Why can't Latinum be replicated?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by The Borg Queen, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Latinum is not a currency, it's a rare material, like diamonds. That's why it's important that it cannot be replicated in a proper fashion, because otherwise the entire Ferengi financial system would fall apart. There might be artificially created industrial latinum, like artificial diamonds, but just like those, it's useless on the market.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Says who?

    Besides, latinum isn't the thing with value. Gold-pressed latinum is.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Latinum is clearly used as a currency. It comes in different denominations! It's exchanged for goods and services!

    It is never made clear what latinum is, though. Is it a resource that's mined? Is it manufactured? Is it even, against all fanon, exclusively replicated, because it's a completely artificial substance that only exists because of replicators?
     
  4. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This guy does:
    [​IMG]

    If it could be replicated, it wouldn't have any worth.

    Money can't be replicated because of serial numbers and other stuff. Yeah, you can print banknotes all you want, but it doesn't work. Latinum is a resource. The denominations are something like strip, bar and brick, it's almost a weight measure. Morn smuggled liquid latinum in his body, and was most wanted for it. That episode wouldn't work if it could be replicated. Heck, the entire relationship between Quark and Starfleet wouldn't work. The Federation has an unlimited supply of energy, they can replicate any shit they want. Starfleet officers would be kings. Klingons have replicators, Romulans have replicators, everyone has replicators. The Ferengi would be ruined. But no, there's an episode where Jake wants to get that Baseball card, and he has no latinum and has to beg Nog for it. Why didn't he just replicate a bar of latinum?
     
  5. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Jake wouldn't be able to replicate latinum for the same reason I can't print off a thousand $100 bills on my laser printer. I don't have the authority to issue legal tender, and if I did, it would be counterfeit currency - useful only until I got caught.

    As for not being replicated, we never heard anyone in Trek make the claim. But if latinum isn't replicable, then what is it? Mined? Would the Ferengi allow their currency's value to be tied to the vagaries of the mining industry? Latinum miners would be the most powerful Ferengi in the Alpha Quadrant. They would control the value of the currency, not the market, and not the Ferengi government. But no one ever even hinted that latinum was mined.

    So if it isn't mined, then it is manufactured. But why would manufacturing it be possible, but not replicating it? Replication is just rearranging atoms into a pre-programmed pattern. And even if it is manufactured, then wouldn't the latinum manufacturers be more powerful than the Ferengi government?

    Whether mined or manufactured, someone is creating currency out of "thin air", just as a replicator would. I don't see why latinum would hold value better than anything else just for not being replicable. Latinum's only use is as currency; it's never suggested that it can be used in anything else. Sure, some decorative items, but no industrial use for latinum is ever described. At least gold is used for industrial applications in addition to looking pretty.

    So what is latinum? It's fiat currency. It has value because everyone agrees that it has value.
     
  6. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Again, Morn was chased for liquid latinum in his stomach. And you can't replicate bills because they have serial numbers and other safety precautions. Nobody chases you for the paper or the ink.
     
  7. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Morn was a fugitive from the law because he broke into a bank and stole money. The fact that it was a liquid that he could store in his second stomach is not relevant. He could have just as easily stored the latinum in a vial in his pocket, or, if he had lived as a human in the 20th century, as a pile of banknotes in his mattress. Whatever the method of concealment, he'd be a wanted criminal.

    What Morn's heist and subsequent concealment of the latinum (not the gold-pressed latinum) tells us is that the latinum somehow conveys value. But how? You point out that the paper and ink are not the valuable part of a bill. What they convey is important though. The serial numbers that certify the bill as legitimate currency are what's important.

    So, perhaps the latinum conveys information that certifies its legitimacy as legal currency. Quark pointed out that the little bit of latinum that Morn spit out was worth about 100 bricks of GPL. A brick of GPL is pretty big, the largest denomination introduced, so there must not be much latinum in one brick. Of course, the serial numbers on a bill are only a small part of the ink on it. The rest of the ink is decorative, more or less. Perhaps latinum conveys the "serial numbers" of the gold-pressed latinum currency. Maybe each latinum molecule is uniquely identified somehow, and so only a little bit of it needs to be included in the GPL currency to stamp it as authentic money, legal to exchange for goods and services. Without the latinum, the gold is just gold, and while not completely worthless, is worth less because it's no longer fit to be used as currency. A vandalized $100 bill is not worth $100 anymore, if all the serial numbers on it are missing or illegible.
     
  8. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Indeed, it's a common plot element in crime and action movies that a component of money printing process (authentic plates for the printing machine, genuine bill paper, proper chemicals for colors) has been stolen and may lead to villains making money, either with it or out of it.

    Intricate chemical marking would be the only plausible way to "code" currency in the Trek future so that the code could not be easily reproduced. But an unreproduceable code isn't actually all that relevant - the content of the code is what matters. Does it match records elsewhere? The most intricately forged serial number in a bill doesn't help if it's an incorrect serial number...

