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Old December 29 2012, 07:17 PM   #16
Timo
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Sure - but most of Trek continuity is purely accidental anyway. Why choose an interpretation that is contradictory when one can choose a continuity-supporting one with equal ease? I find it particularly enjoyable that Deck 11 in retrospect coincides with torpedo launchers, that antimatter in retrospect coincides with photon torpedoes, and that the VFX accurately pounds the very part of the ship coinciding with the above.

(Although actually the people doing the VFX would be the same guys who did the torp launch VFX, and might be aware of a thing or two, perhaps even deliberately attempting to show the enemy aiming at Kirk's big guns. But I sort of doubt that.).

Too late--Reliant got another shot off before Kirk could get power diverted to the phasers.
But what would be "too late" about that? There would be no reason to abort diverting power to phasers just because Khan squeezed off another shot. In a long series of shots, too: this last one isn't decisive or anything.

And it's not as if firing at Khan would plausibly stop Khan from firing, not when Khan is shielded and all. Not that firing at a torp would stop Khan from firing, either. But at least it would help protect the Enterprise when shields obviously couldn't accomplish that.

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Old December 29 2012, 07:42 PM   #17
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post

Too late--Reliant got another shot off before Kirk could get power diverted to the phasers.
But what would be "too late" about that? There would be no reason to abort diverting power to phasers just because Khan squeezed off another shot. In a long series of shots, too: this last one isn't decisive or anything.

And it's not as if firing at Khan would plausibly stop Khan from firing, not when Khan is shielded and all. Not that firing at a torp would stop Khan from firing, either. But at least it would help protect the Enterprise when shields obviously couldn't accomplish that.

Timo Saloniemi
If Kirk were trying to desperately wallop the Reliant, I could understand diverting power away from the shields and into the phasers. Channeling everything into the phasers is a completely plausible tactic even if the Reliant is somewhat shielded. But if the Reliant had already just fired a photon torpedo, I can understand the notion that it would be "too late" (and therefore ill-advised) to divert power away from the shields thereby dropping them in order to increase phaser power in a "Hail Mary" phaser shot. Probably better to just keep the shields up at that point instead of diverting their power to the shields .
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Old December 29 2012, 08:04 PM   #18
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post
I don't see the objection here. We have seen torpedo yields vary from "flash-bang" to "geography-rearranging grapnel of Tsar Bombas"...
That's just it: when have we ever SEEN that high-yield Tsar Bomba setting? It's mentioned in dialog from time to time, but usually in boast, never in an actual technical discussion.

furthermore, dialogue has established that the yield indeed is variable. No type of torpedo explosion should surprise us in the slightest.
Except that for the kinds of detonations we USUALLY see, we'd be looking at a torpedo primed with not more than a couple of miligrams of antimatter; the torpedo would actually do more damage if it dumped the antimatter into thrust and just RAMMED its target at near-orbital velocities.

There's also the fact that torpedoes don't seem to be visually more impressive than some of their more exotic non-antimatter counterparts; in most cases, photonic torpedoes aren't VISIBLY more powerful than spatial torpedoes, for example, they just move a lot faster and are more effective against shields. The Narada's torpedoes aren't stated to use antimatter either, and yet they seem to be implied as being relatively powerful, possibly moreso than torpedoes, and in Nero's case there's no specific reason for him to set them to a lower yield than they could otherwise achieve. There's the Krenim transphasic torpedoes which are devastating against Voyager only because they can slip through shields like they're not even there, but when one of them detonates INSIDE THE HULL, it is a far far cry from a thermonuclear explosion (and the Krenim, being the assholes that they are, have no reason at all to dial their yields down for humanitarian reasons).

More importantly, we've seen what an actual nuclear-scale blast does to a starship, as in Balance of Terror where a Romulan warhead detonates a hundred meters away from the ship. The effect of this warhead is totally unlike ANYTHING we ever see from photon torpedoes and is a jarring contrast with even TUC, where the ship is hit by upwards of a dozen photon torpedoes that could only have been set to maximum yield (and one physically blows right through the hull, laughing at the shields on its way through).

Canonically, an unshielded starship hit by a quarter kiloton blast winds loosing a pretty enormous chunk of its hull. Even maximum-yield photon torpedoes rarely do this kind of damage on their own, which sort of puts an upper limit on their yield IMO.
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Old December 29 2012, 08:28 PM   #19
Timo
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

when have we ever SEEN that high-yield Tsar Bomba setting?
At least the "Skin of Evil" blast is quite geographic in scale, even if we assume the smallest possible perfectly spherical planet and ignore surface gravity as a size-suggesting factor. It's also a classic example of a "demolition shot", a torpedo fired with the full knowledge that the target will not try to dodge.

