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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

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

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Old August 28 2012, 03:17 AM   #16
C.E. Evans
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

But when those go critical, they can immediately toss the phaser like a grenade.
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Old August 28 2012, 03:19 AM   #17
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Silversmok3 wrote: View Post
The problem with body armor is that it exacts a toll on the user. The more effective the armor, the harder it is for the wearer to adapt. Kevlar body armor weighs a lot and is far from breathable, so spending 8 hours wearing a 20lb vest can get quite tiring. Body armor capable of stopping rifle fire is oppressively heavy to wear, and a careful shooter can still exact a lethal injury by aiming for the head , groin,or armpit.

In the Trek verse of things, the situation is compounded because of the power requirements of an energy field. Making a nifty Stargate-type Goa'ould personal energy field means building a power source small enough to be portable, which would be tantamount to running around with a small power plant attached to your belt. I'd hate to be that guy if the power cell is damaged in battle -or if it overloads and goes boom!
We don't know how cumbersome Star Fleet security armor is. We don't know if it is weight equivalent to modern day Kevlar. And with super treknology, we might even assume it's much lighter and much more effective than any kind of real-world body armor.

I also agree that if this super security armor had power requirements, it wouldn't be more than a phaser power pack, which is to say quite small.

If the security armor was designed to be effective against Trekverse weaponry (disruptors/phasers) then the pinpoint lethal injury possibility seems diminished.

ST phaser-type weaponry seems to be broadly targeted against personnel, man-sized targets. I assume it's possible, but we didn't see pinpoint phasers targeting headshots or shooting legs out. Maybe it was solely the visual effects, but phaser beams seemed much broader attacking effect versus our millimeter-sized projectiles.
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Old August 28 2012, 05:52 AM   #18
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

In Sondra Marshak and Myrna Colbreath's 1983 novel Triangle, the authors incorporated a plot wherein Kirk and a landing party beamed down to a jungle planet wearing some kind of gear that gave them the itchies if a hostile being/animal tried to sneak up on them. In essence, it gave the landing party eyes in the backs of their heads. I thought it was a great idea, far better than seeing Enterprise crew wear some silly armor or try to scan with a tricorder while brandishing a phaser. Of course, this kind of technology would be difficult to illustrate in live-action drama like a TV series or a movie, but if someone showed some imagination and came up with some innovative way to illustrate this kind of defense tech in operation, it could prove very useful for these kinds of stories and would cleverly compliment the Federation defense philosophy. A shame TNG never explored this.
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Old August 28 2012, 06:29 AM   #19
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Regarding the value of "partial protection", the TAS belts would seem to offer just that: protection from weather only. They seem to be the ultimate in that, really: they're likely to deflect anything from dust storms to heavy rain to poison clouds to scorching sun. Plus they serve as spacesuits in benign environments! No doubt this is something the user is willing to pay for, the price apparently only being the weight of the belt (or the even more compact buckle thing we see in TMP - easily thrown away if the power source starts to misbehave, BTW!) plus the annoying glow that reduces combat value by preempting all attempts at stealth.

It's difficult to see why such a thing would be ditched after TMP. Although arguably all the necessary hardware could have been stored in one of those big pockets of the later TOS movie parkas, or even sewn in.

In combat terms, though, there seems to be something horridly wrong with future technologies or materials, and not just in terms of "full protection". The extensive and cumbersome Klingon armor does nothing to stop even the feeblest "partial threats"; the Cardassian whole-body armor sucks as well, its darkest hour probably being "Indiscretion" where it fails to protect Dukat's bottom from a sharp stone!

In contrast, the innocuous-looking coveralls worn by Starfleet ground troopers seem to hide a trick or two, as we see from the layered charring on Lieutenant Burke in "Nor the Battle". He nearly survived a disruptor blast right in the chest! I'd be willing to believe those coveralls have all sorts of "partial protection" abilities as well, being good against cold, heat, rain, knives etc. (since in contrast with the Klingon and Cardassian costumes, the coveralls have not yet demonstrated shortcomings in an episode or a movie). Alas, there's no associated headgear.

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Old August 28 2012, 08:27 AM   #20
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Silversmok3 wrote: View Post
The problem with body armor is that it exacts a toll on the user. The more effective the armor, the harder it is for the wearer to adapt. Kevlar body armor weighs a lot and is far from breathable, so spending 8 hours wearing a 20lb vest can get quite tiring. Body armor capable of stopping rifle fire is oppressively heavy to wear, and a careful shooter can still exact a lethal injury by aiming for the head , groin,or armpit.

