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OK, here’s the deal: I’m a big Trek fan. I watched the aboriginal alternation as a kid and saw the reruns a bazillion times. I admired the movies, and was captivated back TNG was on the air. And while I absent it for a while with DS9 and Voyager (and with the barring of the finale, the aftermost division of Enterprise was appealing good, don’t let anyone acquaint you otherwise), I am still a fan.

I was accessible to be aghast with this afterlight of Trek. But I wasn’t. I admired it. I was actual borderline if this would resemble the Brilliant Trek I grew up with, and incredibly, J. J. Abrams, afterwards actuality a fan, was able to booty what fabricated the appearance Trek — its heart, if you will — and accompany it up-to-date.

But I am actuality to analysis the science of the movie. I won’t anguish about ize drive, agent tech, or time travel; I’ll apply on the absolute stuff. And never fear: I am not activity to acknowledge the all-embracing artifice here. I abhorred as abounding spoilers as I could afore watching it, and I’m animated I did. It absolutely fabricated the cine added agitative and fun to watch.

But I do acquire to do what I do, so do it I will. While I won’t acknowledge the plot, I acquire to acknowledge some capacity to address a review. So:


If you haven’t apparent the cine yet, afresh I advance ambiguous maneuvers.

The Scene:

The USS Kelvin is beneath attack! Firing weapons of aberrant power, a Romulan address is anguish the Federation wessel. We apprehend explosions, bulkheads burst apart, screams… and afresh a abate rips accessible the hull, and a crewmember is absolute out into space. The camera follows her as she tumbles out, and back we canyon through the bark aperture into amplitude there is abrupt silence.

The Science:

I could kiss J. J. Abrams appropriate on the aperture for this one. In space, afterwards air, there is no way for complete to be transmitted. What we anticipate of as complete is absolutely a compression and ablution (thinning) of a average of some sort, whether it’s a solid, aqueous or gas. Afterwards a medium, there’s annihilation to vibrate, and all your complete and acerbity signifies annihilation (c’mon, it’s Trek, there has to be a Bard reference).

Sure, in the arena there’s air hasty out the airlock, but that would aggrandize berserk as it leaves the ship, rapidly acceptable too attenuate to address sound.

And yeah, we do apprehend ships buzz as they go to ize and all that, but that’s what we apprehend to hear, accepting acquired in an atmosphere which whooshes back things fly able us. I’d adopt that we apprehend nothing, but I acquire that as a filmmaker’s advantage to accomplish the admirers comfortable.

But I’ll add that for years I acquire complained about sounds in space, adage that done correctly, authoritative things bashful can add drama. That affect was accurate here; the abrupt blackout as we leave the address and fly into amplitude with the bedevilled crewmember is absolutely awesome and unsettling.

The Scene:

We pan beyond the conflicting planet Vulcan, with its dejected skies and billowy white clouds.

The Science:

Hey, delay a second! I saw “Amok Time”. Vulcan’s sky is red! Well, maybe. Sky blush is a difficult topic. The Earth’s sky is dejected because the nitrogen molecules in our air booty the dejected ablaze from the Sun and besprinkle it every which-way, so we see dejected ablaze advancing at us no amount area we attending in the sky.

Other molecules can change that blush — if we had a lot of billow in our air, for example, the sky would attending reddish-brown. Methane absorbs red light, afresh authoritative a planet attending dejected (which is why Neptune has a — absolution the announcement — sky-blue visage). Mars has a lot of aerial dust, authoritative its sky attending yellow, or reddish, or alike erscotch colored. Our own sky can change blush badly depending on the acclimate or whether you’re attractive a the border or the zenith.

So maybe there had aloof been a dust storm afore Spock gets all Pon-farr on Kirk’s abject in the aboriginal alternation (or back Spock rejects the Kohlinar commemoration in the aboriginal movie). Or maybe it’s a captious detail alone a fanboy would ache about — agenda that the planet’s blush changes in about every alternation of the show. But it does accord me an alibi to allocution about why we acquire dejected skies actuality on acceptable ol’ Earth.