Similarly, a single torpedo finishes off the Lantree, which is in no way in contradiction of the idea that it takes lots of torps to defeat a starship in battle. If yield is variable, then minimum yield is probably a good choice as long as the enemy dodges; when she's crippled enough that hits will be assured, it's time to pack more of the precious antimatter into the warheads.

Except that for the kinds of detonations we USUALLY see, we'd be looking at a torpedo primed with not more than a couple of miligrams of antimatter
We "usually" see either hits against shields (which tell nothing about torpedo destructive power as such) or hits against geography (which look incredibly impressive, say, in "The Die is Cast").

But the timing is off. By the time Kirk actually orders "all power to phasers" Khan's torpedo has already launched and is heading straight for them. If he meant to use the phasers as point defense he clearly didn't have that specific torpedo in mind when he gave the order, so it really could go either way IMO.
Hmm... I always saw that as the best proof that Kirk specifically wanted to target the torp. Judging by the timing, Kirk's decision to use phasers is prompted by the approach of the torpedo, not by the (as such existing, but temporally more diffuse) general threat of Khan being capable of firing stuff at them.

Of course, Kirk is only slowly coming to grips with the fact that the shields will never be raised, not with the damage and the panic in at Engineering. A generic decision to reallocate power might be expected standard procedure. But Sulu seems to be thinking in different terms. (Perhaps he's misunderstanding Kirk's intentions, or seeing intention where there is only the aimless confusion of a has-been?)

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Old December 29 2012, 09:19 PM   #20
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post
when have we ever SEEN that high-yield Tsar Bomba setting?
At least the "Skin of Evil" blast is quite geographic in scale, even if we assume the smallest possible perfectly spherical planet and ignore surface gravity as a size-suggesting factor. It's also a classic example of a "demolition shot", a torpedo fired with the full knowledge that the target will not try to dodge.
The fireball effect propagates too quickly and is too brief for it to have been that; at the scales we're talking, the blast wave would have traveled at something like forty times the speed of sound, spread to an area sixty kilometers wide, then dissipated immediately without leaving any visible long-term effects. So the "flash" is more likely an effect of the torpedo hitting the upper atmosphere and ionizing gas layers as it penetrated.

OTOH, it was targeted against a shuttlecraft, not a city. How many megatons does it really take to demolish a thirty foot shuttlecraft?

Similarly, a single torpedo finishes off the Lantree, which is in no way in contradiction of the idea that it takes lots of torps to defeat a starship in battle.
It IS, actually, considering the same torpedo that finished off the USS Grissom -- presumably even through its shields -- did little more than disable the unshielded Enterprise. Seems evident that if you hit the wrong part of a starship engine -- or even just damage it indirectly -- the ship will probably explode.

FYI, this is similarly the case for many types of fighter aircraft. You can shoot an F-15 full of holes and turn the fuselage into swiss cheese and it could still make it back to the runaway and land. But put a single bullet through the engine cowling -- shake loose a turbine or a compressor blade -- and it might as well be a giant cruise missile.

Except that for the kinds of detonations we USUALLY see, we'd be looking at a torpedo primed with not more than a couple of miligrams of antimatter
We "usually" see either hits against shields (which tell nothing about torpedo destructive power as such) or hits against geography (which look incredibly impressive, say, in "The Die is Cast").
But when we see hits with the shields DOWN, what do we see?

This. And this. And there's also the case here the Equinox matches Voyager's shield frequencies and hits it with two different photon torpedoes, somehow failing to destroy it with either shot. None of those even APPROACH the kind of damage done to NX-01 when struck by a quarter-kiloton nuclear device. In terms of a warhead using antimatter, that's literally the difference of two or three grams of reactant material; if you're firing for effect, there is NO reason for the yields to be that small.

That, of course, begs the inevitable question of just how it is that a physical projectile powered by an impulse engine is supposed to be able to match a shield frequency. How does that even work?

A generic decision to reallocate power might be expected standard procedure. But Sulu seems to be thinking in different terms.
Sulu isn't the one who says "too late" though. That's Spock, who is sharp enough to understand what the approaching torpedo signifies.
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Old December 29 2012, 09:54 PM   #21
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

The fireball effect propagates too quickly and is too brief for it to have been that; at the scales we're talking, the blast wave would have traveled at something like forty times the speed of sound, spread to an area sixty kilometers wide, then dissipated immediately without leaving any visible long-term effects.
Nothing wrong with forty times the speed of sound as such; speed would just be a function of explosive yield, even if in a somewhat complex manner. Although a nicely spherical blast wave would be preferable to the broccoli shapes of the "gasoline explosion" we lamentably once again witness...

