Astro Babble

For years I have watched the various Star Trek incarnations and let them off with the techno-babble as it generally wasn't too bad. In the Next Generation they did a fairly good job of getting the astrophysics correct and that was probably due to the science advisor (Andre Bormanis I think). The worst astro babble I saw was in an episode of Voyager involving getting stuck inside the event horizon of a black hole. What was the problem? They have faster than light engines for goodness sake.

I bring up the topic of astro babble because tonight I saw a TV programme containing the most astro-babble I think I have ever heard in a single half-hour. I thought Armageddon was bad with astronomy. The programme was a new comedy series named Supernova that has been created by UKTV in Australia. It was shown on BBC2 and is a six-week run.

Astro babble, like techno-babble, is the term used to describe sentences of complicated astronomy words that characters speak. Generally these sentences have absolutely no meaning and are put in a script to make it sound technical. In Supernova I imagine that the script writer cut out the words in The Space Atlas (which I'm not knocking as I have a copy of my own), threw them in the air and built up sentences from the result. The whole of the first episode revolved around a black hole (no puns intended) which seemed to be 'moving out of range'. The astronomers were able to catch it with their telescope after zooming past planets, nebulae and galaxies. Have none of the production crew ever used a telescope? Arrghh.

I had built my hopes up for an astronomically correct (within reason as it is TV after all) comedy series, so felt a bit let down. Personally, I didn't think the comedy was too great either as Australia and the UK can do much better. Despite all my complaints, there were a couple of moments that I found funny.


Posted in astro blog by Stuart on Tuesday 11th Oct 2005 (23:04 UTC) | Permalink
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