In the 6th season of The Next Generation, we learn that starships that undergo extended periods at warp will accumulate baryon particles, and need to be purged. The baryon sweep is lethal to organic matter (dramatically demonstrated in the episode), requiring the complete evacuation of the Enterprise.

Given the fact that Intrepid class starship utilizes neural gel packs, would a baryon sweep damage them? If so, how would they purge baryon particles?

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    Take out the packs and then put them back in again I assume – Valorum Oct 24 at 12:42
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    The baryon thing has always bugged me as a technobabble... almost 100% of most matter, organic and inorganic is composed of baryons (by mass) – HorusKol Oct 24 at 12:46
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    How does the Intrepid class purge baryon particles? Very carefully. – Paul D. Waite Oct 24 at 12:50
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    @PaulD.Waite I know - I don't quite understand why it's this one thing I get stuck on out of all the 7 seasons (and the other shows) - and it's one of my favourite episodes – HorusKol Oct 24 at 12:59
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    @HorusKol: it is a belter. It's frustrating eh: if they'd just made the technobabble more removed from, or more consistent with, actual science, then the whole thing stands up in comparison with Die Hard. – Paul D. Waite Oct 24 at 13:01

There's no on-screen information. The only Voyager reference to a baryon sweep is in VOY6x18 Ashes to Ashes, when Harry Kim says he requested them for his quarters at the Academy because he lived "across the hall from a slob". This is presented as sarcasm and teasing between two characters who demonstrate a playfully adversarial relationship.

In the baryon sweep's actual on-screen appearance (TNG6x18 Starship Mine), all living creatures are removed from the ship and sensitive electronics (in engineering, on the bridge, and in the main computer) are protected by field diverters.

Across the Sovereign, Defiant, and Intrepid-classes, a lot of technology was introduced or updated after TNG6x18 Starship Mine. There's really no way to tell if baryon sweeps are still a required procedure.

There are a few possibilities, but there's no on-screen evidence to tell which is the case:

  1. The bioneural gel packs, consisting of living material, need to be removed from the ship during a baryon sweep.

  2. Perhaps bioneural gel packs are not as sensitive as an actual person to the sweep, and a field diverter is sufficient to protect them in-place.

  3. It is plausible that Voyager doesn't need baryon sweeps due to her variable geometry pylons. The unpublished Voyager technical manual was apparently going to indicate this design feature was a solution to the subspace damage discovered in TNG7x09 Force of Nature, but it's plausible the same change had other effects on starship operation and maintenance.

  • also if harry is asking for a sweep of his quarters that implies that you can sweep room by room, its possible they could have swept the ship themselves in stages by moving the crew around – Matt Oct 27 at 15:17

Baryon sweeps may not need to be done ship-wide in all one go, that is just the most convenient way to do it, especially for large ships. There is nothing in the lore preventing portable baryon sweepers. And there is a long tradition of background characters waving around machinery with no seeming purpose.

Also, this would be a problem for any high warp-capable culture. Facilities that specialize in baryon sweeps would not be difficult to regularly find.

As mentioned elsewhere, the use of bio-neural gel packs could remove the need for baryon sweeps, or prevent the use of ship-wide baryon sweeps. Field diverters are an option, but with them distributed throughout the ship hundreds of little diverters could be impractical, forcing labor-intensive manual sweeps.

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    Do you have any sources to back this up? – Sava Nov 12 at 21:39

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