Borg Drone Shielding - WTF?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dac, Dec 14, 2010.

  1. Dac

    Dac Commodore Commodore

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    I was watching Unimatrix Zero last night, and for some reason my extra geeky tendencies got the better of me, which brings me to this:

    What makes Borg personal shields invulnerable?

    To be more specific, the borg adapt, fair enough - but wouldnt the shots fired that impact against the shielding just drain the shield? And repeated shots would drain it to the point of failure, at which point the shields would collapse akin to starship ones, leaving them vulnerable?

    To my understanding, the only reason federation phasers work for a few shots is because theyre firing on a frequency the borg haven't adapted too. Exactly like Lursa and B'Etor's torpedoes in Generations right? If this is the case, how come starship shields fail after repeated shots but borg ones dont?


    Yes, yes, I know the real reason is because it simply makes them scarier and more intimidating, and ultimately it doesnt matter, but it just kinda bugged me a bit.
     
  2. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    I think they have the same potential vulnerability as larger shields, they lose energy when they absorb damage, but I also imagine the Borg can alter the frequency of their shields to adapt and make up for that weakness. So they wouldn't be fully invulnerable, but they would be difficult to get through.
     
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I think we can safely assume that forcefield shielding has not yet been perfected by the UFP. At full power, their 24th century shields are probably much more resilient than their 23rd century ones. There might still be some way to go, so that the Borg drones simply have now what the Feds might have half a millennium from now. The shields aren't invulnerable, but they are still orders of magnitude better than what's needed for deflecting puny 24th century Starfleet hand phasers.

    When tuned right, that is. If tuned wrong, even the most powerful shields might be useless against the weakest of weapons. Thus, a hand phaser might cut through those shields like they weren't there if the tuning was right. Or more exactly, if it didn't by sheer accident happen to be wrong.

    That is, the Borg wouldn't bother to raise shields that work against weapons that are not being fired against them - heck, they go without any shields at all by default, and only start to defend themselves after the enemy starts firing. Thus, the shields when raised can concentrate their full power against those specific frequencies that are being used against them, but the consequence is that these highly optimized shields don't deflect anything else. Hence, a frequency shift helps against the Borg, until the Borg decide to block the new frequency, too - or until they get annoyed at the frequency-hopping Starfleet guns and decide to block a wide range of frequencies at once. But they won't do that until they are forced to, because it's not optimal...

    Perhaps the Drone shields would not be so futuristically powerful if they didn't optimize and concentrate on only blocking a narrow frequency range? Perhaps a generic, non-adapting shield would indeed be vulnerable if our heroes simply fired a dozen phasers at it simultaneously?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We also have to take into account the possibility that the Borg could be using the enemy weapons as energy to power their own shields and weapons.
    Once they adapt, they simply absorb this energy so quickly and put it directly to use.
    Their technology would allow for such quick adaptations after all because of their use of nano-technology.

    I would surmise this principle could apply on both ships and drones.
    However, if you were shooting at a drone with a shuttle phaser ... I think there's a possibility you'd vaporize the drone easily irrespective of the adaptation.

    As for personal shields...
    They were mentioned in DS9, and to my knowledge in TOS, just never seen in action due to 'drama' reasons.

    I would surmise that those personal shields can take a few shots... but would be more vulnerable to Borg hand weapons.
     
  5. Lorna

    Lorna Lieutenant Commander

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    IMO, on the kill setting, Starfleet phasers are designed to kill someone who is not shielded. How much energy does a phaser need to give out to kill a biological lifeform? Not very much I would imagine. It's not like Starfleet wants to blow a hole through someone's chest. Only other uses we've seen phasers for is to cut through rock, even then it should not take too much power or heat to accomplish that.

    So Phasers probably don't have enough energy behind them to do damage to a shield.
    Phasers on an actual ship are designed to get though shields and damage a ships armour, so they probably have a massive energy output, but hand held phaser rifles IMO simply don't have the firepower necessary to damage the shield enough to deplete it. The energy cell of the phaser would probably deplete faster than the shield of the Borg drone.

    Maybe Starfleet should design a setting on the Phaser where it produces a massive burst of energy to damage shielding. I guess they would also have to give the phaser a bigger energy cell.

