Cloaking tech

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Discovery' started by flottanna, Nov 29, 2017.

  1. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    As far as we've seen, DSC episode 9 is the earliest real scientific investigation of cloaking technology by Starfleet. You can imagine there hasn't even been a curriculum developed around it yet, and Jimmy Kirk's graduating soon.
     
  2. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Kirk has already graduated and is a lieutenant serving on the Farragut in this timeline!
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
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  3. zar

    zar Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Eleven years ago" in a TOS season 2 episode is 2257, right? Hmm... we're now about 8 months past the pilot - May 2256 - so January 2257? He could have just graduated or is just about to graduate.
     
  4. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    He was a freshman ("plebe") fifteen years before "Shore Leave" (TOS), so circa 2251. He was already a lieutenant conducting his first planetary survey on Neural thirteen years before "A Private Little War" (TOS), circa 2255. I collated all the references here, and while I've made some interpretations on a few points, I've also supplied all the onscreen quotes verbatim.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2017
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It really isn't. "We know they have a practical invisibility screen" is treated as a revelation rather than something that is simply known about the Romulans since the 22nd century. It's not Discovery's retcon, really, it's Enterprise, DS9 and Voyager that introduced that bit of world building. Discovery is being more consistent with THAT than it is with Balance of Terror.

    That or they just chose to ignore it, because it's, like, two lines of dialog that don't change much and have already been rendered moot anyway.

    Hence the reason they chose to ignore it.

    I don't see how. The first thing they teach you in technical writing is how to accurately describe the concepts you're writing about to an audience that doesn't necessarily make the same assumptions about meaning that you do. You avoid colloquialisms and idioms and describe the concept as clearly as possible.

    Which is literally the way Spock talks in everyday situations, hence it applies here too.
     
  6. Saul

    Saul Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Spock has already graduated too.
     
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  7. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    It all depends on the context, on what one is theorizing about. If you saw me walking my bicycle, limping, with blood on my clothes, you might theorize that I had fallen off my bike and injured myself. But that would not be the only possible explanation for what you see. It would just be a theory. A theoretical possibility.

    The Romulan ship disappears, Kirk says he doesn't understand what's happening. Spock theorizes a possible explanation based on the limited evidence at hand. Basically just like he does in "The Enterprise Incident" (TOS)...

    KIRK: Mister Spock, your sensors read clear. What happened?
    SPOCK: I have a theory, Captain.

    [...]

    KIRK: Mister Spock, you said you had a theory on why your sensors didn't pick up the new ships until they were upon us.
    SPOCK: I believe the Romulans have developed a cloaking device which renders our tracking sensors useless.


    ...and also in TUC:

    SPOCK: An ancestor of mine maintained that, if you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains—however improbable—must be the truth.
    UHURA: What exactly does that mean?
    SPOCK: It means that if we cannot have fired those torpedoes, someone else did.
    SCOTT: Well they didn't fire on themselves, and there were no other ships present.
    SPOCK: There was an enormous neutron energy surge.
    SCOTT: Not from us!
    CHEKOV: A neutron surge that big could only be produced by another ship.
    UHURA: Kronos One?
    SPOCK: Too far away. Very near us, possibly beneath us.
    SCOTT: If there were a ship beneath us the Klingons would have seen her.
    SPOCK: Would they?
    VALERIS: A bird of prey?
    SPOCK: A bird of prey.
    CHEKOV: Cloaked?
    SCOTT: A bird of prey cannot fire when she's cloaked!
    SPOCK: All things being equal, Mister Scott, I would agree. However, things are not equal. This one can.
    VALERIS: We must inform Starfleet Command.
    SCOTT: Inform them of what? A new weapon that is invisible? Raving lunatics, that's what they'll call us! They'll say that we're so desperate to exonerate the Captain that we'll say anything.
    SPOCK: And they would be correct. We have no evidence. Only a theory, which happens to fit the facts.

    That's a non-starter. Spock who always speaks literally and technically correctly without fail? "Unquestionably, a large part of its substance is simple electricity"? "The fact that this android population can literally provide anything a human being could ask for in unlimited quantity"? "They're collecting all the information stored in this fly. They've decided to swat us"? "Flypaper"? "Insufficient facts always invites danger"? "Thee has the power, T'Pau"? "I am endeavoring to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins"? "Sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik"? "Marshmelon"? That Spock?

