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Author Topic: Tricorder blitherings
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I saw the first ten minutes of Voyager: Emanations the other day. I didn't feel like punishing myself so I switched if off after that.

However...

A question arose in my mind. If you recall (and you probably don't, so I'll tell you) Harry, Chakotay and B'Elanna are on an asteroid (an extremely remarkable asteroid which contains an Earth like atmosphere within a hermetically sealed interior) looking at dead bodies they've found. These bodies are covered in some sort of spider web-like substance and are definately dead (so how come the air is not deeply unpleasant to breath, considering that there is no ventilation? Ahh... questions and more questions).

Right, MY POINT!

They want to investigate the bodies. Weirdos. Kim wants to give them all a really thorough scanning with his tricorder (I worry about Kim. I don't think he gets to meet enough real live girls. And I think he hangs around the stasis chambers in the morgue too much, as well). B'Elanna just wants to leave 'cause she's missing Holly Oaks or something. Chakotay also wants to investigate but visually only, not by using tricorders, because he doesn't want to desecrate the bodies by "disturbing" them.

QUESTION (at last): what is it about tricorders that is capable of disturbing solid matter? Does a scan alter the structure of matter that it scans in such a significant way? In order for it to be significant enough to cause concern for poor old Chakotay, it must alter the molecular structure to a greater degree than would incident background radiation, cosmic rays, airborne particulates of various kinds... etc.

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Treknophile
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By definition, the act of examining something disturbs it (Heisenburg Hypothesis). However, this is the way I look at it.

Starships and Tricorders have two two types of detection/measurement instruments: scanners and sensors (each of which has sub-types such as graviton scanner, visual sensor, molecular quantum state scanner, etc.

The scanners emit quanta (photons, quarks, neutrinos, anti-neutrinos, Muons, Pions, etc.) towards an object, and then are reflected back to the scanner for analysis of said object must in some way interact with the object. We can assume that Starfleet uses the best scanners possible, so as not to contaminate an object by a measurable degree. This is also why a vessel can tell it is being scanned - because the ship's sensors detect the quanta (are affected by them). Think of scanners as analogous to radar, which emits photons and 'reads' the reflection. Scanners are active in nature.

The sensors on the other hand do not emit quanta to examine an object, they operate by measuring the quanta given off by the object, or reflected by the object from another source, or pass through the object. A ship could not tell if a sensor was trained on it. Think of sensors an analogous to a video camera. Sensors are passive in nature.

QED, the tricorder's scanners would indeed affect the bodies on a sub-atomic scale (possibly only temporarily). The tricorder's sensors would not. However, let us not forget that Chakotay is from a culture which believes in life after death. Such cultures often have elaborate burial rituals and taboos, believe the dead still exist, and can affect the living.

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Harry
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He was probably not talking technically.

Just the idea that you're going to investigate and 'question' the deceased would be disturbing their eternal peace they have found in death.

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Nim
The Aardvark asked for a dagger
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quote:
This is also why a vessel can tell it is being scanned - because the ship's sensors detect the quanta (are affected by them).
QUESTION: Speaking of that, how does a modern fighter jet know it's being locked on?
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Shik
There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait
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The same way your radio knows you want to listen to a station.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_warning_receiver

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"I never agreed with Jefferson once—we have fought on like seventy-five different fronts. But when all is said & all is done...Jefferson HAS beliefs; Burr has none."

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Mars Needs Women
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What do you mean by "same way your radio knows you want to listen to a station"? Do you mean like a radio preset.
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Shik
There's a million things I haven't done, but just you wait
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Read the article. Jesus, no one ever does their own thinking anymore.

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"I never agreed with Jefferson once—we have fought on like seventy-five different fronts. But when all is said & all is done...Jefferson HAS beliefs; Burr has none."

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Mars Needs Women
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Well that's because they spend their time using wikipedia.
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Sol System
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It isn't that the scan is somehow going to mess up the bodies, it's that it represents an assault on their dignity.

Dead bodies have dignity now? That depends on your point of view. I'd personally say no, but many would say yes, for all sorts of reasons. In this particular case, I think Chakotay was wise to choose the least invasive strategy, since they didn't know what the aliens thought about autopsies or if they could kill people with their thoughts.

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Mars Needs Women
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From the official website.

quote:
While exploring an uncharted asteroid, Chakotay, Kim and Torres stumble upon what appears to be an alien burial ground. Not wanting to desecrate the site, Chakotay and his team decide to make some quick anthropological observations and then return to Voyager.

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AndrewR
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So why did medical tricorders have that little hand-scanner attachment? What made that thing so special? Was it a more sensitive 'receiver' for the reflected particles or did it, itself eject and receive the 'particles'?

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B.J.
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I thought that was obvious. You needed to move around to get more precise or localized readings, but you don't want to move your display screen around as well since that would be difficult to read.
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TSN
I'm... from Earth.
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The smaller medical scanner is easier to get into those—ahem—"tight spaces"...
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AndrewR
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quote:
Originally posted by B.J.:
I thought that was obvious. You needed to move around to get more precise or localized readings, but you don't want to move your display screen around as well since that would be difficult to read.

The nature of that future tech - you'd think that the 'scanner' could penetrate... well most things - especially flesh and you'd just refocus depending on how deep you'd want to look??

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"Bears. Beets. Battlestar Galactica." - Jim Halpert. (The Office)

I'm LIZZING! - Liz Lemon (30 Rock)

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Lee
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Yes, but we're talking about the angle from which you're looking within. Sure, no doubt you can configure a tricorder to scan the interior of a body (or organ) and then rotate it around on the screen to view it from whatever angle you desire, but why bother when you can just align the mini-scanner however you like while keeping the screen motionless? It's exactly the same as the scanning-wand on an ultrasound machine; when my wife was pregnant we had several scans, and it's amazing how much the operator had to move both the angle and the focus just to see what needed to be seen.

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