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

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Old July 6 2010, 05:30 PM   #1
Mr Silver
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The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

http://www.ex-astris-scientia.org

(you can view the picture in the gallery section under Starship Interiors (TWOK engineering), since Ex-Astris won't allow hotlinking, i've had to edit)


Observe, a room that made its debut in TWOK, seemingly with no purpose except to provide a way for Spock to sacrifice himself heroically and seperate Kirk and Spock during the touching "Last Words Scene"

What exactly is its function? From what I understand (which I also used to contribute to the article on MA) the room is a control room for the dilithium crystals, the cylinder object contains the dilithium crystals, which then connects to the intermix chamber

In TWOK, after the skirmishes with Khan, we see that the room is flooded with Radiation (Scotty goes into the room to shut off the Warp Drive, before passing out from Radiation Poisoning), then Spock enters the room, checks whats happening on the computer panels and then removes the top from the cylinder device, releasing a massive build up of radiation....and we know the rest

I'm curious though, was this function present in any form prior to 2285? in TMP theres no indication this room was present (i'd imagine that the set was built specifically for TWOK) and later in the franchise (we do see the cylinder device reused for the Klingon BOP dilithium chamber) we see no indication of rooms like this (not even on the E-A)

So does anyone have any information or ideas as to the function of this room from a technologial point of view?

Last edited by Mr Silver; July 6 2010 at 06:31 PM.
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Old July 6 2010, 06:23 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

My pet theory is that it's the same thing as the pair of cylinders on the engineering floor in TOS: a location for inserting the all-important dilithium crystals into some sort of a carefully shielded dumbwaiter/waldo system that takes them to the heavily armored reaction chamber in the bowels of the ship.

Prior to TMP, we didn't get to see any non-shirtsleeves engineering environments. Doesn't mean the whole kit'n'kaboodle from TMP wouldn't have been in place in TOS already. It's just that in normal conditions, nobody would enter this facility and risk radiation exposure. During a test flight after a refit, the presence of radiation-suited personnel down there would be a must, though. During a training cruise, engineer trainees would be working there as well. But the "real" engineering work would still happen in shirtsleeves, up in a facility looking remarkably like the TOS engineering set.

So the room from ST2 is a dilithium delivery system access point added in the non-shirtsleeves environment (possibly with a shirtsleeves point retained in the upper decks as well). Because the facility is already in a high-risk area, it's configured differently from the TOS access point: it provides more direct access, but is in turn surrounded by that fallout-containing plexiglass which would be useless in the TOS layout but serves a purpose in an environment that already features protective suits and other such precautions.

By accessing the dilithium delivery system, Spock would be able to extract the crystals, revitalize them manually, then redeliver them to the reactor to get the drive working. Normally, a device called "energizer" would revitalize the crystals (just like an "energizer" was used in TOS "Alternative Factor" to nurse back to health a set of crystals harmed by the universe hiccuping), but in this case the "main energizer" was "out", like Scotty said. So Spock had to do it by hand, probably by finding a new, still working facet from the damaged crystals.

Perhaps the energizing in "Alternative Factor" also involved finding new, not yet "spent" facets of the crystals? It's just that the TOS crystals would be microscopically small and embedded on those ping-pong paddle devices in vast numbers; Starfleet could extremely seldom afford macroscopically large crystals. The energizers would realign the microcrystals - but Spock would be skilled in the art of realigning by hand the slightly larger crystals Starfleet of the 2270s could afford. And we know that by the time of TNG, macroscopic crystals are commonplace and can easily be grown or regrown...

Howzzat for a rationalization?

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Old July 6 2010, 06:40 PM   #3
Mr Silver
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

Timo wrote: View Post
Howzzat for a rationalization?
Thats a pretty good explanation!

I'm still curious however, the film was delibarately vague in terms of "Treknobabble" (I guess they wanted the plot to focus more on the story) So we never actually had the function explained, normally in an episode of Star Trek, the problem would be explained and a solution would be proposed and carried out, as a result, many people are confused as to the significance of the room

As for the "Plexiglass" does anyone know if its even possible that a material of this kind could contain lethal levels of radiation?

