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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Movies > Star Trek Movies I-X

Star Trek Movies I-X Discuss the first ten big screen outings in this forum!

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Old June 19 2009, 05:17 PM   #1
All Seeing Eye
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Location: The Astral Light Realms
Transparent Alluminium

Why did Scotty need the Aluminium to be transparent? why was the transparency of the Aluminium so important that he invented transparent Aluminium earlier than it should have been?

I understand the need to build a tank but they only really needed something to hold back the water to keep the whales in the tank. Why was transparency so important? did he really go to all that trouble just so he could visually see the whales in the tank?

Also why Aluminium? why not use a sheet of Titanium, it would have been stronger and they could have used a thinner sheet.
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Old June 19 2009, 05:20 PM   #2
DiSiLLUSiON
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Transparent Aluminum needs to be transparent, for when it is not, it's not Transparent Aluminum but standard Aluminum.
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Old June 19 2009, 05:43 PM   #3
Xerxes1979
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Location: Gamma Hydra Section 10
Re: Transparent Alluminium

Ah, but we 20th century humans would have a use for its transparency.

Scott was willing to trade the secrets of aluminum's transparency for what otherwise would have been a very expensive metal or plexiglass fabrication order.

Remember all they had to trade for cash was Kirk's eyeglasses.


In the grand scheme of things a few extra inches from the plexiglass is nothing next the massive volume of the enclosed tank. At least Gillian can check on the health of the whales more easily if the tank is see through. Perhaps the whales were clausterphobic. Spock would know having mind melded with them.
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Old June 19 2009, 06:19 PM   #4
All Seeing Eye
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

You're not telling me the BoP couldn't just take off to a builders yard and beam up a large sheet of metal.
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Old June 19 2009, 06:22 PM   #5
Christopher
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Well, maybe "transparent aluminum" isn't really aluminum. Every few months, someone posts an item online about "Hey, they've invented transparent aluminum!" -- which really just means that some other newswriter or blogger has come across the existence of alumina glass, a strong variety of glass that's based on aluminum oxide (alumina, aka corundum and emery) rather than silicon dioxide (silica). It's a ceramic rather than a metal, and it's only in the past few years that scientists have figured out how to make alumina ceramics transparent rather than opaque -- essentially making a very strong variety of glass which has potential applications as transparent armor.

Of course, if this were the substance in question, Scotty would've known better than to call it "transparent aluminum," because alumina isn't aluminum any more than water is hydrogen or salt is chlorine. But aside from the name, it seems like a pretty good match for what was in the movie. They didn't need metal for the whale tank, they needed a strong armor material that would withstand the mass of all that water suddenly being beamed into it. So maybe we can pretend that Scotty was really saying "transparent alumina."
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Old June 19 2009, 06:26 PM   #6
The Laughing Vulcan
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

I thought he was trading the secret of transparent aluminium for six inch thick plexiglass.

I don't think he was expecting them to make the aluminium then and there. Besides Nichols said it would take him years to figure out the 'dynamics of the matrix'. It's been 23 years, how long does he need?
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Old June 19 2009, 06:56 PM   #7
Christopher
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

The Laughing Vulcan wrote: View Post
I thought he was trading the secret of transparent aluminium for six inch thick plexiglass.
Hmm, I just looked over the script, and you may be right. I always assumed that they needed something stronger than Plexiglas and were arranging with Nichols to make it for them. But that is a good point about Nichols saying it would take years to figure out. And I guess the box hanging from the helicopter looks more like it's holding something six inches thick than one inch thick.

Hm. You learn something new every day.
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Old June 19 2009, 09:09 PM   #8
BriGuy
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Christopher wrote: View Post
The Laughing Vulcan wrote: View Post
I thought he was trading the secret of transparent aluminium for six inch thick plexiglass.
Hmm, I just looked over the script, and you may be right. I always assumed that they needed something stronger than Plexiglas and were arranging with Nichols to make it for them. But that is a good point about Nichols saying it would take years to figure out. And I guess the box hanging from the helicopter looks more like it's holding something six inches thick than one inch thick.

Hm. You learn something new every day.
Exactly. They used the available, thick Plexiglas to make the tank walls. They did not use transparent aluminum for the tank. Scotty used the formula for it to trade for the material that was available and needed.

Since Plexicorp (right name?) makes Plexiglas, then they would be interested in something like transparent aluminum. Scotty knew that.
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Old June 19 2009, 10:18 PM   #9
All Seeing Eye
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

No, he meant years to work it out as in it would take years to work it out without Scotty giving it to him in advance.
Scotty made it clear he needed something strong and only a certain thickness and that in the year they were in there was nothing that was strong enough without it being too thick.
Remember when Scotty and McCoy told that plexiglass guy what they needed the guy said they couldn't make plexiglass that strong so small which is precisely why Scotty gave him the information for transparent aluminium..

That's what I have a the beef with, he COULD have used a sheet of pure metal and it would have sufficed but he wanted it to be transparent which is why he had to invent Transparent Aluminium early.
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Old June 19 2009, 10:32 PM   #10
DiSiLLUSiON
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Of course it had to be transparent, how else could the whales have enjoyed the view?
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Old June 19 2009, 10:55 PM   #11
Xerxes1979
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

A ten foot tank would only have a water pressure of some 19 psi (131 kPa).

Maybe some engineer can chime in on how much plexiglass it would take.

