Science

From Star Trek: Theurgy Wiki

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Since well before the Federation’s founding, science and medicine were at the heart of interstellar travel. Much of the impetus to travel to worlds orbiting other stars came from the desire to explore and understand the cosmos, a drive all scientists know exceptionally well. Every new planet could be home to a plant that could cure a deadly disease, or ruins containing ancient medical records well in advance of anything in the physician’s experience. Also, scientists on starships had always dealt with the fact that interstellar travel was dangerous – each new star system could hold some previously unknown astrophysical phenomenon that could destroy unwary starships or a disease that could wipe out an entire species. As a result, members of Starfleet’s Sciences Division understood that their twin duties were solving scientific mysteries and working to keep these mysteries from harming the crew or their starship.

Like all Starfleet personnel, members of the sciences division came from a wide variety of backgrounds and species. Science officers were respected professions outside of Starfleet, but most members of the professions lead relatively sedate lives. Throughout the history of Starfleet, a few skilled civilian scientists had become science officers in the fleet, and these daring individuals gave up their academic life or civilian medical practice to join Starfleet well after completing their professional training. However, most members of the sciences division were people who joined Starfleet relatively early in their lives. These exceptional individuals were either drawn science before joining Starfleet, or became fascinated by one of the scientific fields during their time at the Academy. The sciences division collectively worked to acquire and apply new knowledge in the service of Starfleet and the Federation as a whole.

Perhaps the most important duty of any science officer, or, for that matter, any scientist worthy of the title, was to accept the truth of their observations, regardless of how problematic these truths might be. Unless one was guided by both logic and rigorous observation, the line between a carefully made hypothesis and wishful thinking could blur into meaninglessness. The fact that having the details of a situation be a particular way would be convenient, or potentially even life-saving, had no relation to what the situation was actually like. Science officers' duty was to analyze data they collected, to formulate accurate hypotheses, and then to use these hypotheses to help them understand what they were observing. Dispassionate observation and theorizing may have proven difficult if the phenomenon in question was a potentially lethal threat. However, in such cases, the key to survival for the ship and its crew could only come from gaining a clear understanding of the scientific truth in front of them, and then determining how these truths may be used to their ship’s greatest advantage.

Positions

Science officers and Starfleet scientific advisors were found on starships and starbases across the Federation, as well as on remote science outposts. Because of the enormous breadth of their specialties, their duties ranged from anthropologists who spent months or years secretly living among members of a pre-warp civilization to better understand them to astrophysicists who studied data from long-range sensor relays, searching for possible natural anomalies or dangers that might be worth investigating. However, all science officers had to be able to function as scientific generalists who could apply their knowledge and training to a wide variety of problems and effectively communicate and work with officers who possessed radically different specialities.

The Chief Science Officer was the Senior Staff member aboard a starship or starbase with the broad responsibility of coordinating the science department of the post. Science officers were responsible for observing and theorizing explanations for strange or seemingly unexplainable circumstances. In the 22nd and 23rd centuries, the science officer was responsible for sensor readings.

A general survey party required the direction of the science officer. In a medical emergency, the findings of the science officer were heavily relied upon.

Non-commissioned officers within the Science department worked as technicians and laboratory assistants who performed many routine tasks, including reviewing sensor logs of any potential anomalies that a science officer may wish to investigate, performing straightforward tests, and calibrating and resetting scientific equipment so that it was always available for science officers to use. Many non-commissioned officers in the science department cross-trained in the engineering department, so they were better able to diagnose and repair problems with scientific and sensory equipment, and to recalibrate this equipment to a science officer’s specifications. In practice, a science department non-com may have had duties that ranged from feeding and caring for unusual laboratory animals to adjusting sensors and modifying laboratory equipment.

Science Fields

These were scientific fields that might have been particularly useful or interesting for a science officer. There was also an overlap between different field. Different fields of study and expertise informed one another, and individuals may have developed similar skills from differing origins.

Archaeology

The study of ancient civilizations, with emphasis on their technology, had been at the heart of scientific expeditions since the earliest days of space exploration, and before. Humanity had always held a deep fascination for what came before and found profound fulfilment from connecting with ancient wisdom. This field can be applied to the study of ancient structures, artifacts, or technology.

