New User wrote:In Star Trek 4, I never understood why the alien probe came to Earth looking for whales.
A prior probe had clearly found Earth in the past and established that there was intelligent life in the form of the cetations (so sometime well within the last 50 million years). Probably made contact1
. It had not detected, realised or cared about intelligent life on land (see footnote 1 for the possible species bias) and may even have left a Monolith-like device behind that we
never discovered or identified as such, but somehow imbued the cetations with a racially-usable walkie-talkie (that no whale had ever told us
about, because we never realised we could/should ask about it?) and/or passive monitoring to see when Uplift might be ripe for the making.
Whales die out, communications/'heartbeat-monitor-thing' go silent, presumed catastrophe! Probe sent with aqua-tech ability to project communications into water (pretty intense, dangerous to unhardened Atmosphere-Dweller tech) to try to work out why their pet project had gone into decline. Or
were coming back anyway to see if their equivalent of 2001's Moonwatcher had developed, their probing aquatech features receiver-capability (resonant-backscatter of the projected signal, like "laser bugging" of windows?) and, again, things worry them. Or this is just their inestigatory probe's programmed response ("Try harder until
contact is made; No effective limits to power usage, so long as the oceans don't actually boil away."),
Whether George and Gracey actually heard "Whale friends, whale friends! Please respond!" and replied "Hello probe, of whom i learnt under my grandmother's fin. We are here. Sorry, things were tricky and desperate, but we're alright now (or so this little land-moving guy we trust told us straight to our mind!), please could you not shout so much? We'll talk later, maybe…", I don't know.
It could as easily have been the equivalent of a safari-park ranger approaching a worryingly motionless monkey and prodding it with a stick to see ifit was dead, and happy enough to get it to wake up from its slumber and yowl a general complaint about being dusturbed.
Though all that is just a set of guesses. I know there's other ways to eff this deliberately ineffible monstrous MacGuffin.1
I'm clearly supposed to presume that this space-faring species are themselves aquatic, probably on an ocean-dominated planet, despite the popularised idea that technology and even cooking of food cannot exist in an environment where fire (natural, at first, then self-made) cannot happen. Though it's conceivable that food just never was a problem to which cooking was a brilliant solution, and industry based around volcanic escapes might have sufficed too. Then there's the problem that dealing with outer-space level one (surfacing to the atmosphere around their ocean, and/or into the ice-crust a la
Europa) is one thing, but then they need to discover the limits of OS1 to get into OS2 (actual space), which requires development of further technology. More so than we, who have long seen flight in natural use, progressed to (fire based) rocketry to escape the atmosphere we pretty much knew all about, though conceivably a development of impulse-like technology (perhaps bio-mimicing?) within the ocean-fluid might have led 'easily' to an air-pushing version, and a Sufficiently Advanced Technology which just imparted inertia upon the craft itself (already a Trek-universe technology, give or take) may well have avoided all the messy Big Dumb Rocket stuff of pushing mass out the back (whether drawn in the front or not), and so found application even out into Outer Outer Space. Right?