May 14-20 1994 TV Guide, p. 20:

"But there is a very strong sense of finality -- we owe that to the audience. Riker will not wake up in the shower and say it's all been a dream."

- Rick Berman, Executive Producer

Yeah . . . he saved that for Enterprise. Dick.

SP 937-215

Based on the title (which is Picard's serial number, per "Chain of Command, Pt. I"[TNG6]), then Picard represents one of 676,000,000 (676 million) possible Starfleet officers.

(For those in Mississippi, you multiply the possible values of each digit to get the total . . . 26 x 26 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10 x 10, in this case.)

This pattern for serial numbers was faithfully followed in TNG materials (even for fairly recent Starfleet folks), though there are possible discrepancies in Voyager. TOS serial numbers were different, and thus it is unclear when the new version began. Assuming this occurred circa 2300, and assuming no repeats, we would have 70 years in which to fit up to 676,000,000 people who received serial numbers. That's a maximum of 9,700,000 persons per year.

If we also assume a completely made-up average of 15 years of service from every person receiving a serial number, then Starfleet could have up to 144,000,000 people serving at any one time between 2300 and 2370.

Remember, however, that these are highest possible values . . . it is absurd to assume that the serial number system was set to die in 2370.

Perhaps more interesting/strange is the fact that both ENT-era and TOS-era serial numbers allowed for higher numbers.


Caught Another Warp Reference

Another "Head Case" example (i.e. quick mental calculation by a character):

In "Obsession"[TOS2], Kirk and Spock are discussing an event "an hour" earlier with the cloud-creature that had been doing warp eight prior to the event. As Kirk notes, it turned and attacked when instead "it could have been many light years away from us".

Even assuming that "many" equalled "two", two light-years per hour is 17,520c.



Lightsabers and long exposure times combine most excellently.

"Darth Mojo" original post (with more) here.


"Stop Nerd on Nerd Crime"

Great commentary on and summation of the Vs. Debate:

"As a nerd I understand how and why people can be passionate about many things. What I don't understand is when one fanatical nerd group thinks they are better than another fanatical nerd group. Case in point Star Wars fans vs. Star Trek fans. Star Wars fans think that Star Wars is the Filet Mignon of Science fiction and that Star Trek is a turd sandwich served with a side of fecal fries. Darth Vader pwns (nerd lingo for owns) Captain Kirk, Obi one super pwns Spock, and C3PO bitchily slaps Captain Picard. News flash nerds those that wear costumes, are of a greasy composition, and live in their parents basements should not be bashing those that wear costumes, are of a greasy composition, and live in their parents basements. Stop nerd on nerd crime.

Someday I have a dream where all intergalactic space based nerd theme show fans can come together and share some awkward costumes and Zimas. Star Wars fans with Star Trek fans and Battlestar Gallactica fans etc. Maybe even some will fall in love and have a whole mess of costumed babies who will be ostracized and beaten up by the non costumed children of public schools. Until this magnificent dream of nerd unity occurs I will use the force and live long and prosper."

Replicators Are Coming

While in this particular instance the term "replicators" better fits the Stargate SG-1 definition (think chip-size TNG Borg) than the Trek definition, elements of both are present.

The RepRap is a self-replicating rapid-prototyping machine. I've seen a large rapid prototyping device before at a university, and they are magnificent devices. Building a plastic object layer by layer, you end up with a near-perfect model (or, if it was a plastic object you wanted in the first place, a near-perfect object ready for use).

Calling it "self-replicating" is a bit of a stretch at the moment. In addition to a wealth of additional parts (including steel rods and assorted electronics), it must be hand-assembled and requires a computer to operate. However, future RepRaps are intended to have the ability to do circuitry. This sort of thing is manually possible even now . . . there are special conductive-ink pens that allow one to draw working low-voltage circuits. Microprocessors are certainly a long way off for any such tabletop technology, but the germ of the idea is there.

Even with what it can do now, it would be theoretically possible for RepRap to put certain companies out of business, if the units existed in sufficient numbers. For the most low-key example, you can imagine a simple "make solid" plug-in to convert 3-D graphics models (LightWave or POV-Ray or what-have-you) into solid shapes that the RepRap software could build. This would have the effect of savagely reducing the business of certain fringe model kit and toy makers. Even for more advanced model-builders who wanted to light their models, designing little conduits (or large open spaces) for running wire or fiber optics is hardly outside the realm of possibility.

The best part of RepRap is the open-source nature of it. You can make your own right now.

The active mind can certainly see all sorts of potential for a device like that. But, I want you to imagine the future. Picture a replicator similar to RepRap capable of working with many materials. I'm not even talking about nanotechnology dreams, here, but a real assembler capable of using small quantities of metals and plastics. Even with the most basic processors, what common items couldn't be made with such a thing?

This is the coming revolution. While industry will remain a step ahead for a long while owing to quantities of scale and special needs and whatnot, home manufacturing will slowly whittle away at it as time passes.

Of course, the more things can be made simply, the greater the danger, too. If you can make a simple analog telephone at home, you can make a sealed detonator circuit just as easily. The same is true even today, to be sure, but with so severely lessened cost and thought and effort requirements I have a feeling the problem would worsen significantly.

Will we make it past a home manufacturing revolution? Will nano-tech based home replication systems come and will society survive? It remains to be seen. But we're not too terribly far away now from finding out. The world of 2100 will either be extraordinary to see, or positively horrifying.


A Neat Toy

SensibleUnits.com can give you a better grasp of some of the object sizes, masses, or what-have-you that we deal with in the debate.

For instance, when I plugged in 289 meters (the length of NCC-1701), I learned that this was 3.6 Airbus A-380s side by side (i.e. wingtip-to-wingtip). It's that sort of little observation that can cause the brain to springboard elsewhere. For instance, given that the Airbus A380 carries over five hundred (and up to eight hundred) seated passengers, you're talking about room for almost two thousand people, with most of that space being taken up by wing.

But then I've talked about such things before.

Still, it's a neat little toy to put things in better perspective.