    For the moment, I'm presuming it's a revelation because the ones from the 22nd century (and I expect the ones from DSC as well) have by this point been rendered impractical through the development and deployment of countermeasures, the overcoming of which—while theoretically possible—would require a power cost so "enormous" as to be generally thought prohibitive in practice (for the present-day Romulans, at least).

    Of course, that's my headcanon, since you seem to think this needs to be spelled out explicitly each and every time. It's headcanon that manages to preserve the original text—though deliberately distorting its originally intended meaning, yes—instead of entirely ignoring it. If you prefer the latter because the former offends your sensibilities as a technical writer, fine. I can understand that.

    Mmmmm...smells like more headcanon.;)

    Yes indeed. He seems to have graduated around the same time as Kirk was coming in, or just before, per him having been a Starfleet officer for eighteen years in "The Enterprise Incident" (TOS). Presumably, he's currently serving under Pike on the Enterprise, as per "The Menagerie" (TOS).

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
  8. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This is a key line, Starfleet can track the Klingon ships in DSC before the midseason finale, they can't get a weapons lock, but they can track them, at least their Birds of Prey.

    But now, after what Discovery did in the midseason finale they can track all the Klingon ships flawlessly.

    Romulan cloak in BoT operates differently from the Klingon version seen in DSC.
     
  9. Saul

    Saul Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That line above is from 'The Enterprise Incident'. They are able to track the Romulans in BOT.
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Track, but not SEE, which is what confuses Kirk. This is the nature of the contradiction, and it is the thing that requires us to have to ignore that brief scene in Balance of Terror where they seem to not know that cloaking devices are a thing. There are lots of headcanon ways of doing this, just pick the one with the best mileage.
     
  11. Tim Thomason

    Tim Thomason Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Spock was freaking out after seeing his father in command of a Romulan bird-of-prey.
     
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  12. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    Just because he's confused about the theoretical underpinnings of the concept doesn't mean he's unaware of it being a thing. Janeway could never understand how time travel and temporal paradoxes worked, even though she knew about them from her first day on the job as a Starfleet captain. Why should Kirk be expected to understand the theory behind how a cloaking device works? That's what Spock is there for, to explain stuff like that!

    :shrug:

    And there are also ways of doing it that don't require us to ignore it at all, too.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    He's unaware, apparently, of situation where a starship would be visible on sensors but not visible to the naked eye, which is why Spock points out that IN THEORY, practical invisibility can be done with selective bending of light.

    Does ANYONE understand how those work? Because even temporal investigations don't seem to really get it most of the time.

    Because the Federation just finished fighting a brutal war against an implacable enemy that used such devices to get the drop on Starfleet ships? A war that, if the timeline is right, Kirk probably fought in? He would at least know that a ship that is visible on sensors wouldn't be visible to the naked eye if it was cloaked.

    As another example: Kirk clearly understands the theory behind silicon-based life:
    KIRK: Not necessarily, Bones. I've heard of the theoretical possibility of life based on silicon. A silicon-based life would be of an entirely different order. It's possible that our phasers might not affect it. ​

    AND this directly implies that Kirk has no practical experience with Silicon-based life forms, nor any knowledge of such encounters by other crews. But this is later (somewhat) contradicted by "The Tholian Web" in which case Starfleet is aware of an ENTIRE SPECIES of silicon-based life forms. This is a retcon for sure, as "Devil in the Dark" is an early TOS episode before the Tholians had even been conceived; more importantly, it is a very hard sell for no one in Starfleet to have EVER encountered silicon-based life prior to "Devil in the Dark", not after a hundred years of exploration that even includes early encounters with the Tholians in the 22nd century and the silicon-based virus Phlox was tinkering with in "The Observer Effect."



    Long story short: Early TOS episodes had a historical blank slate and made no assumptions about what Starfleet would or would not have encountered before. For that matter, TOS hadn't even made up its mind what the actual future year was or how long Starfleet had been exploring space; some writers thought Enterprise was one of the very first deep space missions, others implied it was just the newest in a new wave of explorers going back half a millennium. Even Space Seed was written with the idea that Enterprise' mission was right around the early years of the 23rd century, an idea which persisted into the movie era (which is why Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise estimates the date of the refit as being about 2219).

