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Old 23-05-2008, 04:12 AM   #1
Senmut
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Default The Last Sunset--plot hole or limitation?

In TLS, we see the mysterious aliens give Alpha an atmosphere. Given how much gas it would take to envelope the Moon sufficiently, this would constitute a lot of their own atmosphere being transferred. Now, the Arielites obviously have a massively advanced technology. They assessed the Alphan's situation, and manufactured all the probes in a short amount of time. The "not less than infinite" expansion from the initial probe testifies to this.
So, why, when it becomes obvious that the Moon won't be going into orbit around Ariel's sun, instead of taking the atmosphere back, why don't the Arielites just alter the Moon's trajectory, and insure it's being captured by their sun's gravity? It would seem that, given their other powers, including alterations to the Moon's gravity and rotation, that this would be well within their capabilities.
So, hidden motives on the alien's part, technological limitation, or plot hole?
What say you all?
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Old 23-05-2008, 08:19 AM   #2
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The Moon's gravity is too weak to hold an atmosphere (which is why it doesn't have one now). Any gas released on the surface would immediately head out into space. How they do it is a mystery. There are a number of unanswered questions in the episode.
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Old 23-05-2008, 08:37 AM   #3
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Year One of Space:1999 left a lot of unanswered questions, but I'm okay with that.

Dana
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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I don't think it requires every t to be crossed or every i to be dotted. As the late Arthur C Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:42 AM   #5
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But its real... its real I tell you, there must be an answer!!!
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:45 AM   #6
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Who's to say that the probes not only supplied an atmosphere but a force field as well to hold the stuff in?

I figure that when the moon dosn't get captured in orbit they are happy to see them go. They gave them an atmosphere in the first place so they would leave the aliens alone and not go poking about in their space.
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Old 23-05-2008, 09:45 AM   #7
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But its real... its real I tell you, there must be an answer!!!

The biggest plot hole of course is the fact that the moon is flying around like the Enterprise in the first place, but who cares, its a great ep. One does wonder though why the people on the ground don't do a little more to help these people. They claim that earth people nasties then turn around and do a pretty good impression of nasties themselves.

Great to see Tanya in the tennis skirt though
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Old 23-05-2008, 11:29 AM   #8
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I think it's a plot hole that can be covered up with saying the aliens had ulterior motives as we never learn much about them.
Maybe they were just xenophobic.
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Old 24-05-2008, 01:00 AM   #9
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Actually I think there is a really good reason they don't alter the moon's tragectory. If they are that eager to keep the Alphans away from them, why let the moon stay in their solar system, thus giving the Alphans years to prosper, grow, and decide to go explore that nearby planet whose inhabitants have great technolgies?

By the way, it is definatly not true that the moon would instantly lose any atmosphere you put there. Keep in mind that the gravity is one sixth as strong as earth's, which is not minimal.

There have been discussions (by people far wiser than myself, planetary and scientific types) about the theoretical prospects for terraforming the moon. Aside from the tough part of delivering an atmosphere in the first place, then you have to speed up the rotation so that the temperature curve is somewhat Earthlike in the day night cycle. In any case, my recollection is that they estimated that the atmosphere would indeed need to be replenished as it slowly leaked away, but on cycles of many thousands of years. So, quick by geologic terms, but not by human life spans.
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Old 24-05-2008, 01:50 AM   #10
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call me on this if i'm wrong

as you "Spin up" the moon wouldn't you also make the moons gavatiy stronger?

as Clark said i agree fully and there could of been a "force field" in effect to keep the atmosphere in
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Old 24-05-2008, 04:28 AM   #11
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OK, you're wrong. Don't feel too alone. Join 90 percent of the population who never had a good physics instructor in high school, or who gets all of their information from TV and movies, which almost always get it wrong. I suffered through years of engineering classes including rotational dynamics and Astrodynamics. None of which helped me get a date, but it does help me in these kinds of nerdy discussions.

Basically, if you spin up the rotation, the gravity would stay exactly the same.

But if you were standing on the equator you would feel ever so slightly lighter. That is because the angular velocity would tend to throw you away from the moon's surface, while at the same time the gravity is pulling you back. The closer you get to the poles, the lower the effect (since you are traveling slower) and at the poles there would be no effect at all. I could do the math in college, but don't want to try to dredge it back up or look up how to do it. But I don't think the effect would be very strong.