Perhaps these gasoline explosion things are how antimatter actually behaves in high concentrations - being at first dispersed by the initial "core" annihilation, then compressing to annihilation densities again in random directions at random distances? So we get multiple overlapping spheres and wavefronts, much as with the expanding gases of classic Hollywood fireworks.

I wonder if the "long term effects" here would include removal or significant thinning of the atmosphere of Vagra II, considering the dialogue of "Obsession"? We've seen how "painless" something like that is in the terms of Star Trek visuals, in "Homeward".

OTOH, it was targeted against a shuttlecraft, not a city. How many megatons does it really take to demolish a thirty foot shuttlecraft?
Considering that the danger of collateral damage was less than zero (that is, if any bystanders were killed, everybody would be very, very grateful, including said casualty!), overkill sounds preferable here.

It IS, actually, considering the same torpedo that finished off the USS Grissom -- presumably even through its shields -- did little more than disable the unshielded Enterprise. Seems evident that if you hit the wrong part of a starship engine -- or even just damage it indirectly -- the ship will probably explode.
Kruge's torpedo doesn't seem to be all that similar to photon torpedoes, as it causes an "electric crackling" effect rather than any of the blast types traditionally witnessed. Plus Kruge fully expects it to create disabling damage rather than destruction. Possibly he's deliberately packing the ideal weapon type for a cloaked commerce raider (that is, an evil German submarine in spaaaaace!), not so ideal in a fight against proper ships of war.

But unshielded ships being just one very light misstep away from blowing up is certainly a valid concept, reinforced by the likes of "Cause and Effect". Doesn't undermine the idea that shielded ships can shrug off multiple torps in basically all situations.

But when we see hits with the shields DOWN, what do we see?
An assassin firing his Derringer?

Chang had customized weapons for the task of damaging the ship serving as Kronos One and making it look like a Starfleet job. That'd presuppose low yield for multiple reasons:

a) Real Starfleet would fire low yield torps if intending to do light damage in support of boarding action.
b) Cartwright would make sure to supply Chang with the perfect low yield torps for the job, and only the perfect low yield torps...

That's what I always use as an excuse for Chang's melodramatic ranting. He isn't really a crazed sadist who enjoys killing his victims piecemeal even if this means risking the total collapsing of his great plans. He just plays one over the comm lines, to hide the fact that his only weapon is a peashooter capable of nothing more than piecemeal damage.

And there's also the case here the Equinox matches Voyager's shield frequencies and hits it with two different photon torpedoes, somehow failing to destroy it with either shot.
Neither before nor after Burke's mutiny did the Equinox pursue a campaign of actually wanting to destroy the Voyager. Burke himself just wanted to escape Janeway into a nebula moments before firing those torpedoes through her shields. So, disabling shots are a distinct possibility once again.

That, of course, begs the inevitable question of just how it is that a physical projectile powered by an impulse engine is supposed to be able to match a shield frequency. How does that even work?
That's quite a mystery, but probably related to how shuttlecraft pass through air-containing forcefields.

Have we ever seen something "passive" (like a villain?) thrown through an atmosphere containment forcefield? Or can we continue to postulate that this trick requires at least a special transponder aboard the departing object, and probably some sort of intricate shield-shield interaction, in addition to brute physical force?

Sulu isn't the one who says "too late" though. That's Spock, who is sharp enough to understand what the approaching torpedo signifies.
Oops, my bad.

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Old December 29 2012, 10:34 PM   #22
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Early on, I thought of photon torpedoes as rather like ball lightning. That they were drawn towards other ships without needing any guidance at all. By layering fields of different energies, you could give them different properties with no moving parts.

Here you have a new kind of magnetism
http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...d-of-magnetism

Here you have motion control with a laser.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/las...-graphite.html

So you have a wrapped form of energy, or perhaps anti-matter. This becomes entangled like a large romulan plasma torpedo in another ships field after a safe time has elapsed.

it is emitted from the lower dome and perhaps rides an invisible beam if need be.

An all energy TOW missile.
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Old December 29 2012, 10:53 PM   #23
Timo
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

it is emitted from the lower dome
Well, it is "fired" from a "tube".

