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shipfisher October 26 2007 10:30 AM

Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
My favourite little pet dodge of the warp 2 barrier in the early days of warp drive involves the "chi factor" theory floating around fandom, stating actual warp velocities vary depending on "local conditions". I'd think your sub-light velocity before jumping to warp would rate as a local condition, so how about if the chi factor involves relativistic time dilation effects being converted to velocity dilation effects in subspace. So without too much boring math, a run up to 0.6c before cutting in the warp drive buys you a 25% velocity gain.

You'd have a situation where by early warp ships would make near suicidal runs up to just under c to pump-up their warp 1.whatever as much as possible. This would also provide a rational for the genesis of the navigational deflector dish, which I've always assumed was redundant in subspace, where you should only be able to directly interact with things like em radiation and gravitational fields (for all those temporal slingshot manouvers :D).

I've never seen or heard any canon reference to any relationship between sub-light speed and warp speed, or how kinetic energy is conserved in subspace, so I see nothing contradicting the above.

Just a thought. :) Any others?

Forbin October 26 2007 01:12 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Well, that does make a certain amount of real-world sense. After all Mach speed is related to local conditions of atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature, not ground speed.

Christopher October 26 2007 02:13 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Going by an Alcubierre warp model, it would make no difference at all. In theoretical physics, warp isn't actually motion in the conventional sense at all -- rather, you're occupying a bubble of spacetime whose topological relationship to the rest of spacetime is being altered by collapsing the space in front of it and creating new space behind it. It was actually summed up pretty well in Futurama's "Clone of My Own": "The ship doesn't move at all! It stays where it is, and moves the rest of the universe around it!"

So the effective "velocity" of the warp bubble is totally unrelated to the motion of the ship that's inside that bubble. In fact, it probably would be a very bad idea to have a lot of forward momentum when you created the bubble, because you'd just end up flying into the front of the bubble and being crushed by the extreme gravitational stresses of the space warp. Well, maybe that wouldn't happen if the warp-generating machinery was onboard your ship, because the warpfield would presumably maintain a steady distance from the generator. But your ship's kinetic energy would still have no significant effect on the performance of the drive itself, because it would only matter in relation to the "pocket universe" inside the warp bubble, not in relation to the greater universe beyond.

The only advantage of having high forward velocity when you enter warp would be that you'd still have that momentum when you left warp, due to conservation of energy. But that could be a disadvantage, because velocity is a vector quantity, with direction being part of it as well as speed. You might come out of warp travelling in the wrong direction relative to where you want to go, and thus have to waste energy braking and accelerating in the right direction.

Basill October 26 2007 04:58 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
I've never heard of this "chi factor" but its an interesting concept and I really like it.

I've always favored the notion that local conditions (particularly gravity from stellar, planetary, and nebular bodies) affected warp factors and thus travel durations. In some ways, its the only way to explain the inconsistencies, especially in the early years, of how far Trek ships manage to get given what has now been set in stone regarding "warp factors and velocities."

It could also directly create and affect such things as "shipping lanes." An idea that one might normally dismiss given the layman's presumption that, in space, the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. But just like relativity and space curvature, what if that were not the case in subspace land, and there were regions of high and low resistance as well as currents of flow that aided a ship's travel time. What if subspace itself is notably denser near and around stellar phenomenon and star clusters due to higher gravity; more dangerous to navigate, but ships peel through it faster because there is more to grab a hold of. Whereas, in deep empty space, a ship might travel slower because, like a plane with less atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes, it just has less to rip through. It might be just like a propeller driven or jet engine plane that could never fly on the moon; No atmosphere to provide lift for the wings or to thrust through the engines.

It could even have the opposite effect for areas of subspace considered too dense. Note the difference in airplane propellers, and that of a boat. The two mediums are different enough to require distinctions in their propellers. So imagine space and subspace being charted as to the optimal paths of interstellar travel. Just an idea.

