BA Review: Star Trek

By Phil Plait | May 8, 2009 11:32 pm

Note: A slightly different version of this has been posted at TrekMovie.com. My thanks to Tony Pascale for letting me crosspost on his site!

Star Trek movie poster

OK, here’s the deal: I’m a big Trek fan. I watched the original series as a kid and saw the reruns a bazillion times. I loved the movies, and was thrilled when TNG was on the air. And while I lost it for a while with DS9 and Voyager (and with the exception of the finale, the last season of Enterprise was pretty good, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), I am still a fan.

I was ready to be disappointed with this revision of Trek. But I wasn’t. I loved it. I was very unsure if this would resemble the Star Trek I grew up with, and incredibly, J. J. Abrams, without being a fan, was able to take what made the show Trek — its heart, if you will — and bring it up-to-date.

But I am here to review the science of the movie. I won’t worry about warp drive, transporter tech, or time travel; I’ll concentrate on the real stuff. And never fear: I am not going to reveal the overall plot here. I avoided as many spoilers as I could before watching it, and I’m glad I did. It really made the movie more exciting and fun to watch.

But I do have to do what I do, so do it I will. While I won’t reveal the plot, I have to reveal some details to write a review. So:

RED ALERT! SPOILERS DEAD AHEAD!

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, then I suggest evasive maneuvers.

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The Scene:

The USS Kelvin is under attack! Firing weapons of unprecedented power, a Romulan ship is pounding the Federation wessel. We hear explosions, bulkheads torn apart, screams… and then a torpedo rips open the hull, and a crewmember is blown out into space. The camera follows her as she tumbles out, and when we pass through the hull breach into space there is sudden silence.

USS Kelvin

The Science:

I could kiss J. J. Abrams right on the mouth for this one. In space, without air, there is no way for sound to be transmitted. What we think of as sound is actually a compression and rarefaction (thinning) of a medium of some sort, whether it’s a solid, liquid or gas. Without a medium, there’s nothing to vibrate, and all your sound and fury signifies nothing (c’mon, it’s Trek, there has to be a Bard reference).

Sure, in the scene there’s air rushing out the airlock, but that would expand violently as it leaves the ship, rapidly becoming too thin to transmit sound.

And yeah, we do hear ships whoosh as they go to warp and all that, but that’s what we expect to hear, having evolved in an atmosphere which whooshes when things fly past us. I’d prefer that we hear nothing, but I accept that as a filmmaker’s prerogative to make the audience comfortable.

But I’ll add that for years I have complained about sounds in space, saying that done correctly, making things silent can add drama. That sentiment was proven here; the sudden silence as we leave the ship and fly into space with the doomed crewmember is really eerie and unsettling.

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The Scene:

We pan across the alien planet Vulcan, with its blue skies and puffy white clouds.

The Science:

Hey, wait a second! I saw "Amok Time". Vulcan’s sky is red! Well, maybe. Sky color is a difficult topic. The Earth’s sky is blue because the nitrogen molecules in our air take the blue light from the Sun and scatter it every which-way, so we see blue light coming at us no matter where we look in the sky.

Other molecules can change that color — if we had a lot of smog in our air, for example, the sky would look reddish-brown. Methane absorbs red light, again making a planet look blue (which is why Neptune has a — pardon the expression — sky-blue visage). Mars has a lot of airborne dust, making its sky look yellow, or reddish, or even butterscotch colored. Our own sky can change color dramatically depending on the weather or whether you’re looking near the horizon or the zenith.

So maybe there had just been a dust storm before Spock gets all Pon-farr on Kirk’s butt in the original series (or when Spock rejects the Kohlinar ceremony in the first movie). Or maybe it’s a nitpicky detail only a fanboy would gripe about — note that the planet’s color changes in practically every series of the show. But it does give me an excuse to talk about why we have blue skies here on good ol’ Earth.

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The Scene:

Kirk and McCoy look out the Shuttle window

Kirk and McCoy are on a shuttle about to head up to orbit. McCoy, true to form, gripes about space travel, saying that if there’s a hull breach, "… our blood will boil in 12 seconds."

The Science:

I swear, every movie ever gets this all wrong — the craptacular "Mission to Mars" comes to mind right away. To the immediate point about blood boiling, it wouldn’t happen. The temperature at which a liquid boils depends on the atmospheric pressure; at lower pressures liquids boil at lower temperatures. That’s why there are high-altitude variations for some recipes; water boils at a lower temperature, so you might have to bake something longer to actually cook it (I live in Boulder at an altitude of 1700 meters, so I live this fact every day).

This effect is so strong that in a vacuum, water boils at room temperature! Blood has things dissolved in it, which raises its boiling point, but even with that, at a body temperature of 37 Celsius blood would boil in a vacuum.

But if you’re blown into space, your blood’s not exposed to a vacuum! It’s in a nice air-tight system, your circulatory system. The pressure inside your arteries and veins is kept relatively constant (unless I watch the news or Oprah, and then it skyrockets), so your blood won’t boil.

There are many other nasty effects if you’re exposed to vacuum — sudden decompression of all the air in your lungs and intestines (yeah, you outgas at both ends), the damage to soft tissue after a few minutes as they dehydrate, the exposure to the raw UV light from the Sun, and, of course, dying in about two minutes from hypoxia — but boiling blood ain’t one of ‘em. McCoy was training to be a doctor and should’ve known better.

Or maybe he was just whining for emphasis. He is McCoy, after all.

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The Scene:

Hovering over Vulcan, the Romulan ship lowers a mining drill, which blasts an intense beam into the surface. It drills down into the planet’s core.

Star Trek Drill

The Science:

Drilling a hole to the center of a planet is not a simple matter! Planets tend to be thousands of kilometers in radius so that’s a heckuva hole. A problem with deep mines is that the pressure of the overlying rocks tends to collapse the hole. A cubic meter of rock weighs in at about 2-3 tons, and there are billions of cubic meters of rock above such a hole. You could try to use a beam weapon to vaporize a hole, but the rock to the side would keep flowing in. You’d never get anywhere.

And assuming Vulcan has a crust floating on a mantle (like Earth does), even if the drill gets through the crust, now you’re trying to drill a hole through a fluid*! So that doesn’t work well either. I suppose you can get around this by saying Vulcan is an old planet and has solidified all the way down to the core, but you still have the rock pressure problem. For the record, some people claim that Vulcan orbits the star 40 Eridanus A, which is at least as old as the Sun, so it’s possible Vulcan has solidified. But 40 Eri is a triple star system. Where are the other two suns?

Don’t try to retcon a retconner.


*In reality, the rock in the mantle is not like a liquid that can flow easily, it’s more like a very thick plastic that flows incredibly slowly. But in the end the effect is the same as with the crust; as material is vaporized more would flow in, making the drill ineffective.

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The Scene:

Kirk, Sulu, and Officer Red Shirt (srsly! His suit is red!) jump from a shuttle to attack the mining drill when it’s lowered from the Romulan ship over Vulcan. Wearing space suits, they fall from orbit, land on the drill, fight the Romulans, and stop the drill.

Prepare to dive!

The Science:

Well, there’s lots of bad and good science here. Strap in.

First off, something they got right once I thought about it some. The shuttle left Enterprise to go to the Romulan ship. At first I thought both ships were in orbit, but that’s not true! The Romulan ship had lowered the mining drill from above the atmosphere, but it had to be hovering above the ground to do that, not orbiting the planet, or else they wouldn’t be stationary over one spot (true, there is a geosynchronous orbit that keeps you over one spot, but it’s tens of thousands of kilometers over the surface, and the ships were clearly just above Vulcan’s atmosphere).

So when the trio jump from the shuttle, my first thought was that they’d still be in orbit; to deorbit means they’d need to change their velocity by several km/sec, which is clearly not possible. But they weren’t in orbit, so they just fell. OK, +1 internets for the movie.

They would fall fast. And they did! Their speed was a little less than a kilometer per second, which sounds about right. At their altitude there wouldn’t be much if any air to slow them, so they’d free fall; as they plunged deeper air resistance would slow them down. At first I thought they’d actually burn like meteors, but in reality (ha! Reality!) they weren’t going that fast.

Of course, I have to wonder why Officer Red Shirt waited so long to pull his chute. But then, he was a red shirt.

I love the fact that Sulu had to save Kirk here. Nice touch.

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The Scene:

The Romulans drop a "red matter" bomb into the hole made by the drill. It triggers the formation of a black hole, which collapses the planet and wipes out the Vulcans.

The Science:

Um. "Red matter"? OK, I’ll give them that McGuffin. But still, to make a black hole, it takes mass. A lot of it, or a little bit squeezed into a very tiny volume.

Vulcan collapses into a black hole

If the mass came from the planet itself, there’s a problem: as the mass compresses and falls into the black hole, it gets hot. Really hot. Millions of degrees hot. It emits X-rays and other types of radiation, and would probably pile up outside the event horizon — the Point of No Return — and prevent more matter from falling in. This is what happens when a black hole orbits a star; we can detect those systems due to their incredibly strong emission of X-rays.

Assuming they could overcome that problem (they could invert the decyon field for one, or polarize the transverse array) it would still only create a teeny tiny black hole. If you turned the entire Earth into a black hole it would only be about a centimeter across, the size of a marble. Initially, the red matter black hole would be incredibly small, probably smaller than an atom, and that would make it hard to gobble down enough mass to grow rapidly.

Assuming they could overcome that, and assuming this magic red matter stuff, well then, yeah, they could create a black hole.

Incidentally, the gravitational force you feel from an object depends on two things: the mass of the object, and how far away you are (for a sphere like a planet, you measure from the object’s center). So, weirdly, once Vulcan collapsed into a black hole, the gravity felt by the orbiting ships didn’t change! A lot of people think that black holes have infinitely strong gravity, or they can reach across space and grab stuff. But really, they’re just gravity, and as long as you’re far enough away, you’re OK.

But who knows what happens if you make a [cue creeeeeepy music] RED MATTER black hole. Maybe in those all kinds of weird things can happen, like Firefly was never canceled and the finale of Battlestar made sense. Crazy!

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The Scene:

On Delta Vega, "our" Spock watches sadly as Vulcan collapses into a black hole.

The Science:

OK, so Delta Vega is no longer the planet home to the dilithium cracking plant from the second Trek pilot. But is it a moon of Vulcan? That’s the only way Spock could have had such a view of Vulcan; even from a nearby planet Vulcan would have been a tiny dot in the sky. We see the Moon as a disk because it’s close, but Venus is the closest planet to Earth (40 million km at perigee, its closest approach to Earth) and it is never more than a barely resolved dot to our eyes. You’d have to be close to a planet, a few hundred thousand kilometers at most, to get the view in the movie.

OK, so maybe it’s a moon. But if so, why is there a lonely outpost on it? In fact, that’s true if Delta Vega is any planet in Vulcan’s system. Why would there be a little-traveled base manned by one guy and one Oompa-Loompa with bad acne so close to one of the home planets of the Federation?

However, I love that in that scene they reference "Admiral Archer’s beagle". Nice touch!

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The Scene:

In the scene where Spock explains the plot to the audience during a mind meld with Kirk, he says a supernova went off that "threatened the galaxy". We see a giant yellow star explode, and it destroys Romulus.

The Science:

That scene physically pained me; I just wrote a book with an entire chapter devoted to the damage supernovae can cause, and the movie pretty much screwed it all up.

First off, supernovae are exploding stars, and are incredibly violent events. They emit trillions of times as much energy as the Sun does, and can outshine entire galaxies. But for all that, the damage they do is local; you have to be within about 50 light years for them to physically hurt a planet. Past that, and they can’t even bruise our fragile ozone layer.

For one to destroy a planet, physically vaporize it, the planet would have to be orbiting the star that explodes! Even from a light year away a supernova can’t wipe out a planet like that. And remember, our galaxy is 100,000 light years across. A supernova is nowhere near strong enough to take out a whole galaxy.

Also, a supernova happens when a very massive star at the end of its life explodes. Stars like this are supergiants that are either red (like Betelgeuse) or blue-white (like Deneb). The star in the movie was yellow. I can’t say that would never happen, but as far as we know, yellow stars can’t blow.

Dana Berry artwork of a GRB

Now, had Abrams called me, I would’ve told him to use a gamma-ray burst, not a supernova. GRBs are like super-supernovae, where instead of the explosion moving outward in a spherical shell, the energy is focused into twin beams of cosmic fury. These Blowtorches of Doom could easily set a plane aflame from even hundreds of light years away, and the special effect for it would’ve been a bazillion times cooler in the movie.

J. J., babe, call me next time!

Incidentally, Spock says he tried to stop the supernova by using red matter to create a black hole to absorb the explosion. That wouldn’t work; in fact in the center of many supernovae the star’s core collapses to a black hole. The outer layers of the stars have so much energy they easily explode outwards even though at the heart of the explosion sits a black hole. So either Spock was mistaken in his calculations (gasp! horror!), he was lying about trying to stop the explosion (hmmm, sequel anyone?), or the writers just screwed up this bit of science.

Place your bets here.

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The Scene:

On Chekov’s suggestion, the Enterprise hides in Titan’s thick atmosphere, where it’s hidden visually from the Romulan ship, and the magnetic field from Saturn’s rings would disrupt other sensors. With Saturn and its magnificent rings as a dramatic backdrop we see the Enterprise dramatically lift out of the thick reddish air surrounding the moon and dramatically attack the Romulans!

The Science:

Erf. OK, let me say that this scene was inspired by suggestions from none other than Dr. Carolyn Porco, who leads the Cassini spacecraft imaging science team. That’s the probe that’s been orbiting the ringed planet since 2004 and returned some of the most amazing pictures from space ever taken. I chatted with her about this scene, and what she said was scientifically plausible and correct, but it sounds like the special effects guys took some liberties.

Saturn, Titan, and Epimetheus

First, Titan orbits Saturn in the same plane as the rings do. So from Titan, the rings would appear edge-on (in the image here, the rings are very nearly edge-on and you can see Titan behind them, as well as the tiny moon Epimetheus). The rings are incredibly thin, and would look like nothing more than a line across the sky. In the movie, we see them from well above the ring plane. But I gotta say, I can easily forgive them that mistake; the rings are just plain cool and gorgeous, and showing them as a thin line would have been a sin. Still, they could’ve shown the view from Titan as the Big E lifts out of the air, then we could’ve zoomed along with it up and away from Saturn and Titan, and shown the rings then. That would’ve been cool.

See? In good science there is always better stuff to do for movies.

They did get the color of Titan’s atmosphere correct (again, check the image above); it’s a reddish-yellow from a thick organic haze that is made when the methane in the atmosphere is broken down by sunlight and recombines to form complex molecules. And Titan’s air is very thick; the surface pressure is twice Earth’s! But, like Earth, Titan’s atmosphere gradually thins with height, so it’s not like the Enterprise would suddenly surface when it hits the top. They were clearly going for a "submarine breaching the sea surface" feel. Still, it was pretty cool.

A last bit: Saturn does have a magnetic field (it even causes aurorae at the poles of the planet!), but it comes from the planet itself and not the rings. Not a huge deal, just basically a flubbed line. Chekov was only 17, after all.

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The Scene:

During The Final Battle, Spock creates a black hole using red matter that sucks down the Romulan ship. Half-in and half-out of the hole, the Romulan commander says he’d rather die than surrender.

The Science:

Good choice. Because in reality he wouldn’t have one. A choice that is.

The thing about black holes is, they’re small. The gravity far away from one is the same as any object with that mass — if the Sun were to turn into a black hole, we’d still orbit it happy as you please (though it would get cold quickly). But because black holes are small, you can get close to them. And when you get close the gravitational force goes up. A lot.

But here’s the funny thing: a black hole with the mass of, say, a planet would be small, smaller than a golf ball. You could get right up next to it. But gravity gets stronger the closer you get, so if you fell in your feet would be a lot closer than your head. The difference in gravity between your feet and head could be millions of times the Earth’s gravity! You’d be torn apart by this difference in the force (what we call tides). You’d be stretched out in a process astronomers call spaghettification.

So in reality, the Romulan ship would’ve been ripped not just to shreds, but into little tiny bite-sized quantum bits of subatomic particles.

Black holes are not to be trifled with. They really suck.

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The Scene:

After The Final Battle, the Enterprise gets too close to the black hole! They’re getting drawn in, and Scotty says that if they eject the warp core and blow it up, the explosion might propel them to safety.

The Science:

Simply put, that won’t work. Sorry Scotty!

On Earth, detonating a bomb creates a shock wave, an expanding wave of pressure as the force from the explosion propagates through the air. In space — wait for it, wait for it… — there’s no air! So you don’t get a shock wave. When the matter and antimatter in the core combine, you get a fierce blast of electromagnetic radiation (fancy science-talk for light) in the form of gamma rays, and an expanding very thin shell of vaporized atoms from the material in the warp core itself.

To propel the Big E to safety, the bomb would have to transfer momentum to the ship. This is like hitting a pool ball with another one; the moving ball has momentum, which it then gives to the other one, causing it to move. Detonating the warp core would generate a lot of light, but only a tiny bit of mass would explode outward, so the momentum transfer would be minimal.

What would really happen is the ship would be vaporized from the massive release of energy. Oops! That would’ve made for a dramatic ending to the movie, but not a terribly satisfying one.

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Conclusion:

I’m a nitpicking dork.

Maybe you figured that out on your own. If so, I apologize for only stating it here at the end.

But I actually did really enjoy this movie. Yes, it doesn’t follow canon. But I have news for you: Star Trek never did! It’s incredibly inconsistent, and no matter how much you spin, fold, mutilate, and retcon your way through the series, it contradicts itself. If you are the kind of person who gets mortally offended when Trek defies its own history, then you should really just let it go.

Because this movie rocked.

People were worried about the Hollywoodification of Trek. Well sure, there is a lot more action here, and yes Spock actually has a love interest. But we know that Spock had emotions, and we know that given the right circumstances they would surface. Why accept an angry Spock — which we saw all the time in the original series — but not a lovestruck one?

I didn’t think I’d like the casting, but in fact it worked well. Zoë Saldana’s Uhuru is more than merely a phone operator, she’s an accomplished linguist (though her character could’ve been stronger yet). Karl Urban’s McCoy was spot-on, and he even kinda sorta looks like a young DeForest Kelly. Quinto played Spock quite well, and Pine was also good as Kirk; while it wasn’t Shatneresque, I can easily see him as a younger, brassier Kirk (and the womanizing slayed me; the homages to the original series that were overplayed generated a lot of laughs).

The other stuff was great too: the effects (though a little overdone with the panning and complicated explosions) truly were spectacular, as were the direction and the music. I loved the inside jokes, which were in there aplenty but not too many to get tiresome.

I would love to see more movies made like this, or even (egads!) a new series with this cast. There’s a rich history here, and the way the plot was handled there is a rich parallel history, too.

I’d love to see that history unfold boldly once again.


Star Trek image credits: The Star Trek Official Facebook page and Tony Pascale. Saturn/Titan images credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. GRB image credit: Dana Berry, Skyworks Digital. Thanks to Carolyn Porco and Tony Pascale for interesting conversations that helped this review, though of course I’m responsible for its content.

Comments (454)

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  1. Kevin

    Excellent review as usual sir. Turns out I saw all the things you did.

    I was wondering about the whole “jumping out of a shuttlecraft” down into the atmosphere of a planet, and why Kirk, Sulu, and the Redshirt didn’t burn up on entry.

    Also, the whole “Black Hole” thing actually made me sit up in the theater and go “wha?” First they use one to time travel, and then get destroyed by one? Huh?

    And Phil, about Spock and the “Red Matter” to stop the supernova? There’s a graphic novel called “Countdown” that explains what they are doing in more detail. It’s supposed to lead viewers up to the time of the film, and does a pretty good job.

  2. Randall

    Casting-wise, I was most surprised by how well Simon Pegg played Scotty. I loved Shawn of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and I thought it would be impossible for me to think of him as Scotty. But he got the accent 100% perfect. That sold me on the role.

  3. The “supernova threatening the galaxy” really bummed me out. I just wanted to reach out to J.J. and just hug him and say “It’s all right, dear, you still did good.” Pat him on the head and smile that smile that parents do when they realize their kid has turned out to be a bit of a dullard.

    I wish they’d come up with a better name than Red Matter. It was so bland. I refuse to believe a scientist of the future would find this magical substance and name it something so boring as Red Matter.

    Over all, though, I quite enjoyed the movie. I might even go see it again before the end of the weekend.

  4. a trekkie

    the whole chunk of dialogue about a supernova threatening the galaxy really killed me. I’ll give them red matter, and I’ll even give them the ice planet, but not that!! oh well. at least they got Saturn mostly right by actually chatting with an astronomer.

    superb review – now I can just send folks here instead of trying to explain what I mean by “they got the science all wrong!” I for one hope this movie gets people excited about the essence of Star Trek again. while the alternate reality left me shaking my head, you make a good point about the already blatant inconsistencies within Trek canon. it’s still a universe I’d love to live in.

  5. You can’t compress a rocky planet into a black hole for the same reason you can’t compress a white dwarf- Before you reach neutron star density, the oxygen, magnesium, and silicon will undergo fission to form iron, and the energy released will create a microscale type Ia supernova, with a million times more energy than is required to explode the planet.

    Back of the envelope numbers at:
    http://lablemminglounge.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-destroy-earth-isotope.html

  6. Brian

    Yeah, when they got to the supernova bit, all I could think was “Apparently no one on the writing staff read Death from the Skies!

  7. The movie hasn’t come out in my current country, but I’m psyched to see it after reading your “review”. And thanks for the science! Clears up some stupid ideas about black holes that I personally had.

  8. Tim

    Agh! Phil! You said no real plot spoilers and I believed you! And then you go and spoil Vulcan getting all spaghettified. Couldn’t you have just not named the planet? I’m just going to have to stop reading and remember to pick it up tomorrow after I see it.

    Oh well, I can’t be too upset about you. These reviews are awesome.

  9. Kennedy808

    Just out of curiosity, I read once years ago that our sky is blue only in part because of the light scattering thing, but more so because the air itself is mildly blue. You only really notice it when looking through a column slightly-blue air thousands of feet high.

    I admit I believed it. Is that theory just bunk?

    ps The same site had another article that said that oceans are blue also for the same fact that water is slightly blue. I believed that one too.

  10. Bigfoot

    To go boldly before where men have gone?

  11. Mark T.

    Yes, much is ‘explained’ in the graphic novel but it is still bad sci-fi science. The whole thing about the nova threatening the galaxy could have worked for me if they had mentioned in the techno-talk that the red matter (derived from deca-lithium) caused the explosion to propagate through ‘sub-space’. Then it could easily moved faster than light under Star Trek physics rules.

    By the way, did anyone notice whether or not Spock Prime warned anyone about the Borg, V’ger, or Kahn?

  12. Jane

    Brilliant film with some dopey science in it. “going through” black holes – don’t think so! However I hope they make squillions from this movie so that the franchise is restarted.

    I thought it dealt with the star trek canon very well by wiping it out Admiral Archer and crew excepted.

  13. Phyco

    Good review, but question re: the last bit where they detonate the warp core.

    Obviously, as you said, there’d be no shock wave, so no real transference of momentum. But as you also said, lots of gamma rays. If not a shock wave, then what about radiation pressure?

  14. Prillotashekta

    [nitpick] I thought it was Chekov who suggested hiding behind Titan, not Scotty [/nitpick]

    Personally, I found that scene of the crewmember getting sucked out into eerie silence during the opening battle to be, well, spooky. It kind of freaks me out, even still.

  15. Giljorak

    Kirk, Sulu, and Officer Red Shirt jump out over Vulcan not the Earth.

  16. AnonymousGeophysicist

    Ummm, Phil?

    The Earth’s mantle is _not_ liquid. (Proof: seimological waves known as “S” –or shear– waves pass through it, and they can not pass through liquids.)

    Yes, on time scales of millions of years, the rocks of the mantle _do_ flow. But that is a phenomenon of crystal plasticity. On a time scale of of seconds to decades (at least), rocks, even mantle rocks are quite solid.

    ObClassroomRheologicalExperiment: Take some cornstarch, and mix it with a little water. (You may need to muck around with it to get it right.) Stir it slowly, and it flows like a liquid. Stir it faster, and it appears to fracture. Hit it with a hammer (wearing eye protection, of course!) and it shatters like glass. Rheology is strange stuff…

  17. Giljorak

    Kirk, Sulu, and Officer Red Shirt jump out over Vulcan not Earth

  18. To nitpick your preview, when Kirk, Sulu and redshirt was space jumping, they were above the Vulcan planet, not Earth. Also, Sulu and Kirk also didn’t cut lose the drill, they disabled it above Vulcan Then they fell off when it was retracted. The drill was cut off by Spock in the spinny ship over Earth towards the end.

    That’s all! I am also a nitpicking dork :P Surprise!

  19. Jarrad T

    Great review Phil! I saw the movie last night here in Australia and after watching the part where the chamber exploded and space was ‘silent’, I knew you were going to put it into your review! I thought it was great though, even though I don’t really like Star Trek greatly I really enjoyed everything the movie had to offer! I might even go as far as to say that the cinematography really reminded me of the Star Wars prequals which was really nice to see!

  20. KC

    I just got back from the movie, and I noticed we noticed a lot of the same stuff. About the last bit, I waffled between `eh, that wouldn’t work` and `would it?` I start thinking about Project Orion, where the propulsion was to be pushing nuclear bombs out the back hatch and blowing them up. Why would that project work, in theory, but the Star Trek warp core thing not?

  21. Being Star Trek, I didn’t pay too much attention to the science. What struck me was how ridiculous the villain’s actions were in the greater scheme of things.

    Let’s say you’re the pilot of a mining ship which, due to a freak accident involving a catastrophe which obliterates your home planet, gets sent back in time. Do you

    A) Go back to your home planet, share your highly-advanced technology with them, and warn them about the impending catastrophe so that it can be avoided or averted down the road

    or

    B) Wait around for 25 years hoping that the scientist who was trying to help your people survive the catastrophe shows up so that you can pettily and vindictively destroy his home planet and the planets of all their allies, meanwhile not doing anything about the actual natural catastrophe that affected your home planet to begin with?

  22. Nygard

    One other “sound in space” detail that I liked. When they were “space jumping” down to the drill, there was no sound at all for the first few seconds. As they fell deeper into the atmosphere, we started to hear a shrill whistle that rapidly mounted into a roaring wind.

  23. Now I really have to go see the movie, just so I can read your post without having things spoiled! :-)

  24. Melmoth

    I, too, thoroughly enjoyed the movie and hope there’ll be more. But why is it that in the Star Trek universe it seems to be easier to travel through time than to issue some vacuum-safe suits to Starfleet personnel?

    Also, how they put in Spock’s love interest was great! This should also have happened in the original timeline just so Kirk would be so traumatised by losing to a cold Vulcan that he’d spend a lifetime of womanizing to make up for it. :-D

  25. QUASAR

    That TV series absolutely stinks! And what stinks the most is probably the fact that a civilization that advanced doesn’t genetically improve their people! Oh, and the aliens are so …garbage, painted humans!

    Not to mention that the science in it is FULL OF FLAWS!

  26. Took the whole Grendel clan to this last night – loved it also and didn’t fuss to much about the science – I’m resigned to never seeing a Trek movie that gets it totally right.

  27. richard knights

    “I could kiss J. J. Abrams right on the mouth”.. Well I could kiss YOU right on the mouth Mr Bad Astronomer sir. Blog posts have no right to be this entertaining and I thinks its great the genre of Star Trek Science has been rebooted along with the TV series.

  28. Bjoern

    “…and the magnetic field from Saturn’s rings would disrupt other sensors. ”

    Saturn’s rings have a magnetic field? How should that work? They consist essentially of rather small ice particles, don’t they?
    Or was rather the magnetic field of Saturn itself meant?

  29. I was confused whether we’re supposed to buy this as a legitimate timeline that the canon is based off, or some sort of alternate.

    If the Vulcan homeworld was really obliterated, then the sky could be any color, as the newly-seeded colony would be the planet with red sky we see in the older movies and tv shows.

    Also, even if the black holes could consume the entire mass of the various things in the movie, wouldn’t those objects appear to be perpetually falling at the event horizon?

  30. Cool! Now I am even more looking forward to tomorrow! You really should apply to be scientific adviser on possible sequels or series that may come out of this movie…

    “I can’t say that would never happen, but as far as we know, yellow stars can’t blow. ”

    What about Rho Cassiopeiae? It’s a (rare) yellow hypergiant, and seems to be very unstable.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rho_Cassiopeiae

  31. (yeah, you outgas at both ends)

    When that happens to me, I take some Pepto…..

    J/P=?

  32. Nahks

    Fun movie – thoroughly enjoyed it – but the supernova thing really bugged me, too. Besides all you’ve all already written here, there’s also this:
    Given all the faster-than-light transfer of information in the Star Trek universe, it might be easy to forget that supernovae still obey the speed limit. Other than those in the system when a star exploded, anyone else ought to have a couple years’, if not decades’, warning. Plenty of time for interstellar-flight-capable races to evacuate, if they know what’s coming.

  33. SN Theorist

    “That wouldn’t work; in fact in the center of many supernovae the star’s core collapses to a black hole. The outer layers of the stars have so much energy they easily explode outwards even though at the heart of the explosion sits a black hole.”

