Flame on! Spacebattles.com Babies #2 Flame on!

Chris O'Farrell and Gothmog

Written: 2001.11.28

Every now and then, somebody sends me a link to some spacebattles.com debate which is raging over something I've said. For the most part, I don't have time to investigate these matters. I've seen the calibre of Star Trek vs Star Wars debate on spacebattles.com, and while I'm sure there is some intelligent life there, the most vocal and well-known of its Trek debaters have never given any cause to believe they might have anything interesting to say.

However, I was home sick one day and Ted Collins sent me a link to a criticism of my updated "frequency myths" discussion which popped up almost immediately after I posted it. Having little else to do at the time, I checked it out.

Remember to check out the frequency myths discussion in question before reading through the rest of this E-mail, or it may not make any sense. Also be on the lookout for the following popular Trekkie deceptive debating techniques:

  1. Spell it out for me. If something is not spelled out in excruciatingly explicit dialogue, then it must not be happening no matter how much sense it makes.

  2. Physics Escape Clause. This is the Holy Grail of Trek debaters: find some way to escape the bounds of logic and physics, usually by invoking meaningless technobabble involving subspace. This tactic is a perennial newsgroup favourite: look for an excuse, any excuse to escape realistic science and replace it with meaningless technobabble. This tactic plays to their strengths (mindless rote memorization of Trekkie dialogue and the Technical Manuals) and away from their weaknesses (glaring ignorance of real-life science, history, and logic).

  3. Red herring. This is actually a type of logical fallacy, in which somebody brings up a point which is either completely irrelevant, or directed toward a minor aspect of your position in an attempt to distract from the main thrust of your argument (also known as "nitpicking"). For example, I might say that from basic wave principles, we know that frequency matching can't possible work without phase coherence, to which a Trekkie might reply "ah, but you ignore the fact that this is a subspace frequency", which does not address the point at all. The purpose of the red herring is to evade an argument by changing the subject.

All of the following posts were made on the morning of November 28, 2001, almost immediately after I posted the article in question. The first fusillade of stupidity came from a guy named Chris O'Farrel. I'm told he is a rather prolific poster in the Star Wars vs Star Trek debates, although if the following post is any indication, I suspect he falls into the "quantity over quality" camp:

Chris O'Farrell:
Sure it is. Of course it does not explain anything about the fact that ST frequencies have NOTHING to do with EM requencies by the simple fact that by MATCHING frequencies and not setting to the INSERVE [Editor's note: I assume this word is supposed to be "inverse"] is how its cancled out in trek, which is simply impossible for EM bassed frequencies....

Fascinating, isn't it? Both tactics #1 and #2 are in use: he seems to think that because no one on Star Trek specifically states onscreen that they're setting a phase angle of 180 degrees in order to cancel out their enemy's shield, the phase angle must be 0. He then uses this "spell it out for me" reasoning to conclude that Star Trek frequencies must ignore the rules which apply to "EM-based frequencies" (there's his "physics escape clause"), as if "EM-based frequencies" are a special kind of frequency. In reality, the basic principle of wave cancellation is universal to all wave phenomena, and is hardly limited to EM. Moreover, I had never even suggested that we were talking about electromagnetic phenomena anyway! All we know is that the shields exhibit coherent wave properties, and that is enough for the conclusions I draw.

Frequency is a basic concept; there are different waveforms, and different kinds of oscillations, but make no mistake: frequency (in a physics context) always refers to some kind of wave oscillation. For a phaser to penetrate a shield thanks to frequency matching, both must be coherent wave phenomena (which means that it won't work unless both the shields and weapons have been specifically designed in such a manner as to make it possible, thus destroying Trekkie claims about how it should be assumed to work on everybody). There is no flexibility or ambiguity whatsoever about this, and it doesn't matter what kind of oscillation it is. His style of mentally deficient reasoning is typical of the Trekkie "escape clause" mentality: they don't know anything about the physics in question, so they seek some kind of flimsy excuse in order to declare all of it null and void. Like Peter Pan, they want to live without rules.

