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Old May 3 2014, 10:13 AM   #1
therritn
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Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

I have a few questions about the Star Trek metals rodinium and diburnium/osmium. Now in "Balance of Terror" the dialogue is that cast rodinium was used in the Romulan Neutral Zone outpost stations protective screen. My first question is does that mean it's used as a deflector shield or was it in effect, armor plate? Here's a few reasons why I bring this up.

First, Cmdr Hansen said his deflectors were at maximum, and even that didn't help against the Romulan plasma torpedo. I find it hard to believe that if you have three layers of protection (1 Deflector Shield, 2 cast rodinium superstructure, 3 iron based asteroid), a single plasma torpedo would have blown the shield, rendered the rodinium hull, and iron -based rock useless and damaged the outposts with just one shot, I can see two or three shots. Second, could have it been possible that the cast rodinium have been used as part of the deflector shield array?

According to "That Which Survives" the planetoid was composed of diburnium/osmium which has a high melting point and is very resistant to weapons fire. Also, according to "Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise", the Enterprise's shields are produced when a coil of diburnium/osmium is scanned at the subatomic level, then replicated as energy. There's also a screenshot of this in Star Trek Into Darkness.

http://vimeo.com/72019454 look at around the 25 second mark.

So could have it possible that rodinium was utilized in the generation of starship and station deflector shields during the TOS timeline?

Any insights?
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Old May 4 2014, 09:10 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Well, it could be that cast rodinium is in fact 'cast rodinium, that is, it's "broadcast" or "cast as in casting a spell" between you and the enemy by a transporter-like system and forms a temporary solid wall there...

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Old May 4 2014, 10:58 PM   #3
Mytran
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Before the days of online transcripts, I always heard Spock's line as "castro-dinium", which muddies the water even further!
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Old May 4 2014, 11:45 PM   #4
Robert Comsol
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

therritn wrote: View Post
First, Cmdr Hansen said his deflectors were at maximum, and even that didn't help against the Romulan plasma torpedo. I find it hard to believe that if you have three layers of protection (1 Deflector Shield, 2 cast rodinium superstructure, 3 iron based asteroid), a single plasma torpedo would have blown the shield, rendered the rodinium hull, and iron -based rock useless and damaged the outposts with just one shot, I can see two or three shots. Second, could have it been possible that the cast rodinium have been used as part of the deflector shield array?
"Had our deflector shield on maximum. Hit by enormous power. First attack blew our deflector shield. If they hit us again with our deflector shield gone..."

"Enterprise, can you see it? My command post here. We're a mile deep on an asteroid. Almost solid iron. And even through our deflectors, it did this. Can you see?"


"Phasers gone. Weapons crew dead."

I agree that compared to "The Deadly Years", where Romulan Birds of Prey apparently fire plasma energy torpedos at the Enterprise and her shields hold, the same weapon had a much more devastating effect on the Earth outpost.

I think "cast rodinium" would qualify as a mechanical blast shield, but the first torpedo obviously blew the outpost's deflector shield (however strong this may have been compared to the shielding capacity of a starship), disintegrated the rodinium protective layer, killed the phaser crew and adversely affected the command center within the asteroid.

Of course, "the hardest substance known to our science" raises a few eyebrows. Tritanium in "Obsession" ("20 times as hard as a diamond") sounds like an adequate contender.

Bob
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Old May 5 2014, 02:44 AM   #5
Christopher
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

therritn wrote: View Post
I have a few questions about the Star Trek metals rodinium and diburnium/osmium. Now in "Balance of Terror" the dialogue is that cast rodinium was used in the Romulan Neutral Zone outpost stations protective screen. My first question is does that mean it's used as a deflector shield or was it in effect, armor plate?
Spock said "protective shield," not "screen." And he referred to it in terms of its hardness. It's pretty self-evident that it was intended to be an armor layer around the outpost.



First, Cmdr Hansen said his deflectors were at maximum, and even that didn't help against the Romulan plasma torpedo. I find it hard to believe that if you have three layers of protection (1 Deflector Shield, 2 cast rodinium superstructure, 3 iron based asteroid), a single plasma torpedo would have blown the shield, rendered the rodinium hull, and iron -based rock useless and damaged the outposts with just one shot, I can see two or three shots.
Actually, Hansen said the first attack had blown out their deflector shield, and we then saw the Romulan ship return for a second attack on the now-defenseless outpost. Clearly the rodinium shielding was imploded in the second blast.


Also, according to "Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise", the Enterprise's shields are produced when a coil of diburnium/osmium is scanned at the subatomic level, then replicated as energy. There's also a screenshot of this in Star Trek Into Darkness.

http://vimeo.com/72019454 look at around the 25 second mark.
I'm sorry, but that's probably the most ridiculous attempt at an explanation for deflector shields that's ever been devised. "Replicated as energy?" What does that even mean? It's total gibberish. And you can't read too much into screen graphics. They're not meant to be an integral part of the story, just a bit of background texture, so filling space is more important than making sense.