    Sorry Bad Astronomer, this is bad astronomy and plainly wrong. There are two ways to make a black hole:

    (1) The star collapse, makes a proto-neutron star, but whatever mechanism drives the supernova does not operate successfully and the explosion fizzles and a BH is formed when accretion pushes the proto-neutron star over its mass limit. There is no EM observational display, but neutrinos and gravitational waves.
    (2) The star collapse, makes a proto-neutron star, but whatever mechanism drives the supernova does not operate very efficiently, producing only a weak explosion that does not unbind the entire star. Subsequently, some matter falls back and pushes the proto-neutron star over its mass limit. Bang, a BH forms. This give a weak EM display, but still strong GWs and EM waves.

    If you don’t believe me, you should have come to see my student’s talk at the APS meeting ;-)

  34. MHS

    Great piece again Phil! I don’t know where you get the time to write these things, but keep doing it!

  35. Great review BA, I also saw the movie last night in Romania, and I also could not go on the path of “suspension of disbelief” when it came to the “red matter” thing, black hole issues… but also with the very week pretext for time travel.

    On the other hand the movie was really great and I went along with it for the rest of the ride.
    Really liked the “boom” when ships passed into hyperspace… maybe it is just a space-time shock wave =))

    me wants sequel or TV series really fast… >))

  36. K

    Regarding sound in space, I have a helpfull tip.

    When you hear the explosions, imagine that the sound you hear is coming from inside the space craft. That makes it much easier to accept.

  37. IVAN3MAN

    RED ALERT! RED ALERT!

    Capt. Plait. There is a rogue apostrophe at the second paragraph, fourth line, in the possessive pronoun it… it should be its!

  38. Tweaking the canon never bothers me too much. Artistic license. But yeah, a supernova that threatened the galaxy? Talk about “The Mouse That Roared.” Oops. wrong genre.

    It was fun to see the other members of the crew get some moments and props.

    Throughout TNG and movies I-IX, I thought the Romulans were under-utlized. Well, X and XI rectified that. The Klingons have clearly been held in reserve for reboot sequel film use.

    How about the previews? “Bad Robot” Movie 1, “Bad Robot” Movie 2, and so on. (And no, these were not JJ Abrams’ properties.)

    Oh, and I thought a 10:35pm screening might spare me having to share the theatre with an “expressive” toddler. I was, once again, mistaken. Why pay a sitter when you can treat a coupla hundred cash-payin’ patrons to your hell?

    Anyway, thanks for the lovingly thorough BA treatment!

  39. Dan

    About the exploding warp core: The shield of the enterprise could have protected it from vaporization and at the same time provided a way to get some momentum from the electromagnetic waves of the explosion. The shield would have to be _really_ powerfull, though.

  40. Spatula

    Am I the only person on the planet who couldn’t see the trekkiness in this movie? Strip away the thin facade of familiar names and uniforms, and what’s left other than a mindless cookie-cutter action movie? Even the actionier of the previous trek movies still took the time to think about the reasons for and limits to the violence the Federation was willing to accept. This one doesn’t take it beyond the standard action trope of “Kirk and Spock want revenge! Bad guy wants revenge! Everyone hits everyone else!” What’s become of Roddenberry’s idealism?

    I did think the new Spock was perfect, though. There were a few scenes where I completely forgot that I wasn’t looking at Nimoy. McCoy was fine and Kirk waxed in and out of the original character, but the rest just seemed like charicatures.

  41. Joseph

    But why would they need to drill a hole in the first place? If the red matter can create a singularity anywhere, then why not just drop it on the surface and as it gains mass it would sink to the center of the planet anyway. As for the ejection and destruction of the warp core, I think it would be possible to set the warp core into overdrive after it was ejected and that would be able to create a fold in space-time behind the enterprise (and destroy itself in the process) to temporarily cancel out the gravitational field of the black hole just long enough for the impulse engines to allow the enterprise to escape. I just think this movie has one of the sexiest looking enterprises ever designed and I would hate to think about it getting destroyed.

  42. IVAN3MAN

    Phil Plait:

    … for years I have complained about sounds in space, saying that done correctly, making things silent can add drama. That sentiment was proven here; the sudden silence as we leave the ship and fly into space with the doomed crewmember is really eerie and unsettling.

    Agreed! Until some idiot in the audience chooses that moment to open a pack of crisps (potato chips) and munch on its contents, or their mobile phone rings with a damn stupid ring-tone!
    Cinema operators should seriously consider installing mobile-phone jammers on their premises, and activate them when a movie is playing.

  43. “And assuming Vulcan has a crust floating on a mantle (like Earth does), even if the drill gets through the crust, now you’re trying to drill a hole through a fluid!”

    Yes, technically our mantle is a fluid, but its viscosity is so high that it is essentially indistinguishable from solid rock. The key is the pressure. The mantle is hot, but also under enough pressure to remain solid. If they were really drilling a hole to the core (which, by the way, seems unnecessary if they’re making a black hole…) the problem would be that the sudden loss of pressure would be what caused the rocks to melt.

    It’s a nitpick since the result is basically the same, but there’s an ongoing misconception that the mantle is molten lava, and it’s really solid rock. You have to go to the outer core to get genuine liquid deep in the earth.

  44. Job

    Did you think of this Phil: the warp core is something that allows faster than light travel. Doesn’t that mean that by definition, if Enterprise was trapped while trying to escape the growing black hole, it must have been inside the event horizon? Then the whole scene couldn’t have possible unfolded the way it did anyway, with all the pretty lights.

    Aside from how that, warp drives allow faster than light travel. How? I don’t know. Applied Phlebotinum, most likely. Anyway, if it exploded, couldn’t it be “possible” that the explosion itself warped space in such a way it pushed the Enterprise out of the black hole? Like riding some kind of faster-than-light space-time wave?

    Completely destroying the enterprise in the process, most likely

  45. Blashy

    Ok well ST is 500+/- years in the future, so the red matter bomb could be something we have no idea about yet. So maybe it can do the black hole stuff.

    We have not discovered ALL there is to know about science.

    As for the drill, maybe the beam has some special properties that prevents the rocks from continually collapsing, maybe it created a force field as it went down, etc…

    I could “maybe” most of your arguments because we have no idea what we will be up to 500 years from now, we might have some current scientific understandings a little wrong, not everything we know about science has been vetted for the past 200 years the way evolution has…

  46. Oded

    wtf unicorns

  47. The perfect review. I couldn’t do better myself.

    I’m on old-time Trek fan. Started watching when I was a wee lad in the late 60s. Kirk and Spock inspired me to become a physicist and computer programmer (and to chase chicks).

    Good work!

  48. Brazil

    I think that Checov character really shines in this movie since he was not trying to be a copy of the ST-TOS character. His scenes are really fun to watch. Sulu started well and then faded away along the movie. Scotty, Uhura and Kirk were rigth on the spot being a modern version of the ST-TOS characters were, while McCoy and Spock actors seemed to me to be trying too hard to impersonate Kelley and Nimoy. Nevertheless, the overall result was quite enjoyable and put a smile in my face. So, I’m ready to enjoy new movies with this new crew. Bring it on.

    Plot holes, bad science and technobabble are annoying things but not as much as Winona Ryder acting in this movie in a crappy aging make up. ;)

  49. Morgan

    It was an extremely fun movie, but the supernova/black hole thing you mention tainted it for me: the filmmakers paid that much attention to niggling details of character history and setting immersion, but seemed to pull the precipitating event for the whole plot out of their rears?

    Well, it was very enjoyable nonetheless.

    The one major nit that you didn’t cover, for me, was the mention at the start that the attack couldn’t be Klingons because “we’re 75,000 km from…” Did anyone actually hear what they were so close to, and why they imagined being such a pitifully small distance from anything was a guarantee of safety on astronomical scales?

    I was also bemused by how tiny the Trek universe was made to seem. The journey from Earth to Vulcan seems to take only minutes. Transporters can cross entire star systems. I guess someone noticed that warp factors were just too damn slow…

    Blashy: The movie was set in 2258, the time travelers were coming from 2387.

  50. Diego

    What I wonder is whether they will retain the ability to beam over interplanetary and maybe interstellar distances and even onto ships at warp. That could be a bit stifling for script writers by providing a bit too much deus ex machina. Then again, they just might forget about the ability as they always seem to do in Star Trek.

  51. Science Fiction Apologist

    Three comments

    1) Knowing the liberties physicists take with naming things (thinking of quarks, and QCD), I agree that without a better description, who knows what red matter is (I’m still smiling over whatever proto-matter is).

    2) I always give a pass on sounds in space, since you never know if the sound presented isn’t actually an artifact of what is heard inside the vessel in question.

    3) Since presumably a warp core is the part of the ship responsible for warping space, I would expect an exploding warp core would warp space as well. I think its believable to think that a propagating wave of warped space could couple with the ship.

    Just to nitpick about the boiling, I would think that if you got slammed with the radiation from the sun, you would outgas through your pores pretty quickly.

  52. Alan French

    I was also pleasantly surprised. I guess they needed to “Red Matter” so the planet destruction would work, but it bothered me.

    As I left, thought, I keep thinking that if we do ever become real space travelers, it is likely to be extremely boring in comparison to our visions of great space battles and interstellar intrigue.

    Clear skies, Alan

  53. MadScientist

    Hmm … I’m not sure you chose the best words from the Bard – are you implying that this movie was a tale told by an idiot?

    Now for that other scene: I swear that’s The Thunderbirds, not Star Trek. Anyone else vote on the Thunderbirds thing? Really – they look so wooden and so gay, it’s got to be Thunderbirds.

    Don’t worry too much about what’s wrong with the physics; they’re doing better than most news stories. I’m getting tired of the stock footage of atmospheric nuclear tests which have a loud ‘bang!’ just as you get the bright flash.

  54. Morgan

    Ah, forgot to mention how odd it was that black holes seem to be treated as flat disks, like those stick on “portable holes” from Looney Tunes cartoons.

    The ship designs were interesting. They did a good job of making the Enterprise look larger and more impressive without making the other ships look dinky or half-built.

  55. Richie

    Yeah, the Supernova thing kinda ruined it for me. Great movie otherwise. Loved the quirks and in-jokes, enjoyed the visuals, and the casting was spot-on in places… in short, I was Entertained with a capital E.

    (rant starts)
    Then they just went and ruined the ride. A supernova blows up a star that ‘threatens the galaxy’. What was so special about that one star in 400 billion? While I may not have Death From The Skies (yet), I’d think that Supernova are not exactly ‘out of the blue’ events. There would be warning signs – like, Oh I don’t know, the whole RED GIANT stage?
    And the best that the combined Romulan Star Empire can do is send a fast ship to create a black hole there instead? Soooo…the answer to your homeworlds star going up is to replace the star with a black hole. Sounds like the planet was getting disintegrated no matter which way you cut it.

    Kinda blows the villain out of proportion as well. How can he blame the Federation for allowing the Romulans to commit mass stupidity? Vulcan has no problem with the concept of planetary evacuations in 2258, yet Romulus can’t figure it out in 2387 – 120 YEARS later! Gah!
    (/end rant)

  56. we do hear ships whoosh as they go to warp and all that, but that’s what we expect to hear … I accept that as a filmmaker’s prerogative to make the audience comfortable.

    Agreed. People who nitpick on sound effects in the outer-space shots never seem to complain about the music that’s playing in the background. Both are there for one reason: to help with the mood. As long as “sound in space” doesn’t become a plot point, I’m fine with it, and frankly prefer it.

  57. Blashy

    So they are 250 years in the future, just think where we might be in that time or what we will have discovered in science on how to manipulate things we think are currently impossible to do (like drill a whole and have it maintained through a planet).

    250 years ago we killed people who made any statements that might resemble tons of technologies we use today.

    I just find it weird to criticize futuristic movies about some science stuff that we have just discovered over the last few decades.

  58. “Red matter” sounds like a profoundly stupid name for the stuff of apocalypse. I mean, I eat it every day: sriracha sauce is hot, but not that hot.

  59. Paul S.

    When someone refers to “blood boiling” in space, I think they’re usually talking about the dissolved gases forming bubbles because of the drop in pressure, like divers getting the bends. Of course, the blood isn’t actually boiling at all, but it sounds a lot nastier than saying “blood fizzing”.

  60. I had the same problem with the shockwave from the warp core at the end, BUT! What if they timed the detonation of the warp cores such that it exploded just on the edge of the rear shields? I don’t know how the shields are supposed to work, but conceivably the energy from the exploding warp cores could push against the shields, which in turn could propel the ship forward.

    (It was a pretty clear reference to Project Orion anyway. ;) )

  61. James

    I thought I was taught in college (so long ago) that your blood would “boil” in your capillaries near the surface, giving you an overall hematoma. Basically, you get a body hickey! And, like Paul said above, you get the bends…Must look this up.

    My first impression of the movie was that I totally hated it. Wayyy to much license taken, action wayyy to fast, and the camera work gave me sea sickness. Too much on the screen at once. Why does the Enterprise need 50 phasers instead of the one set they usually had at the bottom of the saucer section? Instead of a “five year mission to explore new worlds, to see out new life, and new civilizations”, it seems the new Enterprise is ready to Blast em all whenever we meet em!

    Ok I’m nitpicking too. On an up note: Green Orion women are still the hottest in the universe! And Uhura wasn’t far behind!

  62. I was confused whether we’re supposed to buy this as a legitimate timeline that the canon is based off, or some sort of alternate.

    I think it’s plainly meant to be a reboot. Star Trek has canonically established alternate universes, so there’s even a mechanism. (Unlike, say, the Batman reboot, which was also awesome, even for a non-fan like me.)

  63. dhtroy

    Unicorns!?!?! UNICORNS!!!! A redirect to Unicorns?!?!?

    That wasn’t an evasive maneuver, that was a phaser blast set to kill.

    Bridge to Medical bay, man down!

  64. Doodler

    I’d like to take a moment to try and defend the warp core ejection escape.

    Too many times has Trek hammered us with the idea that warp propulsion is working on more than three dimensions, so I’d like to put forward the possibility that the explosion that drives the ship outward isn’t the flashbang in three dimensional space, but the ripples created in spacetime when the reaction goes critical.

    Think of it more like surfing on the wave created by a depth charge. Its not the actual material of the boom, but its effect on the medium it occupies that drives you away.

  65. I haven’t read this post yet: I’m going to see the movie this afternoon, and I’ll read this after that. But I wanted to note that a couple of years ago I did a series of posts in my blog on technology in Star Trek, that you might find amusing. Read from the bottom up, to get them in the order I posted them.

    I’ll be back after the movie……..

  66. Greg23

    Carolyn Porco was pretty pleased about being the Science Consultant. I take it you are not giving her an A+ Phil?

    Also, I thought you would have posted the USA Today ISS construction link I sent you by now. That was pure eye candy for a NASA fan.

    http://i.usatoday.net/tech/graphics/iss_timeline/flash.htm

  67. Stefan Krzywicki

    Two quick points
    1) There’s a comic series by IDW that is an official tie-in to the movie that explains all the backstory and the Supernova isn’t just a Supernova. I’ve lent the comics to someone so I can’t say exactly what it is, but there’s more technobabble in the explanation.
    2) Check out the sounds in the movie. There were so many subtle references to the original show! From the sound of the sensors on the medical bed when Kirk sits on it to the engine straining sound as they try to get away from the Black Hole at the end the movie is full of callbacks.

  68. Mihai

    >But 40 Eri is a triple star system. Where are the other two suns?

    Since 40 Eridani B and 40 Eridani C are at about 400 AU from 40 Eridani A they will be quite incospicuous Vulcan sky in the day, being way less bright than our own moon.
    At night they will apear like really bright stars.

  69. Troy

    I liked the movie. After its settles a bit, it won’t be one of my favorites. Contrast “Red matter” with say Project Genesis, one is a plot device the other was quite original, explained very well in the movie, which gave it a sembelence to reality. Red matter on the other hand didn’t really have much scientific basis. The villain was painted with superficial strokes and his motives weren’t rational or clear. The casting was excellent, and they did a fairly good job integrating “The Cage” pilot into it with the nuances of Spock and Christopher Pike being on board previous to Spock being Kirk’s first officer. I also like how they illucidated the Kirk-Spock relationship. Finally I’d like to protest the alternate reality, it can work–picture a beatnik Spock with, like, a beard…but he’s a fascist. I don’t mind visiting an alternate reality but I don’t want to live in one.

  70. Aleksandar

    Its Trek for gods sake, they had tons of technobabble and unobtanium and handwavium since they began.

    Drill could project a forcefield around the hole to prevent melted rock entering the tunel. By some estimates and guesses Star Trek ship shields can take many megatons of firepower, so they could survive explosion of their warp cores somehow.

    And for the big evil supernova. In the comics (I dont know how “official” they are to the story) there was one supernova that destroyed a planet in its own system that had some magical substance on it that made explosion grow ever larger and trigger chain reaction in stars it hits. Of course that requires the shockwave to travel FTL but… its Trek…

  71. Anonymous Geophysicist: Yes, but I said it’s a fluid, not a liquid. I considered talking about it being more plastic than anything else, but couldn’t get it to work because it would lose the main point I was trying to make. I’ll reconsider that line.

    Greg23: No, Carolyn did great! I said her idea was good, it was the effects people who changed it.

  72. Bobcloclimar

    Just to nitpick: TOS used lithium for its engines, not dilithium. =O)

  73. Randy A.

    As Ryan noted previously, the Earth’s mantle is a solid, not a liquid (Phil, how could you forget that?). And possibly there was a cylindrical force field projected around the beam to keep the hole from collapsing inward. But there are a couple more issues:

    First, the ship would have to be in a geosynchronous orbit, drilling into the planet along the equator, or it would have to continuously maneuver to stay over the same place. I haven’t seen the movie yet — which of these did they use, or did the movie makers just assume the ship could just hang motionless over a planet?

    Second, vaporized rock would occupy a MUCH greater volume than the solid rock. It would be interesting to work out the physics of this. At shallow levels within the crust, the pressure of the vaporized rock would be greater than the confining pressure, and there would be a large explosion (my family and I recently visited Ubehebe Crater in Death Valley, a LARGE hole made by a steam explosion).

    By the time the beam reaches the mantle, the vapor pressure might be roughly equal to the confining pressure. Perhaps they could even adjust the intensity of the beam to make sure of this. But the vapor would then blast out of the hole. As the beam drilled deeper, the pressure would increase, until the vaporized rock was exiting the drill hole at hypersonic velocities, fountaining up through the planet’s atmosphere and impacting the drill ship! What fun!

  74. Randy A.

    Phil, you posted your reply as I was typing (I’m a slow typist). I did read “fluid” as “liquid”. But it does seem to me that you were a little unclear there…

  75. Hi Phil,

    I’m not a huge Trek fan, so I don’t say this with the purpose of defending Trek physics. Maybe someone else has mentioned this before, but you seem to have neglected a few things in your analysis. In particular when you discussed the shock wave from the warp core explosion. The core looked like it had a lot of mass (say a few tons). If it really was a matter-anti-matter annihilation, then the mass would have been converted into a massive amount of energy primarily in the form of gamma rays (although you mention these you don’t seem to take photon pressure into account). Obviously since photons are massless, and the explosion appeared to be roughly spherically symmetric, this energy can be directly translated into momentum. If either the ship or the ship’s shields can either reflect or absorb gamma rays (which seems necessary to stop nasty aliens from killing everyone by pointing their exhaust at Enterprise) a large fraction of the momentum would be transfered to Enterprise, accelerating it. So detonating the warp core could work, depending on exactly how close Enterprise was to the event horizon, the exact composition of the core and its proximity to the ship.

  76. Kevin

    @Ritchie… The Romulans had nothing to do with the attempt to create the black hole. It was Spock’s idea, and he did it (if you read the companion graphic novel countdown it explains it all). The Romulans didn’t believe Spock about the supernova. And Nero’s reasoning for his vendetta wasn’t because the Rom’s were stupid, but that Spock (and the Federation, according to him) didn’t save the planet, and his wife – like Spock promised.

    @James… If you look at the original blueprints for the Enterprise (which I have original copies, I’m that much of a geek), you will see phaser banks on the top and bottom, plus the port and starboard sides of the saucer section (top and bottom), along with a bank on the underside of the engineering section.

  77. CaptXpendable

    There is a bit more of an explanation of the supernova in the Star Trek: Countdown prequel comics, though, of course, disbelief must still be suspended. The Memory Alpha Wiki has a detailed synopsis of each issue if you want to look. Basically it comes under the heading of “This is no ordinary supernova” and that’s part of the reason Spock couldn’t convince the Romulan Council to evacuate. They didn’t believe him until it was too late. (shades of Jor-El there).

    Mostly I just chalk it up to that magical Star Trek Universe property of subspace, which I always understood to be a compressed space. If the explosion was some kind of “subspace supernova”, the force of it would travel faster than light and effect a much larger area.

  78. I added a footnote to the “fluid” part to clear it up. Also, it was pointed out to me that I conflated the two big drill scenes, so I fixed that too.

  79. I agree with you 100% on that first point. When I saw that scene, I actually let out the following strangled cry of delight: “There’s no sound in space!!!!

    I was also annoyed at the idea of a supernova threatening the galaxy. At that point, I said, “Um, what?”

  80. Becca Stareyes

    Wasn’t Romulus in a double star system, anyway? If one star was going supernova, then if there was a way to damp it, the planet might be fine with only one star. As long as that wasn’t the one it orbited. (It also was a colony founded by rebel Vulcans, so it wasn’t like we have to expect aliens to evolve there. Granted, I don’t think I’d put a colony on a world near a star so close to supernova…)

    (Also, I presume Nemo was going to go pester the 23rd Century Romulans to Do Something* after he got his revenge. Granted, if I were him, I’d go do that while I was waiting for Spock Prime to show up — I mean, for all I know, Spock Prime is going to show up 100 years after the explosion. Of course, the McGuffin is with Spock Prime, so I couldn’t go see if it would blow up the offending star before it went off.)

    * Even if that something is just ‘listen, the planet is going to blow up in 100+ years, might want to move the center of the Empire to a colony. There’s time enough to save some lives.

  81. Morgan

    Wasn’t Romulus in a double star system, anyway?

    Nope. Romulus is sometimes depicted as a “double planet” with Remus as its twin (like Earth-Luna but closer in size, or like Onderon-Dxun from Star Wars), while at other times Remus is implied to be just another planet in the same or a neighbouring system. But I know of nothing suggesting their star is a binary.

  82. Badger3k

    I haven’t seen it, but I’d like to know if the review in my paper is accurate – did they actually use the famous line by Spock about “always being your friend, Jim” (to paraphrase from STII)? When I read that, I sincerely hoped they weren’t stupid enough to put that in the movie that describes their first duty together. Can anyone tell me if they did?

  83. Doodler

    The elder Spock used the line, not Quinto-Spock.

    As for the Delta Vega thing, apparently, the Delta Vega in the movie is a planetoid in the 40 Eri system, not the dilithium cracking planet of the second pilot.

    http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Delta_Vega_(Vulcan_system)

    The name was meant as an easter egg, not a literal reference.

  84. CaptXpendable

    @ Becca Stareyes- I think it’s important to remember that the backstory explanation came from Spock, not Nero. Spock wouldn’t know what Nero did or didn’t do during his 25 year wait. It’s entirely possible that Nero had already warned Romulus, though it’s also possible that, given his psychotic grief, he didn’t care what happened to the alternate Romulus since his own would still be gone.

  85. Lithium was replaced by dilithium midway through TOS; remember, the Halkan planet in “Mirror, Mirror” (the One Where Spock Has a Beard) is valuable because dilithium is mined there, and Elaan of Troyius’s necklace was made with dilithium crystals.

  86. CaptXpendable

    I also wanted to add that I think it’s highly likely that Spock will try to warn Romulus

  87. No doubt the “lithium cracking station” on the original Delta Vega was a facility for splitting lithium atoms in two.

    (-:

  88. First, awesome movie, awesome review.

    Now, a question: When I was leaving the theater, some guy yelled out at the top of his lungs — not once, but TWICE — “Titan was too close to Saturn!!!”

    So, we know Titan was in the wrong plane to the rings, but was it indeed “too close to Saturn!!!?”

  89. Skeptic Tim

    “Hovering over Vulcan, the Romulan ship lowers a mining drill, which blasts an intense beam into the surface. It drills down into the planet’s core.”
    I trust the Romulan ship was rigidly attached to the drill and “blasted” and equally intense beam in the opposite direction to that of the mining drill. If it did not, it was not “Hovering over Vulcan”
    for very long. If the ship was not rigidly attached to the drill it would also not be “Hovering over Vulcan” for very long!

  90. “On Chekov’s suggestion, the Enterprise hides in Titan’s thick atmosphere . . .”

    Please tell me this suggestion was prefaced with a declaration like, for example, “Hiding in the blizzard is a Russian inwention!” If this movie doesn’t have anything “inwented in Russia” I don’t know if I can summon up the will to watch it.

  91. Brendan

    Ok, one small thing, before I get into it.

    When was the last time you heard of a person obsessed with revenge and retribution act, well, logically? Fixated on a single goal to the absolute exclusion of all other sense and reason? Sounds about right to me.

    And now the relevant point. It’s Star Trek. It’s not Nat Geo Presents. Arguing about how they got it right or wrong about a fictionalised universe, set in the future, replete with pseudo-science babble, and then rating that based on current science, is hilarious.

    If we have the same level of understanding about the universe we live in, in 250 odd years, then I’d suggest there’s no good cause for us to leave this rock. If we can’t punch a hole in a planet with the universes largest “freakin’ lazer”, attached to a mining ship (it’s actually mentioned more than once so the less observant can keep up) that actually came from a time even further into the future than the film is set, then I’m pretty sure we should all just climb right back into the trees and give up!

    So the science was (mostly) wrong. Anyone going to see this thinking there would be accurate science probably needs to remember they’re going to see, you guessed it, Star Trek. I enjoyed the movie, irrespective of logic flaws because.. it’s Star Trek.

    It’s supposed to be full of plot holes, unbelievable science and a sense that no matter what, our heroes will save the day (and at least one red shirt will kick the bucket in a too-stupid-to-live moment).

  92. This is a prequel and Vulcan is destroyed? I’m not telling my daughter because I don’t want to deal with a tantrum on Mother’s Day. Yes, we all feel rather deeply about Trek in my family. Did anyone see the news blurb that scientists are beginning to take warp drive seriously?
    Phil: It must be difficult for a real scientist to view such wholesale mistakes and still enjoy the movie. I’m more apt to see it now.

  93. Joe, the photon momentum transferred to the Enterprise from the explosion would be tiny compared to what the ship’s engines generate. It would be like having an oil tanker stuck in a sandbar and having a mosquito pushing on it.

  94. Apparently, I now have better control of my emotions than this new love bird Spock does, and I’m a warring mixture of Scottish-Italian. Boo. I wanted to love this movie, but I really couldn’t. The drama was no more credible than the science.

  95. IVAN3MAN

    ERRATUM: At my previous post above, I should have stated:

    … in the possessive form of the pronoun it… it should be its!

    Matthew 7:3-5 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
    Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
    Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

  96. Heh! Just in time Phil — we’re headed to the local IMAX to see the movie this week.

    BTW, click my name to get to an .. ahem… marketing campaign that goes with the movie. It’s actually kind of funny, if a bit sophomoric…
    ;)

    LLAP

  97. Phil and company,

    As the official ‘science consultant’ on this film, I feel I should respond to the remarks made here. I’ve posted a lengthy response on the CICLOPS website, at http://ciclops.org/view_event.php?id=109 . (Scroll to the bottom of the page to find it.)

    (And whether or not Titan looks too close to Saturn or not close enough depends on the camera focal length and field of view from which the scene is `seen’. Through Cassini’s wide angle camera, it looks about as depicted in the movie. Check out http://ciclops.org/view.php?id=983 for instance.)

    Thanks,
    Carolyn

  98. Carolyn, nice! Reading your linked comment, it’s funny you thought the same thing I did; that following the Enterprise up and out of Titan’s atmosphere to reveal Saturn and the rings would’ve been awesome.

    And of course Carolyn is right about the size of Titan; in this very review I posted an image taken by Cassini which makes it look like Titan is too close to Saturn; it’s all in the zoom, folks. I did miss the fact that the clouds above Titan looked like they were undergoing convection. Nice catch!

    And let me add to her voice and say it was very cool of Abrams to take her suggestion and run with it. Like I said, there are some issues with that scene, but don’t let it detract from 1) they made an effort, and b) it was totally cool. :)

  99. OK, so a supernova obviously wouldn’t threaten an entire galaxy. But the thing is, even if there was some natural explosion that COULD destroy the entire galaxy, wouldn’t it be trivial to outrun? I mean, they DO have faster-than-light technology. It would take centuries to cross space to damage their planets, but they would know about it and have those centuries to plan for it.

    Well, I guess we have seen explosions in Star Trek that travel interstellar distances quickly (which then convientiently slow down enough to be dramatic when approaching our hero’s beloved ship), but still. I guess you could handwave something about subspace, negative wave-foldy coherent tachyon kaboobibly, or male-demographic-pleasing skin-tight catsuits doing it.

  100. Hi Carolyn!

    Good blog entry and great work!

    Carolyn :)

  101. Badger3k

    Vulcan destroyed? “Our” Spock? Seriously, what abortion is this? I can see that they want a reboot, but I can only shake my head. Next thing you know, there’ll be chaplains on the Enterprise, Spock will talk about the universal life force that binds all things together (as opposed to the IDIC philosophy) like some new age guru, and an astrologer will save the universe with his “science”. And, we’ll finally see that all life was intelligently designed. Just hearing fragments of the story make me think I’ll wait till it comes out on disc, and then wait till a friend gets it.

