Deadly radiation dose ???

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Reeborg, Jun 28, 2015.

  1. Reeborg

    Reeborg Commander Red Shirt

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    The understanding/concept of deadly radiation dose was very strange in TNG. At a certain radiation level until x minutes everybody survives with no apparent remaining injury, after these x minutes (all) people die (e.g. in episode "Booby Trap"). Sorry but it doesn't work like this at all. To my taste, the reality a bit too far twisted, it could have been treated a bit more realistic.

    Have you been irritated by that as well?
     
  2. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The level of exposure beyond which 24th century medicine could no longer save your life. Different individuals and species would have different tolerances, the computer was stating the average threshold, the mean.

    No irritation for me.
     
  3. DonIago

    DonIago Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or perhaps the computer was providing the most conservative estimate.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yup, either way, "accumulated lifetime dose" no longer dictates your fate. Inject, feed or spray on some rhyetalyn, and the effects will (slowly) get reversed somehow. Or then blocked, we don't know which, not on basis of "Booby Trap" or "Final Mission" alone.

    Rhyetalyn's not an instant cure, but it can be used as a buffer against ongoing exposure at least. Nanobots repairing your cells? Wonder medicine of even subtler sort promoting rapid growth of healthy cells and destruction of damaged ones? Or simply a suitable chemical suppressing cancerous activity by damaged cells, leaving the rest of the body to cope the best it can? We don't know, but we do see patients who fully recover from a near-death experience - to wit, the entire Enterprise-D crew!

    One can be irritated by this, or then not. But given this, there isn't much reason to be irritated by the "countdown of X safe seconds till horrible death" practice, because that naturally follows!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    For me, the biggest mishandling of radiation in TNG was in "Final Mission," where the population of Gamelan V was endangered by radiation from an abandoned freighter in orbit. That's nonsense, because a planetary atmosphere is one of the best radiation shields in the universe. Space is full of deadly radiation, but it's the thickness of Earth's atmosphere that absorbs most of it before it reaches the surface. (That's why you actually get a higher background radiation dose when you go on a jet flight than you do on the ground -- because there's less air between you and the soup of radiation out in space.) It's hard to believe that a single freighter could've increased the radiation level so enormously as to endanger the planet. And if it had, the atmosphere would've absorbed any x-rays and gamma rays and re-emitted them as ultraviolet. Also, assuming an Earthlike atmosphere, it would've created lots of nitrogen-oxide smog that would've depleted the ozone layer, creating a hazard that would last well after the freighter was towed away, at least until the ozone replenished itself over time.

    There's also a line where Geordi refers to the risk of "contamination" when he means "exposure." Too many people think of exposure to radiation and exposure to radioactive material as one and the same thing, which is like mistaking a beam of light for the flashlight that gives it off. Being exposed to radiation doesn't contaminate you or make you radioactive (well, sometimes powerful enough radiation can transmute materials into radioactive isotopes, but that's different). Only being in actual physical contact with the material emitting the radiation would you become contaminated or radioactive yourself.
     
  6. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Ordinarily, sure. By luck or chance, though, the episode doesn't say what kind of radiation the garbage scow holds, or how exactly it causes contamination. It could be, oh, subspace beta rays or something that induces radioactivity in oxygen or nitrogen or some other frightfully common element found on Class M planets and on the Enterprise. This would also make LaForge's worry about crew being 'contaminated' logical rather than a slip of the tongue.


    Though we know from ... uh ... Boring First-Season Episode Where Boring Planet Captures Wesley And They Make Dolphin Sculptures that the Enterprise can re-seed an ozone layer in relatively short order, and that the reseeded layer will hold if not further assaulted.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Hmm. For all we know, that waste barge was actually leaking radiating matter (that is, shooting it out at high velocity), plenty of which was falling down on the planet. Starship shields might have some trouble stopping that, too - remember their problems with thalaron, which supposedly also was particulate.

    This would explain also the odd need to dump the barge into the local sun. Such an action would seem nonsensical in a situation where mere 1 AU distance alone apparently doesn't help any in protecting the local inhabitants from the radiation hazard. But while the star probably wouldn't help much in containing those types of dangerous radiation that can easily penetrate atmospheres, it would be helpful in physically trapping those dangerous particles! Hence a barge dipped in the sun would be a better choice than a barge left at 1 AU distance (or even 5 AU or whatever) from the planet: the actual radiation from the dangerous particles might have fairly short effective range, so imprisoning the particles themselves would do the trick.

    The "barge spewing particulate death" model would also fit the issue our heroes had with asteroid collisions: if the particles are so energetic that they shoot out of the barge down to the planet's atmosphere and then quickly continue to the surface, they might be capable of eventually traveling from the asteroids to the planet, too. Better not leave any of those hyperactive particles anywhere in the system but deep inside the sun whose gases inhibit the movement at least some.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Shon T'Hara

    Shon T'Hara Commander Red Shirt

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    I remember seeing Mission Impossible 2 in theaters and rolling my eyes when they introduced a virus that would kill someone in exactly 24 hours, not one minute more or less. I kept thinking, "Wow, this is like a really bad episode of Voyager."

    Then the credits rolled and I saw Braga and Moore credited as writers. Yeah. Suddenly everything made sense.
     
