Friday, January 15, 2010

Star Trek Computers

On Star Trek, especially Next Generation, whenever anybody has any serious questions to work out on the ship computers, they give verbal commands and the computer talks back to them.

This would logically lead to a situation akin to sitting on a bus or in a store full of people talking on their cell phones--stray bits and pieces of conversation colliding to create a noisy, discordant background noise.

But when you enter the bridge or the engineering room, you don't hear a dozen muffled conversations, just the hum of machinery. So what the hell are people working on?


Aaron DaMommio said...

Dang, you broke Star Trek!

Doug said...

Ha! Star Trek is immune to such petty queries of my own. But it does speak to the aspect of Star Trek that has annoyed me since high school at the least: why do they insist that the Enterprise has a crew of hundreds of people when they aren't necessary? At all?

Twenty people could clearly run the Enterprise with the aid of its uber-computer and still do all the things the Away Teams do, as evidenced by the fact that the same people (ie, the cast) keep performing the bulk of the work. So why are the other people even there? Some kind of Federation jobs program for adventure seekers?

Aaron DaMommio said...

I know! I guess they started with a heavy Navy model and then someone wrote that fateful episode where someone DID run the ship solely by talking to the computer...and damned it all. They damned it all to hell!

(My captcha was wigboubi. It frightens me.)

Doug said...

I think that's exactly what happened!

It's just so funny, because the biggest headache in terms of maintenance and resource allocation on a spacecraft is very likely the living crew. The more you have, the more expensive and complex your systems have to be.

I don't even think it's a good narrative decision to have a big crew, especially for an exploration vessel, because with so many people walking around everything feels less desperate in a crisis and less focused/dependent upon the key characters to solve it, so you just have to ignore them in the majority of stories anyway.

But then, they actually had an old Trek episode where Kirk says "fire phasers" and the order gets repeated by several people en route to the phaser station somewhere else on the ship.

I'm guessing that on a modern naval vessel that's one order from a captain to a gunnery officer who probably sits in the same room.

Aaron DaMommio said...

So they have phasers on modern naval vessels now?