In the 1955 film, ‘This Island Earth’, Doctor Cal Meacham is the last of eight scientists to receive a catalogue that intrigues him enough to order up an Interocitor, seeing it as the key device for all mechanisms shown. At that time, he had no awareness that it was in fact a standard device of the inhabitants of Metaluna and their chief representative on Earth, Exeter, who uses it to test scientists of suitable intelligence to create new nuclear weaponry for their interplanetary war with the Zagons. Why would the Metalunans believe the technologically inferior humans would come up with anything better is debatable, although considering how their planetary resources have been destroyed, one could surmise their scientists are numbered. Logistically, they were clutching at straws and looking for new ideas. Oddly, the humans they brought to their Georgia ranch were not told what was wanted and any who dissented had their minds adjusted in a Transformer device. It does make you wonder how Doctors Steven Carlson and Ruth Adams hadn’t been given this treatment although Exeter’s belief compared to Brack is that it reduces creative thinking would have held sway here after the first few were changed.
Meacham’s speciality is electronics and works for Ryberg Electronics Inc., who don’t interfere with his work or mind him exploring other job opportunities. Then again, Meacham is also shown to be a celebrity scientist who is media friendly to the press and presumably have access to all his inventions.
One would have to wonder how things had gone had the Metalunans been more honest with their problem with their enemy, the Zagons, but maybe they sampled some 1950s SF movies on the way to Earth and thought this way the way they were supposed to act.
The real problem for this article is the Interocitor. The 2800 parts might be unusual but the functions wouldn’t have been difficult to determine. Seeing the number of crates the parts were sent in to how small the Interocitor becomes is a little odd. You would have thought they’d have used less crates. Equally, they are warned that no spare parts would be issued if any were damaged which should prevent testing along the way. Considering the XC condensers can tolerate 35,000 volts before exploding, you would think some testing at lower voltages might have been carried out without any damage just to see what they were.
Even Meacham’s assistant, Joe Wilson, recognised the pair of bead XC condensers as being extraordinarily powerful. A monitor screen and a transmitter wouldn’t have been hard to figure out. The twin laser destructors could have been thought either as that or the possibility of creating holograms, although that wouldn’t happen until 1962. The energy source would certainly have been suspect, more so as it was connected to the mains than within the machine and would have been limited. Then again, the Metalunan equivalent of transistors could increase the output. However, considering how those XC condensers or capacitors to use their modern name worked, then they could certainly hold their charge. The Artificial Intelligence aspect of the Interocitor would have been beyond them, though, as the IBM computers of that time were big as a small house and long before silicon chip technology.
Granted that there is a possibility that the Interocitor might not have turned on unless it was fully controlled but even solid state devices can be equipped with various kill switches to turn it off in an emergency rather than risk it being destroyed.
If anything, putting the Interocitor together was more a proof that Meacham could follow instructions and put something together without question than any scientific expertise. Any one of you with the ability to build a model or an electronic kit could have done a similar thing and I doubt the pressure of no replacement parts if you made a mistake wouldn’t have worried you. That beggars the question of how could building an Interocitor be regarded as a true test of finding a genius scientist? I would have thought that taking over control of it from Exeter would have been a demonstration of that, if only to turn it off.
Then again, if all eight scientists had each built an Interocitor, you would have had to wonder why didn’t any of one them try to do that. Considering most of them are theoretical scientists, one would have to assume not and that they might have been tested in other ways. Likewise, if they wanted extreme weapon-builders, why not just kidnap all the key scientists from the Manhattan Project? With no one knowing where they’ve gone, I suspect the American security services would have been frantically looking for them or targeting the USSR.
The real problem is that Meacham wouldn’t really know what was going to happen next but he would have had a pretty good idea about the Interocitor’s communication possibilities. I suspect if ‘This Island Earth’ was remade today, then this option would have to be accounted for. I doubt if this would change Exeter’s mind as, after all, he wants a smart scientist. If anything, the real problem would be would Exeter know if the Interocitor was working at full capacity?
Looking at how Brack used the Interocitor to observe the scientists, even through lead, and then later used its destructive capability at a distance shows how immensely powerful it is. It’s a shame that we can’t see whether or not it was connected to a terrestrial power supply or something from Metaluna. The fact that on a different setting that Exeter could also use it to control Meacham’s aeroplane and bring it down safely when its engine failed is further evidence of its energy manipulating ability. The green glow of that together with their spaceship using a similar force at a bigger scale to ensure that the small plane with Meacham and Adams on could not escape being drawn in shows different ranges of power or its limits. What isn’t really shown was the small plane was being dragged along and raised at the same time. This green glow would suggest that there is some agitation of molecules taking place, discharging some apparently harmless energy in the process. Considering how the Interocitor can focus and direct energy, this might be seen as more of an advantage than not. Even so, these Interocitors must have some limitations or means to counter their energy potential or else why were they losing so badly against the Zygons?
Oddly, the process to adjust organic molecules to Metaluna atmosphere and vice versa doesn’t appear to be an Interocitor process. This does tend to suggest that the Interocitor isn’t the b all and end all of all devices they have. Alternatively, it could be an earlier device or process.
One last thought. The Metalunans relied totally on their Interocitors for all their energy using needs. This in itself reveals one major problem in a war. All the Zygons has to worry about is how to beat one weapon and chose planetary bombardment. Aiming at specific targets, you would reduce the Metalunan capacity in short order and even moving underground would only postpone the ultimate defeat. You would have to ask why the Monitor delayed the evacuation to Earth so long but maybe he had fewer spaceships to rely on. In a good way, that might have saved their invasion of Earth and possibly the Zagons following them.
(c) GF Willmetts 2017