Plus, the torpedoes being fired, or possibly the tubes involved in the firing, are numbered - 2, 4 and 6 are fired in "Journey to Babel" while 2 is selected in "The Changeling".

If we're talking about wrapped energy, then giving numbers to the torpedoes makes little sense: they will only come to existence at the moment of firing, gaining their number no earlier than that, and so there won't be an obvious way of firing 2, 4 and 6 while leaving 1, 3 and 5 unfired. On the other hand, if these are tube numbers rather than projectile numbers (as submarine analogies would suggest, and better explaining Kirk's odd desire to skip odd numbers), then it doesn't matter whether the projectiles being fired are physical bullets or energy wraps.

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Old December 30 2012, 12:05 AM   #24
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post
The fireball effect propagates too quickly and is too brief for it to have been that; at the scales we're talking, the blast wave would have traveled at something like forty times the speed of sound, spread to an area sixty kilometers wide, then dissipated immediately without leaving any visible long-term effects.
Nothing wrong with forty times the speed of sound as such; speed would just be a function of explosive yield
Shockwaves do not work that way. The speed of sound in a medium is determinate; adding more energy to the wave won't increase its speed, just its amplitude and propagation distance.

OTOH, it was targeted against a shuttlecraft, not a city. How many megatons does it really take to demolish a thirty foot shuttlecraft?
Considering that the danger of collateral damage was less than zero (that is, if any bystanders were killed, everybody would be very, very grateful, including said casualty!), overkill sounds preferable here.
You're very glib about this, but it's incomprehensible that Picard -- especially Season 1 Picard -- would have intentionally nuked Armus with a maximum yield photon torpedo, no matter how pissed he was about Tasha.

Kruge's torpedo doesn't seem to be all that similar to photon torpedoes
True, but it DID destroy the Grissom with just one shot. Indication that the ability to destroy an entire starship doesn't necessarily (or even usually) indicate explosive yield.

But unshielded ships being just one very light misstep away from blowing up is certainly a valid concept, reinforced by the likes of "Cause and Effect". Doesn't undermine the idea that shielded ships can shrug off multiple torps in basically all situations.
It also doesn't change the fact that UNSHIELDED ones often do this as well.

a) Real Starfleet would fire low yield torps if intending to do light damage in support of boarding action...
That again assumes a one-shot-kill is even possible. I don't think it is.

Neither before nor after Burke's mutiny did the Equinox pursue a campaign of actually wanting to destroy the Voyager. Burke himself just wanted to escape Janeway into a nebula moments before firing those torpedoes through her shields. So, disabling shots are a distinct possibility once again.
Which is another EXCUSE for why torpedoes are never ever fired at their maximum yield. Why should we continue to assume they even HAVE a higher setting, when even TOS suggests that antimatter explosives would produce HUGELY larger reactions than photon torpedoes are capable of?

Have we ever seen something "passive" (like a villain?) thrown through an atmosphere containment forcefield? Or can we continue to postulate that this trick requires at least a special transponder aboard the departing object, and probably some sort of intricate shield-shield interaction, in addition to brute physical force?
Either way, we know that shuttlecraft can't pass through deflector shields, though properly tuned photon torpedoes can. Incidentally, we also know that phaser beams can pass through shields (on the way out, at least) so it leads me to consider even more than photon torpedoes are largely a-physical and can be "modulated" to pass through energy fields without interacting with them.
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Old December 30 2012, 12:18 AM   #25
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

publiusr wrote: View Post
Early on, I thought of photon torpedoes as rather like ball lightning. That they were drawn towards other ships without needing any guidance at all. By layering fields of different energies, you could give them different properties with no moving parts.

Here you have a new kind of magnetism
http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/1...d-of-magnetism

Here you have motion control with a laser.
http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/las...-graphite.html

So you have a wrapped form of energy, or perhaps anti-matter. This becomes entangled like a large romulan plasma torpedo in another ships field after a safe time has elapsed.

it is emitted from the lower dome and perhaps rides an invisible beam if need be.

An all energy TOW missile.
That sort of makes sense, to an extent. It explains the fireball effect at least, since the torpedo is a bolt of energy being externally guided. The "chiclet of death" sitting in the tube could, in that case, be a sort of "cable unit" that both generates and controls the photon torpedo through quantum entanglement or some such, adding or removing kinetic energy in one direction or another.

Though I'm grappling with the possibility that the casing itself is just a battery for what is essentially a weaponized shield generator. Turn up the shields high enough and they won't just repel things that touch them, they could smash/superheat those objects while also accelerating them away from it at fantastic speeds.