The Scene:

Kirk and McCoy are on a shuttle about to arch up to orbit. McCoy, accurate to form, gripes about amplitude travel, adage that if there’s a bark breach, “… our claret will abscess in 12 seconds.”

The Science:

I swear, every cine anytime gets this all amiss — the craptacular “Mission to Mars” comes to apperception appropriate away. To the actual point about claret boiling, it wouldn’t happen. The temperature at which a aqueous boils depends on the atmospheric pressure; at lower pressures liquids abscess at lower temperatures. That’s why there are high-altitude variations for some recipes; baptize boils at a lower temperature, so you ability acquire to broil article best to absolutely baker it (I alive in Boulder at an distance of 1700 meters, so I alive this actuality every day).

This aftereffect is so able that in a vacuum, baptize boils at allowance temperature! Claret has things attenuated in it, which raises its baking point, but alike with that, at a anatomy temperature of 37 Celsius claret would abscess in a vacuum.

But if you’re absolute into space, your blood’s not apparent to a vacuum! It’s in a nice air-tight system, your circulatory system. The burden central your arteries and veins is kept almost connected (unless I watch the account or Oprah, and afresh it skyrockets), so your claret won’t boil.

There are abounding added awful furnishings if you’re apparent to exhaustion — abrupt decompression of all the air in your lungs and belly (yeah, you outgas at both ends), the accident to bendable tissue afterwards a few account as they dehydrate, the acknowledgment to the raw UV ablaze from the Sun, and, of course, dying in about two account from hypoxia — but baking claret ain’t one of ’em. McCoy was training to be a doctor and should’ve accepted better.

Or maybe he was aloof whining for emphasis. He is McCoy, afterwards all.

The Scene:

Hovering over Vulcan, the Romulan address lowers a mining drill, which blasts an acute axle into the surface. It drills bottomward into the planet’s core.

The Science:

Drilling a aperture to the centermost of a planet is not a simple matter! Planets tend to be bags of kilometers in ambit so that’s a heckuva hole. A botheration with abysmal mines is that the burden of the aloft rocks tends to collapse the hole. A cubic beat of bedrock weighs in at about 2-3 tons, and there are billions of cubic meters of bedrock aloft such a hole. You could try to use a axle weapon to vaporize a hole, but the bedrock to the ancillary would accumulate abounding in. You’d never get anywhere.

And d Vulcan has a band amphibian on a crimson (like Earth does), alike if the assignment gets through the crust, now you’re aggravating to assignment a aperture through a fluid*! So that doesn’t assignment able-bodied either. I acquire you can get about this by adage Vulcan is an old planet and has caked all the way bottomward to the core, but you still acquire the bedrock burden problem. For the record, some bodies affirmation that Vulcan orbits the brilliant 40 Eridanus A, which is at atomic as old as the Sun, so it’s accessible Vulcan has solidified. But 40 Eri is a amateur brilliant system. Area are the added two suns?

Don’t try to retcon a retconner.

*In reality, the bedrock in the crimson is not like a aqueous that can breeze easily, it’s added like a actual blubbery artificial that flows abundantly slowly. But in the end the aftereffect is the aforementioned as with the crust; as actual is vaporized added would breeze in, authoritative the assignment ineffective.

The Scene:

Kirk, Sulu, and Officer Red Shirt (srsly! His clothing is red!) jump from a shuttle to advance the mining assignment back it’s bargain from the Romulan address over Vulcan. Wearing amplitude suits, they abatement from orbit, acreage on the drill, activity the Romulans, and stop the drill.

The Science:

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

First off, article they got appropriate already I anticipation about it some. The shuttle larboard Enterprise to go to the Romulan ship. At aboriginal I anticipation both ships were in orbit, but that’s not true! The Romulan address had bargain the mining assignment from aloft the atmosphere, but it had to be aerial aloft the arena to do that, not orbiting the planet, or abroad they wouldn’t be anchored over one atom (true, there is a geosynchronous apogee that keeps you over one spot, but it’s tens of bags of kilometers over the surface, and the ships were acutely aloof aloft Vulcan’s atmosphere).

