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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old September 8 2008, 10:20 PM   #31
shipfisher
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Never been fond of that whole transporter creating life thing when people get duplicated (ie. Kirk, Riker). This is a big reach (I am fond of those), but in a universe full of strange aliens lurking nearby in subspace or an alternate dimension of the week, I can see one being "overwritten", either inadvertantly or by choice, by a transporter used in appropriately eccentric local conditions.

As to how much info storage a transporter needs, it's easier to see a "pattern buffer" as a sort of holographic storage device (and none too shabby starting point for a holodeck) that stores the quantum wave pattern intact. This means that technically no atomic bonds have been broken (ie. you haven't destroyed the transport subject more completely than any weapon system) and Lt. Barclay still retains some aspect of himself for grabbing things in transit in that TNG episode (The Greatest Fear?). If you just temporairily remove the matter "slurry" (ie. the "particle" side of things) from the pattern and make a gross adjustment to its quantum characteristics so that it's more at home at the other end of the transporter beam, the pattern can be "re-imposed" on it at the target point. I can see that up and running in the mid 22nd century without needing to store all the info to reproduce something or someone atom by atom. Sufficient info storage and manipulation tech for biofilters, replicators and holodecks can be left to the mid 24th century or so.

On a related note, you'd could say that 22nd century "protein re-sequencers" are simple matrix precursors of full blown replicators which require a fixed input medium to which a single phase, fixed molecular "re-alignment" is applied. As an unsavoury yet green side note, I got the impression they tied into the NX-01's waste treatment system.

Last edited by shipfisher; September 8 2008 at 10:31 PM.
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Old September 9 2008, 02:52 AM   #32
Christopher
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

shipfisher wrote: View Post
As an unsavoury yet green side note, I got the impression they tied into the NX-01's waste treatment system.
Heck, nature works the same way. What do you think fertilizer's made of? And on a closed system like a starship, waste has to be recycled as completely as possible. That's undoubtedly true on starships of any century. (Hmm, makes me wonder if 24th-century toilets dematerialize instead of flushing...)
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Old September 9 2008, 03:21 AM   #33
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Back in the day when I played Star Trek tabletop RPGs we postulated that the technology on Kirk's Enterprise and any earlier ships (remember this is early TNG era we're talking!) were mechanical in nature. The food was prepared below in a kitchen and delivered via a system of penumatic tubes and micro-turbolifts. Later ships had the food beamed into the slots instead of the cumbersome and cranky mechanical systems.

Around the period of what would be TOS Season Four/Five and prior to TMP an experiment took place to convert inorganic matter into organic matter using a novel energy transformation wave pattern. The project was ultimatly abandoned when it was found to be unstable on a large scale... however the lessons learned in Project Genesis Phase One led in just a few short years to the ability to re-arrange matter on a small controled scale.

While it wasn't possible to make a solar system, it was possible to create tea... earl-grey... hot.



Mind you that was from our RPG and strictly non-canon and the product of my imagination.
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Old September 9 2008, 09:53 AM   #34
shipfisher
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Christopher wrote: View Post
shipfisher wrote: View Post
As an unsavoury yet green side note, I got the impression they tied into the NX-01's waste treatment system.
Heck, nature works the same way. What do you think fertilizer's made of? And on a closed system like a starship, waste has to be recycled as completely as possible. That's undoubtedly true on starships of any century. (Hmm, makes me wonder if 24th-century toilets dematerialize instead of flushing...)
The logical end of the road for this would be a transporter/replicator/re-sequencer that simply gives one a bowel or bladder "beam-out". This would come in handy when an emergency situation keeps the captain in the big chair when a call of nature is summoning him/her to the "throne" as it were.
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Old September 9 2008, 10:02 AM   #35
Timo
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

How exactly does it move matter in lumps?
Any manner wherein the particles of the matter continue to "see" each other would qualify. And we already know that the particles of transporter-phased matter do continue to observe each other and interact, so that people can perceive themselves as intact when transporter-phased, and can move about and interact.

