Wong Debate

Round 1

The Superlaser Effect


(Editorial note: Pictures linked to in the debate have been added to the text in an in-line fashion, so that the picture occurs immediately before the link thereto.)


I will refrain from going over old arguments. You have whined for days 
that it would be unfair to use your own history against you, and many 
observers will be unfamiliar with them anyway, so I will make a fresh 
start. Your basic claim is that the Death Star induces an exothermal 
chain reaction of unknown properties in Alderaan, rather than simply 
transferring a huge amount of power into it and destroying it. This 
strikes most people as absurd; after all, the opening crawl of ANH 
states quite clearly that the Death Star is "an armored space station 
with enough POWER to destroy an entire planet" (perhaps you've never 
watched the film).

In any case, you claim to have conclusive evidence that the opening 
crawl of the canon movie is wrong. According to you, the superlaser 
strikes Alderaan (and you deny the existence of its shield) but damages 
very little of the planet (you picked an arbitrary 20-30% figure out of 
thin air, as I recall). Instead of heating the planet or directly 
causing it to expand, you claim that the superlaser creates an 
"anti-Genesis effect" which moves over the surface of the planet, 
spreading outward from the point of contact until it eventually covers 
the entire surface (I have no idea what you're trying to accomplish by 
introducing Trek-based red herrings, but there it is). As evidence for 
your bizarre sci-fi technological cross-pollination theory, you cite the 
fact that the explosion of the far side of the planet lags behind that 
of the near side, thus implying that the heating/expansion effect of the 
superlaser's energy transfer is not instantaneously uniform throughout 
the entire planet's mass and proving the existence of your mysterious 
exothermal chain reaction (there are some monstrous logical and 
scientific problems with this "reasoning", but this post will be long 
enough as it is, so I will restrict myself to discussion of the evidence 
itself for now).

Note: all frames are digitized from my CLV laserdiscs and then 
inverse-telecined to the original 24fps theatrical framerate for 
timebase correction. The screenshots are taken from my best-quality 
Divx-encoded version of the film, not the lower-resolution low-bandwidth 
version which I made available for download from the Alderaan page (that 
one was transcoded from the master copy). If it should turn out that you 
have misrepresented the evidence, then any conclusions you have drawn 
from your analyses would be judged accordingly. You only made comments 
on a handful of frames, but I will include a large number of them for 
the sake of comprehensiveness, and to demonstrate some phenomena which 
apparently slipped under your radar:

Frame 0


Frame 1


According to you: "The white flash of the superlaser strike." Yes, 
there's a white flash, but you neglect to mention the "halo effect" 
outside the atmosphere on the right-hand side, and the unaffected oceans 
and clouds underneath. Perhaps you weren't paying close attention?

Frame 2


Rapid propagation of halo effect, which now covers nearly the entire 
hemisphere despite visibly unaffected oceans underneath. Note rapid 
propagation of halo effect (perhaps one quarter of the planet's 
circumference in 1/24 second, which is roughly 0.8c). The halo effect is 
probably a visible manifestation of the planetary shield's reradiation 

According to you: "The firey explosion begins, mostly near the beam." 
Again, I must ask: were you paying attention? There is no fiery 
explosion; there is luminescence but nothing is being thrown away from 
the planet, and we can clearly see unaffected oceans underneath. 
Moreover, your contention that it is "mostly near the beam" is simply 
absurd; the planetary shield is now visibly glowing over nearly a full 

Frame 3


Dramatic intensification of halo effect, which is now so bright that it 
saturates the video medium. Note that the effect intensifies but does 
not travel much farther around the planet, which is typical of shield 
absorption/re-radiation characteristics as seen in TPM; they can only 
dissipate the energy over a limited surface area around the point of 
contact. The enormous rate of energy dissipation is obviously going to 
overload the shield's energy handling limits shortly. Without a 
planetary shield, it would be extremely difficult to explain why the 
propagation rate starts off so quickly and then slows down so dramatically.

