View Single Post
Old September 8 2008, 02:17 PM   #30
Christopher's Avatar
Re: First Replicator Usage?

Timo wrote: View Post
It's a bit unclear whether transporting matter "as is" is the more difficult feat, or altering of the details of matter.

I mean, the former would seemingly require knowing the matter down to the absolute finest detail - but the transporter could well "cheat", moving the matter in "lumps" that already contain a lot of information. It's not as if an automobile needs to understand quantum physics and scan the passengers down to quantum level in order to get them from A to B at "perfect resolution".
How exactly does it move matter in lumps? How do those "lumps" get from one place to another? When you see someone beaming down to a planet, do you see big gory chunks of meat descending from the sky and being slotted into place? The whole idea is that a transporter breaks matter down into a stream of subatomic particles and then reassembles them exactly as before. That absolutely does require quantum-level information, along with a Heisenberg-compensator cheat to get around the Uncertainty Principle (something that could be accomplished by quantum entanglement with a reference object, which is what I assume a Heisenberg compensator is).

Besides, as I said above, we've already seen a TOS transporter function as a replicator -- when it replicated James T. Kirk in "The Enemy Within." And since neither copy of Kirk was half his normal mass, we can assume that it assembled the second copy from some matter supply that wasn't normally in the configuration of a human being -- say, maybe it beamed up a quantity of atmosphere and soil and rock from the beamup site, superimposed the temporarily stored Kirk pattern over the air-soil-rock pattern, and reassembled those particles in the shape of Kirk, but with enough errors in the neurological pattern to result in an "evil" Kirk. (With complementary errors in the original assembly causing the "good" Kirk's brain to be lacking in certain functions as well.)

Timo wrote: View Post
Then again, a starship would have power to burn, and it wouldn't make any real sense to try and save it pennywise when the warp engine already burns it poundfoolish.
I don't buy that argument at all. A starship is a closed system in which conservation and efficiency are critically important. For one thing, there's no way of knowing how long it will be between refueling ports or how much power it might be called on to use, so it's thoroughly reckless to say, "Oh, we can waste as much power as we want because we can be sure it will never become a problem."

More fundamentally, there's the simple question of heat. A starship is surrounded by vacuum, which is a superb insulator. Heat can only be radiated from the ship at a limited rate. And the more power gets used within the ship, the more waste heat inevitably results. "Power to burn" is a fitting choice of words, except it's the crew that gets burned -- or baked -- if power is generated too profligately.

And transporters don't seem to require that much power: they are available aboard small craft, they can be operated even by badly battle-damaged ships like the Enterprise and Reliant in ST2, and it seems Rona Dagar manages to activate one by using the batteries of a hand phaser in TNG "The Hunted"...
It's a non sequitur bringing 24th-century transporter tech into a discussion of what 23rd-century starships would've had. Obviously 24th-century beaming tech is efficient enough to allow for replicator use, but the question is whether that was so in the 2260s. So only TOS-era evidence is valid. And in the TOS era, we never saw a transporter aboard a shuttlecraft or got any indication they could be found on small scout ships. And we saw a number of episodes where Scotty or Kyle needed "more power" to successfully reintegrate someone in transit. (TAS: "More Tribbles, More Troubles" makes it explicit that a transporter is a high-power device, since it's one of the systems frozen by the Klingon stasis field, while low-power systems are unaffected; however, the episode later contradicts itself on this point by having the transporter unaffected the second time the stasis field is used. Maybe it takes more power to beam something into the ship than out of the ship?)

That would work. Building dumbwaiter chutes to distant random locations would not. Whether transporter rooms count as "distant random" is arguable - they don't strike me as locations sorely in need of food slots, really, so I'd infer from the presence of a slot there that other, more deserving locations such as high-end crew cabins are also being supplied.

Not that we'd ever have seen a food slot in a crew cabin, of course.
We saw one in Kirk's quarters a few times, although it was only used to make drinks.

The FJ blueprints put the transporter rooms on deck 7, right? That was just one deck above the food processing machinery, and between that machinery and the crew-quarters decks.

And I can see why it would make sense to have a food slot in the transporter room. Heck, the poor guy who needs to stand there by himself for 8 hours at a time is gonna need at least the occasional cup of coffee. Also, what if there's a contamination issue and the people beamed to the transporter room need to be kept in isolation for a few hours while medical tests are done? Remember, they didn't have biofilters at the time. In that case, it might be necessary to have a way of delivering food to the transporter room without any direct interaction between the quarantine subjects and the rest of the crew.

And as many have pointed out, both the TOS and TNG transporters were able to duplicate the objects being transported, in some "fault situations". The creation of an object out of nothingness, or out of a weeks-old pattern, didn't appear to be an option when using the basic transporters of either era, though - only "simultaneous" duplicates were allowed.
Exactly. The advance is in the storage capacity for large patterns. The difference between a transporter and a replicator is like the difference between (pre-digital) broadcast TV and videotape -- the former can have a much higher image resolution because it doesn't have to store the information, just pass it through and move on to the next bit. (You can send a lot more water through a length of pipe than you can store in a bucket of the same volume. But now I'm making an analogy for an analogy.) Of course, transporters are able to store the information long enough to hold a pattern in stasis for several minutes, but it seems to be a volatile, ephemeral sort of memory that degrades over time. The key to practical replication was developing a memory capacity sufficient to store at least molecular-level patterns permanently, as well as reducing the energy demands of the transporter system sufficiently to allow a ship to have dozens of mini-transporters rather than a few main units.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
Christopher is online now   Reply With Quote