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Old September 9 2008, 10:02 AM   #35
Re: First Replicator Usage?

How exactly does it move matter in lumps?
Any manner wherein the particles of the matter continue to "see" each other would qualify. And we already know that the particles of transporter-phased matter do continue to observe each other and interact, so that people can perceive themselves as intact when transporter-phased, and can move about and interact.

This would massively simplify the task of transporting, as the interactions would be memorized by the matter itself, and there would be no need to decode them at near-infinite resolution, store them in a separate place, and then recode them into the matter at the destination. Your own analogy of TV transmission seems to describe this aptly, as does Shipfisher's commentary.

How do those "lumps" get from one place to another?
Why, by being beamed, of course!

It seems nicely analogous to a mathematical transform to me. Take a waveform - say, a tune or a color - and try to move it to the next room. If you move it "as is", you have to carry it on a piece of paper or perhaps hum it. If you Fourier-transform it, you can carry it as, say, a fistful of pebbles, the number of which gives you the component frequencies. Or you can carry it as a Morse code that you rap onto the separating wall. Etc. The available modes of propagation would radically change once you Fouriered the waveform. That's what I assume "phasing the person into a matter stream" does to the options available for propagation, too.

I don't buy that argument at all. A starship is a closed system in which conservation and efficiency are critically important.
I don't think you grasp the degree of poundfoolishness here. Probably we should not be talking about pounds at all, for clarity - but about pennywise vs. theGNPofabignationfoolish.

Out of the many variables involved in optimizing a Trek starship, power consumption simply cannot be anywhere near the top of the list. Granted that many an episode suggests shifting power from life support to combat systems, as if the magnitude of ventilation or heating or plumbing mattered, but OTOH and IIRC there is never any suggestion that transporters or replicators would go down when power wanes - and certainly not when there is still enough power to maintain propulsion or shielding. Transporters and replicators only go down when directly damaged, or when there is an extreme shortage of power as in "Night Terrors".

"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.
But again it appears that our heroes, who know these things much better than we do, are not concerned about the use of secondary (or eleventeenthary, really) systems during combat or propulsion. Indications are that one could run all the non-primary power systems of a starship at full power many times over and still not come anywhere close to affecting the power balance (or heat dissipation) of the vessel as defined by the use of primary systems such as warp drive or shielding.

Sure, these eleventeenthary things may register somewhere at the fifth digit of power consumption or heat buildup. But an engineer or commander who minds that fifth digit should be fired at once. It would be like forbidding your troops from digging foxholes because their spades might be dulled, or firing their rifles because the stocks might be compressed, or throwing their grenades because the recoil of the throw might compromise their stability.

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.
Good reasons as such - but by those same tokens, areas like the bridge, or main engineering, or shuttlebay, should be similarly served. Many of those might even take precedence. At some point, the expense of installing and operating physical chutes would start to surpass the cost of installing and operating millimeter-thick waveguides.

Back in the day when I played Star Trek tabletop RPGs we postulated that the technology on Kirk's Enterprise and any earlier ships (remember this is early TNG era we're talking!) were mechanical in nature. [..] Mind you that was from our RPG and strictly non-canon and the product of my imagination.
Now that's something I definitely want to fight from the saddle of my hobbyhorse. What are the odds that Trek 23rd century technological marvels would still go for solutions familiar from the 19th century? Even today, it's often cheaper and more reliable to use high technology than to apply the theoretically more affordable and rugged mechanical alternatives - say, a digital control panel with LCD numbers and touch contacts is preferred over a mechanical turn-dial, not (just) because it looks cool, but because our kind of society is more at ease with producing the higher-tech system and maintaining it. It might take superhuman effort for the 23rd century folks to manufacture mechanical things in place of the standard duotronic ones, just like we are hard pressed to create medieval mechanisms now.

IMHO, we should look beyond the cardboard walls of TOS and see the underlying high tech wherever we can. And when we see something we recognize as 1960s high tech, we should assume that it is "actually" higher than that many times over still. Not only does it add brightness to the shiny future, it helps us with a persisting storytelling problem: it lets us accept that a futuristic screwdriver might suffer from more dramatically interesting limitations than a screwdriver from today would...

Timo Saloniemi
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