Jim, I'm a doctor, not a designer
January 15, 2015 6:13 AM   Subscribe

 
Even space hippies managed to take over the Enterprise.

I reach!
posted by thelonius at 6:15 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also the cameras are not very well stabilized
posted by oulipian at 6:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


In the 60s, space hippies basically took over everything, from campus president's offices to alternative newsweeklies to grocery stores (which they reduvved coops) to Hollywood, so the Enterprise was probably no real challenge for them.
posted by maxsparber at 6:26 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's true. My parents were space hippies.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:31 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Status: CLOSED
Whiteboard:
Keywords:
Product: Enterprise NCC-1701 (show info)
Component: Engineering (show other bugs) (show info)
Version: Trunk
Platform: Constitution Class
Importance: -- normal (vote)
Target Milestone:
Assigned To: scott
QA Contact: spock
Mentors:
URL:
Depends on:
Blocks:
Show dependency tree / graph

Montgomery Scott SD 4657.5:

Requirements problem, not an implementation issue. When we built these ships, we were told they'd be vehicles of exploration, not war. If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a wagon.
posted by Poldo at 6:39 AM on January 15, 2015 [39 favorites]


Steppin' out to eden,
Yeah brother.
Steppin' out to eden,
Yeah brother.
No more trouble
In my body or my mind.
Goin' to live like a king
On whatever I find.
Eat all the fruit
And throw away the rind.
Yeah brother.

posted by fairmettle at 6:40 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


The Way to Eden is greatly helped by a masterstroke of casting: Charles Napier as Adam. It was one of his very first speaking roles, so audiences wouldn't have superimposed decades of Napierness onto it -- the lantern-jaw, bullying good-old-boy he typically played -- but, man, it was already there. He seemed less like a genuine hippie than a high school football player who had found a clever con, and so everything about him was immediately suspect. So much more so now, especially if you've seen his work in Russ Meyers films, where Meyers caught that whiff of muscled entitlement and made it psychotic.
posted by maxsparber at 6:48 AM on January 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


If they really wanted to be realistic, they'd show artificial gravity turning off now and again, and consoles shutting down instead of exploding.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:51 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


On the plus side the bowling alley is really handy.
posted by Artw at 6:56 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Star Trek Affronts to Engineering: "Ladies and gentlemen, Star Trek engineering is idiot engineering. If real-life technology were routinely designed this way, we would be extinct. The writers of Star Trek may wax poetic about their renowned chief engineers, but the way the ship is designed, their engineers must be morons. Worst of all, this flying disaster-in-waiting is supposedly the product of the finest engineers the Federation has to offer."
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:56 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was utterly confused by the phrase "beautiful women without midriffs". Is he talking about some sort of Rayman-esque alien, or was there a malfunction in the green screen oscillator?
posted by pipeski at 7:00 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Problems with problems?

Number 10 - Separate phaser firing rooms

Right, so as they point out, it pretty much only shows up once. So that in itself isn't a big deal, but the obvious point was that the writers were pretty much thinking of the battleships of old where artillery was fired from a separate room than the bridge. Depending on the ship, this was probably true for quite a while into the 20th Century.

Number 9 - No Seat Belts

Has anyone ever been to a bridge of a battleship? Honestly, I haven't, but in photos I've seen I've never seen a seat belt. Things get bolted down except peoples. Besides, the ship is not expected to routinely run into forces that bang it around so much as we see in the tv show.

Number 8 - Consoles blowing up

Eh. You could argue that within normal operations the consoles are designed just fine, but obviously, 23rd Century wiring leaves a lot to be desired.

Number 7 - Bridge Isolation

This is pretty much true for most designs of ships of any type?

Number 6 - One Transporter Room

In at least one of the examples given about people being trapped, I'm pretty sure there was a reason given why the shuttles couldn't be used. The Transporter is one of the technological marvels of the ship, surely that doesn't come cheap.

Number 5 - Easy access to Main Engineering

The Enterprise, for as much as she's attacked and assaulted all the time, is really a vessel of discovery and exploration. One doubt that the designer of the ship took into account how to safe guard the engine. Granted, by the Enterprise D, it seems like Engineering was a bit more secure.

Number 4 - Self-Destruct Mechanism is TOO loud.

Seriously, how often are Starship captains instructed, "When you get into this situation and you want to blow up your enemy by blowing up YOUR SHIP, here's what you do." C'mon, this is like complaining the Enterprise should be painted black, obviously, so it's less easy a visible target.

Number 3 - Easy to Blow Up

Meh. You're working with a power source that can literally provide energy to break our current laws of physics, by slinging a ship faster than light. The trade off is a system that is vulnerable when the ship is beaten to hell, which happens a fair amount.

Number 2 - Bridge is Easy Target

Again, unless you were on a submarine, every bridge is an easy target. This was modified later with the introduction of a battle bridge which is buried deep in the ship, But again, the Enterprise is not supposed to be designed completely for war.

Number 1 - Easy to Take Over

All the flaws pointed out here speak to redundancy and probably the belief that once the ship is boarded by individuals who know how to use the consoles in the first place, the game is pretty much over. It seems more to be a crew problem, as through almost all iterations of the ship, generally the crew fails completely to repulse boarders, and it's usually left to the Captain or a bunch of scrappy kids to retake the ship.

Ten biggest flaws Nitpicks!

A'ight, so this was kind of tongue in cheek.
posted by Atreides at 7:05 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


hen we built these ships, we were told they'd be vehicles of exploration, not war.

Yeah, a lot of this article seems like someone arguing that my house is full of design flaws because the windows are made of easily breakable glass, instead of being titanium squares bristling with knives.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:17 AM on January 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


I think a cigar or submarine shape would be best, so you could present a minimal surface on approach or retreat, and keep your heat sources at the far end, sealing off those segments for fire or contamination control. And Freud would agree.
posted by Brian B. at 7:21 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Atreides: One doubt that the designer of the ship took into account how to safe guard the engine.

But there was at least some safety awareness...didn't James Lileks once post a screenshot of an Enterprise engine room sign stating "No Smoking"?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:25 AM on January 15, 2015


A lot of these flaws^H^H^H^H^Hnits are probably because the design inspiration presumably came from naval ships of the time - where there WERE separate firing rooms, and no seat belts, and the bridge is on top because that's where it IS, and... etc...
posted by scolbath at 7:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Locking down engineering can be dangerous, too. If the core is about to go critical and everyone has been knocked unconscious by the Romulan neuro-inversion device, you'll be grateful that the only unaffected ensign is able to get into engineering and take the it offline.
posted by a dangerous ruin at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Greg Nog: "hen we built these ships, we were told they'd be vehicles of exploration, not war.

