22nd Romulan Cloaking

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Enterprise' started by Ketrick, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    What if the ship and mines in "Minefield" didn't use cloaking devices but rather used holographic camouflage in combination with stealth technology and sensor jammers to mimic the effects of cloaking and this wasn't discovered until the Earth-Romulan War? Do you think this theory suitably explains why the Romulans appeared to have cloaking technology a century before they were supposed to have it?
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^If you look over the whole history of ST, there's plenty of evidence that cloaking devices aren't a single technology, but a succession of different technologies that get penetrated and then replaced by new stealth systems in an ongoing arms race between concealment and detection. Consider: In "Balance of Terror," the Romulans' cloak rendered them invisible to optical detection, but their ships still registered on motion sensors; yet by "The Enterprise Incident," that problem had been solved and the ships were totally undetectable. By ST III, Klingon cloaks were detectable by a visual distortion, and had to be dropped before a ship could fire; yet by ST VI the Klingons invented a new type of cloak that had no visual distortion and that could be kept up while firing. And Spock figured out how to penetrate that type of cloak. Yet by TNG, over 70 years later, cloaking technology is impenetrable again and ships do still need to decloak in order to fire.

    So canon already gave us several cycles of different cloaking technologies being rendered obsolete and supplanted by new ones long before ENT came along. Therefore, ENT's 22nd-century version of cloaking is not a mystery or a paradox at all; it fits in just fine with all the other forms of cloaking that have been developed, penetrated, and discarded.
     
  3. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    A much less convoluted answer: They simply ignored Spock's lines about cloaking devices being an amazing theoretical technology in "Balance of Terror", as well as what was said about the level of technology used during the Romulan War.

    Remember, for the spirit of Spock's comments to work (he didn't refer to the Romulans but the technology of invisibility in general), you also have to ignore or work around the cloaking Xyrillians and Suliban from Enterprise too. Looking at Trek's "big picture", cloaks very much weren't theoretical but something proven to work in the 2150's. Therefore, it's easiest just to go with the retcon.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^I don't agree. I think it's likely that it's something like what Ketrick suggests -- that those early cloaks were just some sort of holographic camouflage (consistent with the Romulan technology seen in the "Babel One" arc) or sensor masking, something which Federation science had long since penetrated, so that what we saw in BoT had to be true invisibility, something that even the best Starfleet sensors couldn't see through -- and that's what Spock was saying was extremely difficult to achieve.

    Sure, there are times when it's just too much trouble to rationalize an inconsistency and it's simpler just to accept it as a continuity error and not worry about it. But this is not one of those times. It's not that hard at all to reconcile. Particularly since it fits neatly into the progression of different cloaking technologies that's been implicit in ST since 1968. It would be a mistake to treat all cloaking technology as a single thing. Common sense alone tells us that there would be a constant competition between stealth and detection technologies -- the idea that cloaking tech in the 24th century is anything like cloaking tech in the 23rd is irrational on the face of it, even aside from the onscreen evidence. There would have to be a progression of different stealth technologies which might not be related to each other at all, which might use totally different methods of concealment than those used by previous stealth technologies that were penetrated decades earlier. Even if one were creating an entirely new universe and postulating the existence of some kind of cloaking tech, that would be a logical assumption to make. And it just happens to provide a perfect explanation for the apparent inconsistencies in the onscreen portrayals of cloaking tech in ST. This is one case where those onscreen inconsistencies actually make things more believable.
     
  5. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    You make some good points. Though, my understanding was that cloaking had to involve the bending of light around an object to make it invisible not the use of a hologram projecting an image which makes the object blend in with its surroundings. However, I suppose that's just an argument from semantics.


    Well, the Suliban having cloaking technology is probably due to Future Guy giving it to them and as for the Xyrillians, a similar argument could be made to explain it as I did for the Romulans since they also had holgraphic tech. Also, I believe it was only said onscreen that the Xyrillians had stealth. Though ultimately, that was a mere technicality.
     
  6. Ríu ríu chíu

    Ríu ríu chíu Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think the subsequent ENT novels explained it simply enough. The cloaks seen in "Minefield" were so experimental and untested that the ships which used them self-destructed from the power overload. It took a hundred years to develop a cloak that actually worked properly. I don't see the problem in a retcon like that.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, I've long had a problem with the old stock sci-fi approach to cloaking tech: "Amazing! They can bend light around themselves! The technology is astounding!" The assumption is that bending light requires some kind of advanced, powerful space warp, like a gravity lens. But that's overcomplicating the problem. All you need to change the path light takes is a lens or a mirror. Magicians have been using mirrors to make things "invisible" for centuries. Now we're developing metamaterials that can potentially do something similar on a much finer scale. Before too much longer, ST's idea that invisibility requires some advanced, power-draining energy field may look extremely quaint. It's more of a materials problem.
     
  8. Saul

    Saul Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like the idea of it been a type of holographic phase cloak. Though they do seem surprised at even the idea of invisible ships 100 years later.
     
