Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 1 to 19 of 19 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-07-23

Page 1

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

(after dropping out of warp while tracking the Jenolan's distress signal and spotting the Dyson Sphere)

DATA: I am having difficulty scanning the object. However, it would appear to be approximately 200 million kilometers in diameter.

RIKER: That's nearly the size of Earth's orbit around the sun.

PICARD: Why didn't we detect it before now?

DATA: The object's enormous mass is causing a great deal of gravimetric interference. That might have prevented our sensors from detecting the object before we dropped out of warp.

Sensors: they can't detect the Dyson Sphere before they drop out of warp at close range, despite its enormous size and mass. This is a bit like a truck driver saying he can't see the warehouse until he's already at the loading dock, and it calls the supposedly omniscient character of Federation sensors into question ... again.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

RIKER: I'm Commander William Riker from the starship Enterprise.

SCOTT: The Enterprise... I shoulda known. And I'll bet it was Jim Kirk himself who hauled the old girl out of mothballs to come looking for me! (shakes Riker's hand) Captain Montgomery Scott. How long have I been missing?

Misc: this scene creates a well-known consistency problem with the atrocious "Star Trek Generations" film, in which the greatest character in Star Trek history, Captain James Tiberius Kirk, went out not with a bang, but with a whimper. Scotty was present at the first of Kirk's two "deaths" in this film, so it's hard to imagine why he would think Kirk might still be flying starships.

Rather than simply succumbing to the inconsistency, I would like to propose a theory that since no traces of Kirk's body were ever found after the E-B's encounter with the Nexus, he might have become the stuff of urban legends. Perhaps people seized upon the lack of a body as proof that the inimitable Captain Kirk had somehow fooled everyone and cheated death. After all, some people still think Elvis is alive, even though his body was found, examined, and identified! Maybe the aging Captain Scott clung to the belief that Captain Kirk would arise once more, charging to the rescue at the helm of his famous starship.

Well, say what you will, but I think it's a far better explanation than simply pointing out that "Relics" was written before "Generations".

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

RIKER: I'm Commander William Riker from the starship Enterprise.

SCOTT: The Enterprise... I shoulda known. And I'll bet it was Jim Kirk himself who hauled the old girl out of mothballs to come looking for me! (shakes Riker's hand) Captain Montgomery Scott. How long have I been missing?

Transporters: there is no perception of time while in the transporter buffer, as Mr. Scott demonstrates. He's been in there for 75 years and he honestly has no idea. He thinks Jim Kirk might still be out there, flying ships.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: Aye. An actual Dyson Sphere. Can you imagine the engineering skills needed to even design such a structure?

GEORDI: I know ... it's pretty amazing. What happened when you first approached it?

Misc: while legions of Trekkies may not agree, at least Geordi and Scotty seem to understand how atrociously difficult it would be to design and then construct a Dyson Sphere.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

KANE: These are standard guest quarters, sir. I can try to find something bigger if you want.

SCOTT: Bigger? In my day, even an Admiral wouldna had such quarters on a starship. I remember a time when we had to transport the Dohlman of Elaas. You never heard anyone whine and complain about quarters like that...

KANE: The Holodecks, Ten Forward, and the gymnasium are all at your disposal. The computer can tell you how to find them. Until we issue you a combadge, just use one of these panels if you need anything.

SCOTT: You know... these quarters remind me of a hotel room I once had on Argelius... oh, now there was a planet... everything a man could want -- right at his fingertips. 'Course on my first visit, I ran into a wee bit of trouble...

KANE (impatient, slightly irritated): Uh, excuse me, sir... but I have to return to duty.

Design: sorry, but large quarters on a starship will always be a waste of resources, no matter how far technology advances. Given equal technology, a ship with more of its internal space devoted to supplies and equipment will always outperform one with more space devoted to living area.

To use an analogy, modern aircraft vastly outstrip WW2-era aircraft in technology and performance, but that doesn't mean we're about to design fighter planes with luxurious crew accomodations! The pilot of a modern F-22 doesn't have much more room (if any) than the pilot of a WW2 Hellcat, because I reiterate: given a particular level of technology, a more compact aircraft (or starship) will always outperform one which uses space less efficiently.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

KANE: These are standard guest quarters, sir. I can try to find something bigger if you want.

SCOTT: Bigger? In my day, even an Admiral wouldna had such quarters on a starship. I remember a time when we had to transport the Dohlman of Elaas. You never heard anyone whine and complain about quarters like that...

KANE: The Holodecks, Ten Forward, and the gymnasium are all at your disposal. The computer can tell you how to find them. Until we issue you a combadge, just use one of these panels if you need anything.

SCOTT: You know... these quarters remind me of a hotel room I once had on Argelius... oh, now there was a planet... everything a man could want -- right at his fingertips. 'Course on my first visit, I ran into a wee bit of trouble...

KANE (impatient, slightly irritated): Uh, excuse me, sir... but I have to return to duty.