  102. A Journalist

    You forgot to mention the impossibility of time travel in one piece via black hole…

  103. Voltaire

    When I saw the movie, I interpreted Spock watching Vulcan be destroyed as a literal, visual interpretation of what he saw in his mind’s eye as he “sensed” the death of the planet and six billion Vulcans, in the same way he sensed the death of the Vulcan crew in “The Immunity Syndrome”.

  104. “Vulcan has no Moon, lieutenant…”

  105. gruebait

    Seems to me the writers could have avoided all the things you criticize if they had merely had the crew re-route a conduit to the deflector array.

  106. Pretty much agree with you 100% Phil. I noticed a bunch of the incorrect science myself but it is a movie so what do we really expect. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Spock, Uhuru, and Green chick threesome? Anyone. Uhuru was smokin :-)

    Simon Pegg is a massive geek, he must’ve loved his dialogue as Scotty speaking to Leonard Nimoy as Spock.

  107. T.E.L.

    Here’s my revue: contrived; uninspired; weak. It stinks.

  108. One thing about the drill.

    The pressure caused by the mantle should have blown massive amounts of material up through the hole in the crust, basically creating a sort of hot spot volcano. Am I wrong about this? That’s the first thing I thought should happen once the crust has been compromised.

    Other than that, DAMN loved it, and totally loved all the science you provided. I was happy to see that I picked up almost all the same little science problems that you did.

    -Chris

  109. T.E.L.

    …also, Chekov looks like Lt. Kyle!

  110. Stu

    I’m heavily involved in Outreach and education over here in the UK, run an astronomy society, give a lot of talks about astronomy and space, and write for local papers etc etc, so I guess I should be bothered about “bad astronomy” and “bad science” in movies. But you know what? I’m not. I DON’T CARE! When I go into a cinema – sorry, movie theatre – to watch a science fiction film I consider myself “off duty” and there as a civilian, and as I stuff my jacket under the seat my “astronomer”‘s hat is wrapped up in it too, and I just settle back to be entertained for a couple of hours. If I want 1000% scientifically accurate content I’ll watch a NASA DVD; when I go to the cinema I want excitement, action, great characters, big bangs, colourful planets, the works. I want to come out of the cinema into the drizzle of a grey Cumbrian spring day and feel excited by the universe again, dazzled by the pretty lights and explosions in the movie, and not mumbling under my breath “Humph! Well THAT bit was wrong, and THAT would NEVER happen…”

    And I came out of STAR TREK today grinning like a fat kid who’s just got locked in a sweet shop. It’s just stunning, a joy from start to finish. It’s FUN!

    So, while I know people have to nit-pick, and correct mistakes, and point out inaccuracies, can we also stress the sheer joy of films like this? The Star Trek movie is slap-across-the-face exciting, that’s it’s job, it’s not meant to be a documentary. It really, really doesn’t matter that the drill wouldn’t *actually* work, it’s a cool idea! And it really doesn’t matter that the Enterprise wouldn’t emerge from Titan’s atmosphere like a submarine breaking through the waves, it’s a heart-stoppingly beautiful image.

    Movies are meant to be fun. Star Trek is! Please, anyone worried about the “bad science”, forget it. Buy your ticket, take your seat and, as the great man says, “Buckle up”…!

  111. Re: Rho Cas – I think Bynaus is correct. Yellow hypergiants (YHG) may be somewhere on the Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) – Red Supergiant (RSG) instability track, and it still isn’t entirely clear which stars are the progenitors of Type II supernovae.

  112. James

    @Kevin: Thanks for the tip! I have, from way back when I was in my single digits, the original Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual. Off to find where it is….

  113. Medic

    Excellent review of the science of the new film, however, I do have a problem with your blood boiling point. If you were sucked into a near perfect vacuum of space, your blood would in fact do something akin to boiling.
    In decompression sickness, divers who spend time at underwater depths (and pressures), rise to the surface too fast and experience excruciating pain. This pain is caused by molecules of gas dissolved in blood plasma (primarily nitrogen, but O2 and CO2 play a role as well) precipitating via Henry’s Law. This is effectively boiling your blood. The effect is triggered by any rapid change in pressures, usually of the 1 atm range. It can happen when flying an unpressurized aircraft and would happen in space.
    However, decompression illness tends to set on somewhat slowly. So while getting sucked into a vacuum may cause unbearable pain and neurological symptoms (within 24 hours), the decompressed lungs and hypoxia are going to be the chief concern.

  114. I like the Bad Science reviews because they’re a chance learn about good science. I’m not going to hate a movie because it has bad science. Well, unless it’s really bad.

  115. HalOfBorg

    “Supernova that would destroy the galaxy.”

    Spock must have meant in the “piss off all the surviving Romulans, let loose all of their subject planets and plunge galaxy into war.” as in when Praxis blew up.

  116. Phil, imagine that the core weighs 0.1% of enterprises total mass m_E, then the energy released could have been on the order of 0.001*m_E*c^2. I can’t remember the scene in much detail but if the explosion was close to Enterprise the momentum imparted could be something on the order of 0.0001*m_E*c, even more if the shields actually reflect the gamma rays. This is enough to change Enterprises velocity by 30km/s. That really is a significant amount.

    Now obviously these numbers change dramatically depending on the distance from the explosion and the mass of the core, but its not as obviously wrong as you suggest.

  117. Chip

    Michael Giacchino wrote the film score and in the themes and scoring he captured some of the dramatic feel an imagination reminiscent of Alexander Courage’s original Star Trek scores.

  118. matt

    I guess when I heard “supernova that threatened the galaxy,” I interpreted that as just the political ramifications, not physical danger, and thus didn’t have a problem with it. But I was confused when spock went ahead and used the red matter anyway. I think at the time I felt he meant to save Remus, the sister planet to Romulus, but that makes less sense than them just flubbing the science now that I think about it.

    Overall, probably my second favorite trek movie. After First Contact. I’d say it’s on par with 2 and 6, plot-wise.

  119. godless one

    I have a question. Do spaceships or star ships do banking maneuvers in space like an airplane? I hope they do a spin off tv show from this movie.

  120. Frank Ch. Eigler

    > To propel the Big E to safety, the bomb would have to transfer momentum
    > to the ship. [...] Detonating the warp core would generate a lot of light, but
    > only a tiny bit of mass would explode outward, so the momentum transfer would be minimal.

    How much momentum would a “lot of light” carry though? It’s nonzero.

  121. Frank: my post above was an attempt to answwer that exact question.

  122. Daniel J. Andrews

    Great review. It was a fun movie to watch. I liked the physical sound effect when ships went into warp. You could feel more than hear the thump.

    I had a hard time with Spock at first. He just reminded me too much of Sylar. When the Vulcan hoi-poi congratulated him on doing so well despite his disadvantages (i.e. being half-human) I saw Sylar in Spock’s response. It was really creepy. Later I did manage to see him just as Spock though and was able to let the movie take me for a wild ride.

  123. KINGDINOSAUR

    One science question concerning the movie I was looking for wasn’t answered: At the speed Kirk and Sulu were in freefall after the drill was destroyed, prior to the teleportation, wouldn’t the sudden impact on the transporter pad have killed them?

    Considering the distance the two fell without a parachute, until beamed them onboard the Enterprise, the velocity should be too great to survive an abrupt collision with the ground.

  124. amphiox

    Loved the movie too. Some of my own observations:

    Engineering training in the 23rd Century must have become way more subspecialized, because Scott’s dialogue at one point implied that he did not consider a grapefruit to be a lifeform.

    Someone at Starfleet High Command must have been asleep at the switch. How else could a hostile vessel get to launch a drill into two of the Federation’s primary worlds without eliciting a single response? Where were the long range detection arrays, orbital defense platforms, surface to space batteries, etc? Were there no warships in orbit or docked planetside on either Vulcan or Earth that could have been launched in response to the attack? Why didn’t anyone on Vulcan send a message to the approaching fleet to tell them that there was a hostile attacking ship and not just a natural disaster to contend with?

    Why was the enemy ship so dangerous and powerful? It was a mining vessel! Where did they get all their advanced future weaponry? It would be like taking a modern supertanker and pitting it against Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar. Unless the Romulans are so paranoid that they routinely arm all their civilian vessels to top line weaponry.

    Why did the Enterprise crew have to choose between warning Starfleet and going back to earth alone to confront the enemy ship? Surely they could have done both. Earth being one of the major planets in the Federation, at some point on the trajectory of the flight back to earth, they should have come within transmission range of some major Starfleet installation, sent a message of warning, and arranged for a whole battle armada to warp in and converge on earth, no?

  125. Daniel J. Andrews

    by the way, thanks for the battlestar galactica throwaway comment about the finale. I’m only halfway through Season 3 on DVD (friend has them) and have been getting hooked on them. Now you tell me the finale doesn’t make sense??!! Argh! Well, maybe it will to me as I’ll have seen the whole series within a short period of time.

  126. Lyr

    Yeah, the thing that got me (aside from Kirk being able to drive a stickshift — unlike in the original timeline!) was why didn’t Nero just contact the Romulans and warn them about the supernova? They would have had plenty of time for a complete evacuation!

  127. MadScientist

    OK, we can settle the issue of ‘boiling blood’; it’s a simple experiment:

    Take one shaven mouse, a large bell jar connected to a small (slightly larger than a mouse) bell jar via a valve. Close the valve, evacuate the large bell jar, put the mouse into the small bell jar and open the valve. After a minute or two, bleed air into the bell jars and recover the mouse for a post-mortem analysis. Just stay away from my vacuum coating chambers; I don’t want volatile mouse compounds fouling them.

  128. Alan French

    Sometimes previous roles can cause inappropriate responses. I was expecting Spock/Sylar to point his finger and slice open the heads of the admissions crew at the Vulcan Science Academy. My wife said the same thing.

    Clear skies, Alan

  129. At first I scratched my head at Spock saying that supernova threatened the galaxy. But it quickly dawned on me that he probably mean it in the metaphorical sense. Because of the supernova and ensuing events, Nero decides to wipe out the Federation.

    I see HalOfBorg here also thinks the same thing.

    I loved the movie, by the way!

  130. GDwarf

    Someone at Starfleet High Command must have been asleep at the switch. How else could a hostile vessel get to launch a drill into two of the Federation’s primary worlds without eliciting a single response? Where were the long range detection arrays, orbital defense platforms, surface to space batteries, etc? Were there no warships in orbit or docked planetside on either Vulcan or Earth that could have been launched in response to the attack? Why didn’t anyone on Vulcan send a message to the approaching fleet to tell them that there was a hostile attacking ship and not just a natural disaster to contend with?

    I think I can answer most of those.

    No one knew they were coming because they got access codes from Admiral Pike, which allowed them to hack into all detection arrays to mask their presence. Then it’s simply a matter of choosing a trajectory that keeps them well away from anything else, which is easy in space.

    There were no warships because they’d all been sent off to Vulcan or were dealing with that other crisis.

    No one on Vulcan got out a message because the drill blocks all communication, and they didn’t realize what was going on until too late. I choose to believe that the Federation didn’t actually get a distress call, they simply lost all contact.

    Why was the enemy ship so dangerous and powerful? It was a mining vessel! Where did they get all their advanced future weaponry? It would be like taking a modern supertanker and pitting it against Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar. Unless the Romulans are so paranoid that they routinely arm all their civilian vessels to top line weaponry.

    Eh, the Romulans are generally paranoid, they betray each other and are at war quite often, so I can see them giving even their mining vessels basic weaponry, just in case.

    And basic weaponry from over 150 years in the future is going to be rather powerful.

    Why did the Enterprise crew have to choose between warning Starfleet and going back to earth alone to confront the enemy ship? Surely they could have done both. Earth being one of the major planets in the Federation, at some point on the trajectory of the flight back to earth, they should have come within transmission range of some major Starfleet installation, sent a message of warning, and arranged for a whole battle armada to warp in and converge on earth, no?

    Lack of time, I think. This is early Starfleet, the maximum warp we see is 4, I believe, and the rest of the fleet is hours away.

    So the choice was regrouping with the fleet and then trying to catch this guy the next time he showed himself, or going after him solo in the hopes of stopping him from destroying the Earth long before the rest of the fleet could show up.

    Really, they didn’t have any viable options. They were outgunned by a guy who could move faster than they could. So he can pick and choose when and where to strike, and even if you trick him into an ambush it might not be enough.

    They did rather well, all things considered.

  131. is it wrong to say i liked your scientific review more than the actual film lol !

  132. Phil?

    Um, can you do something about the phrasing of “Spock getting all Pon Farr on Kirk’s butt”?

    That’s unsettling.

  133. DudeAL

    I haven’t read beyond the intro yet, but several things about said intro bother me. First, you say this movie kept the heart of Trek intact. I wholeheartedly disagree. I feel that it bastardized it through and through. Secondly, you say you wish to tackle only the scientific elements which have any basis at all, on any level, in reality. Yet you dismiss time travel as “fake.” Tell me then why so many brilliant doctors of astrophysics feel that time travel is both possible and “real.”

  134. Evan Neumann

    It is actually not true that passing spaceships make no noise in space. In fact, most proposed SciFi propulsion systems will create significant EM fields that would gently vibrate metal in nearby ships. In this way, your own ship would “hum” with the electromagnetic field generated by the propulsion system of a passing ship. Because EM fields travel more efficiently in vacuum, you should be able to hear ships within a few thousand miles in this manner.

  135. Robert Carnegie

    May I take my turn to be a jerk?

    Archer’s Enterprise show changed history over and over, by interacting with time travellers. Voyager probably never happened now (both of them).

    In Vulcan language “delta vega” means “where the crazy hermits live and no one else goes”. “Delta” is translated as “emo”, but not in polite company. The entire race of Deltans are Vulcanoid but there’s a mutual agreement never to mention this. Or tribbles.

    Were the Roms drilling right to the centre of Vulcan or just to the top of the gloopy part? If the plan is to drop something in and let it sink…

    In most classic episodes, “standard orbit” clearly is a euphemism for “a non-ballistic powered trajectory which is stationary and in Transporter range relative to the beam-down site”, although they don’t actually say so. Thus when alien of the week disables the Enterprise engines, their ballistic course intersects with the ground. I let you do the math as usual ;-)

    Vulcans have super eyesight like elves, to whom they are obviously related.

    Most of Star Trek is set in a teeny part of the galaxy, I bet. Spock meant “known space”. Incidentally, Alan Dean Foster wrote at least one novel where a world population aren’t told about a coming catastrophe because only an insignificant fraction could be evacuated in the seventy years (I think?) before it happens. In one of Keith Laumer’s stories – I think – the world’s “god” responded to a similar situation by universal contraception: the population would die out naturally by the time of the end. Indeed in Larry Niven’s “known space” it’s learned that the core of the galaxy has a supernova chain reaction happening, like that game you enjoy playing, and it is debated whether the one species that left, fitting a few of their planets with fantastically expensive space drive, had the right idea. I don’t know if known spacers have been relocated to Ringworld latterly.

    You eject your warp core -fast-. Isaac Newton knows how. And then the explosion disrupts subspace and interrupts gravity waves for a few seconds. It’s kind of the opposite of the effect of red matter. It also hits your holdout hull deflector field and accelerates you hard. Lucky you have -another- force field so your crew don’t get mashed to bloody pulp whenever you accelerate.

    I don’t know where in space you put a camera so that battling starships look close to each other. I think you can barely even see ISS from the Space Shuttle when they start final docking approach. That one episode where the Romulans iirst turn up and you can’t see their ship got it right, then they spoil it by explaining it uses a cloaking device. The enemy should be undetected except with a very good telescope, just like the earth-scraping asteroids.

    No villain death event or even any fight scene action takes place too quickly for the characters to say all that they want to say about it, even if it’s only “No! I am invincible!” You can leap in the air and recite a sonnet before you land – that’s how they do it in comics, baby. But you never get a villain going “I am invinci”-THOOM-squelch. At least I think you don’t.

  136. T. Poe

    Firstly, what an excellent review! I love reading your articles, since they are a source of learning, as well as entertainment. I was especially happy to find this review because it basically vindicates an argument that I had with one of my coworkers today.

    We were talking about the movie, specifically things we didn’t like about it (we had already agreed that it was an overall good movie), but I said that there were some elements to the plot that bothered me and I brought up the galaxy-threatening supernova thing. I attempted to explain my view (that it made no sense, for more-or-less the same reasons you gave) but he just dismissed it as being something ‘only a trekkie would care about’. I am very glad to see that my time spent as a child, in the local library, pouring over every book on astronomy I could find wasn’t entirely wasted.

    The only real thing I would like to see done differently, if there is to be sequels, would be if they slowed things down just a wee bit. I understand this was meant to be more of a action-oriented take on Star Trek, but I feel like it took the whole wowy-zowy thing a little bit too far. At the end of the movie I was left feeling like I didn’t really understand what I had just watched. It was cool, yes, but I couldn’t make sense of some of the things that just happened. The ‘red matter’ in particular just leaves me puzzled as well as the supposed black holes it creates. I would have liked some explanation, even if it was just techno-babble. It wouldn’t have been hard for them to work in a line about red matter being a ‘super-dense material’ kept in check by a fancy ‘graviton constriction field’ or some such thing to explain it. Instead it’s just… there. We’re expected to just accept without question or thought that this… stuff makes black holes and that Spock just happened to have procured what looked like a whole heck of a lot of it when, as we see, only a tiny amount is needed to create a planet-consuming black hole.

    That aside, I liked it and think it’s sequel worthy. The actors all did a great job of giving us characters that felt very much like younger, rougher versions of the characters we all know and love. It also left me feeling like these characters, though somewhat different, will eventually become the ones we’ve known. Even if they do by a different rout and with slightly different history behind them. Just a little more plot development and a little more time for the secondary characters and we’ve got a hit, I think!

  137. GDwarf

    Heh, actually, “I am invincible” is probably the line most likely to be interrupted, ever.

  138. trekkie-trekker

    What if the “red matter” was actually (admittedly hypothetical) stranglet matter? Given, a black hole wouldn’t be formed, but I would imagine that the destruction should be comparable.

  139. Ellindsey

    Two random thoughts.

    It would appear that in addition to the seat belt and the fuse, the reserve parachute is another piece of vital safety equipment that the federation has decided to do without.

    Is it just me, or did engineering bear a suspicious resemblance to a brewery? Apparently the new Enterprise is powered by beer.

  140. Knurl

    @Phil: “I’m a nitpicking dork.”

    There is nothing wrong with that. It seems to me that we would be better off if more people had eyes and brains that could handle attention to fine details. I wish I were better at it muself.

  141. T.E.L.

    Ellindsey,

    It looked like a brewery because that’s exactly where those scenes were shot, in a nearby beer factory. It’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen. Even apart from the I-beams, rivets, steam pipes and brewing vats, it was all too big. It made engineering look bigger from the inside than the whole spaceship.

    I recall that this sort of shoddiness used to get laughed at on MST3K.

  142. coolstar

    Well, Phil’s half right, he is a dork but certainly not of the nitpicking variety. For any scientist to say the science is “okay” in this god-awful movie is a travesty. I hardly know where to start (and some others here have said some of the same stuff.) “superenovae that destroys the galaxy” crap, obviously complete b.s. and it’s still b.s. if you change it to a gamma ray burster (would be bad for lots of folks caught in the beam, for sure). A supernovae couldn’t “sneak up” on the Romulans (who by the way, don’t look like any Romulans I’ve ever seen). To destroy life on the planet (NO supernovae is gonna disrupt a planet like in the movie) it would need to be within a few parsecs, and normal proper motions would mean it would take a few hundred thousand to a few million years to get to that distance from far away. So the precursor would have been the brightest star in the Romulans skies since they evolved brains big enough to wonder about it. And would have devoted all their efforts to getting the hell out of dodge as soon as them became a technological society with FTL.
    “HOVERING” about Vulcan to drop the drill is also complete b.s. Phil knows that but for some reason won’t say it. Ships can’t hover unless you want to invoke sufficiently advanced technology (magic) to make the rest of the movie nonsense. you COULD drop a probe from a geo-vulcan orbit, but that beanstalk would have to be anchored on the ground to go straight “up”. you can’t dive straight down even from a 100 km orbit etc. etc. etc. If you re-entered from such an orbit you’d be going about 20K miles per hour (assuming Vulcan is even close to earth in radius and mass) and would obviously burn up with no shielding. Oh, and not one of the 6 billion people (apparently without ANY space craft or even aircraft or ground or orbital defenses) want to try to destroy the cable that we find out later is quite fragile……(and the same apparently goes for humans on earth) .yeah, everyone knows Vulcans are stupid……
    it’s easy to write b.s. when doing time travel, but the entire premise of the movie is the stupidest of stupid even for time travel. NO ONE on the “romulan” ship even wanted to uh, CHANGE THE FRACKIN’ PAST to save their race (like, oh, I don’t know, WARNING everyone or at least killing the young Spock)! They were all more interested in
    killing all Vulcans and humans and making Spock watch. yeah, right, that makes perfect sense.
    And there’s the little matter about the rapidly growing singularity in low earth orbit at the end, which is gonna eat the earth anyway on timescales of at most a few thousand years and at worst much shorter.
    As I’ve said elsewhere, there’s something for everyone to hate in this movie: the scientifically illiterate, fanboys, science-fiction lovers in general. It has to rank with the Shatner directed and written “let’s go find God” movie (which I don’t even want to bother to look up) as the worst Star Trek of all time, and that’s saying a lot.
    Non-science related: apparently Star Fleet doesn’t have any rules about their faculty shagging undergrads under their command (I’d bet J.J. Abrams has never even heard of the UCMJ).

  143. Sebastian

    The antimatter cores ejected toward the black hole likely had far more antimatter then matter in them so the excess antimatter may have slipped into the core of the black hole and reacted with the mass there. The decreased mass of the black hole could have either reduced the radius of the event horizon just allowing them to escape…or perhaps reduced the overall mass below the chandrasekhar limit and the black hole was no longer even a black hole…also maybe the red matter was a concentrated fluid of pure higgs bosons (particle that gives matter mass) and perhaps higgs bosons themselves are not massive without the rest of the subatomic particles to create a proton?

  144. GDwarf

    Quite a bit of vitriol there, coolstar.

    And Star Trek ships demonstrably can hover. It’s an established part of the way their engines work.

    The Super Nova was bad, yes, though apparently a prequel comic explains how it threatens the whole galaxy.

    They didn’t skydive from orbit, they took a shuttle down much lower first.

    The “cable” is fragile to repeated bombardment from weapons made over a century and a half in the future. I doubt most civilian weapons would even phase it, if the Vulcans even had any.

    There’s no reason to believe that Nero wasn’t planning on telling the Romulans about the super nova. After all, he had well over a century to do so.

    However, he seems to have thought that destroying the federation would prevent it from ever occurring (the prequel comic might expand on why he’d think that).

    I get the impression that you wouldn’t have cared much for The Original Series in general, since it was filled with ridiculous plots and atrocious science. The movie had a generally more consistent plot and better science than TOS ever did. Indeed, it’s on par with the rest of Stark Trek when it comes to the science, and has some of the better characters.

  145. coolstar

    Nice post Badger3k! but I wouldn’t even bother with the DVD. Reading BA’s posts and C. Porco’s has reaffirmed by belief about scientists: just like actors, most of them will do anything for $$$ and to get their names in the paper. Taking money as a science adviser when the production team OBVIOUSLY doesn’t listen to you would be a good way to make a living if
    a) you were poor and b) you had no morals.
    Here’s hoping that J. Scalzi does a better job with the new Stargate or, like a moral politician (NOT an oxymoron!) has the decency to resign when it becomes obvious he’s not being listened to.

  146. Geoff

    I’m smoluching DS9 and I’d say it’s probably the best Star Trek show overall, but nothing as good as City on the edge of forever.

    That was a really great episode for any genre of television.

  147. coolstar

    GDwarf, you’re just making stuff up to justify liking the movie (which is your perfect right).
    Bad science and plotting and is bad science and plotting, period.
    BTW I was an adolescent during the original series and liked it very much (and very, very few of the plots were THIS STUPID). I also liked TNG (at least once Roddenbury died and got his hands off the scripts), LOVED DS9, and despised Voyager, all of which is pretty standard among sf fans.

  148. Tony

    As for “where are the other suns” – I looked up the system, the two other stars are a white dwarf/red dwarf close to each other, but they are several hundred AUs away from the primary (which presumably Vulcan revolves around). They would be very bright for stars, several tens of times as bright as venus and possibly just visible during the daytime – but I would hardly say they would look like suns.

    Also – one of my star trek books (im such a geek) is a book of maps… it indicates that Vulcan is one member of a double planet (thus explaining some statement that vulcan has no moons and the fact that in one movie we see a huge planet hanging in the sky). Perhaps they dropped Spock and Kirk off on the other pair, left revolving about its common center of mass with the Vulcan-mass black hole where its sister planet used to be?

  149. Karman

    Well to be honest, that’s alot of science arguements for what (at its heart) is ultimately escapist entertainment. Granted, the supernova destroys the galaxy thing did stretch my suspension of disbelief, certainly. Although granted, we didn’t get enough of the circumstance pertaining in the short montage to really see WHY it threatened the galaxy. One supernova on its own….sure its not going to work, but as a catalyst for a series of events, it works just fine. So the filmmakers cut the tech so that it didn’t burden the pacing of the film, anyone can understand what happened there.

    But the Titan Moon/Saturn rings thing? Really? Come on….its a film for christ sakes. It’s a visual medium, conveying an idea. Those kinds of accuracies are for dauntless purists in documentries, not film. The composition, and readability has demands of its own because well……….theres an audience on the other side of this film, not a telescope.

    And as for the black hole eating a planet……frankly, we’ve only observed natural black holes. So when you guys find this exotic ‘red matter’ and make an artificial one, then we’ll talk about its properties.

    Oh, and what about the BSG finale didn’t make sense? I had the whole episode predicted well before we hit season 4.5, I mean, it was the only way it COULD end. Unless your griping with the unfalsifiable god that came from nowhere……wait….no…..it was mentioned in the miniseries, my bad…..

  150. KerrBlackHoleCoffin

    Considering his resume and track record, there are a lot of flaws in Phil’s scientific logic that even a laymen astrophysics book by Kipp or Stephen could dispel. I’m kinda disappointed.

  151. Regarding the “black holes” and the “supernova:”

    When USS KELVIN investigated the “black hole” Narada was coming through, on screen they said something about “this isn’t even scientifically possible.” How I figure it, the “black holes” weren’t; they may have been singularities, but they didn’t act right, probably because they were RED MATTER (dum da dummm!) black holes.

    As for the “supernova,” well, if Romulus’ home star exploded, Romulus was screwed, no matter what Spock did. End of line, do not pass go, do not collect 200 quatloos. If it was some other star, then it’d be light years away and it’d take a good deal of time for the shock wave to hit Romulus–the same with a GRB, as the gamma rays only propagate at the speed of light. Maybe the “supernova” was actually something like a “subspace supernova” where the detonation and subsequent expansion were all faster than light and it’d take something equally broken, like, say, a RED MATTER (dum da dummm!) black hole to stop it.

    Finally, regarding time travel to change the past so this entire plot becomes pointless… well, Star Trek has always tried to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to time travel. There are alternate timelines caused by historical divergence (the Mirror Universe, the Year of Hell) and there is one massive timeline that can be fought over, broken, and fixed (the Year of Hell [again!], First Contact, Yesterday’s Enterprise). If you have the two, it makes more sense to simplify it into the former. All time travel causes is -forced- divergences, so in this case the accidental travel of Narada and Spock creates an alternate timeline where Big E looks different, Kirk’s dad is dead, etc. etc. etc. They even -say- as much in the movie; if you parse the line, they [the new Trek] are the “alternate” timeline/universe/whathaveyou.

    What does this mean for the Roddenberry Resistance Army up in arms that the past 40 years have been invalidated? Well, in 2388, the subspace supernova just blew up Romulus. Ambassador Spock, hero of two centuries, stops it with his RED MATTER (dum da dummm!) black hole bomb… and then he disappears into its maw, along with a Romulan mining ship. The Federation holds a day of mourning and then starts sending aid to the decapitated Romulan Empire in order to stabilize it. Meanwhile, portions of the Romulan Guard are establishing splinter succession states and the Klingon Empire sees some easy pickings from a traditional enemy…

    “But what about all those times they had to fix history?” What about all those times they had to break history? Stealing whales from the past for the future didn’t break anything? Either they were just in the area and it was their duty to ‘unbreak’ things to make another Happy Ending Timeline, or else things were just confused.

    The other option is the Temporal Cold War, and none of us want that.

  152. Well, KerrBlackHoleCoffin, I suggest you email Kipp or Stephen and ask them to write a review.

    [rolleyes]

  153. coolstar, I don’t remember taking money for this movie. I did get paid as a scientific advisor for The Zula Patrol, and did in fact give them good advice which was used.

    And you assume Carolyn was paid for her advice, but you have no evidence of it, nor that if she was paid she did it knowing they would ignore her advice. So that’s a nice try at a rant, but I only give you 1/5.

    Incidentally, you’re quite wrong in a lot of what you wrote. Why can’t a ship hover? They can go faster than light. In fact, if the Enterprise was built on Earth, it has to be able to lift off and leave, right (unless towed). If it has enough power to escape, it has enough power to hover.

    So I was wrong before. I give you 0/5.

