Treknology Encyclopedia - P
PADD Acronym for
Personal Access Display
Device, hand-held computer or access terminal to a
system. PADDS are outfitted with a display and touch sensitive
areas and have limited built-in memory and computing capability. Apart from
Starfleet, PADDs are used by most other advanced civilizations in the 24th
The TNGTM states that they can establish uplinks and downlinks to computer systems and may also serve as transporter locks-ons. Since it is a non-expensive prop, different PADD designs exist for virtually every civilization in Star Trek. Still, the user interface is similar for all of them, indicating that a common standard may have been found for ergonomic design. This might help rationalize why no one has ever difficulties in using alien PADDs, let alone reading their letters.
ritual weapon. Painstiks are used in the Age of Ascension ceremony, the
initiation of a young warrior. They also serve to confirm the death of a Klingon
chancellor in the Sonchi procedure. Finally, the usage of painstiks is also a
part of the Day of Honor (TNG: "The Icarus Factor",
"Reunion", VOY: "Day of Honor").
According to the scripts of the TNG episodes, "painstik" is the correct spelling.
Parallel universe Any
universe existing outside our normal
four-dimensional space-time (generic).
The Mirror Universe featured in TOS: "Mirror, Mirror", several DS9 episodes and ultimately in ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly" is and has probably always been akin to ours, but not quite the same. Normally, the second law of thermodynamics would not allow the two universes to develop in a similar way once there are differences established, for instance the totalitarian Earth Empire contrary to the democratic UFP. Nevertheless, there seems to be a possibly bi-directional connection between the two universes that keeps the development in sync so as to provide the same characters on both sides for dramaturgic reasons. The manifold parallel universes in TNG: "Parallels", however, have a (hypothetic) scientific background. Elementary particles do not fit into a deterministic view of the world, since their behavior is unpredictable. It is not determined in the Quantum Theory whether a particle crosses an energy barrier or not, making it an apparent random process. In order to maintain determinism, there is a theory assuming that the particle actually goes both ways, and each time a new universe is created. Worf travels from one of those quantum universes to another in the TNG episode. The number of potential quantum universes would be equal to the number of quantum transitions since the Big Bang or, in other words, quasi-infinite.
Paralysis field Weapon that blocks nerve impulses, hence paralyzing a person. Used by the Kelvans (TOS: "By Any Other Name").
Parametric scanner 22nd century engineering tool (ENT: "Singularity").
Medical implant such as an artificial heart (TNG: "Samaritan Snare").
A possible in-joke: In real life, "parthenogenic" refers to asexual reproduction.
Particle fountain New mining technology that was being tested in 2369. The system involved a field generator orbiting the planet or asteroid to be mined (TNG: "The Quality of Life").
Particle synthesis Advanced alien matter replication technology, purportedly superior to Federation replicators. Particle synthesis is mastered by Arturis' people and by Species 8472 (VOY: "Hope and Fear", "In the Flesh").
Passive scan Sensing
technique taking advantage just of incoming radiation, as opposed to an active
scan ("Star Trek: The Motion Picture").
Passive scans are less powerful but also less intrusive. They may be advantageous if the captain wants his starship to remain undetected, or if an active scan could be mistaken as an attack.
Pattern buffer Part of the
transporter system, serving as a short-term storage for the
pattern to be transferred (TNG: "Relics", "Realm of Fear",
VOY: "Future's End").
Scotty survived 75 years within the pattern buffer that was set to a continuous diagnostic cycle (TNG: "Relics"). Normally, the signal decay is too fast to allow storage for more than a few seconds. The TNGTM tells us that the buffer is usually located on the deck below the transporter platform. The pattern buffer is used for storage of the matter stream, thereby providing a delay necessary to compensate for relative movement (Doppler compensator), to filter out hazardous organic matter (biofilter) or to transfer the pattern to another pattern buffer in case of a transporter malfunction.
Pattern enhancer Device that improves transporter pattern recognition in case of electromagnetic disturbances. The pattern enhancer is a cylinder with a length of approx. 1m and was introduced in Starfleet around 2369. Usually three pattern enhancers are employed in a triangular formation around the object or person that is supposed to be beamed (TNG: "Power Play", "Ship in a Bottle", "Frame of Mind", "Inheritance", VOY: "State of Flux", "The Omega Directive", "Once Upon a Time", "Counterpoint", "Dark Frontier", "Friendship One").
Peak transitional threshold Initial power necessary
to achieve an integer warp factor. The peak transitional
threshold is much higher than the power to maintain the
respective velocity (ENT: "First Flight").