Yeah, a lot of this article seems like someone arguing that my house is full of design flaws because the windows are made of easily breakable glass, instead of being titanium squares bristling with knives.
"

Speak for yourself.
posted by Splunge at 7:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm having my knife bristled titanium squares installed this afternoon. Only way to be sure. That, and some space hippies seem to be looking at apartments in the area.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:35 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Are these design flaws or engineering flaws? These sound exactly like problems I expect from a designer's design, and we fix in engineering.
Sadly sets don't often go thru engineering review.
posted by MrBobaFett at 7:37 AM on January 15, 2015


[D]idn't James Lileks once post a screenshot of an Enterprise engine room sign stating "No Smoking"?

Nicolas Meyer put a "No Smoking" sign on the bridge for the first shot of Wrath of Khan, but they made him take it down after that.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a "No Vaping" sign in the next movie.
posted by thecaddy at 7:38 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


"USS Enterprise"?

registry or GTFO
posted by koeselitz at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


On modern US navy warships, fire control (aka phaser control) is usually handled by the Combat Information Center (CIC). So it's not a "bridge" function. In battle, the captain is usually found in CIC, not the bridge.

Modern warships do have lapbelts on the chairs on the bridge, at least in smaller ships that roll around a lot. However, larger surface ships don't, in fact the one I served on had standard rol-around office chairs. Always entertaining in a choppy sea.
posted by disclaimer at 7:43 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Steppin' out to eden...

I get a tear in my eye when I hear this particular poignant song in that scene. The followers of Sevren believe so completely and desperately in his paradisiacal vision, or at least want to believe, that they can taste it. That episode was almost a musical episode way before they came into vogue. Not bad for season 3!
posted by jabah at 7:48 AM on January 15, 2015


If we move to TNG, the biggest engineering flaw with Enterprise-D is clearly the starboard power coupling.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Never mind the lack of seatbelts. What about all the stuff lying around the crew members' rooms? When you see the crew quarters, there's always all kinds of unsecured crap sitting on people's tables and shelves like it's your grandmother's condo in Boca.

It's bad enough you've just been through a hull-searing encounter with the Romulans that killed a bunch of your friends. Now, before you can sleep, you've got to pick up all your crap, reshelve your antique books, clean the spilled oil paint off your terrified cat , krazy-glue your family's bat'leth back together, dry clean your IDIC meditation tapestry, mop up gallons of synthehol, and look under the furniture to see where your flute rolled.

I mean, on TNG you see scientists with entire laboratories of glassware.

Sorry, it's something I think about every time I leave my messy house.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:52 AM on January 15, 2015 [27 favorites]


Nice, but a lot of these boil down to "make it a warship instead of an exploration vessel".
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:53 AM on January 15, 2015


Back around 1979, I saw James Doohan (aka Scotty) speaking at a New York comics convention. Someone in the audience asked him why the Enterprise didn't appear to have any bathrooms, and Doohan replied they had no need of such primitive facilities. When nature called, he explained, crew members simply set their phasers on "disintegrate" and aimed very, very carefully.
posted by Paul Slade at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


It's just a TV show and you should really just relax.

Alternatively, the Enterprise is a machine for story telling and it works pretty much perfectly for that.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Say you're having to abandon ship, and you want to blow it up so nobody else can get hold of it. You might not want to give boarding parties any warning that the ship is going to go boom, right?

I think the priority concern was warning your own crew.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


There's another thing that's probably even worse than all the things listed above: where in the hell are all the bathrooms? Seriously. I can't think of one time I saw a door or something that looked like it might have been to a toilet. Were they expected to hold it for five years?
posted by holborne at 7:54 AM on January 15, 2015


This was modified later with the introduction of a battle bridge which is buried deep in the ship

Only buried when the saucer section and drive section are joined, and the battle bridge is only used when they're not joined, so...

The bridge thing always, always bugged me. Yeah, for TV it looks good, but it makes no practical sense. Then again the shape of the ship itself makes no practical sense. At least on B5 they had giant shield doors for the one small window in C&C.

For my money, the Borg cube is the most practical (command functions buried inside!) and efficient ship that's ever appeared in the ST universe. (And yeah yeah, in the TNG Technical manual they say that the curvy sexiness 'facilitates slippage into warp' something or other but ugh.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:56 AM on January 15, 2015


There's another thing that's probably even worse than all the things listed above: where in the hell are all the bathrooms? Seriously. I can't think of one time I saw a door or something that looked like it might have been to a toilet. Were they expected to hold it for five years?

This is why Starfleet worked so hard to bring the USS Voyager home. It was a humanitarian mission.
posted by PlusDistance at 7:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


For my money, the Borg cube is the most practical

Borg sphere. Enclose the maximum volume with the minimum materials.
posted by Leon at 8:02 AM on January 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


where in the hell are all the bathrooms?

I think the first time that toilets were mentioned specifically in Star Trek was in the Deep Space Nine episode "Explorers" where Ben and Jake Sisko fly a replica of an ancient Bajoran spacefaring vessel:

JAKE: Is this the bathroom?
SISKO: Yes. It was designed for a zero-gravity environment.
JAKE: How am I suppose to? How are you supposed to, er?
SISKO: You'll get the hang of it.


There are also references to Rom working in "waste extraction" once he quits Quark's Bar, which basically means sewage maintenance.

Obligatory References to Voltaire (the singer), who released a Star Trek and Star Wars related album, Biktrektual:
"Poopin' on the Enterprise"
"USS Make Sh*t Up"
posted by dhens at 8:09 AM on January 15, 2015


Honestly, I feel the Chompers are a more problematic part of the design than any of those listed here.
posted by kyrademon at 8:10 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


JAKE: How am I suppose to? How are you supposed to, er?
SISKO: You'll get the hang of it.


Kubrick had that covered.
posted by ogooglebar at 8:17 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


why the Enterprise didn't appear to have any bathrooms

In any civilized culture, the answer would be displacers transporters.
posted by bonehead at 8:21 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I do hope that Scotty informed his superiors about the issues that can arise when small, cooing creatures get into the canteen and violate the sanctity of a chicken sandwich and coffee.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:23 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Has anyone ever been to a bridge of a battleship? Honestly, I haven't, but in photos I've seen I've never seen a seat belt.

A space ship isn't a battleship, though, is it? I mean, saying that they kinda half-assedly copied machines designed to float on Earth's oceans when they were trying to envision a machine designed to fly through space is just giving a reason for the Enterprise's engineering flaws, not mitigating them.
posted by yoink at 8:34 AM on January 15, 2015


There's another thing that's probably even worse than all the things listed above: where in the hell are all the bathrooms? Seriously. I can't think of one time I saw a door or something that looked like it might have been to a toilet. Were they expected to hold it for five years?