    There was an episode of TNG where Worf was on the holodeck and used his comm badge to generate a shield. The shield was only able to repel a single bullet though.
     
  6. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Yep, that was in "A Fistful of Datas." IIRC, it only lasted within the range of thirty seconds or so because he had to use the power cell from his communicator to supply energy.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We saw in ST5 already that Starfleet knows how to stop bullets. Those futuristic riot shields were probably the most impressive scifi technology in the whole movie series: halfway plausible (unlike, say, Genesis), but performing a feat that would fill contemporary heroes and their gadgetmasters with awe and jealousy.

    However, I'd argue that Starfleet phasers can easily burn through personal shielding in the 24th century: this would be the best explanation for why we don't see personal shields in action, even though dialogue establishes their existence. The best 24th century UFP or Klingon or Romulan or Cardassian personal shields can stop bullets but cannot stop a phaser beam. This is why they are distributed in "Paradise Lost" for riot control purposes (Leyton knows there isn't going to be a Jem'Hadar attack, but he also knows there is going to be a riot when he performs his coup) but are not distributed to Dominion War field units for stopping Jem'Hadar polaron-poison beams (infantrymen don't carry riot shields in the real world, either).

    It's a rat race where currently (in the 24th century UFP/KE/RSE/CU/etc) the beam weapons are winning, but in the future and in the hands of the Borg, the shields have correspondingly increased in potency and perhaps even lead the race.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I would surmise that personal shields would in fact be enough to stop several hits from directed energy weapons.

    Worf's little make-shift forcefield was weak due to the utilized components (a comm-badge power cell that lasted for 30 seconds).
    The field itself was powerful enough to deflect several bullets though (so it's not just 1 bullet that was stopped).
    This gave Worf an element of surprise because he knew it would be enough to give him a potential advantage.

    We know why we never saw personal shields in use on TV... budget for the most part.

    And even if Timo's justification might be accurate, I find it still viable to use the personal shields, because even if they absorb some of the beam, the residual energy hitting the person could prevent fatal injuries (probably even if it was set to kill).
    So if a phaser set to kill would in fact be enough to burn through the personal shield, the residual energy that hits the person would probably be reduced to 'stun' effect or just a flesh wound.

    The crews were seen using personal shielding for deflecting subspace phenomenon.
    Examples include TNG episode where the Enterprise-D and a Romulan Warbird were frozen in time.
    Another example is on Voyager, when Seska used a hand-held personal shield and was was manipulating subspace to deflect the radiation.

    A spatial phenomenon based on subspace properties would likely exceed various hand-held weaponry in terms of intensity.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    For the same reason we got transporters. This still doesn't mean that the Enterprise was "really" capable of landing on planets, and simply always chose not to. Budget dictates the way the Star Trek universe is - and then the universe is and stays that way.

    By the same argument, soldiers in the field might choose to carry plexiglass riot shields, since they at least slow down incoming rifle bullets a little bit.

    However, there are many disadvantages to carrying a riot shield, to very slight advantage. Since we never see personal shields used in combat, the situation might be the same there. Just like the glint of sun from a plexiglass shield would reveal the position of a foot soldier today, the signature of a forcefield might be a deadly handicap to a foot soldier of the 24th century. And just like a riot shield today severely hinders movement, especially in tight spots, a shield in the 24th century might be snagging on rocks or bushes or tree trunks or cave walls or whatnot.

    Dunno. Weapons would be designed to penetrate and concentrate; a beam having just 1/100 of the oomph of a subspace storm would still be a hundred times stronger than that storm if it were concentrated on just 1/10,000 of the shield's surface area, preferably in the middle of the adversary's chest...

    For fancy analogies, we have diving suits today that keep a worker from being crushed by the depths of the oceans, but anybody with a hunting rifle would quickly kill such a "merman" if he waddled threateningly out of the ocean. Wearing a JIM suit in the battlefield would definitely not be worth the while, even though it could plausibly stop hits from revolvers or shotguns.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. The Inquisitor

    The Inquisitor Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Armour/shields can be utilised for different tasks and scenarios. You wouldn't want a bomb disposal suit in a biohazard area just as you wouldn't want to defuse a bomb wearing a bio suit.

