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Star Trek - Original Series The one that started it all...

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Old February 11 2010, 07:22 PM   #46
GSchnitzer
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

ahkyahnan wrote: View Post
To me, if the makers of the episode viewed the pod jettison as a standard part of the operation, then they would've written in at least a little something about Finney's death being unnecessary under any circumstances, and had Kirk question himself as to whether he could've done more to make sure Finney was indeed out beforehand, rather than focusing solely on when in the sequence of events did the death occur.
Mark
And, of course, they would have called the button the "LAUNCH PROBE" button instead of the " JETTISON POD" button. I think it's pretty clear that having the pod leave the ship is never part of the routine operation of the device. It can be "jettisoned," if necessary but it is never ultimatley "launched." It remains attached, manned for ion storm readings, then the crewmember vacates when the measurements are done and the pod is buttoned up until it is needed again and it never leaves the ship.

Also, for what it's worth, a Phase One search was implemented to find Ben Finney:

"It's a painstaking, thorough attempt in and around the ship to find a man who's unable to respond."
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Last edited by GSchnitzer; February 11 2010 at 07:33 PM.
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Old February 12 2010, 10:59 AM   #47
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

On the issue of whether the mission was abortable or not, I'd solidly say not. After all, Kirk seemed to sail into the storm with the sole purpose of sailing into the storm! This was a ship-jeopardizing act that caused significant material damage even when the mission was a seeming success (notwithstanding the faked death of a crew member), and might have well cost 430 lives, yet apparently Starfleet wanted Kirk to do exactly this.

Kirk went into the storm, with his seat console specially configured so that he could jettison the pod. It seems clear that his intent was to jettison the pod, sooner or later. At no point in the dialogue did the possibility arise that the pod might not be jettisoned; all parties seemed aware that it eventually would be, because no verbal commands or comments were needed when the jettison in fact took place.

"Pod", "probe", "bell", "sonde", "rover", "buoy"... All sound like acceptable names for a measuring station to be immersed in a hostile environment. And every other pod ever mentioned in Star Trek has been a free-flyer. (Or a jettisonable, like antimatter pods.)

If Finney's death was needless and fully preventable, then Kirk should've been facing an investigation & court martial as soon as he arrived at Starbase.
Yet Kirk doesn't face investigations and court martials whenever he returns to starbases after losing a Security redshirt on landing party duty. Needless deaths are no doubt routine enough in the Starfleet line of work - and I dispute the idea that Finney's death at pod jettison (say, him being still aboard the pod, or in such a location that the launch would kill him) would have been preventable. Kirk never checks that the shuttlebay is empty before ordering hangar doors opened. Apparently, he relies on his trained crew hearing the klaxons and seeing the signal lights. And those are the very things activated by pressing the alert buttons...

If Finney died despite being informed of the situation, it was his own damn fault. Kirk's task wouldn't be to hold the hands of his crew - it would be to correctly signal them so that they can do their trained jobs.

Instead he doesn't get into trouble at all until the Commodore suddenly realizes the ships records don't show they were yet in a Red Alert situation, and it's that specific focus point that suddenly shifts the direction of the entire episode.
Which negates the idea that losing a crewman would be punishable in itself.

Kirk's crime is "wilful perjury", or lying about the details of the death. It doesn't matter what part he lied about, the crime is that he lied in his detailed report and maintains the lie against Stone's verbal inquest - and thus in all probability is trying to hide other, worse crimes. The exact timing of red alert is not his crime, it's merely the thing he lied about, the hint that he has been up to no good.

Of course the court homes in on the red alert issue: it's the only fact at their disposal. But prosecution isn't really concerned about that. Prosecution's attack is directed at Kirk's person from the very start, with the intent of establishing hostility between him and Finney - and the red alert records are only brought up once it has been concluded that Kirk might have had a motive to murder Finney, and are shoehorned into the scenario where such a murder did take place.

Timo Saloniemi

Last edited by Timo; February 12 2010 at 02:28 PM. Reason: Remembered about antimatter pods. Sigh.
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Old February 12 2010, 07:51 PM   #48
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I'm more interested in what Finney's job actually was on the ship. Records Officer is painfully vague. Is he the guy in charge of the file room? Is he in IT? And what makes him so great that "the service can't afford to lose men like Lt. Cmdr. Finney?"

