I’m out of town, visiting family and friends in the period between the end of the summer and the time things get cranking back up later this summer. One thing I did do on Friday was catch the new Star Trek. I’ll save the review and “physics of” posts for later this week. I’ll be honest and admit that when I first saw the posters I thought it would be a train wreck. Long story short: it was shockingly good.
And I think I’ll cut it some slack on the physics. Sure it was bad, but given the genre it was only normally bad rather than egregiously bad (the supernova bit excepted). But again, we’ll save the review for later. On the road it’s difficult to write a solid Sunday Function so I think odds are we’ll end up saving it for Wednesday Function once I’m actually back in a place where I’ve got the time to craft quality posts. No promises with regard to content on Monday and Tuesday, but I shall do my best.
Still it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good Sunday for doing a little bit of math, so I’ll post a Trek-movie-related Fermi problem. I’m intentionally vague, but you could construe this as a spoiler so be warned. At one point our heroes are menaced by the gravitational attraction of a black hole. The black hole was generated entirely bay the mass of an admittedly large spacecraft which had just prior fallen victim to exposure to an unobtanium-style material which causes a catalyzed collapse of whatever it contacts into a black hole. So what used to be a spacecraft of (say) a few tens or hundreds of millions of tons is now presumably a point mass with the corresponding gravitational interaction. The problem:
Estimate a minimum safe distance between the Space Shuttle in its current incarnation and such a black hole.
Presumably the Federation’s brand-new Enterprise would be even more safe, but as I don’t know much about warp engines we’ll use the shuttle as a more accessible example.