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Equation recognition (Spock & Scotty's convo in the new Statr Trek)

  1. Aug 4, 2011 #1
    So I watched Star Trek (the new one) last night and it got me thinking about a few things and I figure this would be the best place to ask. I know that the movie is science fiction, but…

    For those that have seen the movie, remember the scene in the movie when future Spock is explaining to Scotty how he hasn’t (yet) discovered the equation for ‘beaming’ a person from a ship at warp speed. Spock writes the equation on the screen and Scotty looks at it and says, ‘I never thought that space its self is what’s moving’ (or something to that effect).

    My question is would a person be able to recognize that in the equation? So, for example, if a person from the future came back in to our time and gave us a grand theory of everything, would we be able to see that in the equation? If we went back in time, before Einstein, and wrote E=MC^2, would they know the importance of it?

    --- Edit ---

    ..and a follow up question, probably more for Star Trek fans than anyone..

    Could one assume, based on the Romulans technology level (you know, the red matter and all), that they had achieved a grand unified theory? During the movie, the Federation 'gained' the knowledge of 'warp speed beaming', is it assumed that the Romulans already had this knowledge? (My brother was a huge ST fan as a kid and I seem to remember him saying that the Romulans had the most advanced technology)
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2011 #2


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    As long as the symbols are common, sure.

    The symbols E, m and c would have been standard for at least some time before Einstein - at least in the context of the physics. But of course, if you went back to someone before Einstein, you'd have to be talking to another physicist in order for them to understand the context of the symbols.

    Clearly Spock and Scotty shared a common physics knowledge.
  4. Aug 4, 2011 #3
    I haven't been able to track down the history of the use of the letter c to represent the speed of light. It may well be that, as you say, it was standard before Einstein's time. However, he used a different letter in his 1905 paper. Here are two links to his paper. The first is the original German paper with the letter V representing the speed of light. The second is an English language translation for reference. You can compare them to see the meaning of the letter V in the original.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/andp.19053221004/pdf" [Broken]

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/" [Broken]

    If you track down the information, you might win bets saying that Einstein didn't come up with E=mc^2. What he wrote was:

    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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