The introduction of the peak transitional threshold obviously serves to justify the strange warp scale, where the warp factor is not simply WF=v/c or WF=log(v/c), but WF=(v/c)^1/3. For this purpose, the power to maintain a subspace field is designed to exhibit significant peaks which are sequentially numbered and designated as warp factors. A simple explanation (which is also corroborated by the extensive theory on Jason Hinson's website) is that this behavior is attributed to the subsequent activation of additional warp field layers for higher velocities, which is accomplished by a suited warp field activation sequence. Eugene's limit can be included into this theory in a way that more than 9 layers are not efficient to facilitate high-warp propulsion, so the complete remaining speed range is compressed within the range between Warp 9 and Warp 10. Hence, the latter equals infinite speed. In fact, the official diagram of power expenditure shows that the power saving after the peak transitional threshold decreases from 100 at Warp 1 to 2.75 at Warp 9, suggesting that this factor would be still smaller at another (imaginary) threshold. It is possible that Eugene's limit has been found as late as in the 24th century, so previous warp tables assumed 10 or more layers to be useful. The original diagram in the STTNG Technical Manual confused power and energy ("power usage in megajoules/cochrane"). Assuming that, unlike Newtonian propulsion, warp propulsion needs continuous power supply, I have corrected this error. Read also Warp Propulsion - 3.2 Subspace Models.
Phase cannon Particle
weapon, precursor of a phaser array, used on 22nd century Earth starships since
The phase cannon is the larger equivalent to a phase pistol. Both fire continuous beams, as opposed to the light bolts of plasma or EM weapons.
Phase cloak See interphase generator.
Phase discriminator Device that can be used to detect, to shield against or to penetrate waves of a certain phase. Phase discriminators are parts of the positronic brains of Soong-type androids as well as of Starfleet emergency transporter armbands (TNG: "Time's Arrow", "Timescape", VOY: "Deadlock", ENT: "Shockwave").
Phase pistol Particle
weapon, precursor of a phaser, used in the 22nd century (ENT).
The capabilities of a phase pistol are indistinguishable from those of a phaser used more than a century later. There is also no plausible explanation why Starfleet should return to lasers, as shown in "The Cage".
Phase shift Generic term for a movement to a state outside the
normal space-time continuum (TNG:
"The Next Phase", "The Pegasus", "Time's Arrow",
"Timescape", "Phantasms", VOY:
"Distant Origin", "Year of Hell").
Phase shifts are frequently created in Star Trek using either an interphase cloaking device (TNG: "The Next Phase", "The Pegasus"), a phase discriminator (e.g. TNG: "Time's Arrow", "Timescape"), an unknown type of phase shifter (VOY: "Distant Origin") or a chroniton-based device (VOY: "Year of Hell"). Usually phase shift seems to be an essentially temporal displacement, while the interphase generator might be based on a spatial shift or parallel space.
Phase transition coil
Part of a transporter system, also called phase
coil. The coils
accomplish the actual transition from a matter to a matter stream state (TNG:
"Data's Day", "The Mind's Eye", VOY: "Eye of the
Needle", ENT: "Singularity", "Babel One").
This sounds like it could be the same as the 23rd century ionizer (although then it would have been a good idea to call the coils ionizers in ENT too).
Phased ion cannon See ion cannon.
Phased matter Intermediate
state between matter and energy (generic).
The term is used for the matter stream generated in the transporter as well as for excited matter produced in the warp and impulse reactors, where it seems to be the same as plasma.
Phaser Acronym for
PHASed Energy Rectification, energy discharge weapon used by the
Federation. Energy stored inside the phaser is released within a
short time and directed towards the target, unlike the usually
constant energy output of lasers. Shipboard phaser banks are
attached to the outer hull of a starship in form of small
apertures or domes in the 23rd century that are extended to
segmented strips and finally rings in the 24th century. Phaser
beams travel at light speed, and the maximum efficient operation
range is approximately 300,000km. Hand-held phasers are available in different
sizes, ranging from small pocket phasers (type 1) and pistols
(type 2) to phaser rifles (generic).
The phaser's function is based on the rapid nadion effect, where nadions are subatomic particles that allow to liberate strong nuclear forces (TNGTM). Since phasers have to be recharged, it is obvious that continuous firing is not possible, neither with a hand-held device nor with the shipboard phasers. This makes space battles similar to ancient sea battles where it was decisive to wait for the right instant to fire a broadside.
Phaser array power cell Disposable component of a starship's phaser array (DS9: "Behind the Lines").
