Worst. Self-destruction mechanism. Ever.

When Morbius has taken a mortal wound from his monster and destroyed his “evil self,” he realizes that mankind is not ready for the power available to him through the Krell technology. Without explaining what he’’s doing, Morbius instructs Adams to “turn “that disc”.” Adams mindlessly obeys, and a plunger emerges from the floor near him.

Adams initiates the irreversible Krell self destruct mechanism.

Morbius commands Adams, ““The switch, throw it.”” Again, Adams does as he’’s told, and the plunger clicks into place as a red ring (the same red ring below the educator lever) illuminates. Then, and only then, Morbius explains that, ““In 24 hours you must be 100 million miles out in space. The Krell furnaces’ …chain reaction……they cannot be reversed.”” You think that with that kind of finality, he might have bothered to explain what was going to happen, or inquire whether the crew could make it out that far in that amount of time, but you know, science knows best.

The krell self-destruct warning signal is a silent, blinking red ring around the plunger.

Adding insult to injury, the complete warning system for this massive, solar-system-sized explosion consists of, in total, a silently pulsing red ring around the base of a plunger located in the heart of a hidden underground city behind a series of impenetrable doors sealed with combination locks. There is no klaxon, no lights seen elsewhere to indicate that your star system is about to go boom. I guess if you didn’’t know, you didn’’t really need to know.

5 thoughts on “Worst. Self-destruction mechanism. Ever.

  1. To be fair, if the device was built by the Krell (an alien species I assume?) then it would likely be built to their UI standards, not ours. For example, they might have no sense of hearing, or one with a different range then ours: The klaxon could be blaring at 120 dB, but at dog whistle levels, and there could be a dozen lights pulsing around the room in the IR region, sub-red light.

    • These are great insights (and apologetics). But when we’re looking for lessons for our own use, we also have to think how it would work if the users were human, or we’ll get wrapped around the axle of reverse-engineering (fictional) alien biology.

      • A very fair point. I just always keep the point about spectra vision in mind, ever since I read a ST:TOS book that used a different spectra range in Klingon Vision as a plot point.

        It would be an interesting thing to design around, having to make a warning work for people with different sets of senses. Heck, designing for multiple cultures is challenge enough, such as shown in the redesign of the radiation safety label.

  2. You’re totally right, and that’s one of our primary jobs as interaction designers: to understand the users and design for them rather than ourselves. So designing for aliens is a pretty useful exercise especially for beginning IXDs. When I taught the fundamentals of IXD at CCA for a year, that was even a fun assignment I gave. I’ll be reviving it for the upcoming Design the Future class at Cooper I think.

  3. Captain Adams could be forgiven here for mindlessly following orders on the assumption that the conscious Morbius is not malicious, and is just having him turn off the Krell machine to prevent further attacks. As far as Morbius not giving Adams a warning beforehand… the Captain wouldn’t likely knowingly destroy the planet without giving Earth scientists a chance to examine the Krell technology first.

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