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Old January 2 2013, 06:48 PM   #35
Re: Caseless Torpedoes

The VFX from Genesis shows
...A perfectly normal torpedo launch, with the usual sparkling - just followed by a rare, long-awaited close-up from a unique angle.

Data says these are "the new photon torpedoes"
...Worf says this, and proceeds to tell the explosive yield has been increased by 11%. This indicates there existed an eariler, "old" torpedo with the lower yield, and thus nothing much is necessarily new about these things, save of course for the two things Worf carefully specifies. That is, the improved-yield warhead and the enhanced targeting system, neither of which is worded as being all-new hardware.

The premise, once again, is that the casing is a device that generates the torpedo bolt but otherwise never leaves the tube (at least, not until it burns itself out and has to be replaced). It would contain both the initial charge and payload for the bolt (physical or otherwise) and the guidance system that provides steering instructions for the bolt itself.
This is extremely implausible, as the sensor in the torpedo is the element capable of sniffing out Chang's ship. If a device sitting aboard the starship were the element telling where the torpedo should strike, then there would be no point at all in installing it inside the torpedo casing.

The torpedo is a fire-and-forget missile weapon there, or perhaps fire-and-pray. Whether the torpedo is always that, we don't know: just like there might be different warheads, there might be different onboard sensors and different modes of guidance (possibly selected with that MODE SELECT button so prominent on the TOS movie ships' appropriate bridge consoles?).

You pretty much have to, actually, since otherwise a photon torpedo could be made full quantum just by swapping out the warhead, which we already know should be possible for physically-cased weapons.
We don't have any evidence that a quantum torpedo would be anything but a photon torpedo re-warheaded, as no q-torps are ever shown. So there's no need to separate the terminology: one and the same casing just changes name when the warhead changes.

But we could alternately assume that neither "photon" nor "quantum" is a term relating to the warhead. It might relate to propulsion instead, or to guidance, or to some special shield-piercing trick the torpedo performs before the warhead fires. Or whatever.

We do know that things called "photon grenades" also exist, though. What might be common between them and the torpedoes if not the warhead? Or is the naming just a coincidence?

if you can stick a matter/antimatter warhead on a photon torpedo, you could stick it on a conventional rocket too.
And indeed there exists such a thing as a "photonic missile", in VOY...

No. Because the casing in "The Emissary" is called a "Class-8 probe", not a photon torpedo.
But we see that physically it is the same casing.

We don't see the contents, but we already agreed that those are swappable and external to the argument. We know nothing about the propulsion machinery yet, which means we know nothing that would prevent the Type 8 probe and the photon torpedo from sharing same. Assuming that the glow-less cruise mode is something a photon torpedo would also eventually be capable of, once it stops accelerating and maneuvering and whatnot.

Significantly: if an object the size of a torpedo casing can travel at warp 9 WITHOUT glowing like a fireball, then why do photon torpedoes do this?
Different stages of flight would suffice as an explanation with verisimilitude; many missiles of today also operate by boosting and coasting.

I would imagine some warheads are designed to "dissolve" on launch in order to deliver their effect against the target (say, a tungsten slug that is heated up to 9,000 kelvins and contained in the torpedo bolt until it is released into the target).
Why dissolve at launch? Better leave it to the last second when you have done all the accelerating and maneuvering and target-sniffing you need, and are known to be capable of.

in that case, photon torpedoes would be a projected-energy weapon, a type of directed energy that can be controlled from a distance.
But the point of ST6:TUC is that the torpedo is not controlled from a distance: it controls itself, and does the job of the heroes for them.

Wanna bet that the "quantum" in "quantum torpedo" actually stands for "quantum entanglement"?
Sure, if you agree to bet against it.

Too bad this will never be solved at the rate Star Trek is going. But the above certainly makes as much sense as anything else.

Timo Saloniemi
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