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GateWorld Podcast: The Science of SGU (Part 2)

Monday - February 7, 2011
Category: FEATURES | Tags: ,


Visit the GateWorld Podcast page for more about the show!

This week on the GateWorld Podcast Darren and David welcome back our very own science expert, Diane Turnshek! We talked with Diane during the first season of Stargate Universe about the real-world science behind elements of the show — like F.T.L. travel and alien life forms. (Check out Episode #98.) This time around we’ll discuss topics particular to the first half of SGU‘s new, second season: Destiny‘s mental projections, the ship as an A.I., “Visitation” and the reanimation of life, Chloe’s transformation, and of course, Destiny‘s mission.

We also have another extra-big mailmag segment this week, in anticipation of another voicemail-driven show in two weeks.

Now’s the time to join in! The next episode of the GateWorld Podcast is Open Line Night, and we want to hear from you! As us a question, give us a topic … the mic is open and we want to hear what’s on your mind. Just call the Podcast Hotline (below) before this Saturday.


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SHOW NOTES

DiscussionThe Science of SGU (Part 2)

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COMMENTS (42):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • a soap opera in space…with aliens, stargates, and spaceships = sci-fi

  • @olive & jonah1956: You’ve obviously never seen a soap opera in your life & have no idea what you’re talking about. Anti-fan rhetoric yet again.

  • Overmind One

    There is no significant science in Stargate Universe! What would a soap opera need with pesky science? Those communications stones are more likely to be explained by Professor Dumbledore than they are by science. And magical shields which can withstand the corona and magnetosphere of a star, but are trashed by alien weapons fire? I am a science fiction fan and a 15-year fan of Stargate. SGU was never science fiction. Its drama wearing a spacesuit. A soap opera in space.

  • Jauh0

    @Gaeth: Come on! Take SGU, take of the space, depression and leave the plotlines. What do you get? Soap Opera.
    “Anti-fan”? No, anti-other-side-of-the-fanbase-split.

  • @ the overmine one, you just lestened to a whole podcast with a scientist, who uses SGU and other sci-fi shows in her lectures.

    ohh and those “magical shields” are no diffrent from the one i n star trek that can deflect asteriods and other objects with mass. Also there is a diffrence between weapons fire and the sun cornona, destinys shields was designed to whitstand the sun corona, but weapons fire, we dont know what it is, it can be a particle beam, or any number of things. Its also obvious that that the aliens have been followed destiny a while, with could mean that their weapons are buildt/tweaked for defeating destiny.

    Its not implausible for a race that invented the stargate that could build intergalatic cummunications.

  • Sorry i know sgu os mostly a drama, but the point im makeing its significant science in SGU and thats why its interesting, and thats why SGU wont work with out its strong sci-fi elements.

  • ohh i forgot, i wanted to say it was an awsome podcast and i thank Diane Turnshek for particpiating, it was very interseting to hear, yours and hers speculation about what going on with destiny.

    PS you should get a edit button for the comment section, unless i have missed it.

  • you people wouldn’t now a quality sci fi show if it slapped you in the face, grow up… SGU is a piece of art on your TVs!

  • This podcast should be about the lack of science in SGU. SGU is a drama and soap opera first with some science fiction sprinkled on top to make it look like a sci fi. There’s very little substance or explanation to the technology. Nevermind the fact that the technology in SGU was retconned to look and act like BSG technology (FTL, anyone?). The communication stones were introduced in SG-1 and they were used with a large terminal and had a limited range (only one galaxy apart). The stones on the Destiny would not be able to reach the stones on Earth because they don’t have a terminal and they are too far out. Nevermind how long it would take the signal to travel from the Destiny to Earth and vice versa. The stones are a huge blunder. Oh, and they barely use the freakin’ Stargate! Finally, there’s these little gems too.

    Brad Wright: “When my wife watches the show with me, she sees it as a drama now, not a science fiction show.”

    Brian J. Smith: “I don’t want to say alien. I don’t want to say the word alien. It just doesn’t feel like our show. Why can’t I say ‘those things’ or ‘that creature’ or whatever? We start saying the word alien and it just takes the show into a weird sci-fi thing that it hasn’t been so far.”

    The bottom line is that science and science fiction take a backseat to drama in SGU.

