Posted by: movieotaku | April 12, 2007

Exploding Consoles

In a tense moment on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, Worf informs everyone that the enemy ship has opened fire. We cut to the outside and see the phasers/photon torpedoes/laser/quantum torpedoes hit the Enterprise. Cut back into the bridge, we see everyone shake around and various consoles and panels explode in a shower of sparks and flames. Switch the channel to Babylon 5, and we see John Sheridan leading the White Star in an engagement against a Shadow vessel. They trade fire, but the Shadow ship hits the White Star good and hard. Cut to the interior, and we see Minbari and humans thrown from their consoles that are exploding in a shower of sparks and flames.

You’d think with the number of exploding console related injuries, starship designers would add a few fuses or circuit breakers, don’t you? Now it’s not entirely unbelievable a massive spike shoots through your electrical network to fry your panels and causing explosions and fires. Fuses and circuit breakers do have a latency: i.e., they don’t act instantly. A small portion of that current surge can still leak through and cause a problem.

Also, certain types of weaponry, like nuclear weapons, can create an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) which is a shockwave of magnetic flux that will induce a huge current into any conductor in its path. You can electrically isolate a panel, but an EMP can still induce a fatal overload in the panel.

But even in the present, there is little danger of exploding consoles and panels, even with an EMP. Engineers design these systems to be well grounded and surge protected. It would be very hard to cause a modern ship’s console or computer to blow up from a power surge. Sure it would get damaged, and might even arc a little bit, but it wouldn’t blow up. You’d think if these future engineers are building interstellar spaceships, they’d at least take this simple precaution.



  1. The most useful explosive in Star Trek is not C4 or antimatter. It’s not even the omega particle. It’s the bridge console. 😉

  2. This is very nice and informative post. I have bookmarked your site in order to find out your post in the future.

  3. And there is the part when the Hero stops the computer, or whatever the machine is, shooting at and destroying the screen. Or opens the door by shooting the lock… or stops the terrible hurricane by using some nukes inside it.

    By the way, weather could be also a good post here.

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