Basically, an explosion in a can. I'm just on the fence right now whether or not such a forcefield would actually require a physical object at the center of it or if that object could be left behind in the tube as an expendable (potentially rechargeable/regeneratable) cartridge. Considering that torpedo tubes more often are used like cannons than missile launchers, the latter seems more likely.
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Old December 30 2012, 12:35 AM   #26
Timo
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Shockwaves do not work that way.
At some point, it would cease to be a shockwave issue and would simply become an issue of an irresistible force moving matter against basically no resistance at all. I doubt it's the medium we see in motion: it's ejecta, which can freely do Mach 40, or 25% lightspeed for all we care, and the atmospheric medium (if any remains) be damned.

it's incomprehensible that Picard -- especially Season 1 Picard -- would have intentionally nuked Armus
How so? That would have been a good deed if there ever was one; letting Armus live would have been punishment (which Picard appeared to want to inflict on the creature, rather sadistically, when he beamed away), letting it die would have been a service (something the Picard we know and love would have come around to providing, after he got past his initial senseless anger). It's just that Picard seemed to realize that Armus had real difficulty getting itself killed, and that even a demolition-level photon torpedo might not suffice for the task. We have no indication that Armus would have been killed - but no indication that it would not have been, and no indication whatsoever that our heroes would have tried to avoid killing it.

Indication that the ability to destroy an entire starship doesn't necessarily (or even usually) indicate explosive yield.
I'd rule out the "usually" part, because Kruge seemed so utterly confident that destruction would not be the result in either of the cases. Both when he wanted to avoid destruction but got it anyway (Grissom), and when he desperately wanted destruction but was resigned to the fact that he could not get it (Enterprise). This was an exceptional weapon, applied differently from its Starfleet counterparts.

UNSHIELDED ones often do this as well.
There is no unshielded ship that would have survived a Starfleet photon torpedo hit. That the green Klingon BoP weapons twice failed to decisively hurt the Enterprise (ST3&5) only speaks of the special qualities of that type of weapon; that the red "fake" torpedo scored a penetrating rather than devastating hit against the ultimately unshielded hero ship in ST6 can be chalked off as a case of "Derringer", but could just as well simply be a case of "dud".

Why should we continue to assume they even HAVE a higher setting, when even TOS suggests that antimatter explosives would produce HUGELY larger reactions than photon torpedoes are capable of?
Because immobile targets are invariably destroyed. And very impressively so, in planetary bombardment situations. The very short barrage in "The Die is Cast" does rather full justice to the idea that these are true doomsday weapons, providing a single unopposed starship with the power to terminate a world.

Which then prompts the obvious question of why such bombardment is so seldom seen. But we can't blame it on weapons technology limitations when we aren't through considering strategy or bushido rules yet.

we know that shuttlecraft can't pass through deflector shields
Sure they can, with a bit of trickery ("Preemptive Strike"). It may even be the very same trickery: even though Lieutenant Ro wasn't heavy on the technobabble, her co-insurgents (not just the gullible Kalita, but also the supposedly more combat-savvy Santos) seemed to buy her every word about sailing through shields, indicating it wasn't just pure bluff but actually based on the realities of starship combat.

A shuttle flying through an air-holding field is a gentle application; a projectile barging through a combat shield might just call for a bit less finesse and a lot more power. Since forcefields tend to exhibit a glow, and torps glow in flight, perhaps what we're seeing is a "counterfield" in action? Could be glow from rather poorly shielded warp engines or somesuch, of course, but why deliberately shield poorly when a less brightly shining torpedo would be tactically advantageous, and when Starfleet never is suggested to be a cheapskate when it comes to expendable technologies...?

Considering that torpedo tubes more often are used like cannons than missile launchers, the latter seems more likely.
Well, for TNG, the matter is unambiguous: after firing, the torpedo that corkscrews across space is still a physical object that you can go reel back in if you really want to ("Genesis").

The same projectile shape behaves the same way when used as a high-warp courier capsule or a no-propulsion burial box: you spit it out, and it does its stuff without evaporating or turning into a forcefield-based pair of petunias or anything.

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Old December 30 2012, 06:40 AM   #27
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post
Shockwaves do not work that way.
At some point, it would cease to be a shockwave issue and would simply become an issue of an irresistible force moving matter against basically no resistance at all. I doubt it's the medium we see in motion: it's ejecta
The fireball is MUCH too small for that; an ejecta plume moving at that speed wouldn't slow down or dissipate in anything less a handful of minutes and would expand to several tens of times the size we see in the episode before it ceased to be visible. The plume itself would deposit a fair amount of material in orbit and scatter the rest over tens or hundreds of kilometers; the molten crater it would leave would be at least as visible as the explosion itself.

