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This video shows a couple of the sequences in ST:TNG "Cause and Effect" where the Bozeman approaches the Enterprise.

At 1:03 in the video, Geordi initiates an emergency core shutdown.

At 1:15, you can hear a "pew pew... pew pew... pew pew..." sound effect for the first time. At that point, Data says that the core shutdown was unsuccessful and that they are losing antimatter containment. Geordi says they have to eject the core, but Data responds that ejection systems are offline and a core breach is imminent.

I thought that the "pew pew" alarm was to indicate that a warp core breach was imminent. Surely the computer knew that was the case after the core shutdown failed, so it sounded that alarm.

But then at 2:04 in the video, Worf engages the tractor beam and you can hear the same "pew pew" sound effect. Is that an alert heard by people on the bridge whenever they engage the tractor beam? If so, then why did we hear the same sound effect at 1:15?

Or do the "warp core breach is imminent" alarm and the "tractor beam engagement" alert share the same sound effect? I would hope that something as serious as a warp core breach would have a unique alarm.

  • interestingly, it's not played in the earlier loops... – Valorum Dec 10 '14 at 18:51
  • @Richard Are you sure? You can hear it at 1:50 in this video, which is a different loop. – pacoverflow Dec 10 '14 at 18:53
  • I think this will have to chalked up as a production goof. I was hoping maybe the original sound was just masked in the earlier part. I do notice that they are at different volumes, but it is definitely the same. – Thorin Schmidt Dec 10 '14 at 19:24
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The alarms seem inconsistent (it doesn't work as a proximity alarm, a loss of attitude control alarm, a tractor beam alarm, core breach imminent or a "report to evacuation stations" alarm) leaving it as a general alert noise. The sound is similar to the shuttle bay decompression alarm (

), though a higher pitch.

It's hard to make any argument that it is a tractor beam alarm because it doesn't sound with the initial use of the tractor beam.

I think the best explanation (still a stretch) might be a navigational hazard. (1) Loss of helm control while spinning out is very bad, requires immediate attention. (2) Vessel on collision course with no helm input available (which might be a separate alarm than a collision alarm), perhaps not activating as quickly the first time because the alarm was suppressed by Ensign Ro.

Ultimately, it seems so inconsistent that there is no good way of answering without a healthy dose of speculation. I do think the most likely alert has to do with navigation, not warp core breach or tractor beam engagement (the former usually being red alert klaxon and the latter being a silent activity in other episodes - verbally announced). However, you can imagine a situation where a navigational hazard (external or internal) would generate an alert noise, once it past a certain designated threshold, on the bridge.

Wild speculation for a general "tension heightening" alarm sound.

  • That shuttle bay door alarm seems like a completely different alarm. Also, why would someone ever suppress an alarm? – pacoverflow Jan 8 '15 at 14:48
  • The red alert klaxon was regularly silenced. Alarms are useful for getting your attention, once you recognize it and take action the usefulness of an alarm is minimal. You're right, listening to it initially it seemed more familiar. – Captain P Jan 10 '15 at 23:03

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