Why the lack of personal protection?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by flamewolf393, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    Most crew members don't expect to be fired upon while walking the corridors of the Enterprise, but occasionally it does happen. And Armor is uncomfortable to wear, I don't think most crew are going to want to wear it if they have reasonable expectations of safety.
     
  2. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Onboard your own ship is obviously the least likely place to be shot and disabled/killed. I don't think any large percentage of the crew would wear armor - even ship's security is gonna be pretty lightly equipped. They're more like MPs than infantry.

    It remains a good idea to keep armor in stock. The people you send down to an uncharted planet could be headed into a warzone or an ambush for all you know. And in the event your ship is boarded by armed belligerents, you can minimize your own casualties by issuing the good stuff to your security personnel.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Plus, it's dramatically good to have a scene in the armory where weapons and other gear get distributed to the crew in anticipation of hostilities. Visible armor nicely demarcates the transition from "peace" to "war".

    I'd still much prefer to see belts or harnesses that erect protective forcefields than physical jackets of armor. The latter may be more "realistic", but this only drives home the point that no real physical armor can stop a bullet from killing you if the bullet is designed to do that: even if the flak jacket prevents penetration, it receives the kinetic energy and that ultimately pulps the wearer.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Mars

    Mars Commander Red Shirt

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    If it was something like powered armor with an exoskeleton strong enough to support heavy armor, then it probably could stop a bullet. Of course bullets can get bigger to penetrate those. Personal deflector shields might make it hard to walk as then you feet could not make contact with the ground or floor.
     
  5. Hando

    Hando Commander Red Shirt

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    Well there are times when it is illogical for the armor to be missing.

    In ENT, when all weapons are weaker we should have seen more armor. If an Augment can withstand being shot at, then armor can do the same. Also where has all the headgear gone?

    I agree with the idea, that if a weapon does not disintegrate a person, then armor should offer at least some kind of protection. And the Federation ought to care about the health of its people.

    I also question, why doesn't the security personal use some kind of riot gear?
     
  6. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    They did in TFF. Shields and assault phasers and all that.

    OTOH, it's been overlooked that Klingons wear full body armor everywhere, in every case, all the time. Not all of the time, but sometimes we have seen Klingons appear to at least partially shrug off direct hits from phaser blasts or take a hit without being all the way stunned or killed and it takes a second or a third shot to finish the job. We normally sort of attribute this to Klingons being natural badasses, or adrenaline or whatever. It's probably just the armor; although Klingon armor is mostly ceremonial, it probably DOES provide some measure of protection from energy weapons (the soft/squishy armor in TUC was probably a modernized version that was slightly more effective against phasers but not as popular with the warrior caste).
     
  7. CaptMurdock

    CaptMurdock Commodore Commodore

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    [Duck Dodgers voice]
    "Little doeth he know that I'm wearing my thpecial dithintegration-proof vetht!"
    [/DDv]
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Heh...

    That's exactly what I thought of when I read that, too.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Those shields are an example of what Star Trek might have serious trouble with. I mean, they are incredibly cool: portable, collapsible, transparent and bulletproof! Just what one would expect from technology centuries more advanced than ours. But Trek seldom does this sort of thing: whenever there's futurism to be had, it's done with forcefields and beeping boxes with flashing buttons, not with advanced materials.

    Also, in order to be useful against bullets, that riot shield would still have to feature advanced technomagic that absorbs the momentum of the impact. How that is achieved without beeping boxes with flashing buttons remains a mystery. OTOH, standard fare Star Trek shields, or lightweight versions thereof, would not have the problem, as they are never quoted as respecting conservation of momentum. So consistency might call for forgetting about cool in this case.

    I think this is an excellent way of putting it. The best protection Starfleet technology can offer amounts to "riot gear" at most, be it physical shields or personal forcefields. And that's what gets distributed to the troops when the going gets tough, but the enemies are rioters (low-tech rabble in ST5, the citizens of Earth in "Homefront"). Yet whenever you distribute riot gear, you provoke aggression, at least ITRW. And it would be extremely seldom that starship security would wish to provoke aggression!

    And in situations where provocation is irrelevant, the riot gear is irrelevant as well...

    I'd very much want to believe this. And I'd like to think that Klingon technology in this field is inferior to UFP technology, meaning the Starfleet battle coveralls offer the same level of protection with less discomfort. But that's the limit of protection available by either technology: the penetration of battlefield weapons will still be sufficient to make headgear irrelevant. That is, a glancing blow from a phaserlike weapon might only rough up your chest a little if you wear this stuff, but the same effect on your head would always leave you dead or worse, unless you wore a helmet or cap a foot thick in every direction. And even then it wouldn't hinder direct hits.

