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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > Star Trek - Original Series

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

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Old December 29 2012, 12:52 AM   #1
Delta Vega
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The Changeling

Watched it today for the first time in years

Few things

Why did Nomad vapourise the four Redshirts, yet merely zapped Scotty, killing him albeit, and Nurse Chapel, stunning her ?

What an inconsiderate piece of space debris it was

Also, if its first salvo was 90 times the power of one photon torpedo, taking the shields down to 20%, how could the Enterprise expect to take another four hits, according to Spock ?

Also, why would Kirk be surprised that the as yet unseen Nomad could absorb one photon torpedo when just previously his own ship had fielded a blast of 90 x the power of one ?

Confused
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Old December 29 2012, 10:58 AM   #2
Merry Christmas
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Re: The Changeling

Delta Vega wrote: View Post
Why did Nomad vapourise the four Redshirts, yet merely zapped Scotty, killing him albeit, and Nurse Chapel, stunning her ?
Neither Scotty, nor Christine were armed, and so were lesser threats.

And unarmed Christine likely wasn't even rushing Nomad, just mildly getting it's way.
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Old December 29 2012, 12:19 PM   #3
Timo
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...As for the torpedo math, it's a particularly damning example of ill-thought-out technobabble in the original show. But it isn't all that difficult to explain away.

Of course, when Kirk wonders about the thing's ability to take a pounding, he already knows it is "very small", and later Spock clarifies that this means "a fraction over one meter". Assuming Kirk is fluent in Spockese and can deduce the latter from the former already, it does seem logical for him to think that a thing less than a hundredth the size of Kirk's ship should be easily destroyed by a force more than a hundredth (that is, one-ninetieth) the size of the force that Kirk's ship just withstood.

But how many photon torpedoes does it take to destroy a TOS starship? In the teaser to "Errand of Mercy", the Klingons pound the ship with half a dozen sucker punches of what very much look like photon torpedoes, and Spock reports "minor buckling" only. This would be quite consistent with a starship surviving several hundred hits before having to cry mommy - that is, consistent with Jim Kirk's starship being the equivalent of Horatio Hornblower's windjammer, rather than of a WWI battleship (a dozen good hits from contemporary main weapons will do) or a modern tin can warship (a single hit suffices). When Kirk in turn fires torpedoes at opponents, he doesn't give up because the first dozen would fail to have an effect; in "Journey to Babel", he gives up because he fails to score hits. So we don't learn much about the ability of starship-sized regular enemies to withstand photon torpedoes, either.

taking the shields down to 20%, how could the Enterprise expect to take another four hits
It's down by 20%, not down to 20%. The math works there.

The problem is with the later, movie or TNG era portrayals of photon torpedoes as somewhat more effective in the ship-killing role. It doesn't take a hundred direct hits to bring a later-era starship to her knees - it only takes half a dozen. Even a single good hit might reduce shields by 20 percent. Are 24th century torpedoes really a hundred times better than 23rd century ones?

Timo Saloniemi
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Old December 29 2012, 02:06 PM   #4
Delta Vega
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Re: The Changeling

Timo wrote: View Post
...As for the torpedo math, it's a particularly damning example of ill-thought-out technobabble in the original show. But it isn't all that difficult to explain away.

Of course, when Kirk wonders about the thing's ability to take a pounding, he already knows it is "very small", and later Spock clarifies that this means "a fraction over one meter". Assuming Kirk is fluent in Spockese and can deduce the latter from the former already, it does seem logical for him to think that a thing less than a hundredth the size of Kirk's ship should be easily destroyed by a force more than a hundredth (that is, one-ninetieth) the size of the force that Kirk's ship just withstood.

