Cause and Effect - why didn't they...

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by King Daniel Beyond, Jul 16, 2013.

  1. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    While it was nice to see our only glimpse (however partial) of the the Main Shuttlebay in this episode two things bother me.
    It is a very large and presumably staffed area of the ship- how many crewmen were on duty when suddenly they found themselves outside the ship?
    Secondly, even though it is a large volume, I do not think it would hold near enough air to move a ship with a mass of around 4,500,000 metric tons.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Both concerns are serious ones, but could be handwaved with the same argument: it's a Variable Gravity Area, just like it sez in the signage.

    The mass of the air within would indeed be just a tiny fraction of that needed to appreciable move the ship - unless it were given extra momentum. Just opening the door would not suffice, but opening the door and changing the direction and strength of the artificial gravity within ought to be enough to turn the air into suitably "momentous" rocket exhaust. Remember, gravity doesn't fail when power goes out: it should be just as easily available as door-opening power.

    People within should be able to hold on to the railings easily enough if the door were opened; Crusher would have to repair some popped eardrums and whole-body bruises, but nobody need die. Adding the gravity trick would mean everybody would be thrown out and die, though - unless gravity were used creatively, remaining down-pointing and ramped up near the floor but becoming out-pushing (and ramped up) a meter above the floor...

    True enough - but separating the ship is something they should have been doing whenever problems like this began. Could they really be sure they wouldn't have done it this time around?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Richard Baker

    Richard Baker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The variable gravity thing is an interesting point, I still wonder if forcing out that volume of air would have been sufficient. When the doors opened there was a shuttle parked near the entrance, it would have been cool to see it flung out as the gravity flipped ninety degrees.
    IIRC in the various official tech manuals the gravity generators were in the floor decking, they have been shown to fail. be reduced or be turned off. As far as I now they have never been shown to either flip the fields at right angles or even cascade a wave- tractor beams have always been shown to move objects in the shuttlebays or near the ship. When the bridge crew was debating different ways to avoid the collision it was only mentioned to open the doors and let the air push the ship, Data pushed a couple of controls and it was so. Re configuring the gravity generators to increase the velocity of the air moving should have required at least a mention and some more beeps I would think.
    Besides, while the internal volume of the unseen main shuttlebay is large, I think even if they expelled the available air at the highest possible speed and even tossed out every shuttle stowed there it still would not move the ship of that mass much.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Probably not. And perhaps what saved the ship was not the opening of the shuttlebay, but the avoidance of tractor beam use?

    That is, perhaps connecting the two ships with a tractor beam was what placed the E-D on the path for collision in the first place, due to unpredictable circumstances in the Typhon Expanse that affected the courses of the two ships and defied the computations of our heroes. Leaving the beam off meant that when some strange eddy in the Typhon Expanse nudged the Bozeman to the side, this helped her clear the E-D rather than collide with her.

    In all the early loops, Data seemed to believe that both Riker's idea and his own were mathematically and physically sound; otherwise he would have told Picard that the ideas would not work. It thus shouldn't be possible for Data's tractor beam scheme to fail - unless there were variables at play that he didn't take into account. When Data realized that computation would get them nowhere, he programmed the message telling that Riker is not merely right, but "more right", something nobody could predict without knowing the outcome in advance.

    Data frequently achieves very complex feats with minimal keypresses... Say, when scanning for lifeforms in ST:GEN, he plays a little tune with the keys - but he apparently only needs to press at most two extra keys before starting in order to achieve the musical effect! If there are shortcut keys for "turn on keypress sounds" and "tune keypresses for a cute melody", there's probably a shortcut key for "rig main shuttlebay into rocket engine", too!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    But that's the bit that doesn't make sense. The only reason Riker thinks turning around is a bad ideas is because they know something's coming. The first time through, they wouldn't have known. Why then would they turn around? They had no reason to, and yet the Enterprise got caught anyway. If the Enterprise gets caught when it doesn't turn around, doesn't it make sense to try something different and see if that gets you out?
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Remember that our heroes already know they are caught in a repeating loop - a loop that apparently has already repeated itself multiple times. Turning back is an obvious idea, but it has done them no good in the supposed previous attempts!

    It's not as if our heroes would know that the time loop is the result of the ship being in spot X at time T. In other words, there's no guarantee that avoiding spot X would keep the ship out of the loop. Perhaps it's more a matter of the ship doing activity Y at time T? Or doing activity Y at any random time? Or not being in spot X at time T?