Culture: Starfleet cadets may be force-fed latin, and anthropology, and philosophy, and all sorts of other things which enlighten while diverting their time away from the core requirements of their profession, but they apparently don't care much for something which is important for their profession: military history. Captain Montgomery Scott reappears from the dead, and he is met with disinterest. His stories are ignored as the prattlings of a senile old man.

This isn't just a shameful mistreatment of a beloved TOS character, but it's also very revealing of the cultural mindset of the TNG era, in which their distaste for their own recent history has apparently led them to forsake it. I can't imagine that real-life soldiers would be so disinterested if, for example, Admiral Nelson or General Patton were brought back from the dead and began to tell war stories. Scotty should have been swarmed by half the off-duty personnel on the ship, but instead, he found himself alone and unwanted.

Roy Cowan points out that there is also an issue of Starfleet protocol here. In a real navy, would an enlisted man or ensign snub a superior officer in this way? And why wasn't Scotty assigned a guide for the duration of his stay, given the special circumstances?

Alternatively, this may simply be an indicator of horrendous education standards; maybe these cadets are simply unaware of Scotty's pivotal role because their history teachers are useless. This explanation is somewhat weak, however, since they seem quite familiar with the ancient history of alien societies (their collective awe at the Promellian battle cruiser in "Booby Trap" seems rather odd if they are so ignorant of their own history that they are unimpressed by Mr. Scott's appearance).

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: Pardon me for asking... but what exactly is a Ship's Counselor?

TROI: I'm here to take care of the emotional well-being of our crew. And of our guests.

SCOTT: And you're an officer?

TROI: Yes.

Culture: Scotty is obviously surprised that a psychotherapist would be a ranking officer on a starship (as was I). This indicates that their coddling, California-style over-use of psychotherapy is a relatively new phenomenon.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

DATA: The resonance frequency of the tractor beams is incompatible with our power systems. Warp and impulse engine relays have been overloaded. I am attempting to compensate.

...

RAGER: The tractor beams have released us, sir.

Power: their power systems experience potentially damaging feedback from external systems such as shields, as demonstrated when the Dyson Sphere's tractor beams accidentally caused a main power failure on the ship.

One might argue that the tractor beams were immensely powerful, hence the damage. But as usual, that would decouple energy from effect, and that can't be done. If the tractor beams contained vast energies, then where did all of this energy go? The Enterprise was accelerated forward, but to no greater degree than its own impulse engines could have accomplished. Huge amounts of leftover energy would affect the inhabitable areas on the inner surface of the sphere around the gate.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

GEORDI: That's interesting... because I was just thinking that a lot of these systems haven't changed much in seventy-five years. This Transporter is almost identical to the ones we use on the Enterprise. The subspace radio and sensors operate on the same basic principles, and impulse engine design hasn't changed much in 200 years. If it weren't for the structural damage, this ship could still be in service today.

SCOTT: Maybe so... but when they can build a ship like your Enterprise, who'd want to pilot an old bucket like this?

GEORDI: I don't know... if this ship were operational I bet it would run circles around the Enterprise at impulse speeds.

Misc: more evidence of the sharp decline in the rate of technological growth in the Federation, now that they've caught up with the rest of the quadrant. According to Geordi, their communications, sensors, and impulse drives haven't changed much in at least 75 years.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

GEORDI: That's interesting... because I was just thinking that a lot of these systems haven't changed much in seventy-five years. This Transporter is almost identical to the ones we use on the Enterprise. The subspace radio and sensors operate on the same basic principles, and impulse engine design hasn't changed much in 200 years. If it weren't for the structural damage, this ship could still be in service today.

SCOTT: Maybe so... but when they can build a ship like your Enterprise, who'd want to pilot an old bucket like this?

GEORDI: I don't know... if this ship were operational I bet it would run circles around the Enterprise at impulse speeds.

Propulsion: Geordi claims that the Jenolan could "run circles around the Enterprise at impulse speeds", thus contradicting incessant Trekkie efforts to ignore poor impulse speeds in TOS by claiming that TNG-era ships are millions of times faster.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

RAGER: We're in orbit, Captain. Our altitude is one hundred fifty thousand kilometers.

...

DATA: The sphere appears to be abandoned ... our sensors show that the star is extremely unstable. It is experiencing severe bursts of radiation and matter expulsions.

PICARD: That would explain why they abandoned it.

...

WORF: Shields are up... but only at twenty-three percent.

DATA: The star has entered a period of increased activity. Our sensors indicate that solar flares will continue to grow. In three hours, our shields will no longer be be sufficient to protect us.

Misc: this dialogue is often interpreted to mean that the star at the centre of the Dyson Sphere is astronomically remarkable. However, there are visible regions of vegetation and bodies of water on the inner surface of the sphere, and that would be impossible if it were subject to many times our own stellar radiation intensity (the water would boil off).