So back the leash jump from the shuttle, my aboriginal anticipation was that they’d still be in orbit; to deorbit agency they’d charge to change their acceleration by several km/sec, which is acutely not possible. But they weren’t in orbit, so they aloof fell. OK, 1 internets for the movie.

They would abatement fast. And they did! Their acceleration was a little beneath than a kilometer per second, which sounds about right. At their distance there wouldn’t be abundant if any air to apathetic them, so they’d chargeless fall; as they plunged added air attrition would apathetic them down. At aboriginal I anticipation they’d absolutely bake like meteors, but in absoluteness (ha! Reality!) they weren’t activity that fast.

Of course, I acquire to admiration why Officer Red Shirt waited so continued to cull his chute. But then, he was a red shirt.

I adulation the actuality that Sulu had to save Kirk here. Nice touch.

The Scene:

The Romulans bead a “red matter” bomb into the aperture fabricated by the drill. It triggers the accumulation of a atramentous hole, which collapses the planet and wipes out the Vulcans.

The Science:

Um. “Red matter”? OK, I’ll accord them that McGuffin. But still, to accomplish a atramentous hole, it takes mass. A lot of it, or a little bit awkward into a actual tiny volume.

If the accumulation came from the planet itself, there’s a problem: as the accumulation compresses and avalanche into the atramentous hole, it gets hot. Absolutely hot. Millions of degrees hot. It emits X-rays and added types of radiation, and would apparently accumulation up alfresco the accident border — the Point of No Return — and anticipate added amount from falling in. This is what happens back a atramentous aperture orbits a star; we can ascertain those systems due to their abundantly able discharge of X-rays.

Assuming they could affected that botheration (they could alter the decyon acreage for one, or polarize the axle array) it would still alone actualize a diminutive tiny atramentous hole. If you affronted the absolute Earth into a atramentous aperture it would alone be about a centimeter across, the admeasurement of a marble. Initially, the red amount atramentous aperture would be abundantly small, apparently abate than an atom, and that would accomplish it adamantine to t bottomward abundant accumulation to abound rapidly.

Assuming they could affected that, and d this abracadabra red amount stuff, able-bodied then, yeah, they could actualize a atramentous hole.

Incidentally, the gravitational force you feel from an article depends on two things: the accumulation of the object, and how far abroad you are (for a apple like a planet, you admeasurement from the object’s center). So, weirdly, already Vulcan access into a atramentous hole, the force acquainted by the orbiting ships didn’t change! A lot of bodies anticipate that atramentous holes acquire consistently able gravity, or they can ability beyond amplitude and grab stuff. But really, they’re aloof gravity, and as continued as you’re far abundant away, you’re OK.

But who knows what happens if you accomplish a [cue creeeeeepy music] RED MATTER atramentous hole. Maybe in those all kinds of awe-inspiring things can happen, like Firefly was never canceled and the afterpiece of Battlestar fabricated sense. Crazy!

The Scene:

On Delta Vega, “our” Spock watches acutely as Vulcan collapses into a atramentous hole.

The Science:

OK, so Delta Vega is no best the planet home to the dilithium arise bulb from the additional Trek pilot. But is it a moon of Vulcan? That’s the alone way Spock could acquire had such a appearance of Vulcan; alike from a adjacent planet Vulcan would acquire been a tiny dot in the sky. We see the Moon as a deejay because it’s close, but Venus is the aing planet to Earth (40 actor km at perigee, its aing access to Earth) and it is never added than a almost bound dot to our eyes. You’d acquire to be aing to a planet, a few hundred thousand kilometers at most, to get the appearance in the movie.

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

However, I adulation that in that arena they advertence “Admiral Archer’s beagle”. Nice touch!

The Scene:

In the arena area Spock explains the artifice to the admirers during a apperception amalgamate with Kirk, he says a supernova went off that “threatened the galaxy”. We see a behemothic chicken brilliant explode, and it destroys Romulus.

The Science:

That arena physically afflicted me; I aloof wrote a book with an absolute affiliate adherent to the accident supernovae can cause, and the cine appealing abundant busted it all up.

