Star Trek Canon Database

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Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-04-16

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VOY Season 3, Ep# 69: "Scorpion Part II"

TUVOK: We could encase the nanoprobes in some of our photon torpedoes; in essence, turn them into bio-molecular warheads.

7 of 9: Your torpedoes are inadequate. They lack the necessary range and dispursive force.

JANEWAY: Do you have a better idea?

7 of 9: We are Borg


(shows graphical display of a Borg scout ship similar to that seen in "Descent", which will presumably be jury-rigged into a giant bomb)


A multikinetic neutronic mine. Five million isotons yield.

TUVOK: An explosion that size could affect an entire star system.

7 of 9: Correct. The shockwave will disperse the nanoprobes over a radius of 5 light years.

The Borg: they need to stop Species 8472 in a matter of weeks; how can any weapon possibly affect a 5 light-year wide area quickly enough, since even an infinitely powerful explosion cannot possibly accelerate debris beyond c?

Tuvok seems to feel that this explosion would "affect" an entire star system, but what does that mean? The Praxis explosion affected an area so large that it extended beyond the Klingon Neutral Zone into Federation space (at superluminal speeds, thus satisfying the Borg requirements in this situation), yet Quo'nos, despite being far closer, suffered only the loss of its ozone layer; not exactly an apocalyptic event. Obviously, it is not a simple matter of explosive force.

According to 7 of 9, this mine would disperse nanoprobes over a 5 light year wide area with its "shockwave". This shockwave must be similar to the superluminal subspace shockwave seen in ST6, but on a smaller scale. In short, this mine was apparently designed to hurl its payload outward at superluminal speeds in order to quickly saturate a large area. Its destructive power in normal space would presumably be poor (just as it was for the Praxis blast), since all of its energy is going into "subspace".

VOY Season 3, Ep# 69: "Scorpion Part II"

7 OF 9: Correct. The shockwave will disperse the nanoprobes over a radius of 5 light years.


TUVOK: We'd need approximately 50 trillion nanoprobes to arm this mine.

Realism: Tuvok's mathematical skills are woefully lacking, since his nanoprobe count is hopelessly inadequate. In fact, it is out by many orders of magnitude; in order to have a 50% chance of hitting a 1 km wide target at 5 light years radius, you would actually need 1.4E28 nanoprobes (280 trillion times Tuvok's figure). This astounding mistake can simply be chalked up to the Voyager crew's well-known record of staggering mathematical and scientific incompetence, but frankly, it's just an all-around shitty piece of writing.

Even if we accept that it can actually hurl nanoprobes 5 light years at superluminal speed (we'll obviously have to resort to technobabble "subspace" shockwaves), how useful would these probes be? A 10 light year wide sphere is 9.46E16 m wide, so its surface area is roughly 2.81E34 m². 50 trillion nanoprobes dispersed over a sphere with 2.81E34 m² surface area would be one nanoprobe for every 5.6E20 m². In other words, this mine would have less than a 1 in 4 million chance of hitting an entire Earth-sized planet with just one lousy nanoprobe, never mind saturating relatively tiny bio-ships with them.

Thanks to R. Fuller for noticing that the 5 light year figure was described as a radius and not a diameter.

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