Another thing, How did they remove Spock's body without, as McCoy stated "Flooding the whole compartment"? would there be some kind of "Decontamination System" (if so why did they not just use that in the first place?) and although it sounds pretty grim, Spock's body would still be emitting lethal levels of radiation, did they simply beam him into the Photon Tube?

IIRC, Captain Esteban voiced concerns of radiation contamination in TSFS ("We're picking up radiation from the lifeform Saavik"), would this radiation be "Planetary Radiation" or residue from Spock?
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Old July 6 2010, 07:31 PM   #4
AstroSmurf
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

Actually that set addition has always bugged the hell out of me. If it was directly attached to the intermix chamber things would make more sense. But the location leaves its actual function, or at least its function in what we know about M/AM reactors, a bit of a mystery. And I would be a liar if I said I had not spent hours thinking about it. (I used to travel a lot in the car and spent time thinking about things like this to keep my brain occupied.) I came up with several ideas to explain what Spock was doing in a room that was beside the reactor core. One of them mirrored Timo's.

Timo wrote: View Post
My pet theory is that it's the same thing as the pair of cylinders on the engineering floor in TOS: a location for inserting the all-important dilithium crystals into some sort of a carefully shielded dumbwaiter/waldo system that takes them to the heavily armored reaction chamber in the bowels of the ship.
My second idea and favored explanation was that Spock was accessing a controlling subsystem, reactor power station or cooling manifold. By manually adjusting this obviously irradiated system he was able to bypass the main energizers and get the reactor back up and running.

As for the plexiglass walls, I just assumed they were some sort of insulated transparent aluminum. It could even be protected by a low level forcefield like the warp cores of the 24th Century are (even though I think that idea is completely silly).
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Old July 6 2010, 08:30 PM   #5
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

As for the "Plexiglass" does anyone know if its even possible that a material of this kind could contain lethal levels of radiation?
Certainly. It's very good for that purpose in the real world, in something like three ways.

Anything that stops small particles is good for containing radiation fallout: generally, the radiation-protection suits worn in nuclear powerplants or the like are made out of dense, strong paper, or material like that, because that's more than sufficient for preventing the radioactive particles from reaching your skin. Plexiglass would actually be overkill in stopping radiation sources from "flooding the whole compartment" in that sense.

As for the actual radiation coming from those sources, much of it can be stopped by paper. The heavy nuclei resulting from radioactive decay can't travel through more than a millimeter of polymer-like material, so again the paper suits are good enough, and thick plexiglass is overkill.

Some radiation is more penetrative than the heavy nuclei, though. The most penetrating sort is electromagnetic - gamma rays, x-rays and some longer wavelengths. Here it so happens that plexiglass walls would probably be superior to transparent aluminum: light metals, let alone heavy metals like lead, would just get all excited when bombarded with EM radiation, and this might cascade into additional radiation created by the lead shield, but polymers (possibly thinly spiced with lead, tungsten or the like) absorb many EM frequencies "gently", without creating cascades of nastiness. They are also very good at stopping the intermediate threat, high-energy electrons (and positrons), without adverse effects other than possible accumulation of electric charge.

I'd say a room where emergencies may cause the leakage of radioactive gas or steam clouds would indeed be well protected by such walls, then. And the revolving door would also be a fairly good construction for an airlock.

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Old July 7 2010, 12:34 AM   #6
blssdwlf
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

If TWOK followed TOS's use of dilithium crystals, then it would make sense that room is part of the "Main" energizer. TOS, unlike in TNG and later, used the crystals as part of the energizers and was separate from the M/AM reaction.

I suspect that podium Spock accessed is similar in function to the machinery in the middle of the engine room floor that showed up in Season 2 of TOS. And like TOS which did not start out with the machinery in the middle of the floor in Season 1 and moved there in Season 2, then TMP and TWOK could mirror S1 and S2 in terms of engine room modifications.

