# Deflectors vs Sheilds

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Jul 26, 2014.

1. ### TrimmCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Dec 26, 2002
The impulse drive on the Miranda, Constitution, and Constellation class are essentially visually identical. The Excelsior has two domes, but two identical domes that are still clearly part of the impulse drive. I see no compelling reason to assume the circular structure on the underside of the Reliant that is visually disimillar to the impulse dome and also not directly connected to the impulse drive serves the same function because it just so happens to also be a circle.

We know the Enterprise was able to restore partial main power after suffering significantly more serious damage, so I see no reason to assume that under other cicumstances that the damage to the Reliant would be crippling. Especially given that the Reliant isn't crippled by it, or even damaged comparitvely to the Enterprise.

Joined:
Aug 26, 2003
Granted. But that in no way trumps the statement "I see no compelling reason to assume the second dome on the ship is different from the first one functionally because it happens to be slightly different in detail". Both interpretations are equally valid and natural.

Timo Saloniemi

3. ### TrimmCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Dec 26, 2002
Respectfully, no. One interpretation requires a significantly higher level of assumption than the other, and the more assumptions without evidence a conclusion requires, the less likely it is.

The notion that a visually disimilar object on a different part of the ship serves the exact same purpose as another structure requires a huge logical leap. The structure on the underside of the Reliant is visually different from the impulse dome in several ways. The structure on the underside of the Reliant is not connected to the impulse drive, and is not directly aligned with the dome on the impulse drive. The only commonality between the two objects is that they are both circles. What logical reason is there to assume that those two objects serve the exact same purpose? Beyond logic, what storytelling purpose is there in assuming that?

There isn't one. The film is fairly clear that the damage to the Reliant was not crippling, and was less than the damage caused by Reliant to Enterprise. Storytelling wise and Trek Tech wise, that is perfectly consistent with the fact that Enterprise was hit strategically by the Reliant's full fire, whereas the Reliant was hit by a crippled Enterprise loosing its last bolt, as it were. There is no cause to give the Reliant a mythical "spare tire" to explain any of that.

4. ### FormerLurkerCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
May 17, 2009
All right, how much is Occam paying you?

Joined:
Aug 26, 2003
No more gigantic than assuming that the dome needs to be of a very specific shape and size and form in order to qualify. After all, that assumption is already defeated by the fact that different shapes do work - on different ships.

The obvious one - to postulate a different purpose for each requires extra effort that is uncalled for until otherwise proven.

Storytelling purpose in greeblies? Beyond the Main Bridge of Pike's ship in the original pilot, or the cheek extension of the E-B, none of the elements on Star Trek ships have served storytelling purposes from the get-go, beyond looking cool. But each can be assigned a function at a later date if need be; this is what happens with the Reliant upper dome, too, as it is not a feature designed with the actual movie scene in mind.

But again, the obvious can be pointed out - Khan is wounded but not defeated, a fact easily demonstrated to the audience by visually depriving Khan of one of something but not all of it. This is far better than forcing the audience to speculate on phaser beam strength or whatnot.

This is not something the makers of the movie would have paid the slightest attention to, however. Movies don't require logic or purpose in order to work. Of course, this doesn't stop us from assigning some, or various parties involved in the moviemaking from inserting occasional logic just for fun.

Timo Saloniemi

Joined:
Apr 5, 2012
Location:
Republic of California
Does the lower one even glow? I don't recall it glowing like the upper one on Reliant.

7. ### TrimmCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Dec 26, 2002
Wait a second Timo, you really think it takes more effort to conclude that two strikingly dissimilar objects have different purposes than it does to conclude that they have the same purpose?

No sir, not buying that. not for a second. I already have laid out a very straightforward case that explains what we see in TWOK, based on exactly what we see and what the dialouge tells us. I have also laid out a very straightforeward case as to why these two obviously different structures likely serve different purposes. If you want to insist that two features on the Reliant must logically have the same purpose based only on the fact that they are both circles, then go ahead. We will have to agree to disagree.

8. ### MarsdenCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Feb 23, 2013
Location:
Will be Celebrating Spocktoberfest this year!
Well, since it's firmly established I was wrong and that isn't the Reliant's deflector dish, what was it?

Is the bottom one the deflector, then? It seems strange that every starship has some kind of deflector, except Reliant.

9. ### TrimmCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Dec 26, 2002
On both the Miranda and Constellation classes, there is no visible deflector dish, and thus there has been a great deal of fan speculation to account for that. There are enough greeblies on both models where one could assume that they have a navigational deflector, just not the traditional dish.

10. ### The Old MixerThe Mod You've Known for All These YearsModerator

Rick Sternbach, I think, wrote up a technobabble explanation of how the Miranda's deflector system worked without a dish for Star Trek: The Magazine several years back. I don't recall the details.

11. ### Rick SternbachFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Feb 11, 2002
Shaped fields from the shield grid. Best I can recall (there might also be dedicated devices sitting behind rad-transparent hull plating). Shield energy, transporter, tractor beams, etc. all operate on different but related flavors of energy generation and manipulation techniques. So in the face of VFX miniatures that don't exactly follow some imaginary standard of known pieces 'n' parts, we need to come up with clever explanations.

Rick

12. ### AirCommodoreLieutenant CommanderRed Shirt

Joined:
Feb 3, 2014
Later there would be ships with the deflector at the bow, like the Akira and NX Classes. That would seem to be a simple solution to where to put the deflector. Maybe that wasn't thought of when the Constellation and Miranda were designed. Or it was decided against for some reason. But for ships without the "classic" secondary hull, that looks to be the best idea.

13. ### WingsleyCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Feb 18, 2007
Location:
Wingsley
I apologize in advance if this throws the discussion off in some weird and awkward discussion, but prior to Mr. Roddenberry's novelization of TMP, I do not recall any references to the TOS Enterprise's big honkin' dish being used as a "deflector" in any way.

