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Old April 20 2010, 09:47 PM   #28
Re: Transporters in everyday life

I don't think there is anything irrational about thinking of transporters as riskier than other modes of transport
There might be, as LaForge says transporters are the safest way, and he generally doesn't lie (although he has a weird sense of humor).

What I meant was that there is plenty of irrational fear of flying, in addition to the rational variety - and this irrational sort was the analogy they were milking in "Realm of Fear". Transporters are inherently rather scary, but probably they indeed very seldom kill or maim people, compared with antigrav buses or walking.

In air travel, the good safety record comes partially from the fact that air travel spans longer distances than other travel modes, hence good figures for accidents-per-kilometer; that might well be true of transporter travel as well, because going from New Orleans to San Francisco and back would expose Ben Sisko to a far greater variety of dangers if he walked or took the antigrav bus... On shorter distances, this effect would be diminished.

And don't forget the issue of wasting energy on unnecessary use of transporters.
Any alternative means of getting from New Orleans to San Francisco might use far more energy, to be sure. We've seen a transporter energized with the battery of a hand phaser ("The Hunted"), but we have seen that taking a shuttlecraft to a ballistic trajectory that might propel the passengers between those cities drains a great number of phasers ("The Galileo Seven")...

And if they were using some kind of wave guide "cables" instead of transmitting the matter stream, that could be safer still.
That sounds likely. The "broadcast" variety of transporting seems to be strictly line-of-sight: in "Legacy", two kilometers of solid granite was enough to preclude transporting, and there's much more than two klicks of rock between San Francisco and New Orleans... Some sort of relaying would be necessary, and I could easily see Earth using land cables instead of satellites.

OTOH, even though we never quite learn the maximum range of Federation transporters in an episode or a movie, backstage sources suggest a limit at a five-digit number of kilometers. So transporters won't take you to the Moon or to Mars, not unless there is a relay chain of satellites there. There might be one to the Moon, I guess, even though we never learn of such a thing. It's a bit unlikely there'd be one to Mars.

I've always imagined that most people get around on airtrams, subways, and even cars and motorcycles that don't use internal combustion engines. I could see some people even getting around by suborbital shuttlecraft.
FWIW, episodes featuring Earth or some other major UFP world seldom feature vehicles. People tend to walk a lot and drive or fly very little. But we don't get too many such episodes, to be sure.

The novels feature a variety of vehicles: groundcars, flitters, skimmers, hoppers. Both civilians and Starfleeters seem to utilize those, but admittedly we get no statistics to indicate whether owning a flitter is akin to owning a family sedan or a floatplane - that is, whether it's common or an indication of an opulent or eccentric lifestyle.

Timo Saloniemi
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