The big difference between TOS and the movies is that the newer engine design probably is more dangerous but gives more power, IMHO.
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Old July 7 2010, 07:47 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

...Then again, the refitted ship seems to be slower than the non-refitted one! Or at least we see the refit fly at warp seven at best, even in life-or-extinction situations, while the non-refitted design did warp ten on occasion without seriously redlining and could pull warp 14+ for very brief periods of time.

This doesn't seem to be an advantage worth the massive inconvenience of having to clothe all the engineers in protective suits all the time. Which is why I'd like to think that the presence of personnel in the area where those suits are needed is not common at all, and only happens in the special circumstances of ST:TMP and ST2.

I'd also like to think that the floor cylinders were part of the TOS design from the very start. It just so happened that they were in a room we didn't see until S2! Main Engineering must consist of multiple rooms in any case, or else Evil Kirk or Ben Finney couldn't plausibly hide in there. And plenty of rooms can be seen in TAS... But since this ST2 side chamber did appear after not being there in ST:TMP, I guess refits are also possible.

Who knows, perhaps the room in ST2 is a patch for a piece of automation that failed? Rather than repair the original machinery, which may be badly irradiated and would require ripping apart the entire ship for months, the engineers just opened a new hole in the system and then plugged it with a multi-layered radlock featuring that pedestal as the first line of defense and those transparent walls as the second line. Poor old NCC-1701 might not have warranted better treatment at that time and age...

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Old July 7 2010, 08:29 AM   #8
Maurice
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

madmatthias wrote: View Post
...in TMP theres no indication this room was present (i'd imagine that the set was built specifically for TWOK)...
The radiation room is the back part of the Klingon bridge (where the swiveling weapons chairs were) from TMP grafted onto the side of the engine room. It wasn't exactly built for TMP.
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Old July 7 2010, 09:00 AM   #9
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

I wonder how much this affected the design of the ST3 Klingon bridge. Major elements of the TMP one had now been scavenged for sets that played a role in that movie: the torpedo room and engineering of the hero ship featured them (even if only in stock footage). Re-scavenging them might not have been desirable, not even when it was known that the hero ship would be destroyed in this movie; recreating them might be too much work, too. So generic, flat walls with standard scifi greeblies were quickly thrown together, then camouflaged with the remaining pieces of Klingon hardware (mainly the swiveling chairs and some consoles).

The alternative explanation is that the ST3 bridge deliberately went for a different look, in support of the briefly pondered storyline where the ship wasn't Klingon at all. But one'd have to know details of construction timeline and studio practices for assessing that theory.

It could also simply be that the makers of ST3 hated the TMP looks and went for something more akin to TOS, with colored lights and all. But ST4 returned to a close match for the TMP aesthetics, with the same makers involved, so this may not be a good theory.

They did re-scavenge the ST2 chamber ceiling lights for Klingon transporter room lights in ST4...

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Old July 7 2010, 03:06 PM   #10
blssdwlf
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

Timo wrote: View Post
...Then again, the refitted ship seems to be slower than the non-refitted one! Or at least we see the refit fly at warp seven at best, even in life-or-extinction situations, while the non-refitted design did warp ten on occasion without seriously redlining and could pull warp 14+ for very brief periods of time.
Hmm. The instances where the TOS Enterprise made Warp 8-9 did stress the engines. Even when at 10 in "The Changeling", Kirk made Nomad back it off. And "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" it seemed more like a "will" induced Warp 10. Warp 14+ would've blown the ship up after a few minutes in "That Which Survives". Now "By Any Other Name" does suggest a more permanent boost to Warp 11 capability although I wonder if they needed a Kelvan on board to control it... So if we look at the episodes in order, the TOS Enterprise gradually is able to go faster (after encountering different aliens ) but the engines do get stressed out.

