19

I apologize if this has been asked before but:

When an intruder is on board the classic approach is to chase after them and throw up a few force-fields (which usually gets bypassed). Why not just increase the gravity in that section and pin the intruder to the floor? This way there is no way they can access a console or shoot at the panel or do anything else to escape

I think this was done in an Enterprise episode (too stop a really strong Gorn if I remember right). There are a few episodes that show this can be carefully controlled some examples

  • DS9: Melora (Gravity lowered in quarters for a crew member)
  • VOY: Learning Curve (Tuvok increases the gravity 10% to make the run harder)
  • ENT: In a Mirror, Darkly Part II (One deck plate is increased to pin down a Gorn)

These are just a few.

Why is this never used when Seven of Nine goes rogue, Borg invade or any other time they know where an intruder is and are trying to restrain them? Pin them to the floor and when security arrives, stun then and return gravity to normal, simple. I think this is the 'best' way to stop any intruder, (maybe not Data but most humanoids INCLUDING 8472: technology may not work on them but gravity seems to)

EDIT Having considered Wiki's comment it seems like the stator acts like a backup battery, but the DS9: Melora episode she turns off the shuttles gravity immediately too, which leads me to believe its a merely a backup in case of power loss, and adjustments up OR down are made immediately

  • Possibly it would take a long time to increase the gravity, since (from the Technical Manual), "In the event of EPS failure, the stator will continue to provide an attraction field for up to 240 minutes..." – Wikis Sep 5 '16 at 14:51
  • I'm not talking about turning it off, instead send it more power (the Gorn example shows this can be done fast and specifically, although a mirror universe the ship they were on was on the same level as a TOS ship) – Matt Sep 5 '16 at 14:57
  • I know, I am wondering if it generally reacts slowly. But I think you've found a nice plot hole! – Wikis Sep 5 '16 at 15:01
  • In-Universe, there's probably some rational (though not canon) explanation of it requiring a great deal of power to increase the gravity in a localised area to that degree, or can cause the overall artificial gravity systems to become unstable, so it shouldn't be done willy nilly at every opportunity. Or something. Out-of-universe, it's because it wouldn't make for good television XD – DisturbedNeo Sep 5 '16 at 16:25
10

At least as of the TNG era, the artificial gravity system does not appear to have been designed to be modulated on the fly.

According to Section 12.3: Artificial Gravity Generation of the fully canon Star Trek The Next Generation: Technical Manual by TNG production designers Michael Okuda and Rick Sternbach:

The gravity field itself is created by a controlled stream of gravitons, much like those produced by the tractor beam....Suspended in the center of the [generator], in pressurized chrylon gas, is a superconducting stator of thoronium arkenide. The stator, once set to a rotational rate above 125,540 rpm, generates a graviton field with a short lifetime....The field is gentle enough to allow natural walking without a gravity gradient from head to foot, long a problem in brute-force physical centripetal systems.

The superconducting system remains suspended from the time of manufacture, and requires only an occasional sychronizing energy pulse from the EPS, normally once every sixty minutes.

According to this, the stator suspension system seems to be designed to be calibrated at the time of manufacture, rather than being recalibrated on the fly. Part of this seems to come from the generators across the ship being designed to function in unison:

This decay time [of the field generated by a stator] necessitates the addition of a second layer of generators beyond 30 meters distance.

Also:

In order to allow translation of excess inertial potential from one part of the ship to another, the gravity generators are connected together by a network of small waveguide conduits that allow field bleed for gravitational stability.

So it seems that having the generators operate in unison — even ones at distant ends of the ship — is desirable, which is consistent with their initial calibration at the ship yards being maintained and preserved via a synchronizing energy pulse every sixty minutes.

This gives us the following impression:

  • the gravity system is somewhat delicate
  • local discrepancies in the gravitational field are to be avoided wherever possible

One might argue that in some extreme circumstances, it would be okay to alter the field strength locally. This seemed to happen in DS9 "Melora" (although Cardassian gravity systems may be very different) and in Voyager "Learning Curve" (where Tuvok decided in favour of altering the gravity for his lesson plan).

In both of those instances, some technical planning / preparation and safety analyses may have gone into this — things that might not be possible on the fly.

As for Enterprise "In a Mirror Darkly" Part 2, note that both the time period and universe were different. The gravity systems of that time may not have been so delicate, and the mirror universe cares little about recommendations in any case.

  • so yes it could be done easily but could affect someone on the other side of the ship, the effect is delicate and needs careful considerations and planning, I can accept that as a good reason not to, thanks – Matt Sep 5 '16 at 22:21
  • @Matt : Yep, that seems to be the impression painted by the Technical Manual. Glad to be of help. :-) – Praxis Sep 5 '16 at 22:24
4

I don't know if there's a canon answer, but one sensible possibility is that this is more likely to kill the person you're trying to capture than trapping them with forcefields and hitting them with phasers set on stun.

A gravity increase to the point that would prevent someone from accessing a console or shooting out a panel could very easily cause a fatal (break neck etc. - assuming a human-like being) fall, especially if sudden, and especially if the person you're trying to capture is running at the time.

  • 2
    While there is a slight risk, I disagree with this, I have seizures (as in you fall straight down not fall over, and I have never been injured falling this way - even on concrete: unless theres something you can bang you head on the way down). Its no more risky than the stun setting (which can be dangerous too depending on the species). And the crew and ship comes 1st, your phaser are on stun are theres? I dont think this risk outweighs the benefit, especially when you consider the sensors know what species it is – Matt Sep 5 '16 at 19:50
  • 3
    No, because the stun setting (and seizures) involve a fall at 1 g. To really immobilize someone to the point they couldn't access a panel or shoot, as the original question mentioned, would require a whole lot of g's - probably close to the point of blackout/G-LOC, a phaser isn't that heavy so keeping someone from lifting and aiming it... – cometaryorbit Sep 21 '16 at 6:34
  • Agreed. And in Enterprise the Gorn was brought to the ground by an "evil" Mirror Archer, not a friendly Starfleet type. I really think this fits. – Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 27 '16 at 22:16

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