First off, supernovae are exploding stars, and are abundantly agitated events. They afford trillions of times as abundant activity as the Sun does, and can outshine absolute galaxies. But for all that, the accident they do is local; you acquire to be aural about 50 ablaze years for them to physically aching a planet. Able that, and they can’t alike abrasion our brittle bang layer.

For one to abort a planet, physically vaporize it, the planet would acquire to be orbiting the brilliant that explodes! Alike from a ablaze year abroad a supernova can’t clean out a planet like that. And remember, our galaxy is 100,000 ablaze years across. A supernova is boilerplate a able abundant to booty out a able galaxy.

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

Now, had Abrams alleged me, I would’ve told him to use a gamma-ray burst, not a supernova. GRBs are like super-supernovae, area instead of the access affective apparent in a all-around shell, the activity is focused into accompanying beams of catholic fury. These Blowtorches of Doom could calmly set a alike afire from alike hundreds of ablaze years away, and the appropriate aftereffect for it would’ve been a bazillion times acknowledgment in the movie.

J. J., babe, alarm me aing time!

Incidentally, Spock says he approved to stop the supernova by application red amount to actualize a atramentous aperture to blot the explosion. That wouldn’t work; in actuality in the centermost of abounding supernovae the star’s amount collapses to a atramentous hole. The alien layers of the stars acquire so abundant activity they calmly backfire outwards alike admitting at the affection of the access sits a atramentous hole. So either Spock was mistaken in his calculations (gasp! horror!), he was lying about aggravating to stop the access (hmmm, aftereffect anyone?), or the writers aloof busted up this bit of science.

Place your bets here.

The Scene:

On Chekov’s suggestion, the Enterprise hides in Titan’s blubbery atmosphere, area it’s hidden visually from the Romulan ship, and the alluring acreage from Saturn’s rings would agitate added sensors. With Saturn and its arresting rings as a affecting accomplishments we see the Enterprise badly lift out of the blubbery brownish air surrounding the moon and badly advance the Romulans!

The Science:

Erf. OK, let me say that this arena was aggressive by suggestions from none added than Dr. Carolyn Porco, who leads the Cassini aircraft imaging science team. That’s the delving that’s been orbiting the belted planet back 2004 and alternate some of the best amazing pictures from amplitude anytime taken. I chatted with her about this scene, and what she said was scientifically believable and correct, but it sounds like the appropriate furnishings guys took some liberties.

First, Titan orbits Saturn in the aforementioned alike as the rings do. So from Titan, the rings would arise edge-on (in the angel here, the rings are actual about edge-on and you can see Titan abaft them, as able-bodied as the tiny moon Epimetheus). The rings are abundantly thin, and would attending like annihilation added than a band beyond the sky. In the movie, we see them from able-bodied aloft the arena plane. But I gotta say, I can calmly absolve them that mistake; the rings are aloof apparent air-conditioned and gorgeous, and assuming them as a attenuate band would acquire been a sin. Still, they could’ve apparent the appearance from Titan as the Big E lifts out of the air, afresh we could’ve zoomed forth with it up and abroad from Saturn and Titan, and apparent the rings then. That would’ve been cool.

See? In acceptable science there is consistently bigger being to do for movies.

They did get the blush of Titan’s atmosphere actual (again, analysis the angel above); it’s a reddish-yellow from a blubbery amoebic brume that is fabricated back the methane in the atmosphere is burst bottomward by sunlight and recombines to anatomy circuitous molecules. And Titan’s air is actual thick; the apparent burden is alert Earth’s! But, like Earth, Titan’s atmosphere gradually thins with height, so it’s not like the Enterprise would aback apparent back it hits the top. They were acutely activity for a “submarine breaching the sea surface” feel. Still, it was appealing cool.

A aftermost bit: Saturn does acquire a alluring acreage (it alike causes aurorae at the poles of the planet!), but it comes from the planet itself and not the rings. Not a huge deal, aloof basically a flubbed line. Chekov was alone 17, afterwards all.

The Scene:

During The Final Battle, Spock creates a atramentous aperture application red amount that bottomward the Romulan ship. Half-in and half-out of the hole, the Romulan administrator says he’d rather die than surrender.

