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Old October 17 2012, 12:47 PM   #1
The Borg Queen
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Why can't Latinum be replicated?

What there any specific reason (other than "because of the plot!") why Latinum isn't able to be replicated?
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Old October 17 2012, 01:09 PM   #2
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Actually, nobody even went as far as saying "latinum can't be replicated".

For all we know, it can, just like hundred-dollar bills can be printed. But money is money: it has value because people agree that it does. Today, worthless pieces of paper have value because we agree that they do. The agreement would be thrown into confusion if everybody replicated these pieces of paper, so we insert codes into the as such worthless material to prevent this. The Ferengi probably insert codes into their as such worthless latinum, too. And replicating a code doesn't add to your possessions, because codes are unique and supposedly will be checked against a database. A hundred bills (or latinum bricks) with identical codes are only worth one bill (or brick), plus a few years in jail...

Today, we don't check even bills worth a thousand dollars against a code database as a matter of routine, because that's way too difficult to do; we trust that the other anti-copying measures work. But in Trek, checking against a database would be trivially easy.

Of course, not all coding need be database-reliant. Quark has been known to check the value of the small latinum strips by biting. Perhaps programming an authentic taste into the strips takes a lot of replicator resources (many people complain that replicator food doesn't taste as good as "real" food), and only an idiot would thus replicate a strip of latinum when it costs 153 strips to get the taste right.

The bigger units such as slips and bricks could of course retain the taste coding, but would also have more complicated things in them, just like bills are more complexly coded than coins today. The idea is never to outright prevent copying - it is merely to make copying more expensive than the acquisition of the real deal.

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Old October 17 2012, 03:17 PM   #3
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Alternately, it's possible that it can't be replicated. Just as Timo points out above, many food-stuffs are difficult to replicate properly, so it's not at all a stretch to assume that certain other materials are difficult to generate this way also.

We've seen pure latinum in "Who Mourns For Morn" and it looked like silver paint fresh from the jar. Assuming it's a metal, then the fact that it's a liquid would suggest it's some sort of mercury amalgam, possibly with a noble metal like platinum. I don't know how well those two could combine, but evidently the Ferengi (or somebody) developed the right secret sauce to make it work. From the same episode, we see that the "gold pressed" nature of gold-pressed latinum is that the silvery liquid is somehow suspended inside the gold bricks. Quark is able to fairly easily break one of these bricks in half with his hands which suggests that either he is waaaay stronger than he looks (doubtful given the number of scraps we see him in where he doesn't get the upper hand) or that the gold is manufactured in such a way that the structure is a much more porous volume which is later infused with the liquid latinum. When Morn regurgitates a little spitful of the stuff for Quark, the amount is valued at an astonishingly high figure (like 100 bricks IIRC) which suggests that a little goes a long way and that the gold vessels are mainly there to provide a convenient and attractive means of handling the latinum.

I posit that the process for creating latinum itself is tricky and the resultant material is not entirely stable. As a result, maybe it can't be re-materialized in it's alloyed form. Do we ever see gold-pressed latinum transported? (We very well might have... just I can't think of a time doesn't mean it didn't happen.) If not then perhaps it's just a matter of that. If you can't rematerialize it, then you can't replicate it. If, OTOH, it transports fine, then my idea is out of the water.

In any case, all we can do is speculate, since it was never said on screen one way or the other.

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Old October 17 2012, 03:47 PM   #4
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Hmm... Supposedly the Cardassians in "Emissary" were transporting their winnings to their ship, even though they also transported Odo who masqueraded as the bag containing the winnings. But we weren't exactly told that the winnings were GPL, or that the Cardassians used a transporter. We just know that their ship was shown undocked and at a distance from the station...

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Old October 17 2012, 04:40 PM   #5
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Well probably the very nature of latinum not being able to be replicated is what makes it valuable. If it was easily reproduced, it wouldn't make a viable currency to say the least.

It's implied throughout DS9 you can't replicate it, but never flat out said. If you could replicate it that regurgitated latinum that Quark got so excited about wouldn't be anything important for example. The novels flat out state it can't be.

I always thought Quark's biting the latinum was testing either it's density much like we did with gold(maybe gold with latinum in it has it's own unique density?) or the sound his teeth make against it(since Quark says GPL makes a unique sound).
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Old October 17 2012, 06:55 PM   #6
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

The Borg Queen wrote: View Post
What there any specific reason (other than "because of the plot!") why Latinum isn't able to be replicated?
My thought was this: Latinum is a base substance that nearly all non-Starfleet replicators use to manufacture hard (non-edible) goods. The replicator takes a quantity of latinum, rearranges its molecules and converts it into the desired product. By its very nature, it is a substance that contains sufficient quantities of the ten most common elements/isotopes found in non-food products, and in such density and arrangements that even a small amount of it can be converted into a comparatively large amount of material.