This would massively simplify the task of transporting, as the interactions would be memorized by the matter itself, and there would be no need to decode them at near-infinite resolution, store them in a separate place, and then recode them into the matter at the destination. Your own analogy of TV transmission seems to describe this aptly, as does Shipfisher's commentary.

How do those "lumps" get from one place to another?
Why, by being beamed, of course!

It seems nicely analogous to a mathematical transform to me. Take a waveform - say, a tune or a color - and try to move it to the next room. If you move it "as is", you have to carry it on a piece of paper or perhaps hum it. If you Fourier-transform it, you can carry it as, say, a fistful of pebbles, the number of which gives you the component frequencies. Or you can carry it as a Morse code that you rap onto the separating wall. Etc. The available modes of propagation would radically change once you Fouriered the waveform. That's what I assume "phasing the person into a matter stream" does to the options available for propagation, too.

I don't buy that argument at all. A starship is a closed system in which conservation and efficiency are critically important.
I don't think you grasp the degree of poundfoolishness here. Probably we should not be talking about pounds at all, for clarity - but about pennywise vs. theGNPofabignationfoolish.

Out of the many variables involved in optimizing a Trek starship, power consumption simply cannot be anywhere near the top of the list. Granted that many an episode suggests shifting power from life support to combat systems, as if the magnitude of ventilation or heating or plumbing mattered, but OTOH and IIRC there is never any suggestion that transporters or replicators would go down when power wanes - and certainly not when there is still enough power to maintain propulsion or shielding. Transporters and replicators only go down when directly damaged, or when there is an extreme shortage of power as in "Night Terrors".

"Power to burn" is a fitting choice of words, except it's the crew that gets burned -- or baked -- if power is generated too profligately.
But again it appears that our heroes, who know these things much better than we do, are not concerned about the use of secondary (or eleventeenthary, really) systems during combat or propulsion. Indications are that one could run all the non-primary power systems of a starship at full power many times over and still not come anywhere close to affecting the power balance (or heat dissipation) of the vessel as defined by the use of primary systems such as warp drive or shielding.

Sure, these eleventeenthary things may register somewhere at the fifth digit of power consumption or heat buildup. But an engineer or commander who minds that fifth digit should be fired at once. It would be like forbidding your troops from digging foxholes because their spades might be dulled, or firing their rifles because the stocks might be compressed, or throwing their grenades because the recoil of the throw might compromise their stability.

And I can see why it would make sense to have a food slot in the transporter room. Heck, the poor guy who needs to stand there by himself for 8 hours at a time is gonna need at least the occasional cup of coffee. Also, what if there's a contamination issue and the people beamed to the transporter room need to be kept in isolation for a few hours while medical tests are done? Remember, they didn't have biofilters at the time. In that case, it might be necessary to have a way of delivering food to the transporter room without any direct interaction between the quarantine subjects and the rest of the crew.
Good reasons as such - but by those same tokens, areas like the bridge, or main engineering, or shuttlebay, should be similarly served. Many of those might even take precedence. At some point, the expense of installing and operating physical chutes would start to surpass the cost of installing and operating millimeter-thick waveguides.

Back in the day when I played Star Trek tabletop RPGs we postulated that the technology on Kirk's Enterprise and any earlier ships (remember this is early TNG era we're talking!) were mechanical in nature. [..] Mind you that was from our RPG and strictly non-canon and the product of my imagination.
Now that's something I definitely want to fight from the saddle of my hobbyhorse. What are the odds that Trek 23rd century technological marvels would still go for solutions familiar from the 19th century? Even today, it's often cheaper and more reliable to use high technology than to apply the theoretically more affordable and rugged mechanical alternatives - say, a digital control panel with LCD numbers and touch contacts is preferred over a mechanical turn-dial, not (just) because it looks cool, but because our kind of society is more at ease with producing the higher-tech system and maintaining it. It might take superhuman effort for the 23rd century folks to manufacture mechanical things in place of the standard duotronic ones, just like we are hard pressed to create medieval mechanisms now.

