moment for Nimoy, as he sees in his mind the destruction of Vulcan and feels their bewilderment and pain.
3) Uhura picks up a distress call that indicates the same "future technology" Nero uses coming from Delta Vega (being broadcast by Spock Prime, natch) and, in order to get rid of him, Spock The Younger *assigns* Kirk to take a shuttle to investigate.  This also makes the extreme coincidence of Kirk running directly into Spock Prime’s snow cave more palatable – he’s looking for Spock Prime, following the distress signal.
4) A suggestion is made that the cadets have had some field experience while still enrolled at the Academy.  Maybe Kirk has done a tour as a cadet on the Farragut, as he did in TOS, and distinguished himself a bit ("Wow!  Good job on the Farragut! You made Second Officer as a cadet!"  "Well, that’s what happens when half of your crew gets killed."  Short and sweet, suggests he has some real world experience, and is a nice nod to the TOS episode "Obsession.")  Also, it could be made clear Pike was already intending to make Kirk his First Officer on board the Enterprise when Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru reprogramming caper nixed the deal.  Kirk had gotten wind of his probable assignment, which is why he is so surprised on the flight deck when he doesn’t get assigned to a ship.  It makes Pike’s decision to go ahead and make Kirk his First Officer once he’s onboard (with McCoy’s medical help) more a reinforcement of a decision Pike had already made rather than something rash.
These are all small fixes which don’t fundamentally alter the dramatic flow or character arcs of the film, but fill in the massive plot holes.  All that said, I liked the film and will be there on day one for the sequel!  I just hope that they take more care during the screenwriting of the next film.