  9. E-DUB

    E-DUB Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Take a picture of what's behind you, reverse it, project it in front of you, simple. I've always figured that there was a sort of "arms race" between the people creating cloaking devices and the people creating sensors.
     
  10. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    I think they were essentially explaining to the audience of 1966 that the concept of an invisible spaceship is scientifically plausible and not the pure magic it may seem. Fast forward to 2001, and invisible spaceships were common. That's why I see ENT's use of cloaks as a simple retcon, and no biggie.
     
  11. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    I tend to agree about the technological progression, and I can think of at least two instances in TNG - "Tin Man" and "Face of the Enemy" where it was shown that Romulan ships had to balance systems very carefully to keep the ship fully masked by the cloak. Any small imbalance could make detection more likely.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The root of the problem is that "Balance of Terror" categorically declares that invisibility of any sort is astounding, theoretical and all-new to our heroes.

    Spock has some ideas about the technologies needed to accomplish this, perhaps correct, perhaps wholly erroneous. But he has never seen an invisible ship, so to speak, and has never heard or read of anybody who would have.

    This is anomalous even in the context of TOS itself, where invisibility subsequently is rather humdrum. Heck, the Thasians in "Charlie X" had something Uhura considered a "ship", and that one appeared out of nowhere, too!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Cr031k

    Cr031k Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    ;)Tucker's arm cloaked accidentally for more than a day was probably a little more than holographic tech... :-)
     
  14. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    True. However, you misunderstood me. I didn't say the Suliban cloak used holographic tech. In a reply, I wrote the Suliban probably got cloaking tech from the future. I only said the Romulans and possibly the Xyrillians used holographics to give the appearance of being cloaked.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which makes a lot of sense, because we know that both groups did use holographic tech -- the Xyrillians in their holodecks and the Romulans in their camouflaged robot ship in season 4.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    And for all we know, the Romulan cloak in TOS and TNG is based on the very same principle, and none other exists in the Trek universe - save for the phase cloak, which is the one and only innovation in the field, and justly revered for this.

    This doesn't explain why Spock would remain ignorant of Xyrillian and Romulan invisibility as late as the 2260s - never mind Suliban invisibility, a technology Starfleet itself exploited to notable tactical gain. Sure, invisibility might be a major military secret, and its use generally so limited that civilians need not learn of it. Starfleet thus might practice self-censorship and only inform certain key officers of this technology and its past uses. But nothing in TOS or other Trek makes this particularly likely; invisibility is quite commonplace there, and likely to be encountered by all sorts of spacefarers.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually, TOS and TNG episodes suggest that 23rd and 24th cloaks work on different principles than the holographic camouflage I'm suggesting. Also, I may be splitting hairs, but an argument could be made that what I'm suggesting doesn't actually contradict Spock because the ships and mines aren't really invisible they're merely blending in with their surroundings. Also, Section 31 probably hid the info on the Suliban cloaking info and possibly covered up all info on the Temporal Cold War potentially explaining why Daniels said certain things weren't supposed to happen yet they were not reversed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2013
  18. Loskene

    Loskene Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    They never actually used the Bird of Prey cloak for anything useful in the show. The lines "a ship is approaching" and "they are moving off" could have sufficed for both incidence of use.

    The Mines themselves should have been the first appearance of a primitive useless cloak that only works on stationary objects with a low power source explaining the weak childlike quarter kiloton yield.

    Frankly their use of ship cloaks in Enterprise even for the Suliban was unnecessary when they could have used say some type of sensor blocker. Visual detection is not something they use much in Star Trek, the view screen is mostly a sensor readout put to images.

    Between that and the Ferengi and the Borg they should not have kicked cannon so much in the balls and hand waved it away with silly explanations like they didn't drop their name. Enterprise was good but it could have been just as good without the avoidable beaches in cannon.
     
  19. Ketrick

    Ketrick Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't mind the Ferengis or the Borg showing up too much. For one thing, first contact with the Ferengi was at Roswell in 1947 so "Acquisition" didn't mess with that and for another "Regeneration" merely picked up a thread from First Contact.
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    And it's a myth that canon pre-Enterprise was all that consistent. TOS had a lot of inconsistencies, since they were making up the world as they went. Was it James R. Kirk or James T. Kirk? Was it one of Spock's ancestors who married a human or his father? Was the Enterprise an Earth ship or a Federation ship? TWOK contains some major continuity conflicts with "Space Seed" and the rest of TOS -- Khan recognizing Chekov, his followers being uniformly Nordic rather than multiethnic, Kirk having "never faced death" despite having lost Gary, Sam, Edith, Miramanee, etc. TNG also had plenty of contradictions, like Data using contractions constantly until it was suddenly asserted he couldn't, or "The Wounded" revealing that the Federation had been at war with the Cardassians during the first two seasons of the show even though those seasons depicted a peacetime Starfleet whose primary missions were science and diplomacy. All of Trek canon is a patchwork of clashing ideas that we only pretend are consistent with each other. ENT did no worse a job staying consistent with the previous series than they did staying consistent within themselves.