Star Trek’s Science Advisor Explains Star Burns, Burps, and More

Star Trek's Science Advisor Explains Star Burns, Burps, and More

Picture Credit score: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc.

All new Star Trek exhibits are distinct viewing experiences, however all of them share a minimum of one factor in widespread: their characters face a bunch of space-related challenges, nearly all of that are based mostly on essentially the most well-known science. .

Erin Macdonald, Ph.D. in astrophysics, helps preserve the newest Trek collection as scientific as potential. She started working as a scientific advisor on the third season of Discovery and the second season of Decrease decksand has been concerned in each season of each Trek present since then.

I lately spoke with Macdonald about his work on varied Star Trek episodes, together with the third season of picard. Learn on for this full dialogue, however be warned! There are spoilers in there for previous seasons of Discovery, Unusual New World, and thru the fourth episode of this season of Picard.

This interview has been frivolously edited for readability and conciseness.

Picture credit score: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

I am going to begin with two very particular questions from the crew. So query primary: darkish matter. It comes up so much in mountaineering world. What recommendation or steering did you present on darkish matter and the way believable is what we see within the present given what we all know?

We actually do not know something about darkish matter. All we all know is that there’s a gravitational presence of one thing it takes up nearly 1 / 4 of our universe and all that we are able to see, contact and really feel is just 4%. Thus, darkish matter makes up about 25% of our universe. So we used it in numerous methods in Trek. Even when Discovery began in season one, I believe they discovered an asteroid, after which we had what we referred to as the darkish matter anomaly in season 4, and we actually referred to as it that simply because she had a gravitational presence. It affected star programs. You could not actually see effectively, you simply knew it was price one thing. After which we additionally had a darkish matter nebula in season three with the planet that was the origin of The Burn. So, I am not going to dwell on the weeds an excessive amount of, however this popped out of my little sci-fi mind as a result of I used to be looking for a proof for a way the burn occurred.

Picture Credit score: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc.

That was my subsequent query!

So my position, as a result of we additionally employed a biologist – Professor Mohamed Noor, did all of the biology of how Su’kal may relate to this. For me it was about how dilithium might smash via a very good area of the galaxy sooner than the pace of sunshine however not instantaneously as a result of that they had the black field to triangulate every thing.

So I set out to take a look at all of the methods we have talked about dilithium prior to now and tried to discover a scientific rationalization. So I went to my mathematical world, which is a part of my journey. If you consider regular spacetime, and we use subspace on a regular basis in Star Trek, it is the world above regular area, or above the trampoline, which was a very good analogy.

I consider it like, we’ve got our actual airplane, which is spacetime, after which subspace is just like the imaginary airplane, mathematically. So complicated numbers and imaginary numbers. We will do lots of mathematically attention-grabbing issues with it. So I had this concept of, what if dilithium had a subatomic particle permeating subspace? It will be like a posh boson, a kind of force-carrying particles that permeates subspace, after which the mixture of these made it potential to go sooner than the pace of sunshine.

Suk’ol primarily screams on the resonance frequency of dilithium. After which this subspace dilithium part is what despatched this sign, this resonance that crashed via the galaxy. However the best way it binds darkish matter is, my little mind an entire rabbit gap of, “What if we had these complicated or imaginary force-carrying particles, what if it was darkish matter?” What if we simply noticed the mass that’s in subspace squeezing our personal galaxy or our personal universe, and we might by no means detect it. We did not actually put that within the story with the Burn apart from it was a darkish matter nebula, and we obtained to name it the Veruvian Nebula after Vera Ruben, who was the girl who found matter black.

Picture credit score: Trae Patton/Paramount+

Unimaginable, thanks. So, to speak about newer stuff, let’s discuss Season 3 of picard. I suppose there are issues about Jack that we won’t discuss but attributable to spoilers, however what about earlier within the season?

The episode on which I labored essentially the most was episode 4 the place the nebula provides start. So we had been speaking in regards to the gravitational effectively of the entire thing. And whereas that sounds actually easy and apparent, it is laborious for a science advisor to actually polish the dialogue, as a result of it’s a must to make it clear that you simply’re not being sucked right into a gravity effectively, you are not being pulled in, you are falling inside. It is simply this heavy nebula that has this gravitational presence that they preserve falling into.

It is also an attention-grabbing a part of my job: managing how we discuss expertise all through the franchise, fiction or not. And so figuring out how the starships work and after they redirect all the ability because the wave passes, so you may ship it via the pods to soak up and energy the warp core.

Picture Credit score: Michael Gibson/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc.

Is there some form of phenomenon in area that you simply actually suppose is actually cool and wish to see an episode of?

I used to be fortunate that it was one of many first issues individuals requested me once I began. And so we had been capable of get a coronal mass ejection in season three of Discovery. It was the star burp that they had that destroyed the seed storage station. They actually stated, “We want an area catastrophe. What’s a cool area catastrophe you have not seen and wish to see? After which we additionally included gravitational waves a bit – my present PhD. was in gravitational waves. So it has been actually, actually enjoyable. It’s a very complicated topic. And so whereas we have been mentioning it, we have form of made it somewhat fuzzier than actual science, as a result of I believe in some unspecified time in the future E-book is browsing gravitational waves – you would not actually ready to try this, however simply the truth that they need to embrace gravitational waves simply made my little nerdy coronary heart blissful.

Picture credit score: Marni Grossman/Paramount+

And about Unusual new worlds Season 1 ? Did you may have any favourite science stuff from there?

In episode 4, “Memento Mori”, the place they disguise within the environment of a brown dwarf orbiting a black gap. That is the episode of the Gorn submarine. I have been lots of assistance on that, simply speaking in regards to the brown dwarf, speaking in regards to the black gap. After which particularly Pike’s maneuver, the place he throws slingshots, however attributable to gravitational time dilation, the Gorn cannot see he is completed it but.

All Star Trek exhibits at the moment are accessible to stream on Paramount+.

Vanessa Armstrong is a author with bylines at LA Occasions, SYFY WIRE, and different publications. She lives in Los Angeles together with her canine Penny and her husband Jon, and she or he loves books greater than most issues. Yow will discover extra of his work at his website or comply with her on Twitter @vfarmstrong.

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