In the Trek verse of things, the situation is compounded because of the power requirements of an energy field. Making a nifty Stargate-type Goa'ould personal energy field means building a power source small enough to be portable, which would be tantamount to running around with a small power plant attached to your belt. I'd hate to be that guy if the power cell is damaged in battle -or if it overloads and goes boom!
Except that we have viable synthetic materials in real life that are much lighter and could serve as a substitute to 'heavy' Kevlar suits.
Furthermore, a piece of clothing doesn't have to be 'thick' in order to be warm.
Various metamaterials in real life and others can be used to create clothing that changes/adapts to the user body and 'breathes' but also provides ample protection against the elements.
The only reason we don't mass produce them is because of fictional notions of 'costs' (which have 0 to do with the actual resources or technical capability in doing something).
Since Humans in Trek have discarded money (and 'cost'), they simply create the uniform out of the best synthetic materials at their disposal with highest efficiency in mind (or at least, that's how they SHOULD be doing it - budget problems prevent this kind of thing actually being shown).

Granted, SF uniforms in that case would have been made to dissipate directed energy weapons (mostly) - but I would surmise that Trek writers (as dumb as they were) wanted to keep things simple (and as a result, completely shot Trek's technological credibility - not to mention social evolution - out of the airlock).
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Old August 31 2012, 04:50 PM   #21
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Most crew members don't expect to be fired upon while walking the corridors of the Enterprise, but occasionally it does happen. And Armor is uncomfortable to wear, I don't think most crew are going to want to wear it if they have reasonable expectations of safety.
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Old September 1 2012, 01:11 AM   #22
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Onboard your own ship is obviously the least likely place to be shot and disabled/killed. I don't think any large percentage of the crew would wear armor - even ship's security is gonna be pretty lightly equipped. They're more like MPs than infantry.

It remains a good idea to keep armor in stock. The people you send down to an uncharted planet could be headed into a warzone or an ambush for all you know. And in the event your ship is boarded by armed belligerents, you can minimize your own casualties by issuing the good stuff to your security personnel.
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Old September 1 2012, 03:19 PM   #23
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

...Plus, it's dramatically good to have a scene in the armory where weapons and other gear get distributed to the crew in anticipation of hostilities. Visible armor nicely demarcates the transition from "peace" to "war".

I'd still much prefer to see belts or harnesses that erect protective forcefields than physical jackets of armor. The latter may be more "realistic", but this only drives home the point that no real physical armor can stop a bullet from killing you if the bullet is designed to do that: even if the flak jacket prevents penetration, it receives the kinetic energy and that ultimately pulps the wearer.

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Old September 1 2012, 05:07 PM   #24
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Timo wrote: View Post
...Plus, it's dramatically good to have a scene in the armory where weapons and other gear get distributed to the crew in anticipation of hostilities. Visible armor nicely demarcates the transition from "peace" to "war".

I'd still much prefer to see belts or harnesses that erect protective forcefields than physical jackets of armor. The latter may be more "realistic", but this only drives home the point that no real physical armor can stop a bullet from killing you if the bullet is designed to do that: even if the flak jacket prevents penetration, it receives the kinetic energy and that ultimately pulps the wearer.

Timo Saloniemi
If it was something like powered armor with an exoskeleton strong enough to support heavy armor, then it probably could stop a bullet. Of course bullets can get bigger to penetrate those. Personal deflector shields might make it hard to walk as then you feet could not make contact with the ground or floor.
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Old September 1 2012, 11:47 PM   #25
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Well there are times when it is illogical for the armor to be missing.

In ENT, when all weapons are weaker we should have seen more armor. If an Augment can withstand being shot at, then armor can do the same. Also where has all the headgear gone?

I agree with the idea, that if a weapon does not disintegrate a person, then armor should offer at least some kind of protection. And the Federation ought to care about the health of its people.

I also question, why doesn't the security personal use some kind of riot gear?
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Old September 2 2012, 12:08 AM   #26
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Hando wrote: View Post
Well there are times when it is illogical for the armor to be missing.

In ENT, when all weapons are weaker we should have seen more armor. If an Augment can withstand being shot at, then armor can do the same. Also where has all the headgear gone?

I agree with the idea, that if a weapon does not disintegrate a person, then armor should offer at least some kind of protection. And the Federation ought to care about the health of its people.

I also question, why doesn't the security personal use some kind of riot gear?
They did in TFF. Shields and assault phasers and all that.

OTOH, it's been overlooked that Klingons wear full body armor everywhere, in every case, all the time. Not all of the time, but sometimes we have seen Klingons appear to at least partially shrug off direct hits from phaser blasts or take a hit without being all the way stunned or killed and it takes a second or a third shot to finish the job. We normally sort of attribute this to Klingons being natural badasses, or adrenaline or whatever. It's probably just the armor; although Klingon armor is mostly ceremonial, it probably DOES provide some measure of protection from energy weapons (the soft/squishy armor in TUC was probably a modernized version that was slightly more effective against phasers but not as popular with the warrior caste).
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Old September 2 2012, 09:26 PM   #27
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

shivkala wrote: View Post
I remember an early issue of the 1989 Star Trek comic book from DC, written by Peter David. Ensign Fouton was working on a phaser-proof body armor. He was successful, after a fashion, when during a test, it did withstand a phaser on disintegrate. Unfortunately, the mannequin wearing the armor was disintegrated, though.
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Old September 3 2012, 01:38 AM   #28
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

