TOS Photon Torpedo

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by blssdwlf, Mar 14, 2010.

  1. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I noticed while watching TOS that they never really said what kind of warhead was used in a photon torpedo.

    And interestingly, in "The Immunity Syndrome", Kirk had Scotty prepare an antimatter charge to strap to a drone. Doesn't that sound suspiciously like what a photon torpedo is suppose to be? It's not like it is a power thing because they were able to launch the drone and in "A Taste of Armageddon" when power was used up for shields (and full power phasers not available) Scotty was going to use a dozen or so photon torpedoes.

    But... maybe because there was almost no power left that even photon torpedoes weren't available to use in "The Immunity Syndrome" because it all had to go to that final push to move out of it?
     
  2. Mr. Mugato

    Mr. Mugato Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I always felt that the photon torpedoes in TOS where supposed to be pure energy. No casing, no warhead etc. It wasn't until TWOK that it was decided that it was an actual mechanical torpedo.

    At least that was what I always thought growing up.
     
  3. Chaos Descending

    Chaos Descending Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I agree. The "physical torpedo" was a retcon.
     
  4. Solarbaby

    Solarbaby Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I always assumed photon torpedos were called photonic because they travel at the speed of the light. If this is the case then the warhead could differ.
     
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I can't really imagine that the TOS photon torpedo would have been an "energy only" weapon if an episode had actually featured it. That is, if there had been a dramatic need for a prop or a set, every effort would certainly have been made to make it look recognizable to those familiar with naval torpedoes of the last big war. Alas, we never got such a dramatic situation - not until ST2:TWoK, where indeed something futuristically familiar was used.

    TOS used antimatter warheads twice without equating them with photon torpedoes or even mentioning said weapons: "Immunity Syndrome" for a whopper of a charge, and "Obsession" for a smaller explosive device. In the latter, the antimatter was even said to be tapped from the ship's engines rather than confiscated from the torpedo armory... Still, this doesn't mean photon torpedoes couldn't be armed with the stuff. In analogous situations in the WWII setting, the heroes might prepare a giant satchel charge of torpex to blow up a sea monster (or an iceberg, or an enemy port, or whatever), or take just a tiny amount of torpex and a suitable bait to rig a nasty trap for the Nazis or the Japs, while their torpedoes would be armed with the very same substance but obviously would not be applicable for these tactical purposes and thus would not get a mention.

    I'd like to think that the spherical antimatter device used in "Obsession" was actually a photon torpedo warhead taken out of the weapon and mounted on antigravs...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    @Timo - Thanks, that sounds reasonable :)
     
  7. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    At this point in the episode there wasn't even enough power for phasers, perhaps the PT systems were also down? Alternatively, it is described in detail that the delivery of the antimatter required gentle precision at close range. Perhaps a PT simply wouldn't have been suitable?
     
  8. Mr. Mugato

    Mr. Mugato Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    While this certainly doesn't qualify as circular logic, it strikes me as at least semi-circular. ;)

    I don't think you can say you think they are physical torpedoes because "if there was a dramatic reason" for them to be physical torpedoes, well, then they would have been a physical torpedo on the show.

    If there was a dramatic reason for it, then you would be right. But there never was. You seem to be using a hypothetical situation to explain your current belief.

    That is just a logical as claiming that Chekov was a transvestite or the Enterprise was powered by green cheese because if there was a dramatic need for for it, then they would have done it, so that must mean that's how it was.

    :lol:
     
  9. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The impression I received was that the torpedoes during the series were a energy field, the torpedoes in ST:TMP were something new. The FX image was certainly different than on TOS.

    In the novel Corona it's stated that the torpedoes destroyed their target by taking it apart at the sub-atomic level. Which sounds interesting.
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm using two known examples that chronologically straddle TOS (namely, ENT and ST2) to back up the belief that TOS would not have massively deviated from the continuity, and pointing out that the odds would have been equally massively in favor of physical torps in TOS had torp handling become a dramatic point like it did in ENT and ST2.

    The "hypothetical" case where we needed interaction with torpedoes could never have gone the opposite way, featuring ephemeral "energy only" torpedoes. That just isn't Hollywood. We got double confirmation for this, from ENT and ST2 - and again from TNG, DS9 and VOY, for that matter...