To further complicate matters, NASA's new "IXS Enterprise" FTL ringship concept supposes that, if there is some form of ambient hydrogen or micrometeoroids in the path of the FTL craft, the instant it enters the "warp field" the ship's relative velocity is only what it is within the warp, not the relative FTL effect outside. So if NASA's conceptual IXS Enterprise is traveling at 10 times lightspeed (10c) relative to the universe outside of the warp, but the ship is only doing, say, 10 meters per second inside the field, then the ship will only collide with an outside object that enters the field at 10 meters per second (plus whatever velocity the outside object may be moving at). So maybe the "deflector" snow-plow logic was unnecessary from the beginning. (Assuming NASA or whatever future space authority actually gets around to building and deploying an FTL spacecraft in the far future.)

Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
14. ### TrimmCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Dec 26, 2002
Sure, that might be the case at warp speed. But at impulse, the ship wouldn't have the subspace bubble around for that, so some sort of deflector would still be necessary at sublight speeds.

Do any of Matt Jeffries design drawings indicate what he thought the dish was for when he designed the Enterprise?

Joined:
Aug 26, 2003
Logically, yes, as evidence from elsewhere establishes that details of shape are unconnected to the role of a dome (whatever that role) next to impulse nozzles. Similarity or dissimilarity is not a factor - a dome is a dome.

Beyond that, we just see "domes next to the impulse drive", a common motif in later Trek, so when we start segregating, we better have a damn good reason. The Reliant has those big pontoons below the ship, not above a separate secondary hull - so perhaps they aren't warp engines?

And I'm entitled to do the same. Neither of these fantasies need correlate with what the writers intended, nor are the writers obligated to have intended anything at all. The story works very well without explanations, too.

No problem with that. There have been other interpretations, too, uncoupling the domes from the impulse drive altogether - one I find intriguing is the idea of this being the "photon control" that Sulu supposedly damaged.

It's a glowing dome, and Kirk's old ship also had glowing domes... Right where torps and phaser beams emerged from (that is, they emerged right next to the lower saucer dome in TOS, but also right next to the small secondary hull dome in the ENT mirror episode). Perhaps such domes are fire control radars of some sort?

One wonders - high impulse is almost as impossible as FTL under current laws of physics, so a magical field around the ship would be highly helpful there. Indeed, this may be what the dome does if it really is both an "impulse deflection crystal" (TMP-associated technobabble) and a "warp field stabilizer" (ENT-associated technobabble): it manipulates the subspace field generated by the warp engines so that it reduces the inertial mass of the ship (we know this is what subspace fields do, from DS9 "Emissary" et al.), and therefore makes the ship magically light enough to be rocketed to high impulse speeds.

Ships without these domes can do high impulse (see TOS). But is that a strike against the theory? Not in terms of backstage doubletalk. The TNG Tech Manual makes a big deal about the Ambassador class introducing these inertial mass reducing thingamabobs directly as components of the impulse engines themselves. And it so happens that the Ambassador is the first in a long line of "movie era" designs to lack a blue dome. So perhaps there are those two ways of doing impulse: manipulating the warp field with a dome, or creating a dedicated impulse field without?

Timo Saloniemi

Joined:
Apr 5, 2012
Location:
Republic of California
One thing I did notice about the older drawing of the refit Enterprise. They have the antimatter storage at the bottom of the intermix shaft. On the top is the deflection crystal. Where is the matter storage? Federation warp drives at that time are powered by the collision of matter and antimatter, right? Where is the matter for the antimatter to collide with to create all this energy for the warp drive and other systems?

Is the crystal there, and transparent, in order to collect stray matter for the warp drive, then hold it there until needed? Taking that out would cut out the warp drive if they don't have the matter needed for the reaction process, but wouldn't destroy the ship since it doesn't release the antimatter into the ship made of matter if they'd blown a hole through the antimatter pods.

17. ### MytranCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Aug 5, 2009
Location:
North Wales
Matter at the top of the engine conduit is only really needed in a classic TNG setup. Most TMP configurations that I've seen have the M/AM reactors at the bottom of the shaft and presumably all reactants are stored there too.

Joined:
Aug 26, 2003
As late as ST:TMP, the idea still seemed to be that the matter (and the antimatter) would be somewhat "magical", perhaps appearing out of thin air, perhaps being carried aboard in a magically compressed form. Matter might have been neutronium pellets in a jar on Scotty's shelf, say.

TNG tries a more by-the-physics approach, but OTOH chooses to use light gases as the annihilation fuel (which is practical because they then also become fusion fuel for the other type of drive aboard, but the fuel tanks they would really need for their quoted output, let alone the supposed fantastic energies of warp, would be hundreds of kilometers per side). There's no saying whether the two eras used the same power production technology, in-universe, but it does sound as if the TNG and ENT technologies are more or less identical even if the hardware looks dissimilar.

Whatever the source of annihilation fuel, having that dome suck it in sounds acceptable. Especially since these TOS movie ships don't have domes at the front ends of nacelles... There are some belt-and-suspenders ships out there, such as NX-01 and the E-B, but not that many.

Timo Saloniemi

19. ### drtFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jun 5, 2013
The diagram in the original "Making of" book called it a "main sensor"
Long before TNG premiered I had surmised that the hydrogen fuel for the impulse engine was stored in tanks under those rectangular-shaped panels visible on top of the saucer forward of the impulse deflection crystal. However, based on the Kimble cutaway, I did think that the reactor was at the bottom of the secondary hull, and I can't now recall where I thought the matter for that reaction was tanked (since it didn't need specialized containment like antimatter, I may have just assumed it was nearby, but not called out on the cutaway).