The solar flares are just that: solar flares. Our own Sun undergoes similar events on a regular basis.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: Shunt the deuterium from the main cryo pump to the auxiliary tank.

GEORDI: The tank can't handle that much pressure.

SCOTT: Where'd you get that idea?

GEORDI: It's in the impulse engine specifications.

SCOTT: Regulation forty-two slash fifteen... "Pressure Variances in IRC Tank Storage"?

GEORDI: Right.

SCOTT: Forget it. I wrote it. A good engineer is always a wee bit conservative... at least on paper.

Propulsion: Geordi's not just being nice when he says impulse engines haven't changed since before Scotty's time. He's still using the regulations and operating specs that Scotty wrote!

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCREENPLAY: The ship is still in orbit around the star. A huge solar flare billows up behind the ship... part of the flaming plasma brushes against the shields of the Enterprise.

WORF: Shields still holding... but down another 15%.

Shields and Forcefields: the ship loses 15% shields after a brief contact with a flare. Obviously, they're going to have to revise their 3 hour estimate after losing 15% shields, when they only had 23% shields to begin with.

Furthermore, since the energy density of photosphere material is less than 10 kJ/m³, the fact that a brief contact with a flare would drain 15% of their shields is indicative of the particular weakness to charged particle contact that I've alluded to before.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: Look at the momentum distribution of the ions... it would take an impulse engine at full reverse to put out a signature like that.

GEORDI: So they didn't go in willingly.

Propulsion: the impulse drives appear to be ion drives; you can tell the direction of their acceleration by the momentum of the ion exhaust, which would be completely consistent with ion drive principles.

If the ion exhaust is merely a heat dissipation mechanism, as many have claimed, then its momentum would have nothing to do with the ship's heading.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: You're giving me one of your shuttles?

PICARD: Call it... an extended loan. Since you lost your ship while saving ours, it seemed only fair.

Culture: Scotty's pretty happy at being given one of the ship's shuttles. Wait till he finds out that the Federation has gone communist in his absence, and that government-owned vehicles like that shuttle are pretty much the only game in town.

Roy Cowan notes that Starfleet shuttles seem to be the pre-eminent mode of transportation for individuals, rather than privately owned spacecraft. Scotty is given one here, Geordi took one for a pleasure trip to Risa in "The Mind's Eye", Worf took one to a bat'leth tournament in "Parallels", etc. They are arguably cheap enough to make that they can be considered almost disposable (they seem to be treated that way in Voyager, thus continuing the replaceable Viper TV precedent from Battlestar Galactica), but this would merely force us to revisit the question of why we don't see hordes of them whenever we approach a Federation world (even Earth, with its population of billions). It would appear that only military personnel get to tool around in these things. Everyone else must "book passage" on a transport.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

DATA: Oh Spot, the complex level of behavior you display connotes a fairly well-developed cognitive array. And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend, I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.

Culture: Data recites his humourously awful poem, "Ode to Spot". It's a throwaway item in the plot, where he recites a poem which is otherwise factually correct (describing Spot's anatomy and behaviour in excruciating detail), but which includes the interesting claim that Spot is "not sentient".

I object to that claim. Cats and dogs may not be geniuses, but I do think they're sentient. Sentience is self-awareness, and I think that anyone who thinks dogs and cats are not sentient must not have much experience with them. In any case, this makes me wonder what the definition of sentience is in Star Trek.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

DATA: The interior surface area is over ten to the sixteenth square kilometers. It will take seven hours to completely scan the surface.

Sensors: they are scanning for a big metallic door, at least two or three kilometres wide if I recall correctly. It will take 7 hours to scan the interior of the sphere for one of these big doors.

This works out to a scanning rate of roughly 5E12 km² per second (although they're looking for a pretty damned big object; this should not necessarily be assumed to apply to a scan for smaller targets, such as people on a planet's surface).

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

DATA: The interior surface area is over ten to the sixteenth square kilometers. It will take seven hours to completely scan the surface.

Computers and Androids: the interior surface area of a 100 million kilometre wide sphere is over 1E17 km², not 1E16 km². Data fucks up a simple area calculation by an order of magnitude.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 130: "Relics"

SCOTT: The shields will hold Lad, don't you worry about that. I know how to get a few extra gigawatts out of these babies.

Shields and Forcefields: this strongly suggests that shield power requirements are in the high gigawatt range, or perhaps the low terawatt range. Even though Scotty is not being precise, it seems highly unlikely that a qualified engineer would use units which are too many orders of magnitude away from appropriate values.

A modern engineer might say "I know how to squeeze a few more horsepower" out of an engine rated for a few hundred horsepower, or "I know how to squeeze a few more megawatts" out of power reactors which produce hundreds of megawatts or just over a gigawatt, but you generally won't expect to hear someone get the units completely out of proportion, eg- "I know how to squeeze a few more kilowatts" out of a gigawatt-class nuclear reactor. That kind of fluctuation would be insignificant.

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