  154. Thanks for the review Phil! I am dying to see the movie!

  155. Alyssa

    I was fine with all the “we’re using this “science” because its cool and most people don’t know the difference anyway, but we have an awesome budget” right up until the end. Had no real problem with the supernova, mainly because I couldn’t tell how far away they were (I didn’t have a map of the Star Trek universe on hand, but I’m sure someone in the theatre may have.) I did wonder at the color of the star. When the Nerada was sitting in the black hole, and yadda yadda, I heard the needle screeching from the record, crickets chirping, and all the other stereotypical WTF?! noises in rapid succession. Everything prior to that point I was able to suspend my disbelief, but the ending was so full of too much “I don’t see how that could happen” all at once, with none of the character induced nerdgasms to shorten my attention span on the subject.

  156. A good movie! The science is terrible but that seems in keeping with the original series, along with familiar musical stings, ludicrous coincidences (Kirk being jettisoned to the planet that Spock Prime happens to be on, finding him in a cave by sheer chance, and the two of them meeting up with Scotty shortly afterward), and of course silly time-travel stuff. Like you said, what they managed to get perfect was the camaraderie and adventure of the show — to the point where the bad guy was almost incidental to the proceedings.
    Also: Am I wrong or did Kirk get his ass kicked in every fight scene in the movie?

  157. Ibis

    Blood or any liquid can boil based on pressure changes and not temperature. McCoy was not wrong.

    If you place a glass of water into a pressure chamber, adds some pressure to it and rapidly release it it will boil. I have seen this effect first hand in 10th grade science class.

    One of the reasons they tell deep sea divers not to surface so fast at least no faster than an air bubble takes to rise in water is because they need to acclimate their body to the pressure changes on the way up. If they swim faster than that air bubble takes to float upward, it can cause the blood to “boil”. Air bubbles form inside your bloodstream and can cause brain damage, heart failure, strokes etc. among other things.

  158. I took a 2 hour to see it and it was worth it.

  159. I just got back from the Mega Multi-plex in Squamish (5 Screens!) and it was awesome! Without a doubt. the best Trek movie ever! The new actors nailed the characters, which was awesome!

  160. Dpirtle

    Just watched and loved the film. Supernova destroying the galaxy, “red matter”, and finicky black holes aside, it was brilliant. Those of you (i’m looking at you, coolstar:) who said this was the worst trek film of all time must have slept through the last six pictures, because they were all fairly rediculous, and the last two were so bad that I couldnt bring myself to finish them. What I want out of a science fiction movie is a great film that has an interesting science element to it, like , say, time travel or aliens or space ships. If I wanted to watch a program on science I would turn on “Nova.”

    Brilliant review, Phil, I enjoyed learning about the real science almost as much as I enjoyed watching the fake science on screen. Keep up the good work.

  161. Ahh, coolstar… I hate to break it to you… but this is just a movie…. you realize that, right? Since when is Star Trek known for it’s good science? You do realize that most of the “science” on the original series was made up as they went along, and that Gene Roddenberry wasn’t some kind of prophet?

    Oh, hey! here’s some good science! Senekot… it’s been proven to gently relieve constipation, which you appear to be suffering from. Or is it normal for you to be so anally retentive?

  162. Ema Nymton

    Wow, coolstar. Do you have to work hard to be as dumb as you are?

  163. food for thought

    Well here is a really stupid question. A black hole is rational gravity effect thus existing in normal space, so why not just go into hyperspace to avoid it?

  164. TNF

    Re: Supernova

    Maybe he meant the political fallout from the destruction of the Romulan home world. A possible civil war that could pull the rest of the galactic powers into chaos.

  165. Every review I’ve read has been wonderfull as well they should, the new Star trek move was amazing for trekkies and non-trekkies alike, I saw the movie with my latin wife who watches latin soaps everyday and my friends/partners who show disgust when a geek in a klingon suit walks by, and low and behold: All 3 of them loved the movie!

    Apparently Roger (sucks without Siskel) Ebert said this:
    “The Gene Roddenberry years, when stories might play with questions of science, ideals or philosophy, have been replaced by stories reduced to loud and colorful action,” he said. “Like so many franchises, it’s more concerned with repeating a successful formula than going boldly where no Star Trek has gone before.”

    The science of Star Trek XI didn’t impress Ebert. “Anyone with the slightest notion of what a black hole is, or how it behaves, will find the black holes in Star Trek hilarious,” he said. Another sore point was the ability (or inability) to transport people to various places. “The logic is also a little puzzling when Scotty can beam people into another ship in outer space, but they have to physically parachute to land on a platform in the air from which the Romulans are drilling a hole to the Earth’s core,” said Ebert.

    I guess old Rog wasn’t realy paying any attention while watching the movie, instead he was trying to find somthing bad about it to spark his forgoten career back to life. If he was then he would have listened when Chekhov (or sombody) said “the drilling platform is blocking our transporters and communications” or somthing to that effect, then he would realize that it was more then necessary for Kirk and Sulu to dive down to the platform (dam that was cool) to disable it, and then “beam” back. And another thing Rog, do you have a degree of some sort in quantum physics? I dont know how much you know about the “theory” of blackholes but as far as I know (computer science major) nothing was out of place, its highly probable that black holes are simalar if not the same as wormholes which matter does travel to and from depending on the type. Again all of the science in Star Trek is theoretical, but like Spoc said if you were paying any attention “if you eliminate the impossible whatever remains however improbable must be the truth” so I have just one thing to say to you Roger, do your job and watch the movies before giving lame ass reviews.

    and one more thing, Ebert says: “Star Trek science has never been intended as plausible”

    what an idiot, look at tech in the last 40 years, so much of it we owe to Star Trek e.g. Cell Phones!

    Brian Xaviar – Vastees.com

  166. Chip

    If the primitive, by Star Fleet standards, 20th Century Hawker “jump jet” fighter plane can lift off, hover and then zoom away, I’m sure a 23rd Century Star Ship, that is able to travel beyond light speed without infinite mass, can simply hover and zoom away too.

  167. WWFSMD

    Here’s the obvious:

    Why would you drill a hole to plant the BH? – It would be totally sufficient to drop it on the surface.

  168. Paul

    Everybody fails to see the biggest mistake of all. Nero inviting the captain into his giant impenetrable spaceship. Instead of teleporting him, asking him to take a small ship…WHICH YOU CAN EASILY STRAP A FREAKING NUCLEAR BOMB TOO/100 PHOTON TORPEDOES…..AND BRING THEM RIGHT INSIDE!!! JJ really screwed up here.

  169. infektor23

    hi, just thought i would point out that the photon torpedos in the film were BLUE not RED like every other star trek.

  170. Dillon

    Great over-view of the science here BA. I think it’s great to get people thinking :)

    I disagree with the core explosion scenario at the black hole however and how you dismiss it outright. Yes, I agree that it’s unlikely to actually *work* without vaporizing the vessel (wessel?), but your momentum transfer argument is weak; photons carry momentum and while it’s not not the same gamma-m-v you still do get E/c momentum for each photon (and there will be an enormous amount) along with the decay products and other massive particles created in the ‘blast’ – take it for what it’s worth.
    My biggest concern with the scene was that you were able to “see” the resulting explosion expanding, which ought to have been a bright flash of light and then nothing; just about everything coming out of that would be traveling at or very very nearly the speed of light as far as an eye could tell. The black hole may have pulled at the massive particles somewhat to slow them a tiny fraction, but the photons will go along their merry way at the speed of light regardless; if anything the gravity well would bend their path slightly.

  171. Dillon

    In response to sebastian:
    *quote*
    The antimatter cores ejected toward the black hole likely had far more antimatter then matter in them so the excess antimatter may have slipped into the core of the black hole and reacted with the mass there. The decreased mass of the black hole could have either reduced the radius of the event horizon just allowing them to escape…or perhaps reduced the overall mass below the chandrasekhar limit and the black hole was no longer even a black hole…also maybe the red matter was a concentrated fluid of pure higgs bosons (particle that gives matter mass) and perhaps higgs bosons themselves are not massive without the rest of the subatomic particles to create a proton?
    *quote*

    Science here is at the edge of our understanding – inside the black hole you must have a good description of quantum gravity (which we don’t really) if you want to make predictions about what would happen.. If I had to guess, I would assume the interaction of the antimatter with the black hole core would add more mass than you could possibly hope to eject from the interaction as that mass has to first enter the event horizon to even interact with the core and the light will not likely escape. Black holes do radiate from their poles I believe, but this is a mechanism that I don’t think the antimatter scenario will benefit from.
    Along your Higgs bosons comment – great idea, very creative – but I have a few comments: first, the higgs boson will almost certainly have a rest mass if/when it is detected – experiment/theory have put bounds on its mass should it conform to physics we know (and then again if it doesn’t.. who’s to really say it is he “higgs” ?) And my second point is more of a semantics nitpick; typically one would say the “field” is what imparts the mass and not exaaactly the boson – which decays I might add; so a pure higgs red goo sphere would also have to have some way that they invented to keep them from decaying (why not, they have warp drives after all). The trick comes when you start asking questions like.. ok so we can still see it right? so photons are interacting directly with the higgs (which couples to mass right?) .. perhaps its some matter which *contains* concentrated amounts of higgs bosons.. then you’d get your red goo and your mechanism in one go.. assuming that the higgs don’t just decay and do something exotic :)

  172. Jen

    “Red Matter”? I thought it was supposed to be “anti-matter” – guess I wasn’t hearing as well as I thought I was…

    But anyway I thought your post was great. I tend to avoid thinking to much about the science in shows or movies because often it ruins the fun of the show/movie. However I think you did it in the best way – pointing out the problems without really mocking it or making it seem stupid to have enjoyed the film.

  173. Ben

    I agree with pretty much all of your science. I actually thought exploding the cores wouldn’t do a thing, they’d get sucked in, and correct the time line. That aside I believe (though I’m no astronomer, I just have one semester of astro under my belt) that a single supernova could threaten a galaxy provided it was located in the right place. For instance, if the star in question was in a dense star mass, it’d explosion could possibly set off a chain reaction of supernovae. Of course, then it would be unlikely that any habitable planet could orbit such a dense stellar system. Likewise, an explosion near the center of a galaxy (now proven to be a super massive black hole correct?) could possibly have some larger adverse consequences.

    However I definitely agree that the gamma burst would looked a hell of a lot cooler and we’ve never seen that in a movie before to my knowledge.

  174. GDwarf

    Everybody fails to see the biggest mistake of all. Nero inviting the captain into his giant impenetrable spaceship. Instead of teleporting him, asking him to take a small ship…WHICH YOU CAN EASILY STRAP A FREAKING NUCLEAR BOMB TOO/100 PHOTON TORPEDOES…..AND BRING THEM RIGHT INSIDE!!! JJ really screwed up here.

    Teleporting requires taking down the shields, though. Apparently allowing a shuttlecraft in does not. (Which fits, the Kelvin could ram the Romulan ship, despite having no shields and the Romulan vessel’s being at full power.)

    Also, allowing the shuttles in didn’t actually ever backfire on Nero. It could’ve, but it didn’t.

  175. Kevin

    @infektor23…

    I just happened to watch Star Trek: The Motion Picture last night, and the photon torpedoes in that film were blue as well.

  176. LookingUpInReston

    There are, I believe, two possible cases of Yellow Supergiant Supernovea. See here for more details. However, as these are believed to be extremely close binaries, I find it unbelievable that 1) they wouldn’t know many years in advance considering the technology and 2) there would be any planet close enough to be vaporized like was shown also capable of supporting advance life (given the extremely high radiation, short lifespan of the star, and lack of time for biological processes to have evolved to such a point where the planet would even be interesting to terraform)

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13572-peanut-stars-may-explain-strange-supernovae.html

  177. GDwarf

    hi, just thought i would point out that the photon torpedos in the film were BLUE not RED like every other star trek.

    In Voyager they were orange-yellow. (with “Tri-Cobalt devices” being blue)

    Seems they like changing their armaments around.

  178. The EUers even got lightning in space.

  179. # food for thought Says:
    Well here is a really stupid question. A black hole is rational gravity effect thus existing in normal space, so why not just go into hyperspace to avoid it?

    1) No question is stupid (exceptions being in anti-vax and ID threads).
    2) Star Trek Physics has Subspace, but not Hyperspace.. Warp Drive involves ‘compressing’ the space in front of the ship, and ‘expanding’ the space behind it.

    J/P=?

  180. Ahh, Red Shirts are made of Red Matter, thus providing the explanation of why anyone wearing the red shirt was doomed!

  181. If you’re going to post a review with spoilers, you might put most of it “below the fold,” as the term goes. My email informing me of the post included the whole thing!

    That being said, I’m delighted that the movie is getting such rave reviews. As a Trekkie since 1966, and considering some of the recent attempts, I had my doubts about whether there was anything left to milk out of it. I am glad to be proven wrong.

  182. Wayne

    My own personal take on the movie:

    I definitely have mixed feelings about it. There was a lot to like (and dislike) so even though I saw it Friday morning I’m still sort of processing an overall response.
    Oddly, the things I expected to not like such as the new cast, new look of the technology, etc. didn’t end up bothering me. The main thing that bugged me was their total disregard for how black holes actually work, and the long list of highly improbable events (when Kirk ran into old Spock on the ice planet, I figured Zaphod must be around the next corner with the Heart of Gold. Also, how short handed do you have to be to have academy students running the bridge of your new flagship?)
    Despite all that, though, it was a fun and entertaining movie. The inside jokes were good and not overdone, and I can almost forgive them for having (yet another!) time travel story in order to set up the reboot as a parallel timeline thus leaving the existing 40+ years of cannon relatively intact. In the final analysis, I think it’s a promising start to a new interpretation of Trek, I just hope that from now on they stick to stories with less than six impossible things before breakfast and keep the time travel to an absolute minimum.

  183. amphiox

    While one certainly could have potentially loaded your shuttle with whatever amount of badass explosive material you wanted, detonating it would of course mean suicide for the captain in question.

    Since the Nero’s offer of parley to the starfleet captain via shuttle “diplomacy” at least implied the possibility of survival, he may well have been calculating that his opponent would be unlikely to go to such an extreme.

    He may also have been prepared for such a ploy. Presumably explosive material on the shuttle craft can be detected by scanners before the shuttle came within range, at which point it would have been child’s play to blow up the shuttle from a distance.

  184. amphiox

    The apparent defencelessness of both Earth and Vulcan to a surprise attack seen in this movie is actually consistent with several other instances in the Star Trek universe, which I have always found extremely unrealistic.

    Any competent military commander in charge of organizing Starfleet defence, given a priori knowledge of his own fleet’s mobility limitations (ie the limits of warp speed in terms of getting warships from place to place around the Federation), knowing that at maximum speed a fleet of warships sent to respond to a distant emergency would not be able to return to the home worlds in hours/days, leaving said homeworlds defenceless, would surely have contingency plans in place. There should be reserve forces stationed at regular intervals throughout the Federation such that all important planets could be covered in a timely fashion in the case of surprise attack, and every important planet should have top level local defences in place, in orbit or on the planet’s surface that would allow it to hold out until relief from the main body of the fleet could be sent.

    If the Federation simply does not have the resources to arrange even this level of basic self defense, then that would imply that the whole Federation was a politically stupid idea to begin with, as in it has expanded too fast and cannot defend itself, or even concentrate sufficient military power to maintain law and order within its own borders. The Borg should have been able to wipe out the Federation just by transwarping three or four cubes simultaneously to all major Federation planets at once. (Possibly defences were improved by the time of TNG)

    Or else a couple centuries of peace have made the leaders of the Federation so naive that they never expected to be attacked by anyone ever again.

  185. Wildride

    The biggest argument against detonating the warp core is not that you wouldn’t gain momentum that way, but that the amount you’d get is peanuts compared to the amount you’d get by using it for it’s intended purpose. If the warp drive isn’t giving you enough thrust to get away, and it can move you at FTL speeds, what makes you think blowing it up will help? In fact if the warp drive is being offset by the singularity, the millisecond that you shut it off to eject it, you’d have already been pulled inside.

    Basically, Star Trek has gone from being SF with a few groaners from time to time to full on Skiffy like Star Wars. Hell, they even replicated the infinite improbability plot lines, like Kirk, old Spock and Scotty all ending up in the same spot for no adequately explained reason. You can almost see the hand of JJ moving pieces on the chessboard to set things up, just like you can with SW and Lucas. Then again, SW makes a hell of a lot more money than Trek, so who can blame them.

    One thing they kept from the original Trek, however, is the amazing ability of the Enterprise to be the only ship capable of handling any threat, ever. This latest effort is certainly a brain-off kind of film, but then again, the same can be said of Insurrection, Nemesis, Voyager and Enterprise.

  186. Ted

    Nice article. I know it’s star trek and sci fi and all but yah there were some moments in the movie that were completely beyond belief… Escaping a massive explosion after blowing up a blackhole with their warp core? Then surviving the massive blastwave? Quick everyone into the fridge it’ll protect us. As for Red matter? Who invented that? Professor Farnsworth? Good news everyone… I’ve invented a plot device that will blow up Vulcan. Now you have to be very careful with this red matter for a mere drop of it could destroy a star with a powerful and destructive blackhole which is why I’m filling up your ship with it :P

  187. I really enjoyed the red matter. I was thinking that if red matter was really massive enough to create a black hole how would they transport it? I watched the movie a second time and I now have a theory: The red matter is an incredibly dense material that is near the threshold of being able to withstand its own gravity. A drop on of it on its own is stable, but will collapse if one of two things happen.

    1st: When a single drop is thrown into the center of a planet, the strong gravity at the center of the planet crushes it, forming a black hole that can swallow up the planet. (like how vulcan was destroyed).

    2nd: Putting a large amount of the red matter in a small area. (Like how the romulan ship was destroyed.)

    Because the force of gravity points toward the center of gravity and the magnitude of the force is proportional to the distance from the center of gravity, a large amount of red matter can be transported by creating a big bubble of it. Remember when a drop of red matter is collected from the red sphere? That red sphere, to me, looked like a big bubble because of the way it deformed when the syringe poked at it. I am guessing that a bubble would be the most efficient way of transporting it.

    The concept is similar to the design of a nuclear bomb, too much radio active material in a small area will trigger the sustainable nuclear reaction. A nuclear bomb is a spherical shell of radioactive material with a explosive device that crushes it into a smaller area. In the case of red matter, when spocks ship was kamakazied into nero’s ship, the bubble popped and the red matter coalesced(by force of gravity) into a critical amount of matter.

  188. jh

    Somewhat spoilery,.. but..

    This movie didn’t HAVE to follow canon. If you paid attention, canon got thrown out plausibly enough.

  189. But the ending came, the credits rolled, the other people in the theater applauded and I sat there in shock.

    They were going to leave it at that! Six billion innocent Vulcans murdered with a wink and a nod. And with a crowd of hapless, moronic movie-goers, throwing their half-empty popcorn boxes nonchalantly onto the theater floor in order to clap in appreciation!

    The universe had unimaginably changed, two vastly different-aged Spocks dwell simultaneously in the same reality and the tried and true fans of the Trek phenomena get a kick in the teeth.

    So now, in this new alternate vision of Trekdom, the diaspora of a mere 10,000 homeless and displaced Vulcan refugee survivors wander the galaxy in search of succor and pity from races they had once helped to civilize.

    Hopefully they won’t be greeted with their own now utterly ironic salutation: “Live Long and Prosper”.

  190. T.E.L.

    What’s wrong with this movie has from little to nothing to do with Trek canon. What’s wrong with this movie is that, on its own merits, it stinks. It’s one of the most lazily-conceived stories I’ve seen onscreen in quite some time. It doesn’t even stand as a decent thrill ride. It’s contrived, uninspired, weak. It’s crap. Abrams thinks he’s being an artistic genius by filming in a brewery and forcing lens flares into every shot. That’s just him faking it.

  191. GDwarf

    Contrivances: Kirk meeting old Spock and Scotty.

    That’s, uh, about it.

    Spock joining Starfleet makes sense, and his being on the Enterprise also makes sense.
    McCoy being on the Enterprise also makes sense.
    Kirk and McCoy becoming friends is hardly impossible or unlikely.
    As such, McCoy getting Kirk onto the enterprise also makes sense, so his meeting Spock and Co. fits just fine.

  192. Phil, there are certainly shockwaves in space. Supernovas make them, for instance. I’m not saying you’re wrong about the scene not making sense, but saying you don’t have shock waves in space is wrong. You didn’t have to take gas dynamics in grad school, did you?

    Also if they’re going at warp speed and outside the event horizon (as it seemed to me), there would be no problem escaping, no?

  193. T.E.L.

    GDwarf Said:

    “Contrivances: Kirk meeting old Spock and Scotty. That’s, uh, about it.”

    Wrong.

  194. @Michael L
    In the next movie. The Vulcans will be followed by a race of robots that have humanoid operatives hidden in their fleet. Once they find their new world they will revert back to simple farmers and give up their technology.

  195. Hi,

    first i must say. Nice job with the review. I must wonder how good ur memory is to remember the color of the atmosphere or titans angle.

    I wanted to offend medical knowledge of Dr.McCoy. In fact when he was revealing all of this flying catastrophy scenario they where just about to leave earth. And as it goes you have to fly through the atmosphere. So the boiling thing was actually a genius thinking. Because they indeed would boil. We have an empirical evidence on this with the crew of the shuttle wich exploded in the return to earth flight.

  196. Mega

    Alphasuede Says: “When a single drop is thrown into the center of a planet, the strong gravity at the center of the planet crushes it, forming a black hole that can swallow up the planet. (like how vulcan was destroyed).”

    Actually, the closer to the center of a planet, the less gravity, and the absolute center would be zero g.

  197. GDwarf

    What are the others, then, T.E.L.?

  198. P. Damian

    This new reality will all be moot when the most dangerous being ever destroys all universes… LAZAROUS. (“but what of Lazarous…”)

  199. mnky9800n

    You missed the scene where Sulu and Kirk were falling and were transported right before they hit the ground and then hit the floor of the transporter. Now one could say that the transporter takes the momentum of whatever system it is transporting and puts it someplace else to keep the people from getting hurt, but the transporter is designed to only transport objects thats are at rest, this is why Winona eats it. So why would it have some sort of momentum robbing device? Who knows, but whatever clever chap thought of it, did good.

  200. Quiet Desperation

    I wish they’d come up with a better name than Red Matter.

    Oddly, I liked that far better than some treknobabble name.

    I could see it being discovered in a lab, and some techs standing around wondering what to name it, and someone says, “Wow, it’s *really* red…”

    As for it’s mass, I got the feeing it acted as more of a catalyst. Some sort of very strange matter. Note how it had to be kept carefully isolated.

    As for the supernova, weren’t Larry Niven’s Puppeteers fleeing a chain reaction of supernovas near the Core? He said it threatened the galaxy, not that it threatened it next week. Only Romulus was in any immediate danger. Just tossing that out there.

    Hovering versus orbiting: antigravity and gravity control is well established in the trekverse. No problem there. Think of the mining ship and drill chain as a space tower. Also, the blast from the drill could have provided and upward force.

    WHICH YOU CAN EASILY STRAP A FREAKING NUCLEAR BOMB TOO/100 PHOTON TORPEDOES…..AND BRING THEM RIGHT INSIDE!!! JJ really screwed up here.

    Yeah, you’d almost think the Trekverse had advanced sensors and detectors that would warn the Romulans of such a ploy. Oh, wait…

  201. T.E.L.

    What else? Nearly everything. And keep in mind: it’s not just contrived; it’s also uninspired and weak.

    I mean really: how original is it for J.T. Kirk to be born exactly as his Father is sacrificing himself, setting James on the “path to his destiny”? This sort of Freudian crap has been done to death. Is there no greater motive in life than to make your Old Man proud?

    But you want more contrivances. Ok: this story is offered as the great origins story of the Enterprise entourage. So how do they all converge? By happenstance meetings in saloons. By happenstance everything. There’s no deep necessity to any of it. And how about Kirk rigging the Kobayashi Maru? Was it the act of a focused genius in the making? No: it was just him casually hacking a military computer, like there’s nothing to it. Red Matter? Beaming aboard a starship after it’s departed the Vulcan solar system ENTIRELY and is at a distance of several light-years? Captain Pike personally knows the security code for Earth’s entire defense shield? No planetary Coast Guard? Montgomery Scott, an exile to an ice planet, is, within hours of boarding the Enterprise, suddenly in charge of and intimately familiar with the engineering department? INERT REACTANT?

    Who’s kidding whom? I may as well have been watching the Jonas Brothers spray white stuff all over the audience.

  202. Quiet Desperation

    So how do they all converge? By happenstance meetings

    Ah, so much like real life, then.

  203. Patrick

    One other note on the space jump scene they got right. They were falling in silence at beginning, then an occasional woosh then a sonic boom as they got lower.

  204. GDwarf

    What else? Nearly everything. And keep in mind: it’s not just contrived; it’s also uninspired and weak.

    I mean really: how original is it for J.T. Kirk to be born exactly as his Father is sacrificing himself, setting James on the “path to his destiny”? This sort of Freudian crap has been done to death. Is there no greater motive in life than to make your Old Man proud?

    You seem to have missed the repeated times when Kirk clearly didn’t care about what his father would’ve thought and didn’t join Starfleet precisely because his father was in it.

    But you want more contrivances. Ok: this story is offered as the great origins story of the Enterprise entourage. So how do they all converge? By happenstance meetings in saloons. By happenstance everything.

    Well, yes.

    This is only contrived if you start with the assumption that all these people must meet.

    The odds of me having my current circle of friends, out of all the people I’ve met in my life? Ridiculously low.

    Indeed, I’m mostly friends with them due to unlikely coincidences and situations.

    If you can accept that any group would’ve done (as is, in fact, the case if this was reality) then there’s no contrivance.

    And how about Kirk rigging the Kobayashi Maru? Was it the act of a focused genius in the making? No: it was just him casually hacking a military computer, like there’s nothing to it.

    And? He’s somehow less of a genius for thinking outside of the scenario and hacking a computer because he was casual about it? He’d be more of a genius if he struggled to pull it off after years of work?

    The kind of person who cheats on a test is probably not the sort of person who is inclined to obey all the rules, are they?

    Red Matter?

    Yes?

    Beaming aboard a starship after it’s departed the Vulcan solar system ENTIRELY and is at a distance of several light-years?

    Er, yes?

    Captain Pike personally knows the security code for Earth’s entire defense shield?

    He was a captian, not far from being an Admiral. His authorization probably would be enough to give them at least limited access to the system. From which they could probably just brute-force their way in with their computer from over a century-and-a-half in the future. (Which, if Moore’s law continues to hold, will be at least 37 778 931 862 957 161 709 568 times as powerful as their current ones)

    No planetary Coast Guard?

    All sent on an emergency mission to help the most advanced race in the Federation which are also the Earth’s biggest allies.

    Montgomery Scott, an exile to an ice planet, is, within hours of boarding the Enterprise, suddenly in charge of and intimately familiar with the engineering department?

    The same Scott who Kirk has been informed by a reliable source is the best engineer in the Federation and who is one of the few people he knows will trust and obey any order he gives them, given the rather precarious nature of his command.

    The same Scott who is stated to have been studying the Enterprise extensively.

  205. Sean

    Let’s get past the science for just a moment (there will be a massive amount of fanboy-contrived fiction of varying quality plastered across the Internet within the coming weeks to explain away pretty much all of it). Let’s talk about the little matter of pressing Starfleet cadets into service ahead of schedule (and, apparently, the Federation’s “new” flagship, as well) in response to a distress signal from Vulcan involving an unknown threat. One need look no further than our own US Military Academy at West Point to see how ludicrous this idea is. The Black Knights recorded a win percentage under Coach Blaik of .768, a span which includes US involvement in World War II. In fact, Army won NCAA national championships in 1944 and 1945, during the height of US operations. Historically this is attributed to the fact that the only way to ensure you would not be shipped off to war in Europe or the Pacific was to enroll at West Point. Now explain to me why Starfleet Academy would so abruptly ship the cadets off with their newest, finest, most expensive ship? That action would have required a situation of unimaginable circumstance, not some unknown threat. I’ll buy that those 4 vessels that went along for support were the ones currently patrolling the Sol system for threats to Earth, and their destruction above Vulcan left Sol defenseless when the Narada set course for Earth. I’ll even buy that any attack group guarding Vulcan was also destroyed (hence the distress signal from Vulcan). What I can not buy is why they would chose THIS action rather than re-assign some of the established fleet that was currently in the Laurentian system. What was the ENTIRE rest of the fleet doing in the Laurentian system, anyway? Does Starfleet not maintain separate fleets for different theaters of operation? Our own Navy has several fleets under several theater-wide commands, and that’s just for Earth’s oceans. I would expect more from a burgeoning galactic superpower attempting to enforce pax romana across its sectors.

  206. Ted

    Here’s a little game for you all. Someone pointed this out on another forum so here it is. Spot the parallels between the new star trek movie and star wars.. the more you think about it the more you see.

  207. T.E.L.

    Ted,

    I noticed those same similarities with Star Wars. Abrams hasn’t an original osteomorph in his entire anatomy. He’s a faker.

  208. T.E.L.

    GDwarf,

    Yes, they all must meet, and not in trivial manners. Cinema of this sort is a delivery system for mythology. The story of how disparate individuals converge to become an integrated band of heroes isn’t about how likely it is that YOU might meet anyone in particular.

