10 Myths about Space Travel that make SF better

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    ...And yet we manage to maintain fairly coherent lines of communication and learn languages foreign to the linguistic sphere we were raised in.
     
  2. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

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    Next time you tell a Brit that you'll be there momentarily, don't be surprised if you don't get the reaction you expect.
     
  3. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    You seem to be starting from the bottom up, taking simple concepts (we're all made of atoms, let's postulate oxygen is present in the atmosphere of the alien world, etc) and assuming evolution - which is survival-related selection based upon random mutations - will converge alien forms to match our own: to have a head, an even number of limbs, sensory organs on the head, earthly senses.
    Speaking to life sciences professors at your local university will make the impossibility of evolutionary convergence clear (think Star Trek's humanoid species), and the unlikelihood of identical stresses and starting materials resulting in identical adaptations twice quite evident. Eyes have been evolved a hundred times, and all are different and unique, all using different available mechanisms, but eyes have also not been evolved billions of times, with all other non-seeing earthly life.
     
  4. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    How comes?
     
  5. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

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    UK English: momentarily = for a moment
    US English: momentarily = in a moment

    As in the classic story of the two Brits on the US aeroplane (airplane) approaching Chicago, when the captain came over the tannoy to say they'd be landing momentarily and the Brits asked a member of the cabin crew if they'd have time to disembark (deplane).
     
  6. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Not every creature on this planet uses a mouth for auditory communication... the vast majority use mouths exclusively for eating. Vocal cords are not standard equipment on all animals, even on this planet. There's no reason to expect an alien race to have vocal cords, or that they would blow modulated air through an orifice to make sounds.
     
  7. Riothamus

    Riothamus Registered User

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    I never said that they wouldn't have six arms instead of two or organs for purposes we haven't even heard of. If an alien race were to invent tools they would need body parts to manipulate and create them with (assuming we're speaking about sapient life forms). The creation and use of these tools would require the development of accommodating senses (can't think of too many blind people who spend their days putting together complex mechanical devices by touch alone or blind blacksmiths, of course I suppose sonar of some kind could compensate to a point). The development of culture would also require similar thought processes as cultures are based around sapient analysis and reaction to a given environment. It would be here if nowhere else where we would begin to see the greatest similarities between their race and our own though significant differences are to be expected and total comprehension would be more than unlikely unless some power beyond mortal nature were to intervene. Assuming they need to breathe another gas like we need to breathe oxygen (unless they breathe through their skin like worms or some how developed in an aquatic environment which does not necessarily require the use of lungs/lung like structures to develop) they would develop biological mechanisms similar to our lungs to process it.
     
  8. JunkMonkey

    JunkMonkey Registered User

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    As far as I know no other species on this planet has discovered mathematics. Subsequently we're the only species to have left the planet of our own volition. I would have thought a prerequisite for any any alien species to get off their planet would be the use of mathematics. Maths, as many people have pointed out over the years, would be a damn good starting point for any Human / Alien communication to develop.
     
  9. JunkMonkey

    JunkMonkey Registered User

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    ...and. Assuming the alien species communicates using sound in the (human) audible range it wouldn't take more than 16 years to have adult (humans) fluent in colloquial Alien and any human language you would care to nominate. The world is well-stocked with children who are bilingual. Even in my village in the Highlands there are children of immigrants who speak one language at home and another at school. All you would have to do is bring up a bunch of kids - alien and human - from babyhood in a shared environment and let our innate capacity for language do its thing. No problem. (If the aliens squeak like bats or rumble like elephants I'm sure some frequency shifting hearing aids could be finagled to bridge the gap).


    Note to self: Shove that idea in the story idea folder. (And don't all rush at once to give me chapter and verse on all the times it's been used before. Let me play.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2012
  10. ian_sales

    ian_sales Registered User

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    Er, that's pretty much the set-up in Suzette Haden Elgin's Native Tongue.
     
  11. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    Kinda hard to say for sure, since you can't ask them...
     
  12. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    I see what you did there.
     
  13. Steven L Jordan

    Steven L Jordan I like SF. SF is cool.

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    I think the idea that other races will want to leave their own planet, to explore, colonize or conquer, just because we do, is a huge assumption.
     
  14. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Would such people not become scientific and technologically advanced and not be able to do it anyway? And then their is the peculiar thing with Chinese exploration. They sent a fleet to Africa. They could have colonized Australia before the British. But they broke up the fleet and discontinued exploration instead.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He

    But for such an attitude to persist for thousands of years after a culture became technological would seem rather odd.

    psik
     
  15. JimF

    JimF Registered User

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    Regarding Ray Guns...

    Does this count? Niven's Slaver Disintegrator?

    http://www.technovelgy.com/ct/content.asp?Bnum=558

    There was also Leslie Neilson's sidearm in Forbidden Planet. He used it to vaporize a tiger, but that was film.
     
  16. JunkMonkey

    JunkMonkey Registered User

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    Pretty sure it happened in at least one van Vogt I read recently and weren't 'Doc' Smith's planet busting dreadnoughts always obliterating all that stood in their path with their fulgent beams of coruscating energy...

    Oh, you said 'SF literature'....
     
  17. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    LMAO

    Indeed, can't recall an instance of a portable disintegrator beam in print before or even after Star Trek's era.
     
  18. LaGrangeCalvert

    LaGrangeCalvert New Member

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    Spaceships Having wings-Really? there is no air in space to keep the craft afloat
     
  19. Modern Day Myth

    Modern Day Myth Registered User

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    Have you ever heard of "The Space Shuttle?"

    Wings are necessary to go from space into a planet with atmosphere.
     
  20. Pennarin

    Pennarin Registered User

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    This reminds me: One thing I dislike is when authors have a character point out that "even in the future" spaceships are ugly because they only need to be utilitarian. That after hundreds of years of science-fictional space travel a spaceship still looks like something designed by NASA, e.g. a giant skeleton frame with an engine at the end, spherical tanks at the front near the habitat. Bull. If the economy allows it, you can custom its appearance, or its very frame can be shaped in an esthetically-pleasing shape.