Banging my head on wall re: impulse as "power" generation, a field drive, or a FTL system, or making sense of 'simple impulse', or trying to make sense of 'the first warp drive actually being an impulse drive.'
I'd agree that it seems like the FIRST warp drive of ZC could or should have been powered by a fusion reactor, and that a matter-anti-matter reactor with dilithium was a generation or two later (hardware generations...not people generations).
And maybe these fusion reactors on starships can make the impulse engines go darn near lightspeed, or maybe beyond if there is some field-trickery going on... but the 'power'/'electricity' components are seperate than the 'makes it go' components ---even if they're next to eachother. You can have working fusion power with a broken 'thrust' part. If your reactor isn't in your naccelle, you can still have matter/anti-matter reactor power even if your spacewarp coils are eaten up by space bugs.
In my opinion, the most annoying thing about TNG-Treknology was "warp core". Cause, really, it does more than power the warp drive. And there's no spacewarp happening in that 'core'. Just lots of jiggowatts.
You know that does indeed spur me aswell. They through around the warp core lingo around quite a bit. It is nothing more than a reactor and it's power is being used for everything. That's what I trip over a lot
There isn't really nothing special about warp plasma other than it being high energy. They act like is some sort of 4th Dimensional energy.
TMP makes the same implication with an impulse engine.
That's why to it makes more sense that the first warp engine was actually an impulse engine since warp and impulse essentially are both types of field propulsion.
It tallies nicely with Balance of Terror
too - for the episode to make any sense, the Romulan vessel had to be capable of FTL travel and it has what appear to be warp nacelles, with Scotty describes their power source as "simple impulse". Impulse Power could very well power the warp field machinery.
For this reason, I think "impulse" is better described as a source of power rather than a form of propulsion - it's just that propulsion is what impulse is commonly used for.
That's one of reason why i subscribe to the idea.
Not only that but at impulse The Enterprise D and A have both been seen reversing with out the aid barriers retro fire. And in ENTERPRISE the ship apparently experienced some sort of time travel event due to the impulse engines.
Maybe even nuclear engines before fusion. The Botany Bay was powered by them anyway. (Hmm I never thought of this before: No DY-100 class or DY-500 class in the opening montage for ENT. Evidence of a parallel universe?
Agree with the idea of the separation of power generation and warp field production. Allows for hypothetical ship A which uses fusion for both Newtonian and non-Newtonian propulsion and able to switch between them because there is linkage to both systems. (A M/AM reactor could also be included but is not required.)
Hypothetical ship B uses fusion solely for Newtonian propulsion. No linkage is included to the non-Newtonian systems because the power output of fusion is no longer sufficient for those components and they are powered by M/AM instead.
Other combinations are also possible...
That's what my colleagues would call a proper "Tech Tree)