Mytran wrote: View Post
Before the days of online transcripts, I always heard Spock's line as "castro-dinium", which muddies the water even further!
You're not alone. Peter David has always called it "castrodinium" in his novels, and David A. Goodman calls it that in Federation: The First 150 Years.
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Old May 5 2014, 04:34 AM   #6
SicOne
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

I would not at all be surprised to discover that castrodinium is a rare mineral only found on a certain island in the Caribbean...
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Old May 5 2014, 09:06 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

...Scraped off the floors of certain restaurants frequented by the elite?

As for the potency of the Romulan weapon, I'd think a burp of deadly plasma would be eminently scalable: against helplessly stationary targets, the ship could afford to launch a massive and massively devastating cloud, but mobile targets such as starships would warrant smaller doses, perhaps with the time and energy saved now available for acceleration and steering.

(It doesn't look like a "torpedo", and is never referred to as such; it could well be a "semi-active" weapon, with the cloud being guided and propelled and perhaps contained by a field projected by the firing vessel. In contrast, the plasma torpedoes mentioned in DS9 could be completely different weapons, as we never see the Romulan variant, and the Cardassian one has the classic properties of the photon or quantum or trilithium torpedo, that is, it's a compact projectile that slams into the target in one glowing piece.)

I guess one of the layers of protection for the asteroid fortresses would be stealth. There could be millions of rocks out there, and the Romulans would not be expected to know which fifty or so to target, not even after a century of guessing. But if the forts operated active deflector shields every time there was an alert, they'd be relatively easy to spot, yet if they did not defend themselves, they'd be toast - hence some investment in physical armor that is passive and therefore relatively stealthy.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old May 6 2014, 05:11 PM   #8
Robert Comsol
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

This sounds like another variation of the U-Boat war theme in "Balance of Terror", except now it's the Earth outpost that does the silent running where the BoP assumes the part of the surface destroyer.

But I think any Earth outpost would have given away its position the moment it broke subspace radio silence.

Bob
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Old May 6 2014, 09:53 PM   #9
Timo
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Definitely. So they wouldn't break the silence, not until attacked.

Alternatives to subspace communication include sending messages to a relay station by unobservable lightspeed tightbeam, or using some sort of subspace tightbeam if such exists, or simply staying silent between crew rotations.

What role might these outposts play in imprisoning the Romulans, or in combating a breakout attempt? Are they just "machine gun towers" firing at enemy ships with big phasers? Do they control swarms of drones that close the gaps between the asteroid forts? Do they deploy such swarms only in times of crisis? What other weapon systems would be compatible with "BoT"? Why would Romulans need to attack the outposts in the first place?

The scale of the tactical map has some relevance to this: outposts hemming in a single star system might form a tactically solid chain or, preferably, wall with phaser firepower, but outposts dotting a border around multiple star systems would be too distant from each other to close the gaps with weapons alone. Then again, even TNG with its decidedly multi-star-system Romulan Star Empire seems to feature low numbers of outposts: only two-digit numbers are quoted, which would be statistically quite unlikely for a "solid coverage" fortress system necessarily featuring millions of outposts. Some sort of a "kingpin" rather than "chainmail link" role thus is suggested...

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Old May 7 2014, 12:54 PM   #10
Robert Comsol
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Timo wrote: View Post
Definitely. So they wouldn't break the silence, not until attacked.
...or contacted by a starship like the Enterprise in BoT.

Timo wrote: View Post
What role might these outposts play in imprisoning the Romulans, or in combating a breakout attempt?
Probably just watchtowers to report a possible massing of Romulan ships on the other side, their entering of the Neutral Zone and eventually the invasion of Federation territory?

Timo wrote: View Post
Why would Romulans need to attack the outposts in the first place?
I think they partially hated the idea that some aliens were watching their movement and actions.

Probably the Romulans demanded "Bread and Circuses" (i.e. free-to-air TV and radio) and where fed up with cable TV in order not to be exposed to these humans.

But from the context of the episode it seemed clear that the Romulans wanted to test the UFP's reaction and willingness to enter yet another war (reminds me uncomfortably of current events in Ukraine).

The Romulan Commander didn't seem too happy about this prospect ("Another war for the homeland"), actually I thought he was rather relieved in the end that they had failed and thus discouraged another war with Earth and "its allies".

Yet, this didn't prevent another Romulan ship later to penetrate the UFP's defense perimeters (according to "Whom Gods Destroy"). Being defeated near Tau Ceti (just 11 light years from Earth!) by the Enterprise isn't exactly a great testament to the reliability of the Federation's defensive capabilities.

Bob
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Old May 7 2014, 01:35 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

...or contacted by a starship like the Enterprise in BoT.
Yup. But a starship hail wouldn't be directed at anything specific; it would suffice for the outpost to refrain from answering. Unless it was under attack already, of course. Or aware that Romulans were attacking sister outposts and thus had a means of pinpointing those already.

(Or we could speculate that subspace communications depend on A-to-B channels, and this is why the comm officer can immediately tell that the alien ship is refusing to answer, instead of merely being slow to do so - the channel won't open unless B agrees to opening it, and refusal can be immediately detected. But if a channel is required, does it mean an arrow pointing from A to B exists? Wouldn't the channel be a very private thing by default, invisible to outsiders?)

