If lasers are antiquates by the TNG era how are Photon Torpedoes still relevant?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Kemp, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. Kemp

    Kemp Cadet Newbie

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    Matter-Anti-Matter reactions still only produce gamma ray light so anything capable of negating the major effects of a gamma ray laser should also be able to negate photon torpedoes. I understand that the shields having to be down could have something to do with it being more effective but even then a gamma ray laser that doesnt providing a casing that point defenses can intercept would be better. The only tangible benefit I can think of to the torpedoes over a laser is the non-mono directional of the energy dispertion for bombing in atomsphere targets (not that star fleet would but in theory they could). This wouldn't really provide much of a benefit in space combat though.
     
  2. Kemp

    Kemp Cadet Newbie

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    I just wanted to add that I know it's probably just the writers being inconsistent but I was hoping there was an in universe explanation for the distinction just like the lack of mass driver type weapons for the majority of arsenals because Gene had no intrest in them and subsequent writers respected certain aesthetic choices he made about the setting.
     
  3. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    They're not immune to lasers because they're not immune to light. I believe there is mention of x-rays being dangerous at one point. It is more that laser weapons themselves are considered primitive. We might assume that no one ever sticks with lasers if they have any sort of choice for other beam weapons, so lasers are seen as primitive.

    That leaves photon torpedoes as effective by sheer intensity.
     
  4. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    Riker said something about lasers not even being capable of penetrating the lightest of shields. The Death Star could shoot a starship with it's planet buster beam and the starship's lights wouldn't even flicker.

    Torpedoes would seem to do what damaged that they're going to do through direct blast, and not gamma ray radiation.
     
  5. Retu

    Retu Commander Red Shirt

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    It could also be that generating a laser beam is an inefficient process compared to a shield generation as energy consumption is concerned. Or in other words: a ship armed with lasers can't pierce the shields of an identical ship, simply because it cannot generate enough power for those beams but the defending ship can for its shields.

    A photon torpedo on the other hand packs enough energy to weaken the shields in one punch so it will take some time to regenerate them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  6. jgalley

    jgalley Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Sorry but have to "nerd out" on you on this..it's a "pet peeve" of mine. "Lasers" in Star Wars are not lasers at all, they're more like plasma weapons. They use excited gas to form the "bolt" and magnetic fields to keep it intact until it strikes something where it kind of "explodes" dispersing the heat-energy and whatnot. The Death Star's "Superlaser" isn't a "laser" at all either.

    Again "Lasers" in Star Wars are not lasers. They also call lightsabers "Laser Swords" sometimes..that's another example as they're also plasma. The reason is because Lucas was clueless and is just an example of how he doesn't/didn't care about the actual "workings" of the tech involved in Star Wars.
     
  7. jgalley

    jgalley Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Now on topic. Lasers are probably limited in their effectiveness as far as containing a coherent beam. Is it possible to make a Laser as powerful as a Phaser blast? Maybe, but the tech/engineering required is probably really complicated compared to just making a phaser.

    So once a civilization reaches a certain tech threshold and discover something like Nadion particles (what phasers emit) they probably ditch the laser research and development in favor of said nadion-based particle weaponry because the destructive force and efficiency of said particle weapon is easier to produce with a higher effectiveness than continuing down the laser path.
     
  8. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Riker said "navigation shields" which are the shields that are on all the time to stop trillions dust motes zipping around at half the speed of light from ripping through their ship, per second... Which is also what the deflector is supposed to be for, but then when you're stationary, the deflector on the front of a ship isn't doing much for it's own ass.
     
  9. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    Sorry, but I call BS, the Death Star's planet buster is referred to as a "superlaser," the armament on the star destroyers are "turbolasers." X-wing fighters have "laser cannons."

    Lasers, which are useless against lightweight shields.
     
  10. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    It doesn't matter, none of them behave nor appear anything like real life lasers. They may call them lasers but laser cannot mean a coherent beam of light in Star Wars, unlike in real life where light in vacuum appears to have instantaneous propagation and is visible only if it interacts with a medium such as dust, or excites an atmosphere to such a degree that it disperses light or glows. None of that fits discrete light lances moving at a few hundred meters per second and glowing brightly in vacuum.

    The real issue is that the one time we saw a laser in Star Trek it behaved more like a Star Wars laser (Data dodged it) which means lasers in Star Trek might be Star Wars beam lasers, while neither are real life lasers. Again, it is perfectly reasonable no one past a certain point uses lasers and lasers are seen as irrevocably primitive, so no one bothers making a high power laser.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  11. uniderth

    uniderth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Lasers in "The Cage" are not L.A.S.E.R.s either. They're pretty much phasers.
     
  12. Tim Walker

    Tim Walker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    There has been online articles that discuss beam weapons.

    With the possible exception of using a laser to blind the opposition...

    ....it seems difficult to make a practical laser weapon.
     
  13. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    I tend to think that after a couple of centuries, the term "laser" became a colloquialism or holdover for any high-powered directed energy beam, while "phaser" and "disruptor" were more specific terms. To that extent, "phaser" is merely shorthand for "phase weapon," but in my own version of things, I don't have them becoming standard Starfleet issue until sometime after the Enterprise's first trip to Talos IV.
     
