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

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Old September 3 2008, 06:00 AM   #1
Brannigan
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Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

I was watching this episode last night and never realized how bad the science of the Federation cloaking device is. First off let me say, I have always considered the cloaking device to be more of a stealth effect. I believe it was in Star Trek VI when the Enterprise was searching for the BOP that they saw its outline on the viewscreen. It was faint but it clarified for me what a cloaking device does: its a type of a shield that renders the ship invisible to tracking devices and to the naked eye by reflecting the scenery around it (E.g the Bird of Prey in Golden Gate park from Star Trek IV).
However, how does the Federation cloaking device work in the Pegasus? It allows a ship to pass through solid matter? To my knowledge we have never seen a cloaking device like this before or after this episode. The ability to pass through matter, even uncloaked, would allow a ship to have a great strategic value against enemies, but again how does it work? Any thoughts?
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Old September 3 2008, 07:17 AM   #2
Unicron
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

It's possible the cloak incorporated some aspect of transporter technology to accomplish the phasing, though it would seem to me that such a complex cloak would be more power-hungry than a standard one. I've often gotten the impression that the experimental cloak in TUC had that flaw, it allowed the BOP to use its weapons cloaked but made the ship's energy trail more visible than normal. That's why after the prototype was destroyed, no further research into this form of cloak was done.
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Old September 3 2008, 03:11 PM   #3
JNG
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

Brannigan wrote: View Post
To my knowledge we have never seen a cloaking device like this before or after this episode.
There was another one in TNG, "The Next Phase." The Romulans were working on it. Spoiler: they didn't seem to be able to get it quite right, either.

Star Trek has this weird idea that things have to be "in phase" with our universe or whatever or they just start...disappearing. It'd be pure speculation and technobabble to try to define this any better, but in fairness, it is something that appears pretty consistently in Trek and seems somewhat well-understood by them; phasers can cause people to "transition out of the continuum" and somehow do this at a lower setting than the one it takes to cause explosive disruption effects.

You can dummy up an explanation using different layers of subspace or whatever if you like. But all we really have on this flavor of cloak is what they say in the episode: it somehow "phases" the ship (I'd guess using the shield grid or SIF?) so that it does not interact, or only interacts very weakly, with everything not so phased. Hence it is not easily detectable.

I wonder what would happen if two ships so phased encountered one another. "The Next Phase" may be hinting that they could interact with one another in this shared state.

It's a neat tech idea, but seems to be really hard to pull off, considering the Romulans, our resident cloaking experts, didn't fare well with it either. To future methods of hiding! (But not for the Federation. We neither explore nor protect in stealth.)
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Old September 3 2008, 05:36 PM   #4
Deks
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

In the episode 'The next phase', the Romulans coupled a phased inverted with their cloaking device.
Their result was not exactly stellar ... the Feds on the other hand had this technology for 12 years ... only yes, it wasn't until the last season of TNG that they remembered to retrieve it.

Either way, the device worked just fine on the Enterprise-D and was operating on the same principles like the Romulan version ... with a minor modification to avoid the overload that happened on the Pegasus.
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Old September 4 2008, 07:03 AM   #5
Brannigan
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

So in other words, the impression Im getting is that the Federation cloak (and likewise the Romulan Cloak from The Next Phase) essentially cause a ship to phase out of our universe,thus appearing cloaked and at the same time to allowing it to move through objects in our universe that might not be in another universe?
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Old September 4 2008, 07:58 AM   #6
Timo
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

Right.

Also, "Time's Arrow" uses the phasing terminology in an interesting way: apparently, when you get out of phase, you start living slightly in the future or in the past...

Which sort of makes sense. If the existence of A really switches a fraction of a second into the past (stays put), B who stays put (switches a fraction of a second into the future) will never quite be able to sense the things emanating from A, such as the interaction between A's atoms, or between the atoms of A and B - and thus B will keep walking through A as if A weren't there.

It then becomes an issue of whether one believes in Stephen King's Langoliers, i.e. the concept that once a moment of time has passed, the universe represented by that moment will become a sort of lingering waste, "remaining behind" (until perhaps somehow erased, but probably still not by hungry beasts as postulated by King!). If so, then B living in the future will leave "behind" all sorts of interactions that A can observe, but not vice versa.

That would jibe nicely with "The Next Phase". If LaForge and Ro were a bit in the past, their attempts at communicating with the rest of the heroes would be futile because they would always be "too late". Yet LaForge and Ro would be able to observe what the other heroes had just done a moment ago.

However, the "echo of what had just happened" might be quickly fading (eaten by langoliers if you like), weakening the interactions so that LaForge and Ro's eyes would still catch enough of the photons to see Picard, (perhaps dimly, but our eyes are very adaptive to such things), the atoms making up their ears would still get pounded by enough of the photons that make air molecules bump onto each other and carry sound (perhaps greatly muted sound, but our ears are very adaptive to such things) - but the atoms in their hands would catch an insufficient amount of the photons that make the walls feel solid, so the application of enough force would allow Ro to push her hand (whose own atoms still see the photons of each other clearly and thus retain perfect solidity) through a console.