I am assuming Scotty's tank is 10'x60'x30' in order to get his 18,000 cubic feet (50,9703 L)figure.

Last edited by Xerxes1979; June 19 2009 at 11:15 PM.
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Old June 19 2009, 11:00 PM   #12
All Seeing Eye
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Xerxes1979 wrote: View Post
A ten foot tank would only have a water pressure of some 19 psi.

Maybe some engineer can chime in on how much plexiglass it would take.

I am assuming Scotty's tank is 10'x60'x30' in order to get his 18,000 cubic feet figure.
You're forgetting the weight of two whopping great big hump back whales in a small confined space.
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Old June 19 2009, 11:04 PM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Transparent Alluminium

Tachyon Shield wrote: View Post
No, he meant years to work it out as in it would take years to work it out without Scotty giving it to him in advance.
Scotty made it clear he needed something strong and only a certain thickness and that in the year they were in there was nothing that was strong enough without it being too thick.
Remember when Scotty and McCoy told that plexiglass guy what they needed the guy said they couldn't make plexiglass that strong so small which is precisely why Scotty gave him the information for transparent aluminium...
That's what I believed until a few hours ago. Then I reviewed the actual lines from the script and realized there are some unverified assumptions in that interpretation.
SCOTTY
Doctor Nichols, I might have
something to offer you.

NICHOLS
... Yes?

SCOTTY
I notice you're still working with
polymers.

NICHOLS
(mystified)
Sill? What else would I be working
with?

SCOTTY
Ah, what else indeed? Let me put it
another way: how thick would a piece
of your plexiglass need to be at 60
feet by 10 feet to withstand the
pressure of 18,000 cubic feet of
water?

NICHOLS
That's easy: 6 inches. We carry
stuff that big in stock.

SCOTTY
Yes, I noticed. Now suppose -- just
suppose -- I could show you a way to
manufacture a wall that would do the
same job but was only an inch thick.
would that be worth something to
you, eh?

...

An awesome series of figures and graphics are
appearing. PULL BACK to reveal Scotty, now master of
the keyboard, while Nichols watches in awe, next to
Bones. with a flourish, Scotty hits a last command,
and a wondrous three dimensional graphic appears.

NICHOLS
(wide-eyed)
Transparent aluminum?

SCOTTY
That's the ticket, laddie.

NICHOLS
... But it would take years just to
figure out the dynamics of this
matrix...!

BONES
You'll be rich beyond the dreams of
avarice.

SCOTTY
So, is it worth something? Or
should I just punch "clear"...
Nobody ever actually says that they need something stronger than Plexiglas, not in the script, anyway. And the discussion of the relative strengths of Plexiglas and transparent aluminum takes place within the context of Scotty offering something to Nichols. So this morning, I would've agreed with your interpretation, but now that I've heard another interpretation and considered the details of the scene, I think I was wrong.

I mean, think about it. Even if the formula Scotty gave Nichols was all that he needed to know, there's no way that equipment designed for making Plexiglas, which is a synthetic polymer made of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen and formed into sheets either by casting liquid methyl methacrylate or extruding and homogenizing solid pellets of same, could be adapted to make transparent alumina armor, which is a ceramic made of aluminum, oxygen, and nitrogen and is produced by various arcane, specialized techniques. Plexicorp would've needed to manufacture whole new equipment to make the formula into reality. There would've needed to be extensive tests and calibrations of that equipment to make sure it was capable of doing the job. They would've had to train technicians to work the equipment. They would've had to run through multiple test batches to fine-tune the equipment and their skills until they got it right. Even given all the information they needed, it would've taken weeks at least to produce usable results. But Kirk's crew was in the 20th century for only a few days.

So I was wrong. I made an assumption that, I'm sure you'll agree, is reasonable enough to draw from a cursory recollection of the scene, but that doesn't hold up to further analysis. The whale tank was made of Plexiglas, and Scotty paid for it with the formula for transparent alumina/um.


Tachyon Shield wrote: View Post
Xerxes1979 wrote: View Post
A ten foot tank would only have a water pressure of some 19 psi....
You're forgetting the weight of two whopping great big hump back whales in a small confined space.
Whales are pretty much neutrally buoyant, otherwise they'd sink. That means their density is approximately equal to the density of the water they displace.
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Old June 19 2009, 11:06 PM   #14
Xerxes1979
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Location: Gamma Hydra Section 10
Re: Transparent Alluminium

The whales would displace a volume of water equal to their mass.

The effect on the tank would be the same if it contained only water or two whales and a lesser amount of water.
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Old June 20 2009, 02:29 PM   #15
cheeseyfatmonkey
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Location: Greater London
Re: Transparent Alluminium

BONES

Would you mind telling me how we

plan to convert this tank?



SCOTTY

Ordinarily, I could do it with a

piece of transparent aluminum...



SULU

You're about 150 years too early for

that.



SCOTTY

I know. We've got to find the 20th

Century equivalent.
It's funny but I was watching this on Wednesday (just got back from surgery and has it waiting for me from Lovefilm) and it was the first time I felt that it was a trade. The above section of the script suggests that it wasn't Transparent Aluminium they were after.

There is a very brief scene when the sheets are being lowered into the tank where you see one being put into place without the wooden crate and it's clear that it is several inches thick.

http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/a...13/tvh0712.jpg

Last edited by cheeseyfatmonkey; June 20 2009 at 02:47 PM. Reason: Adding a link
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