IMHO, we should look beyond the cardboard walls of TOS and see the underlying high tech wherever we can. And when we see something we recognize as 1960s high tech, we should assume that it is "actually" higher than that many times over still. Not only does it add brightness to the shiny future, it helps us with a persisting storytelling problem: it lets us accept that a futuristic screwdriver might suffer from more dramatically interesting limitations than a screwdriver from today would...

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Old September 9 2008, 02:25 PM   #36
Christopher
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

shipfisher wrote: View Post
The logical end of the road for this would be a transporter/replicator/re-sequencer that simply gives one a bowel or bladder "beam-out".
That possibility occurred to me last night when I remembered that the 24th-century term for a bathroom is "waste extraction." Hmm...


Timo wrote: View Post
I don't think you grasp the degree of poundfoolishness here. Probably we should not be talking about pounds at all, for clarity - but about pennywise vs. theGNPofabignationfoolish.

Out of the many variables involved in optimizing a Trek starship, power consumption simply cannot be anywhere near the top of the list. Granted that many an episode suggests shifting power from life support to combat systems, as if the magnitude of ventilation or heating or plumbing mattered, but OTOH and IIRC there is never any suggestion that transporters or replicators would go down when power wanes - and certainly not when there is still enough power to maintain propulsion or shielding. Transporters and replicators only go down when directly damaged, or when there is an extreme shortage of power as in "Night Terrors".
Again, it's totally missing the point of this discussion to bring in 24th-century examples. That's like making an argument about the capabilities of a 1958 Edsel by citing the satellite navigation and computerized traction control in a 2008 Taurus. We're talking specifically about the power requirements of transporters during the time frame of the Original Series. Remember, the question on the table is whether it makes sense to assume the TOS food slots used microtransporters or dumbwaiters. Since we know that TNG replicators are transporter-based, it is a given that TNG-era transporters use little enough power for that to be practical. The question is whether the same was true in the 2260s specifically. Only evidence from TOS itself is relevant to the question of how advanced the technology was during TOS itself.


Good reasons as such - but by those same tokens, areas like the bridge, or main engineering, or shuttlebay, should be similarly served. Many of those might even take precedence. At some point, the expense of installing and operating physical chutes would start to surpass the cost of installing and operating millimeter-thick waveguides.
As I said, the transporters are only one deck above the processing machinery and between them and the crew quarters. So it wouldn't incur any additional cost to put a slot in the transporter room if the dumbwaiter system already goes by there anyway. Even if the dumbwaiters are limited exclusively to decks 5-8, it's still feasible for there to be one in at least one of the transporter rooms.


Now that's something I definitely want to fight from the saddle of my hobbyhorse. What are the odds that Trek 23rd century technological marvels would still go for solutions familiar from the 19th century?
That's a ridiculous attitude, that technology from the past must inevitably be replaced. Do you use ducted fans to lift your car off the ground, or does it have wheels? Do you wear plastic sheets as clothing, or is it woven from fibrous threads? Do you have shoes that can morph to mold to your feet, or do you tie them with string? Do you cook your food with lasers, or do you use fire? You yourself still make everday use of technology that is tens of thousands of years old. The details are different, but the core principles, the basic engineering and mechanics, are still the same. Because it works. It is absurd to say that something that works perfectly well has to be abandoned just because it isn't flashy and new. That's a common conceit in sci-fi, but reality says different.

Besides, Trek itself contains a counterargument to your proposal. By your standards, they shouldn't use turbolifts to get around the ship, but should use mini-transporters to beam themselves instantly from one room to another. But they don't. They use elevators. Why should it be any different for moving foodstuffs than it is for moving people?
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Old September 9 2008, 03:10 PM   #37
Timo
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Since we know that TNG replicators are transporter-based, it is a given that TNG-era transporters use little enough power for that to be practical. The question is whether the same was true in the 2260s specifically. Only evidence from TOS itself is relevant to the question of how advanced the technology was during TOS itself.
Now that presupposes that TNG and TOS transporters are sufficiently different to require separate attention. Why presuppose such a thing, if "technology from the past mustn't inevitably be replaced"? But all right...

