In the Star Trek The Next Generation episode Realm of Fear Lieutenant Barclay discovers "worms" in the transporter sequence. These worms turn out to be people that got caught in a transporter accident.
How did these people survive in the transporter system? It is frequently stated that a person cannot survive in the transporter for more than few seconds (typically less than a minute) without having their signal degrade to an unrecoverable point. But these people survived for who knows how long (at least a day or two) with no apparent loss of signal.

  • IIRC the physical location maintained their patterns and not the transporter. Barclay then configured the transporter to lock onto this pattern and convert it.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:18
  • @DampeS8N What physical location? The star/planet/anomaly thing they were near?
    – Xantec
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:35
  • Correct, TangoOversway's answer elaborates.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:45
  • There is a precedent: Scotty was in a transporter beam for years. Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:03
  • @Wikis Yea, but Scotty is a miracle worker.
    – Xantec
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


The Yosemite, the ship with the missing crew, was in a plasma stream that stretched from a star to a black hole (or neutron star). The crew members had been infected with "quasi-energy microbes." They had reprogrammed the biofilters to filter them out and that's what they tried to do when they were caught in the beam.

There's two factors that make transport unique here. The first is the plasma stream, which includes a distortion field and ionic interference. The other is the quasi-energy microbes in the plasma stream.

Barclay gives a answer, which is basically a hand-wave to explain it. After he rescues one crewman, who explains they were trying to use the biofilter to rid themselves of the microbes, Geordi says, "It looks like you pushed molecular dispersion past the integrity point. Your patterns got caught in the beam." Then Barclay responds with, "The residual energy from the plasma stream. It must have amplified the charge in the buffer in order to keep your patterns from degrading."

So the extra energy from the plasma stream allowed the pattern buffer to maintain the data for more than several days.

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