Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bonus Black Hole Note! The Enterprise Was Never In Any Danger!

At the end of Star Trek, the Enterprise is caught in the gravitational well of the black hole, seemingly inescapably so, and escapes only by ejecting what's basically a huge bomb into the black hole and riding the blast wave out (undamaged). SPOILERS.


If warp speed is faster than lightspeed (which it is), the Enterprise should be able to escape the black hole without all the histrionics, like firing the warp core (which apparently isn’t strictly needed for the ship to go into warp) into the black hole FOR INSTANCE.

Here’s how. The Schwartzchild radius defines the area within which you would need to exceed the speed of light to escape, and so constitutes the effective boundary of a black hole (since we can’t see anything inside because light cannot escape). The Enterprise isn't within the Schwartzchild radius. We know this because nothing can escape once it's inside the event horizon (same thing, but sounds cooler) of a black hole, yet even when his ship has almost been swallowed, Nero is able to send transmissions to the Enterprise. Thus, the event horizon is the actual black border that we see on screen, and anything forward of that can still escape, and the Enterprise never crosses that line.* Therefore, the escape velocity that the Enterprise needs to attain should be less than the speed of light. Therefore, since warp speed exceeds lightspeed, the Enterprise should be fine,** and no huge goddamn bomb is necessary!****

Hooray! Now Kirk can go contract more alien STDs!
*Supplementary reasons: We (the camera) can see the Enterprise, so it hasn't passed the event horizon because the light reflected off of it can bounce back to us. Also, the accretion disk of the black hole helps define its boundary, which the Enterprise doesn't cross. What was it formed out of? I have no idea, since there was no matter around at the time other than Nero’s dead ship (which went straight in) and the Enterprise itself. Regardless, it’s there, and that provides a crude way of telling at least where the Schwartzchild radius isn’t. The disk will be outside the radius, and the Enterprise is outside the disk.

**Not to mention, since warp speed exceeds lightspeed, the Enterprise could theoretically be within the Schwartzchild radius and still be able to use its normal warp engines to escape. It's a question of how far they would be able to go into the black hole.***

***The movie ignores the "spaghettification" thing--the thing where the pull of gravity on the part of the ship closest to the black hole will be stronger than the pull of gravity on the farthest-away part, so the Enterprise will start to stretch out like a strand of spaghetti as it gets closer to the black hole--so I see no reason why I shouldn't ignore it as well. Phooey on you, spaghettification.

****One more thing: They hurled the huge bomb into the black hole, into the event horizon itself! Nothing can fucking escape the event horizon unless it has a magical warp-drive, and no matter what radiation the explosion generated, its maximum speed would still be the speed of light! Thus, it couldn't escape! Thus, that entire explosion in space is a crock of shit!*****

*****Done now, but there's another one coming. Hold onto your helmets. Also, celebratory penguins again!

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