skeptical scientist wrote:So this isn't a facepalm—quite the opposite in fact—but I thought it was so awesome I had to post it.
In Mass Effect 2, the main character is complaining about people who don't understand how their own technology works, and says, "You'd be surprised how often I get asked, 'Why's the ship turning around? We're only half-way there.'" I did a double take, since the last thing I expect from a mass market video game is a physics joke. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
(Admittedly, it would have been better if inter-system transportation in the game weren't based on FTL that ignores the whole acceleration/deceleration issue.)
I, uh, I don't get the joke.
Anyway, I noticed a comment about Stargate earlier in the thread. I think, for the most part, Stargate does a good job, except for anything dealing with computers.
I can understand how they, after many many years, managed to "MacGyver" a system (cue funny look from Richard Dean Anderson) to interface between their computers and a thousands-of-years-old alien device. But, on the spinoff series "Atlantis", they can hook up their computers to those of ANOTHER alien race they just encountered. Nevermind that they probably don't use anything even remotely similar to "combinations of eight 1's and 0's form any one of 256 possible bytes".
Also, if you have a robot (actually a humanoid being made of nanites) that dissolves their body and turns their consciousness into a floating invisible energy being thing. How exactly do they just move into some computer system? They float around, find a computer, and just seep into the wires? And they can just adapt to another form in a different computer language on the spot? And some types of computers are unpleasant to be in?
Anything having to do with computer viruses is complete handwaving. So, you have a huge computer virus, and you delete a good chunk of it. It then continues to function as before in the parts of the system where it survived. It's "able to regrow itself from a very small fraction". Uh huh. So what exactly do the extra parts of the code that "regrew" DO?? Does it have a command somewhere that says "continue to write code that has these functions: [...]"? If so, then that's not regrowing, it's just duplicating parts of itself. Which I guess is understandable. But if it needs to expand in order to function, then deleting chunks of it would likely cause it to stop functioning. Not to mention that a computer entity was able to zap itself into someone's brain... through a keyboard. Last time I checked, keyboards were usually made of non-conductive plastic.
And sound frequencies. If a particular frequency has some effect on people or technology, it probably won't remain exactly the same if recorded through a microphone and played through a speaker. If they can record and play back a sound that sounds exactly the same as it does in person, they'd be selling that audio reproduction technology.
Not related to computers, but still weird: where the hell does the iris protecting the gate GO when it's open?
You can't even attribute this one to alien technology, because scientists on Earth built the iris very shortly after figuring out that lots of other people could try to come through it.