Food replicator produce.

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by φ of π, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. φ of π

    φ of π Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I had heard that one of the reasons replicated food was considered inferior to traditionally prepared foodstuffs was that it was always consistent in its temperature, taste, and texture which made it feel somehow fake after having it so often.

    Would it have been difficult to have some randomisation programmed in to the base replication template, depending on the dish? For example, coffee could have had some randomisation giving up to +x%/-x% more cream, sugar, or temperature. Hot, plain, tomato soup could have some randomisation added to its thickness or tomato content. And so on.

    For those who like consistency, they could just ask for randomisation off.
     
  2. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My justification has always been that a replicated meal (sometimes*) feels a little off because it is made whole. And if you replicated a bunch of ingredients and make the meal yourself, it would be as good as a regular meal.

    *It seems like maybe the better the programming, the better the end result.
     
  3. retroenzo

    retroenzo Commander Red Shirt

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    We had a good discussion about replicators quite recently and whether you'd still cook instead of using the replicator here.
     
  4. JasonJ

    JasonJ Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    And it's no wonder that Sisko's restaurant is so popular!
     
  5. sumenya

    sumenya Cadet Newbie

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    I love the idea of randomisation in replicated food. I wonder if people ever add something after it comes out of the replicator, like a leaf of mint or some freshly ground pepper, to make it taste more authentic. Interesting how humans always seem to notice a lack of "human touch", I guess perfect food isn't everything lol
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I opt for the simpler explanation: nothing you get out of a replicator bears a close resemblance to a real product except on the macroscopic level. They are chemically and physically different in very important ways, the most important of which is that the replicated food ALWAYS contains a full range of vitamins and nutrients appropriate to the dietary requirements of the person who ordered it.

    So a replicated chicken wing is basically flavored tofu with added vitamins and essential amino acids, proteins and minerals. Everything a person needs to stay healthy. Newer replicators use a lot of processing power and a lot of cleverness to replicate the texture and flavor of a real chicken wing (or some food scientists' interpretation of a chicken wing) but in the end the difference between replicated and real is like the difference between Butter and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.
     
  7. Tenacity

    Tenacity Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I support this, and reject the idea that the food or drink substances are identical at the sub-atomic level (which is sometimes claimed by fans).

    First off, why would it need to be?
    Second, why go through the effort?

    I looked up the molecular chain for Earl Grey tea once, it's huge. Picard's Earl Grey tea is probably just heated water (from the ship's water tank) that has replicated favoring mixed in, and caffeine. It isn't "actual" Earl Grey tea.

    This (IMO) doesn't cut back what a replicator can do, it's a amazing machine, and makes a lot of sense in a isolated environment like a starship on a long voyage.
     
  8. Kahless the Unforgettable

    Kahless the Unforgettable Captain Captain

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    Considering that they also use the replicator for important things where it has to be the same as the real deal -- including medicine which is just as complex as foodstuff -- that alone explains why it "needs" to be identical to whatever it's replicating. Considering it's basically a variant of a transporter, there's no reason at all that it couldn't perfectly replicate anything it had on file. Unless you want to argue that anyone who's been through a transporter is actually an automaton with some skin-like covering and synthetic fibers in place of flesh and hair.

    That said, I'd argue that it's more of a psychological thing. If you did a blind taste test, or just fed people replicated food while pretending it's something you prepared yourself, no one would be able to tell. That goes along significantly better with most of what we've seen on-screen about the technology. Even the food synthesizers and protein resequencers from TOS and ENT produced real food. They were just limited in what they could produce compared to the replicators from TNG onward.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2016
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  9. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    Replicators and cargo transporters are only molecule-level resolution, personnel transporters are quantum-level resolution. That's how they detected the fake remains in "Data's Day", because they'd been replicated and so the DNA wasn't reproduced correctly. If replication screws up DNA like that, then I could easily see it introducing various bit-error-equivalents into replicated food in a way that alters the taste. Esters are pretty sensitive, after all, and slight errors in atomic structure would definitely have an impact on perception. I could also see medicine as being higher-resolution, but we do know that replicators outright can't generate things at equal resolution to a transporter, since it's entirely impossible to replicate a living being.

    Though honestly I think you're right that a lot of it is psychological too. There's probably an aspect of it where people just "know" that replicated stuff "isn't as good", and that comes out psychosomatically.
     
  10. Tenacity

    Tenacity Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Medicine would have to be exact (and we know the replicator can't make some medicines), but why would food have to have the same level of complexity?

    Other than being a hot beverage that contains caffeine, why would the "coffee" have to be more than a facsimile?
     
  11. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If I understand your thesis, you propose that it's absurd to replicate the chemicals that give actual tea its flavor, and instead simply replicate the flavor chemicals that give actual tea its flavor.
     
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  12. Kahless the Unforgettable

    Kahless the Unforgettable Captain Captain

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    Because it's the same exact device, so why not?
     