It might also explain how a starship could actually experience anything unexpected like the "ion storm" of the TOS episode "Court Martial." Perhaps they only experience such phenomenon while or even because they are at warp speeds. And because slowing down to travel through them at impulse, or going around them might cause an enormously ridiculous delay in their schedule, they can be evaluated on a scale of necessary risk, and judged accordingly. Otherwise, I couldn't imagine anything analogous to a sudden storm happening in the otherwise slow boring happenings of the cosmos; at least not on the timescale of a ftl vessel, that it couldn't take into account and just skirt around. Even solar winds and flares could be outrun by a starship and I would suspect that major issues like supernovae and the like would be steered far clear of from the outset. It would be akin to some sort of "subspace phenomenon" that has the effect of a storm, should you actually be manipulating subspace as a travel medium, but would not even be noticed if you were just passing through at relativistic speeds; certainly not in any storm like manner at any rate.

I do take issue with navigational deflectors being redundant at warp speeds however. From what I understand about warp travel, space itself is distorted around the vessel, stretched behind and contracted in front, producing the propulsive effect. The ship itself however, just sits within its little bubble of normal spacetime continuum.

Since warp speed isn't like hyperdrive where the ship itself is taken into another dimension to circumvent relativistic limitations, I'm not sure that vessels are so certain to avoid direct interaction as you say. I'd have to see more information on this to form a better opinion though.

Final thought... I realize that I have probably over thought much of this, but the subject matter just got my brain rolling and I enjoyed the purging. :D

Wingsley October 26 2007 05:07 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
The "chi factor" was first mentioned in the "Introduction to Navigation: Star Fleet Command" booklet included with STAR TREK MAPS (Bantam, 1980).

Thi approach is by no means perfect. Instead of Cochrane's Variable (symbolized by the Greek letter "chi", which looks like an italicized "x") fluctuating due to the presence of gravity/mass as we know it, maybe it has something to do with the effects of dark matter and/or dark energy on warp drive.

This is one reason I felt that Archer's NX-01 ship was too fast for being 100 years before TOS. If his ship had been only capable of Warp factor 3 or 4, Cochrane's Variable would've made it possible to travel between stars without it taking years. With Cochrane's Formula, even early prototypes like Cochrane's Phoenix and the Valiant would've had at least minimal interstellar capability. This would explain how he was able to make it to deep space in TOS "Metamorphosis".

SonicRanger October 26 2007 08:19 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
The "chi" factor also explains why Archer's Starfleet has such an interest in the Vulcan "star charts" -- we can see the stars from Earth! But if the Vulcans have plotted subspace "shipping lanes" and such, then it makes a whole lot more sense. In fact, the recent Star Charts book mentions it.

Timo October 26 2007 08:28 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Personally, and in light of all the post-TOS Trek that indicates that warp is a common skill in the universe and Cochrane only invented warp fro Earth, I find it undesirable to think that there is any trick to warp 2, 3 or 4 after one discovers the basic secret of the drive. It would only be a matter of improvements to the details of the drive, all of them available in the open market, but their integration into a working whole a process that may be beyond a primitive newcomer.

Also, the effect of the chi factor should not be particularly pronounced, or else our heroes should spend much, much more screen time searching for the ideal weather conditions or routes or whatnot. But certainly a degree of chi (mostly time-dependent, thus as much analogous to weather as possible) would make lots of dramatic sense. And perhaps some systems like Sol are especially chi-hostile, with foul subspace weather most of the time, explaining how even ships in extreme emergency haste slow to sublight there.

As for ion storms, steering around them was not an issue in "Court Martial". Rather, it appeared that Kirk had standing orders to ENTER storms whenever possible, to make observations. In "Catwalk", OTOH, it appeared that these storms are massive phenomena that cannot be evaded and will affect even standstill vessels. It doesn't seem there would be any phenomena that only manifest at warp (indeed, our heroes often insist that NO phenomena do, against all evidence). Then again, many of these weird phenomena may well be related to subspace, and are not easily observable by standard physics but will affect subspace technology very adversely, hence the caution and alarm of our heroes.

