Replicator resolution

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by SoM, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. SoM

    SoM Commander Red Shirt

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    It's an oft-repeated (and, as far as I know, canonical) fact that replicators work only on a molecular scale, as opposed to transporters which go down to the quantum level.

    After rewatching DS9: "Visionary", however, I'm wondering about the nature of this limitation (in the aforementioned episode, a group of undercover Klingon intelligence agents "realign the matter-energy conversion matrix" of a replicator, using a device made on Davlos III and turn it into a small transporter).

    Is it that they can't work beyond the molecular scale, or merely that - to preserve computer memory, remembering how much five transporter patterns took up in DS9: "Our Man Bashir" - the patterns are routinely stored at the "good enough" lower resolution, but they're capable of utilising a quantum scale pattern if one is given to them?
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In VOY "Emanations", the EMH has no trouble replicating working neural tissue. In DS9 "Rivals", the El-Aurian con artist not only manages to get copies of alien technology from the Cardassian replicators, he gets scaled-up copies. Clearly, the replicators can achieve significant feats when they are pressed hard enough.

    It's probably just a question of allocating resources. Most replicators might be capable of extreme resolution in terms of their hardware, but practical resolution would be limited because a) it saves computational resources and b) the user has no need for better resolution in the general case. There could be hardware limitations, too, but those probably have more to do with size/output than with resolution - that's where industrial replicators would come in.

    I have no problem with the idea that replicators normally work on "molecular resolution", as long as that's enough to resolve the molecules that make up the all-important taste of food. That doesn't mean the replicators couldn't handle better resolution with proper keypresses or with proper tampering of their innards.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    If it was as simple as pressing a few buttons, why would characters make a big deal of "real" food being superior in taste? Anyone who wanted genuine-quality food could get it for the cost of a few extra keystrokes!

    Of course, we are talking about Cardassian replicators here, maybe they are the issue.

    The characters in TNG seemed to think replicator food was fantastic!
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'd argue that the quality of replicated food has little to do with the perceived quality of replicated food...

    But the thing would be, pressing those keys would make the meal more costly to create, so the act might carry an artificially imposed penalty of some sort. There could also be a natural penalty in that making a better meal would take significantly more time, negating many of the advantages of the process. If a microwave oven roasted a superior beef but took six hours doing so, a traditional oven would still win.

    Interestingly, it was the Cardassian replicators that we saw doing the most impressive replication feats in Trek. Terok Nor hardware replicated and enlarged the probability-altering devices in "Rivals"; Terok Nor hardware created the phaser emitter that threatened our heroes in "Civil Defense"; Terok Nor hardware was altered into a fine-tuned mini-transporter in "Visionary". And I don't know if our DS9 heroes really complained about the "Cardassian-made" dishes more than our TNG heroes complained about their UFP ones, but my gut feeling is that they actually complained less. It was just that the machines on DS9 were often broken during the first season, and the heroes (mainly Sisko) complained about that.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. SoM

    SoM Commander Red Shirt

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    Because if they can store 25+ recipe patterns of perfectly adequate quality @ molecular resolution, or one (1) superior (transporter-quality) pattern for just one dish... they'll take the 25+ options.

    Even in the 24th century, computer memory isn't infinite - look at what happens when they have to store Sisko, Jazdia, Kira, Worf and O'Brien's transporter patterns in computer memory in DS9: "Our Man Bashir." They have to wipe most of the station's memory to do it! There simply isn't the "hard disk" space to waste on going to the quantum scale on a chilli con carne.
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, I believe even for the Luck Devices in "rivals" molecular resolution alone would have been good enough. "Quantum resolution," whatever that means, is apparently only necessary for replicating things AND their processes; this is only made possible with a Heisenberg Compensator, which replicators lack.
     
  7. kkozoriz1

    kkozoriz1 Fleet Captain

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    Another possibility is the fact that every time you order the same meal it'll be exactly the same as it was last time. No minor variations. It would be like eating at McDonalds every time versus a homemade burger.
     
  8. STR

    STR Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I don't recall the Enterprise-D/E crew complaining about food all that much. It might have lacked individual flair, but it was consistently good. Those punks on Voyager...they just wouldn't shut up. Hell, look at the Pepsi Challenge. Idiots don't really know WTF they're eating and drinking. They just like to have an opinion and complain.
     
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They might not complain about the food, but how often can you remember them raving endlessly about it? With the sole exception of Troi and her chocolate fetish. Food is important to people, we look forward to it and we talk about it.