    Star Trek has done A LOT of world building since TOS, and some of that was rebuilding of parts that didn't fit or didn't travel well. The old bits don't fit in with the new because they were never MEANT to fit with them, and we were not really meant to find ways to make them fit. It's an interesting thought exercise, but it isn't actually a necessary one, because as much as WE obsess over those ill-fitting pieces, the writers clearly don't care and are mainly focusing on their own little piece of the world along with whatever other little chunks they choose to include from canon.
     
  14. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Maybe Kirk was on a support ship during the war? He did not see those cloaked ships?
     
  15. Tuskin38

    Tuskin38 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not all the houses had cloaking devices, only those who pledged loyalty to The house of Kor
     
  16. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    That's one interpretation of appearances, the intended one in all likelihood, even if it's also one counter-indicated by both earlier and later stories. You'll obviously keep saying it is the only interpretation possible based on your technically-minded understanding of the words used, and I'll keep saying its fudgeable with only a small extra helping of Suspension of Disbelief™ and a willingness to set aside appeals to linguistic prescriptivism and authorial intent in viewing the scene. Can we just leave it there, or do we have to go around all over again? I'm not at all trying to say your view is invalid, whereas you seem to be suggesting mine is. That's what I continue to take exception to.

    A war that may well have led to "theoretically" fool-proof countermeasures against the practical use of cloaking technology that might thereafter be taken for granted by starship captains for a period of time...until this...and then until the next time...and so on. We'll have to wait and see what more DSC shows on that subject. But it's worth noting they have already shown that what is visible on the viewscreen is not necessarily the same thing as what is visible to the naked eye...if we want to be technically correct.

    Also, Kirk may never have fought on the front lines of the war at all, if the Farragut was on other assignments in another quadrant when it broke out, and before being called to join in it (or on her way to do so) had her disastrous encounter with the dikironium cloud creature, and following that incident the traumatized lieutenant fled back to the safety of an instructorship at Starfleet Academy to nurse his psychological wounds. The theory behind invisibility might be taught in engineering classes, but not be part of the specific curriculum Kirk was responsible for teaching in his. He'd have heard of the Klingons' invisibility screens no doubt, and perhaps even seen footage of them at work, but it would be no substitute for the experience of bearing firsthand witness.

    Along the same lines, it's also possible that invisibility in operation is something that just never loses its legendary "wow factor" or its air of mystery for some, no matter how many times they've witnessed it in action or how well they understand the concept. Maybe Spock simply fails to pick up on the fact that this human foible is what's behind Kirk's reaction. Perhaps if he hadn't interjected his technical explanation Kirk would have completed the thought he had begun by expounding that he couldn't understand how it still seemed so unbelievable after seeing it so many times over the years!

    Are these contortions that strain the limits of credibility? Perhaps yes. More so than any number of other conceits "Balance Of Terror" asks us to accept, even just taken on its own terms? Perhaps not.

    As for the language: different speaker, different context, different usage.

    As for what Kirk "clearly understands": he describes nothing of any technical details that would indicate his understanding here is entirely clear, and even if he had, there could be any number of reasons we might imagine as to why he might have particular knowledge of this specific subject but not of another completely unrelated one. Maybe Carol Marcus would never shut up about it in bed, or maybe he boned up on it in an effort to get her into bed in the first place! (It would seem a fitting turn-on for a molecular biologist, yes?:vulcan:)

    Not once were the Tholians ever said to be silicon-based lifeforms onscreen. Never. This may have been conceived as one of their characteristics behind the scenes, but it's not in the text.

    There has always been significant disagreement within the scientific community as to whether viruses do or do not constitute life. It could readily be that prior knowledge of the existence of silicon-based viruses is part of what informed theories about the possibility and nature of proper silicon-based lifeforms.

    I've really got no argument with any of that, and never have had. I would only add that misuse of technical and scientific jargon (in the non-pejorative sense of that word) has likewise also abounded in Trek from the beginning, and reiterate that even Spock was not immune. So I don't see why bending the meaning of "theoretically possible" a bit in one instance should give a technical writer all that much more to fret over than ever before. But again, live and let live, say I.:beer:

    BA-DUM-TSSH! :lol:

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2017
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  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Of course it's fudegeable. That's not the point.

