Flame on! Dave Travis Flame on!

Written: 1999.04.25

Dave Travis is another generic Trekkie fanatic, who goes by the handle "linerunner":

Let me lead off by saying I am also a big fan of Star Wars. But I'm also a fan of Star Trek. I'm 29 and have never worn 'Spock ears' or attended conventions dressed in Starfleet uniforms or Darth Vader armor. (Not to say you have or haven't, just to establish the fact I'm not that type of fan of either.) I saw your tactical analysis and decided to send this letter to voice how much I disagree.

Lots of people have done the same as you are doing. Sometimes I have actually accepted their ideas and incorporated them into my webpage, but only if they were based on some rational basis and not on hysterical advocacy.

(Editor's note: as the message drags on, he makes it quite clear that he hasn't bothered looking over my page at all, and is sending me generic airhead Trekkie arguments. My disgust with his laziness and incompetence becomes apparent as the point/counterpoint continues).

First a note on a broad scale, and supported by many fans of both universes. Star Wars technology is based on a more archaic philosophy, not more advanced, compared to Star Trek. It's beam technology is laser based, it's shielding systems are much weaker and destroyed after a very few hits. Characters fight with lightsabers and there are other weapons that resemble ancient technology (Chewbacca's crossbow f.e.).

I've dealt with all of these issues in the past. Your arguments are all based on superficial appearances rather than scientific analysis of measured and observed phenomena, such as the Death Star blast. Power is what matters, not slickness.

Furthermore, you are simply incorrect in the above statements. None of their weapons are lasers- the characteristics of lasers are well-known, and the lasers in SW don't act like lasers, therefore they aren't lasers. You may claim that lightsabres are primitive, but just try to build one. For that matter, demonstrate that ST can build one. Your problem is that you confuse superficial appearances with performance.

First is the misconception about warp vs. hyperspace. In Star Wars, when asked about the Falcon's speed (which is among the fastest ships around) he says it will make ".5 past light speed". That means the ship can travel 1 1/2 times the speed of light, a *crawl* compared to even a civilian freighter can achieve with warp drive. Regardless of whether or not warp driven ships lose firepower in warp, at least they can fire in it. No weapons fire is possible in hyperspace, in fact their sensors can't even detect ships following them through it.

You are assuming that ".5 past light speed" means 1.5c, when it might be a logarithmic scale or something even more complex. Look at the warp scale. Is warp 2 equal to 2c? No. You are ignoring almost all of the evidence in favour of one particular out-of-context quote, which can be interpreted many ways. Han Solo also said that he'd been from one end of the galaxy to the other- is this possible at 1.5c? No- it would take tens of thousands of years just to make one cross-galaxy trip. Obviously, your interpretation is woefully incorrect, and you clearly haven't thought it through. You also clearly haven't bothered reading through my entire propulsion page. A fixation on one piece of evidence to the exclusion of all other evidence is a hallmark of unscientific thinking. Real scientists try to rationalize all of the evidence at once, rather than ignoring 99% of it in favour of a single quote somewhere. Did it even occur to you that it wasn't a simple linear scale? Why don't we assume that warp 9 is 9c?

(Editor's note: obviously, this guy subscribes to the "silver bullet" mentality, in which he hopes to find some magic weapon to kill an entire mountain of evidence going the other way. As usual, this "silver bullet" is a mindless interpretation of a single piece of dialogue rather than a rational analysis of an observed event).

Next is the misconception about firepower and shielding. Even in the old days of Trek, it was made clear that a starship had the firepower to destroy an entire planet.

The surface of the planet, not the entire planet.

In Star Wars, Solo makes it clear that it would take "thousands of ships with more firepower than he's seen" to destroy a planet.

To blast it into an asteroid field with such violence that most of the debris is already out of visible range mere minutes later? Absolutely. Such an act requires millions of times more power output than the Sun.

In Trek, they demonstrate the complete uselessness of lasers against standard shielding.

They talked about it, but never demonstrated it. We know that they can only survive for a limited time near stars, so obviously they are not immune to ordinary light.

(Editor's note: yes, another Trekkie who subscribes to the idiotic "no laser" idea. If you think that the "no laser" idea actually makes sense, then you should have yourself committed to an institution right now. Whether it's for insanity or stupidity is irrelevant- just make sure you take yourself out of circulation so that you cannot pollute the gene pool).

