Top 5 Totally Misused Science Fiction TechnologiesJune 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Humor, Regular Feature, Star Trek, Star Wars, Stargate | 5 Comments
We all love science fiction. It’s why we’re here reading or writing on a science fiction fan site after all. We love space ships and space battles and a glimmer of advanced technologies that would seem as much like magic to us as a formula one dragster would to a caveman.
We enjoy sarcastic androids and heroes with laser swords who have evil magic cyborgs for a dad and occasionally kiss their sister inappropriately. Fleets and fighters and green faced alien chicks make us sit up and notice. We look at the technology they use and imagine living in a futuristic age of wonder.
Unfortunately, we silly shaved apes have a penchant for exploiting any technology to it’s extremes. I mean, I’m actually writing this article right now on a phone I carry on my belt. When I’m done I intend to watch some HBO on the same phone. You see, I just don’t think the technology we see in those science fiction shows and movies we love so much would be used quite like they are portrayed. In fact, I can probably think of 5 science fiction technologies that are completely misused right now.
For the purposes of whittling down the hundreds of sci fi franchises and their pseudo-science and tech, I am reducing the number of sources used here down to what I consider the “Big 3” of science fiction. Those being Star Trek, Stargate and of course, grandaddy Star Wars. The technology discussed can be found in one or more of those franchises but I may include other references if the mood strikes me.
5. Stasis Fields
This may be the one piece of technology that people pay attention to the least in all of science fiction lore, yet it is the most improbable to ever actually exist. Here we have a device that takes living beings and literally removes them from the passage of time. At the very least, some sci fi entities have stasis fields slowing down time so dramatically within the field that tens of thousands of years can pass before the person within the field suffers any appreciable aging. It sure serves as a mighty convenient plot device. In one scene the hero gets shot through the heart and is laying in a pool of his own blood, seemingly bleeding out on a desolate, alien world. The next moment he is transported away and miraculously saved by the ship’s physician who was able to figure out how to save him while he was in stasis.
How it is misused:
It’s a device that can take biological organisms and inanimate objects out of time. Why not weaponize this marvel? What an easy space battle it would be if you could create a field of null time around your enemies.
“Captain, four Klingon Birds of Prey uncloaking ahead.”
“No problem number one. Fire the stasis cannon. Are they frozen? Good. Now lets go throw rocks at them until they die. Better still, lets just leave. NO WAIT! Before we go *presses comm badge*, transporter room two, I want you to transport just the pants off of every Klingon on those ships. If anyone needs me I’ll be at lunch. Carry on.”
Why in the name of Darth Zannah would you even bother actually fighting an enemy? Freeze them, draw smiley faces on the hulls of their ships and go home. In a land battle you would enjoy a 100% capture rate of men and equipment. Sure the stasis fields would have to be a lot larger than the run of the mill sickbay sort but with that kind of tactical advantage as a reward I would think the best scientists would be studying the possibilities at least.
The only franchise I’ve come across that has had the insight to weaponize stasis fields is the video game Dead Space. In the game you wear a stasis pack on your back. When attacked by an enemy you are able to fire a stasis field at them and completely hinder their movement, giving you all the time you need to make the kill shot from there. You only get so much power in your stasis pack and the uni-directional weapon is useless if being attacked on all sides simultaneously but the idea is present. If this technology really existed it would be a safe bet we would not stop until we had built much, much bigger ones.
Then of course there is how it could keep my bananas from turning black. So there’s that too.
4. The Force
Is the Force a technology? I would say no. Obi Wan described it as a “mystical energy field” in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. There does seem to be quite a bit of technology that can be used in conjunction with the Force however. Both Jedi and Sith make their own light sabers and are said to have a connection to the Force through the device, but that is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are also animals that respond to the Force, either to block it’s use, or as a means of detecting and hunting Force users. There are also inanimate objects that can channel, and in some case greatly amplify the Force. From the very first book ever written in the Star Wars expanded universe, Splinter Of The Mind’s Eye, to some of the most current works, such as friend of Roqoo Depot Paul S. Kemp’s masterpiece Crosscurrent, and in many other books and comics in between, there seem to be many instances in which the Force itself can be controlled not just by a living being but by a device.
How it is misused:
Four words. Galactic Jedi Mind Trick. You gather every piece of technology, shmancy Force amplifying ore, trinket or totem you can find. Then stand on the bridge of your ship somewhere near the middle of the galaxy, wave your hand in the air and say, “So yeah… from now on, what I say goes.”
Just for good measure you could have a friend go with you to reinforce the command with a hearty New England, “Yeah, what he said.”
Well there you go.
I mean, according to Vader, the ability to blow up a planet pales in comparison to the power of the Force. Blowing up a planet is pretty impressive. In order of magnitude there are only two other things you can blow up, namely the sun or the entire solar system, that would be a larger task without taking the entire galaxy with you. That’s a lot of power and if you happen to have all these Force magnifying lenses with you it might seem pretty easy to fry some ants, but again why fight? Just plant the idea in the mind of every living being in the galaxy to follow the way of the light.