His brand of reasoning is eerily familiar to me, since I deal with scientifically ignorant creationists on a regular basis. They employ the same tactics: try to generate some kind of minor incongruity (usually by demanding particular forms of evidence that don't exist, and ignoring logical deductions from the evidence that does exist), and then use it as an excuse to dismiss entire fields of science.

Someone else noticed the obvious weakness in his "spell it out for me" argument and pointed it out:


Shortie:
Of course, matching could simply be verbal shorthand for matching the frequency and inverting it. His comments seem pretty valid to me, any other ways to disprove them?

Naturally, our Trekkie friend will respond with more "spell it out for me" reasoning, namely some recitation of Trekkie dialogue which does not spell it out for him, followed by the triumphant declaration: "see? They didn't spell it out for me!"

Chris O'Farrell:
Right. So instead of taking what they say, we say they are saying the exact opposite?

"Their shields are operating on a modulation of 257.4"
"Adjust our torpedo frequency to match, 257.4"
"Match their shield modulations and fire"
"They are continualy matching their weapons modulation to our shield modulation"
E.T.C.

Its clear they are MATCHING them not going to the inverse. I think its safe to take them at there word.

Notice how he tries to make it seem as if we wouldn't be taking them at their word if we don't interpret the dialogue his way. He bases this conclusion on the phrase "match their shield modulations", which he takes to mean "match their frequency and amplitude, and set a phase angle of zero degrees". I'm not sure how all of those extra words appear in his brain, but Trekkie reasoning has always been a bit difficult to follow. In reality, "modulation" merely refers to adjustment of a waveform, and that adjustment can involve frequency, amplitude, phase, or any combination of the three (for example, FM radio is "frequency modulation" and AM radio is "amplitude modulation"). In other words, "shield modulation" is far too vague to come to any concrete conclusions, and it is certainly inadequate to nullify all of wave mechanics, so he can't use it for his treasured escape clause. Too bad, Peter Pan. I guess you'll have to live under the rules of the Big People for a little while longer.

At this point, Robert Mercer (aka Gothmog) stepped in. I'm told he is held in high regard by the Trekkie contingent on spacebattles.com, and that for months now, he's been accusing me of various forms of dishonesty. As we step through this person's bizarre arguments, I can only wonder how the admissions requirements for spacebattles.com Master Trekkie can be so low that this guy qualifies. Is it really true that he's highly regarded? If so, I shudder to imagine what other sort of drivel permeates their Trek-related boards.


Gothmog:

Just some thoughts regarding the material:

What does phase coherency have to do with phasers? Phaser stands for PHASed Energy Rectification (the process by which the beam is created), and doesn't have anything directly to do with phase coherency.... particularly since the beam is a particle beam, not a laser.

If you look at my page, I describe phase coherency as a necessity for wave cancellation, which it most certainly is. He tries to contradict this with ... science? Logic? No, of course not; he uses a quote from the TM (and one which does not even specifically address the question of whether phasers are phase coherent!). A classic example of the red herring.

So why do Star Trek shields oscillate at a fixed frequency? Do they oscillate at a fixed fequency.... and what type of frequency is it?

I love this part. Almost immediately after someone else posts a quote in which a shield frequency of 247.5 MHz is explicitly mentioned in dialogue, he asks "do they oscillate at a fixed frequency?" Some Trekkies demand that you spell it out for them while others are just plain deaf, and this guy is obviously tending toward the latter. But the best part is his followup: "what type of frequency is it"? He must subscribe to Chris O'Farrell's bizarre notion that there's something unusual about the electromagnetic implementation of "frequency".

It doesn't appear to be an EM frequency (since the shields are not comprised of EM energy, but consist of gravitons suspended in a subspace field), nor does it appear to be a physical oscillation (in that the deflector alternates between being present and not being present).

Notice how he tries to mimic the writing style of objective analysis, but not its methods. For example, he flatly denies that the wave oscillates between a zero-condition and a full-amplitude condition (ie- on and off) but he makes no attempt whatsoever to explain why we should reject this possibility. He also denies that they are an EM phenomenon (as if I had claimed that they were), not with analysis, but with technobabble lifted from the TM.