Instances where lack of power precluded use of transporters in TOS: none. Loss of primary energy circuits and propulsion in "Court Martial" still allowed Spock to evacuate the luminaries via transporter - or would have, had they not declined. In "Return of the Archons", Landru's attack badly drained the ship's power, but once the attack ended, Scotty was immediately ready to beam up the landing party. Vaal's power-draining antics in "The Apple" were never directly established as a cause in the failure of the transporters, either.

Instances where lack of power shut down other systems in TOS are rare enough, for that matter. "Doomsday Machine" features the "drained" phaser banks, but combat damage is likely to be the root cause of most of the ills aboard the Constellation.

Even if the dumbwaiters are limited exclusively to decks 5-8, it's still feasible for there to be one in at least one of the transporter rooms.
All right, that seems acceptable enough. It's still quite a bit of bulk for a system that apparently sees little other use.

...Or does it double as a means of waste removal? Is that how the phaser in "Conscience of the King", dumped in a slot on the inside curve of a saucer corridor, ended up exploding harmlessly, presumably somewhere outside the ship? Too bad the system isn't seen tripling as tube-mail, by which e.g. McCoy could distribute his newest potions to distant locations.

By your standards, they shouldn't use turbolifts to get around the ship, but should use mini-transporters to beam themselves instantly from one room to another. But they don't. They use elevators. Why should it be any different for moving foodstuffs than it is for moving people?
By the conceit that the food doesn't mind if it ends up a bit scrambled. Transporter technology would become more and more prevalent by first seeing limited, niche applications, and then gaining in reliability and repute until cleared for human applications and perhaps even more intricate operations. That's how the "broadcast" transporter is described in ENT, as having only recently been cleared for humanoids - and that's how I'd assume the "cable" transporter to develop as well.

Really, I still find it distasteful to go all steampunk on TOS when the show indeed is set in a fantastic future. Okay, so perhaps there are a few examples of old tech in use - but dumbwaiters sound like a dumb choice, considering they aren't that hot even today. We prefer microwave ovens and minibars, and strive for in situ synthesis machinery of all sorts - technologies that did not hold much promise in the 1960s yet but that could easily be reinterpreted as having been part and parcel of TOS.

I could see dumbwaiters as a backup system in case "cable" transporters fail, but food delivery doesn't sound like something you'd bother to back up (unlike, say, communications where hardwired intercoms would still be very handy). OTOH, I could in general see food production in TOS as multilayered, with replication, protein resequencing, and onboard cultivation of vegetables all playing their part, and with both automated and manual elements to food preparation. Delivery would also be at least three-tier: an efficient automated mode for serving the action stations, a social mode for mess hall dining, and a private mode wherein foods and beverages are delivered by hand. But there would always be room for both high-end and low-end interpretations of the technologies involved.

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Old September 9 2008, 04:34 PM   #38
Christopher
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Timo wrote: View Post
Since we know that TNG replicators are transporter-based, it is a given that TNG-era transporters use little enough power for that to be practical. The question is whether the same was true in the 2260s specifically. Only evidence from TOS itself is relevant to the question of how advanced the technology was during TOS itself.
Now that presupposes that TNG and TOS transporters are sufficiently different to require separate attention.
It doesn't "presuppose" a damn thing. We don't know the technology was identical, so it's dishonest to assume it was, especially when that assumption forces the conclusion you want to arrive at anyway.

Really, I still find it distasteful to go all steampunk on TOS when the show indeed is set in a fantastic future.
Don't give me straw-man crap like that. There's nothing "steampunk" about a remarkably advanced computerized food-processing system that can miraculously preserve all kinds of foods, even fresh vegetables, far longer than modern freezers can, process it into completed dishes without human hands touching it, and cook it far faster than any microwave oven. The system proposed in TMoST is still very futuristic, so it's disingenuous in the extreme to call it "steampunk" just because it doesn't use transporters.

I'm done debating this with you. There's no point if you're going to be this unreasonable.
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Old September 9 2008, 10:02 PM   #39
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

The Enterprise is supposed to be out there away from support for five years. If your uberfoodbeamingwonderzapper breaks down and you are two years from help, you are screwed. There is a limit to the amount of spares a ship could carry and its not possible to stock every component of every system... You'd want a simple mechanical system that could be rigged and repaired and totally bypassed if need arises.