    The "they knew nothing during their first time around" argument is not a helpful one, because any number of exotic things could have happened during their first time around already. Nothing necessitates an "uneventful" original run where the only event is the ship crashing into a time loop, or makes this more or less likely than an "eventful" run where all sorts of things happen and just one of those is responsible for the loop.

    In general terms, yes, it may make sense to "struggle" as much as possible, to turn around, to separate the ship, to sing "Allamaraine, allamaraine!" while standing on one's head... But "strugging" is exceptional, and time loops are exceptional, so there's the very real danger that the two are actually connected.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Mario de Monti

    Mario de Monti Captain Captain

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    But it is THE MOST HELPFUL argument! They are stuck in a loop that is repeating itself over and over again, the only thing that changes is the actions of the crew. So if any "exotic thing" had happened on their initial journey to the first collision it would also have happened in all of the subsequent loops! The first time is only different in that the crew has no memory of past loops, since there were no past loops. So, no memory of previous loops means no discussion in the conference lounge whioch means NO suggestion to change course. So changing course MUST avoid the collision.

    It IS that simple!

    Mario
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Only if they believe it's a "collision", though.

    In "Time Squared", the heroes did not know the nature of the threat facing them, and indeed we got no reason to think that the anomaly would not have stood in their path no matter what path they chose. No matter that the actual maelstrom-in-space was just a few hundred meters across, it seemed to be their "destiny".

    In "Cause and Effect", they know their deaths are caused with collision with another starship - an event that requires them to be at an incredibly exact spot in spacetime, with only meters or seconds to spare! That sort of a collision shouldn't really be repeatable no matter whether a course change is made or not, as random things such as Picard being a split second slow or fast to command "slow to impulse" should completely preclude the event. Logic would thus dictate that the strange starship is deliberately aimed at the E-D, either by the commander of that vessel or by potentially sinister greater forces at play. And changing of course would not help in either of those cases, while keeping the course would not increase the jeopardy!

    The bottom line is, Riker could have quoted about fifty reasons why changing of course is a silly idea, and Picard or Worf or Troi or LaForge could have quoted fifty others why it's actually a splendid idea. But both sides resigned to only spelling out one of their arguments, even though Picard in no way discouraged the free presenting of ideas. This sort of suggests the participants all had experience and expertise in these things ("Time Squared"!), and saw the overall futility of trying to fight a time loop with insufficient information; the arguments offered were mere token expression of the complexity of the situation.

    In the end, let's remember that it was Picard's duty to solve the mystery, quite possibly even at the cost of his life, his ship and his crew. Merely steering clear of danger would not have sufficed, not until Picard found out what that danger was exactly, and how it could be neutralized.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Tom

    Tom Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Separate the dam ship! LOL
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's sort of the worst of both worlds, though. If they separate, which half should turn back and which half should continue? If the saucer is set on the course that creates the time loop, their odds of survival were just reduced a lot...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Workbee

    Workbee Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually, the saucer likely would have fared better. It was the damage to the warp nacelle that turned a severe impact into a catastrophe. Even if the saucer could not avoid impact, it is very possible the collision could have been survivable.

    Now, whether this would still have triggered a time loop is another question. If it did, would time reset for the entire Enterprise, or just the saucer section? Then would they have ended up with two saucer sections, with living crew on both? Or maybe it would recreate the stardrive, with the original still flying out in space. Argh... this is starting to hurt my brain. :-(
     
  12. FFunctionalData

    FFunctionalData Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    What i do not understand is why they billed Kelsey Grammer as a guest star when he was only in the show for like 30 seconds.

    Brief star is more like it.
     
  13. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Because billing is negotiated by agents, and Mr. Grammer was a big enough name to get it, and it had publicity value for the show.
     
  14. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    But the first time through they made no attempt, because they didn't know they were going to be destroyed. Thus they would not have turned back. Remember - the only knowledge they could get about what was going to happen came from previous trips through the loop. The first time through, there had been no previous attempts, so the logic, "Reversing course didn't help last time" is wrong. There was no last time.

    True, but there's no reason to assume that it wouldn't be because of that either. So it makes sense to act as though the ship's location plays a part in causing it, even if they can't know for sure.

    But, however, the first time through they would have done nothing until they experienced an event which would give them cause to do that thing. By doing something at random, with no cause, they are changing the sequence of events and that could be what prevents the loop from forming.

