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Old December 23 2008, 06:32 PM   #29
Re: Why don't phasers shoot straight?

Sure, that's a drawback all right. Then again, not that big a drawback when one considers how assault rifles are used nowadays: scared recruits squeeze off bursts long enough to pinpoiont their own positions by muzzle flash and noise, or even by the pile of spent cartridges growing next to them...

But at times, beams were portrayed to move extremely fast, thus giving 0 time for the target to move.
Not hand phaser beams, not really. The speed is more or less constant: across the field of vision in three frames of film. Because that's what looks good.

Which incidentally means that phasers fired across greater distances travel faster. Which isn't all that illogical, since the distances involved are more or less constant anyway: hand phasers only fire across the set, while starship phasers fire across a few kilometers.

If star-ship phasers have a maximum effective range of 300 000 km, then it can also be interpreted that phasers move at the speed of light.
An equally if not more reasonable assumption is that phaser speed can vary, perhaps as a function of input power. After all, we know for a fact that phasers can travel at warp when necessary.

If same principles are applied to hand-held phasers, then targets shouldn't have any time to move in order to avoid the beam (unless the aim of the shooter is bad).
Why should the same principles apply? A naval cannon today doesn't have the same characteristics as a revolver today, either.

I don't see the reason why there should be any trade-offs.
Because technology isn't omnipotent? If there were no tradeoffs, why would not all starships travel at infinite speed, be impervious to all threats, and capable of destroying the universe with half a shot?

The beams were likely portrayed as moving slower on screen for special effects and giving a 'chance' to our heroes (and their opponents) to survive.
Otherwise, it would have been a very short story (under the same circumstances).
Right. And that's the Trek reality that we have to live with. Similarly, starships are portrayed as shaking a bit when hit, rather than falling to tiny pieces, because that allows our heroes to survive (and on budget, without requiring expensive pyrotechnics and constant rebuilding of sets). This by no means obligates us to think that the ships should "really" be realistically fragile in the face of antimatter bombing or death rays.

All of Star Trek is just one big dramatic conceit. That's the "reality" of the show, especially of its fictional technology.

Timo Saloniemi
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