This is clearly a young man who sleeps with the Star Trek Technical Manual under his pillow. "Gravitons suspended in a subspace field"? Yet another generous load of pseudoscientific technobabble crap dumped onto the Internet by a Trekkie. It is abundantly clear to any half-sentient observer that Star Trek shields cannot possibly be gravitic distortions, for the simple reason that we cannot see any distortion! Does he think that gravity wells differentiate between visible light frequencies and gamma radiation when influencing them? Does he think that gravity will ignore one while making the other bounce off?

Notice the refusal to employ an objective, rational approach. We have seen the shields in action, and their behaviour is not consistent with a gravitational distortion. Does he care about this? No, of course not. He has quotes from the TM, and that overrides anything as silly as direct observation. Creationists have their Bible, and Trekkie fanatics have their TM. In both cases, they are unwilling to question the contents of their preferred "holy books", even if they are blatantly contradicted by direct observation.

This is hardly a distinguished beginning to Gothmog's argument: first he fails to recognize that 247.5MHz would be an example of a fixed shield frequency (perhaps it would sink in if an onscreen character stopped in mid-sentence, pointed at the screen, and said "please set a fixed frequency of 247.5MHz"). Then, he goes on to demonstrate that he is employing a theological approach to Star Trek (worship the TM, ignore direct observation). Does it get better? Keep on reading, my friends.

Also note that the existence of the gravitonic component of the shield is (IIRC) not really subject to question--if you read the shield display panel we see in Generations, generated shield strength is displayed in MW of gravitons--thus we have a canonical reference to shield composition.

Somebody please get me a screenshot of this. Shield strength is measured in megawatts of gravitons? What a hoot!

Let's assume for the moment that he's telling the truth, and there really is a display somewhere in the movie that shows shield strength in units of "MW of gravitons". Are we supposed to believe that a few megawatts worth of gravitons would produce a gravitational distortion which dwarfs that of a neutron star, and which can reflect incoming electromagnetic radiation whereas a star would only bend it by a fraction of a degree? Does it occur to him that gravitons are theorized to have wave properties in normal space, despite his claim that shields do not? It's always a bad sign when someone can't keep his own arguments from contradicting each other. And finally, is he likely to recognize that gravity does not distinguish between visible light and gamma radiation, hence eliminating the possibility that shields are a gravitational distortion? Unfortunately, all of this is undoubtedly beyond him, since it wasn't written out explicitly in the TM.

As amusing as all of this is, the best parts are yet to come:

Case in point: With a frequency of 247.5 MHz, the shield is supposedly oscillating on and off at a rate of 247.5e6 times a second. We then introduce an object such as a torpedo (a physical object of set dimensions--roughly 2 meters long).... in order to get through the shield unimpeded, the torpedo essentially has to pass through the shield interface rapidly enough that it doesn't get caught in the shield as it cycles (which means that you have a time period of 1/247,500,000 second to get through. In order to pass through the shield within this time period, the torp needs a minimum velocity of 4.95e8 mps (gee, too bad this is somewhat faster than c). Thus, at this frequenct modulation, it appears highly unlikely that any physical object could pass through the shield interface (I am, of course, oversimplifying this a great deal).

The above also ignore the point that the frequency of the torpedo (whatever frequency this might happen to be--its certainly not an EM frequency, as we are dealing with a physical object) has been adjusted in order to allow the torpedio to pass through.

In other words, if the shield is strictly a normal space phenomenon which oscillates on and off (leaving a potential period of time when shield strength is effectively zero), there would be no need to adjust the frequency (and, again, whatt frequency is this, exactly) of a physical object (such as a torpedo) to get through the shield interface--and it would not be possible for a non-superluminal object to pass through in the potential time period, anyway (i.e. the rate of modulation is such that the shield is effectively always present).