I've always assumed that the poop was beamed directly out of people's butts and into space.
posted by alby at 8:35 AM on January 15, 2015


IIRC for the TNG enterprise if you turn just before you go through the turbo lift doors off of the bridge that is where the toilets are. I may have gained this information from an interactive CD-ROM.
posted by Artw at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Number 9 - No Seat Belts

Has anyone ever been to a bridge of a battleship? Honestly, I haven't, but in photos I've seen I've never seen a seat belt. Things get bolted down except peoples. Besides, the ship is not expected to routinely run into forces that bang it around so much as we see in the tv show.


That might be true of battleships, or even of most Federation starships. But it clearly is not true of the Enterprise. Why doesn't Scotty jerry-rig some seatbelts? Why were seatbelts not installed on later versions of the Enterprise, when the need for them would have become apparent from past events?
posted by Anne Neville at 8:37 AM on January 15, 2015


oulipian: "Also the cameras are not very well stabilized"

Okay, I don't know which episode that third clip came from, but I'll assume it's about the crew triggering a time travel paradox while reminiscing about their adventures at starfleet community academy.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:39 AM on January 15, 2015


Dear diary:

I think I'm going to like my assignment. The Starship Enterprise is the flagship of the Federation, and, as such, seems mostly to exist for ceremonial and and scientific functions, with occasional diplomatic side missions. I am assured there is minimal likelihood of combat. In fact, the ship's engineer gave us a walking tour of the ship, pointing out how inadequately designed it was for war. We made the ship vulnerable, he told us, so that people would know we intend peace.

It sounds as though there will be a lot of down time, and crewmembers are encouraged to pursue their own interests. There is a bowling alley somewhere on this ship, although I haven't found it yet, and everybody in the crew seems to have their own area of interest. The staff physicist, as an example, has an interest in antique weapons and is reportedly a world-class practicioner of fencing. They keep him on the bridge as helmsman for some reason; maybe he tells them stories about swordfighting.

And the science officer is well-regarded for his skill with an instrument of his people called the Vulcan lute, which he will sometimes play while the communications engineer sings. I am told the senior crew are all patrons of the art, and, in fact, receptions are being planned all over the galaxy for our pleasure. Apparently they mostly consist of modern dances on classical or oriental themes, and that's not really to my tastes, but it is encouraging that there is such a love of the arts on this ship.

I think I will do what I did at the Academy. I think I will start a band.

* * *

Great news, diary! I told the Captain about it, and it seems he was in choir growing up, and he has said he will occasionally sit in and sing a song or two! This is very encouraging!

* * *

Captain Pike has disappeared on the fourth planet in the Talos star group, and we are never to speak of what happened. I don't know what happened. We're supposed to get a new captain, and I have decided to name the band The Power of Illusion.

* * *

The new Captain is really something. He brought a hand-selected crew along, and they are all young women. He constantly gets massages from them and they do all the little jobs he is supposed to do. He's super young to be a Captain and so everybody treats him like a rock star. The timing couldn't be worse, because The Power of Illusion's Rock and Roll Wednesday shows were just starting to develop an audience.

* * *

Our drummer was killed by a psychic child. There are a lot of psychic children in space, it seems.

* * *

We got a new drummer, but then our lead guitarist became a psychic superbeing and was marooned on an island. I have mixed feelings about this. I mean, yes, he had become psychotic and threatened the ship. On the other hand: Dude could shred.

* * *

Lost another band member. Apparently he died of a lack of salt in his bloodstream, but nobody will explain anything more. There are a lot of secrets on this ship.

* * *

Somehow our stage manager got stabbed to death by Jack the Ripper. It's discouraging, but, then, we haven't had more band members die than Lynyrd Skynyrd.

* * *

We picked up a ukulele player. Eccentric guy, liked to wear straw hats. He ran through some sort of transdimensional rift and I am told he has started his own trad jazz band in 1930s Chicago. Can't really blame him. It's probably safer there than here.

* * *

All right. Have lost band members to 1920s gangsters, televised Roman centurions, a gunfight at the OK corral, a planet of Nazis, and something to do with president Lincoln that nobody will explain. At least, that's what I think has been happening. I was prescribed LSD to fight my growing depression, and maybe these have all been hallucinations. I mean, they have to be, right?

* * *

There's a group of space hippes on the ship and they have a band. Screw it. I'm running off with them. What's the worst that can happen?
posted by maxsparber at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2015 [59 favorites]


If memory serves me correctly, both the Star Fleet Technical Manual and the maps of the Constitution-class cruiser (and the Klingon D7!) that came with FASA's old Star Trek role-playing game included toilets in the diagrams. I can't check my copies at the moment, though.
posted by Gelatin at 8:40 AM on January 15, 2015


I've always assumed that the poop was beamed directly out of people's butts and into space.

I really wish I had read that sentence when I was nine, because seriously, that would have satisfied all my entertainment needs for the next two decades.
posted by PlusDistance at 8:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was prescribed LSD to fight my growing depression

Or at least you were until Gene Rodenberry wrote that plot line out.
posted by Gelatin at 8:43 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


IIRC the TNG one may have included a space whale for navigation.
posted by Artw at 8:43 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


But is it good enough to make a beer run?
posted by infini at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2015


Gelatin: "If memory serves me correctly, both the Star Fleet Technical Manual and the maps of the Constitution-class cruiser (and the Klingon D7!) that came with FASA's old Star Trek role-playing game included toilets in the diagrams. I can't check my copies at the moment, though."

You are correct.
posted by Splunge at 8:49 AM on January 15, 2015


I've always assumed that the poop was beamed directly out of people's butts and into space.

The matter stream for 10 Forward has to come from somewhere.
posted by bonehead at 8:50 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always liked the Klingon designs best.
posted by Artw at 8:50 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


IIRC for the TNG enterprise if you turn just before you go through the turbo lift doors off of the bridge that is where the toilets are. I may have gained this information from an interactive CD-ROM.

If memory serves there are toilets in some floorplans in the TNG technical manual.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:53 AM on January 15, 2015




When nature called, he explained, crew members simply set their phasers on "disintegrate" and aimed very, very carefully.

By the time of TNG, the transporters of course were far, far more precise. I expect the ship simply continuously scanned all crew members and transported urine and feces out of their bodies as it detected them, without the crew members having to do anything, or even be aware of when it was happening. The matter itself would be broken down and used by the ship to create material objects in the replicators, holodeck characters, etc.
posted by Naberius at 8:54 AM on January 15, 2015


cooing creatures get into the canteen and violate the sanctity of a chicken sandwich and coffee.