  • @ badtaste

    If you can download and install the Google toolbar on your web browser it has a very handy spell checker that works in the comment window.

  • Seems folks distracted by the human elements miss the fact that there’s just as much science/astronomy and sci-fi in SGU as in any other SG show.

  • The premise of surviving the harshness of space
    Extra solar planets
    Extra terrestrial life/speculation
    Faster than light travel
    Faster than light communication
    Tidally locked planets
    Using planetary bodies’ gravity to get around a solar system
    Anti-gravitiy tech
    Energy shields
    Exo-biology based medicine
    Space ships
    Worm holes
    Time loops
    Artificial intelligence
    Computer/Neural interface
    A big robot
    A space ship fueled by solar plasma
    Genetic Manipulation
    Binary Pulsar
    Space walks (and the physics involved)
    The Cosmic Microwave Background!

    If as JohnSN7 says “science and science fiction take a back seat to dram in SGU” then it would be also true that science and science fiction take a back seat to war and battle in SG-1 & SGA. But I don’t agree. All of the “drama” in SGU is science fiction in premise because it’s about humans surviving and creating a culture away from Earth.

  • People know that science fiction has sub-genres right? SGU clearly falls into the Space Opera category (which by the way is a sub genre of science fiction).

    If you need all the technology explained to you for it to be science fiction then I guess Star Wars isn’t sci-fi either…

    The settings for science fiction are often contrary to known reality, but the majority of science fiction relies on a considerable degree of suspension of disbelief, which is facilitated in the reader’s mind by potential scientific explanations or solutions to various fictional elements.

    These may include:
    # A setting in outer space, on other worlds, or involving aliens.
    # Stories that involve technology or scientific principles that contradict known laws of nature.
    # Stories that involve discovery or application of new scientific principles, such as time travel or psionics, or new technology, such as nanotechnology, faster-than-light travel or robots, or of new and different political or social systems (e.g., a dystopia, or a situation where organized society has collapsed).

    SG1 & SGA focused more on action/adventure and SGU focused more on the characters (how the situation affected them). But SGU is just as much a sci-fi show as SG1 & SGA were.

  • SGU concentrates heavily on showing the melodrama between a bunch of unlikeable and boring characters. Science fiction elements were only used as a backdrop.

  • Whoever wrote sgu must have used the junior encyclopedia of science as a reference point. Either that or they have been watching the clangers too much.

  • For a show to be science fiction there needs to at least be some content within the show that relates plot elements to actual known science and hence respects the fact that the audience is likely to have an appreciation of scientific principles. E.g. a scientist knows that moving beyond the speed of light in real space is impossible. So in Star Trek we are told that warp drive works by causing spacetime to warp in the reference frame of the traveller, thus reducing the apparent distance between two points. In SG1 we are told that hyperdrive works by moving the ship into “hyperspace”, a dimension which intersects differently with spacetime and hence large distances in real space can be traversed by moving shorter distances in hyperspace. In SGU we are told that the ship “goes faster than light”. End of. That’s the difference.

    Oh and Tanith, I would actually agree that Star Wars isn’t really science fiction, for exactly the above reasons. A better description would be space fantasy.

  • Jauh0

    @Skiznot: It’s not about humans surviving away from home and creating culture. Season 1 was mostly about their backgrounds on Earth. Yes, they had science elements, but did they explore them? No. Where most of the characters annoying? Yes. How long did it take for the show to actually focus on the characters instead of their backgrounds? 1 entire season. That’s half the show. This show just suffered from poor execution and alienated the fans. It could have been a worthy follow-up, but it wasn’t.

  • Star Wars is not science fiction. It stood on it’s own for what it was. Such a thing isn’t inherently bad, it just so happens that SGU was bad. Which is why Star Wars made billions and SGU got cancelled.

    As for the ‘science’ in SGU, it’s a messy subject. Yes, there was ‘science’ mentioned in SGU but the ‘science’ was almost never explained. This is what causes it to fail to qualify for sci-fi. But it wasn’t bad because it wasn’t sci-fi, it was bad because it was bad. For each episode, if the concept was good, the plot was bad. If the plot was good, the writing was bad. If the writing was good, they ruined it by being so utterly boring in playing it out. Every episode just failed in one way or another. Some came close. But close obviously didn’t cut it. So again, simply being in space and having aliens doesn’t make something sci-fi. And being a space opera or space fantasy doesn’t make something bad. But being a bad show that failingly claims to be sci-fi is bad.

