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Dec 24, 2016

Corbomite

The original Fesarius (ping pong ball model)
I'm a huge fan of imaginary science and technologies. What is the status of corbomite? Is it just something that Captain Kirk thought up on the spur of the moment or was it a pre-existing feature of the United Federation of Planets?

According to Memory Alpha, "corbomite was an actual element, symbol Ct, atomic weight 361, atomic number 140, discovered by the Federation on Starbase 27 in 2262." I love the idea of writing imaginary forms of matter into science fiction stories.

Spaceship evolution... CGI Fesarius (source)
In our universe, corbomite was "invented" by Jerry Sohl some time near the start of April 1966, while he was writing what would become the Star Trek episode known as "The Corbomite Maneuver". Back in 2012, I included "The Corbomite Maneuver" in my list of 10 interesting Star Trek episodes.

I still remember the first time that I saw "The Corbomite Maneuver" and that moment when the crew of the Enterprise and viewers suddenly realize exactly how large the alien spacecraft is! I was dazzled. Lucky for me, I did not know that the model of the Fesarius had been made using ping pong balls.
Balok's "alter ego"

Biology 101
When it comes to fictional science, I'm often more interested in biology than physics. For most of "The Corbomite Maneuver", viewers feel trapped in some silly Sci Fi plot where evil aliens endlessly torment our heroes.

Balok's new pals.
Then, finally, we learn that all of the drama in this episode was just a test, designed by Balok to learn the true nature and intentions of humans. Balok is peaceful and interested in an exchange of information.

In the original draft of the story, the aliens were described as bird-like. The entire episode could have been improved if the budget had allowed Balok to have a more alien appearance and if some time had been spent to tell us a thing or two about the aliens' culture and advanced technologies. Sadly, Hollywood amnesia would soon set in: we never got another visit with Balok and his people.

The Haploids, cover art by
Rafael de Soto y Hernandez
Today I came across an old novel by Sohl called The Haploids. I've never read this story. I love stories that involve genetically-altered humans, but I can't imagine how anyone might have thought that haploid humans were even a possibility. [However, see the related process of xhogenesis.]

In the Ekcolir Reality. Original cover art
by Harold McCauley and Hans Wesso
A few of Sohl's short stories are available at Project Gutenberg. If you want the same kind of excruciating experience (will this never end?) that Sohl gave us in the first half of 'The Corbomite Maneuver' then try reading 'The Hand'.

The Sedron War
The Legend of Uvadekoto
In the Asimov Reality, Earthlings were teased with knowledge of the existence of sedrons. Previously, Thomas imagined that the only source of sedronic matter on Earth was in platinum deposits. In The Legend of Uvadekoto, it was suggested that "two mass 196 nucleons can quantum entangle and resonate into a sedron", providing a way to manufacture sedrons.

Reconstruction by Zeta. Original
cover art by Gordon Davies
Zeta recently brought to my attention a story called "The Case of the Superfluous Sedrons" at the website of the Dead Widower Society. Should we take seriously the idea that the heavily touted role of sedrons in the Sedron War was all just a scam, a way to introduce Earthlings to a deceptive cover story?

According to Zeta, during the "Sedron War", all of the nuclear weapons of Earth were teleported away. As "cover", small explosions were detonated at each location where the bombs had resided. Yes, a type of sedron was later found in the residue and fallout from those explosions, but those sedrons never proved to be useful for anything other than informing Earthlings of the existence of sedrons.

Next: the Exode Saga

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