What killed the Defiant's crew?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Wingsley, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    Quoting Doctor McCoy's intercom conversation with Spock, mid-episode:

    I'm a little confused here...

    Is McCoy offering Spock an official diagnosis and prognosis for the crews of the Enterprise and Defiant? Is he saying that the Defiant's crew died of brain tissue disease caused by the unusual spacial distortion taking place in this particular region? If so, does this mean that if the Enterprise hangs around long enough, everyone will die regardless due to the deleterious affects this distortion has on brain tissue?

    The Theragen-derived antidote McCoy unveils later would seem to indicate that a chemical solution can be used to keep this brain tissue malady in check.

    It seems a little contradictory. Did the Defiant's crew all go crazy on each other, and that was the cause of death? It looked like someone let the air out of the ship's interior, and Kirk's boarding party needed space suits with gravity boots to explore the derelict Defiant, suggesting there was no longer any life support available. Or did something else happen?
     
  2. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Defiant's crew probably died of their own insane actions long before any physical pathology. The physical distortions might have led to death eventually. What McCoy did was come up with a "pain killer" to numb the fun house mirror sensations—temporarily.

    Gravity boots? No mention of that in TOS. Anyway, since the Enterprise sensors could not detect the Defiant, it might have been some kind of mirage. I think the environment suits were a wise precaution. They might have been beaming into space. The ship appeared to have power, although the air might have leeched away. McCoy passed his hand through a table and one of the corpses. I always figured that the air was intact, and McCoy had wandered down to a threshold between the universes.

    To coin a phrase, "'brane and 'brane! What is 'brane?"
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Indeed, we were never told that the ship would lack air or other life support. Instead, our heroes were unsure whether there would be a ship at their destination at all, or mere empty space.

    But Spock did say the ship was "functioning" and suspected that "mutineers" would be hiding elsewhere in the ship; had there been a life support shutdown or failure, Spock would probably have referred to it at this point, if only to clarify the tactical situation vs. the mutineers.

    That Kirk and pals didn't immediately remove their suits was obviously against Hollywood convention and Star Trek precedent. It made sense, though, as the ship had been observed doing the "now you see me, now you don't" act previously, and the results would be fatal on an unprotected boarding party.

    As an anti-contamination measure, the suits would obviously not have worked too well, because they wouldn't stop "fabric of space" from hurting the wearers. But anti-contamination has never been attempted with suits in Star Trek anyway. Spacesuits and other protective gear seem to be worn only against "the elements": cold, hot, vacuum.

    Supposedly, the crew of the Defiant had three weeks to kill each other. They could have achieved total loss of life without having to resort to means of mass murder (opening of airlocks, toying with gravity, using intruder control gases etc.), at least if we assume that the final bouts of murderous rage would result in suicides when there were no other victims immediately available. The brain damage itself need not have been one of the causes of death, merely the driving force.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    McCoy said that the Defiant crew killed each other. From http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/64.htm:

     
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I wouldn't say "never" as the one from "the Man Trap" (and "Where No Man Has Gone Before") looked a lot like a candidate for a protective radiation suit.

    Bob
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Would it do any better against contamination than the orange suits of "The Naked Time"? The hood doesn't appear hermetically sealed in this case, either.

    The vest does have the look of a radiation protection system based on absorption of radiation by "armor plates" covering key body locations... But it wouldn't do much good against contamination. Okay, perhaps it is easier to wash than the regular uniform, but in order to be of help, it would need to cover the entire uniform.

    In any case, too bad that this sort of diversity was lost later in the show.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    There's something very ironic about the whole pass-your-hand-through-a-solid-object trope. As with TMP's "The Next Phase" and STARGATE SG-1's "phase out"/cloaking trope, one has to wonder: if this altered state makes you invisible and/or unreachable, or able to pass through solid objects, how come the ground/deck you stand on effectively stops you from drifting through the floor/ground?

    (The reason I suggested gravity boots wasn't based directly on canon; it was retconned based on the way Kirk and his boarding party seem to cautiously move about while on-board the derelict. I just retconned that in from TMP6 and FIRST CONTACT.)

    So, are we assuming that the violence resulting from the brian-tissue-disease-induced madness is what killed the Defiant's crew, and that this brain-tissue-distortion is not conclusively fatal? FWIW, I have no problem with most of the crew beating each other to death, and maybe someone depressurizing the ship during the Defiant's "last days" (or maybe the life support system just went offline after there was nobody left to maintain it).

