The Battle of Britain

Re:  "Cloaking Technology"    

[Editor's note: this page on RSA's site claims that since ST cloaking devices are smaller than SW cloaking devices, they must be superior for that reason alone]

Untrue . . . though the fact that he said that isn't surprising, really.  On my page, I first give Captain Needa's quote regarding the 35 meter long Millennium Falcon.  I then make the comment:  "That would seem to be yet another SW technological limitation", promptly showing the decloaking of a 24 meter long Romulan runabout (which, incidentally, has even less volume than the length would suggest, due to the shape).

After a few other examples, I say "Pictures speak a thousand words."   Wong, evidently, feels no qualms about promptly putting the above words in my mouth.  The funniest part is the nature of his presumption that I've declared them superior in all respects. . . I made no comments about performance, since we've never seen a Star Wars ship cloak.  Wong thus committed a logical fallacy in his own mind, and promptly blamed me for it !!

(Of course, his fallacious inference aside, there may indeed be some truth to the conclusion he jumped to.   After all, every form of cloaking technology that we've seen, be it a part of those tiny Suliban cell ships from Enterprise, the Romulan cloaking device ("The Enterprise Incident"[TOS]), Klingon cloaking devices ("The Emperor's New Cloak"[DS9]), and even the Federation phase cloak ("Pegasus"[TNG]) were all man-sized affairs at the largest . . . .  that could certainly suggest that there's something horribly wrong with Imperial cloaking technology if they can't figure out how to make some sort of cloaking device of a similar size.)

Anderson's page on comparative cloaking technology of the two universes is decent in terms of a comparison of one thing: size.


 He is correct that Star Wars cloaking devices are larger and bulkier (and, indirectly, that they require more power) than Star Wars cloaking devices.

That "more power" business is a chancy guess, at best, presumably based on the notion that the size problem relates to the size of the reactor powering the cloak.  There are too many unknowns about what SW cloaks do to be able to draw such a conclusion, though, and too many forms of cloaking technology have been seen in Trek (which, as per the presumption for debating that the two franchises operate in the same universe, with the same laws, could exist in Star Wars as well).   In "The Communicator"[ENT], Trip's arm was cloaked by the Suliban cloaking technology, and remained that way without any continued influx of energy or whatever produced the effect.

 However, the page also appears to fall for one enormous fallacy: that larger necessitates a less advanced device. 

Emphasis on "appears to fall", provided that the reader leads themself astray, as did Wong and Ossus.

This may seem like a reasonable thing to believe at first (after all, smaller devices require vastly more miniaturization of components), but this ignores one fundamental principle: in order to reasonably compare two technologies, the two technologies must have similar purposes and functions. 

"No ship that small has a cloaking device!"   

Now, Needa could very well have been meaning "no ship that small has a device which is capable of utilizing the modifier-modifier-technobabble-X procedure, not phase-cloaking, light-bending, or (insert whatever the Suliban use), to mask it from the sensors of an Imperial Star Destroyer!" 

However, that is not what he said, nor can such a thing be reasonably inferred as the only solution.  As an example, one could state, with equal validity, that he could only have meant a cloaking device operating by the technology of the Romulan cloak from "Balance of Terror"[TOS].

What he did say was that no ship that small had a cloaking device . . . period.  On that basis, then, it is not a leap at all to point out that Imperial cloaks are bulkier (which is what I said), or that Empire technology is apparently incapable of making Trek-sized cloaks (which I also said).

[Editor's note: this is a fine example of RSA employing the "false analogy" fallacy]

I did not say anything which was a false analogy . . . that is what Wong inferred in his own illogical little mind.

That is, if Anderson is to claim that the Star Trek cloaking device is more advanced than its Star Wars opponent because of its smaller size, he must first demonstrate that the two devices accomplish similar feats. 

Not to state the brutally obvious, but perhaps actually cloaking something would be a good start.

Both cloaking technologies are designed to prevent detection by other starships, but it is unknown whether Star Trek ships or Star Wars ships use more developed sensor technology.

... The hell?   

Starship Examples

The Rebel fleet couldn't detect the 27 Imperial ships (including the humongous Executor) hiding on the far side of Endor  in Return of the Jedi.   In Star Trek II, the sensors tracked the Reliant on the opposite side of Regula.

In The Empire Strikes Back, the Millennium Falcon latched on to the hull of the Star Destroyer Avenger, and remained there for some time (perhaps as long as it took to travel to another system, depending on one's view of the whole Hoth vs. Anoat thing).  Before she detached and drifted away from the Avenger's hull undetected while masked only by garbage, she was plainly visible to other Star Destroyers of the group, which had clear line-of-sight at ranges of just a few kilometers.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise NX-01, having just been blown to hell by a mine, still managed to detect the hull contact of a cloaked mine in "Minefield"[ENT].

