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It seems obvious to me that you'd just take a rod or something and stick it in the middle of the Stargate which causes​ no wormhole to be able to form. Why didn't they do this?

Not only is it better with regards to defense it is also better with regards to dialing out whenever you want.

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While putting a rod or something in the center of the Stargate may or may not prevent people from dialing in (depending on the size and placement, and it's not entirely clear what the requirements are), that's not really the point of the Iris (in fact, it was only a few seasons in that they gave the Iris the ability to stop wormholes from forming at will, by offsetting it... but this is only useful in very rare circumstances), it's to allow both dialing in or out at will, while still being safe from enemies dialing in.

Without the Iris, exploration would be much more difficult, because your teams would only be able to dial in on scheduled intervals. They can't radio in and say, "Hey, take the bar out!" because the bar would prevent the wormhole from forming and thus they couldn't send a radio message through the wormhole.

The Russians and the NID, did, briefly use a system like sort of like this, albeit without physically blocking their gate. When they were running Stargate operations with the second gate, they used the Earth DHD to give that gate temporary primacy, as explained in the episodes Touchstone (NID) and Watergate (Russians)... they would then run teams through and return them at specific predetermined intervals. However, this presented certain problems if the teams ran into unexpected trouble... such teams would have to be considered far more expendable than the SGC usually treats its officers. It also illustrates another (very small) problem with the "block the gate" approach, in that Earth has two Stargates, and if one is blocked, the other one will be accessed by incoming travelers. It's a simple matter to just block both, at least while both are under the control of the same agency, this isn't always the case.

Whatever way you do it, relying on simply making others unable to dial into your gate, except on scheduled occasions, presents certain additional problems aside from the fact that teams can't return if there's unexpected danger. You couldn't have offworld allies contact you through the Stargate with any news or intelligence, for example, and having an alpha site would be complicated, particularly if they were using the same protocol. Having a valid FTL communications system makes it easier, but that isn't an option for several years into the program.

And, in the event that your teams were returning (on schedule, or immediately after arriving on the other world but before you put the bar back in) while under fire (as happens a lot), a disable-the-gate-system does nothing to prevent a wormhole from opening when you THINK it's safe but there are actually significant hostile forces on the other side that could enter before the gate closes, while an Iris allows your team to return if they have the proper code, and immediately after they're through, you can seal off the gate and any subsequent enemies cannot reintegrate (it actually causes losses to the enemy).

If you want to run an off-world operation at all, an Iris is really good to have, and even if you have something that closes off the Stargate completely, you'd probably STILL want an Iris as well. So why not use an Iris? With an Iris up, which happens automatically on unexpected dial-ins at SGC, they are almost perfectly safe from gate-bound attacks, there are only a few instances where lacking the ability to quickly block incoming dial-ins was a problem, and all of them used either particular quirks of how the gate-system worked or what was connected on the other side. And, in all of those cases, having the Iris was still better than having no iris (though the ability to seal the gate would have helped in some).

If you don't want to run off-world operations at all, then yes, you could use a bar, assuming it was large enough to keep the wormhole from forming, or just bury your gate entirely.

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    This is not correct. – user31178 Jul 14 '16 at 2:39
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    @CreationEdge You might want to be a bit more specific there, but I assume you're referring to the first line, and to be fair, it's not completely clear what the rules are. I was picturing a very large removable rod that completely bisects the gate, though, rather than, say, a staff weapon that's held in the gate middle as a way to keep it closed, which probably wouldn't be enough (though we don't see any examples really... however we can assume that that wouldn't work simply because nobody thinks of it when there are times when they need to quickly block an incoming wormhole). – starpilotsix Jul 14 '16 at 4:16
  • @starpilotsix The reason noone tries is simple... Who's going to try to test it out? If you're right you're safe, but if you're wrong, well you don't have to worry whether it worked or not any more. – Durakken Jul 14 '16 at 5:06
  • You could stand behind the gate and stick a broom or something otherwise not part of your body into the ring... you'd be safe from the kawoosh, then, and, what the hell. Or use a MALP. And it's also easy enough to test safely under non-emergency conditions and have in the back pocket as a way to shut down incoming wormholes, if that was all it took. – starpilotsix Jul 14 '16 at 11:16
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Putting an object in the center of a Stargate wouldn't keep it from opening. The object would be vaporized in the vortex, the thing that "flushes sideways".

Anything in caught in the unstable vortex is going to be completely destroyed.

