Doomsday Torpedoes

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Nebusj, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It just now struck me that neither the Enterprise nor the Constellation fire any photon torpedoes at the Doomsday Machine, at least not on-camera.

    Obviously, that's because in an already effects-heavy episode adding the challenge of photon torpedo animation (at least hitting the thing) would be one more unbearable burden, especially when they'd serve the same plot function as phasers: bouncing uselessly off the planet-killer's hull.

    But is there a workable fan explanation for why photon torpedoes are apparently so unsuitable to the action that nobody even suggests lobbing one at the thing?
     
  2. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Torpedoes fired "down the throat" would have provided the same clue as to how to destroy the machine as Decker's sacrifice did.

    Making Decker's death un-necassary to the plot.


    :)
     
  3. feek61

    feek61 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not to mention the most obvious target would have been shooting something inside. Ok, just firing an H-Bomb in there destroys it . . . . something we could do, lol. Don't get me wrong, I love the episode but the solution to the problem seemed like something that would have been tried long before Kirk.
     
  4. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    IIRC, there were two things that were said in the episode:

    1. An energy dampening field was turning off the antimatter. If you believe the TOS torpedoes used antimatter then they would've been disabled once they left the safety of the shielded firing ship.

    2. Commodore Decker (on the Constellation) exchanged fire with full phasers from long range at the Doomsday Machine. Since firing at the front of the Doomsday Machine from long-range guarantees a shot going down it's throat and that the phasers were ineffective then there must have been some protective shielding preventing the phasers from damaging the interior.

    So in order to get a weapon inside the Doomsday Machine you had to fly it in, past whatever was protecting the interior and then detonate. So it may not have been that obvious of a solution for one ship to figure out...
     
  5. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Yeah, the whole point of that episode appeared to be that you needed to use a fusion based explosive (the impulse engines) because antimatter was somehow rendered inert by the machine.
     
  6. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There is always a chance the thing might fire if you got in the way of its maw. Shooting anti-proton beams, you would thing the torpedoes would have no effect.

    One might say it was debris from the standard fusion blast that hurled saucer debris into delicate mechanisms not harmed by anti-matter--inner crystals or something.
     
  7. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    Also if you think about it, the thing used an anti-proton weapon from its maw. Meaning it had some means of protecting its internals from antimatter.
     
  8. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Apropos of nothing, back in 1989 I wrote a spec script for TNG which featured the dead hulk of the DDM, which was endangering a solar system just by its proximity because neutronium would be so dense (I think the formula I read was that core density neutron star material was 3*10 to the 25th power kilograms per cubic centimeter or something) the thing's own gravity would disrupt planetary orbits. I did the math to figure out the mass of the DDM if it was made of such neutron star material, and quickly realized that the amount of energy necessary to propel such a thing was so incredible that anything capable of producing that kind of power in such a hostile internal environment would by its very nature be effective invulnerable to something as comparatively puny as nuclear weapon, said fusion blast being comparatively a drop of gasoline in a forest fire. I turned to my science buff buddy and said, "How would at 100 megaton blast damage something like that?" He said, "It wouldn't," which got me thinking about how the machine would work and what would explain it being apparently deactivated by such a relatively puny blast.

    I should post the script someplace just for giggles.
     
  9. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I should say --- and I should have said earlier and can only plead that it's been a horribly full week --- that I like this observation. (My dear bride does too.) It doesn't just explain why photon torpedoes wouldn't work for other than budget reasons, but does so in a way that explains why nobody would even mention them on-screen. Quite satisfying.
     
  10. Nob Akimoto

    Nob Akimoto Captain Captain

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    That sounds pretty awesome.
     
  11. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^^Thanks. I remember I figured out the mass of the thing by doing a frame grab where you could see the Enterprise in front of the maw and was able to estimate the height of the maw and the thickness of the material at the "lip", then compared the height to the width of the maw and the length to get approximate dimension (13,330 feetish long), and then did calculated the volume of a cone of that size, subtracted the value of a cone representing the hollow part, and came up with how many cubic centimeters of material were involved, used the neutron star material formulae I'd been given and came up with some pretty terrifying values for its mass (core density material versus surface density yielded wildly different results).
     
  12. LOLPeanutButter

    LOLPeanutButter Ensign Newbie

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    Hello! Stumbled upon this while writing a Foundry episode for Star Trek Online.

    Some information I decided on for my story, purely non-canon but worth adding to the pile of speculation:

    1) It's not true neutronium, otherwise the whole thing would have imploded. I came up with the idea that it's a quasi-degenerate mater similar to neutronium. Horrifically dense and impervious to most forms of energy.

    2) The Doomsday Machine as we saw it was an eroded hulk, the external structures and controls long since eroded away. My pet theory runs along the lines of Peter David's speculations in Vendetta and other novels -- that the thing was controlled/managed by a race of beings with mind powers. Their last act for whatever reason was to set it to autopilot.

    3) Torpedoes can't be tuned and tweaked as well a beam can. I've seen industrial laser cutters demonstrated in the past -- they alter the frequency and the amplitude of the beam in addition to the power settings. Add some technobabble to that and you can see why they were using the phasers. They were trying various adjustments, pulse-schemes, frequency rotations and so forth.