In The Empire Strikes Back, the Falcon's drive emissions as she came to a screeching halt were not detected by the Avenger.   In First Contact, the Enterprise-E was counting stray hydrogen atoms in space near the Neutral Zone.   The displacement of such atoms was used as a tracking method in "The Battle"[TNG].   Even the Jenolen, a battered 80 year old Federation transport, could successfully find the hours-old impulse drive emissions of a Galaxy Class ship, and determine their distribution (allowing the determination that the ship had undergone full reverse).  And yes, I know that the Enterprise-D would logically put out more than the Falcon, but with the unlimited expansion available in space, hours-old drive emissions would thin out pretty damn quick.

In A New Hope, Imperial sensors failed to detect two droids in an escape pod that launched from a ship the Star Destroyer had 'swallowed'.  In Star Trek: Nemesis, the Enterprise-E detected electromagnetic signatures of an android from outside a star system.

Return of the Jedi, Chapter 9:  "They went into a high-speed power-dive, perpendicular to the long axis of the Imperial vessel; vertical drops were hard to track."  Never has such a profound weakness been demonstrated with Federation starship sensors.

Small Ship Examples

In The Empire Strikes Back, the Falcon was surprised by two additional Star Destroyers that were already well within visual range (a similar, but less horrible example occurs in ANH, when Han is surprised to find two Star Destroyers in orbit).  In "The Quickening"[DS9], the runabout has to depart the blight-stricken world because Kira had detected two Jem'Hadar ships on patrol in another system, headed her way.

In an example that actually works decently for SW, The Empire Strikes Back shows us that Luke's fighter was able to detect lifeforms on the surface of Dagobah.  I can't think of any Star Trek example of a shuttlecraft engaged in independent operations near an uncharted world, but in "Battle Lines"[DS9] the runabout was able to detect the lifeforms on the planet's surface, and determine that they were humanoid.

Probe Examples

In The Empire Strikes Back, we see that the Imperial technique for searching planets with probes involves crashing them into the planet, letting them skulk about the surface with sensors that can't detect a Wookiee behind a mound of snow a couple of dozen meters away.  In "The Defector"[TNG], Starfleet probes were used to gather information and try to search for a cloaked base from orbit.

Smaller Equipment Examples

In all of Star Trek, small handheld devices are used for scanning, and these are shown as being extraordinarily capable of detecting all manner of particles, energies, and whatnot.   In Star Wars, such scanning capabilities are usually housed in droids (witness Han's need of R2's scanners during the search for Leia in Endor's woods).  Large, bulky handheld scanning devices have been seen, however . . . though they apparently had difficulty locating a warm-blooded human on the frozen plains of Hoth.

Han and a ridiculously bulky SW scanning device

And I could go on for days. Don't give me that crap about Star Wars sensors maybe being better.   To put it bluntly, Star Wars sensors suck.

 It should also be noted that, while the Star Trek cloaking devices almost invariably foil UFP sensors, they are far from perfect. Cloaked starships have been detected and tracked through many obvious methods, including exhaust (Star Trek VI). 

And, by Star Trek: Nemesis, the cloaking tech of the Romulan Empire was utterly untrackable by any means, including tachyons and antiprotons (which had both, within the decade prior, been successfully used to locate cloaked Romulan ships previously).  Of course, Wong continues to argue the BS position that the exhaust trail weakness of Chang's cloak a century prior would have worked against the Scimitar, as well.  

Sulu even spotted a cloaked starship with unaided eyes, though it is clear that when properly cloaked a ship is invisible to the naked eye (Star Trek IV).

Unaided eyes?  He was looking through the viewscreen!  That thing in the front of the bridge isn't a big window . . . well, unless something bad happens.  Now, unless more data than just optical sensors is processed into that image on the viewscreen, then yes, Sulu spotted it quite easily.   But, since the ship was perfectly cloaked in Star Trek IV (to the point that Gillian literally bumped into the ship), why even bring it up?

Cloaks in Star Trek rely on their opponent being either incapable of analyzing relevant sensor data for anomalies

 . . . which would suggest that, from the Empire's perspective, all ships are naturally cloaked . . . 

or incapable of detecting any of a number of traits that alert wary passersby of the ship's presence.

"Incapable"?  "A number of traits"?  What show have they been watching?

"When the Bough Breaks" [TNG], in which the Enterprise was incapable of detecting an entire planet. The planetary cloak only functioned by warping light, and had no effect on any other type of energy or matter.

The above claim is best described as "pseudo-honest".   The legendary, nearly-mythical planet Aldea was hidden by what is described in the episode as a sophisticated, complicated electromagnetic light-refracting device of extraordinary power which bent light around the planet's contour.  In addition, the planet was protected by shields which the Aldeans could beam through (and through the Enterprise's shields simultaneously), but which the Enterprise could not have penetrated.  