I can also understand rotating duty assignments, like cross-training, or everyone having an Emergency Preparedness Assignment in case vital crew members are killed. But wouldn't it be more efficient to have a specialist in the pod instead of your file guy who gets seven hours of refresher training once a year? Or - idea - make this function automated instead of having some poor file guy crawling into a pod and jettisoned from the ship.
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Old February 12 2010, 10:00 PM   #49
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Since only Kirk, Spock and Finney could have faked the computer records, I'd guess "Records Officer" is an expression for the ship's leading computer wrangler. Either he's an especially skilled officer (like I think Spock would be), or then an officer with exceptional access (the case with Kirk, most probably). I'd vote Finney is the match of Spock in skill, hence quite a prize for Starfleet.

I also guess it makes sense not to assign anybody permanently for a single piece of equipment that may see use once per decade. Yet if the ion survey gear is high tech that gets plugged into the side of an old starship, some expertise is probably called for in operating it. People with special competence on things that go beep-beep in the night, such as the science department or the computer folks, would then plausibly rotate on that duty - and the list may be relatively short, perhaps not much longer than the list of people who could falsify computer records...

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Old February 12 2010, 10:40 PM   #50
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I'm trying to figure out a way that the little bump back there can be the pod with a guy in it...

Howzabout this: The whole aparatus consists of more than just the jettisonable pod. The part that the person is actually manning is a small room just inside the ship's hull; the pod itself is purely a sensor array, and thus completely disposable. When the pod is jettisoned, that room is now open to the great black yonder; no environmental force field here, that'd screw up the readings, and the room's too small to wear an environmental suit, so when that red alert starts screaming, and that transluscent dome in front you is getting ready to go buh-bye, you either get on the other side of that door, or hope you can hold your breath long enough to get picked up by a ship equipped with an infinite improbability drive.

That work?
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Old February 12 2010, 11:01 PM   #51
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

It never ceases to amaze me how much thought and energy can be poured into trying to explain a piece of techno-babble, or, as DS9Sega called it, a minor MacGuffin.

;o)
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Old February 12 2010, 11:47 PM   #52
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

The only reason I can think that you'd have to jettison something like that is because it endangers the ship in certain situations: like having a lightning-rod on the hull that makes the ship more likely to take a whack in certain circumstances.
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Old February 13 2010, 11:41 AM   #53
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Kirk here wrote: View Post
It never ceases to amaze me how much thought and energy can be poured into trying to explain a piece of techno-babble, or, as DS9Sega called it, a minor MacGuffin.
I think it's the way it's so vaguely dealt with in the episode (yet plays a pivitol part) that keeps people coming back for more! I am continually impressed at the evolving theology surrounding this "Minor MacGuffin" - Treknology at its finest!
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Old February 13 2010, 11:57 AM   #54
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
Howzabout this: The whole aparatus consists of more than just the jettisonable pod. The part that the person is actually manning is a small room just inside the ship's hull; the pod itself is purely a sensor array, and thus completely disposable. When the pod is jettisoned, that room is now open to the great black yonder; no environmental force field here, that'd screw up the readings, and the room's too small to wear an environmental suit, so when that red alert starts screaming, and that transluscent dome in front you is getting ready to go buh-bye, you either get on the other side of that door, or hope you can hold your breath long enough to get picked up by a ship equipped with an infinite improbability drive.
Love that last bit!
As for the rest; I'm a little worried about the personnel - why design a room that's too small even for an enviromental suit to be used? That leaves you with a hole in the hull (and thus a point of weakness) by design? That leaves all your instrumentation exposed to the vaccum of space? It gets around the issue of the (too small) aft light being the ion pod though, but it sounds a bit cavalier, even for TOS Starfleet!
Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
I'm trying to figure out a way that the little bump back there can be the pod with a guy in it...
Hence I think you were on the right track with your earlier design of having a "bay" of iod pods, even the exact location might be better suited further aft. I imagine something like an extendable boom (similar to Franz Joseph's tractor beam thingy) coming from the bottom of the ship (out of one of the many hatches there) with the ion pod on the end of it. That way you make the pod as large as you like!
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Old February 13 2010, 02:45 PM   #55
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Timo wrote: View Post
After all, Kirk seemed to sail into the storm with the sole purpose of sailing into the storm!
Timo Saloniemi
For real! He flys into the thing at Warp 1, then asks the Engine Room for 1/3 more thrust.