It's just a matter of scale. Explosions that occur with that much energy and on that large a scale DO NOT occur that quickly. It's just a lot more likely that we're seeing something that LOOKS kind of big even though it really isn't.

How so? That would have been a good deed if there ever was one
And massively out of character for Picard, or for Starfleet itself for that matter. These are supposed to be the "highly evolved sensibility" humans that Gene Rodenberry had a hardon for in his latter years; these are NOT people who are going to be heard saying "We should just nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

There is no unshielded ship that would have survived a Starfleet photon torpedo hit.
You are fully aware that there are more EXCEPTIONS to the rule than actual proofs, and is therefore not an applicable rule.

we know that shuttlecraft can't pass through deflector shields
Sure they can, with a bit of trickery ("Preemptive Strike").[/quote]
A "bit of trickery" in this case is "Get the tactical officer to weaken the shields so you can get through." Doesn't count against the trend.

Since forcefields tend to exhibit a glow, and torps glow in flight, perhaps what we're seeing is a "counterfield" in action?
Doesn't fit; the glow is still present even when shooting at things that DON'T have shields (where there would be no need for a "counterfield." That glow is a distinctive feature of the torpedo itself and I think we should treat it as suggestive of something about how the weapon fundamentally works, not just an interesting feature tacked on because it would explain things.

The same projectile shape behaves the same way when used as a high-warp courier capsule or a no-propulsion burial box: you spit it out, and it does its stuff without evaporating or turning into a forcefield-based pair of petunias or anything.
And yet in its non-weaponized use, torpedoes do not glow like fireballs.

Tellingly, neither do science probes, which really shouldn't be the case since technically the only difference between a probe and a torpedo is (supposedly) their payload. One has a sensor, the other has a warhead. The fact that they look completely different -- more importantly, the fact that Starfleet no longer uses weapons that resemble probes -- suggests that there's some fundamental difference between photon torpedoes and any other projectile weapon in existence. They CAN'T be simply jazzed-up guided missiles, nor can we attribute the difference to the warheds alone (again, a 22nd century spatial torpedo could be photonic, in that case, just by swapping out the warhead).

I'm leaning towards Publiusr's "ball lighting" idea, among others. Even if the casing is part of the weapon itself (it may not always be) that would mean a concentration of fantastic amounts of energy, encapsulated in a self-cohesive mass and then hurled at the enemy where it will theoretically be released on contact.
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Old December 30 2012, 01:13 PM   #28
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Explosions that occur with that much energy and on that large a scale DO NOT occur that quickly.
And nothing will ever look like a gasoline explosion several degrees of latitude wide. Except in Star Trek.

Perhaps we are seeing the events in fast motion, much like we might be seeing most of the space battles in slow motion?

And massively out of character for Picard, or for Starfleet itself for that matter.
Again, how so? Our Starfleet heroes engage in mercy killings often enough, and typically without comment - except when it's Worf attempting the same, of course. And the typical TOS plotline had Kirk ultimately destroying the evil space monster, even if said monster knew how to speak English and could parse together an argument. Our heroes are killers by profession, on a mission to seek and destroy new life and civilizations unless those conform to certain narrow norms.

You are fully aware that there are more EXCEPTIONS to the rule than actual proofs, and is therefore not an applicable rule.
No, I'm not. In fact, I'm not aware of even a single exception to the absolute rule that unshielded ships inevitably die of Starfleet torpedo impact.

Torpedoes penetrating through weakened shields are witnessed on occasion. But AFAIK, there are exactly zero hits against actually unshielded targets, and the rule in fact is missing even the one exception that conventional wisdom requires for proof...

A "bit of trickery" in this case is "Get the tactical officer to weaken the shields so you can get through."
This is still supposed to "look like" something else altogether, something that can plausibly take place without direct help from Worf. The Maquis swallow it hook, line, sinker, rod and boat; even our heroes appear to think it's an impressive feat achieved by Ro thanks to her new training, not just something Worf made possible with a keypress. For all we know, when Picard says "Let it through", Worf merely refrains from doing anything; Data later establishes that the vessel has "penetrated our shields", not that it was "let in through our shields".

That glow is a distinctive feature of the torpedo itself and I think we should treat it as suggestive of something about how the weapon fundamentally works, not just an interesting feature tacked on because it would explain things.
The two aren't really different: how the weapon fundamentally works is certainly an interesting feature that is tacked on purely for dramatic purposes.