Astrometrics

A relatively recent scientific field, astrometrics combined stellar cartography, broadband frequency analysis, and relativistic mathematics to detect and evaluate the movement of stellar bodies – both natural and artificial – for incredibly precise navigation. This field could be used to study the natural and forced movement of objects in space, chart the boundaries of entire civilizations, and plot complex navigational courses.

Astrophysics

Civilizations had always studied the stars, nebulas, and other celestial bodies in order to lift the veil obscuring the formation of our Galaxy and life itself. It was the principles and developments within this field that lead to the first steps into space, rocketry trial and error notwithstanding, and while the movement of the heavens may have revealed most of its secrets, there were still more questions left unanswered. This field applied any time the scientist was dealing with the study of, or information pertaining to, stellar or celestial bodies.

Biology/Xenobiology

The study of biological organisms, be they native to earth or beyond, was a crucial area of focus for Starfleet. Experts in this field were able to identify and catalog the various kinds of new life encountered during a ship’s travels, as well as determine potential hazards to the crew and develop countermeasures.

Botany/Xenobotany

A complementary discipline to Biology, Botany performed many of the same investigations, but focused on plant life instead. As Starfleet considered all life, animal or plant to be valuable and protected, Xenobotanists were called upon to study of new plant life discovered and to determine the applications it may have provided. Many new medical cures were uncovered through the application of this study.

Chemistry

As the study of chemical compounds and processes, Chemistry was a fundamental science that had numerous advanced applications. New chemical compounds were often encountered during scientific survey and exploration missions and scientists with deep knowledge of Chemistry were called upon to identify and study these. This field was of particular value anytime the crew discovered an inorganic compound during the course of its missions.

Cybernetics & Biosynthetics

The Federation had strict laws against the use of genetic engineering to enhance individuals beyond their species norms. These laws grew out of the devastating lessons learned on Earth during the Eugenic Wars. Any genetic engineering was looked on with scrutiny and skepticism. While the science was not expressly outlawed, any genetic manipulation could be grounds for a medical inquiry by Starfleet Medical or the Federation Science Council. Use of genetic manipulation to repair damaged tissue and undo viral infections was widely condoned and commonplace, as was its use to treat life-threatening ailments, though even this was carefully administered and extensively reviewed. Anything beyond approved treatments was grounds for a lengthy prison sentence. Beyond the Federation's borders, there were clinics and facilities that offered a variety of options, from cosmetic adjustments to full scale eugenic-style augmentations. In various areas of space, this form of genetic augmentation was at least acceptable, if not outright common, but such individuals threaded lightly when traveling within the Federation. By law, the Federation could detain or imprison not only the scientists and doctors that provided this service, but also the augmented individuals themselves and their family – if a child was augmented at the request of their parents. An additional problem arising from extensive genetic manipulation was unforeseen and undesired aberrations. A significant percentage of individuals that were enhanced in this way also developed mental, emotional, and sometimes physical impairments. Occasionally, these were nothing more than mild quirks that mark the individual as different in some way. Most of the time, however, they developed into full blown psychoses ranging from anti-social behavior to self-harm to becoming a threat to others.

Because of the limitations on cloning as a means for medical treatment, a greater focus on cybernetics and biosynthetic prostheses had developed by the year 2381. Laws within the Federation are substantially less strict about bio-mechanical implants, and during various periods within Starfleet’s history, cybernetically augmented officers were commonplace. A common form of such augmentation was a neural interface, implanted into the subject’s brain and allowing them to directly interface computer systems with a thought. This significantly sped up interactions with computers and computer controlled systems. Starfleet did not require their use and was extremely careful not to incentivize them by assigning or promoting officers with cybernetics over others. Cybernetic prostheses were also common where organic replacements are not available or impossible – such as the replacement of major internal organs, as well as limbs and sensory organs. Here, augmentation was also possible, though it was not as prevalent as one might expect. It was possible to provide minor increases in physical strength, endurance, and agility through cybernetic enhancement, but this was limitated by the interaction between organic and inorganic components and the extreme stresses induced by artificial components significantly beyond what the body’s natural form was capable of: attempting to greatly increase one’s physical performance through cybernetics resulted in the body ripping itself apart. Very few species built and installed cybernetic devices that exceed a species’ natural capabilities.

