Salt Creature's Appetite

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by LMFAOschwarz, Dec 10, 2019.

  1. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In The ManTrap, nothing was said directly (as I recall) about salt being at all available on the planet's surface. For all we know, there may be dried ocean beds or some such sources.

    My question is: even if they had dumped the creature in some such place on the planet, with enough salt to last it the rest of its life...well, it would HAVE to need SOMETHING else! I have no idea what that would be, other than maybe some water? How could anything live on one thing?
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2019
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  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yup. Just like the Jem'Hadar absolutely need the White but undoubtedly also eat in order to live and grow, the Salt Vampire absolutely needs to suck salt from living things but no doubt also eats conventional food.

    It's just that neither the Jem'Hadar craving for food nor the Salt Vampire hunger would be plot elements in a fast-paced adventure where the emphasis is on other things. After all, it's not as if we would see Kirk or Sisko eating, either! And of course the Jem'Hadar would hotly deny needing anything, be it food or water or women or sleep, when they are riding into combat aboard an enemy vessel...

    Also, the action of sucking salt from living things seems to be more important than the salt itself: the Vampire can sustain itself on stored stuff, but chooses not to. Is this the conscious choice of a sentient and sensible being (perhaps part of its master plan to hijack the starship)? Or the instinctual move of a dumb animal, or of a sentient person who has been reduced to madness for obvious reasons? The latter (or the first half of the latter) appears more likely IMHO, but there's leeway there.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  3. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I suppose in terms of the audience, it's "the dramatic needs of the many outweigh the scientific needs of he few". Creating a new form of life on paper would have all sorts of unintended ramifications if one thought about it too much. I really enjoy The Man Trap, and a creature that needs to consume salt to live is certainly an alien concept, though it might in a way put it on an evolutionary path similar to the cookie monster! :lol:
     
  4. Spock's Barber

    Spock's Barber Commodore Commodore

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    That Salt Vampire could have lived a thousand years off the salt that was put on my McDonald’s french fries today. :crazy:
     
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  5. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Marsden is very sad.
    I always wondered what the metabolism of the creature is.

    I mean, salt is a very simple combination of Sodium and Chlorine.

    Does is excrete? I've always wondered if it gave of Chlorine gas. Not something you'd want to have around.

    I also wonder if the creature can live off salt like we can live off artificial food but it's naturally a predator and desires to hunt and kill for it's food.

    For all of the complaining I've read/heard over the years, I think the thing had it coming when they shot it.

    Did they not know about stun settings this early in the series?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  6. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I assume Kirk set the phaser on kill before he entered McCoy's room. Kirk was going to put the monster down after killing four of his crew and just killing Crater. McCoy was still too drugged out and confused to think about the phaser's setting. It did take two shots to kill the beast justifying the setting though after the fact. Heavy stun may have been ineffective, and Kirk wouldn't take any chances that if his first shot failed, he might not get a second shot especially with the hypnotic effect the monster generated (Kirk logged about this possibility).

    What I would like to know is why is Spock rushing in without being armed? I assume he was there to back Kirk up. Note that both Kirk and Spock are wearing the gun belt, but I guess the armory ran out of phasers to give Spock one. :shrug:
    <edit. Spock said Crater jumped him and took his phaser. I guess Crater quickly hid it somewhere in Sick Bay, hence the unarmed Spock.>
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2019
  7. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Vampire obviously was happy living with Crater and saw the Enterprise crew as a threat to it's paradise! Later on it found itself attracted to McCoy and Crater became superfluous to it's new found love and life! :techman:
    JB
     
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  8. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    They talk about the stun setting and there's a whole sequence where Dr. Crater is stunned.

    On the original question: It has been a long time since I read The Voyage of the Space Beagle, but IIRC the alien beast in that story hadn't fed in a very long time, maybe decades, because it was the last of its kind and all prey on its planet had been wiped out. It craved potassium (or was it phosphorous?) which apparently energized it somehow, but it could function without it. It could also function in total vacuum and detect radio waves.

    I don't know how much of an inspiration that was for "The Man Trap", if at all, but the idea for a totally bizarre (to us) alien metabolism was out there.
     
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  9. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    And yet, the very idea of salt being metabolized as an energy source is absurd: reactions that produce it are exothermic. Indeed, the reaction between metallic sodium and gaseous chlorine is, according to everything I've read on the subject, violently so (think "Class D Fire"). While, as a purely ionic substance, salt ionizes in solution, it recrystalizes as salt.
     
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  10. Marsden

    Marsden Commodore Commodore

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    Marsden is very sad.