That's my favorite part of that tribble episode! For some reason, I can accept endlessly-replicating furballs and humanoid aliens and faster-than-light travel, but I get jarred RIGHT THE FUCK OUT of suspension of disbelief when Kirk is like
"oh man, my chicken sandwich got ruined, that sucks
"I was really looking forward to eating a chicken sandwich"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:58 AM on January 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Atreides: "Has anyone ever been to a bridge of a battleship? Honestly, I haven't, but in photos I've seen I've never seen a seat belt. Things get bolted down except peoples."

I had two gigantic problems with the Chris Pine reboot of Star Trek -- first, that the first movie starts the fuck off with Kirk's mom giving birth the old-fashioned, non-painkiller way, AS ALWAYS HAPPENS IN STAR TREK, because apparently we can replace people's hearts and limbs but GOD/MALE WRITERS FORBID women have painfree labor. Only medicine that affects DUDES has advanced. We can beam infections out of people's bodies, but not babies! (Actually I guess they beam the person and leave the infection behind but POINT STANDS.) Obstetrics, as far as I can tell from ALL AVAILABLE STAR TREK SERIES, has actually gone backwards to a more dangerous time when C-sections weren't generally available and mortality has increased!

The second one (and this was especially apparent in the second movie, but also in the first) is that we are required to believe in a future where OSHA and all its analogues have completely disappeared and there are BASICALLY NO SAFETY STANDARDS FOR DESIGNING ANYTHING. In fact, design standards have gone backwards such that skyscrapers now have shard-creating glass when something crashes through them, instead of the kind that shatters into little harmless pebble pieces! Dangerous jet-engine intakes are open! People can fall in man-sized pipes intended for liquid that have no lid, and no filter! Pedestrian areas are fully open to cars! Stairs have no railings. STAIRS. HAVE. NO. RAILINGS.

This really interfered with my suspension of disbelief because literally half of the dangerous situations the characters found themselves in were not due to enemies or technological malfunctions, but LACK OF SIMPLE SAFETY FEATURES UNIVERSAL TO 21ST CENTURY AMERICA. Oh my God, he fell down the stairs again, and now we're all going to die because he can't get to the thing that shuts off the other thing because we have no failsafe!

Some kind of horrible societal collapse clearly occurred that allowed us to regain our knowledge of physics and space travel, but destroyed all our knowledge of safety and risk assessment and placed some kind of taboo over any future study of that area. This is what I have to imagine to mentally explain why they announce on the news when and where the fleet admirals will be meeting in a totally non-secure, non-safety-glassed, all-window room in a SKYSCRAPER when confronting a FLYING THREAT, and how Chris Pine ends up the smartest guy in the room. Because I can imagine a lot of futures, but not many of them end up with Chris Pine being the smartest guy in the room.

I mean, I enjoyed the shit out of those movies, but COME ON! RAILINGS!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:03 AM on January 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


Naberius: "I expect the ship simply continuously scanned all crew members and transported urine and feces out of their bodies as it detected them, without the crew members having to do anything, or even be aware of when it was happening. "

All of these poop-related transporter solutions are making my complaints about future obstetrics worse!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:08 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


oh man Troi's BIRTHIN CHAIR
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:18 AM on January 15, 2015


In a few episodes you see people leaving the transporter room as the away team arrives to be beamed to a planet. Those people are actually pooing straight on to the transporter pad and clear out quick when they know senior officers are coming down - there is a light to indicate this in the room. This makes perfect sense since the ship is very rarely in range of places to beam to and it would be a waste of space for much of the time otherwise.
posted by biffa at 9:22 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


but where does the poo go
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:23 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bujold is an ST author, so maybe the Federation has uterine replicators too.

People are certainly working on them now. I'll bet in a decade or so reality will eclipse ST again, bioethics be dammed.
posted by bonehead at 9:27 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


It must have been linked here before, but the Twitter account RikerGoogling is pretty amusing sometimes.
posted by exogenous at 9:32 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


bonehead beat me to the mention.
posted by infini at 9:33 AM on January 15, 2015


cardassian butt sex

how to clean holodeck

romulan beard enhancement
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:36 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "Some kind of horrible societal collapse clearly ... destroyed all our knowledge of safety and risk assessment and placed some kind of taboo over any future study of that area."

You clearly do not understand Mid-23rd Century Modern architecture. By making use of stairways without railings and large windows filled with glass that is engineered to shatter into sharp, flying shards after any impact, we are allowing Federation citizens to *engage* with their environment and their villains. The buildings and spaceships ask us questions, probe our cultural consciousness. They ask, can you defeat your villain before you have lost enough friends, subordinates, or superiors to console explosions or falls into open uncovered pipes? If not, have you really searched enough within your *soul* to defeat your villain? Should you even be allowed to?

Sure we could have SAFETY -- seatbelts on the bridge chairs, engines not quite so prone to exploding, failsafes on important equipment, and suchlike -- but certain sacrifices must be made for ART.
posted by kyrademon at 9:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


the first movie starts the fuck off with Kirk's mom giving birth the old-fashioned, non-painkiller way, AS ALWAYS HAPPENS IN STAR TREK, because apparently we can replace people's hearts and limbs but GOD/MALE WRITERS FORBID women have painfree labor.

Except in The Child (which was really not a great episode)!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:43 AM on January 15, 2015


"In the episode "Elaan of Troilus," we learn that you can get access to the ship's dilithium crystals — the Enterprise's main power source — ..."

Their "Treksperts" missed this one.

The main power source is the antimatter reactor. Dilithium crystals regulate the reaction, like carbon rods in a nuclear reactor.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:59 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's another thing that's probably even worse than all the things listed above: where in the hell are all the bathrooms? Seriously. I can't think of one time I saw a door or something that looked like it might have been to a toilet. Were they expected to hold it for five years?

Picard has one in that little room off of his office which is that little room off of the bridge
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Atreides : Number 10 - Separate phaser firing rooms

Right, so as they point out, it pretty much only shows up once. So that in itself isn't a big deal, but the obvious point was that the writers were pretty much thinking of the battleships of old where artillery was fired from a separate room than the bridge. Depending on the ship, this was probably true for quite a while into the 20th Century.


This is exactly what I was thinking; both battleships and subs had separate areas for firing ordnance. To have it in the bridge would have been absurd on those older examples, and that probably carried through into the writing for the show.

Number 3 - Easy to Blow Up

Meh. You're working with a power source that can literally provide energy to break our current laws of physics, by slinging a ship faster than light. The trade off is a system that is vulnerable when the ship is beaten to hell, which happens a fair amount.


