Because Battlestar Galactica Isn’t Nerdy Enough

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

After being told to watch Battlestar Galactica by everyone in the universe, I finally gave in. It’s a good show. A great show, even.

One thing I love about it is the way the ships move. It’s the first time I’ve seen realistic space flight in science fiction. Space vehicles are always depicted as airplanes when in fact they work on very different principles. Air vehicles rely on the presence of air to maintain lift and, thus, counteract gravity. Space vehicles don’t have to deal with gravity, nor is there any need for aerodynamics since there is no air to… um… dynam. I love seeing the Vipers in Battlestar flip about on multiple axes using reaction control thusters while maintaining their forward velocity. I also enjoy the (mostly) silent space shots. Hooray for space realism.

I find it very unrealistic, however, that they have such difficulty figuring out who is and who isn’t a Cylon. They have an MRI machine for pete’s sake! Are we supposed to believe that humans and Cylons are anatomically identical even though Cylons have superior strength and somehow transmit a wireless signal when they die?

The show did get me thinking of what would be involved in building an artificial human that could one day attack and enslave us. Seems like a good project. I think one of the biggest problems (besides, you know, the brain) is power. Humans are supposed to eat about 2000 kilocalories a day. (We call them “calories,” but they’re actually kilocalories.) A TV running 16 hours a day (8 hours of sleep) would require about 2900 kilocalories. A human being uses less power than a TV! And that doesn’t even account for the inefficiencies of converting food to usable energy. I don’t think there is technology today that can do what a human does while consuming so little power. Fiona Apple is right. We are extraordinary machines.

(A toaster, by the way, is very inefficient. If it were toasting 16 hours a day, it would require over 11,000 kilocalories.)


I’ve never felt more sad for you and yet never as happy to have you as my friend until this moment. ;)

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