The reason why the offset iris and burying Stargates work is because they completely block the event horizon from even forming. Only solids can block the gate this way, too. As we see in Watergate, it's possible to dial into gates that are completely submerged, so fluid isn't enough to block the event horizon.

We can see that simply blocking part of the gate isn't enough, because the majority of gates that aren't space gates have some sort of platform that the lower part of the gate is embedded in. That's a much larger piece of mass than a simple rod, and it covers a portion of the inner edge of the wormhole.

This is really notable in the answer given here:

How does the stargate ramp survive the unstable wormhole?

The ramp goes through the gate, but under the kawoosh. The wormhole still opens, the ramp survives.

Here's some more planets with obstructions inside the ring of the gate:

Ring of Atlantis
Atlantis

ring of Hadante
Hadante

There's many more examples of similar platforms throughout the shows, but no example of a simple, small object blocking the wormhole from forming. There's no reason to believe that would work, or we'd likely have seen that strategy used by allies of the Tauri without the resources to make an iris. For instance, on Abydos they had Daniel bury they gate and have it unburied once a year. It would have been far less work to have just stuck a rod in the middle.

Now, the blockage of the event horizon doesn't have to be 100%, as we can see here:

gate buried in rubble
Buried gate from SG: Universe Season 2 Episode 2 Aftermath

The rubble there isn't tightly packed, so there's very likely pockets of air in the middle.

For more evidence through lack of evidence, there's been enough times that a gate is being dialed in on the receiving end, and the local troops form up around the gate in order to defend it, when they could have just put one of their weapons in the middle to interrupt the dialing process.

In summary:

  • Gates blocked with non-solids, such as water, still activate and the unstable vortex destroys the matter it touches
  • Gates completely blocked by solids, such as those that are buried or have an offset iris on the event horizon, don't activate
  • Gates with large objects inside the ring, notably the platforms the gates are embedded in, still activate
  • We never see anyone use any object to prevent a gate from opening, and have no evidence that it would work.
  • Do you have a reference for an object that is placed through the plane of the gate getting vaporized? There are many instances of objects that are in front of the gate getting vaporized by the kawoosh, but I can't think of an instance of an object placed through the gate, but not blocking the entire gate. I would think objects through the plane of the gate prevent the formation of wormhole based on instances of the SGC being unable to connect to gates that are presumably "buried in the rubble." Rubble suggests to me objects only partially blocking the gate. – John Chang Jul 14 '16 at 2:55
  • I've done a bit of digging, from the stargate wikia we have "A wormhole is prevented from forming if a significant obstruction is present inside the Stargate's ring." How significant "significant obstruction" is unclear. I basically agree though, a simple rod is too little to prevent wormhole formation. – John Chang Jul 14 '16 at 3:12
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    @JohnChang That can be the trouble with wikia's. They often don't cite sources, even when they quote an episode directly! I've been wracking my brain, but I don't believe there's examples available to actually figure out what the limits are. Obstructions are typically off-screen, or complete, or we only see things get completely annihilated. – user31178 Jul 14 '16 at 3:33
  • Surely a gate blocked by an iris still activates, for the SG team or whoever to send through the signal to identify themselves? – Wallnut Jul 15 '16 at 13:13
  • What if an unknown but friendly alien dialled Earth? They wouldn't know about the iris. Would they just be unable to get through or would they get splatted? – Wallnut Jul 15 '16 at 13:14
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A Rod wouldn't stop matter or a wormhole from forming

The point of the Iris is that it is literally microns away from the event horizon. This prevents solid matter from reforming on Earth's end and suppresses the Kawoosh.

Placing something Inside the event horizon would result in it getting vaporised in the forming wormhole as soon as a lock was established. Placing something too far away from the event horizon would result in it getting vaporised by the Kawoosh. Whatever method you use needs to cover the entire event horizon and also be no more than a few microns away from it. That is why the Iris and Atlantis' shield work, and why a Rod or some other obstruction doesn't.

One episode of note that demonstrates this exact point is A Hundred Days in which the Stargate gets buried horizontally underground. Because the gate wasn't buried within a few microns of the event horizon, the wormhole established and the Kawoosh dug out a section of the rock immediately above the Stargate. Carter and Teal'c then devised a plan that involved climbing through the wormhole on a rope and taking a particle beam through to cut through the rock, eventually rescuing Jack, who was otherwise stranded on the planet.

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