Weekend geekery: Star Wars vs. Star Trek

Ever wonder who’d win in a war of Trek vs. the Empire?

Well now you know!


  1. #1 Danny
    December 6, 2008

    Haha, good one! I knew the Force would be their ace in the hole.

  2. #2 CyberLizard
    December 6, 2008

    You would think that after all the exposure to the myriad of races with various telekinetic and telepathic powers that the Federation would have found a way to counteract the “energy” or whatever allows for said powers. But it seems like anyone can start messing with minds in their universe.

    One little nitpick: Vader never demonstrated the sheer power to be able to simultaneously force attack all 760 crew members of a Galaxy-class starship. If Vader had that kind of power, why didn’t he just choke all the X-wing pilots before they could penetrate the defenses?

  3. #3 Spook
    December 6, 2008

    Yow. Someone has entirely too much free time on their hands.

    Not that I’m objecting; this was pretty damn funny.

  4. #4 Who Cares
    December 6, 2008

    Ugh not this bloody Starfleet Command promotional video again.
    For a dissection of the lies perpetrated go to http://www.stardestroyer.net
    /tongue in cheeck

  5. #5 Mattie
    December 6, 2008

    It’s clearly a good representation of the Star Trek universe vs the Star Wars universe. I’ve always thought the tech from Trek was far superior to Wars. I’m also a huge Trekkie, but appreciate that the Force pretty trumps any tech Jean Luc could use.

  6. #6 BouncingBosons
    December 6, 2008

    Actually, Who Cares, stardestroyer.net provides evidence that the video is accurate. It estimates the energy contained in turbolasers to be greater than 30TJ, but the star trek wiki states the standard antimatter content in a photon torpedo to be 1kg or more, putting a maximum energy output on the order of greater than 10^17 J, or 100,000 TJ. Even assuming the true output of a turbolaser blast to be 50 times the given figure, then it seems it would not be terribly effective against the shields of the Enterprise which are designed to sustain multiple direct hits from standard photon torpedos, and presumably recharges slightly in the time between hits.

    I mean, as long as we’re nerd arguing and everything 😀

  7. #7 Bronze Dog
    December 6, 2008

    I’ve seen some other people doing Star Trek vs. Star Wars, but this was pretty well edited together.

  8. #8 Lucas McCarty
    December 6, 2008

    Mattie, if you’re nerdy enough to absorb knowledge on the Star Wars universe, they’ve actually had the same level of technology in ‘the galaxy’ for thousands of years. They were using lightsabres, blasters and space travel in ancient times. Knights of The Old Republic the PC RPG game is set 4000 years before the events of the films.

    In Star Trek, humans have only had warp drive for 200 years, with alien contact apparently making technology zoom ahead.

    I’ve not actually heard any explaination for why technology moves so slow in the Star Wars timeline. Except that robots and androids in Star Wars have posotronic brains, but Data and his brother(s) are the only ones in Star Trek.

  9. #9 LB
    December 6, 2008

    I have to admit, I was waiting for Data to fire the phasers or something at the end there. I mean, he doesn’t have any airways to be choked after all.

  10. #10 Who Cares
    December 6, 2008

    Lets just say I’ve been on the original newsgroup where this has been discussed to death with the acceptance that a single ISD could mop up every ship in the alpha quadrant without even bothering to activate it’s heavy weapons (as that is overkill).

    But back to your claim which is clearly the result of Starfleet command brainwashing propaganda.

    I’d suggest you watch the episode Conundrum again where a laser does damage to the Enterprise while being a ‘mere’ 2.1 MJ.

    The peta joule figure is a theoretical limit. You can only reach that if you get perfect 100% annihilation, manage to direct every single joule onto the target and do not have pesky problem of 85% of the stuff turning into pions. Taking a 74% conversion efficiency from the DS9 tech manual and ignoring the pion/neutrino problem you get at most a 34% effectiveness.
    But you do not get that the TNG tech manual states a max yield of 64MT which is a 3 magnitude decrease to tera joule range (268 TJ). Worse is that we never ever see the Federation use that kind of firepower even when they really need it. It is also 1000 times more power then needed to strip the shields of the Enterprise, see the episode Survivors where 200 GW was enough to remove the shielding and damage the enterprise. And the Enterprise is better build then a Bird of Prey, which in the movie ST6, took 5 photon torpedoes before the warp core went critical.
    It is a good thing that shields in Star Trek are a reservoir of power or I could easily scrape another 3 magnitudes of the strength of a photon torpedo.

    Then you have the (literally) tiny problem of a fighter size ship (Slave-1) which for a single weapon shot of it’s anti-fighter weapons uses 600 GJ (source: Attack of the Clones: Incredible Cross sections) and fired multiple shots per second.
    So a fighter has tera watt level firepower in Star wars. About 10 seconds of fire of this fighter is the equivalent of the output of a fully loaded photon torpedo.

