The Battle of Britain

Re:  "Blaster Firepower"   


This is arguably the weakest of Mr. Anderson's pages, but it demonstrates several trends quite well.

In a manner of speaking, he's almost right . . . the blaster page which shows Leia's barely-a-flesh-wound and my cloaking page are both very visual pages.  Ossus and Wong then assume silly things about what the pictures represent (even in spite of the words I write in addition to the thousand words the pictures speak), and come up with ludicrous ideas like this one:

He then goes on to claim that the shot is representative of blaster firepower in SW by stating that he would rather fire bullets than blaster shots.

In fact, I made no such claim . . . I simply said that I'd rather use bullets.  Had the stormtrooper scored a direct hit on Leia's arm with a bullet instead of a blaster bolt, he'd have done much more damage, and possibly saved his two buddies that Leia easily killed a few moments later.   Hell, even a blaster's stun setting would have been more incapacitating.

In the Mos Eisley space port, weapons fire from Han and the stormtroopers clearly does significant damage to the walls of the space port, which are doubtless designed to resist the effects of a spacecraft lifting off and using its main engines.  

I've always found the assumption regarding the walls of Mos Eisley most entertaining.  They always include the comment that the walls had to have been designed to resist awesome heat of engines, and so on and so forth, in ignorance of the canon descriptions of the material (see below, in response to Wong).  They're even likely to flame you if you disagree.  

Funny . . . simple ice seemed to work quite well in the same settings on Hoth.   And why shouldn't it?  Contrary to what Ossus says, a vessel's main engines are not used for lift-off . . . all you need is the repulsorlift.  And, as seen in TPM when Qui-Gon and Jar-Jar had a hovertank pass over them, it isn't as if repulsorlifts produce undue pressure on the ground beneath.

Another thing to note is the dishonesty Ossus displays . . . only Han's blaster is seen to do damage to the walls.  This is the same blaster that made an impressive display against Greedo, whose own blaster's bolt barely singed the wall of the cantina before bouncing off of it.  

Meanwhile, the Imperial weaponry, even given the huge blasters the troopers were carrying, is not seen to do squat to anything, be it the floor or the Falcon:

The bigass, unwieldy Imperial blasters in use against Han

An Imperial blaster hit on the floor

Zoom-in on the result of the hit . . . a puff of dirt

An Imperial blaster hit on the Falcon

Zoom-in (brightened 60%) on the resulting small scorch mark

Note that the exhaust of a ship in Star Wars must be significant, due to the canonical use of blast-doors around the Death Star's hangars in ANH.

There were blast doors all over the Death Star.  Chewie and Han leapt through one while en route to the Falcon but not at the hangar, and Obi-Wan passed them on his way to and from the tractor beam controls.  This suggests less about the engines, and more about the lack of Imperial control over reliable forcefield technology, as seen to good effect in TNG, Voyager, and Star Trek: Nemesis. 

The shots fired knock fairly large chunks from the wall, and clearly demonstrate a firepower well in excess of what Mr. Anderson claims, despite his statement that:

"the highest end is hardly better.

And it isn't.  Even if those walls were concrete, it would make no difference in regards to Imperial blasters, because stormtroopers do not carry Han's blaster.  The ones shown in use in the hangar above were the largest seen, while the ones we see during the boarding of Leia's ship in ANH were of the same size as the one used to shoot Leia, and did as little apparent damage as in the arm shot.

After all, we know how easy it is to penetrate Stormtrooper armor, and we've seen the similar amount of damage a blaster did to Luke's artificial hand. "

Anderson deludes himself once again. Here he appears to assume that the ability of a substance to resist energy in the form of heat is equivalent to its ability to resist impacts of other objects. 

"Impacts of other objects"?  Ossus must be thinking about how ridiculously easy it is to penetrate stormtrooper armor with Ewok arrows, instead of the fact that any blaster shot we've seen that hits a stormtrooper has penetrated that armor.  Ossus thereby makes a fool of himself yet again, while claiming that I'm the one deluding myself.   It's almost like clockwork with him.