    I should imagine a small, multi purpose shield would come in handy as long as it was portable and didn't give off any tell tale signatures. More often than not shielding and armour are more of a psychological aid than actual protection. Modern military helmets are incapable of stopping a round from a WW2 rifle but are still worn for those 'one in a million' occurrences when a round deflects harmlessly away.

    Maybe different verietys of starfleet shielding would be more sensible than a 'bog standard' riot shield equivalent.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I guess there might be static "forcefield pillboxes" or platoon-sized shields with bulky, at least wheelbarrow-sized generators, since we haven't exactly seen pillbox/trench warfare or platoon movements yet. "The Siege of AR-558" came close to both, but we could argue those poor bastards had lost most of their equipment already when our heroes brought the camera along...

    However, we have seen so many varieties of surface or space combat that we ought to have seen some variants of personal forcefield shields in action already, assuming they existed. Instead, all we get is the explicitly non-phaserproof ("Slaver Weapon") forcefield belts of TAS, probably indicating the state of the art in the late 23rd century and possibly also in the 24th.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. seekertwo

    seekertwo Commander Red Shirt

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    Another thought....perhaps the Borg personal shield is powered by energy broadcasted from the Borg ship. That would explain a lot...and provide a way to defeat the shield by interrupting the power transfer....
     
  13. Dac

    Dac Commodore Commodore

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    I was thinking the same thing actually. That would answer my query in one fell swoop.
     
  14. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Makes sense to me, given the collective nature of Borg technology.
     
  15. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Didn't 7of9 get her shields back in one episode? (Raven I think). There were no borg ships nearby then!
     
  16. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    She did, and I think that's because something was triggered in her implants/nanoprobes. We don't know much about how many she actually had to keep to maintain her human systems, so it's certainly possible they could generate something like a force field under some circumstances.
     
  17. seekertwo

    seekertwo Commander Red Shirt

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    Voyager was....maybe she could tap into it via her alcove mechanism?....
     
  18. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's possible the nanoprobes can wirelessly seek out energy and absorb it.
    Voyager as a starship would be full of it.
    Any environment would do actually given the conversion technologies at hand and what the nanoprobes can do.

    Although, while 7 was deBorgified for the most part, she still regenerated on a continuous basis, and as a result likely accumulated enough energy for the shields.
    Who knows... perhaps the shields require low energy in the first place due to their adaptive nature.
    Once a directed energy weapon was analysed, it was able to convert the residual charge that hit the body into surplus energy for the field, and then subsequent phaser bursts fired at her would be used as extra energy for storage and continuous operation of her systems
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    If the Borg maintained their shields by tapping into the local starship's energy resources, our TNG heroes would have observed this classic "one weakness and vulnerability in the villain's defenses" and exploited it...

    I like the idea that the shields can feed on weapons fire, though. But even that would probably have warranted a mention at some point, as it ought to be observable. And our heroes do spend time and effort in observing and analyzing the Borg.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They may do so, but their understanding of the Collective (at least until 7 of 9 came onboard) was fairly superficial.
    Even when 7 joined the crew, we saw her dispensing info about the Borg when the need arose.

    It's possible the Borg are able of a wireless tap into an energy source for their drones, or at the very least that the shields are being fed via the phaser beams, and they simply lump all of this under 'adaptation' and didn't go into too much detail.

    I don't think it would be a weakness per see... because the nanoprobes could be collecting energy at a very high/efficient rate and then act as batteries without having to rely on external power sources.

    If you think about it... the Borg cannot function without their mechanical components.
    Wouldn't it be simpler to just put the Borg boarding parties under dampening fields?
    The Feds alone can create forcefields virtually anywhere on the ship.
    Contain them behind a forcefield and create a dampening field inside of it.

    Did the heroes thought of using something like that?
    Not really... even though the dampening field trick was used against the heroes themselves more than once.

    I wasn't saying that the theory of the wireless taping into energy is correct... I was merely coming up with a solution that could support the drones need of a 'power source' for their shields to operate.
    I'm more leaning towards the premise that the technology in question is more independent than that and uses the body's own energy supplies for certain functions (and there's plenty of it).
    Then again the nano-probes, when injected into the victim would be fully-powered in the first place, and the Borg have probably found a way to utilize less energy while doing much more.