14

Through the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we learn that

Picard has created an anomaly in the Devron system in the future. That anomaly got bigger and bigger as it moved back in time and eventually has caused the destruction of human kind in the very, very distant past, because it caused life on Earth to actually not be born.

This part is really unclear for me. How could the anomaly stop the combination of amino acids into the first proteins? Is it explained in the episode and I just missed that? Beside getting larger and larger, the anomaly itself doesn't seem to have any actual influence on anything through all three (actually four -- including that very, very old Paris) timelines presented in this episode.

  • 23
    “How could the anomaly stop the combination of amino acids into first proteins?” But you’re fine with it just traveling back in time? – Paul D. Waite May 20 '15 at 8:42
  • 2
    Wasn't it an "excuse" for Q to continue with "The Trial"? Also, since Q was responsible for it anyway, any explanation would be correct. Hence unnecessary? – AcePL May 20 '15 at 8:52
  • 1
    @AcePL Good point. It'd be like a bully pushed you into some girl, and then says, "See, now look what you did?" It seems evident that the cause was Q, either directly or indirectly. – Neil May 20 '15 at 14:07
  • 2
    @PaulD.Waite The anomaly is described as an "anti-time" anomaly; it's supposedly natural for it to work backwards through time. As ridiculous as that sounds in reality, of course, at some point you do have to suspend disbelief and accept the universe on it's own terms. ;) The OP's question, though, is about an aspect of the anomaly not as thoroughly discussed in universe. – jpmc26 May 20 '15 at 14:08
  • 7
    I always assumed it was a butterfly-effect kind of thing. In our timeline, a particular ray of sunlight fell on a particular part of a pool of goop, which heated it up by some fraction of a degree, which pushed some particular molecule into some other molecule, and ... life! But in the altered timeline, that particular bit of goo happened to be in a shadow because the anomaly filled the sky, and so the goo was cooler and so the molecule didn't move as much. One photon happened to land here instead of there. Just a matter of chance. – user1008646 May 20 '15 at 17:23
35

It is sort-of explained, yes. From your link:

Data then offers a partial explanation. The anomaly is a multiphasic temporal convergence in the space-time continuum, an eruption of anti-time. The relationship between time and anti-time is analogous to the relationship between matter and anti-matter, and upon contact, the two would annihilate each other, causing the rupture in space.

[...]

Q transfers them back to Earth, about 3.5 billion years in the past. He shows Picard the sky, which is full of the anomaly. Picard then realizes that the anomaly is expanding as it moves back in time. Q then shows Picard a pool of green sludge, a pool of amino acids. They are about to combine to form the first proteins, however, the disturbance from the anomaly stops the combination as it happens. Life on Earth doesn't start, and the anomaly stopped the creation of Humanity.

The event isn't really explained:

They look into the water.

Q (continuing): Here they go... the amino acids are moving closer... closer... closer... (reacts) Ohhhh! Nothing happened! (to Picard) You see what you've done?

Picard thinks for a moment, then looks up at the sky.

PICARD: You mean I caused the anomaly... and the anomaly... in some way... disrupted the beginning of life on Earth.

Q's eyes bore into Picard.

Q: Congratulations.

Earlier in the episode a pregnant crew member also lost her baby due to the effects of the anomaly, which Crusher explained like this:

I think it's the same thing that happened to Geordi. Somehow, the temporal energy from the anomaly caused the fetal tissue to revert to an earlier stage of development. It was as if the unborn child began to... grow younger... until finally the DNA itself began to break down.

  • 1
    You're not wrong, but this answer doesn't actually cover the core question; what was the actual treknobabble pseudo-scientific reason for the amino acids not combining? – Valorum May 20 '15 at 9:30
  • 5
    @Richard It wasn't really explained; I've updated my answer with some relevant excerpts from the script. – BCdotWEB May 20 '15 at 9:44
  • Good edit. You have my +1. Have you looked in the novelisation for any additional info? – Valorum May 20 '15 at 11:22
  • 1
    Exactly - Q showed Picard the EFFECT first, and as a result of trying to figure out the CAUSE, Picard ended up creating the very thing he was looking for. His ability to comprehend that paradox near the end is what convinced Q to save humanity. – Omegacron May 20 '15 at 18:53
  • 1
    The implication here is actually, that it really wouldn't have taken much of a disturbance at all in the distant past to prevent life on Earth from forming in the first place. – Ernie May 20 '15 at 21:49
5

Memory Alpha's synopsis explains this, if you apply the same logic to those primordial amino acids:

However, soon afterward, La Forge experiences some pain, and trouble with his VISOR. Data calls sickbay, and Crusher determines that La Forge is growing new eyes. Nurse Ogawa reports that they have reports from two crew members stating that old scars are healing themselves.

And, later:

In the present, Picard accidentally bumps into a crew member on his way to sickbay. Inside sickbay, several time-reversing phenomena are occurring. La Forge's visual acuity is improving by the minute, and Alyssa Ogawa lost her baby. Picard enters, and Crusher explains that the baby somehow grew backwards, until the DNA itself broke down. However, the temporal energy seems to be affecting the entire crew, causing everyone to "grow backward," and it could kill all of them.

3

I always assumed it was a butterfly-effect kind of thing. In our timeline, a particular ray of sunlight fell on a particular part of a pool of goop, which heated it up by some fraction of a degree, which pushed some particular molecule into some other molecule, and ... life! But in the altered timeline, that particular bit of goo happened to be in a shadow because the anomaly filled the sky, and so the goo was cooler and so the molecule didn't move as much. One photon happened to land here instead of there. Just a matter of chance.

As far as we know, there were a dozen other planets where there had been no life, but the effects of the anomaly resulted in there being life, ... or planets where life had formed but formed differently, ... or where it triggered an extinction event, ... or prevented an extinction event ... or whatever.

I have no source for this beyond it being my understanding of the dramatic presentation of the show.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.