  9. F. King Daniel

    F. King Daniel Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Space radiation is unusually precise.
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    First off, Ron Moore's involvement with Voyager was limited to two sixth-season episodes; he tried joining the staff once his stint on Deep Space Nine ended, but quickly grew disillusioned with the attitude there and walked away (and then did Battlestar Galactica largely as a reaction against the aspects of Voyager he disliked). So it doesn't make sense to hold Moore accountable for any similarities to Voyager. Second, Moore and Braga only wrote the story outline (and first draft, I think) of M:I-2; the final screenplay was credited to Robert Towne. And of course, director John Woo and producers Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner would've had a large say in determining the content of the final film. Writers have far, far less influence over the final product in feature films than they do in television.

    Diseases that have a predictable timetable are a staple of a lot of silly movies and TV shows. There's a really dumb new show on ABC Family called Stitchers, about a technology for tapping into recently dead people's brains and reading their memories, and it shows the decay of their brains happening on a perfectly predictable schedule complete with a countdown clock.
     
  11. Karzak

    Karzak Commodore Commodore

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    Moore wrote one episode of Voyager's sixth season ("Survival Instinct") and was credited for the story of another "Barge of the Dead"), but he was very much on staff from the beginning of that season until his early departure. He very likely just kept coming in after Deep Space Nine ended, heading over to the Voyager offices before he realized what a shit show it was and how different from what he'd grown used to working for Ira Behr. In other words, he didn't "try" to join the writing staff of Voyager. He was a member of its staff for the first part of the season but chose to leave it.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^That's what I meant -- he gave it a try, didn't like it, and left. Not "tried" in the sense of attempted and failed, but in the sense of sampled (as in, "I tried Indian food and didn't like it"). Maybe a poor choice of words, though. The point is, "Ron Moore" and "Voyager-esque" aren't concepts that really go together.
     
  13. Juju Zombie

    Juju Zombie Lieutenant

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    I fixed that for you. Not all planets are created equal even in our own solar system, let alone the galaxy's.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Except the planet we're talking about, Gamelan V, was clearly an Earthlike planet, because it had humanoids living on it. So all you're doing is restating what was already obvious from context.
     
  15. Juju Zombie

    Juju Zombie Lieutenant

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    Except we don't know that and you're making wild assumptions simply so you can be upset by something, even though all onscreen evidence is to the contrary. If the planet's atmosphere and magnetic fiend, which is the important part of the equation, not the atmosphere was the same as Earth's, the problems presented would either be null and void, or the ship's radiation was of a type that the planet's magnetic field couldn't cope with for whatever reason.

    Alternatively, the inhabitants might have had some other way to deal with solar radiation, or maybe their sun simply didn't produce the deadly levels most stars do. Perhaps they evolved in such a way as to easy absorb and dissipate the exact types of radiation their sun produced, maybe the planet's flora protected them somehow, or maybe it was something in the water. There's any number of (Star Trek-level sci-fi) explanations that could account for the dangers the episode provided.

    And, clearly, one of those explanations were at play because the planet's magnetic field wasn't dealing with the ship's radiation.

    I mean, if life exists on Io as is potentially possible, it's certainly not from that moon's atmosphere or magnetic field.
     
  16. Cash or Credit

    Cash or Credit Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Meh. Star Trek has so many kinds of fictional radiation that does harmful things. The garbage scow in "Final Mission" is pretty low on the list of complaints about wonky science.

    Just imagine the waste products on the garbage scow to be producing whatever works for the plot. In-universe, if the waste didn't have dire properties, it wouldn't have needed to have been sent off into deep space on a garbage scow in the first place. In all likelihood, it must be way worse than just your standard 21st real-world radioactive waste.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Look, just think it through. It's an inhabited planet. It has humanoid natives who can't handle radiation exposure. Therefore, obviously Gamelan V does have an atmosphere and magnetic field that can block space radiation, or they couldn't live there in the first place.

    If the writers had intended these aliens to have some exotic method for handling radiation that somehow failed in this case, they would've mentioned it. But they didn't. They simply didn't realize how the physics worked.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, that's sort of the point - it has humanoid natives who are identical to humans in their radiation tolerance. And the sort of radiation exposure they can't handle is the sort that kills humans through the combat shields of a starship! So there's nothing wrong with the atmosphere or the magnetic field as such - they are probably even better than Earth's at protecting the inhabitants. But the radiation is potent stuff, in terms of 1) penetration of magnetic and forcefield shields, and 2) range.

    Claiming that there exists only one type of radiation, or alternatively that the physics working on all types of radiation are exhaustively known, is a whopper. It's contrary to generally observed Trek fact, so "Final Mission" is in no way a particular offender. And it's obviously contrary to real-world physics, where the major types of ionizing radiation with Greek letters on them have basically nothing in common, especially in terms of 1) penetration and 2) range.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Juju Zombie

    Juju Zombie Lieutenant

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    I did. Far more than you did, apparently, as I gave numerous examples of Trek-style sci-fi reasons that it could have happened, none of which really needed to be stated as it was obviously the case -- they had some means to protect themselves from normal solar radiation, but whatever was on that ship, it was too much for their planet or themselves to handle.

    But hey, thanks for being condescending.
     
  20. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Now if the radiation is passing throught the ship's hull and irradiating the crew, doesn't that mean that after the source of the radiation is dealt with, and the crew have had their "radiation-be-gone" injections, that the ship itself is now radioactive?