CaptMurdock wrote: View Post
shivkala wrote: View Post
I remember an early issue of the 1989 Star Trek comic book from DC, written by Peter David. Ensign Fouton was working on a phaser-proof body armor. He was successful, after a fashion, when during a test, it did withstand a phaser on disintegrate. Unfortunately, the mannequin wearing the armor was disintegrated, though.
[Duck Dodgers voice]
"Little doeth he know that I'm wearing my thpecial dithintegration-proof vetht!"
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Heh...

That's exactly what I thought of when I read that, too.
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Old September 3 2012, 08:46 AM   #29
Timo
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

Shields and assault phasers and all that.
Those shields are an example of what Star Trek might have serious trouble with. I mean, they are incredibly cool: portable, collapsible, transparent and bulletproof! Just what one would expect from technology centuries more advanced than ours. But Trek seldom does this sort of thing: whenever there's futurism to be had, it's done with forcefields and beeping boxes with flashing buttons, not with advanced materials.

Also, in order to be useful against bullets, that riot shield would still have to feature advanced technomagic that absorbs the momentum of the impact. How that is achieved without beeping boxes with flashing buttons remains a mystery. OTOH, standard fare Star Trek shields, or lightweight versions thereof, would not have the problem, as they are never quoted as respecting conservation of momentum. So consistency might call for forgetting about cool in this case.

I also question, why doesn't the security personal use some kind of riot gear?
I think this is an excellent way of putting it. The best protection Starfleet technology can offer amounts to "riot gear" at most, be it physical shields or personal forcefields. And that's what gets distributed to the troops when the going gets tough, but the enemies are rioters (low-tech rabble in ST5, the citizens of Earth in "Homefront"). Yet whenever you distribute riot gear, you provoke aggression, at least ITRW. And it would be extremely seldom that starship security would wish to provoke aggression!

And in situations where provocation is irrelevant, the riot gear is irrelevant as well...

although Klingon armor is mostly ceremonial, it probably DOES provide some measure of protection from energy weapons
I'd very much want to believe this. And I'd like to think that Klingon technology in this field is inferior to UFP technology, meaning the Starfleet battle coveralls offer the same level of protection with less discomfort. But that's the limit of protection available by either technology: the penetration of battlefield weapons will still be sufficient to make headgear irrelevant. That is, a glancing blow from a phaserlike weapon might only rough up your chest a little if you wear this stuff, but the same effect on your head would always leave you dead or worse, unless you wore a helmet or cap a foot thick in every direction. And even then it wouldn't hinder direct hits.

This interpretation still leaves one wondering why the troops aren't protected from conventional kinetic shrapnel by conventional means, as even future energy weapons seem to throw stuff around when hitting a nearby wall or rock. Such protection would also help against sticks, stones and knives and some ricocheting bullets, hopefully. This is the one field of protection where advanced materials could plausibly remove the "clumsiness" argument of wearing "only marginally effective" armor.

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Old September 3 2012, 10:50 AM   #30
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Re: Why the lack of personal protection?

From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Life_support_belt:

Although used exclusively in TAS, the life-support belt was invented during the run of Star Trek: The Original Series. Judy Burns, co-writer of "The Tholian Web", thought of using battery-powered "force field belts" in that episode, but the series' producers decided to feature EV suits instead. "They felt strongly that if they started something like a force field belt," explained Burns, "it might have ramifications down the line on other stories. I was a novice in those days, but today I probably would have countered that it was a prototype model that had been given to us this one time. In 25 years, we would get it back again." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, 3rd ed., p. 72)

In the script for "Beyond the Farthest Star", life support belts are introduced with the description, "The belts are wide, utility-type belts that glow with a pale, lime-yellow aura when turned on. This aura surrounds the wearer, like an envelope of air surrounds the Earth; it supplies air, and being a force-field, prevents harm to the person inside it, as it is almost totally impenetrable."
I always thought that some later uses of the belts, particularly in Slaver Weapon, were inconsistent with how they were used in Beyond the Farthest Star. The belts seem to offer some resistance to phaser fire from the automatic bridge defense system, so I always thought they should have stood up better to the Kzinti phasers. I suppose one could posit that the Kzinti phasers were specially modified to penetrate the forcefields.

Also in Beyond the Farthest Star, Scotty's belt holds up the weight of the Engineering core hatch, which implies that the belts should be able to prevent a variety of objects from penetrating their force fields. Note that Scotty, Chapel, and McCoy use belts underwater in The Ambergris Element (although it would appear that one of the famous Filmation animation errors resulted in Scotty's belt not being drawn).
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