But how many photon torpedoes does it take to destroy a TOS starship? In the teaser to "Errand of Mercy", the Klingons pound the ship with half a dozen sucker punches of what very much look like photon torpedoes, and Spock reports "minor buckling" only. This would be quite consistent with a starship surviving several hundred hits before having to cry mommy - that is, consistent with Jim Kirk's starship being the equivalent of Horatio Hornblower's windjammer, rather than of a WWI battleship (a dozen good hits from contemporary main weapons will do) or a modern tin can warship (a single hit suffices). When Kirk in turn fires torpedoes at opponents, he doesn't give up because the first dozen would fail to have an effect; in "Journey to Babel", he gives up because he fails to score hits. So we don't learn much about the ability of starship-sized regular enemies to withstand photon torpedoes, either.

taking the shields down to 20%, how could the Enterprise expect to take another four hits
It's down by 20%, not down to 20%. The math works there.

The problem is with the later, movie or TNG era portrayals of photon torpedoes as somewhat more effective in the ship-killing role. It doesn't take a hundred direct hits to bring a later-era starship to her knees - it only takes half a dozen. Even a single good hit might reduce shields by 20 percent. Are 24th century torpedoes really a hundred times better than 23rd century ones?

Timo Saloniemi
Your summary as always is very feasible and thought provoking, however, without indulging in arguement, I am almost positive, without watching it again, that Spock indeed says............."down TO 20%..........

In later Trek we see starships and enemy vessels disabled or even blown to bits by targetting engines with one blast of phaser fire, or even photons, so my scepticism of any starship, Federation or otherwise, being able to withstand the force of Nomads salvos when shields are so damaged, is justified imo.

Regards
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Old December 29 2012, 03:11 PM   #5
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Re: The Changeling

Delta Vega wrote: View Post

I am almost positive, without watching it again, that Spock indeed says............."down TO 20%..........
"I may add, the energy used repulsing this first attack reduced our shielding power twenty percent."
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Old December 29 2012, 04:07 PM   #6
Forbin
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Re: The Changeling

and later Spock clarifies that this means "a fraction over one meter".
A fraction over one meter. And what was that fraction? Or was it, more properly, a decimal? Spock often gives time-to-event callouts in fractions of a second, which is nearly pointless when speaking out loud (by the time you've said "three point two-seven seconds," you're already at three seconds), but he can't tell Kirk Nomad's exact size to the millimeter?
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Old December 29 2012, 07:30 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: The Changeling

Well, seriously speaking, Spock never really uses fractions of a second. He notoriously uses two decimal places for fractions of a minute in "That Which Survives", but in fact with some justification, as there is a very accurate clock ticking towards ultimate doom, and in the end it's seconds that count when Scotty saves the day.

Okay, so the difference between 11.5 h and 11.337 h earlier on in the episode is over a less crucial bit, a mere ETA. But it does amount to almost ten minutes, even if it isn't the most illustrative way of putting it. It's mostly a case of Spock not fully understanding the nature of human units, and when to use decimal points vs. sub-units.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old December 31 2012, 07:08 AM   #8
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Re: The Changeling

Timo wrote: View Post
when Kirk wonders about the thing's ability to take a pounding, he already knows it is "very small" ... it does seem logical for him to think that a thing less than a hundredth the size of Kirk's ship should be easily destroyed ...
But how many photon torpedoes does it take to destroy a TOS starship? In the teaser to "Errand of Mercy", the Klingons pound the ship with half a dozen sucker punches of what very much look like photon torpedoes, and Spock reports "minor buckling" only. ... The problem is with the later, movie or TNG era portrayals of photon torpedoes as somewhat more effective in the ship-killing role.
We don't need to think of "photon torpedoes" as a constant unit of power, with the same destructive capacity no matter what ship fires them. In the era of the Horation Hornblower stories, ships carried cannon or carronades, but their effectiveness varied. Smaller ships carried smaller guns that shot smaller projectiles; larger ships carried larger guns that shut heavier charges. A big ship might carry 32-pounders, a small ship 12-pounders. You would talk about the "weight of a broadside", ie the weight of the shot fired from the guns times the number of guns.

So you can imagine a situation where a big ship is fighting a small ship. Both are firing "cannon", but the small ship's weaponry doesn't hurt the big ship, while the big ship can blow the smaller one out of the water.

I think it's useful to think of photon torpedoes in the same way. Maybe they are an energy weapon charged by the ship's power; so the their destructive capacity varies with the engine power of the ship firing them.
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Old December 31 2012, 07:15 AM   #9
JimZipCode
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Re: The Changeling

The number one thing that bothers me about Changeling is that they beam Nomad aboard.