Again, I totally agree, but I was going back to something like submarines, where, due to their environment, they were naturally at risk from things that wouldn't have been a threat on a different kind of vessel. On the Enterprise you have the power supply, the presence of an electrified shield, torpedo, and god knows what else... On a sub, if you twist the wrong valve at the wrong time, you'll crush it like a can. A space craft could be just as delicate, even one designed for getting into fights.
posted by quin at 10:00 AM on January 15, 2015


I can't believe no one has linked to Riker's explanation that there is a bathroom on the Enterprise.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:06 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


but where does the poo go

Where do you think the replicator gets the raw materials for making food from? All the poop and pee gets reprocessed back into food and drink for the crew. It's the dirty little secret of Starfleet.
posted by BYiro at 10:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Soylent Green is poo!

I'm not certain that's much of an improvement over people.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:30 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Where do you think the replicator gets the raw materials for making food from? All the poop and pee gets reprocessed back into food and drink for the crew. It's the dirty little secret of Starfleet.

I was joking, but this is actually covered somewhere in the TNG Technical Manual. Waste products get converted into some kind of neutral slurry from which food is replicated.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:32 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Atreides: Number 3 - Easy to Blow Up

Meh. You're working with a power source that can literally provide energy to break our current laws of physics, by slinging a ship faster than light. The trade off is a system that is vulnerable when the ship is beaten to hell, which happens a fair amount.
This criticism is even weaker when you consider that the Enterprise wasn't nearly as easy to blow up as any car that's ever gone over a cliff on any TV show ever.

And if the car contained Bad Guys, it might as well be an A-bomb.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:36 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The matter stream for 10 Forward has to come from somewhere.

This is actually true.

From the TNG Technical Manual:
The various waste sludges recovered from the water recycling processes are a valuable resource. The organic waste processing system subjects the sludge to a series of sterilizing heat and radiation treatments. The waste is then electrolytically reprocessed into an organic particulate suspension that serves as the raw material for the food synthesizer systems. Remaining byproducts are conveyed to the solid waste processing system for matter replication recycling.
posted by Avelwood at 10:42 AM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


If memory serves me correctly, both the Star Fleet Technical Manual and the maps of the Constitution-class cruiser (and the Klingon D7!) that came with FASA's old Star Trek role-playing game included toilets in the diagrams.

One of the clever things about the Franz Joseph technical manual (created after the show) was where he put the bridge toilet.

The bridge set was built in its entirety, but split into sections so parts could be removed to accommodate cameras etc. One of the most common shooting positions was to the right of the main screen, which let them show the captain's chair and the turbolift door. They rarely shot the other way around, so that's where Joseph decided the toilet must be.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:44 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


This article didn't even mention what I think has always been the biggest and most baffling security flaw on the Enterprise, which is that you apparently cannot lock the doors that access the bridge.

You can't lock. The doors to the bridge.

Like, you can apparently lock doors to personal cabins. But even when the crew is mutinying, even when the ship is being boarded, YOU CAN'T LOCK THE DOORS TO THE BRIDGE!

Maybe the designers thought this feature was irrelevant because transporters, though? I dunno.

(But you'd think that in the course of all those episodes where the Enterprise crew couldn't beam in or out of this place or that one because of "interference," or, you know, the ship's shields, Federation scientists would have found a way to make the bridge continuously electrically shielded against unauthorized entry by transporter.)
posted by BlueJae at 10:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I will note that you CAN fully lock down physical access to Ops on Terok Nor / DS9 in the event of an invasion or mutiny. So despite all Chief O'Brien's whinging, Cardassians are clearly good for something.)
posted by BlueJae at 11:03 AM on January 15, 2015


IIRC the TNG one may have included a space whale for navigation.

Dolphin, I think. IIRC, the TNG manual says "cetacean" but dolphins take up a lot less space.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: the toilets. I had a wonderful set of Enterprise blueprints in the late 1970s. Being an inquiring child, I counted the toilets. Yep, there were just under 430 (one for each two staterooms, plus one or more for every office or lab space, plus one on the bridge).

Everybody on the ship could crap simultaneously.

"She canna' take any more, Captain!"
posted by Mogur at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


OK, since we've all decided that waste is automatically beamed out, now somebody write the fanfic where the transporter duplicate of Riker that was left alone for 8 years has to relearn how to poo.
posted by ckape at 11:25 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]



Everybody on the ship could crap simultaneously.


Now I wish TMP included Scotty holding a flush test.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:29 AM on January 15, 2015


That should be how Excelsior gets disabled.
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on January 15, 2015


Since I have it out...

TNG Technical Manual:
In the Galaxy class starship, ongoing G&N system (guidance and navigation) research tasks are handled by a mixed consultation crew of twelve Tursiops truncatus and T. truncatus gilli, Atlantic and Pacific bottlenose dolphins, respectively. This crew is overseen by two additional cetaceans, Orcinus orca takayai, or Takaya's Whale. All theoretical topics in navigation are studied by these elite specialists, and their recommendations for system upgrades are implemented by Starfleet.

So a crew of dolphins with whale supervisors.
posted by Avelwood at 11:49 AM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


If they're recycling waste into an organic blah blah matrix... Wouldn't that have all nutrients leeched out by about the third pass through the crew? Seems like by week 2, strictly recycled food would basically have the nutritional value of styrofoam.
posted by ormondsacker at 11:51 AM on January 15, 2015


The replicators actually rearrange the molecules into whatever chocolate thing Troi's eating this week. The slurry is, if memory serves, calculated to require the least average energy to recreate into whatever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't that have all nutrients leeched out by about the third pass through the crew?

I don't know, dammit - I'm a basement dweller, not a neckbeard.
posted by thelonius at 11:55 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


The bridge thing always, always bugged me. Yeah, for TV it looks good, but it makes no practical sense.

My assumption is that given the power of the weapons they have, if the shields are down, it doesn't really matter where the bridge is, the ship will be vaporized. Bury the bridge in the center of the ship behind armor plating, and that will buy you maybe five microseconds of life. Might as well put the bridge someplace where it's easy to replace or upgrade.

Then again the shape of the ship itself makes no practical sense.

I'm afraid I can't help you there. The way Ttek ships are all off balance, really bugs me. They look like they were designed by someone who didn't have the concept of zero-g.
posted by happyroach at 12:02 PM on January 15, 2015


So a crew of dolphins with whale supervisors.

Killer Wale supervisors. Talk about a hostile work environment.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:03 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


the first movie starts the fuck off with Kirk's mom giving birth the old-fashioned, non-painkiller way, AS ALWAYS HAPPENS IN STAR TREK, because apparently we can replace people's hearts and limbs but GOD/MALE WRITERS FORBID women have painfree labor.

We can have painfree childbirth now, lots of women decide not to.

Why am I arguing about star trek obstetrics.