    And if you think that Pike would have the security codes, including TODAY’S codes, then you evidently pay no attention to how it’s really done. Consider the U.S. nuclear arsenal. How many individuals do you think are in positions to single-handedly launch their ordnance? The answer is NONE. Launch always follows strict protocols, including consensus between multiple responsible parties. There are areas aboard naval ships and submarines designated “No Lone Zones”, into which NO ONE is allowed to enter unescorted. The system carefully rigged to make unauthorized launch as unlikely as possible. Even the President doesn’t carry the launch codes around in his head, and the codes are changed frequently.

    How this relates to Pike is straightforward. We’re talking about the security of everyone on Earth. Pike would never be in possession of enough classified information to breach the shield, precisely to avoid caving under the kind of duress in which he found himself.

    And that’s blatant apologia about the Coast Guard. The NO ONE dispatches EVERY SINGLE DEFENSIVE CRAFT off to another planet. That only serves one thing: TO MAKE EARTH VULNERABLE. It only makes the problem worse.

    and- KIRK SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HACK THE SIM COMPUTER. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT CLASSIFIED STUFF HERE. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT COURT MARTIAL OFFENSE.

  209. I’m just glad that Nokia survived the current economic meltdown to have a device in the 23rd century!

    Some of you people that are talking Trek Canon are as bad as Christian fundies that take the Bible literally! GET A LIFE!

  210. A Nonny Moose

    “So now, in this new alternate vision of Trekdom, the diaspora of a mere 10,000 homeless and displaced Vulcan refugee survivors wander the galaxy in search of succor and pity from races they had once helped to civilize.”

    Reimagining the Vulcans like this was the big deal breaker for me. I was ready to eye-rollingly accept the Bad Science in the movie, knowing it was Trek, but to completely rewrite – make more HUMAN – the one species that had originally been created to be…well ALIEN.

    Vulcans and their unemotional logic are not human. Hollywood can’t stand creating anything other than your western hero who survives on dumb luck, and the tenacity of the human spirit. Therefore, to make an Alien race more potable, we have to inflict them with OUR emotions.

    It really pisses me off, because I’d expect an alien race that has achieved Enlightenment (in the logical science way, not spiritual) would have morals way divergent from ours. These new Vulcans lip-tremblingly spoke of love and loss, while worshipping a spiritual alter (the statue in the scene where Young Spock went to rescue mom).

    Those are not Vulcans. They’re Humans with pointy ears.

  211. allium

    If I may nudge the thread toward matters other than red ones…

    Keeping in the time-honored tradition of naming shuttlecraft after astronomers (Galileo, Copernicus etc.), one of the shuttles that carried the cadets up to their ships was the Moore, presumably for Sir Patrick Moore. Anyone catch any of the other shuttle names?

  212. T.E.L.

    A Nonny Moose, you are so right. This flick reminds me of Jerry Bruckheimer’s crap.

  213. Tommy

    Vulcan has no moon. Come on, are you a nerd or aren’t you?! I am so disappointed with the number of people who have forgotten that Vulcan is moon-less.

  214. Mount

    That one scene, with the girl getting sucked out into space and it suddenly going quiet, is almost precisely what I’ve had imaged in my head for a long time. I have always wanted to do a sci-fi with that shot almost exactly, but now it would seem like a copy. I’m glad to see it though, I absolutely loved it, and it just about took my breath away.

    In another franchise: I just watched Stargate Continuum. At the end where Carter found the star that they needed to go back in time, that particular star was green. No green stars right?? It was definitely good to see some old fashioned G’ould and Jaffa ‘cree action!

    Thanks Phil!

  215. Great review Phil!! I loved the movie too. I hope they make one every year or at least start the tv shows again, missed Star Trek for a long time :) .

    I wrote a simple review too here,
    http://rubayathasan.com/reviews/j-j-abrams-star-trek-2009-review/

    Please let me know what you think.

    Thanks

  216. Jack Mc Crary

    “Of course, I have to wonder why Officer Red Shirt waited so long to pull his chute. But then, he was a red shirt.”

    As a jumper I feel compelled to point out that while there were numerous technical flaws with the skydiivng scene, this was not one of them. 1,000 meters above ground level (platform level in this case)is a fairly standard opening altitude. “Cutting it close” would begin somewhere around 250 meters the altitude at which our emergency systems will autoamtically deploy our backup parachute.

  217. chudez

    I have a QUESTION here (SPOILERS IN THE QUESTION THOUGH — don’t act like I didn’t warn everyone) regarding the physics of the final battle against the Romulans:

    The Romulans are over Earth, digging away. Maybe they aren’t in geostationary (as Phil asserts), but they are very high up (maybe in the same league as Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 flight?). Younger Spock then blasts the long chain supporting the mining drill, causing it to fall away to SF bay.

    In light of the old “for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction” business, what would be the effect on the Romulan ship when this happens? Would the vessel be flung away by centrifugal force?

  218. Robert Carnegie

    Oh, ST: Voyager did the “crewman sucked towards a hull breach and through” bit once. I forget if he stopped screaming in a scientifically accurate way.

    Vulcans are extremely emotional and violent. Nowadays they are indoctrinated from an early age to hold it in, according to Surak’s teaching. This leads to stress disease but avoids mayhem, murder, rape, war etc. I didn’t make this up. Imagine your roommate gets Pon Farr. You don’t want to be there for that.

  219. Leslie

    Didn’t read your review yet, still waiting to see the movie–so thanks for the evasive maneuver, which made my day! : )

  220. GDwarf

    Ted,

    I noticed those same similarities with Star Wars. Abrams hasn’t an original osteomorph in his entire anatomy. He’s a faker.

    GDwarf,

    Yes, they all must meet, and not in trivial manners. Cinema of this sort is a delivery system for mythology.

    So it must be both entirely original while still fitting perfectly into mythological archetypes?

    Good luck with that.

    And similarities to Star Wars? I don’t see many at all, other than very superficial ones.

    The story of how disparate individuals converge to become an integrated band of heroes isn’t about how likely it is that YOU might meet anyone in particular.
    So, wait, you complain that them all meeting is too contrived, and then complain that it wasn’t contrived enough?

    Which is it? Should they all have met in highly unlikely situations that threw them together, or should they have met in natural ways that one would expect in real life? Right now we’ve got a mix of both, but you seem to not like either.

    And if you think that Pike would have the security codes, including TODAY’S codes, then you evidently pay no attention to how it’s really done. Consider the U.S. nuclear arsenal. How many individuals do you think are in positions to single-handedly launch their ordnance? The answer is NONE. Launch always follows strict protocols, including consensus between multiple responsible parties. There are areas aboard naval ships and submarines designated “No Lone Zones”, into which NO ONE is allowed to enter unescorted. The system carefully rigged to make unauthorized launch as unlikely as possible. Even the President doesn’t carry the launch codes around in his head, and the codes are changed frequently.

    You misunderstood everything I said.

    He no doubt had authorization to gain basic access to the Starfleet security network. I very much doubt he could disable any of it with his authorization, but he could probably, at the very least, get status reports.

    However, once you’ve got a toe in the door it’s much easier to brute force your way into a system, especially with a computer that powerful.

    And that’s blatant apologia about the Coast Guard. The NO ONE dispatches EVERY SINGLE DEFENSIVE CRAFT off to another planet. That only serves one thing: TO MAKE EARTH VULNERABLE. It only makes the problem worse.

    So if, right now, a massive fleet of ships showed up out of nowhere at a random location on the US coast the entire US Navy could get there within minutes? Even hours?

    “Not having any ships in orbit directly above this planet” is not the same as “no defences in a reasonable area”, they just didn’t know that their foe could destroy planets in very little time.

    and- KIRK SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HACK THE SIM COMPUTER. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT CLASSIFIED STUFF HERE. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT COURT MARTIAL OFFENSE.

    It’s canon that he hacked the scenario. It’s been true in every reference to it ever filmed or printed.

    And your complaint originally was that his being so nonchalant didn’t make him a genius. So, which is it? Is he a genius who hacked a military grade computer? Or does the movie suck because he wasn’t a genius?

    Reimagining the Vulcans like this was the big deal breaker for me. I was ready to eye-rollingly accept the Bad Science in the movie, knowing it was Trek, but to completely rewrite – make more HUMAN – the one species that had originally been created to be…well ALIEN.

    The horror of humanizing a major part of the Trek universe.

    They should’ve kept Klingons as villains, too!

    Besides, we’ve no indication that this will humanize the Vulcans at all. It had an effect on Spock, but TOS Spock would probably have been incredibly badly shaken by the same event, too.

    And, of course, Vulcans have been humanized ever since they were introduced. Pon Farr, the Romulans, etc.

    It really pisses me off, because I’d expect an alien race that has achieved Enlightenment (in the logical science way, not spiritual) would have morals way divergent from ours. These new Vulcans lip-tremblingly spoke of love and loss, while worshipping a spiritual alter (the statue in the scene where Young Spock went to rescue mom).

    Those are not Vulcans. They’re Humans with pointy ears.

    It also matches the portrayals of Vulcans in every series and movie that bothers showing ones other than Spock.

  221. T.E.L.

    GDwarf, you are a ten-cent apologist, and nothing more. You make up excuses. You want to believe.

  222. JackC

    Excellent review – read every word.

    I am perplexed about this though – you seem to hold two different opinions about gravitational effects on objects orbiting newly-created black holes:

    You first state:

    “Incidentally, the gravitational force you feel from an object depends on two things: the mass of the object, and how far away you are (for a sphere like a planet, you measure from the object’s center). So, weirdly, once Vulcan collapsed into a black hole, the gravity felt by the orbiting ships didn’t change! ”

    You then later state:

    “The thing about black holes is, they’re small. The gravity far away from one is the same as any object with that mass — if the Sun were to turn into a black hole, we’d still orbit it happy as you please (though it would get cold quickly). ”

    So – the second comment seems to support the concept that the orbiting ships WOULD continue to orbit as normal, should the planet turn into a marble-sized black hole, whereas the first comment seems to indicate that should our Sun turn into a BH, we would NOT continue to orbit “as happy as you please…”, however chilly.

    My offhand understanding tends to think your first statement is more correct, gravity being an inverse-square of distance and all… the ships should have their orbits affected, however we would (after 8 mins or so) cease to “orbit as pretty as you please” should the Sun become a BH.

    Or… did I just not read things correctly? That HAS happened before :-)

    JC

  223. CaptXpendable

    Regarding the question about the transport of Kirk and Sulu. I would presume that the momentum remained with the original bodies and dissipated when they were disintegrated. The scan would only contain the information about the structure of their bodies, not the forces acting upon them. There is no reason why the copies of Kirk and Sulu created on the platform would have the momentum of the originals destroyed near the planets surface.

  224. GDwarf

    T.E.L.: Actually, I’m doing this for free, no dimes involved.

    I don’t particularly want to believe, some parts of the movie did make me groan, but it would be nice if people complained about things that were actual problems or that were the fault of the movie, rather than canon that’s been established for decades.

    Indeed, the same people who are complaining about “How dare they change the canon!” are the same ones who are complaining about the aspects of canon they didn’t change.

    That, to me, says nice and loud that the movie could’ve been flawless and you would still have hated it.

    And JackC, those two statements don’t actually contradict each other. You measure distance to an object from it’s centre. So the force of gravity would stay the same in both cases.

  225. T.E.L.

    GDwarf,

    I call B.S. I’m not complaining about Trek canon. I said as much, in plain language, in an earlier post. This isn’t about canon. It’s about the crap that Hollywood cranks out nowadays. I AM railing against the film’s own faults as I see it.

  226. Daffy

    Saw it twice yesterday and LOVED it! As I life long Trekker I had some minor quibbles, but they were just that: minor. Not worth, well, quibbling about.

    Cast, directing, production, all were spot on. Good on ya, gang!

  227. Daffy

    Reading back here, I noticed this quote from Badger3k: “And, we’ll finally see that all life was intelligently designed.”

    They already established that in TNG. All life was intelligently designed and marked with a special code in their DNA so a message could be activated. That’s why there are so many hum
    anoids.

    I mean, really, if you’re going to be a Trek geek, get serious!

  228. Bruce

    Why does a starship operating stealthily around Titan leave its anti-collision strobe lights on? Good movie anyway. Not your father’s Star Trek.

  229. Ray

    Bruce,

    They leave the lights on because of FAA regulations. Get with the program, man!

  230. llewelly

    So maybe there had just been a dust storm before Spock gets all Pon-farr on Kirk’s butt …

    Phil, you’re confused. That wasn’t in TOS. That was in Kirk/Spock fan fiction.

  231. T.E.L.

    It was in TOS. In the episode “Amok Time” Spock and Kirk duked it out on Vulcan.

  232. Bill

    My hypothesis:

    Suppose it is the ejection/detonation of the warp core and the interaction of this explosion with the Red Matter (TM) that causes the future “supernova”.

    It is mentioned several times that firing on Spock’s ship because it might “ignite the red matter”. If that is a bad thing, how much more so to be exposed to a detonating warp core. If it can create a black hole I’m sure it could also generate a time warp.

    By the way, this is completely different than the final episode of TNG. A completely new and original idea.

  233. Chris F.

    Technically, the “supernova threatening the galaxy” line could be read as a reference to it destroying the homeworld of one of the galaxies super powers. Thus, it isn’t a reference to the literal destruction caused by the supernova but the political/social consequence of it.

  234. GDwarf

    GDwarf,

    I call B.S. I’m not complaining about Trek canon. I said as much, in plain language, in an earlier post. This isn’t about canon.

    And yet you complain that they got the Kobyashi Maru scenario wrong. Despite the fact that they didn’t.

    It’s easy enough to say “I don’t care about canon”, but it’s probably a good idea to then not complain about the movie breaking it.

    It’s about the crap that Hollywood cranks out nowadays. I AM railing against the film’s own faults as I see it.

    Save that most of the stuff you’re complaining about are only problems if you miss half the dialogue.

  235. T.E.L.

    “And yet you complain that they got the Kobyashi Maru scenario wrong. Despite the fact that they didn’t.”

    I wasn’t complaining about breaking canon. I was complaining about how god-awful easy it was for him to hack the system.

    “Save that most of the stuff you’re complaining about are only problems if you miss half the dialogue.”

    Or, if I’m not an apologist.

  236. SF Reader

    Scolopendra touched on my biggest surprise in the whole film: they didn’t go back and fix things! This in itself is the biggest departure from canon.

    Dennis

  237. JackC

    GDwarf: In which case, why is Phil (or, perhaps better, my understanding of how I am reading what he wrote) seeming to be “amazed” that when a planet converts to a BH, the ships are NOT affected, then state that when the Sun does, we should not be?

    I have not yet seen the movie, so MAYBE Phill is saying “So, weirdly, once Vulcan collapsed into a black hole, the gravity felt by the orbiting ships didn’t change! ” as in “This is counter-intuitive, but the orbiting ships would not be affected by the planet being turned into a black hole… and the movie got it right.”

    I read the line concerning Vulcan turning int ao BH as saying that the ships in the movie were not affected, but “should have been” – it could easily also mean:

    A: The movie showed they WERE affected – but should not have been
    B: The movie was correct in showing the ships were not affected – and this is weird.
    C: Something else I am not getting at all.

    Thanks to a rough weekend, I am pretty clueless today. Not nitpicking here, just wondering on something that seems contradictory.

    JC

  238. CGM3

    While I enjoyed the movie immensely, I had to balk at the idea of the supernova’s blast wave “unexpectedly” reaching Romulus. Either the star that went *BOOM* was the Romulan primary (which would give them maybe ten minutes to assume the classic Fifties’ atomic attack position: put your head between your legs and kiss yout posterior goob-bye) or it was light-years away and should have taken years to reach the system, with plenty of advance warning.

    Or maybe the sequel will reveal an unknown enemy who’s setting off “stealth supernovas” in the Federation…

  239. Daffy

    T.E.L.: “It was in TOS. In the episode “Amok Time” Spock and Kirk duked it out on Vulcan.”

    I think llewely was making a joke…a sly reference to fan fiction by the “K/S Ladies.” Look it up; people can get pretty weird.

    As I say, if you people are going to be Trek geeks get serious!

  240. Don

    Yes, but Phil, you’re our kind of nitpicking dork.

    I too grew up watching TOS, have been a fan of and through all of the subsequent series and most of the films, love all the inside jokes and running gags most of all (Anybody see the episode of CSI recently? A scream!), and I’m looking forward hugely to seeing this movie.

  241. DoctorX

    How’d Spock contain all that Red Matter in which one droplet can cause a black hole?

    Also the Enterprise and her crew, if they escaped, would have been propelled into the future. Time ticks slower near a black hole’s event horizon relative to an observer in the neighboring planet.

  242. bob

    Dear Sir, you are a scientist, not a nit picking dork!!

    Star Trek is science fantasy. Some claim it is sci fi, but it
    never has qualified.

    If by your influence, and others, Star Trek someday becomes
    Science Fiction, the world will be better for it.

    Live long and prosper sir.

  243. I am a little late to the party here, as I waited until I saw the movie. I caught most of the stuff as well when I saw it…rolled my eyes at the black hole-time travel thing. Noticed how bad the Enterprise got messed up at the end when it was trying to escape (which I kind of liked as it looked like it was almost getting spaghettified a little bit) and it’s obvious you couldn’t survive a trip through to travel in time.

    One thing that bugs me, not just about this movie but most action/adventure movies, is how little people seem to be affected by having the tar beaten out of them. They are up and running for the next fight in seconds. Anyone who has ever been in a brawl knows that a couple of good hard punches and you feel it for a while. Some of the feats of strength they do go all the way to world class athlete and beyond (one show that is a notable exception to this is the outstanding AMC show “Breaking Bad”. Some of the characters in that show have sat still for hours after a fight before slowly recovering over the course of a day or two).

  244. Peter

    Best line:

    Kirk (to Romulan strangling him): I’ve got your gun!

  245. OmegaBaby

    The gripes about the Red Matter being able to create a black hole can easily be explained away if it’s some sort of proto-matter (i.e. it CREATES matter and mass). So if tiny amounts of Red Matter can spontaneously create large amounts of matter and mass, then I think everything works (like the black hole being able to gobble up Vulcan, and the Enterprise suddenly being inside the gravity well of the black hole, etc…)

    And the gripes about how unimaginative the name “Red Matter” is, and that in the real world it would have been named after someone….for all we know, the name of the guy who invented it may have been “Red” (maybe he was a Hillbilly or something). Ever think of that people?

    And ejecting/blowing up the warp cores to escape the black hole? Well for all we know, a warp core explosion is very likely to disrupt space-time, and therefore could act as a temporary ‘gravity shield’.

    Geeze…I’m a dork, aren’t I?

  246. Steve-O

    excellent article and comments. I have a few:

    who’s to say that the Romulans didn’t contact their planet after they went back in time to warn them and at the same time go after Spock and his planet? Seems like they could have sent off quite a detailed message while they were doing other things (drill baby drill)…

    now, not being a science guy, I found a few plot points more glaring than the science. Like how did Spock find Kirk in that cave? And how did he have that apparently cool tailor-made snow gear? Why didn’t he go to the military base once he was marooned there?

    I will say great movie. I laugh at ST fans complaining that the new one isn’t serious enough or that the science isn’t as good as the older movies.

    I seem to remember the cast going on a camping trip singing camp fire songs, searching for the center of the universe (and finding it rather quickly), a bomb that created planets from nothing – that can bring people back to life and time travel that was so easy that you could go back to the future right where you left off. Remember the original show when every planet they go to all the aliens speak English and breath air?

    ST was always a space opera that didn’t make much sense.. and it still doesn’t. However, this movie is one of the best ones. Anyone who doesn’t warm up to it is really just a stick in the mud or not a Trek fan to begin with…

  247. Venn

    I want to see it released on DVD with Klingon subtitles.

  248. Joe Meils

    Phil,

    Loved your comments on the slightly wonky aspects of the science in Trek XI, but I wonder about the “M/AM jettison” escape manuver thing… I mean, isn’t that sort of the same idea behind the old “Orion” nuclear pulse drive? (Only scaled, way, way up in the level of energy being released.)

    Not that it matters. If you have a ship that can warp drive, then passing near a black hole would be no big deal… they’d just hop away from it far faster than the speed of light…

  249. T.E.L.

    Joe Meils,

    What’s interesting about the Orion pulse drive is that a raw nuclear blast out in space delivers a lot of energy, but very little momentum. The project spent a large amount of effort figuring out plausible ways to contaminate the blast with particulates optimized to transfer momentum into the pusher plate.

    One variant that Dyson considered was a positively enormous copper plate with raw blasts nearby. The momentum was delivered by the plate re-radiating thermal energy in the form of light. However, the design was for the super long haul interstellar version. The rate of momentum increase for the spaceship per blast was practically infinitesimal.

    Matter/anti-matter annihilation is a lot like that: lots of energy, not much momentum. And since the exploding cores were (presumably) radiating isotropically, Enterprise only intersected a small fraction of it.

  250. BWo

    Here’s what I thought was cool…

    Spock Prime told Scotty that he (Scotty) had invented the method for transporting people across the galaxy onto a warping ship. Scotty didn’t seem to know what he was talking about, so SP types out the formula for him… which Scotty looks at and quickly understands.

    Which is pretty much exactly what Scotty did in Star Trek Saves the Whales, with the transparent aluminum schematic…

  251. BoldlyGone

    This article and all of these comments have been a true joy to read!

    Saw the movie today, uh…

    SPOILERS and MAXIMUM NERDOSITY BELOW!

    The scene with the crewman being sucked into space horrified me and that basically made me forgive everything weird about the movie. I love Star Trek and went into the theatre expecting this to be the goofiest thing ever set to film. On the whole I liked it a lot. I thought the cast tried very hard to bring these characters to us above and beyond the call of the somewhat ridiculous plot. So here’s my take on this…

    Nero couldn’t inform Romulus, because if he succeeded he’d have never been sent back in time, so it would have happened anyway. He was taking apart the Federation because that’s really all he could do, change the things that didn’t lead him to be there. Time is a self-correcting tyrant, he had no choice but to be in a parallel universe where the destruction of his home is a given constant. When his time rolled around again, maybe the Vulcans would have enough empathy to embrace the Romulan refugees and become one culture again. It might have taken him 25 years to figure this out, he wasn’t a scientist and his crew weren’t explorers of great theoretical unknowns.

    Enterprise has these warp coils in the nacelles constructed to resonate warp drive energy into propulsive force. The issue was that the drive system couldn’t put out enough propulsion to push the ship back across the event horizon. By detonating the cores, the shockwave was significantly greater than the drive itself, causing the coils to drag the rest of the ship along with the explosion. Apparently whatever natural force they utilize for the warp drive isn’t as powerful as the force they utilize to hold the ship together.

    If the Red Matter was a Bose-Einstein condensate, you could store a large mass in a single giant super atom, but I have no idea how you’d suspend that, or seperate parts off without killing yourself. Whatever that glass tube was made of, it was science beyond the 23rd century crew and a Romulan space miner’s ability to explain to us. Anyway, the hottest place to put it in order to warm it up would be the planet’s core.

    As for the Romulan space miner, (I actually love his character a lot, what a perfect portrayal of a Romulan blue-c0llar worker), you have to keep in mind that his ship is from Next Generation Land, so it’s technology is ramped to the limits of compound words. The drill was probably some kind of high gain transporter, which would explain why it screwed up transporters, that normally would have filled up its massive cargo holds (which were empty). Instead of beaming the matter to the hold, like a mining ship would, it dispersed it into space. I assumed the mining ship was in orbit around the planet’s star, not the planet itself. The difference in angular momentum created by the rotation of the planet could be compensated for by the ship’s engines. It probably had monstrous engines, since it was designed to transfer signifigant amounts of matter into itself from a perogee slightly above its target (if orbiting the star). If it used its warp drive to reduce its own mass the output from that could have screwed up the relatively primitive subspace radio. Any loss in the conversion of transported matter was dispered as the bright light and heat exhaust they showed occasionally.

    I just made all of that up as I went along and it was wonderful.

    Chekov said he was compensating for gravity when he beamed Kirk and Sulu back to the ship. Probably pushed a button that filtered out whatever neutrino gets formed when you suddenly cancel out that much momentum in a bunch of dispersed particles.

    Still making stuff up, folks, except for the part where Chekov said he was compensating for gravity.

    I haven’t read the comic, so I don’t know about the supernova or the black holes, but Star Trek has shown time and time again that once you strap a warp drive to a metal container, time travel can happen by accident. I don’t know if I want real nature to be that way or not.

    I liked the look of the Enterprise and am pleased that Captain Pike didn’t end up disfigured at the end of the movie. Having a shipload of cadets was his thing, after all, and that historically lead to him being in wheelchairs. Speaking of which, the man is an Admiral, get him a hoverchair. He can’t visit the Grand Canyon in that thing.

    I really look forward to seeing these actors actually getting a script that doesn’t have to explain why it’s all different, so they can really run with the characters. Please, benevolent universe, get them a good one.

  252. Luke

    Overall, I enjoyed the movie, but there were a few plot devices so absurd that they had me wondering if they were going to do the “chompers” from Galaxy Quest.

  253. OmegaBaby Says:

    And the gripes about how unimaginative the name “Red Matter” is, and that in the real world it would have been named after someone….for all we know, the name of the guy who invented it may have been “Red” (maybe he was a Hillbilly or something). Ever think of that people?

    Maybe it was Red Green, who came up with some…. ‘interesting’ … inventions.

    J/P=?

  254. Mega says, “Actually, the closer to the center of a planet, the less gravity, and the absolute center would be zero g.”

    Thanks for pointing that out! Maybe the device that dropped the red matter like a spinning maple leaf into the planet’s core was some sort of detonation device that crushes the red-matter into a black hole… ..or maybe I just have an over-active imagination. In any case, that was totally cool.

  255. MrSatyre

    I didn’t like this film, plain and simple. Not because I’m a STOS geek (I am). Not because I’m a science nerd (I am). I didn’t like it because it was Just.A.Stupid.Movie. The plot and dialogue were pretty much 3rd grade, chock full o’ unrelated comments and disconnected series of suppositions and conclusions. The set designs were (as far as I could tell) entirely arbitrary and served no practical purpose (Dir. Ridley Scott, you’re wanted on the bridge…er, set!) (no one knows attention to detail like Ridley, folks). I won’t even get into how they presented a military chain of command, rules, regs and promotions. That just makes my head hurt too much. I didn’t expect “2001″ or even “The Final Frontier” walking into this one. I hoped to be entertained—and I WAS entertained more than a few times by the humor—but overall I find it extremely difficult to enjoy a movie like this when it’s constantly insulting my intelligence. At least a Harry Potter film, which makes no attempt to address reality, has far more wit and intellect and HEART than this unfortunate mess.

  256. CaptXpendable

    This article is getting around, just saw it on Gizmodo and SciFi channels Dvice site.

  257. Phil and nobody in this thread had a problem with Kirk somehow catching up to Sulu in free-fall after sabotaging the drill?

    Two objects fall at the same speed, and Sulu had a good 10 second lead on his fall…

    The preserved momentum when they hit the transporter pad aside, I don’t see them ever uniting in air.

  258. A lot of people are getting angry over “a supernova that threatened the galaxy”. Maybe Spock was speaking metaphorically, as in, it threatened the galaxy because Nero came and started blowing up planets.
    Oh, and the movie was chill.

  259. Brian

    I would just like to say that in regards to no defenses meeting Nero’s drill, Nero’s ship was in orbit for twenty minutes. I would not be surprised if they were still trying to wake up the President of the Federation in that time. Governments do *not* act that quickly especially to non-scripted events, odd things like a drill extending from an unknown space ship.

    Secondly, the “defenses” of Earth are unknown. It was mentioned by a poster that Pike having the codes is like the President having nuke codes. *Not if it’s not weapons*. The defenses could be early warning systems, FoF identification, to not trip the Starfleet “NORAD” as it were. All one has to do is look at 9/11.

    As for “hacking a military computer” it’s made to sound as if Kirk compromised actual field equipment. He did not — it was a *school* computer and given Chekov is there at 17 perhaps even high school (a genius level high school but still.) Half the people here have hacked school computers.

  260. GDwarf

    Phil and nobody in this thread had a problem with Kirk somehow catching up to Sulu in free-fall after sabotaging the drill?

    Two objects fall at the same speed, and Sulu had a good 10 second lead on his fall…

    The preserved momentum when they hit the transporter pad aside, I don’t see them ever uniting in air.

    Not quite. Sulu was falling spread-eagled, while Kirk was diving.

    This means that Kirk had a higher terminal velocity than Sulu, and given how long they were falling for, I don’t see any issue with them catching up to each other (Sky divers manage similar things, after all, and they’re jumping from a far lower height.)

  261. T.E.L.

    “Secondly, the “defenses” of Earth are unknown. It was mentioned by a poster that Pike having the codes is like the President having nuke codes. *Not if it’s not weapons*. The defenses could be early warning systems, FoF identification, to not trip the Starfleet “NORAD” as it were. All one has to do is look at 9/11.”

    Dialogue plainly said the security code was for the planetary shield, ala the Buck Rogers pilot circa the ’70s. Don’t give me any crap about how that’s not a weapon. Don’t give me any crap about how in the 23rd Century, an age in which every casual act of synthesizing a ham sandwich out of thin air calls into play enough energy to vaporize a large city, that there aren’t phased-array sensors sweeping every steradian of the sky for potentially hostile elements. Don’t give me any crap about how quantum computers with their suitably powerful algorithms can’t dispatch weaponry within seconds to any spot in space within at least a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth. There’s no good reason for the Romulan ship to have made it undetected and unmolested all the way to a point directly over Starfleet headquarters. I mean hell: something that big could be seen by the naked eye from that height. Enterprise was hiding out at bloody Saturn to evade detection from Earth for krissake.