Frame 4


Slight change in the halo effect's physical appearance, although the 
coverage area has not dramatically changed (note that the far side is 
still blue). However, the sudden unevenness and colour changes may 
indicate that the shield has failed. This would imply that the 
superlaser is drilling into the planet's mass already, although the 
sheer scale means that there will be a measurable time lag before the 
surface expands (even at 5% of c, it would take 1 frame for a lower 
mantle expansion to breach the surface and 5 frames for a core expansion 
to breach the surface). Intensification without forward progress is 
consistent with a shield, but not with your mysterious surface-level 
chain reaction.

Frame 5


Planetary explosion begins outright. The fire rings must have appeared 
somewhere between frames 4 and 5, and they are already 1500 km away from 
surface. Note that they are centred around the planet's core and aligned 
with the camera angle, not the superlaser.

According to you: "The rings and a band of brightness around the center 
of the beam appear. The band will encircle the globe". What is this 
band, Darkstar? I don't see any "band"; at best, there are 
irregularities in the brightness, which are hardly inexplicable in a 
chaotic explosion. You also say: "the first ring has appeared all the 
way around the planet, even though that left side (with atmosphere, 
even) still seems to be stable. (That's the last frame of the 
superlaser.) Assuming anyone was still alive at this point on the other 
side of the planet, they must've wondered what the hell was going on."

In short, there is a blue tinge at the far side which you use as proof 
that the far side is completely unaffected. However, one should not read 
too much into a blue tinge, as we can see in the screenshot below:

Frame 5 with frame 0 inverted and superimposed


We can see that the planet has already been heated up to such an extent 
that glowing material has been hurled at least 100-200 km away from the 
surface at all points around the planet, INCLUDING the far side. I doubt 
anyone would be lazily "wondering what the hell was going on" when the 
ground beneath his feet has been heated up to such an extent that it has 
shot up into the sky and out of the atmosphere!

Frame 6


Continued expansion. Rings expand another 4600 km, thus indicating 
average velocity of more than 1/3c. Planetary mass continues to expand 
and heat dramatically, which would be consistent with a blast that 
expands its mass from within.

According to you: "The next frame shows the superlaser target point much 
darker, with a band of greater brightness around it that reminds me of 
the Genesis Effect." I must ask: are you watching a different version of 
the film than the rest of us? Where is this "band of greater brightness" 
around the superlaser contact point? Are you referring to the fact that 
the entire planet is glowing and expanding, with two thirds of it 
expanding at a slightly greater rate? And did you notice that the 
reddish, or "darkened" region is centred around the MIDDLE of the 
planet, and not the superlaser contact point as you claim, which was 
well to the right? Your analysis is certainly starting off on the wrong 
foot when you seem to develop a case of hysterical blindness while 
examining the evidence! And what is this "Anti-Genesis Effect"? I don't 
see any "Anti-Genesis Effect!" All I see is a planet which is rapidly 
expanding, albeit with a slight asymmetry that is easily explained by 
energy propagation delay through the planet's mass.

Frame 7


Frame 8


According to you: "A couple of frames later, the band of brightness has 
expanded, as have the rings, and the dark patch where the superlaser hit 
is darker." Again, you seem to be inventing observations out of thin 
air. The dark patch is now well to the left, while the superlaser was 
well to the right. And the "band" is white-hot matter shooting into 
space around the entire planet.

Frame 9


Frame 10


Frame 11


According to you: "It is only when the leftmost section of the ring 
almost leaves the frame that the band of brightness seems to reach the 
leftmost horizon of the planet." You go on to conclude that the far side 
of the planet was basically untouched until this point! However, when we 
superimpose the colour-inverted planet on the frame, we get:

Frame 11, with frame 0 inverted and superimposed


In this view, it is clear that while there is SOME asymmetry in the 
explosion, it is easily explained through propagation delays, which are 
measurable on a planetary scale even at significant fractions of c. 
Perhaps you have a modified version of the film in your imagination? 
That is not a "band of brightness"; it is countless billions upon 
billions of tons of superheated debris flying away from the planet in 
all directions! The debris field is already 500 km away from the surface 
at the closest point, and thousands of km away at the farthest point. 
Again, I must ask if you have some kind of vision problem. This 
expansion continues for a while, so we skip ahead a few frames to:

Frame 27


Secondary burst begins (you can see that the initial burst is slightly 
up and to the left, although it is difficult to discern what's going on 
through the light and debris). Note that the fire ring has slowed down 
dramatically. After expanding at a rate of more than 1/3 c between 
frames 5 and 6, it has covered only 22,000 km in the 21 frames since 
then, for an average velocity of only 25,000 km/s. This indicates that 
it is SLOWING DOWN despite the lack of a natural braking mechanism in 
space! It would be a gross understatement to say that the fire rings are 
a curious phenomenon.

Of course, you didn't notice that, but you DID have enough time to say 
"This secondary explosion is apparently much larger than the first, 
though it doesn't appear as bright in the first moments (it may have on 
the opposite side of the planet). It appears to be centered somewhere 
behind the core of the planet. The second ring is also larger and much 
faster than the first. The secondary explosion also gives us our first 
observation of large debris material, appearing to come from the former 
location of the center of the planet, headed in the general direction 
the superlaser had come from."

Again, I must ask: are you inventing observations in your imagination 
now? If the second explosion is off-centre, why does its fire ring line 
up with the first one? And where is this debris heading TOWARD the Death 
Star that you describe? The next few frames clearly show an explosion 
that is skewed to the LEFT, not the right:

Frame 28


Frame 29


Second "fire ring" appears. Note that it matches the first one in both 
location and alignment, thus indicating that despite the irregular 
appearance of the "secondary burst", it is still roughly centred on the 
planet's original core location.

Frame 30


The second fire ring continues to expand, rapidly catching up to the 
first one which is mysteriously continuing to lose velocity.

Frame 31


Frame 32


The second fire ring has nearly caught up to the first fire ring.

Frame 33


The second fire ring meets the first ring.

Frame 34


The second fire ring has merged with the first fire ring and both are 
continuing outward. Note the lack of violent interactions between the 
two fire rings.

After apparently mutilating the evidence in your mind, you conclude: 
"This suggests that the superlaser only directly destroyed the part of 
the planet facing it in those first few milliseconds, since there would 
be no particular reason for a higher concentration of bulk material 
(from the core or otherwise) to head toward the original location of the 
beam. It would have to be either because that area of the planet no 
longer existed (providing no resistance), and/or because something (the 
secondary explosion, produced somehow by the bands) was giving it a good 
shove from behind. This also serves to explain why so much of the 
material of the secondary explosion seemed to fly away and behind the 
planet, while larger pieces flew forward."

However, since the explosion does NOT hurl any more material back toward 
the Death Star than it does in any other direction, your "observation" 
turns out to be a fabrication, along with any conclusions reliant upon it.

Of course, I recognize that you hang your hat mostly upon the "fire 
rings" rather than these grossly mistaken observations of yours, but we 
must deal with one point at a time, in a linear progression. Your 
analysis of the Alderaan blast appears to be based on either serious 
vision problems, dishonesty, or perhaps a seriously corrupted version of 
the film (perhaps you watched it on VHS and were unable to distinguish 
the well-known colour-bleed problems of the format from the underlying 

Are you willing to concede that you have either misrepresented the 
evidence or seen an extremely poor-quality copy of it? I have presented 
clear evidence that the entire planet is ALREADY expanding in frame 5, 
its asymmetry is actually skewed AWAY from the superlaser and not toward 
it as you say, there is NOT an unusual concentration of debris heading 
back toward the Death Star, the "dark spot" is NOT located at the 
superlaser contact point, and the two explosions are NOT significantly 
off-centre from one another. To contest these points would be nearly 
absurd, since the evidence is in plain view, from the highest-quality 
available source.

If you are willing to concede that your observations are faulty, we can 
move onto your "fire ring" fallacies in our next exchange (assuming that 
you pick up this challenge and continue this debate).

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