    I liked the the look on the face of "Tom" Riker after being trapped on a planet for several years and ordering some old favorites from the Enterprise D's replicator, the bemused look on his face saying **Just as bad as I remember it**
     
  10. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    In fact, Riker actively praises it in Lonely Among Us:
     
  11. Penta

    Penta Commander Red Shirt

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    He was being a diplomat. In other words, he was lying about what he really thought.
     
  12. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yet in spite of this Riker cooks real eggs for his friends, they all (initially) regard this as a great treat, not as a barbaric act on Riker's part.

    They were all looking forward to a little home cookin'.

     
  13. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Depending on what the term 'home cooking' or 'loves to cook' implies in the 24th century.

    Do we have any concrete proof that he's been using real eggs and hasn't replicated them for the sake of preparing them 'the old fashion way'?
    It's certainly possible.
    ;-)

    Then again, the term 'real' is very inappropriate here because replicated food is just as real as the original.
    Exact duplicates.
    Just because humans like to utilize primitive terms in a capacity that's not really even applicable is another story.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We know Riker fishes.

    We don't know if he eats what he catches, but that wouldn't be at odds with Riker's conviction that enslaving animals for food is wrong. He isn't enslaving anybody - he's hunting free animals in their natural environment. For all we know, he gets his eggs much the same way.

    Joe Sisko also kills "real" animals for food. Or if his mollusks are artificially created, he's a sadist for creating them dirty and alive, and forcing his son to clean them, after which he himself can kill them for food. But again, "real" clams would not be in violation of the idea that animals must not be enslaved for food.

    They can apparently be enslaved for other purposes, though, as several heroes keep pets...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Riker states that he picked up the oversized eggs on a planet they had recently visited, the implication is that they're real (out of a living beast) as opposed to replicated.

    I'm using real as in natural, and then replicated to mean artificial or facsimile.

    Probably not. If you order a replicator to produce a T-bone steak, it's unlikely to biologically be a piece of bovine muscle tissue attached to a segment of vertebra. not at the cellular level, it's just a facsimile.

    If you ordered your steak "fresh tartare" (right out of the cow), and applied a electrical charge, the replicated meat probably wouldn't move like a "real' fresh cut would. Doctor Pulaski couldn't create a new Human heart for Picard because the replicator couldn't do it.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...But the EMH could replicate new brain stem nerves for Ptera in "Emanations", restoring her back to life.

    Also, the technique used for repairing Worf's spine in "Ethics" sounded suspiciously like replication, even though the name "genetronic replicator" may in fact be misleading.

    There obviously are degrees to what can be done, not strict categories. New brain stems are okay, even with the resources of a damaged and stranded starship, but new lungs for Neelix are not. A culinary obsessive might insist on 100% lifelike steaks and get what he wants, but at high cost; somebody else would accept the same taste and texture as achieved by different means, through replicating something that's only 20% like real steak but features suitable "cheats" to enhance/"restore" the taste and texture to match natural.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Though I once again remind you and everyone involved to take Voyager technobabble with a bucket of salt.

    Remember that in "Ethics" Dr. Russel's technique is complicated enough that Doctor Crusher considers it more of a dice roll than solid science; in the end, the only reason it worked at all is because Klingons turn out to be really hard to kill.

    IMO, the whole "genetronic replication" thing is the exception that proves the rule why living tissue can't be replicated. I would theorize that the technique only worked because it gave Worf's central nervous system something of a scaffold to rebuild itself, using the replicated tissue more as a suture or a splint than actual replacement tissue.

    I'm of the opinion that "new brain cells" in this case is actually a bit of cybernetics. Probably the things being replicated were ARTIFICIAL brain cells, something similar in function (but vastly less sophisticated) to the microcircuitry in Data's brain. Like Picard's artificial heart, but on a microscopic scale.

    Stop me if I'm wrong, but isn't this ALREADY the case with real/artificial food substances? Most people I know can't tell the difference between real and imitation crab meat if they're not eating them side by side. Same with regular milk vs. soy milk (in fact most people think soymilk tastes better than skim milk by an order of magnitude). We already have lots of techniques for reprocessing raw protein from a variety of sources into something that tastes like something else, but real cooks--my wife, for example--can always tell the difference.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Naah. The only correct way to do it is to ignore all the episodes with an H in the title, plus all the Fibonacci-numbered movies.

    Exactly. Although whether one could tell the difference in a blind test is probably going to be a bit different in the 24th century: a substitute can probably be created that is either identical in taste and texture to the real thing, or then superior. By that time, we'll simply know our customers better (better than now, better than they know themselves, etc.) and create the substitutes accordingly. The limits of technology probably won't be met before we run into the limits of our own senses.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Meredith

    Meredith Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In the 24th Century Moore's Law is clearly dead......