  262. Buzz Parsec

    Poor Porthos! What is it about dogs with names beginning with the letter “P” getting dissed so much lately? First Pluto, and then Porthos :-(

    What I didn’t understand was why, having been zapped 104 years back into the past (if I have my arithmetic right, I think Nero said he was bumped back 129 years, and then waited around 25 years for Spock to show up…), and having been just minutes too late to stop the supernova, didn’t just go there and black-hole it 104 years early. Or if he was worried about messing up the timeline (“Then don’t kill any butterflies. What does everyone have against butterflies?”, to quote the good Doctor), then go back to the impending supernova, what in stasis or something for 103 years, 11 months and 29 days,
    and then drop the Red Matter bomb in it a day (or an hour or a minute) early.

    Also, why did he have so much of the stuff? It looks like it only took a turkey baster full to do in a planet. You would think the greater the initial mass, the easier it would be to form a black hole from it, so a star would require less.

    And the boiling blood bit… I thought the blood in your lungs would boil because it is only separated from the vacuum by an extremely thin, air-permeable membrane.

    But hey, Jim, I’m a physicist, not a doctor.

  263. Buzz Parsec

    Oh, in the stuff about Spock fixing things by doing in the supernova progenitor early, I forgot to include the phrase “The Big Red Reset Button.”

    And BTW, I also forgot to mention that I really enjoyed the movie despite everything.

  264. Mike

    One question about the ejecting warp cores….uhm, weren’t they USING those to avoid being instantly discombobulated by the 2-dimensional blackhole/time-travelling portal thing?

    Also, Kirk mentioned that they were “at” warp speed…I thought warp was an actual deformation of space and time – the term “speed” was thrown in there to relate it to the idea of actually travelling “across” space and how quickly it does this versus more conventional velocity measures. (i.e. warp speed IS faster than impulse speed, 100 km/h, 20 knots, etc). This is sort of like saying that holding a felt tipped marker on a folded piece of paper to get a dot of ink on the other side is “faster” than typing a bunch of periods from one edge of the unfolded page to the other. sure, but it’s not how fast it’s soaking through…it’s the fact that it IS soaking through.

    This movie seemed to depict warp as some sort of turbo boost whereas I didn’t think it was related to conventional space travel at all.

    The instant they activated the warp drives, they should have been able to bend around the blackhole and local space, and just punch through somewhere else, right? Gravity, pissed off romulans and aesthetically pleasing blackholes be damned?

    Ludicrous speed!

    (don’t get me wrong, I did kinda like the movie anyway)

  265. +1 Internets to one (1) geeky Phil Plait. Man, you’re good. I’m a Trek newb (yet a 2001: ASO fan). I caught most of the science errors, except the skydiving/re-entry one.

    Turns out that’s more of a materials science problem than an astronomy problem. As I told my friend, they didn’t exactly have ablative plating on their suits, so it must’ve been some futuristic material (those visors sure looked like plexiglass though). But if they had the materials for the orbital mining drill, so… yeah.

    It would be easy to nitpick the wormhole issue. I don’t really buy the whole “black holes are navigable” thing. The time-travel aspect seemed unnecessary in what was already a nail-biter of an sci-fi/action flick. *shrug* I guess it leaves more sequel possibilities open, as you say.

    Can’t wait to see the director’s cut with more background on the villian, as Nero seemed way too lame in the theatrical version I just saw.

  266. madu

    Oh dear god man!
    Just leave it alone! ITS A MOVIE!!!!!!!!!

  267. madu

    Oh, and a second point, humans, at this stage of our development, can hardly say we understand the universe… the laws of physics are only BASICALLY understood, so how can you make comments about such things?

  268. FortyEight

    Patrick types: “Phil and nobody in this thread had a problem with Kirk somehow catching up to Sulu in free-fall after sabotaging the drill?

    Two objects fall at the same speed, and Sulu had a good 10 second lead on his fall…

    The preserved momentum when they hit the transporter pad aside, I don’t see them ever uniting in air.”

    I’m no expert, but presume someone who skydives can support this with more detail: I watch groups of skydivers join up in large circles and other patterns, by taking advantage of the differences in drag between a human with arms and legs outstretched and another head-down with arms and legs tucked. That’s why a ball-bearing and a feather of comparable mass don’t hit the floor at the same time when dropped together. Kirk could have caught Sulu fairly easily from the limited amount of skydiving I’ve watched.

    I’m as critical as anyone of the technical aspects of movies, but when the movie is FICTION, then liberties are expected. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, the laws of physics were likely pretty much the same, but I still like watching Star Wars, too. I’ll wait for time to pass judgment on this new rendition of STAR TREK, but I exited the theater happy with the price of tickets for the whole family, and I plan to go see it again while it’s still in the theater.

  269. Remember…this is now an ALTERNATIVE TIMELINE!

    (Let’s all take a moment to thank Stargate for breaking the TV-land viewer and hitting us over the head with alternate universes as acceptable plot shifts)

    Ergo: Trek never gets old…It just creates a new timeline. (Please Jebus…new series, new series, new series. SG-1, SG-Atlantis, BSG are over, Sanctuary is a dud, Dollhouse is meh, Terminator is getting axed…and I’m still jones’ing for more Farscape and Firefly that will never happen)

    I too loved all the catchphrase throw’n and at the end Kirk starts to talk Shatner-esk with his…pause for…dramatic…effect type speaking. I could see the original cast in all the characters expect Kirk…but then again I don’t try to think what Shatner would look like at a much younger age. :-p

  270. I know everything about the original Star Trek. So, who better than I to review the new movie? So, first let me say that I found it amusing- even laughable, but in the wrong places, unfortunately.

    I see they dragged out the silly warp drive throttle control from Star Trek – The Motion Picture. That got a good laugh then, and now. And they chopped a pasted a lot of glittery show at the beginning of the movie, instead of wasting time on building characters. Oh, and as for characters, you walk away thinking that the universe has only 50 people in it. A over accented Chekov, an over emotional Vulcan and… well I could go on.

    McCoy was very well acted and comes across as a walking cliche’. But, he sounds like that McCoy from the original SNL skit, all those years ago. Kirk, in the future, will undergo a 23rd century cure of zit-face, will give him that pretty-boy look and will also give enough sense to not try and fight 5 men in a bar by himself.

    By the way, I don’t recall Kirk ever meeting Capt. Pike, except when he took over command of the Enterprise after Pike’s tour of duty and then later after Pike’s unfortunate accident that left him crippled. This must of been some kind of alternate universe thing, in the movie, that got by me.

    Spok’s “te’-da-te’” with Uhura, was not logical because Vulcans only do that once every 7 years! The original engineering set, at Desilu engineering set, with its coffee cans, looked better than this movie with it’s glits.

    Oh, and a super-nova will not destroy a galaxy! It just wipes out a solar system. And how do you deposit a black whole inside a planet? Watch as they do in this movie and use cheap morphing graphics to show you!

    Oh, and when Scotty makes like Augustus Gloop of “Willie Wanka And The Chocolate Factory” and goes up the pipe!… Great laugh. Oh, and they even supplied the bridge crew with a funny Hollywood variation of the original bridge chairs.

    One final observation about Kirk. In the original series we learned that the brash Lt. Kirk was very serious which delighted another joker named Finnigan to no-end. And we learned in the episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” that in Kirk’s class “you either think or sink.” But the movie did not reflect this. In the movie, Kirk is a silly, wet-behind-the-ears, idiot. The kind that steels cars for a joy ride… Oh, he does that, too. In all, though, Uhura does look sexy when undressed! Barbara Eden never would of gotten away with that 40+ years ago.

    Go see it but don’t pay for the Imax version. Too expensive for what you get.

    My opinion…..

    Glenn Kirkland

  271. Jack Mc Crary

    @GW: “This means that Kirk had a higher terminal velocity than Sulu, and given how long they were falling for, I don’t see any issue with them catching up to each other (Sky divers manage similar things, after all, and they’re jumping from a far lower height.)”

    Precisely. In atmo, terminal velocity is a function of an object’s mass relative to the amount of its surface area that is presented to the relative wind. Chanigng the amount of surface area that is presented to the relative wind is how us jumpers control our fall rates.

    It should be noted though that that scene was unrelaistic for mutliple reasons.

    1. It is incredibly difficult to hold a heads down diving position like they had. It is exponentially more difficult to do it in the super thin air of the upper atmo. When jumpers set high altitude records that use a stabilizing parachute to enable them to stay in the easiest, most stable freefall position.

    2. The jump required an amount of experience and techniques that are well beyond what any basic military freefall training provides.

    2. Deploying from a heads down postion as all three did is incredibly dangerous as it puts severe stress on things like vertebrae and the aorta. In real life, there have been multiple fatalities from that scenario.

    3. The manuver where Kirk grabs Sulu then deploys his chute is called a Mister Bill. It is not done at terminal velocity however (Star Trek and Point Break aside)because the deceleration generates enough g’s that it’s physically impossible for a person to hang on.

  272. Estraven

    Guess I am the only one who was massively disappointed with the decision to wipe out all previous Trek history, except that occurring in the Enterprise series. The destruction of Vulcan was the insult added to injury to me. I regard it all as disrespectful to generations of Trek fans and creators. I was ready for some damage to continuity but sweeping it all away? That sucks. Greenhorn cadet Kirk gets given the flagship of the Federation? Yeah right. And hail the huge plot contrivance of dumping Kirk out of the ship rather than sending him to the brig, so that he can land on the one planet old Spock was marooned on – and in his vicinity too. Wonderful writing. Such imagination. Philistines …

  273. Darrin

    Nice review. I agree, the movie was very entertaining, though there were some groan-inducing bad science moments.

    I have to say, though, that I’m very, very happy they didn’t use any techno-babble nonsense that has become so common in DS9 and Voyager. I swear, I was going to jump through the screen and tear someone a new hole if I heard anything like “we’ll remodulate the reverse ionizing dilithium matrix through the subspace harmonizer”.

  274. Dante

    “A slightly different version of this has been posted at TrekMovie.com”
    I hope that version doesn’t have a typo at “it’s heart”.

  275. Heh, now WIRED has a Military Analysis of ST.

    (Warning: some comments NSFW)

    J/P=?

  276. Sean

    I agree with every point you made. There is one however that bugs me, perhaps you might have an answer. How fast was this new ship going from Earth to vulcan? Everything I have read is that a warp factor is “x” cubed. Every calcuation I have made (yes, I am a geek with a spreadsheet) is that Vulcan at BEST, is a 5 1/2 day trip based on what the books say of how fast the ship can move. Couldn’t they add two freaking lines of kirk asking “how long was I out?” and McCoy saying “a little over 5 days” best way to hide a guy who wasnt supposed to be there right? Combined with your points about drilling into the planet it should be about 5 days right? But they never tell you that in the movie. I loved the movie, but they needed a couple of die hard trekkers with a little bit of brain power to look at this stuff first before making the final cuts.

  277. joe

    Great, a black hole destroying a planet. This is only going to encourage the ‘Large Hadron Collider is going to destroy the earth’ crowd. Thanks a lot Star Trek.

  278. Kim

    Where does Spok get the material (appears to be wood) for his fire in the ice cave???

  279. Daffy

    Sean,

    The exact speed of the warp drive varied so much during all the different movies and series that it has no meaning at all. In Voyager it takes decades to get across the galaxy, while in Star Trek V it takes only days to get halfway.

    Singling out this movie for not being specific is at best unfair.

  280. Daffy

    Glenn, the “serious” cadet Kirk was already done away with in the previous movies. Makes no sense to complain about it in this one. Not to mention he even had a different middle name in the pilot.

  281. physicsonion

    in regard to “red matter” following omegababy’s post

    somehow, in all star trek movies it is assumed that the basic physics (and chemistry) holds. one of the most famous laws, first of chemistry then of physics, is the law of conservation of mass. this law is obviously violated by the time travel, but this is not the point.
    the point here is when you drop a drop of red matter, which mass seems to be that of a drop of a liquid, then what ever that mass does, its mass remains the same.
    so when you throw it on the planet in expectation that it will create a “black hole” (what ever the black hole is in the star trek lingo) the mass of that “black hole” will be the mass of the initial drop of the “red matter” and the mass of the surrounding volume that the “red matter” drop has sucked up on its way down.
    thus, the effect of dropping the “red matter” soon-to-be-black-hole device on the planet is, at best, some redistribution of mass.
    if one then incorporates laws of conservation of momentum (which “black holes” appear to be obeying) the “red matter” “black-hole” will move with the planet Vulcan, as the mass of Vulcan that entered it had done before.
    furthermore, as Gauss’ law (from multidimensional calculus) applies to the rest of the planet Vulcan (far from the “red matter” “black-hole”) the only change in gravitational attraction would come from the extra drop of “red matter,” which appears to be of the magnitude of not more than few grams.
    in conclusion, “red matter” soon-to-be-black-hole device does not work unless you bring massive amounts of mass out of nowhere.

  282. JP

    “now I can just send folks here instead of trying to explain what I mean by “they got the science all wrong!”

    Which apparently they didn’t going by what you’d apparently just read. And honestly, why would that matter? It’s a movie. Did anything and everything before this in Star Trek get the science ‘right?’

  283. Zed

    Mike,

    Warp works by compressing space in front of the ship while expanding it behind, creating a bubble of normal space that rides on this wave of space-time. However, a black hole also warps space time. Gravity itself can be thought of as a warping of space-time.

    So basically, the warp engine in this case is expanding the space behind the ship, but that space was compressed by the black hole to start with. So you don’t get a space-time wave that ripples across the medium, you instead get a standing wave, on which the Enterprise can “surf” indefinitely, remaining in one spot. Essentially, the distortion created by the warp engine cancels the distortion of the black hole, creating a zone of flat space.

    Of course, they’d have been destroyed the second they turned of the warp drive in order to eject it. I can buy that blowing the core up would also distort space-time, but only if it was some spare warp core they had lying around. They needed the one they were using to maintain the standing wave.

    Oh, and to everyone who thinks Kirk and Sulu should have been liquefied by smacking onto the the transporter pad after being beamed out of a fall at terminal velocity, think about how the transporters work. They DO NOT conserve momentum. How would they? They are reconstructing the object on the spot from particles transmitted through subspace. That the reassembled object has no momentum is inherent to the process. Incidentally, if the transporters DID conserve momentum, any away party beaming down to a planet’s surface would arrive there traveling at orbital velocity. Ouch.

  284. Rory

    Very good! I loved it too!

    I was also wondering why the water didn’t evaporate immediately when they tried to drill Earth… Didn’t make sense.
    As did them taking off their helmets once landing on the drill. As you mentioned, they were very high and could hardly be breathing a suitable amount of air, especially for a fight of that caliber at such an altitude!

  285. Sean

    Ya know, you do have a point about the varied speed in all the movies and series. I think I will have to remove my foot from my mouth on that one. Oops. :)

  286. My main scientifically implausable gripe has to do with the giant red creature from the ice planet/moon, Delta Vega. First, why would a creature that evolved in an all-white snow and ice environment be blood red instead of a lighter color itself? Sure the creature was a bad-ass and perhaps was the ultimate predator on the planet (except when an old Vulcan waves a tiny Bic lighter in its face), but shouldn’t there have been some type of natural camouflage that developed over time to make it blend into its surroundings a bit better? Furthermore, why do giant creatures in sci-fi movies kill other large beasts but then abandon the kill (meal) to go chasing after a puny human that would have been the equivalent of 1/2 of a chicken mcnugget compared to the double quarter pounder it left behind?

  287. OmegaBaby

    physicsonion:

    Well…for the sake of suspension of disbelief, I’m willing to believe that Red Matter has the ability to generate huge quantities of matter and mass out of nowhere (subspace maybe? or maybe it pulls the mass from an alternate universe, like fluidic space of species 8472?) It’s more fun that way.

  288. I found it very nice :D

    I’m not a hardcore trekkie myself but I was able to watch a lot of the eps all the way up to deep space 9.

    Btw, here’s my review of the movie on my blog: http://www.waukster.com/jj-abrams-star-trek-rocks/

    Cheers!

  289. Mike

    Good remarks mostly, definately a bit nitpicky though. Yea, the supernova thing was a big red flag for me. Also, if they knew it was coming, how was Spock suddenly surprised that the ‘unthinkable’ happened and Romulus was destroyed? Wasnt that thr whole point of him stopping it?

    On the sound in space note, I was so excited on the few scenes they did with a true representation of a vacuum. The initial scene with the crewmember being sucked out to silence was a treat. I absolutely loved how they did the sound during the space jump. Only the sound of their own breathing, then as they came in the atmosphere, the air went from a whisper to a roar. No mention of that effect?

  290. Spuffler

    Oh, great. I read 3 parts of the dissertation and even lame ole Spuffler woulda been disappointed. Hucksteristics aside, I’ll still drop 3 fin to see it. ‘cuz I likes fx, zats y.
    “Damage report, Scotty….”

  291. Brian

    “Dialogue plainly said the security code was for the planetary shield, ala the Buck Rogers pilot circa the ’70s. Don’t give me any crap about how that’s not a weapon. Don’t give me any crap about how in the 23rd Century, an age in which every casual act of synthesizing a ham sandwich out of thin air calls into play enough energy to vaporize a large city, that there aren’t phased-array sensors sweeping every steradian of the sky for potentially hostile elements. Don’t give me any crap about how quantum computers with their suitably powerful algorithms can’t dispatch weaponry within seconds to any spot in space within at least a few tens of thousands of kilometers from Earth. There’s no good reason for the Romulan ship to have made it undetected and unmolested all the way to a point directly over Starfleet headquarters. I mean hell: something that big could be seen by the naked eye from that height. Enterprise was hiding out at bloody Saturn to evade detection from Earth for krissake.”

    This is all refuted by real world examples. If interstellar commerce is as vibrant as internation commerce there are hundreds perhaps thousands of ships moving between Earth and other worlds. Every single one could not be monitored for intent except through FoF identification. Real world examples like government slow to act (9/11), the USA slow to act to Katrina, every government in modern history being slow to respond to crisis, not to mention the miniscule budget we currently allow NASA to watch the sky for incoming objects. None of these political realities would change in the future, human nature being constant. Do you know how long Nero was in orbit? Do you realize a civilian, planetary government would react extremely slowly, on the scale of hours or days and not minutes?

    By the way you are *absolutely* wrong about planetary shields and hard to believe you aren’t trolling and/or lack Star Trek knowledge.. Star Trek does not have planetary shields, not even in the 24th Century. The best they managed was some crappy shield in TNG that collapsed to a dust storm. [u]Nero did *not* mention any planetary shields, planetary batteries, phaser banks or anything of the sort[/u]. All he mentioned was “Starfleet’s defense grid particularly those surrounding Earth” and that could mean anything, most likely an early warning system. The Federation is not the kind of civilization to have orbital weapons platforms or hundreds of weapons batteries aimed into space, or to even open fire when it doesn’t know what’s going on.

  292. PicoJoules

    Thank you, Sir Badimus!

    I agree, there should be a series. As long as it isn’t done by fox.
    :)

  293. I’m not a scientist, but I suppose the mining beam could work; imagine it as a HOT beam. A cauterizingly HOT beam. Wouldn’t it turn rock into ceramics?

  294. selena

    i just assumed seeing vulcan explode from the ice planet was some kind of hologram, placed there in the sky by nero just to torture old spock.

    movie was good. i liked spock having emotions other than ‘grumpy’. and also liked answering some fan-questions (uhura’s first name, mccoy’s nickname), without making it to obvious.

    there were some mayor chracter changes from TOS (i’m rather certain that in that timeline spock and uhura never dated), but trek constantly violated it’s own canon anyway, so it’s kind of a tradition

  295. Mac

    All this back and forth on the redmatter issue is laughable. We currently have matter, and sound/popular theories about dark and anti-matter. Why not redmatter or bluematter for that matter (bad pun). If the theory behind antimatter and solidmatter is acceptable, you need to believe that placing the 2 items in contact will cause both to be destroyed, the process of which would generate an exponential amount of energy related to the combined mass.

    If we take this statement as true, could not red matter react with all 3 currently theorised states? (don’t ask me how it would be contained) But perhaps the idea was that I single drop would not create an explosion as what would happen with the contact of solid and antimatter, but an implosion. One that would be capaple of generating a black hole. Now figure a drop could kill a sun or planet – The amount that was still left on the ship may have been sufficient to react with the sparse, but still existing matter and darkmatter in the vicinity of the ship that allowed an event horizon to grow at a rate comparable to the warp speed the big E was travelling at. Perhaps the antimatter from the cores was able to neutralize the effect of red matter enough to allow the ship to escape.

    All theoretical, but based on current accepted theory.

    The movie was enjoyable.. but it’s still just a movie.

  296. This was an excellent article, but I have some contention about the subject of black holes. There is a minimum amount of mass required to create a black hole with an event horizon. Singularities with less than this minimum, (say, a singularity created by a planet,) would very quickly expel all of their mass in the form of high energy radiation. These “white holes” would “evaporate” in a very short amount of time. This phenomenon is referenced in this article about the LHC. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080627175348.htm

    That being said, this “red matter” would essentially have to create a star’s worth of mass, which I suppose would have to be converted from a immense amount of energy stored in the matter. (If red matter weighed as much as it would need to, it would collapse into a black hole by itself.) Or wait, does energy bend spacetime too? I forget.

  297. MAtt

    A few of your gripes are explained away in “Star Trek: Countdown” the official prelude comic to the movie. Particularly the supernova one.

  298. Other than the technical issues that you cover so well here don’t supernovae take a significantly longer period of time to blow than the time range Spock and Nero traveled?

    If we are to accept that it’s occurrence is what killed the Romulan home world, shouldn’t the Romulans have known well in advance, like in the time of this story arc?

    Also, once Nero managed to go BACK in time along with Spock, shouldn’t their first priority be to inject the red matter and stop the supernovae? (allowing that red matter cures the supernovae, that is)

    And by stopping the supernovae restoring the original time line?

    Time travel paradoxes – go figure.

  299. Ive82

    Movie was good, I enjoyed even though I’m not a big Star Trek Fan.

    By the way, I wanted to ask, are any of you scientist? Sure seems like you think you are. Reading a couple books doesn’t count.

    I think some of you are taking the movie a little to serious. Sure some of the things they did was overblown, but its a movie. Its like trying to disprove Charlies Angels or the Matrix.

    You don’t need a science degree, you just need an imagination. Leave the science stuff to the professionals.

  300. Nick

    I don’t know if you can really delve into the science of these man-made black holes. They seem to be like time warm holes more than anything.

  301. Gica

    Hmm, I can’t agree with “So, weirdly, once Vulcan collapsed into a black hole, the gravity felt by the orbiting ships didn’t change!”. When calculating the gravity force we use the distance from the center of the planet not the distance to the surface of the planet so the distance doesn’t change so there should be no observable difference between the gravity of the planet and the gravity of the black hole.

  302. Em

    I dont understand… What happened to Spok Prime’s original timeline? He still has memories of the’original’ timeline in which the Romulan vessel did not come back in time… So what has happened to his Kirk etc? The new timeline trumps the old timeline, so how can old Spok still exist? And wont they now go on to somehow prevent the destruction of Romulus so the Rogue Romulan vessel won’t travel back in time… then the disater won’t be averted.. then it will… then it won’t… I’m going crazy here!

  303. Robert Carnegie

    In original series, didn’t Spock and Uhura give a concert on Vulcan harp plus vocals?

    If there’s a test for cadets that is based on a simulation of a losing battle and studying their psychological reaction, there’s probably another test of letting it be possible for them to interfere with computer data and examining their reason for doing so. I understand Kirk decided the simulation wasn’t fair. In a tie-in book named after the simulation, Mr Scott has the same reaction, for engineering reasons.

    Another book provides a Next Generation similar test – you’re in an away team mission that goes sour and you end up on your own and in danger and you have to decide how to apply the Prime Directive, but you don’t have enough data, so the correct answer is not to decide – and there’s that next Gen episode where Troi can’t solve the command test – she gets it in the end – because the solution is to order a colleague to go get killed. (Both of these are on the holodeck.)

    Incidentally, why isn’t anyone discussing Eminem’s video for “We Made You”? Or was that last year in U.S. release (I’m elsewhere)? The song is disgraceful but the Trek recreations are wonderful, minus it’s grabbing publicity from the film release (but I’m not sure where “Jailhouse Rock” fits in) and maybe you can just hire a Star Trek re-enactment theatre group who do these all the time.

  304. fumbling plots

    In The Search For Spock, flesh and soul can be rejoined on Vulcan.
    So if there is no Vulcan, there is no rejoined Spock. No rejoined Spock, No Spock to be late. No Spock to be late, no mess, No fuss.

  305. The red space suit… that killed me. I just watched the next 3 minutes KNOWING what would happen. The ending scene’s “Bones…” from Kirk was very Shatneresque – I’m glad that was about the extent of it!

    I hope these actors realize they are now locked into something that is going to go the distance!

  306. Small note- Kirk/Scotty “Intruder Alert” scene etc. Spock wants to check the ‘video’. Would that be videotape? Really, video?

  307. Kirk/Scotty Intruder alert, Spock asks to check the ‘Video”. Would that be ‘video-tape’? I don’t think so.

  308. aRtFuL

    In reply to Fluffy’s comment, how can you argue about the psychological state of a villain?

    Clearly the villain in this film is hateful, psychologically disturbed or clinically insane in some way. If that’s the case, how can there be any logic to his actions?

    It is like saying to a KKK “hey why don’t you try to fix country by being constructive instead of discriminating people”? :|

  309. DocF

    i felt the same with the science, especially with black holes and galaxy-threatening-supernovae. but i don’t care. it was a brilliant movie and so much needed for the star-trek franchise. the last scene, where enterprise takes off with nimoys voiceover gave me the chills. but shatner should have done it.

    but i wonder why you didn’t comment on the parralell universe thing?

  310. Joe

    RED MATTER! It’s all about the red matter. It explains everything, even the plot holes. All physics arguments are null and void thanks to red matter. Nobody but J.J. Abrams know’s of it’s properties. That’s what a genius he is. I hear he intends to release it as part of the marketing toy line campaign. Do a Google search and you’ll find recipes for it. Expect it to be in the next season of Lost.

  311. Michael

    How about the fact that, while on the drilling platform, Kirk and Sulu weren’t wearing helmets or breathing apparatus in the upper atmosphere of an Earth-like planet? What, exactly, where they breathing up there?

    And how did they perform any physical activity at, what we could easily assume, are very low temperatures/low air pressure at that altitude?

    Also, and this is less science-based than sociological, but do the Romulans not have OSHA regulations? Why doesn’t their mining ship feature hand rails or any other protection from falling 800 feet to your doom? From the facial tattoos, I get that they’re bad-ass and all, but still…one minor misstep and you’re a goner.

  312. Mark

    The explosion that threatened the galaxy yeah i caught that too when i say the movie

    I thought about it and i started to wonder if the threat was not from the explosion itself

    but the aftermath of such an event?

    just my 0.02 cents

    I like the “red matter” name seemed to sound classic trek and less modern techno-babble trek
    to me

  313. Mamporrera

    Excellent article! At first I was afraid it would be condescending, as so many of these kinds of things can be. But dude, your points are spot on and very informative, and the fact that you like the movie anyway speaks well for both your taste and your ability to “adapt to new stimuli”, as Spock might put it.

    And yo, the sound thing – YES. I remember when I saw 2010 (yeah, I know it’s not a great film), and I thought the slingshot-around-Jupiter scene would have been SO much more dramatic had they cut the sound whenever they switched back from inside the ship to the outer space view. But no, they had to pander to their audience’s ignorance. GAH.

    Last, I LOVE the love interest. I’ve always thought Spock deserved a smokin’ hot girlfriend. Who better than the Bridge Goddess herself?

  314. Mamporrera

    Em:

    The problem is that people are seeing this as a time travel story. It’s not. It’s an alternate universe story – very different.

    The original timeline is still there, intact…in Spock’s home universe. But if you see the establishing event not as a jump through time, but as a jump to an earlier time *in an alternate universe*, then it all makes sense.

    That’s why Spock can be surprised by Kirk not being the captain, and why Kirk asks “Where you come from…do I know my father?” and Spock answers calmly, “Yes”. It’s also why this movie is NOT a prequel, no matter what anyone says. This isn’t the ST universe we’ve been seeing stories from all these years; it’s ANOTHER Star Trek universe, with its own stories to tell.

    Me, I’m looking forward to ‘em!

  315. i agree whole heartedly! the movie was great (goin to see it again this weekend, infact) & the science was a lil off. the same can be said for every other ‘trek’. i too hope this spawns a new series. make it so!

  316. Robert Carnegie

    The latest [Red Dwarf] episodes explained that around 2010 people went back to using video tapes, because you always lose DVDs. Not so, a nice, bulky VHS video cassette. So, yeah, Trek’s in the future, it uses VHS. :-)

  317. Ray

    Em,

    There’s nothing to be confused about if you accept the movie’s time travel theory of alternate universes.

    Simply, there are now two (at least) timelines, one that continues on normally as we expect, which means that “old” Trek is still going.

    The 2nd (new) timeline is the one that started when Nero’s ship jumped out and destroyed the Kelvan.

