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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old January 30 2014, 04:53 AM   #1
Nob Akimoto
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Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Recently rereading Greater Than the Sum... and Destiny I noticed that transphasic torpedoes in both stories were described as being blue projectiles. But from what I recall of Endgame (and I try to forget about it as much as possible) the torpedoes had a more orange-white glow to them. Was this an intentional change to show that Starfleet's use of transphasics in 2381 was a reverse engineered weapon that was then modified again after Voyager's return? Or was the color just distorted in Endgame because of the nebula?
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Old January 30 2014, 05:26 AM   #2
Christopher
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Umm, I can't have mentioned the color of the torpedoes in GTTS, because they were never fired in GTTS. I believe I was under instructions to equip the E-E with them but save them for Destiny. So I can't help you with this one.
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Old January 30 2014, 05:52 AM   #3
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

It's been several years since I wrote Destiny. I honestly don't remember anymore how I arrived at that creative decision. But what is, is. And that's that.
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Old January 30 2014, 07:40 AM   #4
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Thanks guys. My reading comprehension must be on the firtz, as I must've mixed up all the mentions of the torpedoes with their use in GTTS.

Suppose it's easiest to chalk it up to Starfleet using Q-torps as a basis for the weapon rather than presumably Photorps like on Voyager, maybe?
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Old January 30 2014, 08:45 AM   #5
F. King Daniel
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

I always take descriptions of established FX in novels with a grain of salt - Voyager's blue phasers (wasn't that you, Greg?) haunt me to this day!
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Old January 30 2014, 02:12 PM   #6
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

I recall blue phasers in Seize the Fire as well. But the weapon colors were not really even consistent on the screen so I never really worried about them in books (or on screen for that matter). TOS used blue phasers, TMP and ST:V used blue photon torpedoes as well.

If you need a reason to hand wave this then maybe chalk it up to adjustable power/yield or something? Maybe way in the future it is just an option on the weapons panel; tracer ammunition for current firearms come in a variety of colors that have no bearing on the caliber of the projectile.
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Old January 30 2014, 02:17 PM   #7
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

David Mack wrote: View Post
But what is, is. And that's that.
Deep, Mack. Deep.
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Old January 30 2014, 04:13 PM   #8
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Everything I know about weapons colors in Star Trek, I learned from this: (see 1:35 for the first space battle)



Also the bridge design of the original Enterprise.
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Old January 30 2014, 04:46 PM   #9
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Didn't TOS generally use one color for phasers on stun and another for phasers on kill/disintegrate? I forget which was which, though. And it wasn't entirely consistent.

Anyway, my personal belief is that phaser beams should actually be invisible in space, since there's no medium to scatter their light or be excited/ionized, and thus if characters see them on a viewscreen it must be a false-color image, in which case the color is arbitrary. What we viewers see in omniscient-observer space shots is poetic license for our benefit. I can't think of a good reason for torpedoes to be brightly glowing objects either; you'd think torpedoes would be more effective if the enemy couldn't see them coming quite so easily. So maybe that's poetic license too, again rendering the actual color arbitrary.
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Old January 30 2014, 06:27 PM   #10
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

I always figured the coloration on torpedoes was some sort of small deflector shield system of some sort that also acted as a "penetrator" to help the weapon pierce shields. I mean for the most part given the ranges and speeds these engagements are supposed to take place at, visual identification of a weapon would probably be close to useless anyway, so being able to see a brightly glowing object probably isn't a big deal. On the other hand some sort of field device that has the effect of making the torpedo glow but protects it from glancing blows of particle weapons, could shape the torpedo's explosion and/or serve to temporarily disrupt a deflector shield before it detonates would all be good things to add to a torpedo.

Since it's (somewhat) implied that the torpedoes in use have some sort of intrinsic benefit over simply lobbing high yield fusion munitions at a target, then we might propose the glows are part of the whole "effective against shielded targets" thing. Chronologically the first torpedoes we see glowing are ENT's photonic torpedoes, while the spatial torpedoes didn't have a glow. The photonics were first used against ships with deflector shields, which previous UE Starfleet weapons were shown to be relatively ineffective against, so maybe there's something special about the glow.
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Old January 30 2014, 06:35 PM   #11
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Nob Akimoto wrote: View Post
I always figured the coloration on torpedoes was some sort of small deflector shield system of some sort that also acted as a "penetrator" to help the weapon pierce shields. I mean for the most part given the ranges and speeds these engagements are supposed to take place at, visual identification of a weapon would probably be close to useless anyway, so being able to see a brightly glowing object probably isn't a big deal. On the other hand some sort of field device that has the effect of making the torpedo glow but protects it from glancing blows of particle weapons, could shape the torpedo's explosion and/or serve to temporarily disrupt a deflector shield before it detonates would all be good things to add to a torpedo.
Okay, but in both cases, why would such a system waste so much of its energy on a blinding light display instead of directing it usefully to those practical effects? That's just bad design.
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Old January 30 2014, 06:44 PM   #12
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

Maybe the blinding light display is just a side-effect. Like glowing warp nacelles or impulse engines and shield bubbles?
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Old January 30 2014, 06:53 PM   #13
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

To some extent, any engine produces waste heat, and presumably the glowing parts of impulse and warp engines are their heat sinks to dissipate that energy from the ship. But a torpedo is not a crewed vessel, so there'd probably be less need to shed waste heat; and even if its engines did need heat sinks, it's unlikely the glow would be that disproportionately bright, except maybe from the rear. Ships give off some light from their engines, but they aren't glowing so brightly that all you see is a blob of pure light.

So that's the point. Yes, clearly it is a side effect, because it serves no useful purpose. But the light is just so bright that it suggests an inefficient design in which a lot of energy is wasted. A well-designed torpedo should not be remotely as bright.
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Old January 30 2014, 07:12 PM   #14
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

The visual effect might be akin to the tracer effect on phasers, or perhaps there glow on both particle weapons and projectiles is an effect of the fictional subatomic particles and physics effects described. For example a by product of the rapid nadion effect in phasers might be the orange glow or blue glow depending on things like energy input or frequency of the phaser.

The torpedo effect since it covers the entire torpedo must be from something other than exhaust or heat from its propulsion mechanism. Do wonder if the energy release from a torpedo is more exotic than just the matter antimatter reaction, given the 'shockeave' generated when one is detonated by a phaser (though since that was in the EMH's fantasy it might not be an actual effect).
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Old January 30 2014, 07:25 PM   #15
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Re: Transphasic Torpedo Color...

j3067 wrote: View Post
If you need a reason to hand wave this then maybe chalk it up to adjustable power/yield or something?
I seem to recall the handheld phaser beams firing an orange/blue or alternating between them while randomly shifting frequencies in The Best of Both Worlds. So we could take that as evidence for what you suggest here.
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