Life support belts

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Laura Cynthia Chambers, Oct 15, 2016.

  1. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Commodore Fleet Captain

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    I like Forgotten History's explanation for the reason they weren't used anymore after the TAS era.

    That said, I think they should have been used for situations where the user was not in imminent danger, but, say, preferred a slightly cooler temperature than others or needed a little more of a certain element in their air, but would not die if they didn't have it.

    In addition, they could have been used as back-ups for the enviro suits, rather than replacements.

    http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Life_support_belt
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
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  2. exocomp

    exocomp Lieutenant Commander Newbie

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    I thought it was something we only saw in animation, because it was simpler to draw.
     
  3. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Commodore Fleet Captain

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  4. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

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    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    I liked them, and they'd have been easy enough to do on live tv, as well. Just draw the glow the same way phaser beams were drawn in. I think Triangle is the only novel that used them, although they added functions and changed the name to bio-belts. Apparently sensors detected movement and made you itch in that direction.
     
  5. Laura Cynthia Chambers

    Laura Cynthia Chambers Commodore Fleet Captain

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    And you'd use them where it made sense, and the suits where they made sense, story-wise.
     
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  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We might well argue that they remain in use - the projection tech simply has been miniaturized and the forcefield itself slightly evolved to eliminate the annoying glow.

    Prominent belt buckles make an intriguing appearance in ST:TMP. These are much subtler than the Batbelt-sized TAS forcefield devices, but quite awkward nevertheless as far as pieces of clothing go. Possibly a step down the path that will eventually lead to forcefield generators small enough to disappear into clothing altogether? This would have to happen before the TNG era of spandex uniforms, but not much sooner - the heavy jackets in favor between ST2:TWoK and the immediate pre-TNG era could easily hide relatively bulky machinery.

    It's not as if the forcefields actually did much in TAS: they were transparent to all types of combat threat, from stun phasers to wrestling grips. But they worked just fine as breathing aids in benign environments. Perhaps that's the best they can ever do, without becoming an encumberance worse than anything they could hope to protect against? And perhaps situations calling for breathing aids (and means of providing pressure and warmth for the skin) but nothing else are relatively rare, so the use or non-use of the device seldom becomes a plot point.

    ...Heck, perhaps most of the Batbelt gear in TAS was superfluous to the forcefield, and instead an attempt to create a mission package best matching the presence of a simple breathing aid - while a standard TOS uniform could already mount the rudiments of the technology, without the mission package, and this (rather than resistor wires woven into the pants or whatever) is what allowed our heroes to do the "Spock's Brain" trick and keep themselves warm in freezing environs without wearing gloves or headgear.

    As for the Forgotten History explanation, I guess it could go either way: a forcefield might well be much more reliable than physical clothing, and the means of stopping or preempting a leakage would be superior in the forcefield case (all power sources in the Trek universe seem compatible for recharging of the technology our heroes carry, while material capable of patching a rip in a spacesuit might be rarely found or carried, as evidenced by the cases where such a rip does become a plot point in Trek).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Captain J

    Captain J Commodore Commodore

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    Suit = safety with or without power. Belt = immediate death with power loss. The belts never made any sense. Just like forcefields on the brig cells. Put bars on them and the prisoners stay in even when power goes out. Simpler can often be better
     
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  8. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    But...but...the scifi-i-ness of it all

    Won't someone think of the scifi-i-ness?!?!?!?!

    :wah::wah::wah:
     
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  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's a matter of the bigger picture, I guess. Say, suits can rip, forcefields can't. Which one is likelier to fail, physical cloth or ethereal glow? We don't know - but the folks who wear these things do, and at one stage they prefer the glow to the cloth.

    Do forcefields fail when power goes off? Or does it take power to shut down an erected forcefield? Evidence varies on the matter. I mean, it's not as if a forcefield-based holding cell door would ever actually have failed back in TOS/TAS.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    It does? When do we see the latter case happen?
     