The Enterprise was incapable of directly detecting the cloaked world.  Given our knowledge of the numerous sensor systems of the Enterprise and what they can sense (EM, subspace, gravitational distortions, temporal distortions, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum), is the most logical conclusion that they couldn't find a planet that ought to have been easy for them to detect, or that they couldn't find the planet because it was not detectable by even Federation sensors?   Obviously, the answer is the latter.

(Note also that even today, we can detect a planet's location and plot its orbit merely by paying attention to the wobble of the parent star, caused by the gravity of the planet.  Yes, the technique as presently used requires analysis of an orbit's worth of data, but if we assume that people had been searching for the mythical Aldea for centuries, we would either have to assume that everyone in the Alpha Quadrant is an idiot (which, naturally, would be Wong's assumption), or that Aldea's cloak prevented such a technique's utility.  (That opens up an interesting can of worms about how Aldea might've masked its mass and simultaneously maintained orbit, but a solution might be found in their ability to project an energy effect that could push the Enterprise decades away from Aldea.)  In any event, we do not know the full measure of how the cloak worked . . . but we do know the techniques which were available to locate it.   The fact that these techniques found nothing is the logical basis upon which one should determine the capabilities of the cloak, as opposed to ignoring the Enterprise's known abilities in favor of the presumption of limited cloak capability.)

The cloak does not appear to change anything about a starship, except for its electromagnetic signature.

Now that's just a stupid claim.  The sensors of Deep Space Nine in "Way of the Warrior" detected the incoming warp signatures of six Federation starships.   However, they were incapable of detecting the warp signatures of the huge Klingon fleet that had dropped in on them cloaked.  It is patently absurd to suggest that cloaks do nothing more than mask EM signatures.

 It should also be noted that only two ships in all of Star Trek could fire when cloaked, and both of these ships are considered to be extremely advanced models.

And this matters how?  There's certainly nothing in the canon to suggest that Star Wars ships can fire while cloaked.   I assume this is Ossus's attempt to disregard any data on the new cloaking device of the Scimitar.

These are all serious technological limitations, but Anderson overlooks these in proclaiming that Star Wars has limited technology.

They do.   Or are we to assume that Needa was mistaken?

[Editor's note: you may also wish to note that Obi-Wan Kenobi could identify the "gravity silhouette" of Kamino from thousands of light years away, thus confirming that it still exists, yet no one in ST could pick up an entire planet, despite the fact that it is an object of legend and speculation and people already have an idea where it should be (in other words, Trek sensors are overrated).

The Kaminoan star system had been deleted from the Jedi archives, but its gravitational effects were evident by how it had affected other star systems in the area.   That is not direct sensor contact of gravitational effects from light-years away . . . that's a stupid mistake by Dooku (or whoever deleted the record).   Further, Wong is comparing locating a star system with locating "an entire planet".   Are we supposed to assume that Aldea was larger or more massive than one's average star system now?   What an incredibly silly argument.

 Moreover, the exhaust emission problem of cloaked ships under impulse drive has never been successfully addressed by RSA or anyone else who would wish to claim that they're immune to passive infrared sensor technology.

Wong likes to take the Star Trek canon and assume the worst despite evidence to the contrary.   

1. In "Balance of Terror"[TOS], Spock found that he was quite able to track the Romulan ship with motion sensors (though we do not know the operating principle of those sensors).   In Star Trek III and Star Trek VI, despite the fact that they were looking for a ship, they were unable to locate it.   

2.  In Star Trek VI, they were able to locate Chang's Bird of Prey by tracking its drive emissions.   At no point since then has such a technique been shown to work.   (Indeed, we do not even know for certain whether that was a failing of other cloaks from that time, as opposed to Chang's special cloaking device.) 

3.  In "Redemption"[TNG], a Federation task force used a tachyon detection network to try to detect cloaked Romulan ships.  Though such a technique was still considered a danger by a Romulan captain a year and a half later ("Face of the Enemy"[TNG], though it should be noted that a cloaked ship had penetrated the Neutral Zone a year before that ("Unification")), it was no longer of any concern in Star Trek: Nemesis.

4.  The Dominion employed an antiproton technique against the Defiant's Romulan cloaking device in "The Search".  Such techniques were not shown to be useful in later DS9, and were specifically stated to be useless in Star Trek: Nemesis.

5.  In "Visionary"[DS9], the station's sensors were able to locate the tetrion emissions of the artificial quantum singularity powering a cloaked Romulan Warbird (and, incidentally, they commented on not being able to find any gravimetric disturbance, when they thought they were looking for a natural singularity).  Such a technique has not been proven efficacious since that time. 