Pheromonic sensor Device able to sense pheromones and to recognize a particular species. Used by Flaxian assassins (DS9: "Improbable Cause").
Photon grenade Short-range explosive weapon for planetary operation. At their lower settings photon grenades produce an electromagnetic pulse capable of stunning humanoids (TOS: "Arena", TNG: "Legacy", VOY: "Living Witness", "Gravity").
Photon torpedo Matter/antimatter annihilation weapon used by
Starfleet and by the Klingon Defense Force. A Starfleet photon
torpedo contains deuterium and magnetically constrained
antideuterium tanks, target guidance and a warp sustainer engine.
In contrast to phasers, photon torpedoes can be used at warp speed (generic).
Since photons are involved as late as the device explodes, the term "photon" torpedo is very inaccurate and could apply to a nuclear weapon as well. Of course, realistically FTL photon torpedoes cannot be tracked with the eyes, although this was possible in many episodes and in "Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country". Enterprise NX-01 received "photonic torpedoes" in ENT: "The Expanse". Since they look and function exactly like photon torpedoes, we may assume they are the same type of devices.
Photonic cannon Non-existent weapon of mass destruction made up by Voyager's EMH in his position as the ship's "Emergency Command Hologram" (VOY: "Tinker, Tenor, Doctor, Spy").
Photonic missile Weapon of Borg design, installed aboard the Delta Flyer (VOY: "Extreme Risk").
Photonic torpedo 22nd
century weapon with an antimatter warhead, more advanced than a spatial
torpedo and a precursor of the 23rd/24th century photon torpedo (ENT).
It looks like a photon torpedo, it works like a photon torpedo, it is almost named photon torpedo. Strictly speaking, there is no reason why the photonic torpedo could be really less advanced, except that it has to be to make sense. Otherwise there would have been no technological progress in over one hundred years.
Phoretic analyzer Medical device used to analyze complex molecular structures (DS9: "Dramatis Personae").
Physiostimulator Medical device used to elevate metabolic functions in an impaired individual (TOS: "The Enterprise Incident").
classification system Method to label planets with letters according
to their atmospheric conditions, including Class-M
for Earth-like planets (generic).
See the canon planet classes in detail.
Plasma Ionized gas, often regarded as the
fourth state of
matter besides the solid, fluid and gaseous state. Consisting of
charged particles, plasma is electrically conductive. Due to this
property and the fact that the excited electrons in a plasma are
on higher energy level than bound electrons in other forms of
matter, plasma is suited to transport energy. In particular,
plasma is employed to provide the necessary power for the warp drive and other systems of a starship. The EPS serves to carry plasma through the ship.
The continuously occurring relaxation of excited electrons from a
higher to a lower energy level becomes obvious in a
characteristic glow (generic).
Plasma is not a fiction, but is actually utilized in several industrial production processes.
Plasma canister Special containment module designed to carry warp plasma (VOY: "Fair Trade", ENT: "Dead Stop").
Plasma charge Explosive device used by Starfleet and by the Bajoran Resistance (DS9: "The Darkness and the Light", "Hippocratic Oath", VOY: "Collective").
Engineering component (TNG: "Birthright, Part I", "Star Trek
Generations", DS9: "Life Support", "Our Man Bashir",
A thing whose origin or purpose was never in any way defined. Essentially just something to fill the placeholder "[tech]" in screenplays in the absence of a technical advisor.
Plasma conduit See EPS.
Plasma coolant Highly corrosive liquid coolant used for the warp core of a Sovereign-class vessel ("Star Trek: First Contact").
Plasma injector Part of the warp drive of a Federation starship. Regulates the plasma flow inside the warp nacelles. Similar devices can be found in the engines of alien vessels (DS9: "Captive Pursuit", "Crossover", "The Ship", VOY: "Warlord", "Favorite Son", "Nothing Human", "Collective", ENT: "A Night in Sickbay", "Horizon", "Damage").
Plasma manifold Part of a starship's EPS (generic).
Plasma regulator Part of a starship's EPS (DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets", "In the Cards", "What You Leave Behind", ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II").
Part of a starship's EPS (generic).
A plasma relay may be the same as a plasma manifold.
Plasma torch Engineering tool that employs a concentrated plasma stream to cut through solid objects (VOY: "Equinox", ENT: "The Forgotten").
Powerful Romulan weapon in the 23rd century, firing packages of plasma.
Sometimes simply referred to as plasma weapon (TOS: "Balance of
Terror", "The Deadly Years", DS9: "Image in the Sand",
"Shadows and Symbols").