Timo Saloniemi

Wingsley October 26 2007 10:42 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
The whole thing regarding various "time barrier" technological hurdles has been bandied about and there are of course various theories. I like to think that warp drive technology does have natural stages of development, which may relate to various factors: reactor power output (I would not expect a standard-spec matter/antimatter reactor of an NX-class vehicle to have the same magnitude of output or efficiency as a Constitution-class vessel), red-line/yellow-line of the "engine" (I would imagine that early warp engines had less capacity for fuel intake than later designs), nacelle stress (an NX class nacelle may hande Warp 5 in a completely different way than a Constitution-class nacelle), as well as overall ship's hull stress (remember Kirk's warning to Nomad when Nomad pushed the Enterprise to Warp 11). These are probably just a subset of the issues that affected the evolution of starships and warp engine technology.

I would expect that the NX Project was eager to play "catch up" with the Vulcans by learning the space-warp "tricks of the trade" that balance the above concerns to achieve better performance. That's probably why refits and newer starship classes with more streamlined designs are so important.

shipfisher October 27 2007 10:18 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Thanks everybody for the great responses on the subject here. There's always a very high quality of discussion in this forum. (I'd have responded sooner but for a minor family medical situation)

Quote:

Originally posted by Christopher:


Going by an Alcubierre warp model, it would make no difference at all. In theoretical physics, warp isn't actually motion in the conventional sense at all -- rather, you're occupying a bubble of spacetime whose topological relationship to the rest of spacetime is being altered by collapsing the space in front of it and creating new space behind it. It was actually summed up pretty well in Futurama's "Clone of My Own": "The ship doesn't move at all! It stays where it is, and moves the rest of the universe around it!"

So the effective "velocity" of the warp bubble is totally unrelated to the motion of the ship that's inside that bubble. In fact, it probably would be a very bad idea to have a lot of forward momentum when you created the bubble, because you'd just end up flying into the front of the bubble and being crushed by the extreme gravitational stresses of the space warp. Well, maybe that wouldn't happen if the warp-generating machinery was onboard your ship, because the warpfield would presumably maintain a steady distance from the generator. But your ship's kinetic energy would still have no significant effect on the performance of the drive itself, because it would only matter in relation to the "pocket universe" inside the warp bubble, not in relation to the greater universe beyond.

The only advantage of having high forward velocity when you enter warp would be that you'd still have that momentum when you left warp, due to conservation of energy. But that could be a disadvantage, because velocity is a vector quantity, with direction being part of it as well as speed. You might come out of warp travelling in the wrong direction relative to where you want to go, and thus have to waste energy braking and accelerating in the right direction.

I'll admit to a little ignorance as to the nuts and bolts of the Alcubierre warp model, but it's probably the best hard sci run at the concept I've heard of. My thinking was simply that warp drive appears to have a temporal component as described on screen, the first reference ever being captain Pike's order to go to "time warp factor 7" in "The Cage". The fact that warping down gravity wells (TOS: Tomorrow is Yesterday, ST:IV) seems to be a precursor to an actual temporal drive (the Borg may have used close earth orbit in ST:FC for the same purpose, and let's not forget what happened to the Enterprise in low orbit around Psi 2000 in TOS: Naked Time ) suggests the warping of both space and time. If relativistic velocities in "normal" space have an effect on the rate at which time passes, I just can't help but see a possible connection.

The fact that sub-light velocity is a vector quantity can't be ignored of course. I figured you'd need to establish the absolute velocity vector, including the motion of the galaxy, star system, etc. to ensure you didn't go too far off course in exploiting a "velocity dilation effect", although this would probably be minimal over early, short interstellar hops (though if the velocity dilation effect only manifests along the forward axis of the warp drive, then the absolute velocity vector wouldn't cause any navigational deviation). Incidentally, I assume the warp propulsive effect is always directed along the longitudinal axis of any arrangement of warp coils, and would follow any change in nacelle orientation, with the sub c velocity dilation component dropping off as the warp drive axis diverges further from the sub c velocity vector.