We see the refit-Enterprise go to Warp 7 in TMP to intercept V'ger with a day to spare. If she did a higher warp, she might show up earlier with stressed engines and risk not being able to use full power ala "The Paradise Syndrome". In TWOK, Kirk didn't know he was flying into a trap, so a leisurely Warp 5 seemed ok. TSFS the ship was smashed from TWOK. TFF - shrug - but they did go from Earth to Peace Planet to center of Galaxy as fast or faster than they might have in TOS, IMHO. TUC, no warp speed mentioned, but it seemed fast and unlike TMP where they had a day to deal with V'ger upon arrival, they were trying to prevent an assassination so speed was important.

Timo wrote: View Post
I'd also like to think that the floor cylinders were part of the TOS design from the very start. It just so happened that they were in a room we didn't see until S2!
The floor cylinders were probably part of the energizer room in "The Alternative Factor" in S1 since the dilithium crystals were in that room powering the ship. At some point, Scotty moved the energizer to be accessible from the engine room so I suspect that the energizer was more integrated and ended up below the engine room. (Scotty tinkered with that engine system alot for the duration of TOS )

Timo wrote: View Post
Main Engineering must consist of multiple rooms in any case, or else Evil Kirk or Ben Finney couldn't plausibly hide in there. And plenty of rooms can be seen in TAS... But since this ST2 side chamber did appear after not being there in ST:TMP, I guess refits are also possible.
Which would make sense given how much the TOS engine rooms changed over the years.

Timo wrote: View Post
Who knows, perhaps the room in ST2 is a patch for a piece of automation that failed? Rather than repair the original machinery, which may be badly irradiated and would require ripping apart the entire ship for months, the engineers just opened a new hole in the system and then plugged it with a multi-layered radlock featuring that pedestal as the first line of defense and those transparent walls as the second line. Poor old NCC-1701 might not have warranted better treatment at that time and age...
Heh, that's an interesting thought Timo. Relegated to training duties no less

The thing that is interesting about the refit engine design is that glowy intermix/conduit shaft don't seem to connect to anything other than the M/AM reactor (base), maybe something at the top, and the warp nacelles via the horizontal shaft. There doesn't seem to be anything that taps power from those shafts. I'm guessing the energizer system taps into the reactor at the base and parallels the vertical shaft and the Spock death room happens to be the top of it much like the floor machinery is the top of it.
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Old July 7 2010, 04:59 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

The floor cylinders were probably part of the energizer room in "The Alternative Factor" in S1 since the dilithium crystals were in that room powering the ship.
I prefer to disagree on that. The crystals weren't powering the ship when they were in the energizer room: stealing the crystals did not deprive the ship of power.

Lt. Masters was ordered to "reamplify" the "drained" crystals. She then proceeded to do something to them in a piece of machinery we had never seen before, and after she was finished, she ordered an "experimentation chamber" prepared. At that point, one of the Lazari stole two of the crystals being processed by the machinery; later, another Lazarus sabotaged this machinery, and Masters shouted that the "energizer" had shorted, and that there was fire in the "energizing circuit". And still the ship wasn't deprived of power!

I would like to interpret this as Masters (not a regular engineer, but a never before seen blueshirt specialist!) performing an exceptional remedial operation on four of the crystals (or crystal arrays), one that requires taking them off the actual power loop, and using an "energizer" for that remedy. Other crystals held the ship's power system together in the meantime.

I'm guessing the energizer system taps into the reactor at the base and parallels the vertical shaft and the Spock death room happens to be the top of it much like the floor machinery is the top of it.
My guess? The matter-antimatter reaction takes place down below, in a heavily armored chamber whose dilithium focus can only indirectly be accessed via the dumbwaiter system that has one terminal in that ST2-installed room. The glowing blue things are plasma conduits that take the warp energies first up, then both aft to the warp engines and up either to the impulse engines and to a power tap, or then only to a power tap that then connects to the impulse engines.

The existence of a long corridor ahead of Main Engineering, as seen in TMP, more or less precludes placing the set where Probert intended it. But placing it a bit farther aft would create no problems, except that the vertical shaft wouldn't then hit the impulse engines. Unless it diverged from vertical at some point, which is perfectly possible since we never saw the upper end.

