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Would Star Trek holodecks physically affect you once you exit the Holodeck?

Meaning, if someone programmed a holodeck to dump a bucket of water over you head, would you have wet hair (outside later on)?

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    One would assume that the hair would be wet in the holodeck. But afterwards . . . ? – Martha F. Jan 8 '12 at 20:57
  • I meant afterwards OUTSIDE the holodeck. Edited. – TR14 Jan 8 '12 at 21:02
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    Well, with the safety off, it could kill you (or convert you to energy, as happened in on ST:V episode); I'd say that physically affects you. – Kevin Jan 8 '12 at 21:10
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    And of course what happens if you eat and digest holomaterial? Would the tissues that are built up by it simply vanish into nothingness when you leave the holodeck? That is something that has always vaguely freaked me out. – fluffy Jan 8 '12 at 22:58
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I believe the answer depends somewhat on how the holodeck is programmed.

BUT there is a classical example of the water being "real", so it's certanly one of the feasible outcomes with right programming:

In "Encounter at Farpoint", Wesley Crusher falls some water (a river IIRC) while in holodeck, and exits holodeck later on while still being wet.

I even found a screenshot (Yay Google image search)

enter image description here

A second frequently cited example is a piece of paper held by Data in "Elementary, Dear Data":

enter image description here


Interestingly enough, this seems to be a BUG rather than a feature (e.g. contrary to canonical understanding of holodeck technology). Wiki Holodeck article has this to say:

Matter created on the holodeck ("holomatter") requires the holoemitters to remain stable and will quickly disintegrate if it is removed from the holodeck without a mobile emitter to sustain it, although this principle has been overlooked in some episodes.

Writer Phil Farrand has often pointed out how in many episodes matter from the holodeck that gets on a real person still exists when the real person exits the holodeck. In "Encounter at Farpoint", Wesley Crusher falls into a holodeck stream, but is still wet after exiting the holodeck. In "The Big Goodbye", Picard has lipstick on his cheek after encountering a holodeck simulation of a 20th-century woman. In "Elementary, Dear Data", Data and Geordi La Forge exit the holodeck with a piece of paper that originated in the holodeck.

This could be explained using replicated rather than holographic matter.

However, that last statement is unreferenced and I'm not sure that there's any canon references to holodecks incorporating replicator technology.

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    There is, somewhere. I remember a reference that overly simple objects (like water) are replicated instead, because the one-time replication uses less energy than continually sustaining them as holographic matter. (Though it may perhaps have come from a novel, so the canon could be questionable) – Izkata Jan 9 '12 at 0:02
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    The paper in the second image always puzzled me for a different reason: When Geordi takes it, he flips it over vertically to show Data a drawing of the Enterprise. Which means Data was showing it to Geordi upside-down, suggesting that... well, just that the two of them see the world in weird ways, I suppose. – Blazemonger Jan 9 '12 at 17:36
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    In some episode (can't remember which, could be TNG or VOY) it is stated that beam-technology, replicators and the holodeck are highly related technologies. Also, it does make a lot of sense to replicate the water because even with the advanced processing power in ST I would imagine that it's still hard to realistically simulate (large quantities) water. – bitmask Jan 9 '12 at 18:18
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    It's probably a safety feature; imagine drinking a cup of water on the holodeck, and then walking out. All of a sudden, there's gaps in your bloodstream where the holo-water used to be, creating a bunch of small vacuums in your veins. That's got to have the potential to cause medical problems. Really, anything that has the potential to be ingested would have to be replicated. – Tacroy Jan 9 '12 at 19:38
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    I'm fairly certain the TNG tech manual doesn't make any reference to "holomatter". Instead, it says that objects that the user is meant to interact with - to pick up or move - are replicated. Objects they can just see but not touch are simply manipulated as projections. More complicated things that require active motion (people) are a combination of projections and shaped force fields. – T.J.L. May 25 '16 at 18:11
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Yes. In the episode Angel One, Picard got wet from a snowball (even though he was in the corridor outside!)

Picard gets hit by a snowball from the holodeck

GIF from this site.

And Dr Crusher was pushed into water by Data.

enter image description here

  • 1
    @SteveJackson: awesome, thanks for taking the time to find the screenshot and improve my answer! – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Jan 9 '12 at 18:13

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