And yet in its non-weaponized use, torpedoes do not glow like fireballs.
Which makes it sound all the more as if the glow is a fighting function, something "interesting" that is "tacked on" for a special purpose but can easily be left out as well.

technically the only difference between a probe and a torpedo is (supposedly) their payload.
Actually, in TNG at least, the two behave completely differently from the technical viewpoint. The probes always exhibit significant acceleration after sailing out of the tube, and this involves an oddly pulsating glow resembling the blast of a cheap fireworks rocket. Never mind the payload, the propulsion system appears fundamentally different, or at least is staged very differently from that of a torpedo.

Perhaps the prominent arching wings of the TNG probe are Vulcan-style warp engines that allow the probe to accelerate to high warp on its own once clear of the ship, explaining the many cases of long range probe study by instruments fired from a starship at standstill? And perhaps the classic torpedo has no comparable propulsion system and indeed works much like the backstage doubletalk suggests, with "handoff" fields that die out eventually and cannot be restarted.

They CAN'T be simply jazzed-up guided missiles
Why not? I don't see any reason to think otherwise. They just look a bit different from certain other guided missiles - exactly like certain UAVs today look like ancient guided missiles while their destructive counterparts have evolved into more modern shapes, with key differences in propulsion but still without any sort of fundamental change that would justify not calling them jazzed-up guided missiles.

Or, to cut through the triple negatives, a torpedo in most incarnations of Star Trek is undeniably is a projectile that leaves the launching tube the way submarines spit out torpedoes today, and reaches the destination in projectile form after guided flight involving maneuvering. What happens at the destination is unclear, although antimatter annihilation is suggested; what happens en route looks colorful and interesting, but does not alter the basic nature of the weapon as a projectile delivered from A to B.

Whether TOS weapons are different is anybody's guess; in theory, TOS could represent an interlude, and things like projectile-type photon torpedoes and dilithium-focus warp cores might be briefly absent. But interludes, while interesting as a concept, are not dictated by the evidence. To the contrary, we occasionally hear statements about the static nature of Treknology (impulse drives remaining the same for centuries, phasers being invented in/after the 22nd century already), perhaps indicating that mankind in fact invents very little and instead inherits ancient ideas and technologies from older cultures - along with the principle of keeping those technologies alive and backward compatible (down to details like photon torpedo caliber) for centuries.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old December 30 2012, 09:04 PM   #29
publiusr
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post

we know that shuttlecraft can't pass through deflector shields
Sure they can, with a bit of trickery

Timo Saloniemi
We saw that in best of both worlds--but perhaps that was just an anti-transporter field, similar to the bridge field we see in ST II before the shields proper could be raised.


Personally, when I was watching TOS, I never even thought of the photon torpedo as having anti-matter in it. I figured that would be too powerful an armament to be allowed even on the battlefield after seeing the planet's atmosphere partially blown away in "Obsession." Heck, I even--being a child of the Cold War--thought of ( I didn't know the term drones) interstellar ballistic missiles between the Klingons and UFP.

Here I would suggest that we take (at least most of the antimatter) out of the equation
Here is a PDF that has a stunning photo you may wish to look at:

http://www.deas.harvard.edu/haulab/p...slow_light.pdf
http://weirdthings.com/2011/01/futur...s-are-awesome/

When watching Star Wars, I often wondered why the superlaser beams came to a point and did not cross one another. I figured there was some type of lens too small for the eye to see.

A decade or two later, they come up with a Bose Einstein Condensate.

Now we hear of Tibanna gas, and how the blaster bolts from star wars are really not as fast as the real thing from Wicked Lasers. So my guess is that the blaser doesn't fire a laser beam--but fires a gas laser apparatus itself. A bolt of this gas wrapped somehow. The laser bean is bouncing inside a bolt of gas--then when this tibanna condensate hits, it discharges the laser bouncing back and forth directly into what it hits.

I would submit the photon torpedo does this too, but has better field manip' and maybe the BEC has just a hair of anti-matter for some reason. This explains why the phasers and photon torpedoes come from the lower sensor dome. it is one big emitter and does the wrapping all in that lower crystal dome somehow. Heck in Starfleet prototypes, they even have the back-up phaser above the tube--just the thing to explain the TNG Darmok episode..

For stun, you have this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolaser

Last edited by publiusr; December 30 2012 at 09:29 PM.
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Old December 30 2012, 10:09 PM   #30
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Caseless Torpedoes

Timo wrote: View Post
Again, how so? Our Starfleet heroes engage in mercy killings often enough
No they don't.

