I believe that the Baryon Sweep only affects organic matter, so I'm not sure why Data wasn't asked to stay onboard during this time ("Starship Mine"). True, there was a reception being held by Commander Hutchinson, but Worf was excused (and could have been asked to go in Data's place).

Now, obviously, Picard and the rest trusted those who were working onboard, but in the Star Trek universe, anything and everything can happen. Maybe a ship's system would have been damaged by the Sweep, and Data would be there to conveniently fix it. Or whatever.


3 Answers 3



We know that the Baryon sweep damages living tissue. Although Data lacks any truly organic components, he does have some parts that may still be damaged by the sweep:

  • His skin is described in TNG : The Most Toys as being comprised of "bioplast sheeting". Given the fact that it's designed to replicate human skin (complete with healing properties) it's possible that this would have been damaged by the beam.

  • In TNG: Deja Q, he states that he "occasionally ingested semi-organic nutrient suspension in a silicon-based liquid medium to lubricate his biofunctions". Again, there's a distinct possibility that these semi-organic elements would be vulnerable.


Geordi tells Picard that he needs additional field diverters to protect the ship's computer due to the strength of the beam they'll be using. Since at the time of TNG, Bio-Neural Gel Packs weren't yet in use, this clearly shows that radiation from the beam can also have a harmful effect on wholly non-organic items. Data's brain may be on this list:

GEORDI : ...I've requested some additional field diverters for the computer core and the Bridge...

PICARD : Additional units?

GEORDI: I'm a little worried that when the Remmler Array starts sweeping the ship it might have to use a stronger beam than normal to clear out all the radiation.

Starfleet Protocol

That all being said, the main reason for him leaving seems to be simply that his primary function is that he is a Starfleet officer and not a repair drone attached to the ship.

  • Mr Data, like other members of the senior staff has been invited to join the station's senior officers for dinner and drinks. As Second Officer, it would be unreasonable of him to refuse to attend or even to ask to be excused without good cause.

  • He's just installed a new "small-talk" subroutine and seems to think the reception will be a good place to try it out. Note that Picard tells him that he should attend. Obviously this isn't a direct order, but it's certain close to it.

PICARD: Perhaps it was a little too non-relevant. But if you really are interested in small talk, then you should keep your eye on Commander Hutchinson at the reception this afternoon. He's a master.

DATA: Thank you, sir. I will.

  • It's likely that Data has sufficient emotional intelligent to see the benefit of attending Federation functions with fellow officers as an excellent way to meet, mingle and network.

@Richard makes some good points, but there's also this to consider:

As the episode states, the baryon sweep is deadly to organic matter.

However, it also has the potential to damage the ship's systems - as indicated near the start when Geordi informs Picard that he has requested extra shielding for the computer core and the bridge. It isn't unreasonable to then assume that what might be bad for the ship's systems could also be bad for Data.


Outside of canon, but within physics, a baryon sweep would probably erase or at least severely damage Data's positronic brain.

[In response to comment]:

Positrons are positively charged particles with the mass of an electron, presumably confined with circuits that form the basis of artificial neuronic pathways. The potentials required to confine those particles are based on said mass.

Stable baryons (those that would be used in a 'sweep') are also positively charged but with masses at least 2000 times heavier than positrons. They are also readily interpolated into the circuitry because their positive charge would dislodged positrons at any level of kinetic energy (the basis of the Bohr approximation in Quantum Mechanics-- with mass gain of 2000 times, the baryons would have at least that many times kinetic energy as the positrons).

These heavier particles would not respond to the relatively weak potentials need to confine the positrons, and the data bits would simply 'float away', probably fairly quickly.

But alas, I'm down voted because there should be no science in our science fiction.

  • How so? Just curious.
    – user30592
    Sep 12, 2014 at 19:18
  • 1
    Note that the sweep is designed to remove baryons, not that the sweep itself is comprised of baryons.
    – Valorum
    Sep 18, 2014 at 21:19
  • 1
    Wow. I got that one backwards.
    – Lighthart
    Sep 18, 2014 at 21:23
  • That's probably why the downvotes.
    – JohnP
    Sep 18, 2014 at 21:53
  • You're downvoted because this is wrong, as has already been explained and as you've already admitted. Not sure why the answer is still up. Dec 15, 2017 at 23:59

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