Star Trek: Questions you always wanted answers to

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Inquisitor Peregrinus

Master Member
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If Chekov mans the weapons console, why does Sulu fire the phasers?
In which? TOS? Sulu was helm, which included weapons targeting. Chekov was navigation. TMP? Chekov controlled everything from the weapons station. TWOK? The Enterprise had taken a pounding from Khan's surprise attack. No one was at the weapons station when Kirk needed to surprise Khan back, and they hadnt found Chekov yet... Running out of movies, here.
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Master Member
I was watching the episode "The Last Outpost" of TNG and they show the crew going over a hologram in the briefing room being displayed floating above a table. I can't recall seeing them using a floating hologram in TNG after that or in any other ST. Am I nuts and just not remembering or did they never do that again?
 

Inquisitor Peregrinus

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They did, several times. Geordi demoing the virus-containment assembly in S2's "The Child", Picard contemplating a weird planetary orbit later in S2, and so forth. It didn't happen often, but it did happen. As for later series, DS9 (the station) didn't seem to have much luxury in that area. Which makes sense for a former industrial processing facility. It had been starting to get some creature comforts by the time the Dominion War broke out. Two steps forward, one step back. And I seem to remember a couple instances in Voyager, but I don't re-watch that series much, and would have to go back and check...
 

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The Terminator

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They did, several times. Geordi demoing the virus-containment assembly in S2's "The Child", Picard contemplating a weird planetary orbit later in S2, and so forth. It didn't happen often, but it did happen. As for later series, DS9 (the station) didn't seem to have much luxury in that area. Which makes sense for a former industrial processing facility. It had been starting to get some creature comforts by the time the Dominion War broke out. Two steps forward, one step back. And I seem to remember a couple instances in Voyager, but I don't re-watch that series much, and would have to go back and check...
Voyager had a freaking EMH ;)
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Master Member
:D I know that! I just didn't remember them using holograms for anything other than the holodeck and the EMH. I didn't remember them doing what I described and displaying a schematic. Usually they are doing that on the computer panels on the walls.
 

The Terminator

Master Member
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:D I know that! I just didn't remember them using holograms for anything other than the holodeck and the EMH. I didn't remember them doing what I described and displaying a schematic. Usually they are doing that on the computer panels on the walls.
Item number 46 gazillion, that the folks making STD and STP have missed.
 

AJK001

Sr Member
:D I know that! I just didn't remember them using holograms for anything other than the holodeck and the EMH. I didn't remember them doing what I described and displaying a schematic. Usually they are doing that on the computer panels on the walls.
During season 2 of STD Pike kept on complaining about the holograms for communication and by the end of the season it was specifically noted that they had been removed from the Enterprise while it was being repaired so that by the time TOS came around it would explain why they didn't have them back in 1966. Just like jumping STD into the future I think this was in response to fans complaints about cannon but if they had just put STD into the future in the first place who would have cared about all of that.
 

Funky

Master Member
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I hate to say it, but I think actually serving on a starship would be mostly incredibly dull.
The wife and I discuss this often. To us, a starship is the equivalent of being on an aircraft carrier. If you’ve ever served on one, day to day life is pretty mundane. It is beyond rare to ever have an “adventure”. Mostly it’s day to day grind. Maintaining equipment, cooking meals, inventory, reports, mopping floors, cleaning toilets, etc.
 

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Inquisitor Peregrinus

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The wife and I discuss this often. To us, a starship is the equivalent of being on an aircraft carrier. If you’ve ever served on one, day to day life is pretty mundane. It is beyond rare to ever have an “adventure”. Mostly it’s day to day grind. Maintaining equipment, cooking meals, inventory, reports, mopping floors, cleaning toilets, etc.
Yeah, it'd be a bit different for a starship, but very similar. Much more automation, even in TOS. But a living mind was the "fourth redundancy". That said, techs versus mission specialists would be a higher ratio than on a modern wet-navy vessel. Most of a starship's assigned route would be taken up with making better maps than long-range scans or automated probes, doing planetary surveys, conducting readings and occasional research on the background matter, energy, gravitation, and what have you in a given sector of interstellar void... A different routine, but still routine. Having your ship grabbed by a giant, disembodied hand would make, I think, for an agreeable break in the monotony.
 

jarroth

Sr Member
I do get a bit how warp is suppost to work. Bit when they drop out of warp the speed is still rather high. How come they never hit anything.
 

Strikerkc

Sr Member
I do get a bit how warp is suppost to work. Bit when they drop out of warp the speed is still rather high. How come they never hit anything.
You mean, how come they don't hit stuff like debris, other ships, or asteroids, while they're moving at impulse speeds?

(not sure, I'd assume sensors and simply driving around stuff/the fact that space is bonkers huge, and the odds are in their favor)

Or do you mean when they "transition" from warp to impulse, and they kind of "stretch" into where they stop?