While the Earth plasma rifles and plasma cannons of the 22nd century are obviously less advanced than phase weapons, the Romulans will possess a much more powerful plasma weapon in the 23rd century (TOS: "Balance of Terror"). The DS9TM insinuates that they are still using the same basic technology in the 24th century.
Plasma weapon Common type of weapon in the 22nd century, firing packages of plasma.
Can be built as pistols, rifles or as shipboard cannons (ENT).
In ENT: "Storm Front" we can see that the Nazis are using plasma weapons too, thanks to their alien allies.
Polaric power Concept for power generation prohibited by the
Federation in 2268, because of its high risk to burn a planet's
entire surface in a chain reaction (VOY: "Time and Again").
The unnamed alien civilization in VOY: "Time and Again" did use polaric power, and the result was disastrous in an alternate timeline.
Polarized hull plating See hull plating.
modulator Device that may be used to reinforce the deflector shields
of a starship. Not many ships carry polaron modulators (VOY: "The
In VOY: "The Void" we saw the polaron modulator of a Kinjal frigate. After the Kinjal switched sides, a modulator was improvised on Voyager.
Positronic brain Neural network type
acting as central processing
units in androids of the Soong type like B-4,
Lore, Data, Lal (TNG, TNG movies).
Considering that positrons are actually antimatter, it is highly improbable that these particles are employed in the positronic brain. The concept was suggested by Isaac Asimov in the 20th century, and he definitely didn't mean antimatter.
Power grid See EPS.
Prefire chamber Component of a Starfleet phaser weapon (TNG: "The Mind's Eye", DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire").
Probe Device fitted with a number of general-purpose or
mission-specific sensors. Probes can be launched from a starship for
closer examination of celestial objects or for reconnaissance.
Most Federation probes are about the size of a photon torpedo,
and some of them actually use a torpedo casing (generic).
Probes are a logical consequence considering that the resolution of the built-in long-range sensors is limited and that there is a signal decay over long distances. More about the known types of Federation probes.
Progressive memory purge Computer procedure that is capable of restoring damaged memories (TNG: "A Fistful of Datas").
Generic name for any kind of weapon that uses a projectile instead of a particle
or energy beam or a plasma charge (generic).
Projectile weapons are generally outdated in the 24th century, but the TR-116 (DS9: "Field of Fire"), designed for environments in which phasers are useless and probably with the Borg in mind too, is a formidable weapon. It was modified by an assassin with a built-in transporter for the projectile, thereby rendering it even more dangerous. Projectile weapons even kill Borg if they can't adapt ("Star Trek: First Contact").
Protected memory Part of a computer core that is impervious to deletion (TNG: "Ship in a Bottle").
Device used aboard 22nd century Earth starships to process organic raw material by
rearranging molecules (ENT: "Fight or Flight", "Oasis").
Basically, this is like a simple replicator.
Protodynoplaser Medical treatment to stabilize a patient's immune system (TNG: "Transfigurations").
Proximity transceiver Borg implant that allows the Collective to locate and retrieve drones that have gone astray (VOY: "Drone").
Psionic resonator Ancient Vulcan weapon, capable of killing by amplifying telepathic energy. However, wrong usage may hurt the person who uses the resonator. One of these weapons, the Stone of Gol, was rediscovered in 2369 (TNG: "Gambit").
Subdermal implants used by Prytt interrogators to have access to a person's
thoughts (TNG: "Attached").
Dr. Crusher and Picard noticed that, as a side effect, they could read one another's thoughts when they escaped from the Prytt prison.
Psychotectic therapy Psychotherapy performed on the J'naii planet to suppress feelings of gender identity (TNG: "The Outcast").
Medical diagnostic instrument that is capable of recording memories, especially
in cases of amnesia (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold").
The prop was the same as the standard tricorder.
Pulmonary scanner Medical instrument used to examine the respiratory system of a patient (VOY: "Phage").
Pulse gun Type of weapon carried by Akritirian prison guards (VOY: "The Chute").
Pulse phaser cannon Phaser weapon
available on Defiant-class starships. The ship has four of
them, mounted at the forward end of the nacelles (DS9, "Star Trek: First
The pulse phaser cannon is obviously more powerful than a conventional phaser.
Pulse wave torpedo Ship-mounted projectile weapon, used on older Vulcan vessels (DS9: "If Wishes Were Horses").
Pulse weapon Common
type of weapon in the 22nd century, firing short light bolts.
"Pulse weapons" may be an alternative name for plasma weapons which are visually identical.