I won't deny the many disadvantages of what I've already described as near suicidal relativistic speeds, but when the overriding concern of early interstellar exploration would probably be making transit times more manageble, it might seem worth it to those pioneering souls. In later centuries, I've assumed sub c velocities much above orbital approach speeds would be rare once warp drive tech matured, what with all that violent tactical manouvering and head on encounters with full stops in deep space.

Another incidental aspect of this whole scenario is a pretty stonking impulse drive, which is where I admit to being in the "impulse is a field drive" camp, requiring the warp mains to generate a helpful subspace field to let the impulse drive punch above its weight. The ambassador class NX-10521 prototype is the first to have a dedicated driver coil incorporated into the impulse drive for this job (TNG tech manual). You can't help noticing the significantly increased diameter of the warp nacelles on the amby - perhaps due to the now "warp optimised only" coils? Yet another assumption here would be the inability of (at least early) drives to generate concurrent impulse and warp fields, otherwise you could cram all that kinetic energy into your ship once you were "safely" in subspace.

Timo October 29 2007 11:55 AM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Agree on many things, disagree on some.

Jumping to warp from standstill has always been considered viable procedure, across the full range of spinoffs and timeframes. Orientation, motion vector or acceleration vector have seemingly nothing to do with it. But an obvious "point and shoot" rule does indeed hold for nacelles and warping, necessitating some sublight reorienting before warp; additional sublight maneuvering could well take place at that point, for tactical gain.

Impulse requiring warp coils unless special ones are provided is an appealing idea. One might even say that the interesting blue dome doohickeys on certain starships are devices for using the warp field for impulse massplay; their absence would then indicate dedicated impulse coils. Thus, ENT era and TOS movie era rely on warp engines for impulse; TOS era and TNG era largely rely on separate subspace coils.

Timo Saloniemi

nil_jones October 29 2007 09:55 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
I may have been missing the gist of the thread regarding Warp Fields vs. Impuls drives, but it seems that the idea of a subspace field to help make the Impulse Drive's Job easier isn't too far fetched...DS9 used a subspace field to lower the stations inertial mass and make the station's thrusters move the station OUT of Bajor orbit more quickly; even compensating for mass, DS9's thrusters couldn't have been more powerful than, say, typical RCS Quads.

Which makes me think also (and there may have been a thread on this already, and/or I'm digressing a little too much)... What's the speed limitations for other than straight-ahead motion with Impulse engines? I seem to remember Kirk ordering in TUC "All astern, one-half impulse power, back off..." I didn't think impulse engines work like that. does a subspace field AUGMENT the RCS thrusters in a situation like that?

Timo October 30 2007 09:30 AM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
If the impulse drive is a pure "field drive", and uses one of those ubiquitous rows of doughnut coils, it probably can work pretty much as well forward and aft, but might have limitations in other directions. If the drive is an "augmented rocket", then there's bound to be a bias towards forward flight since the nozzles always point aft (or aft and up - what's with that?).

Going by onscreen evidence is probably our best bet here. And we see starships usually maneuver in a manner consistent with vectored rocket thrust, and inconsistent with the free 3D movement that an omnidirectional field drive would allow. So that's one for the "augmented rocket" theory - and it would seem to carry the lemma of thrust limitations in certain directions.

Timo Saloniemi

GodThingFormerly October 30 2007 11:17 AM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Quote:

Timo said:
If the impulse drive is a pure "field drive", and uses one of those ubiquitous rows of doughnut coils, it probably can work pretty much as well forward and aft, but might have limitations in other directions. If the drive is an "augmented rocket", then there's bound to be a bias towards forward flight since the nozzles always point aft (or aft and up - what's with that?).

