Friday, October 7, 2011
A Scientist's View on Science Fiction
So, I've been watching the original Star Trek lately. My goal is to eventually watch all of Star Trek, including all of the various series and the movies, and I am currently about halfway through the original series. In fact, I have "The Trouble with Tribbles" playing as I type this post. It's mainly due to the availability of nearly all of this material instantly on Netflix.
I have been a fan of science fiction for my entire life, but my view on the genera has been warped somewhat since I threw myself into a more in-depth study of Biology. Watching a serious such as Star Trek is interesting, and somewhat frustrating. I tend to rant to anyone who may be present during my viewings about "that is soo wrong." Here's just a small selection of the factual errors I've noted so far:
One several occasions, Spock comments on the fact that Vulcans have "copper-based hemoglobin" in their blood, which is why their blood is green. In fact, "copper-based hemoglobin" would not be hemoglobin at all. It's hemocyanin, which is found in such species as the horseshoe crab. Also, hemocyanin doesn't cause blood to be green, it makes it blue. It's not uncommon for copper compounds to be blue in color. In fact the only land animal that has green blood is the green-blooded skink, and the color is not caused by hemocyanin, but is caused instead by a chemical associated with bile.
Another issues is everyone looks human! Realistically, this is highly unlikely. Even though in theory, due to the size of the universe, there is probably other life out there, the likelihood of it looking at all like humans is basically nill. I would find giant intelligent squid more plausible.
In relation to my previous point, everyone has DNA. Again, I find it highly unlikely that this would remain true in other lifeforms. If the compounds were similar at all, I would suspect that there would be enough differences to make them quite distinct. For example, the base pairs could be quite different, or the sugars in the backbone.
Also, cross-species reproduction is possible. It's seen in Spock, and also implied have occurred in numerous other species. In all probability, alien species wouldn't even have the right anatomy to be compatible with humans. Thinking that it would be possible with dozens of species is quite absurd.
Romulan bird of prey also cause me issues. They are painted to look like Earth birds. Again, the likelihood of the animals that are found on other planets resembling those seen here is quite low. It would make much more sense if the humans called the ships "birds of prey" because of their resemblance in shape to the avians.
All in all, that is just the tip of the iceberg,
Regardless, I do enjoy Star Trek. It's a classic and, though now it's often viewed as absurd and silly, quite enjoyable viewing. By the way, I think that Lieutenant Sulu is my favorite character. And tribbles are adorable and quite amusing little things.
Image is from Wikipedia and is copyright to the makers of Star Trek.