  11. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Those belts need power to keep the field up.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It depends on what we take as "the latter case". There are many cases of a ship or a craft "losing power", but somehow the forcefields that contain the volatile antimatter aboard do not go down. Does it follow that

    a) forcefields are low-power systems and two AAA batteries keep them running in emergencies?
    b) forcefields are zero-power systems once erected and thus failproof?
    c) forcefields around antimatter derive their power from said antimatter, so the final loss of power coincides with loss of risk of explosion?

    The first two can also be applied on cell door forcefields, which do not fail in the actual episodes, or on the air curtains that our heroes so completely trust on keeping their shuttlebays and cargo holds airtight while they dwell shirtsleeves inside.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Idran

    Idran Commodore Premium Member

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    Oh, I thought you meant direct visible evidence: literally seeing power failing on a ship while brig forcefields stayed active.
     
  14. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Well, Holodecks were said in Voyager to run on separate power source... and when the ship was saturated in a ship-wide dampening field, we saw the holodeck kept running... as did artificial gravity and life support.

    Ok for certain purposes it might be possible/probable that to minimize the budget expenditure, gravity was left running and is seldom affected by the production team.
    However, I think we also received some confirmation in canon suggesting that various technology CAN continue to operate even when a dampening field is suppressing power to most other systems.

    Hand phasers in Ds9 were said to incorporate new designs, allowing them operate in environments where power drain is a problem, such as dampening fields.

    Life support belts failing on their own just for the sake of it is ridiculous. I think the writers went too far out to create these 'problems' for technology that randomly fails, even though such outcomes would simply NOT happen (not without external force acting against such technology)... and they often did it to create drama and nothing else (which didn't make sense at all).
    Real life technology often fails because planned obsolescence is DESIGNED INTO IT and cutting corners, using inferior materials and outdated science is the norm due to us using a monetary system. For Federation technology, such a thing would not happen because it doesn't operate under the notion of cost efficiency and profits.
    Such technology would NOT be prone to failure and you'd probably want to design it in a way to work under most straining conditions and is able to adapt itself to different conditions.

    Reason for not seeing it more... is probably the same for not seeing personal forcefields that much in combat.
    We know they exist and were mentioned (even on DS9), and yet, such technology was mainly showed in hazardous scientific situations.
    Ds9 on the other hand dumbed a lot of the things down to keep the unnecessary drama going... as opposed to adapting drama to the setting and working with what you have.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, we can plausibly and consistently argue that personal forcefields in Trek are inapplicable for combat use. Not just because they see no combat use, but because whenever they do appear, they demonstrate an inability to withstand combat!

    In TAS, as said, the belt fields are transparent to basically all attacks save possibly poison gas. Stun phasers, fist punches and wrestling grips get through the fields with equal ease. In TNG, an admittedly jury-rigged device can barely stop a low-speed Wild West revolver bullet before collapsing. We can easily accept, then, that the best that belt fields can do even in the DS9 era is serve as riot police gear against mid-size PADDs thrown by disgruntled citizens...

    As for life support belts failing, thankfully we never see that happen! In contrast, physical spacesuits fail at least twice: "Day of Honor" and ST:FC. There's a failure scenario in "Demon" as well, one that shouldn't apply to forcefields.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    There's also ST8:First Contact where Worf's suit is sliced and DOESN'T have a self-sealing function (or said function fails to operate)

    At least that didn't happen to Malcolm Reed when his suit was pierced in "Minefield". A win for 22nd century engineering!
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yuppety-yup. Who knows, perhaps the Borg aren't as stupid as they look, and their hand-to-hand combat is augmented with nanotech just like the rest of their fighting prowess? Perhaps their blades make wounds that won't heal, no matter whether in humanoid flesh or spacesuit tri-isokevlar...

    Assuming the life support belts (or, later, belt buckles) remain in use in TNG, or see use in the JJVerse already, one wonders about the fate of all those people blown to space through a hull breach. Do they survive for a couple of days until dying of thirst, forgotten and alone?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  18. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Worf was able to fashion a personal force-field in TNG to protect himself against bullets on the holodeck.
    The only limiting factor was that he used a comm-badge for the power source, which of course, couldn't sustain the field for more than 15 seconds since that wasn't its purpose (but is still arguably impressive).