I'm not aware of even a single exception to the absolute rule that unshielded ships inevitably die of Starfleet torpedo impact.
Off the top of my head:

Reliant firing on Enterprise (TWOK)
Enterprise firing on Reliant ... twice (TWOK)
Enterprise firing on Kruge's bird of prey... twice (TSFS)
Enterprise and Excelsior firing on Chang's bop, destroyed with FIVE torpedoes (TUC)
Equinox firing on Voyager (Eq Pt-II)
Voyager firing on Equinox (Eq Pt-II)
Chang firing on Gorkon's ship actually counts too, since Qo'nos-1's failure to immediately explode after two torpedo hits didn't strike anyone as odd (Kirk, obviously, wouldn't have expected the unshielded cruiser to blow up after one or even two torpedoes).

AFAIK, there are exactly zero hits against actually unshielded targets
See above.

This is still supposed to "look like" something else altogether, something that can plausibly take place without direct help from Worf. The Maquis swallow it hook, line, sinker, rod and boat
That's because they're the Maquis. What do THEY know about Starfleet shields?

The two aren't really different: how the weapon fundamentally works is certainly an interesting feature that is tacked on purely for dramatic purposes.
In this case, it's the difference between "The guns shoot laser beams" and "The guns shoot bullets." Maybe for the purpose of scriptwriting these might as well be interchangeable, but this is Trek Tech, not the copyeditor's nitpick forum.

Which makes it sound all the more as if the glow is a fighting function, something "interesting" that is "tacked on" for a special purpose but can easily be left out as well.
The thing is, leaving it out renders the torpedo useless (or at least highly ineffective) as a weapon. That tells me that the glow ITSELF is relevant part of the weapon.

Put another way: a broomhandle has lots of things in common with a spear, but a boomhandle doesn't become a spear unless you put something sharp and pointy at the end of it. By the same token, a probe/missile/torpedo doesn't become a PHOTON torpedo without that distinctive glow.

technically the only difference between a probe and a torpedo is (supposedly) their payload.
Actually, in TNG at least, the two behave completely differently from the technical viewpoint. The probes always exhibit significant acceleration after sailing out of the tube, and this involves an oddly pulsating glow resembling the blast of a cheap fireworks rocket. Never mind the payload, the propulsion system appears fundamentally different, or at least is staged very differently from that of a torpedo.
Which is the main reason I believe the photon torpedo casing isn't part of the actual weapon. It seems to me the energy bolt itself is being accelerated out of the tube where it travels at a constant velocity all the way to its target. The casing, in this case, would be a bit like a shotgun cartridge that generates the initial energy bolt in the first place.

They CAN'T be simply jazzed-up guided missiles
Why not?
Because jazzed-up guided missiles look like this. Or like this. Or sometimes like this.

The glow from a photon torpedo is inconsistent with a standard exhaust plume, even from what is necessarily a torpedo-sized device. This suggests the glow is more than just "really bright light from engine." It may, in fact, be the only important thing about photon torpedoes at all.

Spot the difference: this is a photon torpedo. This is not a photon torpedo. Even if they had identical explosive yields, even if they used the same warheads, it seems clear that they would still be two entirely different weapons.

More importantly, look at the cap of the actual photorp. Perspective may be screwing with us here, but the circular part of the glow is too small to hide the actual casing; in fact, it's not much bigger than one of the windows on the neck of the ship. At this scale, IF the entire torpedo casing had been fired, it would be plainly visible riding in front of the fireball (it would actually be pretty hard to miss). We're not seeing it here, nor the front angle shot where the casing should be right in front of the tube and is large enough that it should actually eclipse most of the glow anyway. It's more likely that a small energy projectile has been launched FROM the casing with a small amount of guidance on the way out. This would explain why the spherical part of the torpedo has about same diameter as the casing -- just two or three feet across -- but is not be nearly as long and is otherwise completely non-physical.

Furthermore: we only ever see the torpedo deck crew load a single tube into the launcher, and yet Enterprise fires TWICE from the same tube in considerably less time than it would take for them to lower and reload that tube. The same thing happens in TUC, where Enterprise is able to fire from BOTH tubes on Chang's bird of prey, apparently without having to reload its tubes. This leads us to wonder that perhaps a single torpedo casing can fire multiple times (if only just twice) before it is exhausted?
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Last edited by Crazy Eddie; December 30 2012 at 10:22 PM.
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