The inevitable Cristiano Ronaldo article
The engineers at NASA – America’s famous space travel agency – are pretty huge sci-fi nerds. I’m sure this news is shocking to you. They were such nerds that it became a key part of understanding their jobs. During the 1990s, they reportedly had a note on their bulletin board that gave the following advice:
“Never apply a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem.”
Babylon 5 was “popular” at the time for taking a more serious approach to space-based science fiction. It broke new ground in having more complex character-stakes and political issues in its space station setting. This was in contrast to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the much more popular series that kept its problems external to the Enterprise and generally resolved them within an episode.
A Star Trek problem might be that the ship has run out of fuel, or that the planet they’re on has a hostile alien race. The solution will be some clever piece of sci-fi planning or something implausible in the real world to conclude the episode. A Babylon 5 problem more likely involves economic disputes and requires political negotiation to solve. When the engineers say to “never apply a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem, what they mean is to avoid thinking you can solve complex issues with money or internal disputes with a clever science or engineering hack.
Manchester United signing Cristiano Ronaldo was a classic case of a Star Trek solution to a Babylon 5 problem.
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