Home > Entertainment > Stargate Atlantis: Returns Early via the Internet

Stargate Atlantis: Returns Early via the Internet

16-Sep-07 05:24 pm EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

I wasn’t even expecting to start browsing torrent sites at this early point trolling for new episodes of favorite programmes (note the non-admission of any wrongdoing in that, law enforcers / policy-makers) not expecting to actually find anything and, to my surprise, Atlantis has already got two episodes posted to virtually every torrent site still active.  (Notably absent from the list this year is TorrentSpy, which signed an agreement with Satan the U.S. entertainment industry to eliminate alleged pirate movie and TV show torrents from its trackers.)  And needless to say, there are a lot of places on the net outlining details from the show, all to very loud howls of "spoiler" and "this is wrong" – even from a number of fans of the show who are opting to wait for the September 28th air date.

Speaking of which….


The noteworthy thing about the plot is that, at one point, the city, left hurtling out-of-control through space by an incident at the end of Season 3, encounters an asteroid field.   There are several issues with this that come immediately to mind:

  • even a city the size of Atlantis is infinitesimally small in the vastness of interstellar space; even without knowing the stellar density of the Pegasus galaxy (which I happen to have plotted on a star map near my desk), it’s safe to say that if Atlantis came out of hyperspace at some random point in transit between Lantea (the world Atlantis was originally on)and its original destination, the odds of it finding itself in another star system would be extremely remote,
  • add to that, even within a star system, an object the size of the city hurtling at some random trajectory, just passin’ through coming into contact with another planet or even, say, an asteroid belt would be exceptionally remote, and
  • given that contact with an asteroid belt were to be had – the field of asteroids would typically not be quite as dense as was depicted in the episode – particularly at the outer edge of the belt, where the city was "fortunate" to be passing thorough.

The above graph depicts the approximate density of asteroids at points throughout the asteroid belt (measured as units of semi-major axes in relation to the Sun).  1 AU = 149 597 870.691 km (±0.03 km), so each 0.005 AU = 747 989.353455 km.  Dividing this number by 140 asteroids establishes the number of asteroids per every 1 km of space (on average).  Not sure what the margin of error is at that point, perhaps someone would like to add that value, given the numbers presented above.

In the episode, "jumpers" are depicted flying through a dense field of what McKay describes as "building-sized" rocks.  Indeed, the field is so dense that the city is apparently menaced by many of these rocks impacting its width, which couldn’t be more than, let’s be generous, 10km wide?  Just to put it in perspective, our own asteroid belt, here in the Sol star system, at its most dense point averages 1 asteroid for every 5, 342.78 km.  In short, your average run-of-the-mill, back-home asteroid belt isn’t going to need a fleet of "jumpers" armed with a practically inexhaustible supply of missile-drones of the ancients to shatter hundreds or perhaps thousands of building-sized chunks of rock out of the way of a 10km-wide flying city that happens across it one unlucky day.  Were a field of rocks so dense to exist, it would likely accrete into a larger planetary form within a few thousand years.

In fact, I’d really appreciate it if sci-fi shows just started steering clear of episodes where ships of any kind are menaced by Kuiper Belt objects or asteroid belts because an increasing number of us sci-fi fans also are interested in, well, science and might know these things, offhandedly.  Oh I admit, I had to look up the actual density of the asteroid belt on Wikipedia, but I did already know that it was quite sparsely populated taking city-sized objects into consideration.  All the same drama could have been as readily achieved by placing a single asteroid in the path of the city.  This too, would have been extremely unlikely – although the writer involved could have said this random chunk was itself part of an asteroid belt and that would be fine.

In short, if I’m stuck with Atlantis as being all the sci-fi I have to watch until Battlestar Galactica comes back on in January 2008, then I’d appreciate the writers actually making some effort to understand the phenomena they’re writing about first.

Wouldn’t you?

Categories: Entertainment
  1. Ross
    09-Oct-07 03:25 am EDT at 03:25 am EDT

    Well I still think it\’s about a matter of degree.  Yes, it\’s fiction, but as I tried to say in the article, if we\’re gonna suspend our disbelief in the style of Elizabethan-era theatre, then the degree to which we\’re asked to do so should simply be limited to us not altering our most fundamental perceptions.  Shakespeare wouldn\’t have asked that of us, after all.  And whatever we might think of Stargate Atlantis, it\’s more real than even the most well-costumed and propped version of The Tempest. The bar for television is higher – and so building asteroid belts crammed full of rocks approaching the size of buildings, yet still arcing around the central star of any star system is simply pushing the limit in my vew.But I suppose it\’s all a matter of degree.Thanks for the comment!


  2. Parminder
    01-Oct-07 02:06 am EDT at 02:06 am EDT

    Wow dude, you need to calm down. This isn\’t Battlestar Galactica (Which i love to death) and it isn\’t trying to be. You can flush realism down the drain because thats not what Stargate Atlantis is trying to achieve. Its all about pure entertainment, and this show definately entertained me. And thats all that should matter. So what if those situations that atlantis had to go through were unrealistic and not based on facts… its Science Fiction…


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