It seems that those exact same pipes are seen serving as plasma conduits in the TNG reactor, running both parallel to the thick vertical reactor shaft and in horizontal branches that apparently head for the warp engines...

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Old July 7 2010, 07:59 PM   #12
blssdwlf
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

Timo wrote: View Post
The floor cylinders were probably part of the energizer room in "The Alternative Factor" in S1 since the dilithium crystals were in that room powering the ship.
I prefer to disagree on that. The crystals weren't powering the ship when they were in the energizer room: stealing the crystals did not deprive the ship of power.
But then again, they were being re-amplified as stated in the dialogue and thus the energizer wasn't being used to power the ship. The ship has other means of power and since they weren't at "full power" they could be running on Auxiliary Power or even the Batteries. (Look at "Elaan of Troyius" - the whole M/AM reactor and main energizer weren't even being used.) Since the crystals were stolen and the ship exhibited none of the "power dimming" or "power shorting" that happens when the mains are drained/interrupted it could be easily argued that the main energizer wasn't providing power but merely re-charging the dilithium crystals.

Timo wrote: View Post
I'm guessing the energizer system taps into the reactor at the base and parallels the vertical shaft and the Spock death room happens to be the top of it much like the floor machinery is the top of it.
My guess? The matter-antimatter reaction takes place down below, in a heavily armored chamber whose dilithium focus can only indirectly be accessed via the dumbwaiter system that has one terminal in that ST2-installed room. The glowing blue things are plasma conduits that take the warp energies first up, then both aft to the warp engines and up either to the impulse engines and to a power tap, or then only to a power tap that then connects to the impulse engines.

The existence of a long corridor ahead of Main Engineering, as seen in TMP, more or less precludes placing the set where Probert intended it. But placing it a bit farther aft would create no problems, except that the vertical shaft wouldn't then hit the impulse engines. Unless it diverged from vertical at some point, which is perfectly possible since we never saw the upper end.

It seems that those exact same pipes are seen serving as plasma conduits in the TNG reactor, running both parallel to the thick vertical reactor shaft and in horizontal branches that apparently head for the warp engines...
The TNG warp core also I think has the same oddity that the energy taps are either much below or above what we normally see. Although in TUC, the clever use of angles would suggest only a single horizontal shaft running from the re-used TNG reactor shaft.

As to the TMP reactor, since we don't ever see where the dilithium crystals are, its entirely possible they could be further below. We just know from Spock's actions in that room that he was able to bring the main energizer back online (and thus the warp system as well).
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Old July 7 2010, 08:22 PM   #13
Mr Silver
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

blssdwlf wrote: View Post
As to the TMP reactor, since we don't ever see where the dilithium crystals are, its entirely possible they could be further below. We just know from Spock's actions in that room that he was able to bring the main energizer back online (and thus the warp system as well).
True, but its resonable to assume that it was a dilithium control room, in TVH, we see the exact same "cynlinder prop" used as the chamber for the dilithium crystals, whats more as Spock enters the Reactor Room in TWOK we see crystal like glowing bits on the top of the cylinder, suggesting this was what it was meant to be, fair enough it could have been anything, but i think its resonable to assume that this appliance housed some form of dilithium power

Anyone got any ideas about what I wrote in my last post?

Another thing, How did they remove Spock's body without, as McCoy stated "Flooding the whole compartment"? would there be some kind of "Decontamination System" (if so why did they not just use that in the first place?) and although it sounds pretty grim, Spock's body would still be emitting lethal levels of radiation, did they simply beam him into the Photon Tube?