He also argues that Luke's artificial hand, made of a completely unknown material, is a good benchmark with which to prove his point about blaster fire.

Note how Ossus tries to perform a switcheroo . . . instead of the shot against Leia's arm having anything to do with anything on its own, he declares that I'm using the quick reference to Luke's hand as a benchmark.  Stupid Ossus.

Well, gee, I suppose the skin on his hand could have been made of carbon steel platelets with kevlar reinforcement and surrounded by a high-energy shield from an internal shield emitter, but I hardly think such wanking is appropriate.  It looks like skin, acts like skin, and so on . . . there's no reason to assume it has properties millions of times different than skin, or even close to that.

"A quote from the novelization of ANH, chapter 1, during the boarding of Leia's vessel: "Red, green and blue bolts ricocheted off polished sections of wall and floor or ripped long gashes in metal surfaces."

"Ricocheted off polished sections of wall"? Wouldn't that suggest that a mirrored surface would be undamaged? Alas, this seems to be overruled by the hits to the mirror-finish royal yacht in TPM . . . but, then, those were not hand blasters. Hmmm.
"

Anderson's speculation here totally ignores canonical incidents, which include hand blaster fire being deflected by utterly non-reflective surfaces. In fact, during the Battle of Naboo in TPM, a blaster bolt fired from a blaster carbine prominently deflects off of the ground. 

Hehehe . . . and Ossus thinks this helps his position.  "I'll attack The Great Satan™ by pointing out things even worse than what he pointed out!  And behold, grass deflects blaster fire!  Mu-ha-ha-ha-ha!"  If that worked with ships, Chia-armor would be the end of the Empire.

This is clearly an example of intellectual dishonesty.

No, this is clearly an example of Ossus's plain old idiocy.

Apparently, some unaccredited source demonstrated that in one instance, a phaser did approximately the same amount of damage to Doctor Crusher when she was hit by such a weapon. Anderson excuses this in part by explaining:

"there's the simple fact that the beam Lore shot Crusher with was one of the wimpiest seen out of early TNG phasers."

Note how Ossus ignores little details I pointed out like phaser settings (we've seen them do everything from vaporize to tickle), and declares that my "excuse" relates solely to the wimpy beam.  

This is another self-contradiction. Anderson has stated elsewhere that the intensity and width of a beam weapon has little impact on its firepower

No, I have stated that one cannot judge a weapon's firepower based on comparisons of a bolt's (or laser's) width, due to issues like intensity.   

, to prevent "rabid Warsies" from using an example of a Mon Calamari cruiser firing a turbolaser that is a few hundred meters long and claiming that it demonstrates proportionately greater firepower than was observed in the ESB asteroid scene.

I'm not sure what sort of mental masturbation developed this conclusion of Ossus's, but it is most amusing.  The actual purpose of pointing out the intensity issue was to respond to those who try to measure the barrel of a turbolaser weapon and scale firepower according to the barrel (i.e. they say if Barrel A is 100m² at the opening  and Barrel B is 10m² at its opening, the first weapon has 10 times the firepower).   (Of course, they ignore this issue in reference to AT-ST weapons vs. fighter weapons.)

I don't have the slightest clue what Mon Cal bolt he's referring to.  The only ones I'm familiar with that show such a length would be the ones that missed the Star Destroyer in RoTJ before that ISD exploded. 

"And yet, here we have off-axis firing ability, either making up for bad aim or being proof that the weapons are as aimable as one likes. Given the off-axis firing ability, we thus either have a manually-selected user option which allows for firing off at a certain angle, or else we have a highly advanced auto-aiming system in use. "

This demonstrated property of phaser fire is not impressive, and even appears to be somewhat detrimental in the screen-shots that Mr. Anderson has presented us with. The final picture shows Riker firing his phaser at a woman in "Vengeance Factor" [TNG]. He appears to be aiming at her head, and she appears to be only a few meters away from him. The off-axis firing of the phaser, however, discharges the weapon towards her chest, and it impacts the side of her abdomen.  Anderson's speculation about an auto-aiming system is further disproved by his own screen-captures. Had the weapon been designed to fire at the center of the target's chest, Riker's shot from "Vengeance Factor" would have hit Yuta further right of where it did.