For one thing, they believe Nomad is a space ship or probe. Would you beam a shuttlecraft on board? And Nomad had survived attack from their best weaponry; how does the the transporter suddenly have the power to disassemble it? If they could have disassembled Nomad, they should have done so during the battle.

For another, once you had disassembled that thing, why would you re-assemble it??? Send your transporter beam and disassemble Nomad – and boom, successful resolution to battle. Well done, captain. End of story.

I guess the rest of Changeling works ok, if you accept the premise that they had monumentally effed up by beaming that thing aboard, and now had to deal with the mistake. I might have no problem with the episode if Nomad came in via the shuttlecraft bay doors.
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Old January 1 2013, 06:30 PM   #10
Shawnster
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Re: The Changeling

Delta Vega wrote: View Post
Watched it today for the first time in years

Also, why would Kirk be surprised that the as yet unseen Nomad could absorb one photon torpedo when just previously his own ship had fielded a blast of 90 x the power of one ?

Confused
A phaser can be stomped on and damaged. In one episode a phaser is bent by hand (albeit a strong android). Yet this amount of force (bending, stomping) is negligable compared to the destructive energy a phaser can produce. Maybe it is logical to assume Nomad should be able to dish out more than it could take.
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Old January 2 2013, 08:01 AM   #11
Timo
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Re: The Changeling

We don't need to think of "photon torpedoes" as a constant unit of power, with the same destructive capacity no matter what ship fires them.
...Indeed, TNG makes it explicit that torpedoes have selectable yield and all, so even the hero ship torpedo is entitled to vary in strength of effect from episode to episode, or even from scene to scene.

But in this episode, "photon torpedo" is specifically used as a unit of destructive power! As in, "1 NOMAD blast = 90 photon torpedoes".

Would you beam a shuttlecraft on board?
Again, in TNG, yes, you would. It's really quite convenient.

Of course, even in TNG, this would call for the shuttlecraft to cooperate. Shielded targets cannot be beamed...

But Kirk does give his logic for the decision. Having NOMAD aboard hopefully stops it from firing; trying to destroy NOMAD with the transporter and failing would be poor timing, as an angered enemy would be in a position to destroy Kirk's ship with one shot at that point. A few hours later, it would at least again take five shots!

Maybe it is logical to assume Nomad should be able to dish out more than it could take.
Traditionally, major war machines on Earth have been designed to be able to fight with their equals, with defense matching offense. But Kirk would see NOMAD as a minor war machine, for obvious reasons; those are classically built "unbalanced", typically biased towards offensive power because there isn't as pressing a need to protect the investment in them as there is to protect larger machines.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old January 2 2013, 02:53 PM   #12
Forbin
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Re: The Changeling

Watched it yesterday for the heck of it.
I think the most reality-stretching thing in the whole episode is Uhura's reeducation after being wiped clean.

While Christine is teaching her first grade reading, Uhura gets frustrated and "reverts" to Swahili. She was a blank slate, when the hell did she relearn Swahili?!

Then by the end of the episode (less than a day?) she's "back up to college level."
Really!? Wow! Chapel's one hell of a teacher!

And they expect her back at her post soon.
Guess it isn't that hard to cram a full Academy communications specialty into her head after all that, eh?

Aaaaand next episode she's perfectly back to normal.
It would have been funny if they'd had her continue to mispronounce "Blue" as "Blooey" for the rest of the season.
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Old January 2 2013, 04:05 PM   #13
Timo
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Re: The Changeling

I think the most reality-stretching thing in the whole episode is Uhura's reeducation after being wiped clean.
Well, fight fire with fire: the wiping is the reality-stretching thing there, so odds are that it didn't really take place. NOMAD simply lied (perhaps it thought that repairing further people would be an affront to the Creator, because the Creator's medicine man was openly hostile towards NOMAD playing doctor?), Spock was mistaken in his evaluation of the situation or worded it badly, and Uhura was merely dazed and in a fairly mundane state of amnesia.

Timo Saloniemi
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