I guess its like getting a shot, or taking a band aid off. Do it faster, and it hurts less.
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Old February 14 2010, 12:13 AM   #56
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I don't think Kirk immediately knew that Finney was missing. If the ion pod was the sole reason to enter the storm, then after it was jettisoned Kirk would have concentrated on getting the ship out of the ion storm. If the Enterprise's regular sensor could gather additional readings, Kirk would have stayed in the storm longer, before leaving. When would Finney have been missed? He should have called in as soon as he was out, perhaps to Uhura, then reported to his red alert station. Kirk would have started by simply calling him on the shipwide intercom A shipwide search would have had to wait until the ship was both out of the storm and secure.

I like the idea that as records officer Finney was the ship's I.T. geek.

We've all been assuming (me too) that the ion pod was small, but what if it wasn't? What if the pod was very large? Something that was attached to the length of the secondary hull, a dozen meters across and fifty or sixty meters long. When Kirk ordered warp one, then told engineering to increase power by one third, that may have been to compensate for the presence of the pod. The size of the pod interfered with the Enterprise's ability to maneuver properly, created torque, slowed her down. Kirk jettisoned the pod not because it was becoming contaminated, but because it mere presence endangered the ship.

When jettisoned the combination of the Enterprise being at warp, leaving the warp envelope, and the surounding ion storm would have torn the pod apart.
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Old February 14 2010, 01:22 AM   #57
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

T'Girl wrote: View Post
We've all been assuming (me too) that the ion pod was small, but what if it wasn't? What if the pod was very large? Something that was attached to the length of the secondary hull, a dozen meters across and fifty or sixty meters long. When Kirk ordered warp one, then told engineering to increase power by one third, that may have been to compensate for the presence of the pod. The size of the pod interfered with the Enterprise's ability to maneuver properly, created torque, slowed her down. Kirk jettisoned the pod not because it was becoming contaminated, but because it mere presence endangered the ship.

When jettisoned the combination of the Enterprise being at warp, leaving the warp envelope, and the surounding ion storm would have torn the pod apart.
Well, I think that's why some folks think the pod was on a tether of some kind, because such a setup would account for the meneuvering difficulties and other things that could endanger the ship? But there's nothing on the ship exterior that corresponds to something as big as your describing, unless we assume that the pod is inflatable or something? Or, are you suggesting that a seperate 'attachment' was picked up at a starbase, with the specific intent of heading straight to the nearest storm?

Last edited by TIN_MAN; February 14 2010 at 09:47 PM.
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Old February 14 2010, 10:40 AM   #58
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

It's entirely possible - we never saw any exterior visuals of the ship during the ion storm.
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Old February 14 2010, 02:27 PM   #59
Timo
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

Howzabout this: The whole aparatus consists of more than just the jettisonable pod. The part that the person is actually manning is a small room just inside the ship's hull
...Such a "room" would probably best be explained as simply the airlock or access corridor through which Finney reaches into the pod to get the measurements going. At the moment of pod jettison, three things could happen:

1) If the pod is big enough, Finney could be in there, and might be launched with the pod - a potentially survivable situation, but only if the pod doesn't quickly get fried by the storm.

2) If the pod doesn't allow Finney to squeeze all the way in, or if Finney times his exit wrong, he could be caught in the doorway, and be sucked into space through the hole left by the departure of the pod, or perhaps cut in half by the closing door.

3) Finney might also manage to get out of the doorway in time, but be hurt somehow, perhaps by the door mechanism.

I agree that Kirk would be too busy to worry about Finney's fate right away. And (as per Kirk's damage report at SB11) there might be pressure alerts going off all across the ship at the time, so the presence or absence of one at the pod socket and the adjoining interior spaces wouldn't be an immediate telltale, either.

I guess its like getting a shot, or taking a band aid off. Do it faster, and it hurts less.
This sort of "nautical" reacting to spatial storms is also seen in ST6:TUC, where Sulu thinks his ship will better survive a tidal wave in space by turning her bow into that wave...

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Old February 14 2010, 07:53 PM   #60
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Re: What is an "ion pod?"

I believe than an "ion pod" is one made mostly out of the element #26 Ion, which is found in the Touch-Typist Table of the Elements between #25 Chomium and #27 Coalt.
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