    The point is, the fudging will never be made canon. The contradiction exists and there is no intention by anyone to actually explain it. It thus needs to be recognized for what it is, and it is disingenuous to say "If you think about it the right way, there is no contradiction..."

    Because there is. Maybe we can fudge the meaning enough to make it make more sense, but the contradiction is there. Pretending it isn't is the same bullshit game played by biblical literalists when they try to tell you that "The Bible is the most perfect book ever written and only God could make something so completely free of contradictions!"

    Of course he does. He says it "might be resistant to phaser fire." That's a component of the theory he is quoting that fits the facts as he understands them.

    That would be why I said "somewhat" yes? Back stage material isn't canon.

    Entirely true. Just not actually true for the case we're talking about, for reasons you are clearly familiar with.
     
  18. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    :wtf:

    Yes it
    is. Well, it's the one I have been trying to make all along, anyway.

    Neither you nor I can speak as to whether a particular fudge will be made canon, nor whether there is, has been, or will ever be any intention to explain a particular contradiction on the part of any writer. The idea that Klingon appearance changed as a result of genetic engineering giving rise to a viral mutation was a fudge proposed by fandom for decades before it was made canon. The same could well be done for any other.

    As I've said, I personally would bet that the writers of DSC indeed are going somewhere with this "defeating the cloak" business that is deliberately meant to tie in with "Balance Of Terror"—they've outright said they are "wildly aware of everything that appears to be a deviation from canon" and "will close out each of those issues" with specific respect to TOS, and have even directly cited that particular story as a "touchstone"—but of course I can be no surer of this than you can of the opposite. (There is certainly as much room for interpretation in evaluating those statements as there is in the show itself.)

    In the meantime, there is absolutely nothing "disingenuous" about using one's own imagination and critical thinking skills to theorize about the possibilities of how two apparently contradictory points presented onscreen may coexist. Because as you yourself say above, within the canon, they do coexist. Any notion that one cancels out the other and means we "have to" ignore it is as much an interpretation as any other. And there's nothing wrong with that. Interpretation is an integral and necessary component of how art works. The viewer is part of the circuit. Nothing actually means anything until it is received and interpreted by an audience. The author is merely the first member of that audience, the first interpreter of his or her own work. Not the last, and not the ultimate. It's not bullshit. This is how the whole game fundamentally works, whether we're talking about Star Trek, the Bible, or any other creative work.

    That doesn't mean he fully understands what particular characteristics of silicon-based life and/or phaser fire would cause this effect or exactly why and how.

    I thought you might have also meant that "The Tholian Web" doesn't actually establish how long the Tholians—nor even their "renowned" reputation for punctuality, which itself could well have preceded any knowledge of their putative biology—had been known to Our Heroes™ and, had the latter ever actually been established in the story, we could still have readily interpreted that it wasn't until after "Devil In The Dark" that they were...until ENT came along and (would have) forced such an interpretation to be altered, that is.

    You seem to be intent on "proving the negative" here, but I have yet to see a convincing negative proof.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes I can. I literally just did. Saying it again for the people in the cheap seats: any "fudging" we do that would make those two or three lines in "Balance of Terror" consistent with the rest of the series will never actually be made canon. This is pretty much mandated by economic necessity: the amount of screen time and dialog it would take to actually address this issue is time that would be better spent on literally anything else. Hell, there are much bigger contradictions that should be addressed LONG before we get to this little nugget of discontinuity, and most of them probably won't get their turn either.

    Sure, yeah, miracles do happen, and the world can be a very strange place. But hollywood logic being what it is, we're effectively gauranteed that this is never going to happen. The idea that it even MIGHT happen is just wishful thinking, and as we're basically discovering with "The Last Jedi," the subversion of wish fulfillment is currently unusually popular among science fiction writers.

    FIFY.
     
  20. The Mighty Monkey of Mim

    The Mighty Monkey of Mim Commodore Commodore

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    ^I haven't seen The Last Jedi yet, so I certainly don't wish to hear anything further about that for the moment. Will do soon.

    It's got nothing to do with my wishes. It's something they seem to have given indication they may actually do. I honestly don't care whether they do or not, because I've got no trouble coming up with several different possible explanations on my own, which already resolve it to my own satisfaction. Claiming it can't be done is simply ridiculous.

    -MMoM:D
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2017