A stone circle roughly fifteen feet in diameter spins around and dials another stone circle somewhere many light years away and creates and artificial wormhole that allows people and materials to be nearly instantaneously transported to the other side. A stargate is a one way connection. Only those on the dialing end can go through. If you try to go through it in the wrong direction you will be destroyed. The only thing that can travel in both directions, conveniently, seems to be radio waves.
When the franchise started with the original movie in 1994 there was only one stargate on Earth and it was a closely guarded secret. By the end of the sci fi staple’s roughly fifteen year run this past year, there were hundreds of stargates accessible to the wee humans of planet Earth. So many in fact, that a “gate bridge” was built from a neighboring galaxy in which a dozen or so gates were lined up to make the jump between galaxies a fairly quick and easy procedure. They had home made gates, custom gates and super gates. It was a total gatefest.
How it is misused:
They had wormhole portals that could be radio controlled and they never put fighter engines on one of the damn things and used it to zap enemies from a thousand light years away! They had hyperspace technology by the end of Stargate too. They could easily have sent a stargate to any point in the galaxy, dialed it up and then fired a giant rail gun into it as the gate was pointed toward the enemy. They could have shoved nukes in them, beamed MOABs out the other end or sent anti-matter missiles at the G’ould, Ori or Wraith and they could have done it from Stargate Command while sipping a tea and wearing their Jaffa jammies.
A food and beverage dispensary that at times has demonstrated it can make any other small object as well. The Captain need only walk up the the device on his wall, utter the words, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot”, and violá, his favorite beverage materializes on the pad in front of him. It is supposed to be able to pull of this feat of engineering by re-sequencing the molecular structure of materials on hand. Presumably the stuff in all those containers in the cargo bays that never get explained.
I found this explanation of this wondrous contrivance on Wikipedia:
A replicator can create any inanimate matter, as long as the desired molecular structure is on file, but it cannot create antimatter, dilithium, latinum, or a living organism of any kind; in the case of living organisms, non-canon works such as the Star Trek: the Next Generation Technical Manual state that, though the replicators use a form of transporter technology, it’s at such a low resolution that creating living tissue is a physical impossibility.
For our purposes though, how it works is less important than that it exists.
How it is misused:
Again, build a bigger one. It can’t create living organisms? No problem, we’ll make an army of androids. Mr. Data, please forward your schematics.
It has to have the molecular structure on file? No problem, we scan everything down to the electron every time it goes through the transporter anyway.
Instead of hot tea how about, “Computer, what do you have in a hand held device that can blow up a city?”
“Scotty all our android pilots in one man fighters have been destroyed!”
“I’m making new ones as fast as I can Captain. I mean I’m giving her all she’s got!”
They could not only have armies of androids with as many weapons as they wished but they could program it to build one man fighters, shuttle craft and even star ships if they liked. Why build anything anymore. You’d only need to build one and then scan it. All in a galaxy where no one goes hungry and there is plenty of medicine and warm blankets for all.
Plus if my bananas go black I can get new ones. So there’s that.
I mean, cut it out. Anything you can think of you can program into a holodeck and it becomes real. Well… real enough, in a sense. I mean, it is all force fields and photons so if you ate a holographic apple a day it wouldn’t really keep the doctor away. It seems if you flip the safeties off and chop your buddy in the neck with a holographic ax though, he will bleed to death nicely. So it does make working inanimate objects. Those objects simply cannot do anything a shaped force field can’t do. Personally I can think of a few things I could do with properly shaped force fields that could kill a weekend nicely.
By the end of the penultimate Trek series to run its course, Star Trek Voyager, they had even happened upon the mobile emitter. A device that was the size of a credit card but could be used to project a fully functioning hologram anywhere in the galaxy. It was not restricted to use on a holodeck or a room with “holo-emitters” the vaguely explained devices that pulled off this feat of science and engineering.
How It Was Misused:
Screw the replicators. Why didn’t they just make everything out of holograms? Two holo-emitters, one in front, one in back. Program them to create the Starship Enterprise and there she is. Sure you’d still have to bring some dilithium and anti-matter onto the projection to put in the holographic warp core but the warp core itself is right there, ready to go.
Hell the warp engines are the first thing to go down as soon as any run of the mill enemy fires a roman candle in their direction to begin with. Imagine how much easier life would be if they could just reboot the emitter and BAM! new warp core.
From what I’ve seen of self aware holograms such as The Doctor, they can decide when they want to be solid and when they want to become intangible as well. Shoot a laser at the dear Doctor and he would simply look down as it passed through him. Be nice if you had a ship that could do that! I think coupled with a stasis cannon it would be the only other item you would need for a fairly invincible ship.
Oh, and holographic bananas can be programmed to never turn black. So there’s that too.