Are there really people like Spock

Why Mr. Spock has green blood

Why Mr. Spock has green blood

The “Star Trek” series is 50 years old and this week the 13th movie adventure appears with “Star Trek Beyond”. Faster than light, beaming people - physicist Metin Tolan knows the "Star Trek" physics like hardly anyone else.

Mr. Tolan, will humanity ever be able to beam people from one place to another like in the Star Trek films?

Metin Tolan: It will be very difficult. When beaming in the film, a person is scanned in order to determine the positions of the individual atoms and molecules. The atoms are then dissolved, converted into radiation and directed to their destination. There the radiation is converted back into atoms and returned to their original positions. In principle, physics would allow that. Albert Einstein has shown with his famous formula E = mc2 that it is theoretically possible. The problem is, if you dissolve a person and their atoms, you would need as much energy as Germany uses in a year.

Mr. Spock with the pointy ears comes from the planet Vulcano. In the film he has green blood. Is that possible? Blood is red.

Tolan: In fact, Mr. Spock's blood is blue. Our blood is red because it is based on iron and the protein hemoglobin. The blood of Mr. Spock, however, is not based on iron, but on copper, as it is mentioned again and again in the series. When we think of copper, however, we think of the green patina, for example in the case of the Statue of Liberty in New York. That is probably the reason why the "Star Trek" makers assumed that Spock's blood must be green.

The sky is red on Vulkan, Mr. Spock's home planet. Are there red skies on other planets?

Tolan: Our sky is blue because the light is scattered by the air molecules. Blue light is scattered much more strongly than red light. If a sky appears reddish, like on a volcano, then the atmosphere should be full of sulfur particles. The planet Vulkan would have a massive problem with fine dust.

The Enterprise travels to alien planets. At the start of the series in 1966, science did not yet know whether there were other planets outside of our solar system at all.

Tolan: That was pure speculation back then. It could have been that our solar system with the planets was a cosmic uniqueness. Since 1995, when a Swiss physicist discovered the first exoplanet, we have known that planets orbiting other stars are the norm in the universe and not the exception. “Star Trek” anticipated this.

Such planets are light years away from us. Will we be able to travel there one day?

Tolan: The biggest problem with such trips is the cosmic speed limit. The speed limit in the universe is the speed of light. According to Albert Einstein, nothing moves faster than light - 300,000 kilometers per second. Due to the dimension of the universe, however, the speed of light is too slow. Our neighboring star Proxima Centauri is a full four light years away from us. This is very close in cosmic terms, but it would still take you 50,000 years to travel at rocket speed. At the speed of light you would need the same time as light, namely four years.

The Enterprise travels faster than light, with the so-called warp drive.

Tolan: Warp was invented by the Star Trek creators for a very clever reason. The theory of relativity says that we might not need four years to travel at the speed of light to the nearest star because time is slower in the spaceship. For the people on board, it might only take three days and another three days for the return journey. On earth, however, 100 years or more would pass in the same time.

Difficult for the astronauts.

Tolan: The times would not run synchronously. When you return to Earth, all of the people you sent into space a week earlier would be dead. That is why the “Star Trek” makers invented the warp drive. With a warp drive, the time distortions do not occur. That has been thought through ingeniously. As a physicist, all you can say is: hats off, hats off.