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October 2 2011, 06:35 PM   #12
Christopher
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

 UncleRice wrote: Does a ship's total mass affect Warp drive? Let's say I have a freighter and I load the hull full of stuffed teddy bears and my warp drive's maximum speed to Bajor is Warp 5. Let's say I then pack the hull full of Bajoran granite counter tops. Will I need bigger warp engines to go warp 5 to Bolarus? Will it consume more fuel? Do I only loose acceleration?
Well, mass = warping of spacetime. The more mass or energy density you have in a given region, the more space is warped. So it stands to reason that a warp drive would have to create some form of virtual mass or hyperdense energy to achieve its effects. And the amount of virtual mass you'd need to generate to achieve a functional warp drive would be so huge that the total mass of the ship or its cargo would be insignificant in comparison. Or to put it another way, the effect of the ship's mass on the geometry of spacetime would be insignificant next to the effect that the warp drive has on it.

 If mass has no effect, what stops someone from warping a proton mass into a planet?
I don't understand the question. The mass of a proton is on the order of a trillionth of a trillionth of a gram. It's insignificant. Assuming that by "warp into a planet" you mean "propel into an impact with a planet via warp drive," then what difference would it make? The Earth gets bombarded by protons all the time -- hydrogen nuclei from the solar wind.

 Is the Warping of space and the forward movement of the ship separate functions?
Nope. The ship isn't actually moving at all. It's in a bubble of space that's having its topological relationship with surrounding space modified in a way that's equivalent to forward movement at FTL speed. So the warping is the "movement."

 If you apply 10 kilos of thrust to both a 1 ton and a 100 ton craft in space, they will both achieve the same speeds, it will just take longer for one of them. This would mean if someone were to try to warp a proton mass somewhere, they would find accelerating the proton mass impossible, even if putting a warp bubble around it iss possible.
I don't know why you'd think that. A proton mass is extremely tiny and easy to accelerate. Heck, the oxygen molecules you draw in and expel by the billions with every breath contain 16 protons each, not to mention 16 slightly more massive neutrons each. And the nitrogen molecules have 14 protons (and 14 neutrons) each, and the carbon dioxide molecules have 22 protons (and 22 neutrons) each. So you're accelerating countless protons with your own muscles as you read this.

And as I said, warp drive isn't a form of thrust. The ship isn't accelerated at all; it's standing still in a piece of the universe that's being relocated.

 blssdwlf wrote: In TOS, there isn't anything specific to mass or volume and warp speed. But, warp drive is affected by large masses/gravity. The times we see the Enterprise go to Warp inside a star system, her "actual" speed is alot slower than if she was flying between star systems. The effect is seen the greatest in "The Voyage Home" where at Warp 2, the Klingon BOP is no where near the speed of light as it breaks orbit. (So in TOS at least, warping into a planet would make the ship slower than light by the time she impacted.)
^I don't know why you'd think warp drive would be slower near a massive body. There's nothing in canon to suggest that. And in fan reference materials, the general idea I've seen in the past is rather the opposite -- that warp drive is effectively faster in regions where space is more curved by mass and energy than in regions where space is more flat and empty. (See the Introduction to Navigation booklet in the 1980 Star Trek Maps for the primary explication of this idea. But some of the discussion in the Sternbach-Okuda tech manuals about how effective warp speed varies with spatial conditions seems to be along similar lines.) As for the differences in apparent "speed" you're describing, that's just artistic license and can't be taken literally.

Approaching it from a real-physics standpoint, it might be more difficult to create a warp bubble in the first place if there's too much mass or energy nearby; at the very least, you'd have to recalibrate the engines to compensate for the effects of that mass/energy on the local spacetime metric. But I don't see any reason why it would make your ship "slower."
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