Why, Yes, We DID Totally Call That on SG:U

People keep sending me links to it as if I hadn’t heard about it already, so:

Yes, in fact, I did hear about Sir Roger Penrose’s theory of “echoes” in the cosmic background radiation possibly being evidence of a universe that existed before our “Big Bang”;

Yes, in fact, that theory of Penrose’s has some at least superficial similarities to an ongoing Stargate: Universe subplot involving a heretofore undiscovered possible structure teased out of the background radiation of the universe;

And yes, in fact, as Creative Consultant to SG:U, I had a hand in developing that subplot, although I’ll note that consistent with my role as consultant, I didn’t come up with the initial idea. My role was to make it appear both reasonably plausible and reasonably consistent with what we already know about the universe, once the producers came to me with it.

How do I feel about our little plot element being caught up to by current scientific events? Well, as you can imagine, I think it’s pretty cool. Also, from an entirely ego-centric point of view, it tells me that I’m doing a decent job in my role — and we as a series are doing a decent job at building a plausible universe –  if what we concocted for the purposes of our science fiction television series shows a reasonable similarity to something one the planet’s pre-eminent physicists and cosmologists is thinking very hard about. I mean, seriously: Go, us.

Having said that, intellectual honesty requires me to note the following:

1. The similarities to this point are coincidental. I am as well-versed in recent cosmological thinking as any layman, but Sir Roger has not been calling me (or, I am reasonably sure, the SG:U producers or writers) and providing tidbits regarding his latest research. We just happened to play with something for the series that just happened to superficially resemble his actual theorizing.

2. I’ll note also that data for Penrose’s theory are at this point both speculative and incomplete, and that Penrose himself notes that what are needed now are even more detailed data, such as the sort that upcoming instruments might be able to provide us. Since Penrose’s theory would wreck some very well-regarded models of the universe, let’s just say it has a high bar to leap over before we can say anything about it beyond “well, that certainly is an interesting theory, isn’t it.” In other words: Early days yet, folks. There’s still plenty of opportunity for this theory to be disproved.

In short: Let’s keep our pants on, shall we. But no matter what, it’s still kind of cool to have taken a science fictional leap into the dark and discover we may have in fact stuck the dismount. It’s neat when that happens.

Wait ’til you see what we’ve got in store for you for the second half of the season.

33 thoughts on “Why, Yes, We DID Totally Call That on SG:U

  1. Note: In any discussion to follow, I’ll not be providing spoilers regarding upcoming SG:U episodes or events. Because a) that’s not how I roll, b) I don’t want to get fired. Trying to fish any out of me will just annoy me.

  2. We can’t wait to see what happens next. The whole family enjoys the “Dickens” out of it! (Dickens, December, Christmas…OK, only funny to me…hhrrmmm…)

  3. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to track down who among the several sources listed said it first, but we should remember this:

    Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.

    I hope despite ups and downs in the economy we continue to fund research to find out how much the universe is stranger than we imagine.

  4. In short: Let’s keep our pants on, shall we. But no matter what, it’s still kind of cool to have taken a science fictional leap into the dark and discover we may have in fact stuck the dismount. It’s neat when that happens.

    Dammit… (puts pants back on…)

  5. That’s pretty neat. I’m finally all caught up on SG:U and surprisingly (to me) I really love it. It fills a hole in my dried up walnut of a heart left by the absence of BSG.

    The surprising part comes in because I absolutely hated what I saw of SG-1 and Atlantis. Go figure.

  6. Hmm. I haven’t seen past the first few minutes of S2E3, so my main association with this line of thought is Calculating God. The actual cosmology in the book was reasonably interesting and not at all irritatingly half-thought-out, unlike many of the things around it.

  7. So, then, you mean I shouldn’t be scouring Penrose’s work to discover exactly what Chloe is turning into?? ;-)

  8. It may be a coincidence, but it’s a timely and pleasant one. I can at least squeeze my eyes shut and pretend that you guys are really on top on at least the current layman’s understanding of cosmology.

    As far as the show itself, I have to agree with Jdack that SGU is more the heir to BSG than the previous Stargate shows. And anytime you want to know where the Ancients really came from, let me know. I found this smooth stone see…

  9. MVS @ 12; I would hardly think that my posting of a link to a NASA press release warrants my removal from your “ragging twit” list… don’t get me wrong, I’m greatly honored that you even noticed my “twittiness” and I’ll continue to do my best to earn whatever other meaningless title you might so self-righteously choose to bestow upon my humble self….

  10. Jack @3: I’ve always heard this attributed to JBS Haldane, which is kind of backed up by Wikiquote.

    PS – Please add one more request for a “Preview”
    PPS – Go Scalzi! :-)

  11. Friendly amateur copyediting here: You’re missing an ‘of’ in the phrase ‘one of the planet’s pre-eminent physicists.’

    I’m underwhelmed (sorry, just am) on Destiny’s mission. Is the purpose to stir the debate about intelligent design or a refutation thereof?

  12. You may be interested in the December issue of Physics Today, that looks at one of the modern founders of our view of the universe: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Penrose helped write one of the articles (edited by Robert M. Wald). Freeman Dyson’s article is free for anyone to access.

  13. I believe that Auther Clark worked on the first “Telstar” satilite and wrote about the changes coming, about a world wide communications network and behold: we are living his dream as well as others.
    So John keep on dreaming for us, I for one do appreciate it. I try to look at the “Big Picture” of all the sciences and try to predict the changes that are not only coming from this but also the possibilities of where it will lead us… as my friends say… I live in my own little world…hehe.

  14. Pucca @24, not quite, Arthur C Clarke wrote a paper which first described the geosynchronous orbit that communications satellites now use. He never worked on Telstar, and Telstar never used a Clarke orbit. But yes, you could look on Clarke as being one of the fathers of the space industry.

  15. I hate to say it but SG:U has really become a real “downer” of a show. I’m not quite ready to give up on the series but it’s pretty depressing to watch characters I care about get the s*** kicked out of them every week with no hope. How are the ratings?

  16. I haven’t seen SG:U at all, so I can’t comment on that.

    On the other hand, in my former life I read up on some cosmology because I worked with the Planck satellite data handling, and it was useful to know what they were looking for. There were theories of there being something before the ‘Big Bang’ at least ten years ago – I read some publications about those. They had problems, but I rememeber reading a paper in 2004 or so which tried to get around them. It’s been long, but that

    So, this is not a recent idea, even in cosmology. The references in the article linked probably have something about this.

  17. Okay, On-topic for SGU, off-topic for the specific thread — We know that they have holographic projectors suitable for disguise. Why not holographically+voice-alter disguise those stoning back to Earth as themselves? It would make many things a lot smoother, especially in the cases like Eli where the family doesn’t know.

  18. Keeping the established mythology of the several Stargate series so far firmly in mind, Stargate Command would be in a unique position to gather the evidence needed here, would they not?

  19. @Vanislander I’ll admit to being pretty confident that’s how the show would go after the first episode and haven’t bothered watching since. The fact that it shares a mood and other things with BGS and NOT SG1 or Atlantis is a major bug, not a feature, IMNSHO.
    Haven’t checked its ratings, but I’d be rather surprised if it lasts much longer. John’s summary of the current state of Penrose’s theory is quite accurate though.

  20. oops, so much for not being able to edit posts immediately, I meant BSG of course. And to be fair, Sanctuary is pretty awful too.

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