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General Trek Discussion Trek TV and cinema subjects not related to any specific series or movie.

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Old July 4 2013, 04:13 AM   #1
Portal
Commander
 
Forcefields

In TNG's "The Nth Degree", Worf and two other security officers struck Barclay's forcefield with three phasers on their maximum setting. My question is: Why weren't they able to penetrate the forcefield?

How powerful are forcefields in Star Trek in general?
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Old July 4 2013, 04:41 AM   #2
Tosk
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Location: On the run.
Re: Forcefields

(In my uninformed opinion.) Presumably, the only way to take out a forcefield is to hit it with a comparable amount of energy. Seeing as they were using hand phasers and the forcefield was run off ship's power, they didn't really stand a chance. Star Trek forcefields are as powerful as the power supply they are running off. Or as powerful as the script demands.
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Old July 4 2013, 05:03 AM   #3
Third Nacelle
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Re: Forcefields

Well aren't forcefields and deflector shields basically the same technology? If so, they're pretty damned strong.
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Old July 4 2013, 05:29 AM   #4
Elvira
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Re: Forcefields

There's no indication that a deflector can contain an atmosphere.

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Old July 4 2013, 08:05 AM   #5
MacLeod
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Re: Forcefields

Might be semantics, but forcefields seemed designed to keep things in, defelectors to keep things out.
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Old July 4 2013, 12:03 PM   #6
Metryq
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Re: Forcefields

My understanding of force fields/deflectors is that they dissipate a focused point of energy. Anyone who's done some soldering or welding knows that a "heat sink" in the set up can bleed off all the energy. One must then resort to physical cutting tools, or more concentrated forms of heat (oxy-acetylene, laser, electron beam, etc.). So a force field is a high tech heat sink that can be overloaded, if one can marshal enough power to do it. And deflectors are repulsors of some sort that prevent one from using those brute force "physical cutting tools" when one fails to overload the force field heat sink.
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Old July 4 2013, 08:25 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Forcefields

The one working way to defeat a forcefield on screen is to disrupt it with a "resonance" of some sort (say, "Sword of Kahless"). That, or cut power feed into it.

However, forcefields come in all sorts of strength and permeability, depending on the application. Some prevent air from leaking out and constant force from crushing the user, but do zip to stop weapons fire (the TAS life support belts, arguably the shields used by the Jenolan). Others prevent the passage of physical objects, by simple force or by added shock effect (isolation fields, cell doors). Yet others stop air but allow physical transit (shuttlebay doors). There's no single identifiable "level of power" or "level of strength" there.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old July 9 2013, 10:04 PM   #8
publiusr
Commodore
 
Re: Forcefields

In the TMP novel there seem to be differences. Both deflectors (a zone of force pushing away) force fields (barrier) and force shields (skin tight barrier, more solid).

By TNG they were all combined into deflector shields--the bubble. Now the terms are transposed
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Old July 12 2013, 06:23 AM   #9
TheSubCommander
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Re: Forcefields

What I've always wondered since Fist Full of Datas is why aren't there personal force field devices for landing parties. Then, after rewatching TAS, there was an episode where they landing party did have them in Beyond the Farthest Star (Star Trek: The Animated Series). Why they never appeared after that, except in FFOD is a mystery to me.
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Old July 12 2013, 10:18 AM   #10
Metryq
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Re: Forcefields

TheSubCommander wrote: View Post
What I've always wondered since Fist Full of Datas is why aren't there personal force field devices for landing parties.
There's a Roddenberry quote in THE MAKING OF STAR TREK that explains this. The creators considered putting a "beam up" button on the communicators, then realized it could be used too easily to short circuit dramatic story lines. It's like Superman being vulnerable to Kryptonite -- the hero must have some weak spot, otherwise why bother telling a story? In STAR TREK even gods can be worn down by human stubbornness, and supercomputers can be talked to death.
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Old July 14 2013, 11:09 AM   #11
Timo
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Re: Forcefields

Let's not forget that the TAS forcefields were transparent to all forms of attack. You could stun a forcefield-clad target with a standard phaser; you could punch him unconscious; you could crush him with a heavy weight. Apparently, all the forcefield was good for was providing breathing air against suffocation; internal pressure for vacuum walks; and some protection against external pressure such as water pressure. Basically, then, just a somewhat shinier version of a good Mackintosh and a pair of Wellingtons.

Being able to resist black-powder revolver rounds at fifty paces isn't much of an achievement, either (indeed, a proper Mackintosh might actually do that!). So it's not as if Superman having an Achilles elbow McCoy can't treat is somehow inconsistent here. Forcefields are good, but they aren't that good. Unless you are Borg.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old July 14 2013, 02:38 PM   #12
Elder Knight
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Location: SE USA
Re: Forcefields

TheSubCommander wrote: View Post
What I've always wondered since Fist Full of Datas is why aren't there personal force field devices for landing parties. Then, after rewatching TAS, there was an episode where they landing party did have them in Beyond the Farthest Star (Star Trek: The Animated Series). Why they never appeared after that, except in FFOD is a mystery to me.
I guess that one could posit that there were harmful side-effects associated with the TAS personal forcefields, so that their use was discontinued. The crew members from that era who never showed up again may have indeed succumbed to forcefield-related illnesses!
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