Data says this to Riker, which made me think Data might be wrong (wrong about correcting him, not that it wasn't true)

RIKER: Their Bridge. If this thing works, be sure to record everything.

(The picture gets cleaned up)

RIKER: You were right. Somebody blew the hatch. They were all sucked out into space.

DATA: Correction, sir, that's blown out

RIKER: Thank you, Data.

DATA: A common mistake, sir,

Now the thing is both are equally descriptive and BOTH completely right:

  • Blown out: an object pushed from a high pressure area to a low pressure area
  • Sucked out: an object pulled out from a high pressure area to a low pressure area

Since both are technically correct, the question here is why is Data bothering to correct him? It's not clear why he says this to Riker.

  • You seem to be asking whether the terminology is correct in the real world. Unfortunately, that's off-topic here. It would be on topic on space:SE or possible ELU:SE – Valorum Nov 4 '16 at 22:35
  • No the terminology is correct both ways. Its more of if Riker said 'he fell from a great height' why would anyone say 'correction, he descended from altitude' especially Data. It seems like he made a mistake based on factual data (if it is off topic - I will delete it) – Matt Nov 4 '16 at 22:40
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    No, Data is correct. You are missing the subject of the sentence which is the people not the atmosphere. Imagine there was no air inside the chamber and the door were opened, the people would not be sucked out into space. The only force on the people is from the air pushing against them, there is no inherent pressure on a solid body such as a person due to vacuum sucking them into space. Saying the air has been sucked out or blown out is both correct as you say, however when it comes to the people which were the subject of rikers sentence, they were unambiguously blown out. – John Meacham Nov 5 '16 at 0:33
  • @JohnMeacham: The people were sucked out just as much as the air was. There's a low pressure area towards space, and a high(er) pressure area away from space, causing a differential pressure. The net force accelerated them out the hatch. "Sucked" refers to something falling into the low-pressure zone. "Blown" refers to something falling away from the high-pressure zone. They're literally the same thing. That said, it's entirely plausible the writers believed Riker's statement was wrong and Data was simply being accurate in the style of Spock from TOS. – MichaelS Nov 5 '16 at 3:40
  • They are not both technically correct. Riker is incorrect and Data is correcting him – Valorum Dec 9 '16 at 7:04

They were all sucked out into space.

I had some stodgy grammar teachers, back in the day, and they all would have come down on Data's side. Here's why:

Riker mixes his terminology. The "blowing" of the hatch is what caused the decompression. It's slightly better (in grammar) to keep the same term for both events, since they are related ("They blew the hatch, which blew them out of the ship"). Furthermore, sucking implies the force pulling the crew out was outside the ship. That's not correct. The air escaping was the force performing the action. Therefore they were blown.

Riker would have been correct if there was a giant creature who bit open the hull and sucked them out.

Thus endeth Data's grammar lesson.

  • I thought it was just one of those plot things initially to show he was an android like him saying to Mccoy 'your 137 years old', but your right (my mistake), I thought the 2 phrases were both accurate (that explains why so many people thought this was grammer related) – Matt Nov 4 '16 at 23:26
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    +1 "Sucking" to me implies a diaphragm like action being responsible for creating the low pressure zone. – ApproachingDarknessFish Nov 4 '16 at 23:46
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    The air was sucked out, the people were blown out. It is the air moving towards the hole that applies a force to the people, the vacuum itself applies no sucking force to the humans. if there were no air to blow them out, they would have stayed put. It is gasses ill defined volumes that leads to this sucking action, solids and liquids with defined volumes (like the crew for the most part) do not experience it. – John Meacham Nov 5 '16 at 0:37
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    The "blowing" of the hatch has nothing to do with the "blowing" of the air, or the motion of the hatch after it blew. At some point, "blow up" came from blowing air, but its meaning in this context is simply that the hatch was forcibly damaged or destroyed, which subsequently allowed the rapid decompression. If anything, I'd say using different words to express the different concepts is better than using the same word to ambiguously describe different concepts. – MichaelS Nov 5 '16 at 4:10

Skybrary uses the term sucked in its definition of explosive decompression. It's a wiki, so the value of the authority lies upon the quality of the contributors. I'm not sure I can judge that, although it appears to be a reasonably good quality wiki.


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