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

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Old September 2 2014, 12:37 AM   #1
Timelord Victorious
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Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Smart guns are a reality today.
If a new Star Trek show came to be, would the they use similar security systems to ensure authorized personnel could use phaser weapons or would that limit drama and story telling too much?

Also today's smartphones possess dead switch software capable of turning the hardware effectively inoperable.

Another useful tool to prevent cultural contamination and misuse.

All to often technology in the wrong or underdeveloped hands caused some trouble.

Would technology not possessing these features stretch believability too much these days?
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Old September 2 2014, 03:56 AM   #2
Bud Brewster
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Good points! And not only are Star Trek weapons technologically behind in the ways your mentioned -- they aren't even as destructive as today's weapons!



I'm sure we've all thought of this over the years. No matter how hi-tech the weapons on Star Trek are supposed to be, they always look wimpy compared to any real automatic weapon, like an Uzi.

Star Trek weapons always shoot one bright bolt at a time, and the effect of the bolts just leave little burn marks on the victim (with the exception of a few times when the victim was totally vaporized, like in "Wrath of Kahn").

Sometimes the victims die, but usually they don't. And the victims never have those ugly exit wounds that bullets make -- big holes caused by the fact that lead slugs fragment as they go through the body and do more damage on the way out than they do on the way in.

If I'm ever allowed to provide input on the making of a sci-fi movie or TV show which includes weapns, I'll urge the producers to make the guns a step up from the real thing, instead of a step down.

And it won't be a pretty sight, either . . .
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Old September 2 2014, 10:28 AM   #3
Timo
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

So basically you are saying that a good weapon makes a lot of noise and creates a mess but achieves little?

The phasers kill when they are required to, and stun when they are required to (except when the user guesses wrong on the nature of the opponent, say, trying to stun a Satarran with a human setting). They don't need thirty bullets to get it done, they don't run out of bullets (except perhaps after slaughtering thousands, as in "Omega Glory"), and they make relatively little noise, although admittedly the muzzle flash is really annoying!

An Uzi can't cut through a wall. Heck, you would have real hard time trying to get it to break a lock on a door, even. I wouldn't recommend using it to remove handcuffs from a person, either. It really is a vastly inferior weapon compared to pretty much everything else, including broadswords...

As for the "smart gun" aspect, we see that it's very difficult to get a phaser to fire in "A Private Little War", yet in "City on the Edge" an untrained operator easily triggers the very same weapon. This would IMHO indicate that the weapons are normally "locked" somehow, and can only be fired after an authorized user unlocks them; in "City", the crazed McCoy just wasn't in possession of his faculties and didn't lock his weapon when parting with it (he's notorious for fumbling with sidearms in other ways as well).

We also know that use of phasers at kill level aboard starships trigger alarms, but only in ST6. Yet all the other cases of phasers being fired at kill level aboard the ship were by authorized personnel, again IMHO indicating that the guns know who their master is.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old September 2 2014, 10:37 AM   #4
drt
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

The burning thing started in TNG, original series phasers always disentegrated the victim (I'm trying to remember if we were ever shown a phaser ser to "kill" leave a corpse in the original show, but none come to mind).


An aside: the Tet-derived guns in Oblivion were pretty brutal.
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Old September 2 2014, 10:54 AM   #5
Timo
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

In "Omega Glory", Tracey's phasers supposedly left the battlefield littered with corpses, but we don't know what setting he was using. I'd speculate that the TOS phasers already had the "kill by creating a little dark spot in the chest" setting, and Tracey used that to save power, even though Starfleet regulations tell that total vaporize is the most humane way of killing somebody and should always be preferred.

In "Conscience of the King", Anton Karidian did not disappear after being shot at whatever setting it was that Lenore intended to use to kill Kirk. Admittedly, stun would probably be enough to finish off the frail old man; stun is also what the gun would be set at when Lenore stole it from the redshirt. But previously, Lenore had shown enough mastery of phaser settings to get one to self-destruct...

Since alarms didn't go off when the gun was fired, I'd still say "stun" and "Lenore in her excitement didn't get the gun properly switched to kill".

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Old September 4 2014, 09:33 PM   #6
C.E. Evans
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Bud Brewster wrote: View Post
Good points! And not only are Star Trek weapons technologically behind in the ways your mentioned -- they aren't even as destructive as today's weapons!



I'm sure we've all thought of this over the years. No matter how hi-tech the weapons on Star Trek are supposed to be, they always look wimpy compared to any real automatic weapon, like an Uzi.

Star Trek weapons always shoot one bright bolt at a time, and the effect of the bolts just leave little burn marks on the victim (with the exception of a few times when the victim was totally vaporized, like in "Wrath of Kahn").

Sometimes the victims die, but usually they don't. And the victims never have those ugly exit wounds that bullets make -- big holes caused by the fact that lead slugs fragment as they go through the body and do more damage on the way out than they do on the way in.

