Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stepping Through the Stargate

The Stargate franchise finds its roots in the original movie Stargate Staring Alexis Cruz and Kurt Russell. And has spawned a 10 season series with two direct to DVD movies and two spin off series that expanded the adventure to even more galaxies beyond our own.

SG-1 (from left to right)
Samantha Carter, Teal'c, Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson
The United State Air Force comes into possession of a device located during an archaeological dig in Giza, Egypt during World War II. Several years later after a great deal of trial and error they’re able to activate the device. Experts are brought in to analyze this “stargate” as it comes to be known and they determine that it’s a highly advanced piece of technology built by an ancient alien race capable of creating a stable artificial wormhole between two such devices. Colonel Jack O’Neill leads the first team of explorers through the stargate to an entirely alien world where they encounter a powerful being called Ra who has been posing as the ancient Egyptian god to enslave the people of this world. The confrontation with this being is what sparks the discovery that the gate can go to more than one address and spawns the first series Stargate SG-1. Using the gate an Air Force base hosting several teams explores the various worlds and overcomes all manner of obstacles as they seek friends and technology to help them free the enslaved peoples of the Milky Way galaxy.

The franchise at present consists of 3 full length films and 17 seasons of material meaning you’ll have plenty to watch if you are just starting your foray into the world of Stargate. Physics principles are applied and adhered to throughout the shows (at least so far as I can tell as a non-physicist) and there is much love given to the United States Air Force as they’re the ones running the program and spearheading the exploration efforts. The episodes are diverse in their content ranging from episodes on political maneuvering and ranging all the way to killer robot bugs. The best part of the series however is the humor built-in to the dialog and the shows willingness to make fun of itself. In fact there’s one episode in the tenth season that is clearly included for that very purpose.

The most notable negative feature of the franchise is the ability of main characters to seemingly survive impossible odds on a regular basis. This of course isn’t surprising as it’s a flaw present in many action and science-fiction series on television today. The other downside is the franchise terrible record when it comes to getting the spin-offs renewed for another season. Each one has been shorter than the last, with Stargate Atlantis running five seasons and Stargate Universe only running two. The Stargate franchise has also run into some difficulty getting side projects like the planed, but cancelled Stargate MMO and the planed, but again cancelled Stargate Atlantis movie approved and developed. Still this is a failing common to many Science Fiction franchises with the notable exception of Star Wars. If George ever wanted to make even more money than he already has, he should teach a class on merchandising for these struggling science fiction franchises.

Real World Results
As a result of the show’s concept real world research is actually being done to see if the technology is viable. According to a report done for the Air Force Research Laboratory by Eric W. Davis of Warp Drive Metrics, many of the technologies are theoretically viable. If you’re interested in reading the report for yourself you can find it at: It’s currently selling for $9.99 as en e-book, is 117 pages and by its very nature is highly technical. However if you can understand the physics and are interested in reading reports of that nature, I imagine it’s a fascinating read. (If I could understand the physics I would definitely read it)

Stargate has opened my eyes to a whole new type of science fiction. No longer am I considering a galaxy far, far away, or a future several hundred years distant, but an actual present and possibly near future that could change our very existence as a species (should the technologies be implemented that is). The show casts a favorable light on both the United States Air Force, and humanity as a whole and as such I find myself unable to resist including it in my N3rd C0rn3r.