    For all we know, the specialized belts that can generate personal force-fields have been designed to run continuously... and can draw power from subspace or their environment as a whole (unless the amount of energy being fired into the field overwhelms it).

    Personal force-fields could easily be very useful in the field. Even if they are up against enemy phaser fire, its still better to have a field that can protect you from several shots that could otherwise result in vaporization.

    Personal armor could have limited effectiveness against phasers... unless it's specially designed to resist them (plus,there's Neutronium which is apparently completely resistant against conventional energy weapons in Trek).
    Still, I guess it depends on the material. My guess is that SF can design such resistant materials, but the writers never bothered to integrate them into the story line.

    Heck, the regular SF uniform could easily be laced with nanotechnology (which SF did have before encountering the Borg) and metamaterials that can easily serve the same function as a tricorder, not to mention administer medical aid and potentially fix other issues for the wearer... but of course, again, the writers were pretty limited in their thinking.
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Since the reality of the matter is that personal shields are only available to the Borg (and the Hunters of "Captive Pursuit"), I guess we're better off inventing reasons for why the Feds, the Klingons or even the Vidiians can't do it.

    Might be it's possible to build a phaserproof shield, but it kills the user after a few minutes of exposure to the effect. It's not as if we have ever seen people spend appreciable time right next to a phaserproof shield, now have we? Not even the Klingons would use something like that.

    Might be it's possible to build a phaserproof shield, but it would be so rigid that one can't move in it. In essence, it would be a giant hamster ball; if the ground beneath the user's feet can penetrate it, then it's no good against weapons, either. And if you are going to have tech that compensates for the hamster ball effect, you could just as well have a proper vehicle.

    Might be it's possible to build a phaserproof shield, but the size and/or mass of the shield generator is proportional to shield strength, and the only way to haul the generator for a phaserproof shield along is in a vehicle of some sort. Even if it were just a box the size of a microwave oven hovering with the aid of one of those TOS antigravs, it would still be impractical for heroic away team use. But we probably should see such tech in action in episodes like "The Siege of AR-558".

    Might be it's impossible to build a phaserproof shield with much curvature to it. Shielding a shuttle or a van is doable, shielding a single person makes the bubble go pop. But then there should be platoon-sized shields (mentioned in the TNG Tech Manual but not seen).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    What bugs me about force-field belts, aside from the lack of a safe failure mode, is: Where the hell are the air tanks? A skintight force field wouldn't give you a lot to breathe. I guess there could be a limited supply of compressed air inside the "power pack" bulge in the rear, but not a lot. (For that matter, the "Tholian Web" spacesuits have the same inexplicable lack of any apparent air supply.)

    That would've been prohibitively expensive to do continuously for however many minutes the characters would be in the fields. Also, it would've had to be hand-rotoscoped to match the characters' movements, which would've been kind of scrawly and jerky-looking. This wasn't a problem in TAS since the characters hardly moved, but live action would be another matter.

    But then, live-action force fields are usually invisible anyway. Most likely what they would've done was the same thing Filmation did years later in the live-action Jason of Star Command (and maybe its predecessor Space Academy too -- I forget). They had little boxes on their waists that supposedly cloaked them in invisible force fields to operate in space. You couldn't see the fields, but you knew they were active because the characters were shown turning them on and there was dialogue to that effect. Maybe there would've been a bit of animation to show the force field coming on and then turning invisible, like they usually did with force fields in TNG and after, but it wouldn't have been continuously visible.


    There's a neat, overlooked bit of clothing futurism in, of all places, "Spock's Brain," where the landing party beams down to a frigid world and Kirk tells them to set "suit temperatures to 72," which they do by manipulating some unseen controls on their belts. Implicitly, their uniforms had built-in heating mechanisms. Of course it was just a way to save money on costumes, but it was a nifty idea. Unfortunately, then TWOK went and introduced heavy parkas for landing parties, and Trek went back to the assumption that the uniforms were just inert cloth.
     
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