Also, since the rules of this are all made up anyway, it could well be that gravity (the ability to stand on the AG nets inside the floors) lingers better than electromagnetic interaction (solidity of walls and consoles and potted plants).

The only remaining problem in "The Next Phase" would then be, how did the lungs of our protagonists manage to interact with the lingering but fading oxygen molecules of the environment. Unlike our eyes and ears, our lungs should not be able to adapt so easily to, say, a diminishing of capacity to one-tenth or one-hundredth of former.

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Old September 4 2008, 10:20 PM   #7
Dukhat
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

And don't forget how being phased lets one pass through walls, yet feet are still touching solid floor and not falling through it. Explain that one, huh?
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Old September 5 2008, 02:50 AM   #8
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

The phasing might not be even across the person's body. It's the same reason they can breathe and not have the air particles simply pass through their lungs.

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Old September 5 2008, 03:08 AM   #9
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

there are so many ways they can go around that treaty without breaking it. unless every iteration of "cloaking" was mentioned, maybe even just a name change would be enough. also, that new transwarp tech that voyager took home would be better.

i don't understand why they never developed cloak tech detection because that was not part of the treaty and it would just seem logical that you'd want to be able to detect it. seems easy enough as the crew of the ent was able to "rig" one up, even though crude and not so precise" in a matter of seconds or minutes. imagine what they can come up with if they actually have time. it would basically negate the use of cloaking tech.

one cheap and easy way i could think of would be nanobot spraying. laying them out like landmines and they will be virtually undetectible by ships because it's not standard procedure to detect for something that small. cloaked ships brush up against the nanobots and they will be detected. one problem is that their size would make them vulnerable to various forms of movement and could give false readings.
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Old September 5 2008, 06:21 AM   #10
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

They did develop it, though that didn't stop the Romulans from keeping the cloak reasonably stealthy. Tachyon beams were used as one form, seen in "Redemption" and also referenced in "Face of the Enemy."

As you said, there are certainly ways to circumvent the treaty, which is one reason it's rather silly as presented. One of the most obvious ways is to simply ask the Klingons for a cloaked ship, as was done occasionally. There's nothing the Romulans can do to stop such an action short of war, and they're not stupid enough to do so.
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Old September 5 2008, 07:27 AM   #11
Timo
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

But there's nothing short of war that the Romulans can do to stop the Feds from designing and building their own cloak, either.

Indeed, if the Feds were caught using a Klingon cloaking device, there probably would be war. Which is why they had to grovel in front of the Romulans and get one of theirs for "The Search".

And don't forget how being phased lets one pass through walls, yet feet are still touching solid floor and not falling through it. Explain that one, huh?
Oh, that has always been the easy part: the phasing effect affects (artificial) gravity interaction differently from electromagnetic interaction. The former pulls the people down, but only far enough to hit the AG netting inside the floor; the latter makes the environs visible, keeps the walls solid, provides the heat, and allows for chemical reactions. The episode would indeed play out as shown if gravity was reduced to, say, 80% efficiency but electromagnetism would be less than 10% effective, and if our protagonists were phase-shifted into the past.

...With two pressing problems: how can they breathe, and how come they don't freeze?

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Old September 6 2008, 02:17 PM   #12
Longinus
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

I always hated that phasing episode. It made no sense whatsoever.
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Old September 6 2008, 08:16 PM   #13
Deks
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

Longinus wrote: View Post
I always hated that phasing episode. It made no sense whatsoever.
I found it enjoyable to watch, but also disliked the fact so many things with the two of them phased made 0 sense.
It wasn't even attempted to be explained how they're breathing and whatnot.
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Old September 7 2008, 04:10 AM   #14
Tigger
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

If the writer's don't sweat the details, I figure why should I?
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Old September 7 2008, 10:04 PM   #15
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Re: Cloaking Device in "The Pegasus"

Deks wrote: View Post
In the episode 'The next phase', the Romulans coupled a phased inverted with their cloaking device.
Their result was not exactly stellar ... the Feds on the other hand had this technology for 12 years ... only yes, it wasn't until the last season of TNG that they remembered to retrieve it.

Either way, the device worked just fine on the Enterprise-D and was operating on the same principles like the Romulan version ... with a minor modification to avoid the overload that happened on the Pegasus.
Remember, though, that the UFP phasing cloak only worked so very well, because the Feds had been developing it for a long time, during a cold-war op, that was in direct violation of the Treaty of Algeron. If the Feds had done what the Romulans did with their cloak, the result may have had been the same.
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