MOVIES

How Do Sonic Showers Really Work?

Just as we can change the temperature and water pressure in our showers, the sonic showers in “Star Trek” can also be adjusted by frequency, a function Enterprise doc Joseph M’Benga (Babs Olusanmokun) demonstrates in the “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” episode “Under the Cloak of War.” Mirroring B’Elanna’s post-trauma shower in “Juggernaut,” M’Benga steps into his own sonic shower after killing Dak’Rah in the sick bay, directing the computer, “Set sonic shower to four.” Similar to the variable temperatures of a hot or cold shower, this suggests that certain frequencies create a more intense experience.

This feature gets pushed to its limit in the “Star Trek: Lower Decks” episode “Kayshon, His Eyes Open.” Unlike the ship’s higher-ranking officers, the lower deckers on the Cerritos, who sleep in bunks rather than private quarters, use unisex communal sonic showers conveniently located near their barracks-style corridors housing the ensigns, Starfleet’s lowest-ranking junior officers. Like M’Benga’s and Torres’ showers, the large communal shower features pulsing light walls along with translucent, waist-high dividers that seem to function more as something for hanging towels on than to provide privacy. As self-assigned “unofficial leader” of Beta shift, Ensign Mariner (Tawny Newsome) attempts to exert her authority over the newly-assigned Jet, the two ensigns take turns competitively cranking up the sonic frequency via their shared LCARS panel. The buzzing intensifies, causing the other panicked ensigns to grab their ears and flee before Mariner and Jet’s noses begin to bleed from the sonic pulses.

Exactly how dangerous these pulses could potentially be is shown in the “Voyager” episode “Live Fast and Prosper,” when Janeway’s sonic shower frequency malfunctions, creating a high pitch that causes her mirror to shatter.

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