    Now for the real kicker. Proton torpedoes are stronger then fighter beam weapons. But in Star Wars fighters can’t dent the shielding of capital ships unless they come in massive waves (think 100+) hitting the target essentially at the same time with torpedoes. In the Bactawar a SSD, the class of Darth Vaders flagship, gets hammered by 150+ torpedoes at the same time (the other half or so destroyed by defensive fire) and it still had over 65% of its offensive capacity at that point.

    And if you really want to weep you might want to search the net for an article called: “turbolaser commentaries”. Which picks a conservative estimate of 450 tera watt for a single turbolaser shot.

    Then remember the scene in Return of the Jedi where Admiral Ackbar orders every ship available to fire on the Executor (the first SSD build) which after this sustained bombardment merely loses shielding allowing an A-wing with proton torpedoes to crash into the bridge.

  11. #11 The Perky Skeptic
    December 7, 2008

    “I’ve not actually heard any explaination for why technology moves so slow in the Star Wars timeline.”

    It’s clearly because of religious fundamentalism causing funding to be diverted away from pure scientific research! 😀

  12. #12 Lurkbot
    December 7, 2008

    The writers of Star Trek had to keep coming up with convoluted reasons why their supposed technology didn’t really work as advertised; otherwise they were quite simply gods.

    Think about it. The only difference I can see between a transporter, a replicator, and a holodeck is the source of the pattern that’s materialized: a destructive scan, a stored pattern, or a calculated pattern respectively.

    What’s to prevent them from editing out any effects of disease or aging from someone’s pattern before rematerializing them in a transporter? Or bringing them back to life if they’re killed in an away mission by going to the stored information in the pattern buffer. You’d lose the memory of a few minutes or hours of your life, but who among us hasn’t done that?

    They had to come up with hand-waving about how “holodeck matter can’t leave the holodeck,” because otherwise they could create anything it’s possible to imagine; and in any quantities they wanted.

    How is all this any different from being gods? Could the Star Wars universe accomplish any of this? I didn’t think so.

  13. #13 DLC
    December 7, 2008

    Amusing video.
    I am manfully refusing the Nerd-Argument Bait.

    Besides, everybody knows that the Dauntless from the Lensman Universe could blow away both of those ships like lint!

  14. #14 Who Cares
    December 7, 2008

    I see your Dauntless and raise you a Xeelee nightfighter

    The way they adapted the transporter from the original Start Trek to the new shows it is the ultimate weapon for the Start Trek universe if indeed the hand waving didn’t prevent it. Over the different shows they have shown the ability to convert matter into energy, pin point targeting accuracy, ability to edit/filter incoming people and turn a pattern that has been stored for years without power into a person.

    However this is still limited to power conversion at matter-antimatter conversion level. The ability to drop the payload into places that aren’t blocked (naturally occurring ores can block a transporter). The slow cycle time and very clear indication that someone is activating it at a location.

    Just to power the Deathstar super laser you need more power then M-AM can generate. And it does have a hypermatter core (which is also present in capital ships).
    For the rest of the abilities you named you’d have to check out the novels written in the Star wars universum.

  15. #15 Orac
    December 7, 2008

    Ha! The geeks have descended and out geeked even me!

  16. #16 Blake Stacey
    December 7, 2008


    Jeez, didn’t you read the description of molecular-resolution versus quantum-resolution pattern-replication in the Star Trek Technical Manual?

    Lucas McCarty:

    I’ve not actually heard any explaination for why technology moves so slow in the Star Wars timeline.

    It’s not just slow, it’s incoherent. I mean, I am shocked, shocked that the idea of a Galactic Republic with advanced cybernetics, strong AI, hyperspatial travel and chattel slavery seems problematic to anyone.

    (Yes, I read Star Wars on Trial. And I definitely sided with the prosecution. George Lucas’ plotting and world-building are as insipid as his love-story dialogue.)

  17. #17 Lucas McCarty
    December 7, 2008

    Infinite Improbability Drive 0wns lasers, phasers, photons, protons, plasma and anti-matter *combined*.

    They all might turn into custard.

  18. #18 IAMB
    December 7, 2008

    I hate to even dive into this argument but this:

    But you do not get that the TNG tech manual states a max yield of 64MT which is a 3 magnitude decrease to tera joule range (268 TJ).

    Is waaaaaaayyyyyy off the mark. Sure, the Tera prefix is orders of magnitude above Mega, but it’s only relevant if you’re looking at the same units. In reality, one megaton is equivalent to about 4.2 petajoules, so the 64MT output listed from your post is several orders of magnitude (10^15 for peta as opposed to 10^12 for tera) above the 268TJ figure for your turbolasers.

    Hate to be nitpicky about imaginary shit and all, but at least have your basic figures somewhat correct.

  19. #19 Who Cares
    December 7, 2008

    @Blake Stacey:
    Good book. I recommend people to read it.

    Right. I forgot the ton part of megaton. Can happen (It was 4 AM after having a night out that I wrote the post).
    Then let me correct you seeing that the 268TJ is not for the turbolaser it was the max power of the photon torpedo. So lets crank that up to a max of 268PJ.
    Which is still based on 100% conversion efficiency all power directed at the target.