Later on as the technology progresses you can get away from the mechanical system and go solid-state but only after it proves 99.9999999999% reliable 99.999999999% of the time.
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Old September 11 2008, 01:31 PM   #40
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

Food dispensers aren't a system that would require such idiotproof backups to idiotproof backups, tho. And there are limits to how much historical ballast you can carry on your ship before it sinks under the weight.

Indeed, saving of weight might be a good reason to go for modern rather than old solutions. Saving of space would be another. And both might take precedence over saving of energy, on a ship that by definition has shitloads of it available in all survivable circumstances.

It's a matter of speculation which old technologies would be ditched and which would be preserved. We don't and can't use 17th century food preservation methods on today's ships even though those might save lives when modern fridges break down. We opt not to have mechanical backups to electric flight controls on modern jets, realizing that the benfits of such backups would be mariginal at best, and that the .04% improvement in survival chances isn't worth the extra weight and bulk. Yet we have piezoelectric phones and even plain old shouting tubes aboard many modern warships as backup when the standard electric intercoms break down.

Dumbwaiters on TOS ships are perfectly plausible, then - just like swords in Dune, or message scrolls in Foundation. They are an aberration, but futuristic universes are tolerant of aberrations, just like our reality is (or else we wouldn't be using perverse things such as water closets any more). But they are also a symptom of a problem: of sticking to an interpretation that was made before the Trek universe around it had taken its full current form. TOS technology looks dated on the surface, which is a good reason to choose and interpret as much of the subsurface things as futuristically as possible. That way, we're still left with plenty of delightful anachronisms such as tinny-voiced computers, unworkably clumsy spacesuits, lack of visual contact with landing parties etc, but we have at least made an attempt to balance the equation. And we can keep on balancing it if it e.g. turns out that in our universe's 2020, devices that look almost exactly like TOS food slots are in general use and are based on photolithographic techniques or hyperaccelerated growth of foodstuffs. We just substitute the futuristic technology there, and then declare that the TNG replicators are more advanced still by a wide measure - even if this is not evident from the episodes, and as long as it is not contradicted by them.

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Old September 12 2008, 12:49 PM   #41
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

shipfisher wrote: View Post
As to how much info storage a transporter needs, it's easier to see a "pattern buffer" as a sort of holographic storage device (and none too shabby starting point for a holodeck) that stores the quantum wave pattern intact. This means that technically no atomic bonds have been broken (ie. you haven't destroyed the transport subject more completely than any weapon system) and Lt. Barclay still retains some aspect of himself for grabbing things in transit in that TNG episode (The Greatest Fear?). If you just temporairily remove the matter "slurry" (ie. the "particle" side of things) from the pattern and make a gross adjustment to its quantum characteristics so that it's more at home at the other end of the transporter beam, the pattern can be "re-imposed" on it at the target point. I can see that up and running in the mid 22nd century without needing to store all the info to reproduce something or someone atom by atom. Sufficient info storage and manipulation tech for biofilters, replicators and holodecks can be left to the mid 24th century or so.
Yes, something like that. What the transporter is actually transporting is the quantum state.
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Old September 19 2008, 05:11 PM   #42
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

In the ENT episode Dead Stop, the machine replicates parts and food, so probably sometime after that.
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Old September 22 2008, 09:44 PM   #43
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Re: First Replicator Usage?

My Opinion:
From an engineering point of view the "Eaternet" wired transporter would be the best option. Less moving parts = less chance of breakdown. It also would eliminate the waste of alot of internal volume on "dumb waiter" tubes. Nevermind reducing man hours spent keeping them clean and functional. If you are worried about power issues then simply shut the system down during red alerts. (who will have time to eat anyway?)
How the food is created prior to transport to destination, based on service time witnessed in the original show, I would go with some kind of replicator or device that worked with basic building blocks like generic meat, soy, flavor additives, etc.


The tribble issue is easy to resolve if they have a heightened sense of smell. They got to the location where the meals are created after being attracted to the odors through the airducts.
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