Ah, what a predicament! A torpedo is too big to pass through a shield between oscillations; whatever are we to do? This is unsolvable ... unless, of course, one simply reads the part of my page where I said:

The same applies to torpedoes; they must incorporate some kind of device to locally neutralize an area of the shield on their way out, and it would presumably do so by producing a small mini-shield at 180 degrees out of phase to the main shield, to cancel out a small hole (this would explain how the Klingons fired through the Enterprise-D's shield in Star Trek: Generations, and it would also explain how Borg drones can walk through Federation forcefields).

Why does he ignore this, even though he's read my page in such detail that he quotes entire sections of it in his next argument? Because he wants to generate an incongruity at any cost (we're back to creationist tactics again), and he's obviously not above deliberately ignoring resolutions of that incongruity even when they're shoved in his face. Obviously, a 2 metre long physical torpedo cannot fit within the wavelength of the shield, nor should we expect it to. But photon torpedoes obviously incorporate some kind of low-level shielding device, hence their ability to burrow underground and into the photospheres of stars. And we know from Borg drone behaviour that a shield can be used to cancel out a hole in another, so it's really only a matter of putting two and two together, to conclude that torpedoes simply cancel their way through a shield on the way out through the use of a small onboard shield generator.

Unfortunately, the addition of two and two is not explicitly mentioned in the TM.

The frequency of shields appears to be strongly related to subspace field frequency. Subspace field frequency plays several roles in warp drive physics (and the fact that shields inetrfere with warp field formation and geometry indicates that it is the subspace component of the shield that plays a role here)--i.e. the higher the drive field frequency, the faster the ship goes (FTL).

More meaningless technobabble. He can blather on about subspace fields and other Physics Escape Clauses™ all he likes, and it's clear that he wants to differentiate them as much as possible from "EM frequencies", but how does that change the essential nature of oscillation, frequency, and phase, which are inherent to all wave phenomena? Waves have certain basic characteristics regardless of whether they are electromagnetic waves, sound waves, or ripples in a pond. Not that your typical TM-loving Trekkie fanatic is likely to realize this ...

Oscillation is a weakness, not a strength; if a field oscillates, then this means that its amplitude changes over time, which is not a good thing for a defensive system. In an AC-powered electromagnet, the magnetic field fluctuates between +B and -B, so there are finite moments when its field strength is zero!. In theory, a constant bombardment of energy would achieve some penetration of an oscillating shield regardless of whether it's at full strength or not. This would explain why Star Trek ships start taking damage before their shields fail, and it would also help explain the usefulness of "multi-phasic shields" (as well as the fact that they aren't used in battle1). It might be reflected when the shield is at its peaks, but it will get through during the valleys.

So again, why would they do this? It sounds like a bad idea all around, and there is only one reasonable answer: it's because they must shoot through their own shields. In the TNG era, the ship uses a one-piece shield (an ellipsoid bubble which surrounds the ship). They can vary its size and shape, but they do not appear to have the ability to open small holes in it. The whole thing is either up, or it's down. So when they fire phasers or torpedoes, what are they to do? Their shields are not uni-directional (we've known since TOS that they can't transport in or out of a ship with its shields up), so they need some way of blocking incoming fire while allowing outgoing fire to leave unimpeded. Their shields are not uni-directional (we've known since TOS that they can't transport in or out of a ship with its shields up), so they need some way of blocking incoming fire while allowing outgoing fire to leave unimpeded."

Actually shields ARE stated to be uni-directional--at least according to the TMs. There is some interference on the outgoing path (which accounts for the inability to transport through a shield from the inside due to signal degradation) and torpedoes are routinely fired without reference to dropping the shields to do so (and again, the modulation is such that the rate is too rapid to allow a physical object to pass through).

Again we hear about how his Holy Scriptures override science and logic and direct observation, and again we hear about the unsolvable false dilemma he has created with his deliberate refusal to acknowledge the part of my page where I discussed torpedoes. I have heard that this guy is popular with his crowd, and I can only ask: "What crowd is that? Children? Mental patients?"

