Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 1 to 13 of 13 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-07-31

Page 1

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: Spot does not respond to verbal commands.

GEORDI: She won't come when you call her?

DATA: No.

GEORDI: Data, have you ever considered training her?

DATA: I have never found it to be necessary.

GEORDI: Necessary? That cat is out of control.

GEORDI: Half the time I wasn't sure if she was going to lick me or scratch my face off.

DATA: I have never experienced that kind of behavior from Spot. Although she does have the unfortunate habit of jumping onto my computer console when I am working.

Misc: Spot has suddenly become a female. Geordi and Data (both of whom have referred to Spot as a male in the past) now unanimously describe her as a female (and when she gives birth to kittens in a subsequent episode, there is no longer any doubt).

Why would they refer to Spot as "him" in earlier episodes? Perhaps Geordi never bothered to check, and perhaps Data committed one of his infamous misinterpretations of human behavioural codes and thought it would be rude to peek at Spot's genitals to confirm her gender.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: The unusually intense tetryon fields in this sector pose a severe navigational hazard to warp driven vessels. The Hekaras Corridor is the only route through the area which is free of tetryon fields. Ships travelling at warp must use the Corridor to ensure safe passage through the region.

Propulsion: invisible, otherwise harmless "tetryon fields" can make warp navigation too dangerous to use.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PICARD: How long will it take to complete a level-one search?

DATA: At least two days, sir. The Corridor is over twelve light years long, and the surrounding tetryon interference will limit our sensor range.

Sensors: they are impeded by the same "tetryon fields" that render warp navigation infeasible.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

BEVERLY: The Fleming was carrying a supply of bio-mimetic gel... it's rare and quite valuable. Do you think it's possible the Ferengi could have hijacked it?

RIKER: I wouldn't put it past them.

Replicators: again we hear of the high value of "bio-mimetic gel", which wouldn't be nearly so valuable if they could replicate it.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PRAK: We detected what appeared to be a Federation signal buoy. When we approached it, it emitted a massive verteron pulse... our warp drive, our sensors, our communications systems were all disabled. We assumed we were the victims of a new Federation weapon.

PICARD: Daimon Prak. The Federation established this Corridor to ensure a safe route through the sector. We have nothing to gain from mining it.

Shields and Forcefields: they cannot block "verteron particles", whatever those may be. These particles are therefore able to disable any ship which is unfortunate enough to get too close. They probably take advantage of the delicate interconnected nature of the ship's subspace systems, since they have no effect whatsoever on human tissue but they wreak havoc on the ship.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: Captain, I am picking up a small, metallic object, approximately three-point-five meters in diameter...

RIKER: It could be a ship's log recorder... or a probe casing.

DATA: I do not believe so... it is emitting an unusual signal ... Sir, it is beginning to generate a verteron field.

PICARD: Shields up! Full reverse, now!

(the ship is infused with bright light)

PICARD: Damage report.

WORF: Warp engines are off-line ... shields are down ... all subspace systems are inoperative ...

Misc: subspace vulnerabilities of Federation technology. Verteron fields which have no effect on ordinary human tissue were able to penetrate the shields and affect every subspace system on the entire ship (as well as its shield and warp core systems).

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

SEROVA: Our planet is already being affected. We have measured large gravitational shifts throughout our system.

RABAL: If something isn't done, our planet will become uninhabitable.

GEORDI: Captain, I've heard this theory before. Their research was evaluated by the Federation Science Council a few years ago. Their claims just didn't hold up.

Culture: this illustrates the danger of centralizing scientific research under the auspices of a socialist government bureaucracy. In a more open and independent research environment, some researchers would have probably looked into the situation further, perhaps finding ways to experimentally test and verify these claims. But instead, a single governing body announces that it's not worth looking into, and all scientific inquiry ceases.

In real life, scientists can be a fratricidal lot, often bickering for years over differences of opinion on matters which would seem hopelessly dull to the average layperson. This conflict is part of the nature of science, and it is healthy. Much as unsuitable creatures are weeded out of the biosystem by the merciless process of evolution, scientific theories are ruthlessly attacked until they either collapse under the scrutiny or frustrate so many would-be rebuttals that they become accepted by mainstream science.

However, this process is completely dependent upon a diversity of opinion and a diversity of activity. People must be running off in opposite directions for this to work. When all activity is controlled and directed by a centralized government agency, no matter how "benevolent" they may claim to be, the result can only be scientific stagnation. When one bureaucracy decides which theories are valid and which theories aren't, which ideas merit research and which ideas don't, then progress will be slow and halting at best.

This may explain why they've polished and developed new applications for their existing technologies but they've made no major breakthroughs since the TOS era. Transwarp drive, for example, has been in development for more than eighty years without success, and researchers were so discouraged that they actually abandoned the effort even though they know full well that other societies (such as the Borg) were able to make it work.

Interestingly enough, the USS Voyager has made more progress in the field of propulsion science in a few years than the entire Federation scientific community made in the previous century. Now that it is cut off from the rest of the Federation collective, its crew has been forced to branch out on its own, with dramatic results. This provides a stark illustration of the dangers of a centralized, unified approach to scientific research.

An observant viewer may also note that Dr. Soong, working in isolation, was able to singlehanded surpass the Federation's entire combined efforts in artificial intelligence research. Decades after his disappearance, the Federation is still unable to duplicate his work. Again, note how the outside, the isolationist, the maverick was able to move forward while the stilted bureaucracy failed.