But from the context of the episode it seemed clear that the Romulans wanted to test the UFP's reaction and willingness to enter yet another war (reminds me uncomfortably of current events in Ukraine).
Seems so. Now, what was the result?

The attacks were a success. The UFP defeated the attacker eventually, but did not go to war. Shouldn't that have been a near-best-case scenario for the Romulans? If so, why was there no follow-on? Why did even the Commander think there would be no war now? Was the mission a failure after all?

Was the invisible ship on an operational mission, expected to achieve more devastation before the Romulan armada would launch through the resulting gap? Or was she on a mere test flight but was expected to survive, thus verifying the technological solutions on which the armada depended?

Yet, this didn't prevent another Romulan ship later to penetrate the UFP's defense perimeters (according to "Whom Gods Destroy"). Being defeated near Tau Ceti (just 11 light years from Earth!) by the Enterprise isn't exactly a great testament to the reliability of the Federation's defensive capabilities.
...Unless this is just another simulation besides Kobayashi Maru that Jim Kirk is worlds-famous for defeating.

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Old May 7 2014, 02:42 PM   #12
blssdwlf
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Timo wrote: View Post
...or contacted by a starship like the Enterprise in BoT.
Yup. But a starship hail wouldn't be directed at anything specific; it would suffice for the outpost to refrain from answering. Unless it was under attack already, of course. Or aware that Romulans were attacking sister outposts and thus had a means of pinpointing those already.
I suspect that the outposts were never stealthy or any attempt to hide them because they were probably meant as a deterrent and agreed upon by treaty.

In anycase, the Enterprise patrolling as a deterrent would likely be announcing its position to the outposts and the outposts can direct a tight beam signal to the Enterprise and vice-versa.

Timo wrote: View Post
But from the context of the episode it seemed clear that the Romulans wanted to test the UFP's reaction and willingness to enter yet another war (reminds me uncomfortably of current events in Ukraine).
Seems so. Now, what was the result?

The attacks were a success. The UFP defeated the attacker eventually, but did not go to war. Shouldn't that have been a near-best-case scenario for the Romulans? If so, why was there no follow-on? Why did even the Commander think there would be no war now? Was the mission a failure after all?

Was the invisible ship on an operational mission, expected to achieve more devastation before the Romulan armada would launch through the resulting gap? Or was she on a mere test flight but was expected to survive, thus verifying the technological solutions on which the armada depended?
The question would be how much information do the Romulans have and how confident are they with launching an invasion? If the Romulans operate by doing something only if success was assured then the loss of the "Praetor's finest" could have stalled the approval to attack until the cloak was improved.

If their Intelligence service was able to gather info that the Feds could still track their ships then they might wait until they perfected the cloak. That would lead to perhaps another "test", say a new Romulan cloaked ship got as far as Tau Ceti before detected and destroyed. And the follow-up would be "The Enterprise Incident" where they perfect the cloak only to have its secrets stolen before an invasion could be mounted.
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Old May 8 2014, 10:57 AM   #13
Timo
Admiral
 
Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

If the future of the Star Empire hinged on this mission's complete success, we might assume there would have been backups in place: one invisible vessel to attempt the mission, sixty standing by in case something went wrong, and a conventional armada of six thousand to execute Plans B through Z if even the backup failed.

But we can refer to this mission being solicited by a "Praetor", who in the (republican) Roman model would be an ambitious but far from omnipotent character trying to grab more power through various grand schemes, usually military campaigns. Perhaps the Star Empire would have sent sufficient backup for a mission actually solicited by the Star Emperor, but the Praetors (somewhat "anachronistically" coexisting with the Emperor) could not command the resources of the entire Empire in their little schemes. They'd have to risk everything to prove themselves first. And their enemies, say, the other Praetors, would readily interpret any hiccup in the mission as failure.

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Old May 8 2014, 02:18 PM   #14
blssdwlf
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

That's possible. But I can see them not launching a war if the devices they're relying on to achieve victory turns out to be:
1. cloaking device is detectable and can be tracked
2. plasma torpedo unable to destroy an enemy starship
3. all new devices no longer a mystery/surprise to the Federation.

Basically, there isn't any surprise or assured victory anymore through the new cloaking device and plasma weapon.

This can be argued for either political situation in the RSE.
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Old May 8 2014, 02:42 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Rodinium and Diburinium/Osmium

Loss of surprise factor would be the automatic outcome of failing to kill starships, I guess. Perhaps the Romulans were counting on not encountering any starships in this mission?

It might be that the plasma weapon was never intended to work against maneuverable opponents (although it did very well against a vessel at "emergency warp", a performance one wouldn't expect from a weapon designed for use against fixed fortifications only). Perhaps the mission was a complete success otherwise, but the unexpected presence of a starship exposed the whole thing and nullified the accomplishments.

I mean, we don't get the impression that the RNZ would be a Starfleet priority. Probably the outposts are there exactly so that Starfleet doesn't need to tie down any starships with patrol duty, and Kirk just performed an (un)fortunate spot check.

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