The fact that they can neither transport in or out with shields up is but one of many pieces of evidence for the bidirectionality of shields. I had refrained from listing more examples for the sake of brevity, but just off the top of my head, there is also the fact that security forcefields must be briefly dropped in order for a crewman to enter a detention cell (which means that they keep the prisoner in and the jailer out at the same time), not to mention the fact that Sisko's stolen Jem'Hadar ship was trapped inside a Jem'Hadar storage depot's shields in "A Time to Stand". What is it about Trekkies that makes them summarily ignore the first piece of evidence you present, thus forcing you to list more and more examples ad infinitum?

Theoretically, a continuous beam will impart part of its energy through an oscillating shield... but the amount per unit time would be miniscule (if you have a 1 TW continuous beam, for example, only about 4 kW is getting through)

WavetrainNow this is rather interesting, isn't it? He comes up with a number, but he provides no justification whatsoever! Precisely how does he conclude that only 4 kW of a 1 TW continuous beam would pass through an oscillating shield? Let us examine a sinusoidal wave, as shown in one of the images on the page in question (at right).

It doesn't take a genius to see that there's just as much area above the line as there is below it. Therefore, a totally incoherent weapon whose power level is identical to the shield's peak value would achieve 50% penetration. Even one that is only one tenth of the shield's peak value should achieve 6% penetration, so how does he come up with 4 kW from 1 TW? That's only 0.0000004%! He "accidentally" forgets to explain the origin of this number, so I guess we're expected to take it on faith.

.. and such a weakness would be essentially no weakness in regard to physically based, low velocity weapons such as TLs.

Notice the subject change. If you look at my original page, it was not concerned with the question of whether turbolasers would penetrate Federation shields. Its only purpose was to debunk common myths about the nature of resonance, phase, frequency, and the basic principles of wave cancellation. I was debunking the common Trekkie myth that they can punch through anybody's shields by matching frequencies, when in reality, frequency matching can only work if the shield has been specifically designed in such a manner as to make it possible (ie- phase and frequency coherent).

This is the funniest thing about his "rebuttal", because it utterly fails to address the point I was making. Instead, he runs off on some meaningless tangent, obviously under the impression that I'm trying to concoct some all-encompassing theory of Federation shield operation, and that he can provide a better one. At no point does he address the simple point that frequency cancellation, resonance etc. are not universal, and that they only occur in very specific conditions, therefore Trekkies should stop applying them to the technology of other sci-fi series such as Star Wars. By virtue of being a completely irrelevant red herring, his rebuttal is doomed to failure before it begins.

Nevertheless, like most Trekkie fanatic arguments, the fact that it is utterly pointless and misdirected should not dissuade us from picking it apart and then making fun of its author's glaring incompetence. So, without further ado, on to the mockery!

Such a phenomenon is just as easily explained by the fact that the shield is, indeed, a deflector--that is, it spreads the beam cross-section, reducing the intensity of the weapon impact below the threshold necessary to significantly damage the ship (or deflecting it to the extent that the weapon misses).

At this point, he tries to explain away the fact that ships take damage even when their shields are up, by arguing that they don't fully block anything, but rather, they act as a sort of refractive device. And while we could debate about that (since the visual effects fail to back it up), it completely fails to explain the phenomenon of shield penetration due to frequency matching, which is the entire raison d'être for my argument. Can you say "red herring", boys and girls? Who cares whether it reflects or refracts, and how does that have anything to do with the point I made?

As seems usual, Mr Wong has selected the particular interpretation of data that best suits his predilection (and which does not necessarily address the totality of the evidence--or which he does not treat in sufficient breadth/depth to address the totality of the evidence), ignoring alternatives, in order to trumpet the superiority of his setting of choice

People have been E-mailing me snippers of text like this from "Gothmog" for months now, always in the same dismissive tone, and always with the same subtle accusations of dishonesty. Naturally, he has never actually E-mailed me directly with any of these accusations; it's apparently much easier to preach to the choir.

