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In the episode Where No One Has Gone Before in the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation the Enterprise ends up at the end of the universe, and for some reason this means thoughts start becoming reality.

Why do thoughts become reality here? Is there some plot point I've missed or is it ever explained later?

what's going on here?

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    @CBredlow to clarify I'm asking why thoughts become reality not why they are there
    – user46509
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:33
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    Because of dreadful, dreadful writing.
    – Valorum
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:35
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    As I recall, this was one of Diane Duane's scripts, and I don't think it is made clear if they've simply gone beyond the edges of 'reality' and their thoughts are influencing their environment, OR if the lack of 'reality' is acting like a sensory deprivation chamber, and causing their thoughts to simply appear real to them (and possibly anyone else nearby.) Picard tells the crew that they are in a place where thoughts become reality.. but there is nothing suggesting he really knows that, and is not just saying it to get them all to try to control their thoughts.
    – K-H-W
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:38
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    The entire Trek universe is a simulation of a higher dimensional species. What the Traveller did is essentially moved the Enterprise from the "game space" into a "Sandbox"/Gary's Mod type area. However, the actions of the characters in that mode (specifically, their thoughts) coincide with the control commands, and so their thoughts shaped reality and spawned new simulated objects while there. This also happens to a smaller degree when warp bubbles are created. Oct 19, 2016 at 18:47
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    “the Enterprise ends up at the end of the universe” — I think it’s more that they’re at the edge of the known universe. Oct 19, 2016 at 19:53

2 Answers 2

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Thoughts becoming reality is what the Traveller used to take them there in the first place.

This is an ability his people have, which is what enabled him to move the Enterprise so far and so fast. After he catapults them across the universe, they arrive in a place where the difference between thought and reality is very thin, because he more or less identified the two in order to get them there.

From the episode's transcript:

TRAVELLER: You do understand, don't you that thought is the basis of all reality? The energy of thought, to put it in your terms, is very powerful.
KOSINSKI: That's not an explanation.
TRAVELLER: I have the ability to act like a lens which focuses thought.
KOSINSKI: That's just so much nonsense. You're asking us to believe in magic.
TRAVELLER: Well yes, this could seem like magic to you.
PICARD: No. No, it actually makes sense to me. Only the power of thought could explain what has been happening. Especially out here.
TRAVELLER: Thought is the essence of where you are now. You do understand the danger, don't you?
PICARD: Chaos. What we think is what happens.

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    Also, Picard catches on to this when he tells the traveller that no speed could have brought them to where they are at.
    – user11521
    Mar 18, 2017 at 0:08
  • Earlier in the episode the Traveller says Kosinski has sensed "some small part" of what he is doing, and Wesley says "That space and time and thought aren't the separate things they appear to be? I just thought the formula you were using said something like that." The Traveller warned him not to speak of such things "in a world that's not ready for such, such dangerous nonsense", the way he said it indicated Wesley was on the right track even if the world wasn't ready to hear it (also note his later comments to Picard about Wesley being a Mozart-like genius about "time, energy, propulsion")
    – Hypnosifl
    Jun 17, 2023 at 20:11
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The Traveler explains in the episode that he took the ship to a region known as "The Outer Rim" of the Universe, or the end of the universe. Supposedly (according to the Traveler) all reality if made up of thought, rather than matter, and this part of the universe allows even the less-trained/able/powerful to influence it. He is searching for beings who have the proper power of thought, which in this episode is Wesley Crusher, who uses this power to help guide the Enterprise back home.

To reiterate. According to the Traveler, all reality is actually thought, but in the milky way/local area this is less apparent. Out at the edge, anyone's thoughts can influence their experience of reality.

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