Star Trek Canon Database

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Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2018-09-18

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TNG Season 1, Ep# 17: "Home Soil"

SCREENPLAY: The team members take in their surroundings. We are in a twenty-fourth century power and hydraulics facility, more square-cut and mechanical than the Enterprise. Large, working machinery, on which "the bolts show." The computers are more heavy duty and their jumper cables show.

Culture: as described in the screenplay and seen in the televised episode, the Federation terraforming equipment on Velara III looks much more industrial than the carefully covered and panelled equipment of the Enterprise, probably because they felt no particular need to cover it up.

Of course, this leads to an obvious question: why is it so important for Federation starships to cover everything up? Those cosmetic measures can actually be inconvenient (eg. hiding important access panels deep inside Jeffries tubes), so it would appear that superficial appearances won out over utilitarianism in their design process. This tells us a lot about their cultural priorities: form rules over function, even in the military.

TNG Season 1, Ep# 17: "Home Soil"

LUISA: Welcome to Velara III. Remember it as it is now, because in a couple of decades you won't recognize the place.


LUISA: The first phase is selecting the planet. That's very important. It must have the right mass and gravity, the correct rate of rotation, and a balanced day and night. The planet must also be without life or having the prospect of life delveloping naturally. The Federation makes that decision. Then, we take over. What you see here -- this station -- is Phase Two. Phase Three involves the water. Usually we create basins, using hydraulic landscaping, but the water on this planet is subsurface, and extremely high in salt content. We are just about to begin pumping and filtering that water, removing the salt, oxygenating and replacing. Next we introduce micro-organisms, and when the process is complete ... eventually, we'll have a lush, arable, biosphere.

Size and Scope: interesting information on timeframes and methods for Federation terraforming operations.

Note that their techniques require direct physical manipulation of the affected materials, rather than vast transporter and/or replicator operations.

TNG Season 1, Ep# 17: "Home Soil"

PICARD: Data -- any analysis of those bolts of light they emit?

DATA: That seems to be their method of reprogramming, Captain. Each bolt of light consists of negatively and positively charged ions. A series of program instructions, as it were.

Realism: more butchered terminology. How can a "bolt of light" consist of ions? Ions are charged particles. Matter, not light.

If a stream of ions glowed in transit, it would accurately described as a luminescent ion stream, not a bolt of light.

TNG Season 1, Ep# 17: "Home Soil"

(Inorganic life form releases a huge amount of energy, shaking the entire ship)

RIKER: If this keeps up, that thing will tear the Enterprise apart!


DATA: Captain -- sensors indicate the microbrain expends a tremendous amount of energy during its reproduction cycle. Yet, there is no discernible power drain from our own systems.

PICARD: Then what's feeding the damn thing!?

GEORDI: Data and I found traces of cadmium salts. Cadmium is a conduit for converting infra-red into electricity.

PICARD: Meaning?

DATA: Meaning the microbrains might be photoelectric.

Realism: violation of the First Law of Thermodynamics. It starts reasonably enough, with the revelation that if the creature "expends a tremendous amount of energy", it must come from somewhere.

Data reasons that the life form must be photoelectric (a hypothesis which is later proven accurate when they shut off the lights in the medical lab and the creature starts dying). But this means that the creature's entire energy supply comes from ordinary room lighting, which can't possibly supply more than ~1 kW/m² (go into an average room, add up the wattage of the lights, and then divide by the floor surface area to get an idea of how intense 1 kW/m² would be).

The creature itself is no bigger than a golf ball, so it would therefore be ridiculously generous to assume that it's absorbing a full kW of power from the room lights. This means that even after a full six hours, the creature would absorb no more than ~20 MJ of energy.

In other words, the creature was able to threaten the entire Enterprise, armed only with the energy of a few kilograms of TNT.

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