    Well-forged serial numbers are okay for "everyday" currency units such as 100-dollar bills. But a brick of GPL is supposedly more valuable than that in relative terms, and would have its serial number or equivalent feature checked against records when a transaction took place. So the liquid latinum probably isn't the exact analogy of either bill-engraving ink or bill serial number, but a mixture of some sort.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  9. Captain_Amasov

    Captain_Amasov Captain Captain

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    Apparently objects or lifeforms with complicated quantum structures can't be replicated, but they can be transported. I don't see why the never used the same transporter accident that created two Riker's to make more dilithium, for example.
     
  10. The Borg Queen

    The Borg Queen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Because they're incompetent idiots.

    Well, either them or the writers.

    Like age-reversing transporters.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We still have never heard of something being totally impossible to replicate, just impractical...

    The very concept of "reusing an accident" flies in the face of reason. Accidents are accidental and for that reason already extremely difficult to reproduce. Could you really see Starfleet waiting for the perfect storm at Nervala IV and then start probing the atmosphere with twin transporter beams in the hope that the "phase differentials" will again be an exact match for one of them? They'd end up blowing up six transporter platforms for one poorly duplicated crate of dilithium - and they wouldn't get any better at it with time, as the circumstances would be constantly changing.

    As for age reversal in "Unnatural Selection", it hardly amounted to that as such. It was reversal of a debilitating illness that had the same symptoms as advanced age. As a cure for arthritis, it seemed to work fine, but there's no indication it rejuvenated Pulaski's cells or anything like that - indeed, there's no indication that the illness aged the cells in the first place. It just gave Pulaski instant arthritis.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. The Borg Queen

    The Borg Queen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They knew the mechanics that caused the phenomenon: transporting through a semi-transparent mirror.

    It shouldn't take too long to recreate that situation and test all the variables.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    How to analyze and recreate the transparent mirror when it's a rare planetary-scale weather phenomenon? It sounds like a major research effort, to be followed by large scale construction of a still poorly understood system. I'd expect something like the reverse-engineering of Borg nanoprobes to yield industrial applications sooner.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Diamonds are nothing more than pressurized carbon and are one of the most abundant materials in the universe (which includes our planet Earth).
    Also... Humanity has been creating synthetic diamonds since the 1950's for industrial applications - while it wasn't until the early 1990-ies that we gained the viable ability to use them in electronics (and for other purposes) - which due to the monetary system we live in have YET to live up to that use because current industry still isn't done with milking money out of Silicon.

    As for latinum being non-replicable... I don't think there was any mention of it being non-replicable.
    Ferengi merely use it for currency, and those who want to do business with the Ferengi need to utilize gold-pressed Latinum.
    Its possible that the Ferengi have officials who know replicators CAN create gold-pressed latinum, but it would be something kept hidden from their general public.

    Also, 'Night of Terrors' essentially confirms that Federation replicators merely need energy (large portions of it) to synthesize matter (because they transform energy into matter as it was repeated several times) and do not require existing portions of matter (organic or otherwise) to create something.

    The more complex a material or element is that you try to replicate, it requires that much more power - Enterprise had an issue with its power being depleted on a regular basis and replicators simply didn't have enough of it to synthesize the required elements.
     
  15. The Borg Queen

    The Borg Queen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Perhaps ANY replicated material has a unique energy signature, sort of like a replication watermark.

    Natural Latinum obviously wouldn't have this energy signature and be valid as authentic currency, whereas replicated Latinum could be easily recognised by this watermark signature and not have any real-world value whatsoever.

    Perhaps that's what makes Latinum more valuable than, say, diamond, because the replicator watermark is so radically different from Latinum's natural energy signature, it's very very easy to detect whether Latinum is natural or replicated.
     
  16. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like how the explanations get more and more complicated just because you guys WANT to disagree with the Occam's Razor answer: it can't be replicated, which is why it has value in a world where nearly everything can be replicated by the transformation from energy into matter. The technobabble explanation as to why it can't be replicated is not even important at all.

    It really is the most simple and logical reason.
     
  17. The Borg Queen

    The Borg Queen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Um... we know it can't be replicated.

    The question is "WHY can't it be replicated", not "CAN it be replicated".

    The question is just as important as anything else in the show.
     
  18. JarodRussell

    JarodRussell Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yet more than half of this thread is about the CAN, and not the WHY.
     
  19. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    It's fanon, admittedly based on behind-the-scences production intent, that latinum is not replicable. It was never established in the show that latinum was incapable of being replicated.

    So why would we start spinning yarns about how replicators can't produce latinum, when there's no canonical evidence to support that idea? The idea that an interstellar civilization would base their economic system on the "worth" of some unreplicable materials is unimaginative. "Gold-pressed latinum" is used as a currency by the Ferengi Alliance, and that's all we know. The idea that it is worth using as a currency because it is unreplicable is similar to assuming that the US uses paper-and-ink currency because paper and ink are rare. Obviously neither paper nor ink are rare substances, nor are electrons, which are the real currency of our times. So why would latinum, or gold-pressed latinum, have to be rare and unreplicable to be used as currency?

    Answer that question, and I'll assist in figuring out why latinum and GPL must unreplicable.
     
  20. The Borg Queen

    The Borg Queen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A replicator would be the equivalent of a National Treasury-quality printing press, as opposed to your bog-standard colour printer.

    It wouldn't be printing forged money, it'd be printing real money.