# Script blunders!

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by Don Drutherford, Jun 6, 2020.

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Coulda been worse...

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Returning, in more acceptable form, in Filmation's TAS:

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My go-to example of awful dialog in TOS (hence also a script blunder) is this for Kirk in "Court Martial" [http://www.chakoteya.net/StarTrek/15.htm]:

By installing a booster, we can increase that capability on the order of one to the fourth power.​

Since one to the fourth power equals one times one times one times one, it equals one. Hence, the booster increases the capability by no amount at all. It's mathematically horrible dialog, and I've never read any attempt to "explain" that is remotely credible.

I'd've recommended something like (my modification is boldfaced):

By installing a booster, we can increase that capability over a trillionfold.​

What kind of amplification would be really needed is impossible to calculate, because there are too many unknowns. For example, we don't know the nature of the "auditory sensor" that the computer has.

However, under the assumption that Kirk is talking about wattage, my modification would correspond to turning the quietest sound that an average person can hear under ideal conditions into one loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage during short exposure without proper dampening, with even quieter sounds amplified to be less loud. One trillion is in fact exactly the factor applied to the wattage that is needed to turn zero decibels into 120 decibels. Despite the unknowns, IMO the modified technobabble at least passes the sniff test, which the scripted dialog doesn't even do.

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4. ### TIN_MANFleet CaptainFleet Captain

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@ alchemist
OK, Gotcha. I misread your paraphrase as indicating that they were on a moving turbolift heading to an unspecified deck, but I see now that you meant to indicate Kirk was holding the elevator at the bridge.

In that case, I should have said…

“So perhaps in a later draft someone, probably Fontana [mid May], changed the scene so that the turbolift is now moving, and thus added the "deck 5" voice command to Kirk's dialogue and dropped Spock’s “where are we going” line, so now the end of the scene seems to indicate that Kirk returns to his quarters, rather than the bridge, but everything else is the same, with Spock remaining in the lift and continuing to sickbay, per his voice command to the lift?

But then in a still later draft (Coon [May ~31]and/or Roddenberry [June ~1]?), the end of the scene was altered again to how we see it in the final versions, with Spock getting off the lift and Kirk remaining, and thus the removal of Spock’s now superfluous “sickbay” dialogue, and yet Kirk’s "deck 5" dialogue remained, even though it ended up looking like sickbay was on deck 5, despite that not being the intention of that line of dialogue?”

This is how I think the script blunder might have occurred, since what should have arguably been done was give Spock’s “sickbay” dialogue to Kirk, in place of “deck 5” but in the hustle and bustle to get things done, either nobody noticed, or they figured it didn’t matter, since nobody else would.

Yes, in these versions. But I’m more interested in the drafts done in the month between May 2nd and June 3rd, which nobody seems to have, unless Harvey or Maurice can help out here.

It’s in one of these (three?) drafts done between the versions you have, that the “script blunder” I suspect happened is most likely to be found.

5. ### teleritesCommanderRed Shirt

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Yeah, this one always nagged at me.

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I admit it was poorly worded. But the intention, the implied meaning, was "one thing" to the fourth power. Not the numeral 1. One thing, with the thing being the sound being amplified.

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That's nonsensical. "'One thing' to the fourth power" in that context makes no sense, whether it's the sound being amplified to the fourth power or anything else.

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You just don't get it. And that's okay. It's the last thing we should waste our energy bickering about.

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No, explain it to me.

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Re "Amok Time"

As @alchemist said above, the 6/7/67 draft is pretty much as shot and presented in the episode, with a couple of lines cut. Kirk and Spock get in the elevator, Kirk calls for Deck Five. They have the conversation, Spock gets out, Kirk doesn't. Spock wanders the corridor. Then there's a hard cut to Sickbay where Spock enters. There's an OMITTED scene in between but I don't have other drafts handy to see what it was.

Anyway, since the next scene after the start of Spock's examination is Sulu and Chekov gossiping about the course changes, it's entirely possible Kirk went right up to the bridge and said, "Back to Altair," before returning to his quarters.

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One doesn't simply "explain" Star Trek math. It's a very special field of higher learning.

12. ### Geoff PetersonRobot Skeleton SidekickPremium Member

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Arithmetrek.

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Okie.

14. ### BK613CommodoreCommodore

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When you are talking about sound, you are talking about the air pressure created by sound waves. I've always figured that what ever unit that Starfleet used for the base pressure (pascals, decibels, whatever ) the booster increased the sensitivity of the detector by four orders of magnitude.*

Here's a useful site with a lot of info on sound.
http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-soundlevel.htm

*(edit for "a magnitude of four")

Last edited: Jun 10, 2020

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Uh-huh. Four times more sensitive....

16. ### BK613CommodoreCommodore

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order of magnitude (mea culpa)
So 10,000 times more sensitive.

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OK. The problem is that that doesn't cover the dynamic range of human hearing. If anything is made loud enough to cause discomfort as we saw in the episode, then it would still be perfectly audible without the booster, and possibly still loud enough to cause discomfort, assuming the factor of 10,000 is being applied to a quantity proportional to field power. The dynamic range of human hearing really is about 12 orders of magnitude!

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I'm sure you're making some very good points, and there's really no saving it. But to provide an in-universe fig leaf, we could say that there's an intermediate step between the microphones and the speaker, namely artificial intelligence. The ship's computer has AI software that is sorting out all of the sound first and presenting the heartbeats to us second, in a loud manner but not in any way mathematically proportional to the inputs.

Therefore what we hear is not representative of the Star Trek math involved, the "fourth power" hype or orders of magnitude and whatnot. The computer is doing a lot of processing first and outputting a created sound to the speaker for the benefit of human ears.

And really: in a show with transporter beams whose machinery is only at one end, this heartbeat scene is not our big science problem.

19. ### BK613CommodoreCommodore

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Yes but the range between being able to hear something and the sound being painful (threshold of pain) is 7 to 8 orders of magnitude (varies with the individual). But I doubt that level was reached by the bridge speakers.