Weird, strange, unfeasible... science fiction or fact?

In a podcast, University scientists assess ideas from science fiction. Yes, Star Trek features.

Strange ideas, weird elements, unfeasible plot drivers... in Radio New Zealand podcasts with the McDiarmid Institute, scientists from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland are talking about what's science fiction and what's science fact. 

In a tv show and movie franchise like Star Trek it could be remarkable how often intergalatic explorers discovered planets similar to Earth. Professor Jan Eldridge of the Department of Physics talked of how only a few planets, out of the thousands we know about, may be somewhat similar to humanity's home base.

In a 1950s British comedy sci-fi film called The Man in the White Suit, an inventor came up with a fabric which never stained and never broke down, and therefore couldn't be tolerated by commercial interests, since a product that lasts too long isn't good for business. The topic led Professor Geoff Willmott, also of Physics, into a discussion of superhydrophobic and superomniphobic materials.

Professor Duncan McGillivray, the head of the School of Chemical Sciences, talked about the metal Baakonite used for traditional Klingon weaponry such as the bat'leth, in the Star Trek universe. How weighty would the weapons be? Like a medieval sword? Similar to steel?

Media contact

Paul Panckhurst | media adviser
M: 022 032 8475