He is still acting as though my page was an attempt to explain how shields work, rather than an attempt to debunk a foolish Trekkie myth. Is he trying to goad me into updating my long-neglected Shields page? Why is it that Trekkies always think everything revolves around Star Trek? In every "vs" discussion, it doesn't take long before Star Trek hijacks the entire discussion. The question of specific Star Wars (or Babylon 5, or Macross, or whatever) capabilities gets quickly buried under an avalanche of trivia about how shields work, the difference between quantum and photon torpedoes, the importance of multi-phasic shields, yadda yadda yadda. It never takes long before you find that you're not talking about your own sci-fi series at all, because you've been sucked into the trap of arguing endlessly about the technobabble minutae of Star Trek. Trekkies are like the proverbial black hole that way; they relentlessly draw passerby and curious unlookers into their world of Trek trivia.

In this case, I showed that shield resonance and frequency matching should not be applied to anyone but Star Trek, and he takes this as an attempt to promote my "particular interpretation" of Trek shields. How's he going to respond? If you guessed "Wall of Technobabble™", you'd be right.

Alternative explanation:
This explanation is based, to a large extent, upon TNG TM material, none of which contradicts observed canonical material in regard to methodology or operation of tactical deflectors.

None of the TM contradicts the films? That's an ... "interesting" claim in light of its explicit declaration that the ship's entire phaser array has a power output equivalent to the combustion of less than 5 gallons of gasoline per second. Now it's time for him to start building his Wall of Technobabble™ in earnest.

Tactical deflectors essentially act upon the momentum of incoming objects/energies. The higher the momentum of the incoming object/energy, the greater the likelihood of the object/energy penetrating the shield.

A simple analogy (rubber sheet analogy): Imagine space-time as a rubbet sheet, the topology of that sheet determined by the gravitational forces present in specific locales--a black hole, for example, creates a severe depression in the sheet, which attracts objects (and from whiich objects cannot normally escape). The combination of the subspace field and graviton fields that comprise the standard UFP tactical deflector create something that is effectively the reverse of the black hole phenomenon (since ST can polarize gravitons.. that is, the gravity gradients they create are directional)--that is, a "bump" is created in the rubber sheet of space-time. In order to affect an object within this "bump" the incoming object/energy must have sufficient momentum to climb the bump and make it to the interior. Those energies/objects which lack suffcient momentum are deflected around/away from the shielded object.

Wow, did you get all of that? This guy must be a certified genius! There's no other explanation for his ability to take a simple idea like "a shield is an anti-gravity wall" and expand it into a two-paragraph Wall of Technobabble™, is there? Notice how he has no explanation for why the shield would permit visible light through while blocking high-energy gamma radiation. He also has no explanation for why Federation shields are less effective on physical objects than massless photons, when the reverse should be true for a gravitic system. And of course, he makes no attempt to explain what a "polarized graviton" is, since gravitons (like photons) are massless, chargeless particles which have no dipole to polarize (but I assume that he'll try to generate an explanation using the magic "subspace" word (I hear that in Trekkie-land, "subspace" is more powerful than "abracadabra" or even "beatlejuice").

Subspace field frequency plays a particular role in this process. With respect to the deflector, the greater the frequency, the greater the shield strength (against non-subspace phased objects/energies).. thus (for example), in order to block high energy cosmic radiation, you need to increase the subspace field frequency above that which is needed to deflect lower energy EM radiation. The graviton field strength of the shield, itself, remains constant within particular bounds (the limits of the generators), the gravitic strength of the shield beiong amplified by the subspace field frequency modulation.

I love the way he describes technobabble as fact. So frequency defines nothing but the strength of the shield, eh? Could someone explain to me, then, why they don't simply run it at the highest possible frequency all the time? Would they have to run at 80% of maximum shield strength in order to drop the shield frequency by 20%? And how would this permit phasers and torpedoes to pass through? More importantly, what precisely is oscillating? If the shields have a frequency, then something must be oscillating! Frequency, phase, harmonics, and resonance (all of which come from wave mechanics, and all of which we've heard on the show with respect to shields) are not just meaningless technobabble terms like "subspace". They have a specific meaning which he is deliberately ignoring. Is this deception, or is it ignorance? Who knows?

Phased objects (such as subspace-phased NDF weaponry or torpedoes with subspace drive fields) can be modulated to match (and not match the inverse) of the shield frequency. This effectively puts them on level ground with the graviton field contained within the shield, reducing/eliminating the amplification effect provided by the subspace field of the shield--allowing the energy/torpedo to pass through the shield.

