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Old December 30 2012, 01:13 PM   #28
Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Explosions that occur with that much energy and on that large a scale DO NOT occur that quickly.
And nothing will ever look like a gasoline explosion several degrees of latitude wide. Except in Star Trek.

Perhaps we are seeing the events in fast motion, much like we might be seeing most of the space battles in slow motion?

And massively out of character for Picard, or for Starfleet itself for that matter.
Again, how so? Our Starfleet heroes engage in mercy killings often enough, and typically without comment - except when it's Worf attempting the same, of course. And the typical TOS plotline had Kirk ultimately destroying the evil space monster, even if said monster knew how to speak English and could parse together an argument. Our heroes are killers by profession, on a mission to seek and destroy new life and civilizations unless those conform to certain narrow norms.

You are fully aware that there are more EXCEPTIONS to the rule than actual proofs, and is therefore not an applicable rule.
No, I'm not. In fact, I'm not aware of even a single exception to the absolute rule that unshielded ships inevitably die of Starfleet torpedo impact.

Torpedoes penetrating through weakened shields are witnessed on occasion. But AFAIK, there are exactly zero hits against actually unshielded targets, and the rule in fact is missing even the one exception that conventional wisdom requires for proof...

A "bit of trickery" in this case is "Get the tactical officer to weaken the shields so you can get through."
This is still supposed to "look like" something else altogether, something that can plausibly take place without direct help from Worf. The Maquis swallow it hook, line, sinker, rod and boat; even our heroes appear to think it's an impressive feat achieved by Ro thanks to her new training, not just something Worf made possible with a keypress. For all we know, when Picard says "Let it through", Worf merely refrains from doing anything; Data later establishes that the vessel has "penetrated our shields", not that it was "let in through our shields".

That glow is a distinctive feature of the torpedo itself and I think we should treat it as suggestive of something about how the weapon fundamentally works, not just an interesting feature tacked on because it would explain things.
The two aren't really different: how the weapon fundamentally works is certainly an interesting feature that is tacked on purely for dramatic purposes.

And yet in its non-weaponized use, torpedoes do not glow like fireballs.
Which makes it sound all the more as if the glow is a fighting function, something "interesting" that is "tacked on" for a special purpose but can easily be left out as well.

technically the only difference between a probe and a torpedo is (supposedly) their payload.
Actually, in TNG at least, the two behave completely differently from the technical viewpoint. The probes always exhibit significant acceleration after sailing out of the tube, and this involves an oddly pulsating glow resembling the blast of a cheap fireworks rocket. Never mind the payload, the propulsion system appears fundamentally different, or at least is staged very differently from that of a torpedo.

Perhaps the prominent arching wings of the TNG probe are Vulcan-style warp engines that allow the probe to accelerate to high warp on its own once clear of the ship, explaining the many cases of long range probe study by instruments fired from a starship at standstill? And perhaps the classic torpedo has no comparable propulsion system and indeed works much like the backstage doubletalk suggests, with "handoff" fields that die out eventually and cannot be restarted.

They CAN'T be simply jazzed-up guided missiles
Why not? I don't see any reason to think otherwise. They just look a bit different from certain other guided missiles - exactly like certain UAVs today look like ancient guided missiles while their destructive counterparts have evolved into more modern shapes, with key differences in propulsion but still without any sort of fundamental change that would justify not calling them jazzed-up guided missiles.

Or, to cut through the triple negatives, a torpedo in most incarnations of Star Trek is undeniably is a projectile that leaves the launching tube the way submarines spit out torpedoes today, and reaches the destination in projectile form after guided flight involving maneuvering. What happens at the destination is unclear, although antimatter annihilation is suggested; what happens en route looks colorful and interesting, but does not alter the basic nature of the weapon as a projectile delivered from A to B.

Whether TOS weapons are different is anybody's guess; in theory, TOS could represent an interlude, and things like projectile-type photon torpedoes and dilithium-focus warp cores might be briefly absent. But interludes, while interesting as a concept, are not dictated by the evidence. To the contrary, we occasionally hear statements about the static nature of Treknology (impulse drives remaining the same for centuries, phasers being invented in/after the 22nd century already), perhaps indicating that mankind in fact invents very little and instead inherits ancient ideas and technologies from older cultures - along with the principle of keeping those technologies alive and backward compatible (down to details like photon torpedo caliber) for centuries.

Timo Saloniemi
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