Einstein Panel Invites Trekker Speculation

By Michelle
December 19, 2005 - 5:24 PM

A feature on the centennial of Albert Einstein's special theory of relativity gave Star Trek staffers and writers the opportunity to discuss their thoughts on life, the universe and everything.

To celebrate the Einstein anniversary, the Goethe-Institut in Los Angeles arranged a panel, Einstein on Warp Speed: Science in Science Fiction which included writer Andre Bormanis, special effects supervisor Dan Curry and physicist Lawrence Krauss. The Los Angeles Times spoke with each panelist after the group discussed the feasibility of transporters, warp speed, time travel and the like.

"The dream always precedes the reality," Bormanis said. "People talked about sending rockets to the moon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. That technology became a reality." He added that "writing allows you to delve into yourself the way science doesn't" and said he thought what separates genius like Einstein from ordinary people is "the ability to ask honest questions and never take anything for granted."

Krauss, who wrote The Physics of Star Trek, said that unfortunately there will not be real spaceships "anytime soon" capable of galactic travel, though he said the silliest science in science fiction on television is that "every time there's an explosion in 'Star Trek,' there's a 'boom.'" The Alien films, he added, were correct in their tag line: "No one can hear you scream in space." Krauss said that he prefers science to science fiction, because "the universe surprises us with things that no science fiction writer could ever come up with." But he believes that being remembered as a genius depends greatly on luck and timing.

"The amount of time it takes to cover vast distances is ludicrous," agreed Curry. "We [FX people] make spaceships fly like airplanes." However, he does not find Star Trek nearly as silly as "a low-budget '50s movie where the monster was a guy in a gorilla suit with a rented space helmet." Curry believes that genius is "having that spark of imagination and perseverance to exploit it" and said it was worthwhile celebrating Einstein's theory because "Any anniversary that celebrates a genius who opened the eyes of a species is reason."

The full article is in The Los Angeles Times.

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