    D'oh! Of course, they stunned Crater earlier that very episode. I'm going to go to the agony booth for 5. :o

    When I was in chemistry class the teacher put a small piece of sodium in water and it fizzed up and dissolved. She said if you put a large amount in it would explode.
     
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  11. Henoch

    Henoch Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Ionic extraction of sodium from salt solutions is exact what our bodies do. I may burp, but I don't spontaneously explode (unless you are referring to extreme bowel movements from excessive water retention due to eating too much sodium in our diets). :alienblush:
     
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  12. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    Uh, that's the reverse of the reaction producing salt.

    If you titrate hydrochloric acid into a lye solution (or the reverse), they will neutralize each other, producing salt water.

    If you mix solutions of calcium chloride and sodium carbonate (washing soda), you get chalk precipitating out of salt water (I got that one out of an old children's book on chemistry, in the "How and Why Wonder Books" series).

    To extract sodium cations from a salt solution, you only need either (a) something that will grab sodium cations and not let them go (the way the carbonate anion was grabbing the calcium cation in the second example above), or (b) some other way of forcing the sodium cations to combine with something else.
     
  13. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    That reminds me of Verne's Nautilus, where the power source is described as sodium from seawater used in place of zinc in a Bunsen cell-type battery. Sodium and sulfuric acid... that's not an engine room I'd want to be anywhere near!

    As for the "Man Trap" creature, we don't know that the salt is its primary energy source, just that it needs it to live. Maybe it gets most of its energy some other way, as the OP said. There are other far-out forms of feeding in TOS (getting energy from fear and strong emotions?) so it's not much of a deal for me.
     
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  14. fireproof78

    fireproof78 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I wonder if someone has done up a viability study of the salt vampire creature for metabolism?

    I really need some chemistry equations in here.:vulcan:
     
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  15. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    At any rate, presumably salt vampires use salt in some way that is essential for their biology. But not as a source of energy.

    Sodium, being an alkali metal, tends to form soluble salts, but according to Stack Exchange, there are plenty of common insoluble sodium compounds in nature. (Great gobs of gooseflesh, Stack Exchange has forums for everything!)

    Maybe salt vampire bones contain an insoluble sodium mineral, the way ours contain a calcium mineral. Maybe their nervous system requires massively more sodium cations than ours does, in order to function (and perhaps long-term deprivation results in homicidal insanity). Maybe both, and other things. But be that as it may, because of sodium's tendency to form soluble salts, even insoluble environmental sodium tends to return to soluble forms, just from normal weathering, so it wouldn't stay tied up for all that long.

    If so, I wouldn't mind seeing such a study myself. My fanfic short story, "Interview with Dr. Ambrose Crater, or The Salt Vampire Ate My Parents," needs to be revised anyway, as its allusion to "the woman in the salt vampire suit" was based on erroneous information identifying her as Sharon Gimpel; we have since learned, of course (thanks to a published interview with her) that she is stuntwoman, extra, actress, and occasional assistant director Sandra Gimpel.

    Hmm. Just glancing at Ms. Gimpel's IMDB page, I discovered that she was also one of the fighting Girl Scouts in Airplane!
     
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  16. LMFAOschwarz

    LMFAOschwarz Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's a good point. Maybe I never questioned the idea of subsisting on emotions because energy/gas cloud life forms are so different, that anything goes. :shrug:
    But speaking of eating, where did Crater get his food from? In TNG terms, maybe he had some kind of replicator that could make up chicken, vegetables, etc...but if so, why couldn't it make salt?
     
  17. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Next you'll be telling us there's no way that a dead body can become a Zombie and get up and attack the living!!! ;)
    JB
     
  18. hbquikcomjamesl

    hbquikcomjamesl Commodore Commodore

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    If you're being pursued by a zombie, just pour it into a tall glass and drink it.
     
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  19. johnnybear

    johnnybear Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Well, Kirk entered the scene with the phaser on some setting. McCoy may later have reset (the cuts certainly allow for that, even if the general gist is that everybody is too mesmerized or stunned to take much action), or then not.

    What's clear is that the first shot didn't give the desired result. What's unclear is whether the second one did. Simply firing twice on stun might have been enough to kill the creature. Ramping up the power of the weapon to a higher setting that still wasn't intended to be lethal could have killed it, too. In the end, the critter was dead, and there was no chance for a titration process to determine the exact correct dose, even were some other end result more desirable.

    That is, we really can't tell if either Kirk or McCoy wanted the beast dead.

    What we might argue, though, is that if the phaser really were on stun, then Kirk would not hesitate to shoot McCoy with it (to get him out of the line of fire), and McCoy would not hesitate to shoot Kirk with it (to make him stop hurting poor Nancy)...

    Timo Saloniemi