Three Big Ways 'The Expanse' Does Science Right

Friday, 01 September 2017 - 5:50PM
Space
Astrophysics
Friday, 01 September 2017 - 5:50PM
Three Big Ways 'The Expanse' Does Science Right
Image credit: Syfy, Space Channel
Syfy's The Expanse has won praise from fans and critics for being one of the most scientifically rigorous sci-fi shows on TV, to the point that the showrunners are color-coding the pages of the script according to the amount of gravity in each scene. Today, we sat in on a panel at this year's Escape Velocity convention to hear sci-fi fans John and Ann White talk about some of major things the show does to put the "sci" in "sci-fi."

Gravity



As John said during the panel, the Protomolecule isn't the primary antagonist of The Expanse: "The antagonist is space. It wants to kill you. It wants to take your oxygen away. It wants to take your heat away. It wants to take your water away…it is inertia, it is gravity…"

Gravity, whether it's in the form of bone-crushing G-forces or the unstoppable pull of a planet, is one of the key elements of the show. In a sea of sci-fi shows that wave away the problem of gravity aboard spaceships with some mumbling about an anti-gravity field, The Expanse embraces the problems of figuring out which was is up.

Epstein Drive




There's a lot of discussion about the inner workings of the Epstein Drive, which even the creators haven't been able to clarify. According to John, their response to the question "How does the Epstein Drive work?" was essentially "Really, really well." The above video dives into some of the possible explanations for its mechanics.

FTL Communication




The last big issue to come up in discussion at the panel was long-distance communication between colonies or planets. NASA deals with this problem all the time with rovers like Curiosity, and it remains one of the major challenges of space colonization: when you have a 30 or even 40-minute delay between messages, constant communication becomes impossible. Astronauts and colonists have to take some degree of autonomy, and eventually the physical distance creates emotional and practical problems. Even with FTL communication, interstellar communication runs into the same problem.

Quantum entanglement has been proposed as a solution to these communication problems, but as Michio Kaku explains, it's not that simple.

Stay tuned for more coverage from Escape Velocity 2017!
Science
Science of Sci-Fi
Space
Astrophysics
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