    4) Antimatter "deactivation" -- powerful subspace fields disrupt the antimatter containment of approaching ships. Based on some speculation over the years, the Connies didn't have antimatter tankage beyond what they needed for a given encounter... "Day Tanks" or "Use Bins" rather. Antimatter was generated by some means onboard... subspace particle accelerator, quantum-charge reversal or some kind of zero-point trickery. This was abandoned as engine efficiencies made it practical to store fuel in large quantities. Anyway, "deactivated" refers to a safety shutdown of the antimatter plant and venting of the day-bins. This also neatly explains the no torpedo bit... No antimatter, no torpedoes.

    5) Finally we get to the killing of the machine. I speculate it happened because of a few things... First of all there was a tremendous subspace/EMP effect as the ship detonated. In close proximity like that, it could have been enough to overwhelm the system and force a shutdown. Second I'm not discounting the fact that all those debris and chunks. SOMETHING got smashed or shotgunned by liquid metal. A far more energetic loss-of-containment event on the Yamato years later produced identifiable hunks, chunks, debris and a flaming saucer section.
     
  13. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Welcome to the BBS! Shall we take another look at the original dialogue?

    WASHBURN: ... Somehow the antimatter in the warp drive pods has been deactivated.
    KIRK: Deactivated? Scotty, could some kind of general energy dampening field do that, and would the same type of thing account for the heavy subspace interference?
    SCOTT: Aye, that all adds up. But what sort of a thing could do all that?


    I'd agree that "deactivating" is a rather confusing choice of words, but the context suggested that the antimatter had been rendered useless, not its magnetic containment, IMHO.

    (and the antimatter aboard the Constellation hadn't been vented, otherwise Washburn would have probably reported that)

    Bob
     
  14. LOLPeanutButter

    LOLPeanutButter Ensign Newbie

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    Thank you for the welcome... and I'll warn you right now I'm rather prone to ignoring canon when it doesn't make sense... or at least sense to my understanding Of Things. ;) Makes for fewer "but what did they really MEAN?" situations when writing! :bolian:


    Of course arguing "what does it MEAN" can be fun too. Right now I've set this as "story canon" for what I am working on.
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It would depend on how thick the neutronium hull was. Despite the appearance of the front "lip," the neutronium hull might have been millimeters thick, with the interior areas being composed of lighter weight materials.


    :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  16. LOLPeanutButter

    LOLPeanutButter Ensign Newbie

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    Neutronium laminate? I'd hate to be the bastard who has to glue that in place. :guffaw:
     
  17. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    You will do what you feel is right, of course.

    "Somehow the antimatter in the warp drive pods has been deactivated."

    Nevertheless, the dialogue is abundantly clear that "something" happened to the antimatter and not the containment it had been stored in.

    TOS is full of strange wording or even euphemism. The "matter-antimatter integrator" mentioned in "That Which Survives" makes matter-antimatter reaction sound like nuclear fusion while it is instead annihilation.

    In a broader sense "deactivation" means that something ceases to function. The only function of onboard antimatter is to annihilate with normal matter. The moment the planet killer somehow reversed the spin of the antimatter particles (thus and probably turning these into normal matter) these ceased to function in a manner of speaking.

    Another explanation could be that Scotty prepped Washburn to make technical reports to the captain in such a fashion that the captain (and the audience!) would understand and not be embarrassed by asking back "What do you [does it] mean rendered inert?" ;)

    Bob
     
  18. LOLPeanutButter

    LOLPeanutButter Ensign Newbie

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    I work as a stationary engineer now, it's rather boring as the trade has become fully automated. Basically I sit there in the utility-room office watching an automated supervisory screen and reacting to situations... by reading other screens. I dispatch the other tradesmen (mostly electricians and e-techs) to make repairs and adjustments that the computer can't deal with.

    We burn fuel oil.

    Most of the time we refer to the storage and delivery system as "the fuel" rather than "the fuel oil system." Thus when we had a pump shit itself at 4am during a cold snap at peak steam delivery hour (facility laundry and overnight sterilization) I had to tell MY boss: "Something's wrong with the the fuel at the moment, the mechanic's working on it, should be back up within the hour."

    So there is real world precedent for technical people using shorthand, I know other facilities like ours have their own shorthand and language. It is entirely possible that " ... Somehow the antimatter in the warp drive pods has been deactivated." is referring to to the entire system being rendered inert. Cold shutdown, venting, and restart lockout of the entire antimatter system. Rather than elaborate on that in a time-crunch they simply say "antimatter has been deactivated." If and when they need more information they'll ask for it (how? why? repair?) or check the diagnostics themselves.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014
  19. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    They used a 3D printer. It's all good ;)

    It's an interesting premise to think of the deactivated "antimatter fuel system" in the warp drive pods to have vented out their supply. But what about the antimatter not in the warp drive pods? There is the antimatter fuel in the engineering hull ("That Which Survives") and also possibly the antimatter fuel on Deck 11 in "Errand of Mercy" to consider.

    BTW, I do agree that the antimatter fuel is generated as needed instead of giant fuel containers as portrayed in later Trek.
     
  20. LOLPeanutButter

    LOLPeanutButter Ensign Newbie

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    I would imagine there are either inerting protocols in place or provisions for venting in all antimatter situations.

    An antimatter interting system would dump the antimatter against a really dense really heavy piece of something and let it 'burn itself out' in a controlled way, dumping the resulting particle bath and gamma-rays through a wave-guide. Such a system would be useful for small amounts. Larger tanks would have a venting system in place or an outright jettison system.