    There is also the possibility that even a fully-functional Federation starship, left in this area of space long enough, may be affected by the spacial distortion. Maybe if you leave the ship there long enough all the ship's systems will be knocked offline and/or powered down. If the distortion can have an effect on brain tissue, why wouldn't it also affect the ship's sensitive instrumentation?
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    There is also the possibility that darker forces are at play there. "In a Mirror, Darkly" suggests the Mirror Tholians were behind the whole rift thing; perhaps they also engineered the rift so that it would disable the crews of the victim ships, without damaging the ships themselves...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    Personally, I would say it's a matter of degrees for how much you're phased out of sync with normal matter. If the effect in "The Next Phase" had caused Ro and Geordi to fall through the floor, it's logical to assume they would have encountered other potential problems like not being able to breathe (the air particles would have passed through their phased lungs and not been retained for respiration). Since neither of those problems surfaced in their case, I think it's fair to assume (:angel:) the effect wasn't quite that strong. We also saw it was relatively easy for them to be dephased even by Data's lowest wattage field, and they simply had to bump up the strength.

    I don't watch Stargate, so I have no clue how they managed the effect.
     
  10. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Lots of TV shows and movies feature invisible men—where their matter is actually invisible, rather than cloaked by a Harry Potter-style covering—yet they are still able to see the world around them. If their atoms have been altered so that light passes right through, or does not interact normally... (The makers of the game QUAKE thought of that, which is why users of the "ring of shadows" were not totally invisible. Their eyes still showed, even in the game.)

    As for partially shifted people passing through the floor, why should gravity still affect them? Or inertia? Perhaps a higher-tech visual effect could be created where the Defiant side of the shift will "give" a little, like rubber—"smearing" a bit like paint as McCoy's hand passes through and "snapping back" afterwards.

    For that matter (no pun intended), why should the suits the landing party was wearing not start shifting through their own bodies? If their own bodies no longer contacted themselves, the landing party would quickly turn to mush. (How's that for insanity-inducing pressure?)

    Most fantasy does not bear close scrutiny. I remember watching a BATMAN episode as a kid, pointing out the silliness of something, like Bat Shark Repellent. (And the fact that our heroes just happened to have a can handy.) My brother laughed and said, "That's the only ridiculous thing you noticed?"
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Why not? Interaction is selective in the real world, too: some matter is affected by electromagnetism, some is not.

    Backstage technobabble speaks of shields being a gravitic technology. That would jibe well with this phasing stuff, because these gravitic shields apparently easily stop matter phased by the transporter from getting through. OTOH, phasing comes in degrees, and enough of it will apparently allow the matter to penetrate even intense gravitics...

    Or their left arms through their right lungs?

    It would make sense that matter that has been recently brought into the field is more solid than matter that has spent time in it. Hence it, and all of it, goes through the older matter if sufficient force is used. It doesn't matter whether the new matter is people, or spacesuits, or dust, or air.

    Of course, the phasing done by the transporter merely appears to take an entity from this world and move it intact into a parallel realm; the "phased matter" isn't phased to itself, it's only phased vis-á-vis the normal, unphased matter around that wasn't subjected to the transporter. The phase cloak thing no doubt works the same way: LaForge doesn't become transparent/penetrable to LaForge, merely to the rest of the universe. All the forces of nature that normally keep LaForge together still keep on working, only now in their phased form.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    ^ and by this same token, if the interphase phenomenon affected the derelict Defiant in waves (not the whole ship at the same instant), I suppose that opens the door to the possibility that part of the ship's hull could have phased out, allowing a weird kind of "hull breech" that emptied out the ship's atmosphere as it drifted in space. I'm not saying this killed the crew; maybe they were already dead.

    I prefer the notion that the Defiant's internal systems went haywire after the crew died, and the growing malfunctions from an increasing body of the ship's equipment drifting offline may have resulted in the life support systems failing. For all we know, there could be (very thin) air left, and it could be -100º in there.