An even more observant viewer may go on to recognize that the Federation prototype phase-cloak was developed by Captain Pressman of the USS Pegasus, again on a maverick mission outside of normal Federation procedures (and in explicit violation of Federation law and government directive, thus leading to a ship-wide mutiny). Yet again, the maverick succeeds where the bureaucracy fails. The Klingon and Romulan empires have been trying to develop the same thing without success, perhaps because their governments are also modelled around excessive centralization.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PICARD: Doctor, if you wanted us to review your research, you could have placed a request through the Science Council.

RABAL: Their resources are limited. It would have taken over a year before they dispatched a science ship to come and evaluate our work.

Culture: they had no recourse other than the centralized Science Council bureacracy. Since the Science Council regarded their problem as a low priority issue, that meant they had no recourse at all.

In an open environment, the people of Hekaras Two could have gone to the press. They could have gone to alternate research organizations. They could have spent some money to hire independent researchers. But the Federation is not an open environment. If the government says it's not worth researching, then the game is over.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

RABAL: No. What I didn't realize... was how brilliant my sister is. It took two years of study for me even to grasp the principles behind her theoretical models... they're that sophisticated.

GEORDI: Well, our Commander Data is no slouch. If there's anything there, he'll find it.

Culture: theoretical models are all well and good, but in this case, this is a theory which they could have easily tested. Why didn't they ever think of setting up a scaled experiment in an isolated region of space?

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

PICARD: I see. It's like pacing up and down on a carpet... eventually, you wear a hole in it.

DATA: The analogy is essentially correct.

PICARD: Can their theory be proven?

DATA: At this time, there is insufficient evidence to do so. In order to determine whether or not a rift would form, we would have to expose a region of the Corridor to warp field energy approximately one-million times greater than that normally generated by a starship.

RABAL: Commander, we believe the warp field effect is cumulative. Each starship that passes through the Corridor at warp brings us one step closer to forming a rift.

DATA: I agree that is a possibility. Captain, I suggest we ask the Federation Science Council to send a research vessel to this area. A more detailed investigation would resolve many of our questions.

Culture: again, Data makes reference to placing a request with the Federation Science Council for research efforts. Again, there seems to be no other source of scientific research funding but the government-run Federation Science Council; a stifling environment in which to conduct research.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: Captain, when the Fleming activated its warp drive, the rift expanded by two-point-three percent. We no longer have sufficient momentum to escape.

...

DATA: Distortion waves are now occurring every fifty-nine seconds. Hull stress is nearing maximum tolerance.

RIKER: Data, what if we forced an EPS discharge through the impulse reactor ... would that be enough to blast us out of here?

DATA: I do not believe so, sir... and the resulting explosion would most likely destroy the saucer section in the process.

Realism: notice the bad terminology: "Hull stress is nearing maximum tolerance". Tolerance and limits are two different things.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: Captain, when the Fleming activated its warp drive, the rift expanded by two-point-three percent. We no longer have sufficient momentum to escape.

...

DATA: Distortion waves are now occurring every fifty-nine seconds. Hull stress is nearing maximum tolerance.

RIKER: Data, what if we forced an EPS discharge through the impulse reactor ... would that be enough to blast us out of here?

DATA: I do not believe so, sir... and the resulting explosion would most likely destroy the saucer section in the process.

Culture: amazing. Even when entering the deadly subspace rift, Captain Picard didn't separate the saucer! How wonderful; it must be nice to know that the captain of your ship doesn't even think about the safety of your families before flying into dangerous situations.

TNG Season 7, Ep# 161: "Force of Nature"

DATA: We are within the distortion wave ... hull stresses exceeding tolerance.

WORF: Structural integrity fields failing on decks ten through sixteen ... switching to backups.

GEORDI: Captain, we're separating from the distortion wave ... I'm attempting to compensate.

PICARD: How much longer until we clear the rift?

DATA: Approximately twelve seconds ... hull stress is now one-hundred twenty percent above maximum.

WORF: Structural breach is imminent.

(they escape the rift)

DATA: We have cleared the rift. Hull stresses have returned to normal.

PICARD: Cancel red alert.

Design: If the ship was about to experience a "structural breach" at 120% of "maximum stress" (which we can take to mean its design limits, as suggested by Chris Provencal), then this would mean that its ultimate tensile strength is only 1.2 times its rated stress limits. Since UTS is typically well over 1.2 times yield stress, we have two possibilities:

  1. The ship's rated maximum stress level is actually higher than the yield strength of its materials. This would indicate astounding incompetence on the part of its engineers. An engineer exhibiting such incompetence would be summarily stripped of his license in real life.
  2. The ship is constructed out of extremely brittle materials, for which failure occurs shortly after exceeding the yield point. Once again, no competent engineer in his right mind would design a warship out of such materials.
Even if we take the second possibility, we are still forced to acknowledge extreme incompetence on the part of their engineers, since it implies little or no engineering safety factor. Although the Trek writers obviously think otherwise, engineering safety factors are not simply intended to give the engineer leeway to make himself look good when he coaxes more out of his design than it's supposed to give. They're intended to compensate for variability in manufacturing and operating processes, as well as the consistency of materials, the possibility of poor quality control in component manufacture, random nature of fracture mechanics (particularly in fatigue failures) and myriad other factors which work to produce unpredictability.

Moreover, the ship's engineers seem blissfully unaware of the effect that exceeding yield stress (which almost certainly happened in this case, if structural integrity had already failed and they were looking at breaches) causes permanent microstructural damage in the metal, thus reducing its ductility in future.

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