Yep . . . it hits her roughly at the center of her torso from that angle (why would it aim for the center of the chest?), but does not try to go through her arm to do so.   So, do we have stupid phaser auto-aiming, stupid Riker targeting with use of an off-axis system, or either of the above plus a stupid Ossus?   I'd say the latter.

 Moreover, Lore's shot (about which this entire page is written) demonstrates that the shot missed and hit Dr. Crusher in the arm. It is difficult to accept that Data's more advanced brother would have missed so badly while using a weapon with such an advanced auto-aiming system, but we clearly see the shot miss wide.

Oh please.   In that scene, Lore forces Crusher to exit the cargo bay at a dead run by threatening to turn her son into a torch if she did not depart before the end of his five-count. Ossus is thus comparing his 'and stay out!' insult shot (a "small payment for your misdeeds") with an effort to kill her, declaring the hit to her arm a miss!   Stupid Ossus.

For an actual miss, take a look at the following scene, obtained via Wayne Poe (naturally).  Worf fires a clean miss against a Ferengi boarder.   Note that Worf's phaser beam tracks downward . . . at first in keeping with the movement of his arm and wrist, and then independently of it.  (Unfortunately, neither Worf nor the phaser tracked fast enough against the ducking Ferengi.)

Dodge.mov (292kb)  (I'd suggest you right-click and save the movie on your HD for better frame-by-frame)

"Of course, given the phaser's ability to fire in a widebeam mode, off-axis firing should not be a surprise. "

Why should such a capability be expected from a weapon that provides wide-angle firing capabilities are highly suspect.  Consider a flashlight with adjustable width. It can be set for "wide angle," but clearly cannot redirect the beam to another axis.

Leave it to Ossus to make the most misleading possible analogy.  A flashlight bulb "fires" in all directions, with the light redirected by use of a solid, shaped mirror.  Some flashlights offer one the option of moving the mirror, thereby altering the reflection angles.   There is no planar widebeam capability, nor any multiple spread beam capability.  

Had Ossus thought the concept through, he would have realized that even the difference between planar and conical phaser widebeams would have dashed his analogy against the rocks.  The only way to salvage the analogy would be to consider a reflector that is malleable, able to be bent by command into shapes which would allow it to have the altered configurations, including the planar ones.  But of course, a reflector that was so malleable could allow for all sorts of things . . . for instance, a portion of the end closed off.  

But still his analogy would remain stupid overall, since a phaser is not a light bulb.  The closest analog would be a laser pointer, but that wouldn't help Ossus either . . . lasers also do not allow for any alterations of the beam without reflection, either.   Unlike blaster bolts, which reflect off grass, magnetic fields, and so on, there is nothing we have ever seen that reflects phaser beams.   

Thus, the point Ossus failed to grasp was that the phaser emits beams of different spread . . . therefore, it follows that it should be able to emit a beam along any particular trajectory of that spread.  As we observe, it appears to be able to do this based on operator command, and perhaps even automatically home in on a target.  

Now see, look . . . I just had to write out four paragraphs to explain that for Ossus.  Most people would have grasped it easily, just by thinking about it . . . hence the single sentence Ossus quoted.  But, I suppose I expect too much from certain rabid readers.  (Sigh)

 

[Editor's note: RSA says "I'd rather use bullets, thanks." Perhaps he didn't notice the torso-sized chunk of ferrocrete being blasted out of the wall by Solo's blaster]

Ferrocrete?  We're talking about Star Wars, and Mike starts bringing up some EU fanboy wankfest material.  In canon reality, Docking Bay 94 is described thusly:

"Docking bay ninety-four, Luke noted, was no different in appearance from a host of other grandiosely named docking bays scattered throughout Mos Eisley. It consisted mostly of an entrance rampway and an enormous pit gouged from the rocky soil. This served as clearance radii for the effects of the simple antigrav drive, which boosted all spacecraft clear of the gravitational field of the planet."  (ANH novelisation, Ch. 7)

Or, how about the ANH SE script version:

"Chewbacca leads the group into a giant dirt pit that is Docking Bay 94. Resting in the middle of the huge hole is a large, round, beat-up, pieced-together hunk of junk that could only loosely be called a starship."