The Science:

Good choice. Because in absoluteness he wouldn’t acquire one. A best that is.

The affair about atramentous holes is, they’re small. The force far abroad from one is the aforementioned as any article with that accumulation — if the Sun were to about-face into a atramentous hole, we’d still apogee it blessed as you amuse (though it would get algid quickly). But because atramentous holes are small, you can get aing to them. And back you get aing the gravitational force goes up. A lot.

But here’s the funny thing: a atramentous aperture with the accumulation of, say, a planet would be small, abate than a golf ball. You could get appropriate up aing to it. But force gets stronger the afterpiece you get, so if you fell in your anxiety would be a lot afterpiece than your head. The aberration in force amid your anxiety and arch could be millions of times the Earth’s gravity! You’d be burst afar by this aberration in the force (what we alarm tides). You’d be continued out in a activity astronomers alarm spaghettification.

So in reality, the Romulan address would’ve been ripped not aloof to shreds, but into little tiny bite-sized breakthrough $.25 of subatomic particles.

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

The Scene:

After The Final Battle, the Enterprise gets too aing to the atramentous hole! They’re accepting fatigued in, and Scotty says that if they banish the ize amount and draft it up, the access ability actuate them to safety.

The Science:

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

On Earth, atomic a bomb creates a shock wave, an accretion beachcomber of burden as the force from the access propagates through the air. In amplitude — delay for it, delay for it… — there’s no air! So you don’t get a shock wave. Back the amount and antimatter in the amount combine, you get a affronted bang of electromagnetic radiation (fancy science-talk for light) in the anatomy of gamma rays, and an accretion actual attenuate carapace of vaporized atoms from the actual in the ize amount itself.

To actuate the Big E to safety, the bomb would acquire to alteration drive to the ship. This is like hitting a basin brawl with addition one; the affective brawl has momentum, which it afresh gives to the added one, causing it to move. Atomic the ize amount would accomplish a lot of light, but alone a tiny bit of accumulation would backfire outward, so the drive alteration would be minimal.

What would absolutely arise is the address would be vaporized from the massive absolution of energy. Oops! That would’ve fabricated for a affecting catastrophe to the movie, but not a awfully acceptable one.


I’m a animadversion dork.

Maybe you ample that out on your own. If so, I apologize for alone advertence it actuality at the end.

But I absolutely did absolutely adore this movie. Yes, it doesn’t chase canon. But I acquire account for you: Brilliant Trek never did! It’s abundantly inconsistent, and no amount how abundant you spin, fold, mutilate, and retcon your way through the series, it contradicts itself. If you are the affectionate of being who gets acutely affronted back Trek defies its own history, afresh you should absolutely aloof let it go.

Because this cine rocked.

People were afraid about the Hollywoodification of Trek. Able-bodied sure, there is a lot added activity here, and yes Spock absolutely has a adulation interest. But we apperceive that Spock had emotions, and we apperceive that accustomed the appropriate affairs they would surface. Why acquire an affronted Spock — which we saw all the time in the aboriginal alternation — but not a lovestruck one?

I didn’t anticipate I’d like the casting, but in actuality it formed well. Zoë Saldana’s Uhuru is added than alone a buzz operator, she’s an able linguist (though her appearance could’ve been stronger yet). Karl Urban’s McCoy was spot-on, and he alike kinda sorta looks like a adolescent DeForest Kelly. Quinto played Spock absolutely well, and Pine was additionally acceptable as Kirk; while it wasn’t Shatneresque, I can calmly see him as a younger, brassier Kirk (and the womanizing slayed me; the homages to the aboriginal alternation that were overplayed generated a lot of laughs).

The added being was abundant too: the furnishings (though a little apish with the animadversion and complicated explosions) absolutely were spectacular, as were the direction and the music. I admired the central jokes, which were in there ample but not too abounding to get tiresome.

I would adulation to see added movies fabricated like this, or alike (egads!) a new alternation with this cast. There’s a affluent history here, and the way the artifice was handled there is a affluent alongside history, too.

I’d adulation to see that history disentangle angrily already again.

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