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Old September 3 2012, 08:46 AM   #29
Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Shields and assault phasers and all that.
Those shields are an example of what Star Trek might have serious trouble with. I mean, they are incredibly cool: portable, collapsible, transparent and bulletproof! Just what one would expect from technology centuries more advanced than ours. But Trek seldom does this sort of thing: whenever there's futurism to be had, it's done with forcefields and beeping boxes with flashing buttons, not with advanced materials.

Also, in order to be useful against bullets, that riot shield would still have to feature advanced technomagic that absorbs the momentum of the impact. How that is achieved without beeping boxes with flashing buttons remains a mystery. OTOH, standard fare Star Trek shields, or lightweight versions thereof, would not have the problem, as they are never quoted as respecting conservation of momentum. So consistency might call for forgetting about cool in this case.

I also question, why doesn't the security personal use some kind of riot gear?
I think this is an excellent way of putting it. The best protection Starfleet technology can offer amounts to "riot gear" at most, be it physical shields or personal forcefields. And that's what gets distributed to the troops when the going gets tough, but the enemies are rioters (low-tech rabble in ST5, the citizens of Earth in "Homefront"). Yet whenever you distribute riot gear, you provoke aggression, at least ITRW. And it would be extremely seldom that starship security would wish to provoke aggression!

And in situations where provocation is irrelevant, the riot gear is irrelevant as well...

although Klingon armor is mostly ceremonial, it probably DOES provide some measure of protection from energy weapons
I'd very much want to believe this. And I'd like to think that Klingon technology in this field is inferior to UFP technology, meaning the Starfleet battle coveralls offer the same level of protection with less discomfort. But that's the limit of protection available by either technology: the penetration of battlefield weapons will still be sufficient to make headgear irrelevant. That is, a glancing blow from a phaserlike weapon might only rough up your chest a little if you wear this stuff, but the same effect on your head would always leave you dead or worse, unless you wore a helmet or cap a foot thick in every direction. And even then it wouldn't hinder direct hits.

This interpretation still leaves one wondering why the troops aren't protected from conventional kinetic shrapnel by conventional means, as even future energy weapons seem to throw stuff around when hitting a nearby wall or rock. Such protection would also help against sticks, stones and knives and some ricocheting bullets, hopefully. This is the one field of protection where advanced materials could plausibly remove the "clumsiness" argument of wearing "only marginally effective" armor.

Timo Saloniemi
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