Food and drink are not expensive in the Trekiverse, but things like computer chips and devices are implicitly so, due to their scarcity and the need to repair things by hand instead of simply throwing them out and replicating new ones.
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Old October 17 2012, 08:52 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

If it was easily reproduced, it wouldn't make a viable currency to say the least.
Yet mere electrons do, even though they are trivially reproduced. It's all in the content rather than in the medium!

We know that some things are more difficult to replicate than others, and that sometimes people don't go to the effort of creating perfect replicas even when such things would matter (say, Romulans creating fake gore in "Data's Day") - but OTOH we never hear that something would be completely impossible to replicate. It just isn't worth the effort, apparently, if something can also be obtained by mining or other "conventional" processing and this is cheaper or quicker than replication from thin air.

If replication difficulty indeed comes in degrees, then it doesn't matter that latinum can be replicated - it suffices that it's suitably difficult to replicate, and any effort at producing it out of cheaper materials or pure energy or whatever will end up costing more than the end product is worth.

Food and drink are not expensive in the Trekiverse, but things like computer chips and devices are implicitly so
On the other hand, people will apparently readily pay for food (or, rather, the experience of having food), but expect their computer chips to come for free...

And our Starfleet heroes at least consider all technology to be throwaway, up to and including entire starships!

Probably we're seeing "subsidies" in action: things considered necessary for good life or national security are replicated free of price even if their replication is of the costlier sort, and the price tag comes from the labor involved in the later stages of assembly or serving.

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Old October 18 2012, 03:38 AM   #8
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Timo wrote: View Post
Food and drink are not expensive in the Trekiverse, but things like computer chips and devices are implicitly so
On the other hand, people will apparently readily pay for food (or, rather, the experience of having food), but expect their computer chips to come for free...
Nobody appears to be PAYING for food, though. Even quark's bar is equipped with a replicator that is evidently hooked up to the station's supply grid; he has MANY times suggested that his liquor supply is pre-fab, shipped in from various suppliers around the galaxy, which means he -- as a Ferengi -- almost certainly paid for them and he -- again, being a Ferengi -- expects to be paid FOR them.

Interestingly, the same thing seems to happen on the Enterprise: Scotty finds synthehol insufferable, but the only way to get a non-syntheholic drink is to raid Guinan's liquor cabinet.

OTOH, circuitry and hardware are only "free" to the extent that Starfleet's requisition process seems to be pretty straightforward. We have almost never seen officers pulling working components and/or tools out of a replicator. Even the infamous self-sealing stem bolts, for example, are occasionally seen stockpiled by the case, but despite their apparently high industrial value, nobody ever bothers replicating them (just storing them in huge quantities because they have too many).

And our Starfleet heroes at least consider all technology to be throwaway, up to and including entire starships!
Laddy, don't you think you should... rephrase that?
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Old October 18 2012, 10:31 AM   #9
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Nobody appears to be PAYING for food, though.
How often in movies and television shows set on modern day do you see characters paying for things?

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Old October 18 2012, 10:40 AM   #10
Timo
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Basically every time when the meal is part of the dating process, I guess. Especially if the date doesn't go well, and the paying becomes a chore.

DS9 has plenty of Replimat scenes that would qualify on one level or another...

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Old October 18 2012, 08:04 PM   #11
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

I would think that Latinum cannot be replicated, or if it could, be more expensive than the amount created.
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Old October 18 2012, 11:09 PM   #12
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Perhaps Latinum is used not because it is expensive, but because it is a fixed amount. Regardless of whether you replicate it, or mine it or compound it or whatever, it has a fixed cost that varies very little.

So regardless of the input method, X amount of energy/work produces Y amount of Latinum.
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Old October 18 2012, 11:09 PM   #13
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Ronald Held wrote: View Post
... be more expensive than the amount created.
If it takes five bars of Latinum (energy and materials), to produce a single bar of Lainum with the replicator, it wouldn't make much sense.

Of course today it take 1.6 cents to make a penny.

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Old October 19 2012, 01:35 AM   #14
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

I always figured the Gold was structured like a sponge with the Latinum soaked up in it.

I wonder if Latinum is similar to Bio-mimetic Fluid, but without any actual practical applications?
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Old October 19 2012, 04:28 AM   #15
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Re: Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Zombie Redshirt wrote: View Post
Well probably the very nature of latinum not being able to be replicated is what makes it valuable. If it was easily reproduced, it wouldn't make a viable currency to say the least.
I don't see why latinum would be especially valuable as a currency just because it supposedly can't be replicated. If latinum is not produced via replication, it's either being mined or manufactured. Either way, the value of latinum would be influenced by the quantity of latinum circulating. If latinum miners hit a rich deposit, for instance, then the value of the latinum circulating would go down just as if the same amount of latinum had been replicated and mixed into the circulating currency.

Perhaps the Great Monetary Collapse that hit Fereginar back in the day was the result of too much fresh latinum being injected into the Ferengi economy. Perhaps this economic disaster spurred the Ferengi to tightly regulate the amount of GPL in the economy to prevent rampant inflation. Rather than making latinum special by claiming it is "unreplicable", it is merely another fiat currency with strict regulations on replication.
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