The funny part was that I was doing a write-up around the time it premiered, intending to be a little prescient because I knew . . . knew, I say! . . . that Braga the No-Talent Hack was going to kick a particular bit of technology in the balls just as he does with all other technology and science. As soon as I heard that he was going to do a show based on a sound that altered DNA, I knew it was only a matter of time before he utterly failed to consult a science advisor and had it happen over the phone.
"(weird dumbass alien noise)"
The funny part is that Braga's hackery got himself cancelled so fast I never got a chance to finish the write-up!
Anyway, here it is, unfinished, its unfinishedness yet another proof of Braga's suck factor.
(Kickass link that sounds like a Trek fan bitching about Braga's bad writing (but is in fact some other guy bitching about Braga's bad writing) follows.)
It's not even a DNA-mutating disease per se, from what I read before the premiere . . . it's a *magic sound* that, even if it comes through a TV playing a camcorder's recording of the sound, can *alter your DNA*.
Note also that Braga has recently stated that Threshold is based on and grounded in real science.
So, if that's the case, then we ought to be able to ascertain something of this sound, should we not? After all, how long is it until Braga will have one of the Big Bad Aliens calling someone and playing the Sound of Doom, hmm?
The human voice occupies a certain sound frequency range, and ears hear another. Telecomm engineers took advantage of this and discovered that speech could be compressed into a 64kbps data stream with no loss in audible quality. Of course various errors occur, but on a phone call you'll hardly notice.
So, as soon as the aliens pick up the phone, we'll know that the Magic Sound has, at best, the ability to transmit information at 64kbps. That's 64,000 bits per second, or 8 kilobytes per second . . . or ever so slightly faster than a 56k modem.
Human DNA consists of about 3 billion base pairs, with the bases commonly represented as A, C, G, or T. Even if you just number them as 1, 2, 3, 4 and transmit that in binary (say, like 0, 1, 10, 11) you're going to need at least two bits per base pair, and realistically you'll need at least four (i.e. 00, 01, 10, 11 . . . otherwise how would you know that 1011 was 3,4 (i.e. G,T) versus 2,1,2,2 (C,A,C,C) or even 2,1,4 (C,A,T)?). But let's assume two bits for kicks . . . that gives us six billion bits for the human genome . . . or 715 megabytes.
Just try downloading that at 56k!
But this genetic-mutation-Magic-Sound-disease-thing probably wouldn't need to send that many . . . it might only need, say, half a million base pairs, or a million bits. That brings us down to 122 kilobytes, which at 64 kilobits per second (8 kilobytes per second) would only take 15.25 seconds.
"Aha!" you could say . . . "Braga was right! Half a million base pairs is all that a densely-coded virus like Herpes has, so indeed that data could be transmitted!"
You could say that, but you would be stupid. The sound would have to be activating pre-existing DNA in the human genome in the best case . . . otherwise how in the world would simply playing a sound make people have this genetic freakout? There's no mechanism, just magic.
Of course Braga doesn't realize that will be necessary, though he might eventually include that if someone tells him. I say this because in the premiere the sound was capable of making a funny fractal pattern for no apparent reason, and bloodstains would spontaneously reorganize into this pattern. Because, you know, blood cells are mobile little bastards.
"Oh, but Braga's smarter than you. He knew that the alien virus thingy was creating flagella on the red blood cells so they could move and make the pattern. Oh, and some sort of autolocation thingy so they'd know how to orient themselves into the pattern and if they'd done so correctly."
In fact, let's just go ahead and do a complete runthrough of all the bad science (along with the crappy writing) in just the premiere.
1. The smokin'-hot Carla Gugino has almost no hesitation whatsoever in that one of her many doomsday scenarios is coming to pass. I sure wouldn't have minded seeing her bite her lip pensively . . .
. . .
Oh yeah, hi. What I was saying, though, was that Braga doesn't write human beings. He just sort of skips over humanity. Can you imagine if a chopper landed in front of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens and said "hey, that book Icefire that you wrote about nukes causing a megawave from Antarctica? Yeah, that's happening, so could you maybe hook us up with some of the research you did?" I'd bet hard-earned cash that one or both of them would shit.
See also: Kickass Link