Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 1 to 4 of 4 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2018-05-22

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TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

PICARD: My superintendent was a Betazoid -- a full telepath. When he called you into his office, he didn't have to ask what you'd done.

Culture: Betazoids have been employed as Starfleet Academy superintendants, with full authorization to perform telepathic violations of cadets without permission.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

SATELK: This image was recorded when your ships moved briefly into the satellite's sensor range. According to the time index, what you see on the monitor took place seven seconds after Nova Squadron completed the Yeager loop.

Sensors: Wesley and the others were performing a maneuver near Titan, and their movements weren't tracked. This does not speak highly of the defense systems in the solar system, if a half-dozen spacecraft can perform maneuvers which are undetected apart from a chance snapshot from a satellite.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

DATA: We did find that Wesley had opened his coolant interlock just before beginning the maneuver around Titan.


DATA: That procedure would be extremely hazardous while the ship was in flight.

GEORDI: Yeah, the engine would probably ignite the plasma.

Realism: "ignite" the plasma? Let's get a few things straight: "ignition" requires an exothermic chain reaction. There are only two exothermic reactions that can occur in plasma: nuclear fusion and combustion. Both can only occur under very specialized conditions:

  1. Nuclear fusion can only occur when the plasma is confined and subjected to extreme temperature and pressure. It can't possibly occur when the plasma is vented out into space, under near-zero pressure conditions.
  2. Combustion can only occur in low-temperature plasmas such as those found in the Sun's photosphere (which, contrary to expectation, are mostly composed of hydrogen gas rather than fully ionized particles). But it also requires two more ingredients: oxygen and pressure. Not as much pressure as nuclear fusion demands, but some pressure nonetheless, or the atoms will be far too widely dispersed for the chain reaction to occur. In short, with no oxygen and no pressure, combustion just ain't gonna happen.
The plasma burned brightly, yet it failed to satisfy the conditions for nuclear fusion or combustion. A truly horrendous realism problem.

TNG Season 5, Ep# 119: "The First Duty"

PICARD: The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth... be it scientific truth, historical truth, or personal truth. It is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based.

Culture: Picard's self-important speech drips with irony. He bellows that the first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, and makes a point of mentioning historical truth.

But in the very next sentence, he goes on to state that it is the guiding principle upon which Starfleet is based, when that is totally untrue. The primary goal of Starfleet is the same as that of any other military organization: to defend the state. It may have other peacetime obligations, but the fact of the matter is that when the call to arms is heard, Starfleet drops everything else and responds immediately. That is how you know what their true "prime directive" is.

A soldier's job is not to champion the truth; that's the province of ethical historians and philosophers. The soldier's job is to safeguard his nation. The truth is a very minor casualty if its sacrifice will save a nation, and the historical conduct of the world's militaries is anything but the search for truth.

Picard is an ivory tower intellectual; his mind is full of lofty ideals, but he's got his nose so far up in the clouds that he can't see whether he's about to walk off a cliff. As a debate team captain or cocktail-party conversationalist, the man would be outstanding. But as the man entrusted with the defense of his nation and the safety of his ship, he's a loose cannon, and he's got his priorities completely wrong.

Wesley did the wrong thing, but not because he betrayed some lofty principles about defending the truth at all times. He did the wrong thing because he violated regulations by attempting the banned Kolvoord Starburst, and then he disobeyed a direct order by giving false testimony to the inquiry despite his oath not to do so. An all-consuming obsession with the truth may not be necessary in a soldier, but adherence to regulations and obedience of direct orders certainly is.

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