    This interpretation still leaves one wondering why the troops aren't protected from conventional kinetic shrapnel by conventional means, as even future energy weapons seem to throw stuff around when hitting a nearby wall or rock. Such protection would also help against sticks, stones and knives and some ricocheting bullets, hopefully. This is the one field of protection where advanced materials could plausibly remove the "clumsiness" argument of wearing "only marginally effective" armor.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    From http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Life_support_belt:

    I always thought that some later uses of the belts, particularly in Slaver Weapon, were inconsistent with how they were used in Beyond the Farthest Star. The belts seem to offer some resistance to phaser fire from the automatic bridge defense system, so I always thought they should have stood up better to the Kzinti phasers. I suppose one could posit that the Kzinti phasers were specially modified to penetrate the forcefields.

    Also in Beyond the Farthest Star, Scotty's belt holds up the weight of the Engineering core hatch, which implies that the belts should be able to prevent a variety of objects from penetrating their force fields. Note that Scotty, Chapel, and McCoy use belts underwater in The Ambergris Element (although it would appear that one of the famous Filmation animation errors resulted in Scotty's belt not being drawn).
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'd think a device designed to contain air would be very good at resisting gradual, evenly spread pressure, even fairly high pressure. Not so good at resisting sharp piercing pressure...

    Whether the belts do zip against phasers in "Beyond" is somewhat debatable. People being shot at are all in considerable pain, it seems - which is the aim of the creature controlling the phasers (or whatever those beams are). But Kirk resists the beams just as well after removing the belt, if not better.

    ..Yes, the animation is again wildly inconsistent on whether Kirk has his belt on or not. But he makes a great show of removing it and placing it on the control console, in an apparent gesture of surrender, so we are supposed to believe he indeed ceases to wear a belt at that point. And the yellow glow around him at beam impacts is probably due to the beam, rather than the belt...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    He's put one hand on the belt that he left on the console to short it out, so I'd say the yellow glow is from the belt.
     
  13. Go Go L

    Go Go L Ensign Newbie

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    I think for the most part, the uniforms were fine. You wouldn't want to meet "explorers" visiting earth for the first time wearing armor. When going into battle, then they need to be much better equiped like TMP. It'd be a pain to wear armor all the time like the Klingons, and probably send the wrong message unless it was discreet and effective.
     
  14. Brainsucker

    Brainsucker Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, protection is one thing, but wearing T-shirt, trousers, and office shoes on an away mission or war is just... (see DS9)

    In a diplomatic mission, it is acceptable if they wears the usual uniform plus hand gun for self protection though.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    It's very seldom that a landing party really expects to get into a firefight, though.

    And being armored against an unexpected attack isn't really worth it: if somebody really bothers to ambush a Starfleet landing party, they'll be sure to prepare well enough that the attack will succeed, quite regardless of whether our heroes beam down in t-shirts or in a main battle tank. The true defense of a landing party is its ability to posthumously vaporize a continent... Nobody really dares attack even a naked Starfleet officer when knowing that this will cost him his entire civilization.

    So that basically leaves just two scenarios where donning heavy armor makes any sense:

    1) the landing party will engage in an infantry attack
    2) the landing party will face savages who have no idea who they are up against - which means they will attack with things like spears, axes and sharpened avocados, as higher tech would imply knowledge of opposition

    And the first scenario might never take place. Perhaps there exists no infantry action in the Trek universe? We never see it happen, after all: the closest we come is a desperate impromptu defense of an installation by a stranded starship crew against forces from a similarly downed enemy vessel, in "Siege of AR-558" and "The Ship".

    Whether light body armor or forcefield belts/harnesses are a good idea in the second scenario... Difficult to say. The already discussed futuristic riot shields of ST5:TFF might be the more usual approach. But it seems that whenever our TOS heroes deliberately engage savage natives, they do so in the course of a mission where they try to hide their outer space origin and nature. Any protection would have to be of a concealable type, then, akin to the tiny Type 1 phasers.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    In early TOS and again in the movies, away teams beamed down with field jackets and equipment packs. Tad more realistic that way (at least, for peacetime).
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure I see the "realism" of wearing a jacket. I mean, it's just a specific shape of clothing, traditional to a certain culture; what they normally wear could be just as functional in every respect. It's not even as if the jackets would cover bits that aren't otherwise covered (except in the case of those cold weather costumes from ENT and VOY, which at least have proper hoods - Saavik and David Marcus sure could have used those in ST3!).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    I doubt that Mr. Hendorff would have objected to another layer of clothing at the very least.
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's actually become sort of universal among the armed forces of the world, especially forces that expect to fight in cold climates. Even the Chinese navy wear jackets in the winter.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...I'm including all of Earth's sub-cultures here, really. No reason for other humanoids to wear clothing of that particular shape.

    Although the older styles of traditional fighting garb really differed quite a bit from the Star Trek style hip- or waist-length jacket. Ankle-length cold weather protection has been far more common (and effective!) overall, and hot weather protection varies wildly before the era of global standardization - chiefly driven by whimsical reasons of commercial or even popular culture origin (gotta look American!).

    The main and original objection I have is to the continuation of layered clothing in any culture for the Trek 23rd century, though. It seems too low-tech, in a context where high tech would probably be passive and reliable and in every sense preferable to low tech.

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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