Star Trek TNG Science Quiz

Question 1. Holodeck. After a long and difficult assignment on an uninhabited planet, Commander Riker went to Holodeck III to unwind. While there he ate three cheeseburgers generated by the holodeck program. Is Commander Riker hungry after he ends the program?

Question 2. Relativity. We know that speed in space is relative, there is no absolute speed. What does Captain Picard mean when he orders a “full stop”?

Question 3. The Replicator. Captain Picard approached a replicator and requested: “Tea, Earl Grey. Hot.” The replicator immediately created a glass with hot Earl Grey tea. How much energy would the Enterprise have saved in seven years if they used a dish-washing machine, rather than creating glasses from atoms each time and dissolving them afterwards?

Question 4. Contractions. Commander Data hasn’t mastered contractions in English speech. In what year do you think the first program was written to convert formal English into English with contractions?

Question 5. Data. Commander Data is fully functional and absolutely superior to a vibrator. Given that there are more than a thousand people on board the Enterprise, estimate how many times a year on average Data will receive sexual requests.

The next two questions are related to particular episodes.

Question 6. “Up The Long Ladder”. Mariposans reproduce by cloning. Why do all the identical sets of clones appear to be the same age? Does it mean that upon the reproduction the clone is the age of the host? If so, they all should be 300 years old.

Mariposans steal sample DNA from Commander Riker and Dr. Pulaski. If Riker and Pulaski didn’t destroy their maturing clones what age would those clones be? Would they know how much two plus two is when they awaken? If clones awaken as adults, what is their life span?

Question 7. “Force of Nature”. Serova sacrifices herself to save her world from the effects of warp drive, but in doing so, she herself creates the rift that will destroy her world. Explain the logic.



  1. Bill:

    Good stuff!

    I seem to remember something about Data’s creator deliberately restricting him from using contractions. It had something to do with setting him apart from the humans. I think the brother used contractions. It gave him away once when he was pretending to be Data. My memories of this are a bit fuzzy; it’s been a while since I’ve seen the series.

    I do remember “Up the Long Ladder,” though, and there will later become a funny irony about it. Even as Riker objects to his being cloned, there is (unbeknownst to him) an identical copy of him stranded on a planet somewhere, as a result of a transporter malfunction years earlier. This is the character who will later become Tom Riker. The two Rikers end up resenting each other, so maybe he had a point.

  2. Heather:

    Well, as for the first question, I believe that the food and drink in the Holodeck are not holograms but are actually replicated. I can’t however remember in which episode this was mentioned.

  3. Brenda:

    1. Though not used as much in TNG, companion show Deep Space Nine featured a holodeck nightclub and a character who lived on the holodeck for an extended period of time. It was written to be identical to a real experience.

    2. Full stop means all engines stop. TNG could also do station keeping and orbit.

    3. That’s not the worst thing about the replicator. It’s based on transporter technology, and there are things that neither transporters nor replicators can materialize. I’d hate for one of those substances to be keeping me alive.

    4. Data used contractions freely in early episodes. Even after they decided to ‘retcon’ him into not saying contractions, he would still use ones like “I’m” and “T’ve” very frequently. Data was clearly lying about his inability to use contractions (seeing as he never entirely stopped).

    5. Clearly officers and enlisted personnel of lower rank than Data could not require this of him, and officers of higher rank could not fraternize with someone under their command. This would restrict his pickings to people off the ship, or Lieutenants on the Enterprise. I don’t know if Data would care about the gender of his partners, but we’ll assume he would appeal to 90% of the female and 10% of the male lieutenants who would normally resort to vibrators. Anyway, I don’t have an exact figure.

    6. Clones are produced on an assembly line; one year you make 500 “A” type clones, next year 500 “B” type clones and so on. Economy of scale.

    7. Don’t remember the episode.

  4. Nathan:

    1. The holodeck incorporates replicator technology to generate props, which means the hamburgers he received on the holodeck are the same as he would have received in Ten Forward. Sans Guinan’s spit of course.

    2. Intragalactic space travel will necessitate some form of spacial coordinate system. The TNG universe appears to have adopted one with an origin located at the center of the universe. With such a system to form a basis for location, absolute speed can be calculated.

    3. Answering this question would require knowing the efficiency of the replicator system. The casual use of replicators in TNG appear to suggest they are highly efficient.

    4. Computers tend to only be as intelligent as the people who program them, and while Dr. Soong was a genius in many ways, in other ways he was not.

    5. As superior as Data may be to a vibrator, I doubt he can beat the holodeck after the Binars’ improvements (ancillary: would it ever be appropriate to say “Binar’s”?) :-)

    I do not recall enough of the episodes referenced in questions 6 and 7.

  5. Jason Dyer:

    I don’t recall any canon on #3, but one gets the sense from Voyager’s replicator rationing that in normal circumstances energy is so plentiful that it isn’t a concern, and it only comes up when ships cannot replenish their reserves over a span of many years. (Although it is never stated how Starfleet’s economy works, one also gets the impression energy and replicating are essentially unlimited, outdating the need for a traditional economy.)

    Lore (who could use contractions) was the earlier model from Data, so clearly contractions were a particular quirk of Data’s software and not something technically impossible.

    On #5: given how badly Data’s dating life turned out in the episode In Theory, even ignoring the issue of rank I’m guessing not too often.

    I don’t recall from #7 any comment about the rift growing to infinite size.

  6. radek:

    1) In the Holodeck food and clothes are replicated.
    2) It means full stop in relation with the ship or planet they are interested in.
    3) It would be cheaper (in fact, in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” they only eat TKL rations, that were less expensive to replicate) but it seems they can afford it.
    4) I’d bet 1970, but Data is special.
    5) 0.286 times per year (two episodes in seven seasons)
    6) Mariposans derive from a colony of DINKS (Double Income No Kids) so they cloned themselves and accelerate the ageing process and they must have deveploped a method to load their brains with knowledge.
    7) Serova was from the species Itoldyousoian.

  7. Thirteenth Linkfest:

    […] Khovanova: Star Trek TNG Science Quiz, David Bernstein’s […]

  8. ObsessiveMathsFreak:

    1. You just had to ask didn’t you.

    2. Achieve zero relative motion of ship with respect to the centre of mass of the closest astronomical phenomenon or narrative macguffin.

    3. None. Since energy is cheap and labour is expensive, in the 24th century it is more efficient to vaporise and incorporate material from raw energy than to hire people–pension benefits and all–to do the job by hand. Money saved here goes towards energy extraction projects.

    4. This is a trick question. There is no such language as “formal English”.

    5. None. The enterprise has four holodecks. Please see the above link.

    6. The Mariposans used transferred consciousness cloning. Please consult novels by Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein for details.

    7. Serova’s goal was to save here world and the galaxy from gradual environmental destruction. In unleashing this destruction all at once, she succeeded in this goal.

    Now you must answer

    Question 8: In the series finale “All Good Things”, the temporal anomaly grows “backwards” in time, increasing as one moves into the past. Yet, when the Pastuer arrives to investigate there is no anomaly, and later when the Enterprise arrives at the same spot the anomaly is present.

    Formulate the growth of the anomaly as a linear partial differential equation and explain this discrepancy by finding a fundamental solution. Using the star-dates provided, solve for the resulting size of the original anomaly as a function of negative time given that the Enterprise’s warp core can generate tachyon pulses of 1.21 Gigawaats. How long will it take for the Star Trek writers to top this episode?