Last night, I was watching Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and a guy in the Enterprise’s engineering section walked by carrying odd looking tool. It sort of looked like a drill, but where the bit would be there was a long, beveled stick of glass.
This got me to wondering what kinds of tools there might be in a fictional world of the future. Sure, we all know about tricorders, communicators, and phasers. But what does Captain Kirk use when he has to fix a leaky pipe under his bathroom sink?
I dug around a bit and stumbled into Memory Alpha, a Star Trek Wiki. An extensive list of tools can be found here, but not too many included a detailed definition about what the tool is specifically used for.
So, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that Captain Kirk has a plumbing issue. We’ll stick with the leaky pipe.
First, he would use a dynoscanner (which detects low-level molecular activity) to pinpoint the location of the leak.
Then, he’d turn off the water. I couldn’t find a tool for this, so let’s just say he uses a wrench.
Then, using a bi-polar torch (useful for cutting through all sorts of materials, including Cardassian Toranium), he would remove the section of pipe that sports the leak.
Part in hand, Kirk then has Scotty beam him down to the nearest hardware store (we’re just gonna assume that the Enterprise is orbiting a planet with sufficient technology to have hardware stores). With a little help from a kindly customer service representative, he finds a leak-free replacement pipe.
In no time at all, our intrepid captain is back in his bathroom, head under the sink. He fits the new pipe in to place and then uses a laser welder (which does pretty much what it sounds like it should) to attach it to the existing plumbing.
If only it were that easy in my world. It took me two days to do the plumbing for my kitchen sink—with a full two hours spent staring at the myriad of connections dangling in little plastic bags at a certain mega-hardware store.
And the more I think about it, Kirk would probably just have someone from Engineering come up and fix the pipe. He is the captain, after all. . .
by John Barker