  14. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    I stand by my post and the dialog in the movie and the material in source materials.

    YMMV.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    As regards Trek dialogue, "The Outrageous Okona" has Picard comment that "Lasers can't even penetrate our navigational shields". That's categorical on lasers, even if specific on shields. Picard doesn't have any specific data on which sort of lasers the Capulet ship is sporting; he doesn't ask; and he doesn't look at any screens or displays. (OTOH, he has just heard that the ship is of "Class Seven", which might in theory tell him something.) The fact stands that all the small ships in that episode carry laser armament, so it is viable within a certain region of applicability. Just like swords remain viable today.

    Pike has lasers. Doesn't mean those wouldn't be antiques: they could be the "bayonets" of the day, as they apparently are part of a three-barreled weapon that's supposed to do different things depending on which barrel is chosen. Pike's lasers never defy any shields. Perhaps shielding categorically blocks laser action with such ease that ramping up power is futile - at least in comparison with switching over to phasers, disruptors, slugthrowers or plasmaweirders and ramping up the power on those.

    The Solari in "Loud as a Whisper" have lasers. We don't know if those are the same rayguns we later see in action, with phaserlike properties. They are not employed against shielded targets, but OTOH our heroes attempt no shielding. (Sure, putting on a suit of armor would stop attacks by restless natives brandishing swords, but would that be a good way to dress up a negotiator? Rather have him in his usual fancy nightgown but flanked by people nonchalantly carrying submachine guns.)

    Beyond these three references, lasers make little impact on Star Trek. We can argue that something drastically better came along and outdated the entire technology (there are guns now, so bows and arrows are a thing of the past - at least against vehicles, which is the closest analogy to the issue here); or that modern Trek death rays are simply better lasers, but go by a different name, and the older name applies exclusively to the inferior older type (we have rifles now and had them in the 17th century, but a modern rifle is not a musket and a musket is not a modern rifle). Either way, I don't see any implications on whether photon torpedoes ought to work or not.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    I agree with your exploration of terms but not the lack of connection to torpedoes. If lasers are photon spewing weapons in Star Trek then it stands to reason photon torpedoes won't be effective if most of their damage is done by way of gamma ray frequency photons by way of anitmatter-matter annihilation, assuming Trek ships are truly laser immune.

    It is possible photon torpedoes convert most of their energy to plasma to deliver their energy but it doesn't fit the visuals only in that the plasma bursts aren't large enough given their possible yields. On the other hand, an even funkier conversion would explain the astounding ability of the torpedo to spread effects through atmospheres; something something subspace. *waves hands*

    We have the problems that we don't know what Star Trek lasers are made from, we don't know how contextual Picard and Riker were in regard to immunity to lasers and we don't know what photon torpedoes output despite what their name and warhead fuel implies.
     
  17. jgalley

    jgalley Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    and you would be wrong. they're not lasers in the sense of real-world lasers. you can argue that they're "lasers" in the SW universe, but even so they are NOT "real world" lasers. Go look it up on wookiepedia and the like.

    Or are you also going to argue there's sound in space since we hear it in both trek and wars?

    I'm not going to derail the thread any further than this post. But you are flat-out wrong. (no offense meant) but educate yourself on how a laser actually works in the "real world" that alone proves you wrong...further research into star wars tech stuff online (google blasters, turbolasers, superlaser - death star) will also prove you wrong.
     
  18. anotherdemon

    anotherdemon Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    There's probably some technobabble reason why lasers aren't a threat if you can't wave Riker's comment away.

    Lasers themselves feasibly can have more power than any direct fire phaser shot we've seen depicted in the various shows; the same with torpedo shots other than the star buster ones.
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Considering a matter-antimatter detonation against an unshielded target would pretty much obliterate said target instantly (see "Obsession" and "Immunity Syndrome" for references and also the black hole scene in ST09 for what that kind of detonation SHOULD look like) it's a foregone conclusion that photon torpedoes do not work that way. The best example is the attack on Kronos-1, in which Gorkon's ship is hit in its engine room by not one but TWO photon torpedoes without its shields up.

    There's ALOT of evidence for the theory that photon torpedoes are basically over-engineered kinetic kill weapons: their warheads deliver a lot of kinetic energy, something like a rapidly-expanding forcefield that creates a physical shockwave even in the vacuum of space (something even nuclear warheads cannot really accomplish). Their main advantage, however, seems to be their ability to punch through layers of deflector shields and damage the target underneath; photon torpedoes can and do cause physical damage even against fully shielded targets, sometimes to the point of heavily damaging said target without even taking the shields down. An excellent example of the latter is again in TUC, where Chang's photon torpedoes leave huge dents in the Enterprise's hull and blow out consoles all across the ship even while their shields are still up (and they do the same thing to the Excelsior).
     
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  20. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    Again, not according to actual dialog.

    Torpedoes detonating against shields do result in shock being transmitted (somehow) to the ship. Shake a ship hard enough and there's going to be damage.

    Energy in some form also makes it way to the ship, perhaps a EMP type effect? This would account for equipment failing and the consoles "popping."