Thursday, August 27, 2009

Trek-style planet disaster—but a looong episode!

Since the days of "All Our Yesterdays" and "True Q" and even Star Trek-2009 style, our fictional planets have found themselves in fictional trouble. One of the coolest contributions Mike Okuda and Rick Sternbach made for the TNG writers as part of their technical consulting was a "Celestrial Bestiary" in the writer's in-house technical guide, offering real-life science disasters when such potential backdrops are needed behnd the character plots of scripts.

But now here comes word of what's loosely called a "suicide planet": a huge gas giant being pulled into its star from an insanely close and speedy orbit to begin with:
Suicidal Planet Seems On Death Spiral Into Star
... So why hasn't WASP-18b already gone "poof"? Hellier's team figures that the solar-type star (spectral type F6) is about a billion years old. Yet tidal theory argues that the big planet will edge close enough to be torn apart in well under a million years....

Don't set your DVRs to record this story any time soon, though: Note that the Big Finale is not expected to arrive for a million years, at least...!


Dwight Williams said...

At that rate of speed, one would think that we have enough time to work up a couple of viable solutions to that. Assuming, of course, that the situation's a genuine disaster - IE local life forms in danger of extinction - to begin with.

Dwight Williams said...

And I do remember the Celestial Bestiary. Seems like between the various modern-era branch series, they got around to touching on all of the real 'verse possibilities then percolating in the astronomers' and hard-SF writers' brains.

Of course, more tools and information in the kit since ENT wrapped up production, so there's more to play with. Maybe a new edition of the Bestiary's in order for the novelists, comics writers and online gamer designers to fiddle with?

Larry Nemecek said...

Well, considering that was Mike and Rick on the payroll to help TV writers who might not have a background in astro-science ... someone could do such a real-science disaster checklist for any spinoffs, sure. As splintered as Trekland things are today, those turfs are all widely different and unified only by the oversight of licensing folks.

Dwight Williams said...

True enough, all of that.