Deflector Operations

Next to modern sensor arrays, the navigational and secondary deflector arrays were key tools used in scientific study from the mid 22nd century onwards. At its core, deflector arrays were intended to protect a starship from colliding with microscopic debris while traveling through space, harmlessly pushing them aside. However, this simple concept allowed for precise manipulation of everything from sub-atomic particles to sizeable asteroids. Harnessing these broad applications required delicate changes to the output of the array and are governed by this Focus.

Galactic History

While knowledge of this topic may often be covered under other Disciplines, the academic study of history and applying parallels to current events was a scientific field all its own. Given the old saying that history was doomed to repeat itself, careful analysis of past events could often provide critical insight when challenges arose. This field could be used not only to recall or research events of the past, but also make those events meaningful to the modern day.

Photonic Applications

Holographic technology had been used to varying degrees during different periods of Federation history. It was, however, the development of artificially intelligent holograms that breathed new life into an otherwise ‘entertainment’ science. By the late 24th century, Starfleet had begun experimenting with holographic crew members and had even begun to theorize the use of autonomous holograms for extra-galactic exploration. Experts in this field were likely to possess this field and can use it for everything from holographic communication and holodecks to development of intelligent holographic individuals.

Quantum Mechanics

The study of the motion and interaction of sub-atomic particles, this scientific field had numerous applications aboard Starfleet vessels. From deflector operations and bussard collectors to the theory behind transporter operation, characters with this scientific field were acknowledged experts whenever miniscule particles and energies were at work.

Research

One of the most common and fruitful areas of focus for a scientist, nearly all areas of scientific inquiry require significant amounts of research. This field provided the researcher with a background and expertise in the standardized methods of research and could be applied any time the officer was involved in finding and applying catalogued scientific theories and conclusions.

Sensor Operations

The wondrous mysteries of the universe were as diverse as the individuals who studied them. Due to the dynamic and wide-reaching possibilities of information that could be obtained, sensor arrays were simply incapable of collecting and processing all of that data simultaneously. In normal operation, sensors were designed to operate on the widest spectrum possible – and then focused in on specific areas of interest. There were few as knowledgeable and skilled in this area as those who have devoted time and effort into full understanding what they are looking for. This field came into play any time ship’s sensors needed to cut through interference, during maintenance, or when conducting detailed scans and sweeps.

Subspace Theory

While the pseudo-dimensional realm of subspace was not clearly understood when Zefram Cochrane made his historic flight aboard the Phoenix, its existence continued to be the subject of a vast amount of scientific inquiry. It was this trans-dimensional realm that allowed for faster-than-light (FTL) travel and communication. This field provided the officer with a significant understanding of the theories regarding subspace and could be used when developing predictive models for warp flight, configuring long range communications, and a host of other applications involving FTL technology.

Temporal Mechanics

The study of time, Temporal Mechanics provided the character with a deep understanding of the natural flow of time as well as the potential situations where this flow may be disrupted. Furthermore, this field specialised in understanding and projecting the possible ramifications of changing the timeline and the various ways time travel can be attempted.

Unified Field Theory

Once considered the ‘holy grail’ of the scientific community, by the time of the Enterprise NX-01’s famous journey into deep space, the Unified Field Theory had not only become accepted as a core scientific principle, but it led to the development of several key pieces of technology – such as artificial gravity plating and inertial dampers. This field could be used any time an officer was utilizing or investigating how different fundamental forces, such as magnetism or gravity, interact with one another.

Warp Theory

One of the most important scientific discoveries of human history, warp travel and all that came with it transformed human society into the near utopia that it was in the 24th century. This field covered the theory of warp fields, including more recent developments like variable warp field geometry and asymmetrical warp fields. This came into play anytime an officer was working with warp engines or experimenting with warp fields.

Disclaimer Notice

  • Starfleet Science Emblem used with permission of Gazomg Art - granted Nov 24, 2016
  • Information Source: Star Trek: Adventures, Science Division Rulebook