Active Safety

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Active Safety

Postby Sonic Glitch » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:00 pm

I'm not sure if this belongs here or somewhere else. However I think it fits in "General/Trek..."

One of the things we always like to decry here is the dependency in Trek on active safety systems. I think more than once we've talked about how the warp core really should have something that does not require active power or maintenance to keep it stable (i.e. a containment field). And we've all had good discussions about how prominent incidents with those sorts of systems are in Trek. Well I was watching a car commercial recently and this got me thinking: maybe this dependency on active systems isn't so far-fetched/so much a symptom of lazy writing as we thought.

I don't know how it is across the pond but if you've watched any American car commercials they seem to be designing new cars with a lot of systems designed to tell the driver something is wrong or in their way and tack action automatically in place of the driver. There are cars with back-up cameras, seats that buzz to alert the driver there's something behind them and/or apply the brake before the driver does; parking assisted cars etc. To me these seem to be the sorts of things are useful, but also dangerous if they get to the point where they begin to replace actual attention. Do we think it is possible that the development of these systems will lead to a time where the failure of these systems might cause a catastrophe because humans have forgotten to be vigilant -- similar in manner, if not scale, to how the failure of the antimatter containment field leads to a warp core breach because there is no passive back up?
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Re: Active Safety

Postby Captain Picard's Hair » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:21 pm

I was just wondering about the antimatter containment system, after reading this post. Clearly a containment field is needed since the antimatter can't be allowed to contact normal matter until it can be safely annihilated in the reaction chamber, but is there a physical reason why a passive containment field would be impossible? A magnetic field of great strength must be required to contain dense antimatter plasma, but surely a civilization with the technology to create warp drives can create permanent magnets of such strength.

There would still be potential dangers from mechanical damage to the containers (and thus the critical magnets) which could cause the containment field to fail (a very specific arrangement of the magnetic field is required to form a magnetic "bottle").
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Re: Active Safety

Postby Coalition » Mon Jul 16, 2012 1:35 am

One idea might be a set of pressurized cylinders always pushing the antimatter pod outside the ship, and an electromagnet holding the pod in place. The antimatter pod has a small battery on it to keep containment going for a few seconds (aka enough time to push it clear). If power is interrupted to keep the battery charged, the electromagnet fails, and the cylinders push the antimatter pod out of the ship.

If it is ejected by accident, the tractor beams can be used to hold it in place, or other stuff to keep the battery containment charged while the pod is put back in place. A compressor can be used to charge the compressed gas cylinders. Sending out a redshirt with a spare battery is among the last choices.

You design the system so it fails into a safe configuration, rather than the current fail-deadly version. I.e. if the mortality systems fail on the Holodeck, it shuts down the simulation immediately. Also, Geordi should not be using the Holodeck in admin mode, which is likely the only reason Picard's access couldn't shut down Geordi's program.
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