TOS Phasers

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dale Sams, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The "foosh" gun from SIXTH DAY was rationalized as a handheld chemical LASER pistol. The prop used a liquid fuel to create the on-camera flame effect.

    Perhaps the phasers also use a liquid fuel at "15 pounds psi" that lases at "one to the fourth power."
     
  2. Shawnster

    Shawnster Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In Farscape, the Pulse Pistols were powered by oil. Similarly, the EU indicates that Star Wars hand weapons are likewise powered by a gas.
     
  3. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I think that makes the most sense. When I watch the episode, Scotty appeared to be using a hand-held device to "adapt" the phaser. Then he held the phaser upside down and into floor bay aimed forward and continued to use the hand-held device which presumably was triggering the phaser to dump it's energy in a non-destructive ("adapted") setting into the reactor to generate more fuel.

    Since "The Naked Time" shows that a phaser can emit energy without a visible beam, I think it could be very well that the phaser was firing or transferring energy through it's emitter.

    IMHO :)
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, thanks for that.

    Even so, the passage supports intent for TOS.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Liquids today are a good means of storing energy, especially in portable applications such as automobiles, cell phones or handguns. The best energy storage/release we can hope for is chemically based, and liquid reactants are easy to bring together, and to refill if the process is irreversible and consumes reactants. Solids compete mainly because they are less prone to leaks and more stable in long term storage applications.

    In Trek, energy clearly isn't stored in mundane chemical bonds any more, or a hand phaser would need a fuel tank similar to that of a flamethrower. Liquids might still be in use for some reason X, though. But the fluid that powered the shuttle seemed to be consumed in the process - that is, its remaining quantity dictated the remaining level of energy. If phasers can be charged or drained without physical connections (as per "The Galileo Seven" but others as well), then assuming that they use liquid fuel forces us to assume they feature a liquid fuel generator as well... The treknomagical sarium krellide cells make more sense overall, in terms of continuity at least.

    One important thing about the shuttle fuel replenishment mystery is that as far as we can tell, Scotty never repaired the leak that cost them their original fuel. Use of phasers seemed to sidestep the leak issue altogether: phaser power was a "substitute fuel supply", not a means of getting more of the usual fuel, and the main power system had to be specially "adapted" to use this substitute fuel.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Estraven

    Estraven Cadet Newbie

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    I once read a short story from the 50s or 60s where a alien salesman sells his technology on Earth before finding out the planet was under an embargo of sorts. One of the things he sold was an "eraser", which converted matter into neutrinos. Considering that the amount of energy released on vaporizing the water in a human body is about 160 MegaJoules (maybe 160 hand grenades worth), perhaps the "phasing" is done at the subnuclear level, converting baryons and whatever else into something whose energy would leave no obvious effects. Perhaps this is why "vaporizing" someone could be detected by ship sensors in ST VI; a neutrino source usually indicates a nuclear or other high energy phenomena that needs monitoring.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    On the other hand, starships are fairly good at spotting intruders who arrive by transporter. If phasers make people disappear the same way transporters do, by phasing them to a parallel realm or state of existence, internal sensors would rather naturally be on constant lookout for both phenomena. Although they'd probably be better at spotting phaser gunfire than transporter phasing, if the former is the more intense phenomenon.

    ST6:TUC might also suggest that the stun setting is based on a completely different phenomenon, and for that reason not even excessively repeated stunning will register in the alarm sensors.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Estraven

    Estraven Cadet Newbie

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    Interesting. I make the mistake sometimes of not "carrying over" the physics of one device in the ST universe onto another. (One could, for example, say that the deflectors are a form of transporter that puts a second, replenishable skin around the ship to absorb incoming energies as an alternative explanation to gravity based shields.) But I don't know what the consensus is about the nature of transporters to begin to say further. Are they devices which measure the information state of the traveller, destroy the original and recreates him elsewhere, or are they, as James Blish once wrote, devices which causes the traveller's particles to make a "Dirac jump" to the destination?

    If the former then the basic physics of "energy conversion" could be at work in both devices, but converted into what, or to where is a matter of which method provides the simplest contraption, or does the job with the greatest energy efficiency. I am not technician enough, however, to say which.

    If the later then maybe it would be easier to scatter someone in this way.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    You can hardly be faulted for that; indeed, much Trek fiction is written where the author goes overboard with "connectivity" and the result is a needlessly small and cramped fictional universe. "Phase technology" just happens to be a hobby-horse of mine, sort of, as it's 100% fictional in all its supposed applications but the terminology is alluringly consistent.

    There is some onscreen dialogue to support the idea that the transporter scans the target in detail and stores the results as pure data, but it would seem to be trumped by the very explicit concept of the transportee then becoming a swirling mass of something they call a "pattern", stored in a "pattern buffer" until sent forward as a "phased matter stream". It's not an abstraction you can store in a hard drive and extract at your leisure, it's a physical state of existence, even if an alien one.

    How is abstract different from physical here? Well, the main difference would seem to be that there always only exists a given quantity of this "phased matter", exactly corresponding to the transportee: you can't copy it. Pure data should be eminently copyable in perfect detail without major effort, while physical matter intuitively should not.

    Lots of ambiguity there. But what's clear is that both the transporter and the phaser somehow "cheat" in that they definitely aren't managing the sort of energies involved in turning mass m into energy E=mcc and back. If mass is merely turned into phased mass using rules of physics we don't know about yet, the technology becomes more plausible overall. That is, one big cheat covers a lot of bases and eliminates the need for multiple other cheats in explaining how transporters and phasers could work. Anything ought to be better than E=mcc...

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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