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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old January 16 2013, 09:53 PM   #1
Flake
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Lethal exposure to radiation

So in Booby Trap and Final Mission the Enterprise is bombarded with radiation. The obligatory countdown clock is added to the episode to increase tension and as always the crew fix things just in the nick of time - seconds to spare.

Only...

With radiation poisoning, surely they should be on the floor rolling around in agony and bleeding from every orifice by that point and face months of rehabilitation as 24th century medicine regenerates their body?

Assuming the countdown was missed and they got exposed to the lethal amount, do they just drop dead at zero? Or the week after? Or what...?

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Old January 16 2013, 10:29 PM   #2
DonIago
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

I think it's a tv show...
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Old January 16 2013, 11:19 PM   #3
Melakon
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

Beverly was really handy with a hypo.
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Old January 16 2013, 11:21 PM   #4
R. Star
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

Yeah, she "cures" them from radiation a lot with those hypos. Does she have one that like... prevents fire from burning you too?
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Old January 17 2013, 12:18 AM   #5
Trekker4747
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

It's possible radiation treatments in Trek's time is pretty advanced. Besides "lethal exposure" doesn't mean "time at which you die" it means "time at which we can't do anything for you."
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Old January 17 2013, 12:49 AM   #6
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

^Yep, the enviromental systems might have had Hyronalin mixed into the atmosphere, or the crew where injected with it by medical staff to help fight against it.

Besides where would the drama be without the "Exact Time to Failure"?
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Old January 17 2013, 02:24 PM   #7
MikeS
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
Besides "lethal exposure" doesn't mean "time at which you die" it means "time at which we can't do anything for you."
This.
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Old January 17 2013, 07:51 PM   #8
Dale Sams
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

What was that great nitpick book? I always found it funny that the author was also famous for a music notation program he wrote.
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Old January 17 2013, 08:12 PM   #9
Trekker4747
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

Nitpickers Guide(s) by Phil Farrand. He did two guides for TNG, including the entire series and Generations. A book for TOS, including all six movies, and partial book for DS9. I believe no further books were made because in the mid 1990s some companies were kitting skittish about unauthorized books prompting law-suits, even though the Guides were protected by Fair Use the publisher was still uneasy.
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Old January 17 2013, 10:04 PM   #10
Mojochi
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

MikeS wrote: View Post
Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
It's possible radiation treatments in Trek's time is pretty advanced. Besides "lethal exposure" doesn't mean "time at which you die" it means "time at which we can't do anything for you."
This.
And this
MacLeod wrote: View Post
^Yep, the enviromental systems might have had Hyronalin mixed into the atmosphere, or the crew where injected with it by medical staff to help fight against it.

Besides where would the drama be without the "Exact Time to Failure"?
The environmental systems were always compensating for things in episodes. So much so, that they may have not even bothered to mention it on occasion. I'll have to pay more attention to when they do & don't from now on
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Old January 18 2013, 07:46 AM   #11
Minuet
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

This is an issue as well in "Final Mission," where the Enterprise is towing the radioactive garbage scow. The computer is counting down "lethal exposure in five seconds!" and in the nick of time the scow is released into the sun.

The way I rationalize it is this: the countdown specifically refers to the point in which hyronalin ceases to work. It's possible that hyronalin can only compensate for radiation damage up to a certain point, and then its efficacy drops very sharply. After this point, the chance of serious, lethal damage skyrockets. It's not certain that exposure will be lethal after that point, but every second or so past that point, the chance of lethal exposure rises exponentially. If the countdown hit zero, you'd start seeing everyone getting a spectacular tan, and then the usual radiation poisoning symptoms you are probably familiar with.

I have no idea how something like hyronalin works, but we barely even know how radiation damage works in the first place, at least yet. If the damage isn't instantaneous, but due to deadly by-products (like free radicals) formed by the radiation, it's possible that hyronalin could some how clean those out. There's of course a point where the damage would approach instantaneous, and hyronalin would simply be too slow. Then, of course, you'd need really, really fast nanites.

Or, you know, metaphasic shielding. That probably would have helped.
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Old January 18 2013, 03:06 PM   #12
Timo
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

One possible way for Hyronalyn to work is to inhibit those cellular processes in which radiation might create harmful mutations; essentially, it puts the cells to sleep so that even if there is damage, it doesn't get propagated since the cells aren't dividing. There would then be a limit to how long you can keep the cells from doing their work until the cure becomes worse than the disease.

On the other hand, or in addition, Hyronalyn might perform cellular culling and/or repair, at a rate that can compensate for certain levels of radiation exposure but not for others.

But we know that at least 24th century medicine, and perhaps also its Kirk-era equivalent, can utterly defeat radiation damage simply by rewriting the entire genome of the patient. We see medical miracles like this in "Identity Crisis" and "Genesis", but also in subtler cases. It seems this is chiefly done by something you can inject with a hypospray. Wouldn't seem out of the question at all that Starfleet employees could indeed be radiation-proofed by additives in their breathing air or food or drink. Since "Genesis" basically involves a cure like this running amok, there may be limitations to how much curing the additives are allowed to do before they become too dangerous...

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Old January 19 2013, 01:17 AM   #13
SchwEnt
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

But still... nothing prior to the lethal exposure point?

No sickness, no symptoms, no effect at all until

BAM!! LETHAL EXPOSURE !!

Now you're dead.

It is really that black-and-white?

Was the radiation propagating like a ray of light across the hull, where you're okay in the darkness and you're dead when the light hits you? Was it like the baryon sweep?
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Old January 19 2013, 01:56 AM   #14
Trekker4747
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

No. It's, "here, this medication can protect you from radiation for x-hours. After that there's nothing that can be done and you'll begin absorbing the radiation and feeling the effects of it, after which you'll be dead within a day."

It wasn't a countdown to death it was a countdown to the time when there's nothing that can be done medically to protect you from the radiation exposure.

Doctors in hospitals wear a little pin called a dosimeter. It's basically a piece of film that changes color depending on how much radiation exposure it (and thus the wearer) has while wearing it. So a doctor accidentally walks into a room while an X-Ray is on and the thing changes color a little bit, telling the doctor he's been exposed to radiation so he knows to either get treatment or be careful as his body recovers from the exposure.

But say he walks in on, I dunno, the room where the CAT machine is and explodes or something. The dosimeter goes, "Holy FUCK!" and shows whatever represents lethal exposure. This tells the doctor he got a heavy dose of radiation and that he's fucked. He doesn't die right away, he just knows that his death is imminent from the lethal exposure. The dosimeter being more vulnerable and quicker to reveal the exposure than the cells in his body are to start failing and cause sickness.

That's what the "countdown" is. It's the Enterprise's dosimeter. It's not counting down to death it's counting down to "point where there's nothing we can do." Hell, I don't think there's ANY level of radiation exposure that causes instant death, maybe at most it'd be in the terms of hours. But not instant.

During the episode Crusher was doing what she could do to stay off the radiation effects. (Whatever drugs/methods that may be.) Afterwards there may be things she can do to reverse the damage. The computer was counting down to the point where medical science simply couldn't do anything for you, you've been exposed to too much, get your affairs in order.
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Old January 19 2013, 04:42 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Lethal exposure to radiation

Also, "lethal exposure" is probably given in statistical terms, with the weakest in mind. Lucky individuals would still be fine perhaps hours past the lethal exposure milestone, and even average Joes would probably not be in danger at the indicated moment yet, but the alert would be tailored so that even the particularly unlucky would get their due warning before they were beyond rescue.

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