    So JJ Abrams (not so) cleverly came up with a way to avoid all canon and character issues by simply creating a new universe for them.

  318. Em

    Mamporerra,
    I appreciate your comments. Surely Kirk is not captain as early because of the death of his father… his inspiration for joining Star Fleet. And in Spok’s timeline (whether in this or an alternate universe) that didnt happen, so Kirk was inspired, joined earlier and became captain sooner.

    Also, if Spok came from another reality, then there would be more differences than those created by the presence of the Romulan ship… Differences that can’t be explained by the time travel theory… although, in the series, Chekov joined the Enterprise much later, which may be a difference between the two realities…

    Does everyone agree with Mamporrera??? This film depicts a different universe to that of the DS9, TNG etc that we know? An alternate reality, not an alternate timeline??…

  319. Ray

    Glenn Kirkland,

    I would accept your character analysis except for one important point; they aren’t in the old timeline. TOS Character canon is no more. Kirk’s grand theft auto moment can be attributed to Kirk being raised by a stepfather instead of his father who wasn’t killed in the attack. The similar lack of a Finnegan and Kirk’s lack of seriousness can also be attributed to the changed timeline.

    As for Spock and Uhura, I thought that Enterprise changed the pon farr “rules” to some extent.

    In other words, fanboi analysis fails to deliver when the alternate universe/timeline is present.

  320. Andrew

    I took the supernova “destroying the galaxy” more metaphorically meaning a destabilized Romulan Empire and its effects on “galactic peace.” However, I agree with everything you said including the possibilities of a new series. In short, I think JJ has revitalized what was basically a tired franchise.

    Also, re: canon…let it go folks. Yes, consistency of story arks is nice but c’mon, we’re talking about a sci-fi series here. Different writers coming in and out.

  321. I did not see the science of love addressed.Nichell Nichols was the first woman to share a televised interracial kiss with Captain Kirk. I am glad to see Abrams followed through on the original chemistry between the totally logical Spock and the emotionally charged humanitarian Uhura. You can read the review@www.workshoptypes.com.

  322. The Squid

    Too bad you didn’t read the comic Star Trek: Countdown, which informs you that the supernova isn’t an ordinary supernova; it converts the mass of destroyed objects into energy, increasing the amount of energy available to it.

    (not necessarily saying that works, but it is a better explanation than “oh noes, a supernova”)

  323. It may be alternate reality, but there’s still the issue of the time travel. It wasn’t completely clear to me when spock did his time travel back to this period of the movie.

  324. clem

    My comment , without getting too technical is this:
    warp drive is evectively light speed or more.
    to escape a black hole , which they hadn’t even entered yet , then any velocity faster than light would have done the trick. as kirk says “get us to warp” and the reply was “we already are”
    OR….. if someone can correct me about a relationship between blackhole mass and required velocities to escape the event horizon ,depending on that level of mass???
    AS far as my limited scientific knowledge can comprehend , if the enterprise hadn’t crossed the event horizon then warp1 or 99.9999999999999% of warp would have adequate.

  325. Mike

    @ccpeterson: Spock Prime (spock from the old ST timeline) jumped from a point occuring a few years after the end of Voyager (if I remember the dates correctly). So everything that’s ever happened in any ST series ever had already happened before his accident.

    The only thing that’s bogging my brain right now is the fact that Nero arrived 25 years earlier than Spock. Theoretically, that should have shunted them both into separate alternate timelines (they would both go backwards to the date where Spock would appear, and then Nero would immediately go back again from that new timeline to yet another one 25 years earlier).

  326. # Robert Carnegie Says:
    The latest [Red Dwarf] episodes explained that around 2010 people went back to using video tapes, because you always lose DVDs. Not so, a nice, bulky VHS video cassette. So, yeah, Trek’s in the future, it uses VHS. :-)

    1) but if it’s an alternate timeline, wouldn’t it be Betamax?

    2) as long as it’s not Real Player

    J/P=?

  327. Murasaki_enpitsu

    I am glad at least a few people remembered The Man Trap…that Vulcan has no moons. =P

    Great movie, great review.

  328. Okay, as one of the original Trekkers (we came in just after the Trekkies), I have to say that I really enjoyed this movie. It’s not the best Trek I’ve ever seen, but it is pretty damn far above the worst. I enjoyed the “alternate universe” twist, but I think the writers have written themselves into a hole on this one.

    SPOILERS
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :
    :

    Given everything we know about the Trek universe, both the old and the new, there is absolutely no way that this little pocket alt. universe they’ve created can last for any more than 129 years, max. Think about it. This alternate universe was created by the destruction of Romulus. But Romulus was destroyed because Spock (who apparently was the only person in the federation close enough to Romulus to even attempt to stop the supernova that destroyed Romulus), arrived too late to save it.

    But now, in our new pocket alt. universe, everyone knows that Romulus will be destroyed in 129 years unless something is done to prevent it. And you don’t need time travel to prevent it. Kirk’s first mission could be to destroy the star that is destined to go supernova, thereby preventing the destruction of Romulus in 129 years, which would prevent Nero and Spock prime from being sucked into the black hole, which would prevent the creation of the new pocket universe. Depending on how you manage your time paradoxes, that could end the existance of the pocket alternate universe right there. And if nothing else, are we to believe that in 129 years Starfleet would ignore the known impending destruction of Romulus and permit genocide? Of course not, especially knowing that the result of their ignoring it would be the destruction of Vulcan as well. Every ship in the fleet would be there to make sure that the supernova was destroyed in time to prevent Nero’s vengeance.

    So enjoy this pocket alt. universe while you can. Logically, it shouldn’t be around for very long.

  329. Sparky

    MadScientist: Why do we have to shave the mouse?

  330. Sparky

    AlphaSuede: Don’t give up so easily. The center of a planet may have zero gravity, but it has millions of atmospheres of pressure, so the red matter might indeed be condensed:

    http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-06/real-center-earth

    Anyway, loved your explanation! A very creative way around a huge plot hole.

  331. Steve

    Another thought on the whoosh-on-warp thing: If the drive is warping space, it’s generating gravity waves. Intense gravity-wave noise would induce vibrations, possibly audio-frequency, in an observer’s ship, or even directly in his earbones.

    I liked the movie, overall. Red matter was a classic Trek McGuffin, but why was there a shipyard on the *ground?*

    As for the time travel, the only author I’ve ever encountered who did that well was Heinlien, and he’s no longer available.

  332. Jonathan

    Here is another thing that bugged me, assuming that the transporter technology is possible, isn’t it still ridiculous for Kirk and Scotty to transport onto the Enterprise when the ship is A) light years away and B) traveling at warp and C) when they they don’t have its exact coordinates in space?

  333. JayD

    In the scene where the Enterprise is heading at warp speed to Vulcan, why don’t they know that the Federation ships have been destroyed or that the Romulan ship is in orbit? Why are they surprised and end up having to avoid all the debris? What happened to “long range sensors?”

    The way the Enterprise travels at warp speed in the movie, it’s as if the crew can’t tell what’s going on outside the ship.

  334. Calarius

    There is a reason Voltaire did a song calling it the “USS Make-S***-Up”.

  335. weemanafghan

    With reference to the blue sky of Vulcan, the Vulcan in the movie is not the Vulcan of the TV series which is now a new repository for Vulcan culture, presumably,cos the blue sky Vulcan got blown up or maybe the old planet in the old time line had a red sky and and now because the Blue sky Vulcan got blew up it never will exist. my head hurts. So the old Vulcan, we all no and love, never existed. All that original ST future history has gone, throw it in the bin (trash) and start again.So either Vulcan has blue sky or it has a red sky,the big question is can it have both? I think.The Church of the Red sky Vulcans or the Chuch of the Blue sky Vulcans.Can the new movie be considered as part of the old canon or is this Star Trek: The Reformation.

  336. Arby

    Nitpicking dork is right. Reality is boring. That’s WHY we go see movies.

    What really irks me as the lamest “science” complaint is that space doesn’t “carry” sound. So what? How do you explain the MUSIC that’s playing during most action scenes?! Are we to believe that in the future, orchestras are hiding all over the place to help enhance ambience?

  337. Crux Australis

    I’m not a Trekkie, I’m just going to enjoy the movie and laugh at the physics. That is all.

  338. Brian

    After The Final Battle, the Enterprise gets too close to the black hole! They’re getting drawn in, and Scotty says that if they eject the warp core and blow it up, the explosion might propel them to safety.

    I thought there was actually a proposed means of propulsion that involved basically dropping nuclear bombs out of the back of a spaceship and blowing them up to propel you forward. Wouldn’t this work on the same principle?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

  339. I just wanted to add, re Saturn that Titan is further away than was shown in the film. It’s insignificant, but the whole Titan scene really stuck in my craw. That being said, this film rocked and I’d recommend it to anyone, Trekkie or not. (I’m not.)

  340. Winter Solstice Man

    Star Trek 11 is crap, pure and simple, both for the franchise and as a film in general.

    All true Trekkers should reject and avoid this horrible attempt to cash in on the series. Anyone who thinks this popcorn summer dreck is great and can’t see the Iowa canyon sized holes in the plot and science deserves it.

    Quality and intelligence are clearly dying in this world.

  341. Viral

    I liked you analysis of the movie, it was in depth, and understandable for those of us with no true scientific background.

    Even your explaining yourself at the end was nice lol.

    But I must add one thing to it. For as much as there was a “temporal prime directive”, I think that was thrown out the window with this film. Especially with Nimoy’s Spock ending up in this timeline. The movie was excellent nonetheless and like you, I would love to see them continue with this group of actors if not starting a new series with these characters.

    I may not be an original Trekkie, but it was definitely an excellent movie. (Minus the menagerie of bright lights on the bridge)

  342. I couldn’t agree with poster #378 more.

    I finally got a chance to see Star Trek this weekend. It was clearly obvious that JJ Abrams is not a Star Trek fan. Much of the special effects were a sloppy CGI nightmare like Transformers was and this seems to be a new trend now with tech action packed movies. Shake the camera, do numerous extreme close ups, and put a bunch of visual stuff up at once for brief moments so you don’t really know what happened but it gives you the illusion of looking cool.

    My grade as a sci-fi movie: B-
    My grade as a Star Trek movie: C-

    Things I didn’t like:
    • JJ Abrams pipe fetish – seriously the scenes of the Enterprise engine room and where they built the Enterprise on Earth (which in itself was ridiculous). I felt like I was on the USS Titanic anytime they showed the engine room of the Enterprise
    • I felt like I was watching Willy Wonka & the Chocolate factory when Scotty got sucked into the water pipe in the engine room
    • the warp nacelles of the Enterprise were way too BIG
    • JJ Abrams & many directors of latest CGI based films have a fetish to do extreme close ups and shake camera up to confuse us during a busy scene
    • Very lame space battles that once again, suffered camera shake and extreme close-ups with too much stuff going on to take anything in
    • Kirk gets out of Starfleet, goes from Cadet to 1st officer in 2 min and then captain shortly after without earning the position at all
    • Everyone on planet Vulcan took a stupid pill while they watched a giant drill shooting a beam into their planet
    • Everyone on planet Earth took a stupid pill while they watched a giant drill shooting a beam into their planet. The drill could easily be disabled with a handgun as Kirk did on planet Vulcan. Seriously nobody had a fighter jet or shuttle craft that could shoot it down? Oh wait, only cadet Kirk was smart enough to save us..well not really, Spock had to fly the Phantom Menace ship and shoot a few phaser shots at it. Kirk was too busy getting his a.ss kicked again
    • Every other scene either shows us Kirk getting his a.ss kicked or falling off a ledge holding on by his finger tips
    • Spocks future ship was a rip off of the water ship in Phantom Menace and didn’t resemble anything at all from the Star Trek world
    • Spock gets marooned on an ice planet years before the destruction of his planet. He knows there is a federation outpost within walking distance and doesn’t bother to warn the Federation or Vulcan of the pending doom?
    • Spock just happens to be on the same planet as Scotty whom is so brilliant that he himself is marooned on that planet too
    • Nero was a very weak character, worse than the Romulan clone from Nemesis
    • Future Romulan ship firing missles? Are you kidding me?
    • Red matter was stupid, at least use something trekkies could relate to like the Omega particle
    • I don’t understand how destroying Vulcan and the Federation could save the Romulan home world? The reason for Nero to go psycho was disingenuous
    • No visual effects of shield impacts on any of the Federation ships
    • 90210 love opera between Spock and Ahura – really takes away from Spocks character
    • grim view of Federation and future for humanity that is stuck in a grungy world surrounded by pipes, and federation officers looking for bar fights
    • too many plugs for Budweiser and Nokia
    • the music lacked epic proportion
    • the film had very little Star Trek feeling to it
    • the creature enters Captain Pikes mouth and its supposed to wrap around his cerebral cortex??
    • Orion Slave girl in Starfleet academy

    Things I did like:
    • The Kobyashi maru test was hilarious
    • The portrayals of the main characters – excellent actors chosen (sans Nero and the rest of the Romulan thugs). Romulans are supposed to be cold yet calculating. These creatures seemed to be more like the Remans and it would have made more sense to identify them as such
    • Excellent dramatic moment when Kirks father sacrifices himself to save his wife, child and crew
    • Good humor in the movie kept it entertaining even during the bad science parts and poor story telling moments
    • Lack of sound when getting sucked out into space
    • Ahura was hot!

    Overall I did find the movie entertaining and I nitpick all of the Star Trek movies, but my gripes were a bit longer in this one. Personally I’d rather see Rick Berman producing Star Trek again. He was really good at tieing in all of the shows and keeping a consistant storyline. I will continue to support Trek and see the new movies but no fancy CGI effects or young 90210 actors to increase sex appeal will ever replace the charm, and feeling of the 5 Star Trek TV series and X previous movies. This Next Generation of Star Trek is just too radically different and feels to similar to other SciFi stuff that has already been done IMO. If anything, this movie has inspired me to re-watch past Trek movies and find a new appreciation for them.

  343. Lunch Patterson

    Wait a minute, I think I figured out why the science doesn’t work in Star Trek… It’s a movie.

  344. Jeremy

    I enjoyed the movie too, and of course we all understand science fiction requires the suspension of disbelief. Still, you have an excellent point that “in good science there’s always better stuff for movies.” In that spirit, I REALLY wish a good movie with this many black holes would have shown the visual distortion effects around black holes. We could have seen Einstein rings with the inner image of the sky counter-rotating as the Enterprise orbits the hole, light aberration as the Enterprise was trying to escape the big black hole, and I don’t know what else, probably a lot more. That would have been seriously cool and would not have taken away from anything in the plot.

  345. Fantasm

    Umm The whole Supernova destroying the galaxy bit was wrong too…
    Even if it expands at light speed, the energy would still take years to reach other stars… and hundreds if not thousands of years to destroy a galaxy… even if it had that much energy…

  346. Alexander

    OK, the movie is cool. OK, it is a parallel universe, so let JJA show us what can he do. OK, black holes, red or blue or stripped matter, and a red-shirt dying seconds after he appears on screen (Cool, this is really Trek!). No sound on space, whoosh, colourful destructive beams…

    Let’s say I am a Romulan that knows the future: a gamma-ray burst (not a supernova!) will destroy all life in my home planet. Let’s say I have technology that outcomes everything that exists. Logically, I sit 25 years to wait the one I blame for the loose of my wife… not to go Romulus with all my evidences and tech, warn them, and then sit to watch how Romulus has only the Borg to be afraid of.

    The movie is funny, but the plain thing is hovering over a script black hole. As usual in Holywood. Sorry. I can’t buy it. And sorry, this is NOT Trek. This is a Max-Mix with Star Wars… and if Empire Soldiers never hits right, and red shirts always die even when are not being shooted… Imagine a battle!

  347. I’m disappointed that someone like Phil Plait can analyze the science with such skill but it doesn’t translate when it comes to the artistry. The writing is astonishingly bad in this film, just alarmingly so! So little in it makes any sort of dramatic sense at all – it’s all so contrived for a series of special effects and action sequences to take over and reignite the property for a profit, not for any creative achievement. Dumb is dumb in science, certainly – but dumb is dumb in creative endeavors as well and this movie was really, really dumb.

  348. Jeremy

    Okay, Sylar (#384), you caught me, I do happen to be a homosexual. Exactly what does that have to do with sci-fi critique? I thought my remark was pretty reasonable, but if you want to say that homosexuality is somehow related to an insistence on complete scientific accuracy in science-fiction film, that would be an interesting new stereotype.

    In any case, I think the element on this blog that gives Star Trek fans a bad name is the inarticulate sputterer of bigotry, who can’t find anything more sensible to say than an anti-homosexual epithet that is insulting in modern context and refers in bloody history to the practice of burning people at the stake in the name of ignorant and corrupt religious leadership, all so contrary to Gene Roddenberry’s vision for the world.

    One of the things I admire most about Star Trek was the careful attention they paid to creating a post-prejudice world. The original series featured a multiracial cast at a time when that was controversial on TV. Bigots who hide behind slurs and epithets could stand to learn from the positive message about our society’s future that Star Trek has always represented.

    Sylar will probably remind everyone, as if I haven’t just said it, that I am a fag. That’s not the term I prefer, but I suppose it gets the point across that I happen to be an eligible bachelor ISO similar. I’m not terribly interested in what a troll like Sylar says; I just thought it was important for the blog not to let abuse like that go unanswered.

  349. GuruOfChem

    @Clark – you assume that the temporal divergence is a loop or bubble, rather than a branch. If this alternate is a branch off the original ST timeline, then it can literally go wherever the writers wish it to go in perpetuity.

    Liked the movie in general, as did my less-Trekkie family, but I agree with the earlier posters on the camera shake and the blurry effect during fast action sequences – there was WAY too much of it. I loved the effect in “Firefly,” but Whedon was pretty careful not to overuse it, unlike Abrams, who took it to an extreme that was quite unnecessary.

    Oh – and anyone criticizing the writing on the movie, have you EVER watched the original series? Some awfully campy and sketchily written stuff there, folks. I thought the reboot was fairly reasonable in its writing, with lots of little homages to the original series while establishing itself as a distinct entity. I also hope that the moral predicaments and quandaries faced by the original crew come back in the next movie; now that we have the gang together, let’s get to know them instead of blowing up everything in sight.

  350. GuruOfChem

    If this blog is moderated, how did Sylar’s comment make it past the censors? And can I request that it be removed as irrelevant and insulting?

  351. Jeremy, I deleted Sylar’s comment due to it violating my commenting policy.

  352. «bønez_brigade»

    Finally saw the new Trek last weekend (and thus _finally_ read this review). The movie gets a B; Phil’s review gets an A. Y’know, it’s getting more & more difficult to watch sci-fi w/o rolling eyes and thinking, “yeah, right!” It’s definitely the fault of all those lazy directors/producers/writers/andallothernoninvestigativemoviepeoplez. [yeah, I know the Cassini lead had some input; but such things tend to fall on deaf ears in the land of film-making.]

  353. Nestorslanding

    K i like the article! good writing and everything! but the only thing is, that the scientific plausibility, or possibility of things occurring in a Science FICTION movie is superfluous. like sure a supernova cant blow up a galaxy, or red matter couldn’t really implode a planet… but the thing is, who really cares? that’s the whole thing behind fiction is the fact that in fiction or science fiction, you can do anything, what happens doesnt really have to have a basis on the reality of it, it just has to bring the story to the next point. science fiction is just a way of telling a story in a way that it could not otherwise be told, and to use a story to explain an idea or portray a belief or a truth about something, it doesn’t matter weather the science really works or not, hence the name science fiction.
    but other than that good writing :)

  354. StevoRaine

    Conveniencitis. Major case thereof..

    Sorry the Spock -Kirk meeting on Delta Vega I do just NOT buy.

    Incidentally; 40 Eridani a.k.a. Omicron Eridani = Keid,

    Vega = a star known as Alpha Lyrae, the fifth brightest star in our sky is an A0 dwarf star like Sirius located 27 lightyears away.

    There is no constellation Vega.

    Hmm…make of that what you will but seems bad astronomy to me..

    Fun movie, some great scenes (esp. after the credits rolled worth staying in your seat for) some good, funny dialogue and twists.

    Yet some issues :

    Why is Uhura suddenly such a .. er .. lady of loose morals? Where did that scene come from w Spock after he’s just lost his home planet and she’s going all mega-seductive & lustful now on him? Creepy & out of character if y’ask me.

    Plus a juvenile deliquent (even a genius one) gets promoted in five minutes or so to captain of the flagship? R-i-i-i-ght. :roll:

    Red matter. :roll: Could have come up with better.

    Summary – its a nice Science fantasy movie but … well more’n trifle unconvincing even when you’re trying to make some allowances. :-(

    The Lost (the plot) guy has lost the plot again … pretty much.

    Still twas a good movie to turn your brain off to and just watch. Fun.
    But on reflection … some major flaws offsetting some pretty neat stuff done as well.

    6 & 1/2 out of 10 from me.

    (Plus 9/10 for the BA’s review.)

  355. As Mihai has pointed out, 40 Eri B & C are waaaaaay far away from 40 Eri A. According to
    http://www.stellar-database.com/Scripts/search_star.exe?Name=40+eridani , the PAIR would have a combined visual magnitude of only -7.68 when viewed from a standpoint on (or near) 40 Eri A.

  356. And … did you just call her “Uhuru”?

    Last I heard, she was “Uhura”, with an “a” on the end. Although being named after an orbital X-ray telescope WOULD be pretty cool.

  357. RickRussellTX

    With respect to “red matter”, and the boring name thereof, I wonder if the filmmakers were making reference to the mythological “red mercury”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_mercury

  358. Rick Cain

    Why would Nero even be angry, he and spock were transported back in time before the destruction of Romulus, so essentially they not only get a free “do-over”, they know the exact stardate and time when the supernova occurs. Why not just take their advanced technologies, go to their respective homes and wait a few decades for the event.

    A sad waste of a character. They always say a movie is only as good as its bad guy, so this one wasn’t so great.

  359. Somnambulist

    The thing that confused me is if you are going to destroy a planet with a black hole, why do you need to dig to the center of it? Couldn’t you just start it from the surface or near the surface? It eats the planet either way.

  360. CC

    My only question is how did a seemingly fratboy cadet get to be first officer and then captain? No where in the movie did they say how brilliant he was in the academy? The only distinction he got was he tested off the charts in a test and that he cheated on the Kobayashi Maru test.

    At least show how he cheated on the tested. Show that he was as smart as the geeks but could party like Michael Phelps and still be better then anyone else

  361. D Gary Grady

    In movies, rockets and missiles being launched, canons firing, pile-drivers pounding, and so on all make sound in sync with the picture no matter how far they are from the camera. In reality, the comparatively lethargic speed of sound puts it noticeably out of sync with a visible sound source more than about 60 or 70 meters away. So if you want to complain about sounds in vacuo in science fiction movies, have at it, but if you REALLY want to nit-pick, gripe about canon bangs transmitted at the speed of light in pirate movies!

  362. KTR

    I agree with all the complaints about wiping away important cultural history with this reboot (the Kirk/Uhura kiss in the 1960s was a specific and important moment in the history of US race relations, and now JJ Abrams has rendered it absurd, when that wasn’t necessary.

    My complaint about the movie is simply bad and stupid writing. There is no reason why the Vulcans and the Earthlings can’t attack that stupid sky-drill with their spaceships and defenses. Basically, Kirk and Sulu destroy the thing with a few phaser blasts. No one on Vulcan was capable of flying up there and doing the same? Are you KIDDING me? And all the people of Earth can do is run around crying “We’re gonna die!”?

    Next, how utterly convenient that Spock maroons a fellow Starfleet Officer on an ice planet that JUST HAPPENS to be the place where Old Man Spock is. There are conicidneces, then there are coincidences, and then there is BAD WRITING IN THE FORM OF PLOT CONTRIVANCE.

    Look, just beaming down on a planet would defy odds of you landing next to any specific individual (we’re talking about a PLANET here, not a 7-11), but landing next to the individual that would also give you KEY INFORMATION to make your plot work out is ABSURD.

    Bad writing. Really bad writing. IF you can’t get that part right, then you’re screwed at the blueprint stage, let alone unveiling the building you construct on those blueprints.

  363. pvrug

    With respect to those who are talking about the exploding warp core creating a wave or fold in space time to propel the Enterprise out of the grasp of the black hole at the movie’s climax:

    Even in the technobabble/psuedoscience of the Trek universe, this could not have happened – it is the ‘ample nacelles’ (as Scotty called them) that create the warp field. The antimatter/matter are brought together in the reactor core, and the resulting ‘plasma stream’ (or whatever) is then routed up into the nacelles and through the warp field coils, and THOSE are what creates the warp field. So simply having a matter/antimatter explosion create a warp field (even in the implausible physics of the Trek universe) seems out of the question.

    How do I know all this? I am an unbelievably DORKY Trek geek! Or at least I was at one time and can’t believe I still know stuff like this…

    I really enjoyed the movie, despite (most of) the bad science. But then, it IS fiction, and it IS Star Trek, so I try to keep those things in mind and just enjoy the story and action.

  364. Stone Age Scientist

    KTR @ #401:

    Yes, the movie was indeed a bit much on the plot contrivances. But plot contrivances are plot contrivances, Star Trek was never meant to be The Maltese Falcon. It is pretty obvious that with this latest instalment of Star Trek, one has to suspend disbelief. In all of Star Trek’s history, whether on television or on the big screen, the plottings never did make any real sense. This is true of DS9 and Voyager, too. Why is this? This is because Star Trek had so much more up for consideration. Of course, I’m not saying that how they plot the stories is not important; what I’m trying to say is that there are other things besides plotting that the writers wished to project. Things like the hit-and-miss science, interplanetary friendship, teamwork & bridge chemistry in the face of adversity and suspense, derring-do & valor (what I love most about this Star Trek), and the search for the meaning of life. Obviously, they sacrificed correctness in order to give these other considerations a larger-than-life presentation, thus creating an imbalance. Now, when it comes to movies, who says that all the narrative elements must be balanced? Certainly not in a deliciously silly movie such as this.

    While the plot contrivances may have been a liability, they’re really small compared to what the movie has achieved by way of capturing the essence of Star Trek. Gene Rodenberry is lost? I don’t think so. He’s there all right when Spock gave the Vulcan Science Academy the “Live Long & Prosper” finger. I think it’s high time that Star Trek cuts back on philosophical ponderings, and instead live these philosophies at heart; of course, while also being fun and silly.

  365. Stone Age Scientist

    Actually, not many people realise this, but the latest Star Trek is really just a vehicle of introduction. Or, should I say, reintroduction. It doesn’t follow slow, conventional storytelling. The choice of the director’s breakneck style may be odd and jarring, but not totally improper. It could have been done more properly, but as we can all see, people (including many estimable critics) love it the way it is.

  366. Soragesum

    Orginally didn’t care about this movie comming out (based upon the last few trek movies). I liked the original trek when I watched the re-runs growing up, and loved TNG, didn’t care that much about the others. However my tastes changed forever when I saw Firefly and then subsequently the new BSG.. THAT’S how space scifi should be done. Firefly and BSG are so good that they make other sci-fi stuff look horrible by comparison.

    But seeing the trailers, and then hearing so many people rave about it, I decided to see it in the theater instead of waiting for DVD. Overall.. I did “enjoy” the movie. It was better than I expected when I heard they were makign another Trek movie. I might have enjoyed it more if my expectations hadn’t been raised by all the praise I heard for the film.

    Yes.. much of what I am going to say is nit-picky.. but what frustrates me is that every one of the nit-picks could have been fixed and actually made it an even BETTER movie, oh.. by about a factor of 100.

    What I didn’t like:

    1) Kirk being born at the instant of his father taking command of the ship and sacraficing himself.. while having a conversation with his wife about what to name the child?!?! Sorry.. but that was totally ridiculous and unecisary drama for drama’s sake.

    2) Kirk in the bar trying to pick up Uhura and getting into a fight.. OK he’s a trouble maker. The kid who drives his Father-in-law’s (?) car off the cliff… not ok.. he’s a total prick. If I was the father-in-law.. Kirk wouldn’t have seen his next birthday.. end of movie.

    3) The enterprise being built on earth instead of space. Unrealistic and simply there to show a shot of kirk riding up to it on his motorcycle. We still end up seeing this big reveal of the enterprise in space.. so the first one was unrealistic AND unecissary.

    4) Nero’s ship.. a mining ship? Why does this “mining ship” look like the harbringer of death straight out of a nightmare? It should look like a romulon version of a space based “oil” platform… not the harbringer of death. Ok.. I can see it having weapon’s on it.. but armed to the teeth? Ok.. ok.. ok.. maybe that’s the way the romulan’s are. But that’s a weak rationalization.

    5) As people mentioned.. the whole “supernova threatening the entire galaxy”

    6) Ok.. so let me get this straight. Supernova explodes.. it’s going to destroy romulus, Spock and the vulcan’s agree to help. Spock goes off in his ship this enormous ball of “red matter”, even though he only needs a drop of it. Then the “unexpected” happens.. the supernova destroys Romulous. How can it be “unexpected” if it’s exactly what Spock was trying to stop from happening? Wasn’t that the point that it WAS immenate and expected? So the only thing that was “unexpected” was that Spock got there too late?? So with ALL the science involved in trying to stop a supernova.. Spock simply miscalculates how long it takes to get from point A to point B??? The SIMPLIEST calcuation in ALL of this movie? He simply doesn’t leave on time? WTF?

