Lost in Space

There is a long naval tradition that captains of military ships spend many years in training and practice before receiving command of a ship. Such an officer becomes intimately familiar with the details of their ship. In particular, they understand the limitations and advantages of their weapons systems to an extreme degree.

I realize that all traditions eventually decay away, but I had not expected this one, a very practical tradition that has served the sea-faring nations well for several thousand years, is not going to last into the next few centuries.

People who had access to televisions back in 2002 learned of the death of this tradition early, as that was when an episode of the television series “Star Trek: Enterprise” was aired. I don’t own a television and so here I am, shocked and daunted by the things I’ve seen, five long years after most people learned them. If my buddy didn’t own a TV, I’d likely never have known.

In this episode, Captain Archer asks that the ships phase cannons be used against the enemy. But phase cannons cannot be fired while this ship is moving at warp speed. He receives his education on this limitation from a junior officer, the way one might expect a captain would learn that the crew’s mess has run low on baking powder for cookies, or that there is a shortage of brooms.

The only parallel I can think of for this level of ignorance is the captains of industry, who even now seem less capable than their counterparts from years ago. I’ve not seen enough to understand the details of how officers are to be trained in the future. It appears that the capabilities of military officers will eventually approach those of chief executive officers of large companies: ceremonial posts required by the human flocking instinct; that their decision making capability will be primiarily limited to such as choosing the paint color in the executive washroom and making bad sports analogies while playing golf.


Filed under physics

4 responses to “Lost in Space

  1. Kea

    Ah hah! I found your blog from my CQ link list. Are you going to write more frequently?

  2. CarlBrannen

    I figured that if I had something lengthy to say, I shouldn’t clutter someone else’s (your) blog’s comment section.

    I took photographs of this year’s “giving of the fake Valentine flowers” ritual and was thinking of blogging it, maybe after they are returned next week. I’m thinking about printing up some St. Patrick’s Day shamrock stickers and giving them again in March.

    By the way, it’s not done in the spirit of fooling anyone about the value of the gift, so it doesn’t require a stupid recipient. Real gifts from Carl (as opposed to the ritual stuff that is mandated by corporate advertising) show up unexpected, unannounced, are very nice, and don’t have to be returned a week later.

    What the heck is a “CQ link list”?


  3. Kea

    CQ? Oh, that’s just my choice of webpage monitor. There’s a link on my blog.

  4. Al

    Excellent point, cogently made — more blog entries from you please Mr Brennan; I think you have a very nice way of phasing yourself. Sorry “phrasing” πŸ™‚

    Besides, lots of us 10 year olds really do want to learn physics…

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