    The fans have spoken. The experiment that was SGU was a failure by any measurable criteria. Now it’s likely that there will be an SGU movie and there is also a renewed good chance for an SGA movie now, thanks to MGM. Hopefully the SGU movie won’t screw the franchise any further and I don’t hold out a lot of hope for the SGA movie, if it does happen, because many people have been lost in the time between and so the cast and crew on SGA may not be familiar enough for it to feel like SGA if it does happen.

  • @Mythos – First, it seems like i forgot to answer one of your post from the other thread.Jim is the one who said that the fans financed the farscape mini series, but, like you, i checked & i think that you are right.
    What the fans did was raised over $300,000 to promote and build awareness of the Farscape universe.And, in the end, it worked.

    But considering that SG as a lot more fans, who knows what this kind of project would lead to…

  • @Skiznot – Seems i forgot to answer one of your post too…
    When i said that SGU needed some modifications, i wasn’t trying to either tied the SGU writers hands behind there back or push my own agenda.
    All of my suggestions weren’t set in stone.
    They were just suggestions.

    – The very ambitious experiment that was SGU needed to make everyone happy(the SG-1 fans, the SGA fans, casual viewers, MGM, SYFY & the SG PTB.And it failed.
    Every participants involved should have made sure that the experiment called SGU would make everyone happy

  • SGU was a experiment.
    The thing is, SG fans, MGM & the SG PTB, is that, with a experiment,first, you have to test the waters..
    Like, for example, show the SGU pilot to a focus group made of SG-1 & SGA fans, then, one made out of casual viewers before it airs.

    Also, in a experiment you can’t be too far ahead…because then you can’t make changes based on the feedback of the fans,critics & the channel that airs your show.

    SGU didn’t do any of these things & it’s a big reason that contributed to it’s cancellation.

  • Also, SG fans, MGM & the SG PTB, you don’t give up completely on a experiment,you learn from it,
    what works & what doesn’t

    – Launching a experimental SG show without testing the waters first doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    – Having a SG show were the main focus is drama doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    – Having a SG show that doesn’t have what makes SG SG(action, adventure & humor) doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    – Having characters that are too flawed, hard to like & relate to doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    – Having a SG show with no real heroes & villains doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    – Having a SG show were the story is to slow & doesn’t contain enough aliens & space battles doesn’t work – Lesson learned

    Let’s hope that MGM & the SG PTB have learned from this experiment.And if SGU is to fly again, some modifications are going to be made.

  • (or should i say, when the SG Franchise move foward).Let’s hope that they will take the lessons learned from this experiment.I also hope that SYFY & MGM doesn’t see SGU as the true reflection of the abilities & talents of the SG PTB.

  • I agree with mythos,that SGU wasn’t bad,or good enough as a concept.Because it was space opera,because it wasn’t sci-fi enough.The problem was that it was a bad space opera,it wasn’t bad for what it was trying to do,it was bad cause it didn’t succeed in it properly.
    Drama is neccessary,because it’s a live action tv show,not a documentary and character driven isn’t bad in itself,as a concept.It gets bad when your characters fail to capture the interest of a viewer.

    Star Wars is a modern myth,that is a known fact that George Lucas admits.

    And I agree with whomever said the thing about ftl on SGU.I’ve always wondered what it was and how was it possible.It has never been explained at all.Stargate travel is a wormhole travel,skipping the distance in space,hyperspace and hyperdrive have also been explained..a different dymension,shortening distances in regard to normal spacetime.Warpdrive,as the very name says,warps the spacetime achieving the same basic effect of shortening the distance between the point A and point B.Even FTL drive in BSG was an FTL jump,with precise calculating coordinates and so on.But,yeah,here they are just moving faster than light,without any explanation as to how.And that is basically not only impossible,I’d say it’s also implausable!

  • @mythos,lol!! If that’s the case,at least they are original in that one thing.