    Whatever the case, I have another question to consider: how do space-suited Enterprise crewmembers beam out from a pressurized transporter room to (what could be) a place with little or no atmosphere without depressurizing first? I'm not speaking only of Kirk and his boarding party beaming to and from the Defiant. I'm also wondering how they did it in VOY's "Day of Honor", when Paris and Torres are floating in space and are rescued by Voyager's transporter.
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I'm guessing that the space suit is resilient enough to instantly adjust to rapid pressurization/depressurization. Has the transporter ever beamed out or back an object that normally couldn't withstand a sudden change in pressurization?
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Statistically, we'd want as many of the crew as possible to really have died from direct violence towards each other, because McCoy came to this conclusion after visiting something like three random locations on the ship. But mass deaths from other reasons might have taken place, as long as they happened in locations McCoy deemed too dangerous to visit...

    The TOS suit is somewhat "magical" in this respect: it is clearly made of soft fabric, but it doesn't balloon at all in vacuum!

    Other Trek spacesuits have been hardsuits with some tight, flexible sections, sidestepping the ballooning problem. Possibly the TOS suit is a hardsuit on the inside, too, and the surface material isn't airtight (it's just a thermal/radiation shield) so it doesn't change shape at beam-ins or beam-outs.

    ...Those redshirts in "And the Children Shall Lead". :devil:

    The transporter clearly adjusts for the conditions of space in some ways: objects beamed in from the extreme cold of space or alien worlds are immediately warm enough to touch with bare hands. That sort of trickery wouldn't be too different from "pressure adjustment" in scope, whatever the physical details.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    McCoy also listened to or otherwise accessed the ship's log, off screen.
     
  16. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    A vacuum does not have a temperature, although other factors come into play. The Apollo CSMs did a slow roll for "passive thermal control" so that one side would not get toasted from direct exposure to the Sun. What were conditions like out near the barrier when the Enterprise took aboard the Valiant's recorder? What about Nomad? It had just been shot at by a photon torpedo, and it apparently possessed a highly advanced power supply—what about emissions from that?

    Yes, the transporter is magical in many ways. And beaming something into or out of a vacuum opens up that perennial debate about how the transporter works—is it a wormhole-like "gateway" that literally transposes matter from one place to another, or is it a disintegrator-reintegrator with a computerized buffer that can "filter" out undesirable things?

    Maybe the transporter killed the crew. Someone left the cap off, and the vapors began to phase out the entire ship... :rolleyes:
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    There's no such thing as a perfect vacuum. There's always some background radiation, at least as far as is known by science. In Kelvin, 2.7 degrees is as cold as space gets, naturally [http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/980301b.html].
     
  18. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I understand that there is no such thing as a perfect vacuum. To return to my Apollo CSM example, if you stuck a thermometer out into cislunar space, would it heat up or cool off, relative to your comfy internal environment? If space were "extremely cold," how could the CSM be heating up, thus necessitating the roll? Obviously, energy can be absorbed by the CSM and re-radiated without a solid carrier, like dust or gas. And the photons themselves technically do not have a temperature, neither hot nor cold. Yet by your reasoning, anything transported in from open space should be "extremely cold" to the touch.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    In this particular case, we can establish the temperature of space quite satisfactorily, the very same way we establish it here down on Earth: by sticking a black body analog in the volume we want to examine and assessing the temperature this object reaches at the eventual equilibrium - in shadow, and in sunlight, for two very different readings.

    So let's stick a thermometer in space at the distance of one AU from the Sun, that is, in the vicinity of Earth. In shadow, we get something close to 70 Kelvin, or minus 200 degrees Celsius. In sunlight, we get about plus 120 degrees Celsius. Not too bad in terms of survival; many planetary environments are more extreme.

    But the Valiant marker would probably have reached an equilibrium more than 1 AU away from the nearest star. Delta Vega's sun was said to be a few lightdays away; unless she were really hot, temperatures at the Barrier would probably be in the order of just a few dozen Kelvin, enough to liquefy the air around the recorder marker when it got aboard unless some adjusting were done. The piece of the Charybdis beamed aboard explicitly came from a place with very low temperatures (indeed, below zero Kelvin was quoted!), again dangerously cold by any standards. Objects floating in open space near stars would probably be constantly exposed to local sunlight and might actually be hot to the touch, but I don't think any such were encountered in Star Trek, as the heroes and villains would typically only go near stars when also going near the local planets... In practice, everything interesting and worth picking up would be found on planetary orbits.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I never said that.