Thread: Trek Tech FAQ
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Old May 22 2003, 03:23 PM   #1
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Trek Tech FAQ

After some thought, I have decided to get a FAQ post started. We can revise this as time goes along, and suggestions are welcome.

1] What is chi/the Cochrane Factor? The Cochrane Factor (chi) is a variable added to the basic warp formula, increasing the accuracy of warp calculations. In the 1970s, various fans observed that the "classical" warp formula was entirely too slow to allow for the speeds and distances covered in TOS. Based on time-and-distance numbers in the episode "That Which Survives", the idea of a "fudge-factor" was created, and discussed in some detail in the Star Trek Maps (Bantam, 1980). The basic concept is an additional factor in the warp formula derived from the amount of matter in a given area of space, and thus any additional gravitational curvature in space-time, which can, in effect, create an increase in actual velocity for any given warp factor. Thus, the "corrected" formulae are:

V = WF**3 x chi x c (from warp 1-17, with the exponent hypothesized to spike up above warp 17) (ENT/TOS)


V = WF**3.33333333 x chi x c (from warp 1-9, with the exponent spiking up above warp 9) (TNG/DS9/VOY)

(The scale-change takes place in 2312, as originally cited by Andre Bormanis in an article in ST: The Magazine {Issue 6, October 1999, p. 44} and subsequently used in Starship Spotter.)

chi itself ranges from 1 in deep intergalactic space (where there is almost no free-floating matter) to 1,500 in dense star clusters. A commonly-cited "average" figure for UFP-held space is 129.27, although it should be emphasized that this is only an average, and there can be significant variations even within that area. The "subspace corridors" mentioned in Star Charts (Pocket, 2002) can be considered vectors through areas with a known high chi value.

2] What source materials will be used in this forum? Because Trek Tech, as a genre, exists as much in the minds of fandom as anything explicated strictly on-screen, a wide variety of sources will be considered worthy of consideration. Since there is a diversity of viewpoints and ideas in play, source citations should be included wherever possible, to allow for an objective analysis of the content of a discussion.

Note, however, that screaming "non-canon!" by itself shouldn't carry extra weight, unless a canonical source contradicts a non-canonical one. The vast majority of what we "know", Treknology-wise, is non-canon, so we merely need to accept that reality. While licensed materials may be given some "preference", it should be noted that none of the licensed materials are free from error, and all have been on-screen contradicted from time to time, so take them for what they are: one way of looking at the Trek Universe. (In short, read Mike and Rick's disclaimers, and take them to heart! )

3] Must Starfleet starships have even numbers of nacelles? This has been a matter of some debate, but the historical record suggests not. The Franz Joseph Star Fleet Technical Manual showed several single-nacelled vessel classes, and some of that art appeared in the early Star Trek features. Some years after the publication of the book, FJ and Gene Roddenberry had a falling-out, and Mr. Roddenberry released his "rules of ship design", which required even numbers of nacelles and no hull structures directly between those nacelles. These rules seemed to briefly govern Star Trek design work at the beginning of TNG, but by the time of "Best of Both Worlds", were already being contradicted, and now seem to be largely a "historical curiosity" in the tale of the Treknology genre. The short answer, therefore, is, "No."

4] If I want to ask a particular person a question in the forum, what should I do? In the header, use the person's name and the topic of the question you'd like to ask. Don't just put the person's name. Also, remember that if you're going to address someone specifically, please be courteous and respectful. No one is required to be here or to answer questions, but a polite approach will go further in getting a friendly and informative answer than will an insulting or hostile one.

5] Where can I find some Star Trek chronologies/timelines on-line? There are a number of different Trek chronologies/timelines out there, which look at the topic from a number of different points-of-view. The following is a brief sampling of what's available. It should not be taken as comprehensive, and suggestions for additional resources are welcome, of course.

A] James Dixon's Fandom Chronology can be found here:

B] Alex Rosenzweig's Timeline of Star Trek History can be found here:

C] Jason Bogguess' A Short History of Galactic Civilization (adapted from James Dixon's Chronology) can be found here:

D] Win Scott Eckert's Star Trek Annotated Timeline can be found here:


Once again, please feel free to offer suggestions for additional questions/answers.

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