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Log of the Month for July, 2003

Occam’s Razor
Posted on July 13th, 2003 by Adam Drake

Ancient technology, Adam thought, an engineer’s biggest goal was not to save a dilapidated race by any means. Being in Starfleet presented its fair share of challenges and Adam was inclined, by all means, to rise to them; it wasn’t the thrilling stare-death-in-the-face action that he’d hoped for that day of enrollment, but it’d do. There was something soothing by activating a plasma grenade and hurling it at an onslaught of Romulan soldiers.

Instead of soldiers he got the wonderful job of providing power to a race that was holding onto consciousness. Staring up at the piece of junk that was barely humming, Adam realized just how important his job had become. These people would have nothing if he didn’t do the right thing, reroute the correct conduit, or save that precious joule of power.

Having such limited time in consciousness they sure had spent a good deal of time on the generators that provided power to their society. It was a genius design based on the unique geothermal properties that this planet had been blessed with. It was an unlimited power source to them and that means that no matter how many times they had to slip into a five century slumber that they’d have power when their eyes opened once again.

“Captain?” A voice from behind him startled him out of his thoughts.

“Yes, Mr. Jeddin?” Adam said as he swiveled on his heel. “I assume you’ve gotten the supplies together?”

Jeddin nodded, “Of course, Captain.” He proceeded to tap his communications badge on his chest and it chirped. “Jeddin to Atlantis, energize.”

Within mere seconds a pile of cargo containers materialized meters from their position. Adam could already see hydrospanners and other various objects heaped hill on a stack of engineering equipment. Spare plasma relays and power conduits surrounded the stack and shined brightly in the midday sun. “Excellent work.”

Jeddin nodded, “And I have three assigned people to aid you.”

“Of course, thank you, Michael.”

As he rummaged through the items he realized he had yet to officially scan and make a prognosis on the aging technology. Flipping open his tricorder and running scans, Adam finally came to turns with how dire the situation actually was. He sighed heavily, drawing looks from around the group, and then moved to the control terminal on one of the standing generators.

Accessing it wasn’t that difficult, it was finding all the ports that connected other systems within the community to the main power center. There were masses of them, more than a dozen in one isolated section of the matrix he was looking at. “This is going to take forever.”

“What’s that, Captain?”

“The system is not based down by departments or regulatory systems. Each computer, each control panel is routed directly to these generators – meaning we have to redo this system by system.” Adam wiped the perspiration from his brow. “This is going to take longer than the Admiral is going to be willing to give us.”

Jeddin nodded and the people swarmed the diagnostic platforms and control ports. “Time for a think tank, I believe, Mr. Drake.”

Adam nodded, “Agreed.”

The next hour or so had progressed rather slowly. Endless ideas went up into the air with a proud amount plausibility and promise, but fell harmless into oblivion when a single thread was found and the entire plan fell apart. And there always seemed to be a single thread – no matter how small or how obvious – it was there. A single tug would unravel whatever they had strove for; it was becoming quite tedious.

When a single thought had erupted into cheers and jeers from the members of the team, Adam was the first to extinguish the debate before it escalated into a full on brawl between ideas of what would work and what wouldn’t. “All right, enough of that. The fact seems pretty obvious that the programming and subsystems of this technology is completely incompatible with what we have to work with.”

Shared nods circled the group and a mutual agreement had been made, finally, but that was just the beginning of their problems. “That still leaves us with the question of ‘how’ to get this working and stable enough so we can leave without having to rush back.”

“I agree with you, Michael, but integrating the amount of Starfleet technology into their unit would be a week long procedure in itself. We don’t know when we’re going to be recalled.” Adam rubbed his sore neck; the ground was not a yielding master when it came to a nice surface to sit on. “Any ideas?”

“What about focusing on the generator itself?”

The thought sparked the gaze of everyone, including Adam, and the crewman looked like a deer staring into oncoming headlights. “Go ahead.”

He panicked, his face drained of all color, “I – I don’t know. I was just thinking that maybe looking at the individual systems that connect with the main generator would be going too broad. Why not work on keeping the generator going with Starfleet technology and worrying about just maintaining the integrity of the other systems?”

“Excellent idea! As long as we keep the power going then there would be no reason to worry about the connectors.” Adam rubbed his hands together a couple of times, “So all we’d have to deal with was the generators geothermal inductor ports.”

“They’re crude.” Jeddin stated as he stretched much like a cat.

“And completely integrated into the current system,” another added.

Holding up a finger Adam stood up and walked to a specification terminal. He felt the small group of eyes on him as he tapped and brought up the specific nature of the parts within the generator. His eyes darted frantically from bit of information to minuscule amounts of weights and units. “The circuitry that connects the geothermal inductors to the power matrix isn’t compatible with our power relays, but we could completely remove the inductors to begin with.”

One person stood, hands outstretched, “How would that help us?”

Another rose up, eyes tilted towards the ceiling as if pondering something. “We could take out their technology and replace it with the technology that Starfleet has on geothermal energy – ”

“And then we could replace the power matrix with a stand power distribution junction point.” The young female stood finishing off the man’s statement. “Why didn’t we think of this before?”

“It’s a complex problem, Ensign, we something have a tendency to look on a much more difficult spectrum when the correct answer is simpler and easier to comprehend then thought.” Adam moved and began shuffling through the endless supplies at his disposal.

“One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything.” The young girl recited as if she was ordered to explain her statement. “Occam’s Razor.”

Perking an eyebrow and throwing her a glance as his hands continued to dive into the throng of equipment, “Occam’s Razor?”

“A medieval philosopher who thought that making more assumptions than needed was sort of illogical.”

“Sounds Vulcan,” Jeddin said as he aided Adam in his search for whatever Drake was searching for.

“He was a brilliant man. In a simpler term, Occam basically stated that the simplest answer was the most logical and often the most correct.” The young crewmen, just out of the academy, began to tap away on a PADD as she ran a tricorder over the tubes that ran from the generator’s core.

Adam laughed and turned to Jeddin, “Definitely sounds Vulcan.”

She sighed as she moved out of their range of vision, still scanning, “You know, there are worse things than sounding Vulcan.”

“Like BEING Vulcan?” Jeddin joked as he tossed some random object that apparently wasn’t worth much out onto the dusty ground.

“No,” she shouted from an obscure location on the other side of the structure, “Like being a member of a race that has a habit of hibernating for five-hundred years.” Her laughter could be heard about the time she reemerged from her orbit of the generator.

Pulling a long object free and setting it carefully on the ground, Adam turned to his band of merry engineers. “All right, guys, let’s get to work.”

And the task of completing the once-thought-impossible project became something actually tangible. They looked forward and assembled the supplies they needed and they began their work. All of a sudden they themselves realized that the Atlantis crew was the savior of this rank.

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