    Also, it would not have been in the spirit of TOS to show Starfleet possessing aphysical technology. Starfleet was all about gadgets, constructed from plywood and surplus junk to be visually familiar to the WWII-oriented audiences. Technology without physical gadgetry was what identified advanced alien lifeforms.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Hmh? I doubt LaForge built anything for the Pakleds. Save, of course, for a couple of boxes that went "Beep!" and "Honk honk!" and impressed the hell out of the Pakleds. He probably didn't have the faintest idea how to build a photon torpedo system anyway - it was only Riker, Worf and Data's "hint hint, wink wink" communications with the Pakleds that led those kidnappers into falsely thinking that LaForge had weapons construction skills.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Mr. Mugato

    Mr. Mugato Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    While I do understand your position, let me continue to play devil's advocate :devil: and say that you can't divine what would have happened on TOS by looking at what happened in ENT and ST2.
    They both came after TOS (regardless of their in universe chronological order). TOS could not have deviated from the continuity of ENT and ST2 even it had tried as hard as it could since they didn't exist yet. In fact, if TOS was substantially different than either of those two, then it would be ENT and ST2 that deviated massively from continuity.

    I agree whole heartedly, however this does nothing to strengthen the belief that torpedoes are physical. You could just as easily posit that never having had a dramatic storyline about physical torpedoes in TOS proves that they are energy weapons, making such a storyline impossible.

    While I again agree with you about keeping the show in a frame of reference people could relate to, pure energy photon torpedoes are no more or less aphysical than the ships phasers, or the ships sensors, or the warp drive that didn't have exhaust flames shooting out of it.

    While I know this is a non-canon source the Star Trek Poster Book - Voyage Six (copyright 1977) has an article by Geoffrey Mandel about the technology of the Enterprise. In regards to photon torpedoes it states "Photon torpedoes are energy pods of matter and anti-matter plasmas, contained and held temporarily separated in a magno-photon force field"

    Whatever the hell a "magno-photon force field" is

    :)
     
  14. Mr. Mugato

    Mr. Mugato Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    Sorry, forgot to mention that it has always been my belief that the only reason that physical torpedoes ever made their way into the Star Trek Universe was because Nicholas Meyer needed a plausible coffin for Spock in TWOK.
     
  15. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Just looked it up. It is strongly implied that he built it and he disabled it moments before tricking the Pakleds. It evens sounds like if he had not disabled it, the E-D would've been seriously damaged or destroyed. You would've thought that Laforge would've built-in an inherent flaw so he didn't need to disable it just in case the Pakleds stunned him at the last moment ;) Actually it even sounds like they left the system there with the Pakleds intact waiting for someone to just undo Laforge's trick. I would've beamed it all off their ship before leaving. :)

     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, fair enough. It seems Data twice confirms improvements on the (apparently preexisting) photon torpedoes as LaForge works on them:

    So LaForge wasn't outright tricking the Pakleds (perhaps he did aknowledge that they were smarter than they looked and sounded), but merely stalling for time and so forth.

    Still, the work LaForge does on the photons doesn't seem to necessarily require hands-on access to the casings or the like. He says he will attempt to increase the antimatter charge, which might be a software-based procedure, a matter of retuning the containment fields of the weapons. But admittedly it would also jibe with the interpretation of photon torpedoes as casingless loads of antimatter that the ship will spit out in smaller or larger increments...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This might also suggest that energy-only PTs are something that can be jury-rigged when casings are not available. Less effective than the computer controlled guided cased versions maybe, but still enough to present a threat!
     
  18. MarianLH

    MarianLH Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Or possibly TMP. There's a display on the weapons station panel that looks like a representation of a torpedo being loaded.


    Franz Joseph certainly thought so in the 70s, since that's what his blueprints show. I think a lot of people had that assumption until the movies retconned it.


    Marian
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...It's a bit weird that FJ put the torpedoes on top of the saucer - weird enough that it would perhaps undermine his credibility as an author of what photon torpedoes are like.

    Lacking access to the episodes outside the times they actually aired, he could easily have missed the references to at least six tubes aboard. But how could he have missed the rather blatant fact that all of the hero ship's fire always emerged from the underside of the saucer? Or was he perhaps aiming for some realistic balance there?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. MarianLH

    MarianLH Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Beats me. I know he was in contact with GR during the development of his book and blueprints, and that he asked his daughter and her friends--he wasn't a fan himself--when he was uncertain about something, but I don't recall anything specifically about why he put the torpedoes where he did.

    The point is, Mr. Mugato wasn't alone in thinking they were energy weapons.


    Marian