Wow, Han's blaster truly is extraordinary . . . it disrupted the structural integrity of packed dirt within a big hole.  When the Empire invades, I hope they broadcast pictures of that so the Federation can surrender immediately in the face of the dirt-slaying abilities within the Empire.  

[Editor's note: it should also be noted that those hand phasers may simply have a fixed off-axis downward angle. There are no "iron sights" or even a gun barrel, so aiming is done through sheer practice rather than sighting down a barrel and there's really no advantage or disadvantage to having the phaser always fire on a 20 degree downward slant, for example (in fact, it would actually be easier on the wrist, given the odd handgrip).

Wong's speculation belies his ignorance of canon . . . and the fact that he didn't even bother looking at the pictures I showed.

Besides, we've seen the controls on a hand phaser in "Vengeance Factor" and the only control is a power setting, so how can this thing possibly be configured to aim at certain targets? 

Wong sees three buttons and declares that the only possible setting is a power setting.   Praytell, how do they set for widebeam if they don't have the ability to do so?   And heaven forbid I bring up the auto-fire used by Wesley in "The Game"[TNG].

(Also note that Wong has evidently never used a cellular phone, or a PDA, or even a mouse . . . any of which would've clued him in to the fact that a button can do more than one thing, depending on the software behind the hardware.)

How does it know which target to shoot at, and how to tell friend from foe?

The presence of a communicator (or even uniform pips) would be an obvious suspect for the latter.   

As for the former, it would presumably depend on where one was actually targeting.   In an e-mail conversation with a site visitor, the most logical approach we determined would be that there would be a sort of target box that the phaser would use and which the operator would need to comprehend.  It could work in a manner akin to Windows applications (Solitaire being the most common example) where you just need to get close enough to the card and it will jump to the right place.  (Such a feature isn't technologically difficult . . . my old Palm handheld's Solitaire game does the same thing.)

In the case of overlapping target boxes, one would simply aim at a point as far as possible from the undesired target box, but near the desired one.  

Of course, such speculation, though reasonable, is irrelevant.  The fact remains that we've seen off-axis firing, and seen it track a target.  We've also seen the straight shooting of an on-axis, non-tracking shot.   The effect exists in the canon, whatever the precise nature of the mechanism or operation involved.

 And what's the point of the marksmanship practice we saw in TNG if the phaser does most of the aiming by itself?

We have smart bombs today, and yet our pilots still have to practice dropping dumb bombs on target.  While I'm sure Wong's insane belief that such a thing is pointless would make some military penny-pinchers happy, I hardly think it reasonable to stop teaching people how to aim. 

The "phasers can auto-aim" argument is one of the silliest out there, but it still crops up from time to time, and it should come as no surprise that RSA uses it despite its glaring weaknesses because if any pattern is abundantly clear, it is that he can and will say anything if he feels it helps his side].

Translation out of Wong-speak to what he's really saying:  "People keep pointing out canon facts about Star Trek (and Star Wars) to me, but I simply ignore them because I refuse to acknowledge my own ignorance.  Further, I will seek ways of suggesting that the other side is being dishonest for daring to acknowledge my ignorance for me."

What Wong fails to understand is that my "side" doesn't need phaser auto-aiming.   Without it, we're still left with hand weapons far more powerful than their Imperial counterparts that are capable of being used in a widebeam setting, and which have demonstrated many other interesting abilities.   Blasters don't stand a chance by comparison, and never did. 


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