IIRC, Captain Esteban voiced concerns of radiation contamination in TSFS ("We're picking up radiation from the lifeform Saavik"), would this radiation be "Planetary Radiation" or residue from Spock?
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Old July 8 2010, 01:09 AM   #14
blssdwlf
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

madmatthias wrote: View Post
blssdwlf wrote: View Post
As to the TMP reactor, since we don't ever see where the dilithium crystals are, its entirely possible they could be further below. We just know from Spock's actions in that room that he was able to bring the main energizer back online (and thus the warp system as well).
True, but its resonable to assume that it was a dilithium control room, in TVH, we see the exact same "cynlinder prop" used as the chamber for the dilithium crystals, whats more as Spock enters the Reactor Room in TWOK we see crystal like glowing bits on the top of the cylinder, suggesting this was what it was meant to be, fair enough it could have been anything, but i think its resonable to assume that this appliance housed some form of dilithium power
I too think it is likely where the dilithium crystals are as they are tied to the main energizer.

madmatthias wrote: View Post
Anyone got any ideas about what I wrote in my last post?

Another thing, How did they remove Spock's body without, as McCoy stated "Flooding the whole compartment"? would there be some kind of "Decontamination System" (if so why did they not just use that in the first place?) and although it sounds pretty grim, Spock's body would still be emitting lethal levels of radiation, did they simply beam him into the Photon Tube?

IIRC, Captain Esteban voiced concerns of radiation contamination in TSFS ("We're picking up radiation from the lifeform Saavik"), would this radiation be "Planetary Radiation" or residue from Spock?
Interestingly in the HD version of TWOK, you can see the warning label for that room that reads "Warning Do Not Enter. Allow 2 hours after engine shutdown." So it looks like the radiation in the room can be decontaminated in 2 hours but only after the warp engine was taken offline. Since they were still running away from the Genesis explosion, they couldn't do that. Once the Enterprise dropped out of warp, they could start decontaminating the room, including Spock's body.

As to the radiation lifeform on Genesis, IIRC, it was from the super grown worms that were clinging to the photon casing. Spock was the detected "second lifeform" and I don't think they mentioned any radiation coming from him.
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Old July 8 2010, 07:05 AM   #15
Timo
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Re: The Reactor Room (a McGuffin perhaps?)

...it could be easily argued that the main energizer wasn't providing power but merely re-charging the dilithium crystals.
Exactly.

...Well, not exactly. The device in "Alternative Factor" wasn't called the main energizer specifically. Perhaps the TMP version of the ship has several, and the one called "main" is the one that nurses the crystals back to health in situ, without the services of Lt Masterson and her special department? Thus, when Scotty says the "main energizer" or "main energizers" is/are out, he's saying that main power is out because the crystals are screwed (a somewhat standard occurrence, perhaps) and stays out because the energizer cannot "unscrew" the crystals in situ (an unusual situation). That's why he had to "take" "the mains" (the primary power system) offline - because most of it is working, but a single component is not, and the means of repairing that single component is damaged as well. Spock knows he can bypass the repairing device and repair the component himself, after which Scotty could flip the switch back on.

We just know from Spock's actions in that room that he was able to bring the main energizer back online
Again, not exactly. After Spock is done, "the mains" are back online, not "the main energizer" explicitly. And I postulate the two are not the same thing; the former is what one calls the entire main power system, and the latter is a component that serves this system.

So it looks like the radiation in the room can be decontaminated in 2 hours but only after the warp engine was taken offline.
I'd argue the room is off limits for two hours if nobody has unscrewed the cap to the radiation-filled dilithium crystal dumbwaiter. If somebody does that, the room is off limits for two years...

As to the radiation lifeform on Genesis, IIRC, it was from the super grown worms that were clinging to the photon casing. Spock was the detected "second lifeform" and I don't think they mentioned any radiation coming from him.
We could argue the corpse was initially radiating, and contaminated the insides of the coffin as well. When the reborn Spock left (and his method of doing so is a bit mysterious!), the coffin stayed contaminated, and that's what the sensors observed. But Genesis somehow removed the radiation contamination from Spock's rejuvenated body. Hell, it ditched a lot of body mass somehow, so why not the bad parts? Perhaps the bad parts became those worms?

The room might eventually have been decontaminated by machinery available at a starbase. But I'd wager it was never decontaminated, and burned up in the Genesis atmosphere in a still contaminated condition.

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