Have an animated version of the Breaking Bad Star Trek Poop monologue.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:06 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Where are the bathrooms, ha ha ha."

This is one of those brainless criticisms of Star Trek that's been going on since the series was first shown in 1966. It's actually gotten worse since the release of the later, somewhat-related series (ST:x$), and the relaxing of broadcast standards over time that mean that there exist otherwise sensible adults making comments on the Internet and elsewhere who weren't around to watch teevy when Star Trek was on.

Do people honestly think that toilets and bathrooms were on display every night on US broadcast television in the 1960s -- everywhere but on Star Trek?

Where are the bathrooms in Dodge City? At the Ponderosa? In Stalag 13? At the Mayberry sherrif's office? Fort Courage, Kansas? On the SSRN Seaview? Aboard the Jupiter-frigging-Two?

In the 1960s for the most part, teevy shows didn't do stories about taking a crap, so they generally didn't need to show you toilets and bathrooms*. Stories didn't grind to a halt so that a major character could visit Mrs. Murphy, and then waste even more time talking about it.

That all changed with All In The Family (1971). Still, the toilet was never actually shown. The big joke was that although it was upstairs, it's flushing could be heard in the living room.

Mad Magazine's parody of the show included a sequence with Archie showing the toilet to the camera and saying, "Hey America, not offended yet? How about this: 'Toilet!' That's right, 'Toilet!'".

So there you are: two seasons after Star Trek was cancelled, it was still parodic to suggest that a comedy show might show you a toilet.

The bathrooms on the Enterprise are in the same place as the bathrooms on all the other 1960s teevy shows: staying out of the way until they're needed to tell a story. You'll find 'em right next to all the not-ringing telephones, not-being-fired weapons, rear-view mirrors . . .

---------------------------------------------------------------
* On The Dick Van Dyke Show, Laura Petrie got her toe caught in the faucet of a hotel bath once. An actual plot point involving a bathroom, c. 1965! What we saw was mostly Rob Petrie talking to her through the doorway. I think maybe we briefly saw Laura in the tub with a raincoat on. You can look up the Leave it to Beaver 'first', yourselves.
posted by Herodios at 12:07 PM on January 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm assuming all shows have no bathrooms unless we see onscreen proof.
posted by Artw at 12:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


If they're recycling waste into an organic blah blah matrix... Wouldn't that have all nutrients leeched out by about the third pass through the crew? Seems like by week 2, strictly recycled food would basically have the nutritional value of styrofoam.

Things are different aboard the USS Humanoid Centipede.
 
posted by Herodios at 12:14 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm assuming all buildings everywhere currently have no bathrooms until I see evidence otherwise.
posted by kyrademon at 12:19 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


No interiors.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:27 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


As for TNG, the greatest problem seems to be the holodeck. Much could have been avoided, had the doors been welded shut.
posted by bouvin at 12:28 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, back to the other design defects. Can we determine how many were design defects and how many were done "on-site" by the actual engineers. Scotty was Chief Engineer and brilliant and famous for improvisations, and I think it's reasonable to think that his staff would tend to emulate him when they could get away with it.

I.e. Maybe Engineering used to have a bio-coded security system, but Lt. T'Rell needed the parts for a warp engine bypass.

One of my 'to-do' fanfics is the saga of the poor refit engineer who was the first person on board the Enterprise when it had RETURNED from Kirk's five-year mission (Scotty having promptly collapsed into a bottle of single malt and not being available for a few days). They're walking around with the original blueprints, trying and failing to find half the things they expected. "Flux chiller, flux chiller. Where's the flux chiller? Oh come on, it's ten meters long!"

"What's that green glowing thing?"

"Oh crap! RUN!"
posted by Mogur at 12:30 PM on January 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm assuming all shows have no bathrooms unless we see onscreen proof.

The first 14 minutes of every Friends episode was a single shot of Joey on the toilet, shitting, while Chandler stood a foot away, leaning against the bathroom wall with arms folded, smirking and repeatedly shouting, "could you BE any more shitting?"
posted by Greg Nog at 12:31 PM on January 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


The Holodeck was just a lazy way of avoiding making up a new planet every week.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:32 PM on January 15, 2015


The Federation is not an ISO 9000 organization.
posted by bonehead at 12:37 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


feckless fecal fear mongering: Then again the shape of the ship itself makes no practical sense. At least on B5 they had giant shield doors for the one small window in C&C.

For my money, the Borg cube is the most practical (command functions buried inside!) and efficient ship that's ever appeared in the ST universe.
Thermal loading is still a thing. The Borg Cube presumes that thermal conduction is a trivial concern - otherwise there would be a large gradient between the subzero-Celsius exterior and the interior that is surrounded by heat-producing objects (everything from Borgs to electric screwdrivers).

The Enterprise only needs to thermally stabilize across a few dozen meters, provided a well-insulated skin - so excess heat doesn't have far to travel. Basically, if insulation is your strong point, you want a "networked" or "skeletal" framework to maximize the desirable thermal transfer - which is kind of what the Enterprise looks like (and, for that matter, the Romulan Bird of Prey, etc.).

Additionally (and I'm suprised I'm the first to mention this), the nacelles move the warp engines far away from the main living quarters. Radiation shielding can either be mass, distance, (or in a sci-fi world, possibly) energy. Obviously, passive shielding by keeping the living quarter far away from the Engine Room is a good answer.

The ship isn't fragile because of its "skeletal" shape, because it doesn't ever rely on skin strength or mass for protection from weapons. That function is entirely provided by the energy shields. They could make the Enterprise out of lead crystal, for all weapon safety matters.

Now, back to the Borgs... MASSIVE structure. HUGE temperature gradient. Clearly they have much better superconducting tech than the Federation has. [Remember: the Borg uses the Big Tent model of tech aquisition.] Structural members that superconduct heat energy at the speed of light from deep in the heart of the Cube to the skin, and the gradient is solved with minimal insulation (that is, they can put the less-temperature-sensitive equipment outermost, or even build in layers - a -100C first level, followed by a -50C, a -20C, a 0C layer where assimilated "arctic" species live, and a 20C layer where the Queen and the majority of Borg (that we've seen, at least) live. If they have superconducting heat pathways in the ship, each level can easily be controlled by simply adjusting the airflow across the pathways as they pass through that level - that is, open the "vent" further for more cooling" (but the air isn't venting, simply passing over the superconductor and returning to the main compartment of that level).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:15 PM on January 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


captain my tricorder indicates the nerd rating in this thread is... unprecedented...
posted by Sebmojo at 1:20 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


(twirly B5 spaceships best spaceships)
posted by Sebmojo at 1:21 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sebmojo: captain my tricorder indicates the nerd rating in this thread is... unprecedented...
Much light a hot IR detector, a tricorder is inherently self-blinded to nerdery.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sebmojo: "captain my tricorder indicates the nerd rating in this thread is... unprecedented..."