If I'm ever allowed to provide input on the making of a sci-fi movie or TV show which includes weapns, I'll urge the producers to make the guns a step up from the real thing, instead of a step down.

And it won't be a pretty sight, either . . .
I've always viewed that phasers were as much cutting, drilling, and welding tools as they were weapons. I think this was very much a philosophy behind 24th-Century hand phaser designs in which they were intentionally designed to look a bit more like tools than guns, IMO.

As far as destructive capability, I'd argue that a phaser simply doesn't need to blast a big hole in someone to kill them. "A little burn mark" could be a pinpoint blast that causes massive internal cellular damage that's every bit as lethal as a bullet hitting multiple vital organs.
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Old September 4 2014, 11:23 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

I think this was very much a philosophy behind 24th-Century hand phaser designs in which they were intentionally designed to look a bit more like tools than guns, IMO.
...It's amusing that they in fact end up resembling handheld firearms after all - only not the 20th century type, but the 17th, with the general curved shape and the orientation of the grip.

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Old September 4 2014, 11:52 PM   #8
C.E. Evans
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

I think this was very much a philosophy behind 24th-Century hand phaser designs in which they were intentionally designed to look a bit more like tools than guns, IMO.
...It's amusing that they in fact end up resembling handheld firearms after all - only not the 20th century type, but the 17th, with the general curved shape and the orientation of the grip.
They could also resemble futuristic ergonomic tools.
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Old September 5 2014, 03:58 AM   #9
Ithekro
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Only the type 2 phasers. The tiny type 1 phasers on the other hand. Slightly larger than a remote for a car.
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Old September 5 2014, 05:58 AM   #10
Bud Brewster
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Okay, sure, phasers can kill and cut down doors and melt through walls and lop off limbs and dispose of a neighbor's yapping dog without leaving incriminating road kill.

But can a crack shot use a phaser to shoot somebody behind a rock with a well-aimed ricochet?

Wait, wait -- I know what you're gonna say. "He wouldn't have to. He'd just vaporize the rock first!

Oh, sure! That's easy. But your buddies won't buy you beer for vaporizing a rock, will they? No, I think not!
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Old September 6 2014, 12:34 AM   #11
Ithekro
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

They would if you could melt a rock over him and drop something molten on him.
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Old September 6 2014, 07:39 PM   #12
Deks
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Level 16 or 17 on a Type 2 phaser was stated in TNG by Riker to be able to vaporize an entire building.
This would suggest some impressive fire-power for Phasers.
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Old September 7 2014, 09:51 AM   #13
Timo
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

It's not a "press button and building disappears" setting, though - we see Level 16 in action in "Chain of Command" when Worf uses it to drill a tunnel through solid rock, and it just creates said tunnel without removing the mountain.

Supposedly, then, "firepower" with phasers is not something as simple as "more of the same thing", such as in firearms (more bullets per second, bigger bullets per second, more speed for the bullets). Instead, you select some property for the beam that makes it more useful in the application of boring through certain type of material (rock, solid building wall) and then point and shoot. Although to remove a building, you probably need to "paint" with the beam a little bit...

Another thing we should note about Level 16 is that it doesn't create waste heat: the tunnel that Worf creates is more or less immediately cool to touch. The setting that heats rocks is somehow fundamentally different, then.

A third thing to note is that hand phasers only have 16 indicator lights, so Level 16 apparently is the highest setting available. But we shouldn't be fooled into thinking that it can do no better than create a hole in rock less than a couple of meters wide and deep - we have no solid reason to think Riker was lying about the leveling-of-buildings thing, even if he admittedly was making a threat.

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Old September 9 2014, 08:55 PM   #14
Deks
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

Yes... but a phaser can be modified to do specific things at specific settings.
Worf probably wanted to make a tunnel, not make the entire mountain disappear.
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Old September 10 2014, 12:19 AM   #15
Ithekro
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Re: Smart Phasers and Dead Switches

I would think there is a width setting of some kind, or some sort of interface with the user for aiming, as we've seen phaser blasts hit at extremely odd angles and without the phaser pointed specifically at the target, just kind of in that direction.

In Kirk's time they were worried about primative cultures handling even their Phaser Is as they might take half the building down.

The Phaser I was considered underpowered for some things...such as the Horta, where they had to come with Phaser IIs to hurt it. Even in The Cage, they expected their weapons to have blown off the top of the mountain, perhaps before they brought down the Phaser Cannon.

Phaser Rifles are something that was generally not needed as the Phaser II is usually powerful enough. They break out the rifles if they need some different types of blasts, oddly specific damage types, or very heavy usage. The last one meaning the Phaser II won't last for long periods, while the rifle is for sustained combat or instances were they expect to use their phasers many times. Phaser sweeps in Deep Space Nine and other places looking for Changelings were done with rifles as they'd been using the thing a lot. So it likely had more specific kinds of settings like the sweeps and bolt functions.
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