    But lets for amusement sake keep the 100% figure.
    I went through the AotC incredible cross sections. The Acclamator troop transport has quad turbolasers which are rated at 200 gigaton (so each shot is almost as strong as the strongest weapon of the federation at impossible efficiency).
    If that seems contradictory to that I wrote earlier, I looked up the Turbolaser Commentaries myself and that lower number is for point defense fire.

  20. #20 IAMB
    December 7, 2008

    Ah, I suppose my confusion could have been the 64MT figure followed closely by the 268TJ figure… since they aren’t remotely in the same neighborhood, I just assumed they were referring to different things.

    I’m still constantly surprised as to why people take this argument so seriously. Hell, I’m a fan of both and each have their respective good and bad points.

  21. #21 Helena
    December 7, 2008

    Considering the nature of this blog, didn’t the ending of the clip seem somewhat contrived, since it depended on the pseudo-science of psychic powers? Or was that evidence that Vader should get Randi’s prize?

  22. #22 Lurkbot
    December 7, 2008

    @ Blake Stacey:

    Jeez, didn’t you read the description of molecular-resolution versus quantum-resolution pattern-replication in the Star Trek Technical Manual?

    No, I hadn’t–I’ll take your word for it.

    But then again, I’m not Roger Penrose, so I happen to think molecular-resolution would be plenty good enough to replicate a person. But what do I know?

  23. #23 Samantha Vimes
    December 8, 2008

    Just how ubiquitous ARE Tarriel cells? (Orac often tapped technology from other cultures). Can Cally learn to use the Force?

    And really, can’t one TimeLord with a good companion fix it all?

    Mr. Morden would like to know what Mr. Data really wants.

  24. #24 RebekahD
    December 8, 2008
  25. #25 Andrew Dodds
    December 8, 2008

    Obviously, a General Systems Vehicle would bend the lasers into knots en route whilst dissasembling the ships down to the subatomic level (without loss of life, of course..)

  26. #26 marilove
    December 8, 2008

    This was an amazing thread. The technology talk is a bit beyond me, but that doesn’t make it any less sexy. GO GEEKS GO.

  27. #27 Runolfr
    December 8, 2008

    Orac, you’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of Star Wars versus Star Trek geekery. Try Stardestroyer.Net for the Star Wars side and The Daystrom Technical Institute for the Star Trek side. And those are some of the saner sites.

  28. #28 G Barnett
    December 8, 2008

    @ DLC —

    I’ll see your Dauntless and raise you a Skylark of Valeron….

  29. #29 Evinfuilt
    December 8, 2008

    It’s clearly because of religious fundamentalism causing funding to be diverted away from pure scientific research! 😀

    In all “seriousness” I think thats fairly true. The Star Wars universe reached its tech peak and felt that further research as unneccassary (thus it took outsiders from the Techno-Consortium to design the Death Star.)

    I think that after a while at being at their tech peak they reached a point where technology became just part of life, nothing new to be learned, in fact most of it became self replicating. People grew up learning how to use the technology that maintained itself, but they never knew how it works. This explains the fear they have of their own robots.

    Probably some Jedi Order long before The Old Republic pushed the end of research, calling its civilization perfect. Thousands of years later, you have something barely held together. I mean they can’t even build standard doors, they have robots make sliding doors for their mud villages.

  30. #30 Scott
    December 8, 2008

    The interesting bit is, you’ve got significant tech development happening. In the space of the OT, just to pick a couple examples, Y-wings were superseded by B-wings and the A-wing was introduced.

    But there are definitely cases of tech regression too – for example, shielding. In KotOR times, personal shielding was common and powerful. Episodes 1-3 show a lesser level than that, but the Gungan shield generators and droideka shields are still well beyond anything in the OT.

    Apparently the latter almost exactly counterbalances the former.

  31. #31 Metro
    December 8, 2008

    @Samantha Vimes:
    (Any relation to Sir Samuel?)

    I suggest that the ubergeek arguments all be referred to the Circle of Ourouboros for discussion and immediate inaction.

  32. #32 Chelydra
    December 9, 2008

    Off the top of my head, the Q continuum, the Krenim or the 29th century Federation could simply prevent midichlorians from having evolved in the first place, preventing the Force from even being an issue.

    The Voth (who have possessed at least rudimentary spaceflight for 65 million years) would just beam an entire Star Destroyer into their city-ship, having disabled its technology remotely. V’Ger would disassemble the entire ship and pattern it for data storage. The Borg would probably ignore it as technologically primitive, though they could assimilate midichlorians, using the collective Force of billions of drones towards a single purpose.

    Of course, leaving these SF universes, the Replicators would probably win in the end, being immune to phasers, blasters, lightsabers and any psychological effects of the Force. The Hypno-toad would also be a good bet.

  33. #33 Davis
    December 9, 2008

    Obviously, a General Systems Vehicle would bend the lasers into knots en route whilst dissasembling the ships down to the subatomic level (without loss of life, of course..)

    Now that was a comment with Zero Gravitas.

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