Let me fix that for you
posted by exogenous at 1:25 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing I have noticed in TNG (at least the first couple seasons...I'll get back to you about the rest) is that it apparently takes about 30 seconds to get anywhere from anywhere on the Enterprise. People show up on the bridge 10 seconds after they're called for, guys run down to engineering from wherever in the blink of an eye,etc. The old show had them on turbolifts not infrequently, and it seemed to actually take time to navigate the ship. I don't remember which Plinkett review had it, but there was a brilliant little segment where they stuck a map of the Enterprise in the top right of a discussion that Kirk, Spock and Bones were having in the turbolift on the way up to the bridge, and they even showed in the scene where the transitions between horizontal and vertical travel were.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:56 PM on January 15, 2015


'The Galileo' has a really small head.

In the design specs, there are spatial discrepancies.
posted by clavdivs at 2:16 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Apropos of nothing, but I have to say it tickles me that Roddenberry (apocryphally?---citation needed?) required that "tricorder" be allowed to be used as a name by any company that could make a portable device that could "sense, compute and record". There's a whole range of things that are starting to fit that definition, many of which look pretty familiar in shape too.
posted by bonehead at 2:21 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Literally half of the dangerous situations the characters found themselves in were not due to enemies or technological malfunctions, but LACK OF SIMPLE SAFETY FEATURES UNIVERSAL TO 21ST CENTURY AMERICA."

This got particularly strange when Enterprise was launched as a Star Trek prequel. Despite the show's in-story continuity being set many years before TOS, it was made many years afterwards, by which time special effects and set dressing were both far more sophisticated. The result was a ship that was supposed to look primitive compared to Kirk's Enterprise, but actually looked far more advanced.

"but where does the poo go"

Into the past, of course - just like it does in Figgis/Parker/Stone's Time Toilet.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2015


I think it's clear that just as viewers are meant to suspend disbelief and accept pieces of painted plastic and plywood as genuine examples of 23rd century advanced technology, we're also supposed to interpret ill-fitting synthetic tunics, trousers, and skirts as sophisticated thin-suit style uniforms, equipped with basic personal defense and life support capabilities, waste management among them. In such a lightweight, stripped down piece of equipment, a passive collection and filtering system might require an occasional manual assist for larger waste volumes: the so-called "Picard Maneuver."
posted by zhwj at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2015


a dangerous ruin: "Locking down engineering can be dangerous, too. If the core is about to go critical and everyone has been knocked unconscious by the Romulan neuro-inversion device, you'll be grateful that the only unaffected ensign is able to get into engineering and take the it offline."

Besides the reason the com engine system isn't secured is because a certain measure of self-control is expected of all on board.

Leon: "Borg sphere. Enclose the maximum volume with the minimum materials."

Besides the problem with heat mentioned above a cube or sphere doesn't have much surface area compared to it's volume which is going to make interfacing difficult. Weapons, launch facilities, docks, sensor arrays, etc. etc. all need a clearish view of space and that view is going to be at a premium in a cube/sphere design. It also means any new or replacement ship sub assemblies have to fit within your transport tunnels. The Star Wars Star Destroyer approach is much more sensible in that regard.
posted by Mitheral at 3:57 PM on January 15, 2015


OK, my take on this stuff:

Number 10 - Separate phaser firing rooms

That was in the episode when the Romulans showed up after they'd been gone for a century, and in addition to the cloaking device, they had a weapon (never seen again, maybe Starfleet managed to tweak their shields to render it useless) that was really powerful. So maybe after getting hit with this thing they no longer have a direct link to the phaser firing control and have to do it manually. (And redo the control systems so that there are backup links--see #2.)

Number 9 - No Seat Belts

The inertial dampeners keep the crew from being turned into a thin paste every time the ship makes a turn at superluminal speeds. Sometimes there's a slight delay when they're in battle. Getting unseated once in a while may be less risky than being stuck on a smoky bridge with a jammed buckle when it's time to hit the escape pods.

Number 8 - Consoles blowing up

Yeah, running the equivalent of power mains directly behind control surfaces, dunno what's up with that. (Unless it's some sort of feedback from the shields being hit by the equivalent of nukes that has nothing to do with the power conduits.)

Number 7 - Bridge Isolation

Kind of one of the built-in countermeasures to #1.

Number 6 - One Transporter Room

Deeply dumb and wrong, as there is indeed more than one transporter room. The problem with the transporters in "The Enemy Within" had to do with the planet that they were beaming off of; I haven't watched "Wink of an Eye" in ages, but it's possible that Kirk did something to sabotage the transporter emitters (which are on the outside of the ship) and that wouldn't be easy to do if you didn't have access to certain higher-level functions of the ship, as the captain presumably does.

Number 5 - Easy access to Main Engineering

So... the bridge is too isolated, and main engineering isn't isolated enough (despite Kevin Riley being able to block access easily when he's under the influence of that one space virus). Right.

Number 4 - Self-Destruct Mechanism is TOO loud.

Because you would usually want the people in the ship to be surprised by it, right?

Number 3 - Easy to Blow Up

I don't even know what to do with this. Do U even trek, bro? They're always investigating weird physical phenomena and hostile aliens (or aliens that are so alien that they might destroy them in the process of being friends) and so they're always pretty much by design running across stuff that they couldn't plan (or design) for. Even quote-endquote modern ships have that problem; ask the crew of the motherfucking Edmund Fitzgerald about that.

Number 2 - Bridge is Easy Target

Little known Trek fact: the reason why the bridge is on the exterior of the starship is that it makes it easier to swap it out for a new one. That's right; Starfleet Drydock can basically unbolt the old one and replace it. That's why you have several different versions of the bridge over the course of TOS (series and movies), aside from their replacing the whole ship at one point. Besides, most of the protection for the ship overall comes from the shields, not the hull.

Number 1 - Easy to Take Over

See #3. Lots of times the takeover is done because of one weird trick that the Federation doesn't want you to know about; once they've got that sussed, the aliens have no hope. Again, the whole point of the entire franchise is to have them boldly go wherever their little legswarp drive can take them, and deal with whatever by being creative and brave and cool and logical and studly and all-around generally awesome, not by having this big fucking ship that can handle all possible emergencies (including the Q riding Doomsday Machines that fire Borg cubes at them) without spilling their drinks. I know that Charlie Jane Anders is an SF writer herself, and maybe she's just in this for the listicle clickbaiting, but I shudder to think of her version of Trek, where every surface inside a starship hides an airbag and Starfleet colonizes the galaxy verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry slowly because the only form of transportation considered fast enough are solar sails. (I will allow the exploding consoles, though--that's just kinda dumb.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:03 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Previous FFP on the subject.
posted by clavdivs at 4:34 PM on January 15, 2015


the first movie starts the fuck off with Kirk's mom giving birth the old-fashioned, non-painkiller way, AS ALWAYS HAPPENS IN STAR TREK, because apparently we can replace people's hearts and limbs but GOD/MALE WRITERS FORBID women have painfree labor.