  • @Jim – Hmm…I think I said something apparently funny that seems to have been deleted. Now I can’t remember what I said but at least someone laughed. :P

  • @mythos You said something like..they were moving inversly proportional to the speed of plot,which resulted in them going ftl,while show ultimately going nowhere!

  • I think you all forget that any science fiction, is not primarily about technology. It’s about those who are, and how using them, about people. It’s about making decisions, often difficult decisions. It is about people faced with impossible choices. And if so, the SGU has fulfilled its task.

  • Nobody here forgot anything about what science fiction is,or should be about..but that’s just the point SGU didn’t fulfill the task,it failed at it.The people/characters were not simpathetic to most viewers and they were making nonsensical choices,or weren’t making any choices at all most of the time!
    And I am the fan of character driven sci-fi,as well as of intricate,long arcs,involving not just space battles and kick ass action,but the strategy of war,diplomacy,intrigue and the drama behind it.I love shows like BSG,Farscape,Firefly,Babylon 5..hell,even Caprica!And my favourite Star Trek was DS-9!
    And even I recognize and admit the failure of SGU!

  • I just wanted to say that I got to use the famous P-90 gun,from the Stargate and it is unbeliavably awesome;light,short,precise,incredibly simple to use,with a crazy load of ammo and the firing solutions..it really is a future weapon,although I still preffere my MP-5!!

  • The fact that SGU focused more on the compelling characters does not change that it was full of suspense and action. Surviving the harshness of space finding a way to breath, eat, avoid radiation and any number of exo-planetary hazards is good action in my book.

    SGU may have been a commercial failure but it surpassed the other shows in the franchise in every respect writing/acting/design. The only it failed at was copying an over used and creatively limiting formula.

  • @Jim. I am too used the P-90. But I prefer the AK-47. And I understand your point of view. Now try to understand my point of view. Show in SyFy TV series, absolutely mentally stable people today, shall we say, not very believable.
    Creators of the show, tried to show ordinary people, with all their shortcomings, in a situation where even for trained people will be not easy to survive. Now I would like to ask you. Do you think that show failed because of idea, or because of execution?

  • “Why beat a genius? At least in order to quickly mourn the loss.” Do not judge strictly. This is translation of the old saying. I am mourn already.

  • what happened to next podcast? seems to be delayed a couple of weeks now. and on that note where have TameZone gone?

  • Sick of the whining haters. Ya didn’t like it, fine. Your need to continue spewing is only serving to convey a deep-rooted emotional instability. That, or you just like to spew. The subtle (and not-so-subtle) human interactions, real-life (not the comic-book superhero waving an assault rifle, i.e. SG1 or SGA – which I liked as well, for different reasons) issues. If you don’t think that real-life is one huge, ridiculous soap opera itself, then you must have your eyes closed, or you’re just not paying attention. SGU, for many of us at any rate, is a GREAT show. Sci-Fi for certain (go watch some more SG1, so many sets that look like central park but are supposed to be alien worlds, guys shooting guns or pulse cannons or whatever. And I _LIKE_ the show). I like SGU too, probably more. Matters of taste. Just, go do something else cuz no one cares to debate on these matters of taste any further. Sorry – just wish the thread could stay on the rail, and – have derailed somewhat to say that. My bad. Get everyone you know to watch the final 10. Who knows what will happen if the numbers go way up? Worth hoping for, I say.

  • @flickshtein To answer your question,definitely execution,the idea is great.
    And SGU definitely is sci-fi,I don’t understand the mindset of the people who claim otherwise.
    Even space opera is sci-fi,in fact two of my favorite sci-fi shows and one of the best tv shows in general;Farscape and BSG,have essentially been space operas.
    I look at it this way and I already said it once before;serialized doesn’t have to mean “Passions”.I have always considered soap operas as being defined by poor dialogue,cliche characters and stories and bad acting.
    If space opera would be the same as soap opera just because it is serialized, character driven and therefore isn’t even sci-fi as some claim,then one of the best sci-fi shows of all time B5 would be nothing but a soap opera.
    It is in fact a brilliant sci-fi novel for tv and I love it.So yeah,just the execution of a great idea has fallen short in the case of SGU,but I still liked it and especially lately,cause I believe it had improved significantly in the second season.

  • @Jim. I see your point. No more questions. @aprilia1k is right, it is matter of taste.


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