That "stretch" or them "snapping" into spot isn't them coming out of some other dimension, and slowing down. It's them stopping warping the shape of space around them, so it's just kind of how we see them through the lens space stopping being distorted.

a lot of "hyper speed" things are explained as actually shifting into another dimension, where physics is different. [if you don't care about alternate explanations, skip down] That's kind of how star wars worked it in the old Expanded universe stories. Hyperspace was a parallel "space/dimension" that a hyperspace engine could both move you into, out of and through. The reason they didn't hit things was that physical objects in the real world didn't exist in hyperspace, to you could fly through minor objects like other ships, debris, etc. The only thing that bled over between the spaces was gravity, and a large enough gravity field could yank you back into real space, which was bad, because it meant you were being ripped back into the real world, where a REAL THING (a BIG real thing) was, and you'd hit it.

[Skip to here] :p star trek moved a ship by actually warping space behind them, and in front of them. the warp engines created a safe zone around the ship, and expanded the size of space behind the ship (which would push the ship forwards) and shrinking the space ahead of the ship (which would suck the ship forwards), the two combined actions meant the ship wasn't actually moving at faster than light speeds (so didn't break physics), the universe just shifted around it, and was either larger or smaller.

This is why some trek shows would occasionally make reference to speed limit type rules inside of certain areas. Because the faster warp speed you went, the larger the warping that occurred, and it could be experienced by people not on the ship. if you shot past an inhabited world at a high warp speed, stuff could get weird, time could be a little fouled up, or stuff would move around. which is why in TNG and other shows, they would drop into a system at warp speed out on the fringes, then run on impulse engines for a few hours or so to get to whatever world they were visiting.
 

Inquisitor Peregrinus

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On top of that, warp and impulse are related, but, as a character in one of the better novels put it, "warp is as far above impulse as impulse is above walking". Both are distortion drives, but the order of magnitude difference is vast. Note here: This is also one of the things I've talked with Rick Sternbach about after his active involvement with Trek ended, and what I talk about here is what Gene, Matt Jeffries, the RAND Corporation, and a few others associated with TOS through about TMP operated from. And that I can, for the most part, rationalize into TNG-Voyager Trek.

Basically, imagine impulse as a big gyroscope. Have you ever done one of those things a lot of science museums have? The bicycle wheel you hold and stand on the well-lubricated turntable? You hold the wheel vertical while it's spinning, you're stationary. Tilt it one way, you start turning the opposite direction, and vice versa. Impulse and Trek's artificial gravity are, basically, space/time/gravity versions of that. Look at the back end of the 1990s-vintage Botany Bay, one of an unknown number of DY-100 cargo haulers, an unknown number of which were used as sleeper ships (Think they's waste that tech sending Khan and his followers into exile if it was the only extant example? They'd've just executed them or marooned them on Mars or something.):

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Not a lot that can be used for potential "thrust exhausts". In the later era, Greg Jein and Mike Okuda did art and models from the conceit this ship was launched from Earth with a booster cluster, when the original designer intended it to have been built in a "space drydock" and, like the TOS Enterprise, was meant to never enter atmosphere, coming or going. This was the era of great space optimism, that we also saw in the middle act of 2001 -- five big space stations at the LaGrange Points, permanent bases dug into the moon, manned expeditions to Mars and the outer planets -- all by the year 2000. That ship was intended to go from space station to space station in an era we were expecting in the 1960, were seeing by the mid-1970s was unlikely, and that we ended up never getting. Star Trek's future history is and should always be derived from that.

Notice also the impulse engines in TOS were always dark. Those rectangular holes (on the versions of the impulse deck that even had holes) weren't thrust exhausts. Most likely, just creating better exposure to heat-exchangers. Much like the TOS Bird of Prey, early human ships -- slower than light and faster -- were powered by "simple impulse". Fusion-powered distortion drive systems. By TMP, with the new, higher-energy-producing intermix reactor assembly, matter-antimatter-derived warp plasma ran everything, from phasers to impulse engines. Hence the big impulse deflection crystal at the top of the vertical intermix assembly. So now the heat-exchangers are right out there, and glowing orange-yellow when the drive is engaged.

Romulans and Vulcans have had FTL drives for a while. Since easily hundreds of years before us. But notice the "works-just fine-thanks" version the Vulcans used from pre-TOS all the way up -- the "ringship" design. That's basically a giant impulse coil rotated 90° to the direction of primary travel, and then stacked with others. Fired in sequence, the distortion effect is stronger and warps space/time past the ship faster than the apparent speed of light -- even though the ship is moving, within its own internal frame of reference, just as fast as it was before the warp was engaged... If it was moving at all. A ship can go from dead relative stop to warp, and then once the warp field dissipates, they'd have the same inertia as they did before -- dead stop. Cochrane's big breakthrough was realizing this (before the Vulcans made First Contact) and, rather than making a big coil stack on the ship's centerline, he made smaller coils and mounted them in a pair of offset engines. By throttling the plasma flow to one or the other, you can "steer", like dragging an oar. That both impulse and warp are non-Newtonian drive systems is something a lot of people don't get.