We can have painfree childbirth now, lots of women decide not to.


Yeah, back in our century wasn't the whole movement in favor of "old-fashioned" childbirth in many ways a backlash toward male-centric medicine? I suppose one would hope that by the 24th "medicine" and "respecting womens' choices" would no longer be at odds.
posted by atoxyl at 4:59 PM on January 15, 2015


As long as we're doing this, I'd like to note that the Omega-class destroyers on B5 really should have had two contra-rotating gravity wheels to prevent the ship from precessing around like a top.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:08 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


(or at least, I assume that would stop it, but I might be a grade-a dipshit about physics)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2015


You mean this?
posted by clavdivs at 5:44 PM on January 15, 2015


That is in fact an Omega-class destroyer.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:09 PM on January 15, 2015


Highly charged poloron torque distribution nodes allow gravitons to be re-distributed evenly throughout the ships zero grav. Thing.
posted by clavdivs at 6:25 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would be great if some of you would head over to FanFare and comment in the Star Trek TOS rewatch threads. Just sayin'.

(We may have exhausted the necessary discussion space for space poo, though.)
posted by dhartung at 6:46 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whereas aboard a Battlestar, the biggest problem is that they keep replacing that one big glass panel on the bridge. You know, the glass panel that shatters ever episode.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:58 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Rewatching TNG recently I've been more struck by how incompetent everyone is. For example, in "Final Mission", Geordi inspects this two-bit merchant's ship before Picard gets on board, and says it's all good. So they take off and the ship crashes and it turns out the merchant has zero emergency supplies of any sort except for whiskey. Way to inspect that ship, Geordi!
posted by equalpants at 7:19 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whereas aboard a Battlestar, the biggest problem is that they keep replacing that one big glass panel on the bridge. You know, the glass panel that shatters ever episode.

Supplies are limited, but fortunately they had about two dozen of those things in the hold due to an inventory error.
posted by Artw at 7:22 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


And they're passing the savings onto yoooooouuuuuuuu!!!!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:55 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


When we built these ships, we were told they'd be vehicles of exploration, not war.

War, no. Effective self-defense, yes. The Enterprise as it exists is useful for "exploring" territory known to be peaceful, but if you're going "where no one has gone before" and you routinely get into conflicts with the natives, you should be prepared for the worst. At least have your explorers escorted by a battleship or something.
posted by Rangi at 8:28 PM on January 15, 2015


Fuck it, let's build a spacecraft.
posted by clavdivs at 9:13 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]




That list doesn't include any Minbari heavy cruisers and is therefore wrong.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:59 AM on January 16, 2015


That list doesn't include any Minbari heavy cruisers and is therefore wrong.

Yeah, every cruiser should include a minibar.



What?
posted by Herodios at 4:22 AM on January 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


If they're recycling waste into an organic blah blah matrix... Wouldn't that have all nutrients leeched out by about the third pass through the crew? Seems like by week 2, strictly recycled food would basically have the nutritional value of styrofoam.

Apparently not. According to the TNGTM, while the food replicator systems have molecular resolution, that only refers to the items they create. There is a quantum-level transporter system backend to the food replicators. So they basically root through the organic sewage sludge and pick out atoms of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, or whatever to construct new molecules of useful sugars or vitamins or whatever for the molecules programmed to exist in the... errr... "fudge sundae" Troi is eating.
posted by Avelwood at 12:06 AM on January 17, 2015


Regarding bathrooms: Ookla the Mok, "Number One"
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:24 AM on January 17, 2015


Steely-eyed Missile Man: "I don't remember which Plinkett review had it, but there was a brilliant little segment where they stuck a map of the Enterprise in the top right of a discussion that Kirk, Spock and Bones were having in the turbolift on the way up to the bridge, and they even showed in the scene where the transitions between horizontal and vertical travel were."

I think this is in the one for the Abrams reboot movie.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:53 AM on February 3, 2015


The British navy didn't use the same ships for exploration and for war. The HMS Beagle (on which Darwin voyaged), HMS Discovery (Vancouver) and The HMS Endeavour (Cook), were all lightly armed compared to a "Ship of the Line", roughly ten light guns each, compared to say 100 or more much heavier guns on the Victory (Nelson). The survey/scientific vessels were also much smaller and lower complements of sailors, though they also typically carried a dozen or so marines too. So armed, but lightly compared to a warship. The Endeavor to Beagle is roughly a century---lightly armed survey ships is a doctrine that worked pretty well for them.

The Enterprise is a pretty big asset for the Federation to put out there as there doesn't appear to be much larger in the fleet. They're sending out survey ships equivalent to a modern naval carrier group.
posted by bonehead at 9:20 AM on February 3, 2015


Which just underscores their priorities (which are not military).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:33 AM on February 3, 2015


It says to me that even after centuries of the Federation, and both the Klingon and Romulan empires, that sending out a huge warship is necessary. The ST universe is a dangerously unsettled one full of powerful local enemies and OCP-type threats. the British never faced a civilization more advanced or capable than themselves or their European neighbors. Starfleet deals with more powerful civilizations almost every mission.
posted by bonehead at 10:01 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think this is in the one for the Abrams reboot movie.

The effect in TOS was achieved by can with a slit in it attached to a drill and held over a bulb. They weren't counting decks. (It wasn't even clear if they represented decks.)

They're sending out survey ships equivalent to a modern naval carrier group.

More like a Heavy Cruiser, but the point stands. It really should be patrolling the neutral zone or something.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


They weren't counting decks.

Nevertheless, it is clear they were going somewhere and that they were conveying a sense of the size of the ship in an oblique way.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:16 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, absolutely. And that's all that needed to be conveyed.

Abrams seems to have spent more time on getting the decks to match up than he did on the actual story.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Abrams seems to have spent more time on getting the decks to match up than he did on the actual story.

Well, if I recall now, the point of Plinkett showing that scene from TOS was to contrast it with the movie where Spock goes from the shuttle bay (back of ship) to the bridge (complete other end of ship) in about 5 seconds. I think Abrams just failed all around, personally.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:28 AM on February 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Let's all chip in and buy this van.
posted by exogenous at 6:20 AM on February 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


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