You may be thinking of the effect seen in a centrifuge. In that case, it is true that
'gravity' appears to increase in a cetrifuge (think astronaut training, where they stick people in a capsule and swing it around in circles). But that acceleration you sense (which feels like gravity) is the change in your velocity as the large arm holding the capsule keeps it from flying away. They spin the assembly fast enough that the astronaut trainees inside feel a lot of 'gravity' .... in other words, their bodies inside the capsule really want to fly away from the device, but the floor of the capsule keeps pulling them back. (we will pretend for a moment that the earth's gravity is not present, and since they typically spin these machines up to 3-6 Gees (gravities) then it is reasonble to just forget about what the Earth is up to while you are inside the centrifuge)

Take this example to the moon, and the situation is reversed. The angular velocity trying to fling you into space is very small..... so most of the force you feel is from under your feet.
You've got 1/6 gravity pulling you down, and say 1/100th gravity pulling you up. So as far as your body is concerned, you finally lost that 1/10th of a pound you've been trying to take off every since Breakaway.
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Old 24-05-2008, 04:54 AM   #12
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Regardless of how they did it, the probes and the atmosphere were all just distractions sent to keep the Alphan's busy and to keep them away from the planet, long enough for the moon to move out of range.

Dana
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Old 24-05-2008, 05:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmdrkoenig67 View Post
Regardless of how they did it, the probes and the atmosphere were all just distractions sent to keep the Alphan's busy and to keep them away from the planet, long enough for the moon to move out of range.

Dana
DING! We have a winner!
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Old 24-05-2008, 05:48 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmdrkoenig67 View Post
Regardless of how they did it, the probes and the atmosphere were all just distractions sent to keep the Alphan's busy and to keep them away from the planet, long enough for the moon to move out of range.

Dana
But the distraction of the first probe would have been enough to do that. Why give them an atmosphere at all? The Arielite voice said they gave the Alphans "what you wanted" so they would leave them alone. Does that mean they could not tell that the Moon would not swing into orbit? Giving Alpha an atmosphere then taking it back seems an exercise in cruelty if they knew the Moon would not remain.
They sped up the Moon's spin, and increased the gravity, till both resembled Earth normal. On the surface remember Paul and the rest moved about without the bouncing we see in the usual Lunar gravity. If they could do that, could they have altered the Moon's trajectory enough to put it in orbit? IF the Moon had stayed, presumably they had other methods to keep Humans off their planet?

Last edited by Senmut; 25-05-2008 at 07:12 AM.
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Old 24-05-2008, 07:25 AM   #15
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Sadly for the Arielites the script writers didn't want Alpha finishing its odessey just yet so they come across as nasty isolationists or at least xenophobes. Their act is cruel and they don't care because the last thing they want is humans wrecking the neighbourhood.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:32 AM   #16
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I think a lot of this is being over analysed. The gravity thing when they're outside is just artistic licence on the grounds they couldn't shoot the whole episode in slow motion. The atmosphere was given to them by Ariel so that they could stay on the Moon and make it their home and not have to go to the planet seeking refuge. It serves Ariel's purpose whether they go into orbit or not.
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Old 24-05-2008, 07:59 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbidsquirrel View Post
as you "Spin up" the moon wouldn't you also make the moons gavatiy stronger?
Quote:
Originally Posted by john_trek View Post
OK, you're wrong. ..... Basically, if you spin up the rotation, the gravity would stay exactly the same..
Actually, rabidsquirrel is a little right, if you consider the relativistic physics and not just the Newtonian.

A faster spinning moon represents a higher energy state than a slower one (energy has to be added to make it spin faster).

That means you add mass to the moon, because energy is mass, according to Einstein's famous E=mc2.

More mass gives a stronger gravity field.

Now John, before you rightly tell me, this effect is very marginal, and of course not big enough to matter in the discussion about the moon's atmosphere. I just thought I point it out anyway out of interest. You're absolutely right that the centrifugal force (which isn't a force really, but inertia) matters more, except near the poles.

I share the opinion here that the aliens technology in that episode is advanced beyond our understanding (probably way past Newtonian, relativistic and quantum physics as well).
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Old 24-05-2008, 08:14 PM   #18
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What effect would a Moon suddenly going into orbit have on a planet.
It leaving would have disastrous effect on Earth as it is our stabiliser and keeps this planet habitable.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:39 PM   #19
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Quote:
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What effect would a Moon suddenly going into orbit have on a planet.
It leaving would have disastrous effect on Earth as it is our stabiliser and keeps this planet habitable.
I don't agree, but tell me if I'm wrong. I think the Earth would be absolutely fine without the moon. It would rotate faster and be without tides (at least big ones), but that's about it. Oh, of course, one major problem, nights would be much less romantic...

But the forces involved with adding or subtracting a major moon probably will give some serious geologic disturbances on a planet.
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Old 24-05-2008, 09:50 PM   #20
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The Moon controls not only the tides but the breeding and living cycles of many land and marine creatures and they would invariably die out. More importantly, the Moon acts as a stabilising force that keeps the Earth's axis of rotation steady. Without it, the Earth would spin and flip regularly and the climatic changes alone would probably see off 99% percent of life on Earth. The Earth and Moon actually rotate around a common centre of gravity and a change in this alone would lead to some serious geological upheavel. Basically, the Earth would not survive. Just three days ago, there was an Open University programme on the TV looking at the Solar system and the part the Moon plays in keeping the Earth habitable.
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