GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION
|(The guy closest to me was the engineer-type.)|
The idea of “gravity plates in the floor” was also brought up (like for starships), the main problem there being it needs to exert enough of a force to keep people down - without people on the deck below being sucked up to the ceiling. (Unidirectional mass plates?) In the lull which followed, I asked for their biggest pet peeve, mentioned as being something that always comes up.
The biology person (Greg) said it would be the lack of accurate information, given how accessible it all is! A lot of science is sitting at a bench or standing in a river. Things go slowly. CSI is lazy writing, tissue samples don’t give you the image of a face. The zoology person said it would be the lack of accurate terminology, leading to a “sciency” word being applied to the wrong thing. (eg. “It’s some kind of nematode!” Uhh...)
The engineer (Ryan) concluded by saying he hates when writers don’t hand wave, but rather try to explain the interlocking pieces, and it’s WRONG where it COULD have been right! If you’d left it up to interpretation. He added that any trade (other than acting) means movies are showing things wrong, down to the job of a barista at a cafe. Which is okay in general, bad when you get technical.
A WIZARD DID IT
Next question was about technology mimicking magic, and specifically could technology raise the dead? For people, not so much. You CAN take a piece of worm/starfish and grow a whole other organism. Hamburgers are also now being born in petrie dishes. Brief explanation here of stem cells, those being our first cells, which can turn into every kind of cell; once you’ve grown, the cells are all differentiated.
|Techno-Mage animes like Nanoha|
are pretty cool though
Good science looks at a PROCESS rather than FACTS. So question everything you hear around you, ask WHY do these people know better than I do on subject X? IS there a legit reason they should know more? I have Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World” written, as a way to explain the scientific method. Of course, you also need to “strike a balance so you don’t break people emotionally”.
Troublingly, it’s easier to accept a “fact” than to dislodge one. Something Aunt Wendy asserted when drunk will need to be disproved by a panel of experts before you change your mind - because Wendy was FIRST (and you have emotional ties!). Incidentally, “you can tell the real scientists because they get excited by really boring stuff”.
What’s the practical feasibility of warp drive? At present, conventional physics says you cannot go faster than light. The reason is, as you get closer, you get heavier, so it’s harder to get any faster. In fact, if you hit the speed of light, you aren’t matter any more. BUT near the speed of light TIME WARPS, and there are things we don’t know yet.
(Personal aside: I’ve read that particles can go faster than light if the light beam isn’t in a vaccuum. If it’s shining through water, for instance. Of course, then that speed isn’t technically “c” any more.)
There’s also the idea of “exotic matter”, which may have NEGATIVE mass. (Not the same as antimatter, which still has mass but an opposing charge.) Some math says this “exotic matter” might exist, but we don’t know. (I think there was some connection to wormholes here.)
What about invisibility, and the idea of bending light? Well, it can now work with projectors and cameras, but that is hardly stealthy. Plus LCD screens tend to glow. The thing is, there’s no “corporate pressure” to continue on these lines, as we already have something that works to the extent we need. Yes, we CAN make clothes that change colour.
I actually jumped ahead there; before invisibility there was discussion of how to make movies dramatic and compelling, while still balancing accuracy. The problem here may be when things LOOK too historically accurate, giving credence to other inaccuracies (like in “The Imitation Game”, about Turing).
|This scientist looks legit.|
An audience member brought up flight. We have all these models for airplane lift involving curves, yet when the Wright Brothers flew, they didn’t have those curves - so how did THEY do it? Most science comes from the realization, “You’re a LITTLE BIT wrong”. (A good argument for keeping your notes around.) So there was no answer per se, though it was noted that the bee problem has been solved (science now knows how they make a vacuum, and can fly despite their weight).
There was also an earlier question about mosquitoes, which became a discussion as to whether the buzzing is an unavoidable byproduct. For instance, a byproduct of our walking upright is that we need a big pelvis. Byproducts like this are different from adaptive traits.
I asked another question in here, about the square-cube problem and resizing people in a “Gulliver’s Travels” sense. (For those unaware, surface area is squared while volume is cubic, causing a problem when things grow or shrink.) They was pointed out how a mouse the size of an elephant would crush it’s own legs. And if an elephant could jump as high as a human, it would shatter it’s hips upon landing.
Another issue with growth - if you’re larger, you need more food. There are some work-arounds, for instance, in water you don’t have to support your own weight, but in general the idea of growing was rejected. Shrinking (a la “Ant Man”) is somewhat more plausible. Yes, the surface area of your lungs is smaller, but you also need less oxygen because you’re using less energy. So file this under it “might kind of work”?
|"What could go wrong?"|
One of the last questions was about prosthetic limbs, versus regenerating tissue. The former is a lot easier. The main issue with the latter is it might (with what we know now) take 18 years to grow you your new limb, as it grows not unlike you did. Also, while it’s said that we “have 5 senses”, we actually have something like 23. One of them being “Proprioception”, the sense of knowing where your limbs are.
The idea of science having the “Error Box”, and problems in society (like “False Balance”) are things I was aware of, but it was good to have that reinforced - and mentioned for those who didn’t know. Everything else was more specific, so may or may not be useful for my future writing (or yours!).
The “square-cube” problem in particular was something I mentioned because of an “April Fools” entry that Lucy Weaver wrote for my last web serial... and when I return to “Epsilon Project”, I suspect I will offer it as an option. Thanks for reading! You might also be interested in my “Face Palms of World Building” recap, towards the end of that CanCon post.