Shields and Screens

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Herkimer Jitty, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    The ship had triple shielding in the book, but our "anti-Mary-Sue" heroine couldn't figure out how to operate this technology; what we saw happen was that the ship had one set of shields up, the enemy burned through them, and then the heroine struggled to get another set up (and failed). Perhaps "triple shielding" was always meant to be a succession of shields, with #2 applied when #1 fails? Or perhaps our Lieutenant Piper just didn't have clue, and a proper mode of operations would have #2 applied on top of #1, and #3 on top of #2, all the time?

    But yeah, the ship had physical armor, too. Not amounting to much when the shields were down, it seems.

    Personally, I'd prefer the idea that most starships after the ENT era have two distinct shielding systems or modes: bubbles and skintights. These can be referred to collectively, or then described separately - but very few people would bother to describe them separately because they aren't usually operated separately. And the people who go for the separate description can't agree on the terminology, exactly because it's so rarely used. Most just say "shields" or "deflectors", which are synonyms in the "lift"/"elevator" vein, but some apply obscure or arcane terms like "screens" or "forcefields" to indicate the components of the system.

    Only "navigational deflectors" or "beaming shields" are truly separate systems for separate purposes, as the name explicates...

    Timo Saloniemi
  2. Unwrapped

    Unwrapped Continuity Spackle Moderator

    May 8, 2003
    I seem to recall the improvised crew of rebels had a number of general difficulties operating the Star Empire, due to design differences. I definitely recall that the ship had no library computer. Commander Burch was probably the only one with any specific familiarity with the ship.
  3. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

    Feb 18, 2007
    Maybe ENT provided a final hint on this issue:

    The NX-01 Enterprise did not have any shields/forcefield technology at all. The only defense seemed to be polarized hull plating, which could be energized as a defense.

    Look at it this way: "screens" or "deflectors" would be the outer layer of defense, an relatively high-energy layer comprised of overlapping forcefields. "Shields" would be the inner-most layer, comprised of polarized hull plating and maybe an intermediate forcefield.
  4. Nightfall to-Ennien

    Nightfall to-Ennien Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Jan 3, 2003
    The Everfree Forest
    Personally, it was my understanding that at the time of TMP, the Enterprise was equipped with all the latest gadgets, a sort of testbed, so instead of just forcefield-based shields, they were also equipped with a new, to borrow a phrase from TWOK, "Defense fields" based on the same technology used for deflectors, deflector screens. Witness Sulu's comment after V'Ger's weapon didn't destroy the Enterprise, "The new screens held!"

    I figured they were developed as a defense more effective against physical projectiles, since they were based on the same technology as navigational deflectors. Balance of Terror showed that the plasma torpedoes were significantly more effective against the Enterprise's shields. Lo and behold, by the time the Refit is rolled out, torpedo launchers are significantly more visually prominent and seem to be used more often than in TOS, when it seemed beam weapons like phasers and disruptors were more commonly used.

    By the time of TNG, they probably just put both up at the same time, maybe even combining the projector units. Just my two cents.
  5. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

    Feb 7, 2009
    It's all the same I think. That memo from Gene is interesting, but everything changed in TNG
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Or "changed back", since things had been just as simple back in TOS and TAS.

    It does make intuitive sense that bubblelike shields standing off the ship's hull would be a better cushion against physical impacts... No real sense, perhaps, but intuitive sense. ;)

    Yeah, I like your reasoning. Possibly the bubble mode for shields was all-new in TMP, but this was the last time the mode was considered a separate device; thereafter everybody just considered it part of the generic shields.

    Timo Saloniemi
  7. caisson2delta

    caisson2delta Captain Captain

    Apr 6, 2009
    The South of Florida
    I may be mistaken, but weren't the lines in the hull plating (grid lines) referred to as part of the shield grid or defensive grid? If this is the case, could we assume, as Timo suggested, that this system provides the skin tight shield system? The screens, as Kirk often would say during TOS, might be the invisible energy bubble that extended well past the hull. Perhaps there was no mention of seperate systems, after TMP, because it was an unmentioned upgrade after the encounter with Vger. Also, when Saavik mentions about activating defenses, this may be referring to something involving the hull plating.
  8. Darkwing

    Darkwing Commodore Commodore

    Jul 10, 2003
    This dry land thing is too wierd!
    in the TMP novelization, shields referred to the standard TOS shields - several separate forcefield defenses that might overlap, but still had gaps. the forcefield was mentioned as a new system - one single bubble that had no gaps. It seemed to be more powerful than any individual shield, but provide less overall protection than the shields. It's important contribution was that an enveloping attack like V'Ger's weapon could get around shields, but not the forcefield. Seeing a single bubble effect in TMP led me to figure that over time, Starfleet merged the two related systems into one, and so sometime after TMP the older term was retained for the new unified defense, which replaced the older, segmented defense.
  9. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Mar 22, 2010
    I can see that. In Nemesis, they had segemented shields in one graphic, and a bubble in another. All part of one overall system.