Thursday, December 13, 2018

Just A Bad Plan

One of the family viewing projects we have is watching an episode of Star Trek on the 50th anniversary of it's broadcast. So a couple of weeks ago, right on schedule, we watched "Wink of an Eye". The overall concept, people moving so fast as to be invisible to the naked eye, is a good one to explore. However, there is one major flaw that we found in the Scalosians' plan.

Here's the set-up: The planet Scalos underwent a dramatic upheaval that fundamentally changed the inhabitants. Everyone was accelerated to the point that the rest of the humanoids in the galaxy couldn't see them or interact with them. On top of that, all of the males were made sterile, so they couldn't reproduce on their own. Since the accident, they had taken a page from the Sirens and lured ships with a distress call, accelerating their crews, and using them to reproduce. It didn't work so well, though, as an original population of 900,000 is now down to 5. Still, they want to continue their plan with the Enterprise crew.

Now, let's take a look at the make-up of those last five. Take a look at this picture and see if you can spot the problem:

That's right, there are 3 sterile males and 2 (presumably) fertile females. That means that none of the women on the Enterprise can be used, since they would have to reproduce with non-Scalosians. Therefore, the plan is for the two female Scalosians to reproduce with the male crew to repopulate the entire planet. Sorry, but that doesn't work on multiple levels.

Let's look at the most obvious problem first - time*. Assuming the humanoid Scalosians have a gestation rate similar to humans, right around 9 months, and a similar recover time, 18 months is generally accepted, then time is a BIG issue. That means that each female would have to wait at least 27 months between impregnations, and that assuming that each fetus is fully viable. So a child would be born, on average, of once ever 13.5 months, and about half of them would be male, which does the population growth no good. That's never going to solve the problem.

The less obvious problem, but probably more serious one, is genetics. Even if you have about 200 possible fathers, you still will only have 2 mothers for over a decade, and any new mothers would be descendants of the original two. That's a pretty shallow gene-pool and it wouldn't take very long for genetic mutations to start showing up.

Then there's the issue that I didn't notice until sitting down to write this post - Where are the children? If this is such a successful program (that nearly whipped out the population in the first place) that Deela flat out refused the help of the entire Federation that Kirk offered, then where are the kids they previously had? Either she was so indoctrinated by previous generations to think that this was the only way or there were way more than 5 people left on the planet. Unfortunately, we are only shown and told about the 5, so I have to assume that they are it.

Like I said, I think this is a good concept for an episode, I just think there are too many holes in it for it to be considered a successful attempt.

* All time periods are relative to the Scalosian "normal".

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