Now, as for why they don't hit anything... For some time everyone was limited to low-warp in our neck of the woods. Or, more specifically, warp jumps. You scan out as far as you can to make sure your path is free of significant obstacles, warp out to the edge of that range, stop, do another scan, etc. Limits the effective range of colonization and commerce. Had to wait until FTL-boosted computers and sensors came along. That then created the demand for faster ships, etc. The main long-range sensor is still oriented along the flight path, because that's where you need to be able to see the furthest, so as to not have already hit something by the time you see it. That parabolic dish also generates a set of "nested-bubble" passive deflector fields that catch subatomic particles, ionized gas and other interstellar media and shunt them out of the flight path. For larger objects, there are the active deflector beams that are projected way out ahead to move aside meteoroids and other macro-scale objects. If it's bigger than a certain size, the ship just tweaks its course around the object -- originally manually, later automatically but with organic redundancy (a conn officer monitoring the forward sweeps). On the TOS and TMP Enterprise, the deflector emitters are those three boxy structures flanking the main sensor dish. On the Excelsior, they're the two greeblied inserts in the ship's neck, above the dish. From the Ambassador class on, a few things changed.

The active deflectors are incorporated into the main long-range sensor, which also has more range and sensitivity, the computers are faster and can cope with more sensor data at high speed. And the impulse engines now have their own "warp coils" to lower the ship's inertial mass so smaller impulse engines can push a big ship. I love the Voyager for basically being the ultimate expression of what Gene was going for with the Enterprise-D -- refinement, amplification, miniaturization. Andy Probert designed the TNG Enterprise with smaller engines for the vessel's size than the original at Gene's behest to show this progress (even though Gene later had him add a little bit back on to the engines' back ends). I only wish Rick's vision of Voyager's engines was practicable at the time -- partly for maximum warp field efficiency and partly to mitigate the erosive effect of warp fields on the subspace-realspace "barrier", the engines were supposed to move in flight. Lower for lower warp, higher for higher warp, shifting slightly at warp to adjust for local variation in field strength, etc. And, frankly, I wish they only ever went full horizontal when the ship was landing. Woulda been a nice surprise to keep for further into the show.

A bit of an essay, I know, but you have to know how the drive system works before you can address how it interacts with physical objects around the ship.
 

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somerset fox

Well-Known Member
Observation: many times throughout all the various series, the crew will beam out a pilot of another ship, (captain Christopher in ‘tomorrow is yesterday’) moments before it explodes. Assuming the pilot is in a seated position at their version of ship controls, does the transporter automatically reorientate the transported person, mid beam, into a standing position? I cant recall ever seeing anyone fall off the transporter pad because they were crouched in a seated position when they rematerialised !
 

Apollo

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Why do you think McCoy hated that gizmo?

Fun fact, Bones, at one time, constantly told Scotty to go easy or lay off on the “Sauce”, so Scotty did all sorts of quirky rematerializations on him.

No pants, underwear on his head, you get the idea


Scotty was so skilled at the controls that he could rematerialize people with their underwear on top of their Uniforms, and woe be to anybody who pissed him off.
 

Inquisitor Peregrinus

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It's irritatingly inconsistent. The first filmed episode after the Kirk pilot, "The Corbomite Maneuver", had Kirk and Co. instructed on the pad to crouch down, as sensors showed limited headroom on the alien ship. No automating repositioning there. Several times we've seen weapons discharged at Our Heroes™ as they're beaming out, with no effect on them, even though, being translucent but visible, they're partly still there. So part of what rematerialized should be phaser-burned or whatever. Conversely, we've also seen several instances of transporters by TNG times being able to detect weapons in transit, and, particularly, whether they're in a state of discharge. In "Datalore", when Lore was beamed off the cargo pad out into space, the emerging beam from his phaser transported out with him. And, of course, there are a whole lot of instances from TOS through Voyager of seated people rematerializing standing.

It's never addressed, not even in the tech manuals, but it does all make me think there should've been even ten seconds of screen time on one show to even acknowledge that this is a thing. The closest I can think of is maybe a couple instances where someone beamed out prone and rematerialized in the same position, and I seem to remember TNG's "Bloodlines" Picard's "son" having a moment of off-balance when he was beamed off the mountain he was climbing. Short version, like so many things in Trek, is "it does what the writers demand".
 

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