They were strictly Newtonian propulsion systems in TOS and TMP. If I may quote from the Sacred Codex, namely Gene Roddenberry's Writer & Director's Guide (Bible) dated April 17, 1967:

Quote:

"The Enterprise has a secondary propulsion system. These are impulse power engines (same principle as rocket power), located at the rear of the "saucer section". Vessel speed, when using the impulse engine is, of course, less than the speed of light. In the case of total failure of all engine power sources, the vessel's gravitational and life support systems can be switched to battery power, with full-load capacity of about one week."

Of course, "impulse" in classical mechanics is simply a vector quantity defined by the time integral of a force acting on a test particle - or in this particular instance a space vehicle - over a finite time interval, so their mode of operation should have been self-evident to viewers with an IQ > 65. As for ST:TMP, I will quote the relevant paragraph from the German language edition of Gene Roddenberry's ST:TMP novelization that was translated by the film's technical advisor, Jesco von Puttkamer (Star Trek: Der Film, Moewig Verlag, 1980):

Quote:

"Scott wandte sich halb um und beobachtete das vertraute Glühen im Wandler. Er vernahm ein dumpfes pulsierendes Dröhnen, wie das Donnergrollen eines Gewitters - ein Geräusch, das ihn irgendwie and die Dudelsack-Klänge seiner Heimat erinnerte. Bei der gegenwärtigen Drosselstufe gelangten nur winzige Mengen von Materie und Antimaterie in die Wandler-Kammern, doch die Annihilation einer nur nadelkopfgroßen Materiemasse trieb die Enterprise mit ebensoviel Energie an, wie sie von tausend alten Wasserstoff-Fusionstriebwerken erzeugt wurde. Das Impulsestreibwerke arbeitete nach dem Newtonschen Rückstoßprinzip, und man verwendete es für Geschwindigkeiten unterhalb der Lichtschwelle."

For those who do not read German a moderately understandable translation can be generated via Google Language Tools.

TGT

Timo October 30 2007 12:50 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Of course, that never really happened: the impulse drive behaved quite unlike rockets throughout TOS.

Okay, there might have been an element of "directed thrust" to it, but that's as far as the rocket analogy ever went. There was no propellant involved, there was no mention of exhaust, and the accelerations provided were physically impossible even for the ideal rocket.

What to make of the material in novels? Some, like Gene's novelization, describe a rocket; others, like Carey's Final Frontier, establish a field drive with similar finality. The latter makes more sense in terms of observed behavior and leaves more room for the impossibilities involved, but it remains as unaired as the former.

Timo Saloniemi

GodThingFormerly October 30 2007 01:34 PM

Re: Pimping the warp 2 barrier
 
Quote:

Timo said:
Okay, there might have been an element of "directed thrust" to it, but that's as far as the rocket analogy ever went. There was no propellant involved, there was no mention of exhaust, and the accelerations provided were physically impossible even for the ideal rocket.

The occasional mention of "fuel" in regard to the NCC-1701 aside, I suggest that a rocket engine capable of accelerating a spacecraft to relativistic velocities in a matter of seconds slots perfectly into a universe where supposedly alien species that evolved hundreds if not thousands of light-years apart can produce humanoid(?) females(?!) as hot - at least to this 20th/21st century human male - as Mea 3, T'Pring, Sayana, Eleen, Kara, Daras, Drusilla and Ilia, to name just a few. ;)

Quote:

What to make of the material in novels? Some, like Gene's novelization, describe a rocket; others, like Carey's Final Frontier, establish a field drive with similar finality. The latter makes more sense in terms of observed behavior and leaves more room for the impossibilities involved, but it remains as unaired as the former.

The salient difference being that both GR and JvP were, for better or worse, creatively involved with the production of ST:TMP. Carey, thankfully, was not. C'mon, FF had DaddyKirk inadvertently capturing a Romulan admiral (or whatever he was - I haven't read it in decades) by "rescuing" what he thought was a Vulcan hostage, to say nothing of that ostensibly human Enterprise crewmember who - because he likes to eat dinner one section of his tray at a time - turns out to be a Romulan spy. I mean, seriously... :rolleyes:

TGT


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