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  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do they? Most things that are super important to the plot can't actually be replicated and have to be shipped or collected from somewhere first. Kivas Fajo's Hytritium supply being the most obvious example: for whatever reason a replicator cannot manufacture the substance or the crucial ingredients for it so they had to buy it from Fajo first.

    i don't recall seeing replicators used to make medicines or exotic compounds (aside from Voyager, whose treatment of technology I am unable to take seriously). They seem to keep that stuff "in stock" too, and it's difficult enough to replicate that "freighter full of medical supplies" is an amazingly common plot device in TNG and DS9. Why are all these poor civilian ships indicating their ultimate innocent bystander status by hauling medical supplies if you can just REPLICATE medical supplies anywhere?

    The fact that the "files" cannot be detailed enough to accurately reproduce most of the things they want. There's a storage problem here: at the amount of detail needed to reproduce, say, a fully functional shuttlecraft, the data storage device needed to store the shuttle's pattern would end up being larger than the shuttle itself; it simply makes more sense to store the shuttle as an object, rather than the data used to produce it. On the other hand, a far less detailed (and non-working) facsimile could be replicated a couple of dozen times using a storage device no larger than your fist. if you're also keeping pre-fabbed working parts on board, you could just replicate parts of the frame, engine housing, seats, carpet, and assemble all of them into the chassis along with the pre-fabbed parts that you can't replicate because they're too complicated.

    I think it's the opposite: i think most people are so used to eating replicated food that the REAL THING actually tastes funny; the artificial flavoring of replicated products is ingenious and well studied and lacks the imperfections and variations of real foods. OTOH, people who grew up not relying on replicators (the Siskos, for example) usually prefer old-fashioned style cooked meals.

    And there's another reason to think that the fidelity of the product is an illusion, in the very GOOD example of DS9's wonky replicators. When those things malfunctioned or broke down, they produced a cup of coffee that was bad to the point of being almost undrinkable; if the problem was the molecular structure of the product, that malfunctioning replicator would represent a potential health hazard to the crew and would be shut down immediately, but instead Sisko just quietly complains that it TASTES terrible while accepting that it is, undeniably, coffee.

    A similar thing happens at Quark's bar, where about one half to two thirds of his products are imported and purchased and not replicated at all. We don't actually see a lot of money changing hands, but it stands to reason Quark probably isn't changing money for the replicated drinks that people can get anywhere. But if the replicated drinks were as good as the imported stuff, Quark wouldn't make any money at all, because nobody would order them. Indeed, the existence of replicator technology would negate the existence of the entire Ferengi Alliance if it really worked the way people assume it does.

    So you could easily replicate Kanar or even that "dreadful" Bajoran Synthale, but people still prefer the real thing enough to actually pay money for it.

    Similar to Guinan, who never openly charges anyone money, but still keeps a stock of drinks on hand.

    They produce edible food that bears a close resemblance to what they're pretending to be. They definitely don't produce the "real" version of what they're resequencing (which is the whole reason NX-01 has a fully staffed kitchen).
     
  14. locutus101

    locutus101 Vice Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It only makes sense. I've seen that kind of randomisation applied to artifact manufactured by a computer program. Small irregularities can be added to make it feel handmade. It was rather ingenious as people would look at these imperfections and wrongly conclude that this was an item made using traditional means. Plus two items would never be identical.
     
  15. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    A great example; I for one tend to view the replicator as more like an advanced food mixer (skillfully blending various proportions of pre-existing ship's stores) instead of a ridiculously advanced molecular reconstruction device.
     
  16. locutus101

    locutus101 Vice Admiral Rear Admiral

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    That's not consistent with what we're told throughout an important part of the franchise.
     
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  17. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    What a character says about a piece of technology and how it is routinely depicted on screen are often inconsistent, particularly when it comes to transporters & replicators
     
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  18. Jedman67

    Jedman67 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Disagree. 3D printing (which is not at all the same thing) can build highly complex and sometimes even fully functioning devices based only on the files in their computers. It stands to reason that several centuries in the future computer storage technology will be light years advanced of what we have today. Individual stand alone replicators (like the Bajoran girl in that DS9 novel, was it Ro Laren?) can hold tremendous amounts of data but are still somewhat limited; facility-based replicators (i.e. starship, space station, planetside building, etc) are connected to the main computer and potentially have access to near-limitless data storage.


    Nice plothole :) truth is, technology on star trek is often inconsistent.
     
  19. locutus101

    locutus101 Vice Admiral Rear Admiral

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    True but in this case we would have an impressive list of characters consistently lying or being mistaken about it, in a similar way. That's not very plausible.
     
  20. Kor

    Kor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, randomization! I want beaks and claws in my chicken nuggets, just like the good old days. That would make them seem more like real food.

    Kor
     
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