    I see this as contradicting the episode. You are, in effect, claiming that struggling to avoid the collision by turning around could cause the collision, yet the episode shows very clearly that not turning around leads to the collision anyway. The worst case situation is that the Enterprise collides with the Bozeman no matter what. But the best case situation is that the Enterprise escapes the collision. Since we know from the episode that not turning around leads to the collision, trying to avoid it by turning around makes sense, yes?
     
  15. SeerSGB

    SeerSGB Admiral Admiral

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    Stop where the ship's at, launch a few probes or remote controlled shuttles, and just wait and see. That's the first thought that went through my head. Besides, they know at what point the echoes started, just back up in a straight line till the echoes go away and the slowly swing wide around your old course or just sit and wait and see.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    They can't know that for sure. There would be any number of reasons why they could have made an odd course change the first time around, leading to their destruction. Odd course changes is what starships do for a living!

    But if taking a certain course is the thing that leads to destruction, then the odds of one getting destroyed are extremely low no matter what the course. After all, there are an infinite number of courses available!

    Yet our heroes know that there is a time loop there. It's extremely unlikely, then, that the course they take would be of any consequence, because if the loop really is course-dependent, then only one choice out of an infinite number will create the loop.

    So logically, our heroes should decide that course is of no consequence. It is weird and unusual and against all odds, then, that the loop in the end is revealed to be not only course-specific, but course-specific to the centimeter!

    Of course, yes, admittedly, all right, by not turning at all, one is choosing a "special" course that has higher odds of being chosen than any of the others, in a repeat sample. But as said, for our heroes in the n'th loop, it must appear likely that deviating from this course has been attempted at least once before, and it hasn't helped at all.

    Sure. But the nature of the time loop in the episode takes our heroes quite justly by surprise - they could not have known that deviating from their course would be the right choice. The episode features an exceptional and unlikely time loop that in "reality" should have zero odds of happening, because it depends on centimeter/millisecond accuracy of events, and yet we know each loop is different in subtle ways. Our heroes would know how exceptional and unlikely a loop of this very sort should be, and thus not bet their lives on that. Not lightly, anyway.

    That wouldn't have achieved anything in either "Cause and Effect" or "Time Squared", though. Space is too big for that.

    The former ought to work fine. The latter would apparently involve sitting for all eternity, which a starship cannot afford to do!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. HoserTrek37

    HoserTrek37 Ensign

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    can't wait to see a post-Nem reappearance of Captain Morgan Bateson of the U.S.S. Bozeman (Kelsey Grammer).

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

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    But if they had changed course the first time around, then there would be some reason which would also apply the second and third and fourth times. If they change course at random based solely off the fact that they have information which they could not possibly have had the first time, then they know they are doing something which did not happen the first time.

    That's right. However, the fact that they know the Enterprise has been destroyed at least once proves that the course they are on definitely leads to their destruction, then taking any other course will almost certainly avoid the destruction.

    Agreed. Changing course would make no difference if the distortion was not based on a location in space. Perhaps it was attached to the Enterprise somehow and would always appear at a certain position relative to the Enterprise, regardless of where the E actually was.

    However, there no evidence in the episode that suggests that the distortion was Enterprise based (ie, it would always appear at a certain position relative to the Enterprise no matter where the ship was) rather than location based (ir, it would always appear at a certain location in space, regardless of whether the Enterprise was there or not).

    They could certainly make this assumption, but without evidence, it would be a very foolish assumption to make. After all, would you just assume you;d tried and failed a potentially life-saving course of action the last time through and then assume it didn't work and give it up without any evidence to support this conclusion?

    The crew was not using that kind of logic. if they were, then they'd figure that the first time through they tried the tractor beam idea, and it didn't work, so they'd straight away try the shuttle bay idea.

    They would have had very good reason to suspect that altering course would avoid the crash. After all, with nothing to tell them to alter course the first time through, they hit the Bozeman. The second time through, with this information, they can be reasonably sure that they didn't alter their course the first time, and so trying to avoid the location of the collision by turning around would certainly make sense.

    Doesn't matter. They can be reasonably sure that whatever is going to happen will be reasonably close to their current location. Doubtful it was going to happen in the Gamma Quadrant, after all.
     
  19. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Woah - if they did that, and the stardrive section continued on. crashed with the Bozeman and exploded, would they then meet the saucer on the next loop? THAT would have been awesome.
     
  20. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    He keeps cropping up in the post-NEM novels. Most recently Cold Equations: Silent Weapons. Before that, he starred in Ship of the Line where he was the first captain of the Enterprise-E. He's captain of the Sovereign-class USS Atlanta now.