Thursday, November 20, 2003

Geeking in public

This phrase was coined by my circle of friends one night at Starbucks. A group of us from Georgia Tech were having coffee (hot cocoa for me, the non-coffee drinker) after going to hear a friend's band, and several of them started playing with blocks in the kids area (we were the only ones there, since it was after 10 pm). Naturally, this lead to "building something," which naturally lead all the engineering and architecture majors to comment on the physics of what they were doing and why it wasn't working. When we realized that the clerk was staring at us like we were speaking a foreign language (which, in a way, we were), someone commented, "hey, no geeking in public." It's just kinda stuck since then. And I'm about to do it in one of the most public forums available: the web.

Last night on Star Trek Enterprise, the ship had come to rest, with no engines, inside a cloud full of magnetic particles. They had to get out (I won't go into why), but the engines would take weeks to fix. So, they used their two shuttle pods as tug boats. But it took the engines quite a while and way more power than the safety limits to get the ship to move (emperilling the lives of the shuttle pilots, etc). Now, here's my problem: it should *not* have taken that much power to overcome the inertia of the ship. It was out in space! No friction, no (or virtually no) gravity. According to the theory, if you shot a BB gun enough times out in open space, you could reach the speed of light. So these two shuttle pods should have been able to generate *more* than enough power to move Enterprise, without ever reaching the safety limits, much less exceeding them. Granted, they never gave the density of the particles or showed a diagram of how the magnetic field was affecting things. Maybe it was enough to provide sufficient inertia to make it difficult to move them, but I doubt it. Now I know why my mom (a nurse) doesn't ever watch medical shows! LOL

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