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Old December 30 2012, 12:35 AM   #26
Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Shockwaves do not work that way.
At some point, it would cease to be a shockwave issue and would simply become an issue of an irresistible force moving matter against basically no resistance at all. I doubt it's the medium we see in motion: it's ejecta, which can freely do Mach 40, or 25% lightspeed for all we care, and the atmospheric medium (if any remains) be damned.

it's incomprehensible that Picard -- especially Season 1 Picard -- would have intentionally nuked Armus
How so? That would have been a good deed if there ever was one; letting Armus live would have been punishment (which Picard appeared to want to inflict on the creature, rather sadistically, when he beamed away), letting it die would have been a service (something the Picard we know and love would have come around to providing, after he got past his initial senseless anger). It's just that Picard seemed to realize that Armus had real difficulty getting itself killed, and that even a demolition-level photon torpedo might not suffice for the task. We have no indication that Armus would have been killed - but no indication that it would not have been, and no indication whatsoever that our heroes would have tried to avoid killing it.

Indication that the ability to destroy an entire starship doesn't necessarily (or even usually) indicate explosive yield.
I'd rule out the "usually" part, because Kruge seemed so utterly confident that destruction would not be the result in either of the cases. Both when he wanted to avoid destruction but got it anyway (Grissom), and when he desperately wanted destruction but was resigned to the fact that he could not get it (Enterprise). This was an exceptional weapon, applied differently from its Starfleet counterparts.

UNSHIELDED ones often do this as well.
There is no unshielded ship that would have survived a Starfleet photon torpedo hit. That the green Klingon BoP weapons twice failed to decisively hurt the Enterprise (ST3&5) only speaks of the special qualities of that type of weapon; that the red "fake" torpedo scored a penetrating rather than devastating hit against the ultimately unshielded hero ship in ST6 can be chalked off as a case of "Derringer", but could just as well simply be a case of "dud".

Why should we continue to assume they even HAVE a higher setting, when even TOS suggests that antimatter explosives would produce HUGELY larger reactions than photon torpedoes are capable of?
Because immobile targets are invariably destroyed. And very impressively so, in planetary bombardment situations. The very short barrage in "The Die is Cast" does rather full justice to the idea that these are true doomsday weapons, providing a single unopposed starship with the power to terminate a world.

Which then prompts the obvious question of why such bombardment is so seldom seen. But we can't blame it on weapons technology limitations when we aren't through considering strategy or bushido rules yet.

we know that shuttlecraft can't pass through deflector shields
Sure they can, with a bit of trickery ("Preemptive Strike"). It may even be the very same trickery: even though Lieutenant Ro wasn't heavy on the technobabble, her co-insurgents (not just the gullible Kalita, but also the supposedly more combat-savvy Santos) seemed to buy her every word about sailing through shields, indicating it wasn't just pure bluff but actually based on the realities of starship combat.

A shuttle flying through an air-holding field is a gentle application; a projectile barging through a combat shield might just call for a bit less finesse and a lot more power. Since forcefields tend to exhibit a glow, and torps glow in flight, perhaps what we're seeing is a "counterfield" in action? Could be glow from rather poorly shielded warp engines or somesuch, of course, but why deliberately shield poorly when a less brightly shining torpedo would be tactically advantageous, and when Starfleet never is suggested to be a cheapskate when it comes to expendable technologies...?

Considering that torpedo tubes more often are used like cannons than missile launchers, the latter seems more likely.
Well, for TNG, the matter is unambiguous: after firing, the torpedo that corkscrews across space is still a physical object that you can go reel back in if you really want to ("Genesis").

The same projectile shape behaves the same way when used as a high-warp courier capsule or a no-propulsion burial box: you spit it out, and it does its stuff without evaporating or turning into a forcefield-based pair of petunias or anything.

Timo Saloniemi
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