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Brian Shrader's Siteseeing Blog

Fictional Accuracy

Posted July 16, 2007

Full disclosure.

I'm a "Star Trek" fan.  My love for the franchise begins and ends with Star Trek II through VI.  All of the new "Star Trek" series and projects just don't interest me at all.  I'm with Captain Kirk, Spock and the gritty, militaristic "Star Trek" depicted in the movies.  It's like naval warfare in space. 

Oh, and Captain Kirk is about 4,000 times cooler than Captain "We Can Negotiate" Picard. 

Now that I've got my geek papers in order, let's check out an old letter to the editor in the Duke Chronicle.  The paper apparently did a story in February about Duke researchers working on an "invisibility cloak."  A few days later, a student named Greg Filpus wrote this letter:

The Chronicle's recent comparison of the "invisibility cloak" to the "Starship Enterprise's cloaking device" suffers from yet another case of inaccurate reporting in the media-fueled hype of the so far benign research project ("Duke scientists work to imitate 'Star Trek,'" Feb. 20). It would be more appropriate to attribute the cloaking device to the Romulans or any of the other races that used cloaking technology regularly; while some of the various incarnations of the Enterprise have used a cloaking device on isolated occasions as a temporary measure (Most notably the original Enterprise in "The Enterprise Incident"), no Enterprise was permanently outfitted with one aside from the alternate future "Enterprise-D" in "All Good Things...". (Of course, in the canonical timeline the Enterprise-D was destroyed in "Star Trek: Generations" years before the events of "All Good Things..."'s alternate future take place.) Moreover, the Federation was not bound to develop or implement cloaking technology under the Treaty of Algeron, the terms of which span three of the five TV series. Associating the cloaking device primarily with the Enterprise is misleading and a disservice to both the continuity of the Star Trek universe and the United Federation of Planets.

Greg Filpus

Pratt '09

God bless him.  Greg Filpus is a guy who defends accuracy in any universe -- fictional or real.  It's a marvelous example of his character.

The letter is getting some new life, thanks to Fark.com.  Check out the letter to see everyone's comments.  It's the usual mix of put-downs, celebration of "Star Trek" and further clarification of the issue.

One of my favorite comments included this picture of published blueprints from the movie-era U.S.S. Enterprise.  It clearly shows a cloaking device on board, but Captain Kirk never used it.

I wonder if Greg read the original article and screamed, "CHRONNNNNNNN-icle!"

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  • Brian Shrader Jul 17, 2007

    I'm with you about the first Star Trek movie. It's way too many hours of slackjawed people staring at a screen.

  • Smorgas_Of_Borg Jul 16, 2007

    Trekkies and Trekkers are entities in a world of their own. For some reason, all elements of the series are 'real' and 'sacred' and shall not be tarnished by non-worshippers (or whatever they are). Though I found the original and Next Generation entertaining, as well as all the movies but #1 (aka: 'Dentist's convention in space'), it was the technical unbelievability that lost me. Like, when the step outside for a space walk, there is NO gravity. Artificial gravity just STOPS at the inner lining of the hull? Or those doors! They chirp, squeak, scratch, scrape. It's the 25th Century and they somehow lost the formula for WD-40? Going from warp factor 7 to dead stop in 12 seconds flat, Commander Riker calls out to the crew: "Everyone hold on! Inertia dampeners may not be working!" I think you get the picture. Fantasy requires suspension of belief for a short time. Why get bent out of shape over something that doesn't exist in the first place?

    Peace

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