    7) Romulan harebrinnger of death mining ship is simply built of platform after platform above a bottomless pit with no guardrails or anything? Ok.. Romulan’s are bad ass or whatever.. but one single blast of a photon torpedo against the shields that just rocked the ship unexpectedly would send most of the crew of the ship hurtling towards their death. Ok.. it’s a mining ship not meant for battle or to be in a situation like that.. then why again is it armed to the teeth? A coal mine, which is a deathtrap, has more safty precautions than this ship. I could only by the ship the way it was designed if Romulans could fly.

    8) Drilling into the center of the planet? Really? Why not just drop a drop of red matter into the atmosphere. Wouldn’t a black hole anywhere within a planet’s gravitational pull eventually destroy the planet? If you want to make sure.. just drop the drop onto the surface? Why the need to drill to the center of the planet? Not to mention all the problems of doign so.

    9) Not to mention that thank’s a lot Kirk and Spock… way to go.. you stopped Nero.. but you just created a black hole in earth’s orbit. Wouldn’t that destroy the earth? If not immediatly, eventually?

    10) The first creature we saw on the ice planet comming after Kirk was fine. I could easily see that creature evolving in that environment. But what about that starship trooper reject bug creature… bright red? Really? Not only would it make it potentiall visible to even bigger prey, the prey that it’s after would see it comming from a mile away. Ok.. so it tunneled underground.. but it didn’t do it again when it was chasing after kirk. And why did it ignore the prey it just killed to go after kirk that was proably about 1/4th the size or less?

    11) Umm… as mentioned.. how about Nero acutally going to warn the Romulans that in 129 years there will be a supernova that will destroy the planet, so let’s plan for it NOW. Oh.. and btw.. here’s a bunch of 129 year advanced technology AND red matter for you guys to play with, let’s go conqour the federation.

    12) Lens flairs!! I don’t think there were enough lens flairs! Did JJ get sent back to the 80′s and discover photoshop 1 for the first time or what?

    13) They missed a fantastic opportunity to turn a cliche on it’s head. The sky jump scene should have had Kirk and several other “nobodies”. Kirk should have been the one to have been wearing the “red shirt”. What a better way to give a shout out to the original series, but turn the cliche on it’s head than to have Kirk being the redshirt on an away mission, yet be the one that SURVIVES, while everyone else dies!!!

    14) Ok.. Is there any reason why kirk wasn’t immediatly thrown in the brig for even being on the enterprise in the first place? Ok.. I will buy that there is a relationship between him and Pike, where Pike gives him a lot more lattitude than he would anyone else.. but they didn’t EARN that.. they only very loosly hinted at it.

    15) McCoy getting kirk on the enterprise was far-fetched to say the least. No way they are just going to let a sick peron on the ship in the first place, let alone one that specifically was banned from being on their pending a legal hearing. What.. the security guy is going to listen to some doctor who hadn’t even graduated starfleet yet? Isn’t that right.. starfleet is a 4 year program… but we were only 3 years into it? So either EVERYONE that was joining starfleet when Kirk did also graduated in 3 years like Kirk apparently did.. or they all have 1 year left to go.. which is it?

    16) The Coby ashie Marro (sp?).. hated that it was the 3rd time Kirk took it that he succeeded. Would have been better for it to be the first time. Why would they even let someone retake it?

    17) The engine room of the enterprise.. why does it look like a brewery? Oh wait.. it was a brewery? And why does it have huge transparent tubes for water to flow everywhere? And if you open up those tubes.. only about 10 gallons of water come pouring out.

    18) Spock sitting on that planet waiting for Vulcan to be destroyed instead of going to the outpost to try to warn Vulcan?

    19) Why would there only be one outpost on a planet/moon so close to one of the main federation planets?

    20) Ok.. Nero is crazy and will wait around for decades to extract his revenge.. what about the rest of his crew though? Hmm… I wouldn’t sit around for 3 decades doing nothing but stewing becuase the captain is a lunitic

    21) Should I go on? There’s more! :)

    What I did like:

    1) Gernally liked the new actor’s playing the characters. Checkov being the exception
    2) Loved the limited sound in space.. especially the person getting sucked out into space.
    3) Loved there being more than ONE phaser on the enterprise
    4) Didn’t mind a plot device to reboot the series
    5) Loved seeing the vulcan “bullies”… makes logical sense that Spock would be the victim of racisim.
    6) Realistic or not.. the space drop scene was AWSOME! We’re on an express elevator to hell… going down! Hmm.. does seem that JJ just ripped of the best pieces of other space sci-fi and shoe-horned them into this movie.
    7) Loved seeing some emotion from Spock.. and actually like the Uhura/Spock thing.. not to mention giving Uhura’s job more weight than just repeating what the computer says.
    8) Green babes.. can’t get enough of green babes!
    9) Loved the kind of bolt action of the hand phasers as opposed to the continous laser stream.
    10) Loved seeing Kirk take the No-win-senerio test. Just wish it wasn’t his third time taking it.
    11) Loved seeing that the Elder Spock realized that in ANY timeline.. he “FEELS” that it’s imparitive that Kirk take command of the enterprise and that him and the younger Spock become friends.
    12) Loved that the Elder Spock new that Kirk would know how to push the younger Spock’s buttons and that they would become friends, without over revealing too much about his own timeline.
    13) Loved the purpose of the now out of his time elder spock to help rebuilt vulcan society. What could be a better destiny for Spock?

    Again.. I did enjoy the movie.. but all my nit-picks could have been fixed, still maintained the flavor of the story, and made a phenomenal startrek intead of just an entertaining one.

  367. Vito

    I believe that the supernova (somehow) emanated a sub-space shockwave (like Praxis) and as it destroyed stars and planets, the matter was converted into energy which in turn fed the subspace shockwave. If this were to happen, it could go on infinetley.

    The drill could also be cortarizing the hole as it drilled, holding back the sides from sliding in. It may have also been why the drill had to be in the atmosphere to work, to ionize the air as it drilled.

    Since we don’t know what red matter is/does, we can’t say why it doesn’t work as in the movie. It may need a negative gravity like might exist at the core of a planet, or the heat generated that will be constant around the whole of the (spherical) blob o’ red matter. Any way, the fact that Vulcan (or the Narada) are less than the required 1.5 suns circumference needed to create a black hole is irrelevant because the red matter will ALWAYS compensate for that.

  368. Vito

    From response 405

    I had to rebutt some of his/her erroneous comments:

    1) Kirk being born at the instant of his father taking command of the ship and sacraficing himself.. while having a conversation with his wife about what to name the child?!?! Sorry.. but that was totally ridiculous and unecisary drama for drama’s sake.
    ——— subjective

    2) Kirk in the bar trying to pick up Uhura and getting into a fight.. OK he’s a trouble maker. The kid who drives his Father-in-law’s (?) car off the cliff… not ok.. he’s a total prick. If I was the father-in-law.. Kirk wouldn’t have seen his next birthday.. end of movie.
    ——– Kirk was 12 in the car scene. It wasn’t his father-in-law. It was either an uncle or his step-father (depending on what you’ve read) and the car was his fathers that the uncle/sf was going to sell.

    3) The enterprise being built on earth instead of space. Unrealistic and simply there to show a shot of kirk riding up to it on his motorcycle. We still end up seeing this big reveal of the enterprise in space.. so the first one was unrealistic AND unecissary.
    ——– could have been built in pieces on Earth and assembled in space.

    5) As people mentioned.. the whole “supernova threatening the entire galaxy”
    ———- see my 407

    6) Ok.. so let me get this straight. Supernova explodes.. it’s going to destroy romulus, Spock and the vulcan’s agree to help. Spock goes off in his ship this enormous ball of “red matter”, even though he only needs a drop of it. Then the “unexpected” happens.. the supernova destroys Romulous. How can it be “unexpected” if it’s exactly what Spock was trying to stop from happening? Wasn’t that the point that it WAS immenate and expected? So the only thing that was “unexpected” was that Spock got there too late?? So with ALL the science involved in trying to stop a supernova.. Spock simply miscalculates how long it takes to get from point A to point B??? The SIMPLIEST calcuation in ALL of this movie? He simply doesn’t leave on time? WTF?
    ——– he didn’t say the unexpected happened, he said the unthinkable. BIG DIFFERENCE.

    8) Drilling into the center of the planet? Really? Why not just drop a drop of red matter into the atmosphere. Wouldn’t a black hole anywhere within a planet’s gravitational pull eventually destroy the planet? If you want to make sure.. just drop the drop onto the surface? Why the need to drill to the center of the planet? Not to mention all the problems of doign so.
    ———— The red matter (may) need the core of the planet (heat/specific gravity) to induce the process.

    9) Not to mention that thank’s a lot Kirk and Spock… way to go.. you stopped Nero.. but you just created a black hole in earth’s orbit. Wouldn’t that destroy the earth? If not immediatly, eventually?
    ———— If you paid attention, you’d have seen Spock and the jellyfish go into warp and the Narada follow it. Then the Enterprise show up. At warp speed, they were far away from Earth and maybe even out of the solar system.

    12) Lens flairs!! I don’t think there were enough lens flairs! Did JJ get sent back to the 80’s and discover photoshop 1 for the first time or what?
    —————- subjective, not a science matter

    13) They missed a fantastic opportunity to turn a cliche on it’s head. The sky jump scene should have had Kirk and several other “nobodies”. Kirk should have been the one to have been wearing the “red shirt”. What a better way to give a shout out to the original series, but turn the cliche on it’s head than to have Kirk being the redshirt on an away mission, yet be the one that SURVIVES, while everyone else dies!!!
    —————- subjective, not a science matter

    15) McCoy getting kirk on the enterprise was far-fetched to say the least. No way they are just going to let a sick peron on the ship in the first place, let alone one that specifically was banned from being on their pending a legal hearing. What.. the security guy is going to listen to some doctor who hadn’t even graduated starfleet yet? Isn’t that right.. starfleet is a 4 year program… but we were only 3 years into it? So either EVERYONE that was joining starfleet when Kirk did also graduated in 3 years like Kirk apparently did.. or they all have 1 year left to go.. which is it?
    —————— Kirk was not assigned a ship. He was not banned from any ship. McCoy was a certified doctor and was in Starfleet Academy for specific training. He might not have to have put in 4 years. He was a specialist.

    16) The Coby ashie Marro (sp?).. hated that it was the 3rd time Kirk took it that he succeeded. Would have been better for it to be the first time. Why would they even let someone retake it?
    ———— This was told in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, that he took the test three times and his final solution was ….unique. (Kobiyashi Maru)

    17) The engine room of the enterprise.. why does it look like a brewery? Oh wait.. it was a brewery? And why does it have huge transparent tubes for water to flow everywhere? And if you open up those tubes.. only about 10 gallons of water come pouring out.
    —————- The tube that opened was to/from an overflow vat

  369. Randi Morgan

    Bad science and de-canonization aside: this trek-geek dating back from TOS loved it! I think JJ did an outstanding job of rebooting my beloved Trek which had been floating dead in the water for too many years. I’ve seen it three times now and i’d swear i’m a couple of years younger every time i leave the theatre!

    Now if someone can answer me this: How did Kirk get through all those fist fights and phaser fire without ripping his shirt once?

  370. Stone Age Scientist

    Hi Randi @ #409,

    You saw it three times already?! I saw it twice, and am thinking of seeing it again when it comes out in the double feature.

    Re your question: I think the fabric has to be strong enough to withstand the free fall they did on Vulcan (referring to what they wore on the drilling platform).

  371. Stone Age Scientist

    To Vito @ # 408, item # 17,

    Well, yeah, maybe the Enterprise engine room was a brewery. That could explain the pipes. And heck!! Come to think of it, it’s duty-free!!

  372. Miral DeCuir

    Well, after reading all your interesting comments I agree with the original writer of this review…Trek has always broken it’s own rules, but we all love it anyway, me included! It was an interesting and fast paced movie and even my non trek loving boyfriend thoroughly enjoyed it when I dragged him along with me to see it!

    I would also like to add that I found the lens flares (yes that’s how you REALLY spell it Mr 405!) an interesting and realistic touch, like we were watching a documentary rather than a movie, and they didn’t have time to mess with the camera angles because of all the drama going on. Although I think it was done a little too often for my taste, and did become a little annoying. However, a realistic touch nontheless.

    All in all another great Trek movie if you ask me!

  373. Daisy Witch

    I have seen this film 7 times now. Yep, seven. (And I am a girl, in case you were wondering.) Seven times and I still love it and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

    Yeah, the science isn’t perfect. It never was. The Great Bird of the Galaxy only ever wanted it to be plausible, not perfect. After all, it’s a TV show, not a college course. And if you’re so upset about the inaccuracy of the science that it makes you angry at the show…then why are you still watching it?

    Frankly, the only thing that still bothers me after 7 times is positions of the science and communications stations and the turbo lift on the bridge. Spock was to Uhura’s left and she sat to the left of the turbo lift, which was over Kirk’s left shoulder on the TOS bridge . However, on the TAOS (The Alternate Original Series) Spock is to Uhura’s right and the turbo lift has been moved to where the captain’s ready room is on the TNG bridge. FOR NO APPARENT REASON!!! I understand the new higher tech look and the larger size and all, but why rearrange the stations and move the lift?

    Remember.

  374. Stone Age Scientist

    Daisy Witch, I envy you.

    ~~~
    Has anyone noticed Chris Pine’s mole beneath his right ear? :) It disappeared when he gave the ultimatum to Nero.

  375. gdp

    Phil — Minor nitpicking quibble: Since most of the mass of a matter (or antimatter) atom is contained in the nucleons (antinucleons) making up its (anti)atomic nucleus, most of the energy released during matter/antimatter annihilation emerges via the “quanta” of the strong nuclear force — i.e., most of the energy comes out as moderately relativistic positive, negative, and neutral pions (typical KE ~ 600 MeV), not photons.

    The neutral pions _do_ rather promptly decay to gammas, but in vacuum, the charged pions will travel several tens of meters before decaying to an antimuon and a muon-neutrino, or a muon and a muon-antrineutrino, respectively. The muons and antimuons then travel around a kilometer or so further before decaying to electrons and positrons.

    While the positrons _may_ eventually annihilate to gammas, the bottom line is, the majority of the M/AM annihilation energy comes out as charged particle kinetic energy — not electromagnetic radiation, as is commonly (and falsely!) asserted.

  376. Dan

    A lot of good points made here.

    About the super nova threatening the galaxy. Spock simply could have said “threatened Romulus”. Then we could accept it was within a 50 ly radius of so of the planet.

    Spock witnesses the destruction of Vulcan from Delta Vega: No he doesn’t! Not literally.

    Remember when Spock sensed the Vulcan Starship Intrepid die in TOS, Immunity Syndrome? If he could sense hundreds die from light years away, why not billions? In other words he saw this in his mind thanks to his telepathic/empathic powers. If say Kirk had been there at the time, he would have looked up and seen nothing. This was Vulcan mysticism depicted with creative license against the backdrop of the DV sky, not a literal eye-witness experience from 200,000 miles away.

    That’s one way to rationalize it at least.

  377. norrie mAy-welby

    At what point in time does Scottie invent a technique he first hears of from his future self via future Spock?

    There’s a difference between science fiction and pop fiction, and it’s the difference between Gene Rodenberry’s artistic vision and this licenced franchise product : /

  378. norrie mAy-welby

    Star Drek: Called Star Trek, but mostly different actors and mostly different characters and totally different continuity (and totally different laws of physics) but with familiar names and accents and catch lines, a technically competent but soulless impersonation.

    There’s a difference between science fiction and pop fiction, and it’s the difference between Gene Rodenberry’s artistic vision and this corporate brand bland product : /

    For the love of science, for example, at what point in time does Scottie invent a technique he first hears of from his future self via future Spock?

    For the love of logic, how can Spock assert to his younger self that his is not their father? This is an illogical assertion, given that elder Spock now knows he can travel through time and easily interact with key figures in his history, including himself.

    And for the love of us, why tell us we could live in a Universe so scary that at any moment our entire galaxy may be consumed by supernovae? Fear mongers! Yes, supernovae happen, and at worst never affect further than 50 light years, which is a long way, but it’s a VERY big galaxy.

    Nor we need fear an assault of crazed megalomaniacs from the future with advanced technology. The universe is far more lovingly constructed than that. OK, that’s an emotional opinion, but you know what I mean, and it’s up to you to make your own truth by telling yourself your own story : )

    I love the inclusive pluralist and intellectual values of Roddenberry’s Star Trek, and reject the fear mongering and insults to intelligence marketed by the megacorporation milking its inherited property.

    Love well and prosper ; )

  379. Andy Fortifour

    I expected better from you, Phil. The more I thought about what I paid 10 bucks to see at the movie house, the more I concluded that this film was just plain bad. I agree on the actors characterizations; they were pretty good, especially Karl Urban.

    But when I go to see a Trek film, I want to see a couple or three things: a well-written script with a story and characters that made sense, some conflict and tension and action, and a good science fiction plot device thrown in. Wrath of Khan had all these, the latter being the Genesis device. This poorly-made film had none.

    Eric Bana’s bad guy was a cardboard cutout villain whose motivations made no sense at all. Abrams wiping out the original history was a cheap cop-out; better to just re-tell the story the way each new Batman or James Bond movie does. Time travel is the worst thing you can do to any science fiction show, even one like the silly cartoon Star Trek has become. The level of horrible science in this film cannot be glossed over so easily, Phil.

    Cries of “it’s just a movie” don’t wash here. Is this the Bad Astronomy movie review site or isn’t it?

  380. Montsecor

    Seriously Phil??? Unicorns??? How did you find that page??? — Wait… I don’t really want to know…

    And the review: Awesome – as always…

  381. Stone Age Scientist

    Andy Fortifour @ #419,

    The next instalment (12th) may just deliver what you want in a Star Trek film. As a fan, I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

  382. JakeR

    Job @ 46 said:

    Did you think of this Phil: the warp core is something that allows faster than light travel.

    So in the first encounter, Kirk’s daddy could have put his ship into warp speed and rammed it down the throat of the Romulan mining ship, putting an effectively infinite mass through its center and vaporizing it. Problem solved and no movie needed.

  383. fernando

    my god, i saw none of the things you post… then again i haven’t seen the movie yet

  384. R

    Well All I have to say about this movie is I wish it had gotten sucked into a black hole. It was the death of Star Trek. The writing was horrible, the acting atrocious. The coincidental polots where like something out of a kid’s D&D game. The plot holes large enough to fly Nemo’s ship through it. The star wars look and feel to the movie was painful. I fi want to watch star wars I’ll watch star wars if i want trek I’ll watch trek. This movie and anythign that follows it does not exist as far as I am concerned.

  385. Stone Age Scientist

    R @ #426:

    RESISTANCE…… IS FUTILE!!!!!

  386. DANTHEMAN

    I’ve never blogged before but I feel compelled to put in my 2 cents. First, I’ve never seen such bad spelling in my life. I read all the blogs and almost everyone misspelled the word too leaving off the second o. And #405 had so many mistakes, it was laughable.
    As far as the movie, I liked it. But I agree that the plot was too far-fetched to be taken seriously. Roddenberry’s origonal pilot, THE CAGE, was turned down by the network as being too cerebral. So the next pilot, WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE was chockful of action. It seems that this new movie has gone one step further; adding more action while dumbing down the elements that separate Trek from other Sci-fi series. Questions like, what does it mean to be human? Is there a God? Is there life after death? The old Trek was a morality play that made you think about unusual scenarios and question reality. Hopefully, the next Trek movie will return to the cerebral quality of the origonal series without sacrificing action and adventure. Anyone know why the Borg never work out? They believe that resistance is futile.

  387. Taylor

    I can live with bad physics in movies since it’s pretty much the rule rather than the exception these days. But for the love of god at least be consistent! Kirk, Sulu, and officer Redshirt don’t go through re-entry burn when they are space jumping onto the drill, but then several minutes later when Kirk is being marooned on Delta Vega we see a shot of the escape pod burning as it enters the atmosphere. Make up your mind J.J! Either have everything catch fire when it hits atmosphere or have nothing burn at all.

  388. L.E. Greys

    I’ve seen the film, and it was a spectacular, but it wasn’t Star Trek. I don’t know what happened to ‘exploring strange new worlds’ and ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’, but it disappeared long before this. Still, you could still call it Star Trek because they tried to keep at least some of the positive aspects of it going. This film was just a Sci-fi action movie, and there have been thousands of those. It was a good one, but it wasn’t Star Trek.
    Don’t get me started on the science. Hollywood is Hollywood is Hollywood, and they won’t change.

  389. Vader

    I thought the casting was good … with the exception of Pine as Kirk. Or maybe it was just the characterization of Kirk in the script.

    Pike rocked, though. I want to see the series where Pike is the captain.

  390. Damon

    Finally caught a screening of this gem at a $5 theater with my girlfriend on a whim last night. Can’t believe I waited so long. I’m glad someone finally came along and decided to have some fun with the Star Trek universe. And I’m glad it was J.J. Abrams. Great movie.

    The accuracy of the science in this and other films is irrelevant, because it’s Science Fiction. Sci-Fi is about taking variables we are comfortable and familiar with, in hard science as well as the everyday world, and altering those variables to see what happens. If astronomers ran Hollywood then no movie would ever get made and those that did would be boring, soulless black-and-white snooze-fests, devoid of any fun (see: variables) and replaced (blotted out) by elitist probabilities and by-the-numbers formulas. Like a movie about someone counting enough digits of Pi to fill two hours. Any iota of “fun” would be stamped out.

    I prefer to get my boring science from where it belongs– old, dusty volumes stacked disinterestedly on my bookshelf. Your article is still pretty cute though.

  391. ent0r

    Hi,
    first of all, thank you Phil Plait for your efforts to teach us in a rather amusing way.
    I would write more praise, but I don’t want to bloat this unneccasry.

    Here’s a question:
    If you would use a “gamma ray burst” as a plot device to be a threat.
    Wouldn’t it be kind of a stretch, since a planet must collide with it, which is kind of hard, since the 2 gammaray bursts would erupt at the suns poles?

  392. Darkantos

    JakeR @ 423

    So in the first encounter, Kirk’s daddy could have put his ship into warp speed and rammed it down the throat of the Romulan mining ship, putting an effectively infinite mass through its center and vaporizing it. Problem solved and no movie needed.

    The warp engines were one of the first things taken out by the Romulans, along with LR communications and transporters.

  393. JMW

    Re: the view of the rings…

    Okay, I did the math, and assuming I got it right…

    According to Wikipedia, the rings start at about 6,600 km above Saturn’s surface, and extend out to about 120,700 km above the surface, making them about 114,000 km wide.

    Titan orbits Saturn at a distance of 1,221,870 km (semi-major axis), and has a diameter of 2576 km. Assuming that the Enterprise rises up out of Titan’s atmosphere at Titan’s pole, the big E is about 1288 km above or below the plane of the ecliptic of Saturn’s planet/moons system.

    At that range, the rings would be about .01 degrees wide. Pretty near edge-on. Assuming I’m right, the outer edge would be at an angle of about 89.93 degrees, and the inner edge at 89.94 degrees as measured from an axis normal to Saturn’s ecliptic at Enterprise’s vantage point.

    What does the moon cover from Earth’s surface? About 0.5 degree? So the rings would be 1/50th the size of the moon?

  394. Betty

    What Star Trek movie is this from?

  395. Some comments about the Star Trek reboot I haven’t heard others mention(not in any order of importance): 1)Doesn’t the crew seem a little bit too young for their senior positions? especially for the flagship of the fleet? In TOS, becoming captain was a really tough position to get and thats for any ordinary starship let alone the Enterprise. It was a big deal that Kirk was captain at an unusally young age. 2) if one drop of red matter is such a big deal, why is Spock in possession of more than 30 gallons of the stuff? 3) I wonder if pon-far still exist in trek anymore(looking at Spock), or it’s going to be big trouble for the Vulcans if it did. 4) That Porsche in the 23th(?) century must’ve been an insanely valuable antique, a museum piece. Also it’s strange that the flying bike couldn’t outrun an antique car driven by someone who couldn’t have had much experience driving one of those things. 5) I miss the old beam weapons. :)

  396. spoiler:

    About point #2, if one drop of that stuff is able to make a planet sized black hole and Spock had maybe 30 gallons of the stuff, how many worlds could he wipe out had he wanted to? Is there even more of the stuff where Spock came from?

    6) Time travel happened a lot in the old Trek universe and this reboot of the franchise establishes that its possible right away. If they know it’s possible, I would think a concerted effort by the worlds with no concern to how much time and money it takes, to go back in time to stop the future mining ship.

  397. Natalie

    Good movie, and a great review!

  398. How this movie should have ended?

    Click my name here & find out! ;-)

  399. tanvirul

    also if the place where the older spok was viewing the death of his planet from was a moon, which im pretty sure it would have to be, why didnt it fall out of orbit, since the planet it orbited was destroyed the gravitational pull that kept the moon in orbit around that planet would be gone, the moon would not stay in orbit, it would just simply be attracted to something else, so i thought that was a huge blunder in the movie. moons are satellites they orbit a bigger mass, the bigger mass would be vulcan…. well just thought i should mention

  400. Jim de Graff

    For anyone who enjoyed this movie, I urge you to read through “Star Trek by the Minute” by Buck Field at

    http://structureddream.blogspot.com/2009/06/my-take-on-star-trek-2009-001.html

  401. Ronald Stepp

    1) working time machine, repeat, a Working Time Machine!

    2) same problem as in First Contact. In that one the Borg sent a cube to Earth and after a gigantic space battle, the Borg go back in time to assimilate the Earth in the past, with Picard in hot pursuit.

    The problem here is why wouldn’t the Borg send their Cube to some nearby unimportant star system, launch their sphere, go back in time and assimilate the Earth at their leisure? They get the biological distinctiveness of the humans without pesky interference from Picard or Starfleet. Oh, they could even have beamed some Borg down to the Cochrane’s Earth and assimilated it too, we saw how hard it was to stop them on a modern starship, scattered all over an earlier tech Earth, lights out.

    Why did I bring all this up? It’s a really good reason why having a WORKING TIME MACHINE basically renders plot points moot.

  402. The “black holes” were not as such, but an entirely new phenomenom created by red matter, and the name happened to be the closest approximate term the 24th century Fed people could use.

  403. Ok, I’ve just burned my lunch hour reading hundreds of comments… I have to chime in with my own brief blurb:

    1. The Enterprise. I was SO looking forward to this movie, just to see the original, unrefitted Enterprise more or less straight out of TOS. AFter all, didn’t they just recreate all those glorious sets for the mirror universe episode of “Enterprise”? The ship itself was,thus, a terrible disappointment for me.

    2. The whole Kirk goes from Cadet First Class to Captain in one fell swoop?!?! Is Starfleet really THAT hard up for senior officers that they’ve gotta take a butterbar, no matter how demonstratively competent he was in one isolated crisis) and hand over the keys to a starship? I don’t think so. A MUCH better way to handle that would’ve been to have COMMANDER Kirk at a promotion and change-of-command ceremony, getting his 2-1/2 stripes and relieving Pike, prefaced by a “THREE YEARS LATER…” subtitle. Remember when Pike told Kirk after the bar brawl he could become an officer in 4 years, command a ship in 8. That’d be 4 years of the Academy, then 4 more years to command. Next morning, Kirk tells Pike, “I’ll do it in three.” Maybe Kirk could whisper to Pike , “Told you I’d do it in three…” and grin at him as they shook hands, with Pike shaking his head and muttering “Show-off” or somesuch.

    3. “And yet, you can be in two places at the same time.” – one of the better lines in the whole flick.

    4. Amusing moment – when Uhura walking out of the Transporter room after playing tonsil-hockey with Spock, Scotty just sort of stares at her. In the later of the first batch of ST movies it became apparent that Scotty was developing a “thing” for Uhura. And the “So her first name’s Nyota?” “I have no comment on the matter.” was the BEST bit of dialog in the flick. :-)

  404. so...

    ok, dear astronomers, an open letter to those who just can’t get around the “the sound in space fetish.”

    skip it….

    Nobody would be that stupid to use a general condensor microphone in space,
    Of course our imaginative future camera man (or spectator in suit) would choose a system like a laser based vibration pickup system to record the sound.

    The sad thing is:
    how many of your people complaining about the sound in space thing, do have watched some nature documentary footage wich displays chewing insects, without wondering about that sound ?

  405. Bri

    To read all this information was really awesome. I only took a college intro course in astronomy, so that G w/e star going super nova was probably the only thing I really caught onto. lol.

    I grew up on TNG (mostly reruns), DS9 (still not a fan of that one), Voyager, and Enterprise…but had not seen the original when I saw this movie a few years back being born in 1990. But I have to say I loved it. Even my mom, who did grow up with Kirk/Spock, loved it…I think she had seen that movie so many times now. She will love what you’ve written here!

    Also now I’m very proud to say I’m mostly through re-watching all of the shows. From Star Trek to Enterprise. It really has made me a true trekky and very much interested in real astronomy. It would be really cool for another Star Trek TV show to come out too. Some day I can only hope!

  406. JS

    So the drill appeared to be dangling on the end of a long chain. Why didn’t the reaction force from the drill send it hurtling straight up into the mothership? (Inertial dampers, I guess?)

  407. Lore

    Wonderful review of the movie. I caught on to many of the things you talked about in your article, although I didn’t know the science of it. Despite it all, I absolutely agree with you. It’s an amazing movie and I hope they continue with just as impressive sequels. A series would be nice too :)
    Thank you for explaining the science behind the scenes.

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