What's Happening

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Discar: I'm trying to find a trope, and this seems as good a place to ask as any: What is it when the Technobabble actually makes sense? In other words, I'm talking about stuff that makes no sense to any viewer who just pops in for a couple scenes, but references real things within the continuity. Jargon, essentially, but in-universe and designed so that the audience can understand (if they've been paying attention to the rules of the magic/technology being referred to, at least).

You Fail Technobabble Forever launched as Technobabble: From YKTTW

Kizor: The issue is already covered pretty well - would the MadScientist character in the webcomic Kid Radd merit mention for his complete and often-mentioned inability to use technobabble? "The sensors are picking up some stuff!"

Ununnilium: Sure — that's a subversion we haven't seen before.

Kizor: Cool!

Ununnilium: Jurassic Park? All the tech-talk in there was using the lingo of real science, IIRC.

Sockatume: Just 'cause it's real don't mean it's not technobabble. If it's above the audience's head by more than about 15, let's say 16 inches, it might as well be gibberish.

Fast Eddie: Wait. Jurassic Park, "real science", same sentence? bwah-hah-hah-hah!
  • Well, at least the book did SF almost in the old, Asimovian way; that being "let's stretch a bit some science concepts, downplay a couple of difficulties, and see what would come out of it". We do have DNA sequencers, fossil remains of genetic material, and supercomputers... they are just not THAT good.

Phartman: I was actually referring to Mr. Arnold's computer jargon more than the "science" behind the cloning, but whatever.
Geese: Does the Portal example belong here? I mean, "conservation of momentum" is neither very longwinded nor particularly obtuse.
  • Narvi: Just because it makes sense doesn't mean it isn't technobabble.
  • Nornagest: I'd have to say it doesn't belong here. It's not "fuzzily defined" — it makes perfect sense to anyone with a high-school physics education and is grounded in the game's own physics engine. It's not being used to handwave a plot point — it's explaining a gameplay feature which you need to understand in order to win. That only leaves the "genre feel" qualification, and while that's definitely why GLaDOS is using the science talk, I think technobabble should exclusively be about set dressing in order to qualify.

Seven Seals: Took out this:
  • Scientific American. Go ahead, read it, and try to figure out what they're trying to say.
Non-fiction examples of technobabble should also be nonsensical. Otherwise it's more talk than babble.