Lovely, isn't it? He can't explain what's happening, so he simply mumbles a lot of meaningless technobabble about how phasers and torpedoes are "subspace-phased", that they can be "modulated to match" the shield frequency, and that this will magically make them pass through without hindrance because it "puts them on level ground with the graviton field". Of course, if it put them on level ground with the graviton field, they would be affected by that graviton field and they would be repulsed, and if they were "subspace-phased", then they would pass straight through ordinary matter as per the Pegasus, but these are minor details in an otherwise flawless theory, right?

Are you impressed yet? Sure, he has no explanation for what it means to be "subspace-phased", even though phasers and photon torpedoes obviously interact with all manner of normal inert matter. And sure, he has no explanation for the importance of frequency matching if, as he says, the frequency of the shield has no significance apart from shield strength, even though the need for frequency matching absolutely screams for a wave mechanics explanation. And sure, he can't explain what's oscillating, what could generate "resonances", and what "shield harmonics" might be in the absence of a standing wave as I've described. But he's got an alternate theory, and it's so much better than mine because ... because ... oh yeah, because it protects the impenetrable Wall of Technobabble™ escape clause that Trekkie fanatics have become dependent on. Damn that Mike Wong ... trying to use plain English and meaningful wave mechanics against Trekkies who are safely protected by an impenetrable Wall of Technobabble™!

Because of the polarized nature of the shield, energy from the interior can pass through to the exterior, although there is some interference at the shield interface (due to the effects of the graviton field) that preclude activities such as transporter activity through active shield boundaries.

Interesting technique, isn't it? Instead of producing a shred of evidence to support his "polarized graviton" idea (plain english version: one-directional shield), he simply considers it a fait accompli and lists its ramifications. Exceptions to the rule are dismissed with vague mumblings about "interference at the shield interface". Wow, if the rest of us could only think as coherently as this guy ... we'd be screwed.

If total shield subspace energy increases enough to cross the 1 cochrane warp threshold, the ship effectively ceases to exist, in many respects, in relation to normal 4-space (as it transitions to subspace)--but contemporary shields appear to be unable to operate at this power level (although this is a potential mode of operation for things such as cloaking devices--which also explains the high power requirements for such devices).

The above is a very simplified explanation, but should be enough to convey the essence of the concepts.

Yadda yadda yadda. Let's condense his Wall of Technobabble™ into plain English: "Shields are anti-gravity devices. Frequency controls the strength of the shield but it has no other real effect. Nothing is oscillating in any way that would permit interaction or variability of shield characteristics over time. Phasers and photon torpedoes can pass through when they match frequencies not because of wave mechanics, but because they're subspace-phased and ... uuhhh ... that makes them ... ummm ... something to do with gravitons .... aaaahhh ... hmmmmm ... so they can pass through! Yeah, that's it!"

And this makes more sense to him than "Let's apply basic wave mechanics principles to Star Trek, just as they apply to everything else"? What else are we supposed to infer from the existence of "shield harmonics", as described on the show, not to mention a host of other phenomena that are all consistent with wave mechanics? Does the term "Occam's Razor" mean anything to a person who spends his entire online career hiding behind a Wall of Technobabble™? Why add unexplained, unobservable technobabble mechanisms when a simple principle from real science generates predictions which match observation quite nicely, has been tested in real life, and is mathematically obvious? I guess someone will have to ask Gothmog that question for me.


I'm sure these guys will be upset about being on this page, and they'll fill up the board with more of their usual hooting and hollering, cries of outrage, and Walls of Technobabble™. All I can say is: if this was the best they could do, then I'm not exactly going to worry about it.


Next page

Click here to return to the main Hate Mail page.



Valid HTML 4.01!Valid CSS!This website is owned and maintained by Michael Wong
This site is not affiliated with Lucasfilm or Paramount
All associated materials are used under "Fair Use" provisions of copyright law.
All original content by Michael Wong is copyrighted © 1998,2004.
Click here to go to the main page