What we have, then, is an arms race . . . cloaking devices vs. techniques for penetrating/overcoming their effect.  As can be seen, penetration techniques which are found to work have invariably been overcome by new advances in cloaking technology . . . leading to the necessity of finding new ways to overcome the cloaks.  

It is interesting to note that Star Wars sensors are almost certainly capable of detecting cloaked ships in Star Trek. 

The above claim is utterly absurd, made even worse by the various Force-related things he bases it on.   His claim would actually have been stronger before The Phantom Menace, which de-mystifies the Force thanks to the midichlorians which are its basis.   And thus, his appeal to magic falls flat.

Star Trek cloaking shields, after all, do nothing that can prevent a Force-user from detecting them.

 . . . since, of course, Force-users (or even simple midichlorians) have been so commonly observed in Star Trek, and shown to be able to detect cloaked ships . . . 

Star Trek cloaking devices do not even prevent telepaths and empaths from finding them, as shown in "Star Trek: Nemesis."

Note the "do not even" . . . as if we should believe that Betazoid telepathy is somehow less advanced or less powerful than Jedi telepathy.   Oh, but wait!  There's no such thing as Jedi telepathy, now is there?  They all communicate with one another verbally.  

Further, what little Betazoid-esque sensing we've seen from the Force occurred in ANH and RoTJ, when Vader sensed the presence of another Force-user, and was able to identify who it was.  Note well, however, that he was not able to sense such a 'presence' after death, even when Kenobi was speaking to Luke shortly before the first Death Star was destroyed, with Vader a mere few dozen meters behind him.   

(But, before one guesses at some Highlander-esque ability, remember that neither Vader nor Qui-Gon were able to identify those who were ridiculously strong in the Force normally.   Qui-Gon didn't know anything about Anakin's Force potential until he was told of his reflexes, and didn't know how powerful he truly could be until scanning for midichlorians in Anakin's bloodstream.  Similarly, Vader was utterly ignorant of Luke throughout ANH, and Leia throughout the whole series.  It would seem that for one to be identifiable via the Force, one must know that one has abilities with it.  That would hardly present a problem for the Force-ignorant Alpha Quadrant.)

Finally, note that it is those midichlorians and the amount of them which give Force-users their abilities.  Betazoid telepathy and empathy involves a neurotransmitter called psilosynine, as per "Dark Page"[TNG].  

Thus, to attempt to compare the telepathy of Betazed with the Force not only involves profoundly different effects of the techniques involved, but different basic causes, as well.   One could also presume, then, that the "carrier" for these effects is also different.

Ossus goes on to suggest that a Star Wars cloaking device would be able to block both Force sensing and Betazoid-style telepathy:

In Star Wars, to be effective a cloaking device would almost certainly need to do such a thing in order to be effective. In the canonical TPM novelization "He [Darth Maul] lifted his arm to view the control panel strapped to his forearm, picked out the settings he wished to engage, and punched in the calculations required to identify the enemy he was looking for. Jedi Knights would manifest a particularly strong presence in the Force. It took only a minute. He turned back toward his ship. Spherical probe droids floated through the hatchway, one after another" (page 149, hardcover). Thus it is clear that Star Wars sensors can easily be modified to pick up disturbances in the Force, and that such sensors can fit in very small volumes—the probe droids shown in TPM are smaller than one cubic meter.

Obviously, it did not occur to Ossus that merely scanning individuals for a high midichlorian count would be sufficient to achieve the stated effect.  Note also that this is evidently a Sith technique . . . we've never seen or heard of Star Wars vessels scanning for disturbances in the Force, though Ossus naturally assumes that they do.  Had they done so, then the stolen Imperial shuttle from RoTJ (bearing Luke) should have shown up like a light-house on sensors, and there would've been more to cause suspicion than just an older Imperial code.  (A likely response by Warsies would be that the shuttle was rigged and somehow blocking this imagined Force-scanning capability . . . but, if so, how the hell would Vader be able to know that Luke was aboard?)

It is unclear what cloaking devices in the canonical Star Wars are capable of, but they are evidently capable of theoretically fooling an Imperator class Star Destroyer's sensors.

As the Falcon demonstrated, that is not a difficult thing to do.  

 This would necessitate cloaking the presence of the Force from an area, and represents an ability that the UFP's sensors clearly do not have. Thus, it is clear that Star Wars cloaking technology is more effective in at least one area than the comparative Star Trek technology, even if we do not have a canonical example of a Star Wars cloaking shield in effect.

In spite of the absurd (and absurdly tenuous) argument about Star Wars vessels having Force-sensors, he claims "thus, it is clear...".   Giggle one, giggle all. 

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