They actually laugh about how someone could expect 'focussed light' to be effective. And now, with the advent of metaphasic shielding, which can let a starship survive in the corona of a star, I doubt even the Death Star's main cannon could damage a starship.

The Death Star's main cannon carries millions of times more power than a star, and a starship in the corona of a star is only absorbing a miniscule fraction of its total output. The Death Star's main cannon fires approximately 5E20 times more energy in one second, than a starship would absorb from sitting in a star's corona for several hours. A starship would have to sit in a star's corona for more than 170 trillion milennia to absorb the energy of a Death Star blast.

(Editor's note: It was this statement which indicated his utter lack of intelligence. Anyone who thinks that a starship could survive a superlaser direct hit is an idiot.)

Don't get me wrong, once again, I *love* Star Wars. But one is space fantasy and the other is science fiction. Who would win is irrelevant, as SW happened so far away that no starship could ever reach it, and so long ago that no one would want to reach it.

To be honest, you made no useful points at all. I have already answered each and every one of your points in my webpage. If you read it carefully, you will see that I provide solid evidence to refute each one of your conclusions, and that I in fact provided it a long time ago. I am not necessarily hostile to input, but I am not impressed by people who obviously don't even bother to read the entire page before firing off their "rebuttals". You make a common mistake: you start with the superficially "heavy metal" appearance of Star Wars technology and assume that it must therefore be primitive, compared to the plastic Microsoft-look of Treknology.

However, real scientists start with observed phenomena (such as the destruction of Alderaan vs the Enterprise's inability to destroy one little asteroid in "Cost of Living") as the ultimate arbiter of reality. They do not place off-hand comments or theoretical speculations higher than observed phenomena. All of the dialogue and theoretical speculations in the world can go out the window if they are refuted by an event which contradicts them. That's how the real-life scientific method works, but that's not how most Trekkies think. They think in the opposite way: they put events beneath dialogue and theoretical speculations, going so far to conclude that "the way they show it onscreen is inaccurate" etc. That's a non-empirical, Aristotelian approach, and clearly unscientific. They can do it, but if they expect to be taken seriously by anyone who actually knows science, they are fooling themselves.


I actually thought I was being more civil than this clown deserved, since he obviously didn't even bother reading my page before sending his ignorant trash. But apparently, that wasn't enough to keep him from flying into a rage that I didn't accept all of his idiotic and unscientific ideas. He decides to imperiously grant himself the "last word" by putting me in his killfile after flaming me one last time, with the following message. Too bad I can always just put his stupidity on the world wide web for anyone to see :)

You obviously you failed to "observe" the fact the Falcon was able to reach a Bespin without use of it's hyperdrive in The Empire Strikes Back. You, being a scientific man, should know the improbability of doing this without *months* if not *years* passing.

Perhaps you should study General Relativity. If they are travelling at a highly relativistic speed, they will PERCEIVE the passage of only a few days or weeks when months or even years are passing in the outside world. It's called "time dilation".

Perhaps this is due to the SW galaxy being far smaller than the Milky Way?

The Star Wars Encyclopedia clearly states that the SW galaxy is actually LARGER than the Milky Way, with a diameter of roughly 120,000 light years.

Hence lower speeds being sufficient to traverse it, hence the 1.5c Falcon speed?

No galaxy can be traversed in a reasonable amount of time at 1.5c. If the star systems are packed that tightly together (there are more than 400 billion stars in the SW galaxy) then they will all collapse into a black hole. Nothing that could be remotely described as a galaxy would be that small.

Nah... your college education makes you an expert on the dynamics of fantasy technology and a world created by someone else, and someone who judges the opinion of others based on how many seminars they've attended.

No, my college education makes me knowledgeable about physics, unlike you.

If this is the legacy of 'education' the world was better off before life evolved into it's current state. Don't bother to reply to this, as I've added you to my mail filter. If only all ignorance was so easily dealt with.

Strong words for someone whose scientific knowledge is roughly on par with Elmer Fudd.

Of course, he never saw my responses. But he wouldn't have understood them anyway. They contained long words that were probably beyond his comprehension, such as "systems" and "diameter".


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