I can't help but wonder why, in Star Trek, the overloading of a hand phaser is enough to blow up a starship. Remember when Kirk barely ejected one from the Enterprise (what was that episode?) and when it detonated, the whole starship shook? Seemed to shake more than getting hit by a torpedo - but that's more about show production, I know.

If the detonation is so devastating, why don't we see away teams beaming to an enemy location (like the Borg), and hiding an overloading phaser in a drawer or something, and beaming right back - awaiting the devastation and carnage? Skip that last question, the real question is, why does a tiny hand phaser seem to rival a photon torpedo?

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    Because plot.​​​ Dec 4, 2015 at 17:04
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    If I recall the episode right, in essence it was ejected out a little airlock, so it blew right outside the bulkhead Kirk was at. Tossing a grenade outside your apartment door then closing it might shake you up a little bit too.
    – Oldcat
    Dec 4, 2015 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


An overloaded phaser isn't enough to blow up a starship. In the TOS episode "That Which Survives" Kirk's phaser overloaded on Losira's planet and he just lobbed it away like a grenade and hugged the ground behind cover until it exploded. But note that this was in the open air. A detonation inside a ship, where the bulkheads and corridors would confine and direct the shockwave, would do considerable damage to more delicate ship fixtures and any unfortunate souls on that deck.

The jarring of the ship in "The Conscience of the King" when the phaser exploded could be explained by the explosion occurring very near the hull and inside the ship's defensive screens.

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