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This question is prompted from the scene in the film First Contact, when the Borg are outside the Enterprise creating the transmitter to communicate with the Borg of that time period, on the main deflector dish, they are working on that transmitter for some time, at least a few hours, yet they have no air and no protection for their biological cells to the extremes of space.

How did they survive? Borg are obviously very adaptable to many situations and environments, but they are part biological, and as such that biological part of them still needs the basics for survival: warmth (not the freezing cold that is the vacuum of space) and presumably some kind of atmosphere (be that nitrogen/oxygen or whatever), not the vacuum of space.

The nanotechnology could repair any damage I'm sure, but could it continually repair such extremes of damage such that Borg could survive for extended periods of time outside of a starship?

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    Empirically the answer would seem to be "Yes". – Xantec Apr 16 '12 at 13:14
  • "Yes" as in "intentionally done this way", or "yes" as in "the director/writer just didn't think about it?" :) – Nick Shaw Apr 16 '12 at 13:17
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    Well, that is now an entirely different question. – Xantec Apr 16 '12 at 14:20
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    @Tynam: No, space itself isn't freezing. Temperature is an attribute of matter; a vacuum has no temperature. – Keith Thompson Apr 19 '12 at 18:40
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    @Keith: I was being colloquial; you know what I meant. 'Temperature' is not a good word in this context. A vacuum has no temperature, but a Borg in a vacuum does have an equilibrium temperature. (If we nitpick, space isn't a vacuum, even away from stars, but of course you'd never notice. Most of the interstellar medium is technically hot, but if you sat in it you'd experience a chilly 4K or so.) Nevertheless, NASA put those heaters in the spacesuits for a reason. Out of direct sunlight the equilibrium temperature of an object in planetary orbit is not warm. – Tynam Apr 19 '12 at 19:09
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I would presume that the borg technology could create a barrier around each body, some kind of personalized forcefield, to keep it at the correct temperature and protect it from vacuum. As a result, there would be no need to repair any damage.

The nanites would also be able to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen (storing the extra carbon atoms somewhere) directly in the lungs, eliminating the need to breathe.

  • I figured they probably could have a forcefield, you just don't see anything like that in the film - probably because the director couldn't be bothered adding the extra special effects in, I guess. Nice point about CO2 conversion to Oxygen. – Nick Shaw Apr 16 '12 at 13:16
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    I presumed that it would be a field of some kind because the Borg used personal fields in TNG. It wouldn't necessarily be visible though - I would presume that it was drawn in skin tight. – Donald.McLean Apr 16 '12 at 13:19
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    And though it's probably b-canon, the Animated Series has EXACTLY this kind of force-field in the very first episode. – Chris B. Behrens Apr 16 '12 at 13:49
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    If they don't need to breathe, there is probably no need to "protect them from vacuum." See here – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Apr 16 '12 at 16:42
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    as I recall, we get to see borg on the outer hull of the Enterprise E during "First Contact". Their implants seem to take care of the vacuum, cold and radiation very well. – SteveED Apr 20 '12 at 0:14
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There is an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (I think when they find 7of9) where they explore this question. Based on that episode they do say Borg can survive with out an atmosphere for a period but will need to return to an oxygenated environment after about 24 hrs.

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    best answer yet. – Darth Egregious Apr 16 '12 at 19:00
  • @chcuk - just wanted to say thanks for this answer. Alas, I can only accept one answer as 'correct', and although your answer may be technically correct, it doesn't answer the "how" part of my question, only "yes they can". – Nick Shaw Apr 16 '12 at 21:03
  • I understand completely @NickShaw was planning to update my answer as soon as I could pull up the specific episode I mention. – chcuk Apr 16 '12 at 21:07
3

The Borg adapt, and the Borg create specialized drones for specialized tasks.

In episodes of TNG we see the Borg can create personal force fields to protect themselves from hazards, and in I, Borg Hugh explains that drones have specialized pieces or appendages or modules to enable them to perform specialized tasks efficiently.

I would say the Borg outfitted drones with particular modules and technology to perhaps create a personal force field and oxygen producing appendages.

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