Ah yes, thanks for refreshing my memory!
It's possible that the fusion bath is enough to trigger the "antimatter generation" that you mention? Certainly the link between dilithium and antimatter is evident from The Alternative Factor, although what that link is was of course never clearly defined. Also, if the crystals are really able to generate "free" antimatter in this way, it is in effect a shortcut to limitless energy. And while the Enterprise does "as we know from various episodes) regenerate its own power, this seems like a bit of an easy fix. Or maybe not, I may be missing something here!
Funny enough, I think one of the writers on TNG was thinking of this free energy as well. Remember in TNG's "Booby Trap", their answer for extending or making up for their loss of matter-antimatter energy supplies was to throw more reactants at the dilithium (rather than less to conserve fuel.)
LEAH [OC]: Theoretically, yes. The system should be able to accept more reactants at a faster rate of injection.
LAFORGE: Well, this is your baby. Show me which ones.
LAFORGE: Computer, did I ask for a simulation?
COMPUTER: Affirmative. You asked Doctor Brahms to show you which system could accept reactants at a faster rate.
By accessing available imagery, an adequate facsimile was possible.
LAFORGE: I did do that, didn't I? Okay, well, it's good to see you, Leah. Continue your analysis.
LEAH: Systems L-452 through L-575 will accept reactants, providing all other systems are calibrated to an equal factor.
LAFORGE: Then, if we use multiple injector streams, hitting more than one crystal facet, we could do it, we could hold our own. Leah, you're beautiful. La Forge to Picard.
PICARD [OC]: Go ahead.
LAFORGE: Captain, we've found a way to extend the matter-antimatter energy supplies.
I think going back to "Mirror,Mirror" and "The Alternative Factor" this is why these crystals are so sought after. Apply matter-antimatter energy to it and they give you back matter-antimatter fuel to use again!
What I find particularly appealing about Robert_Comsol's latest notion is that it more easily bridges the gap between TOS and later incarnations of Trek. While your explanation of "different timelines" is one way to explain the differences in the use of of your dilithium setup and the one on TNG, the holy grail would have to be finding one constant technological inerpretation that spans the different series and movies.
I do think that the popular TNG setup (matter at the top, antimatter at the bottom, anihilation takes place via a crystal in the centre) is probably a gross simplification of what actually occurs - and luckily, no onscreen dialogue ever says otherwise. So, what else could be happenning then? A miniaturised version of the TOS dilithium assembly is an attractive possiblity, at least.
It's possible that all they did was move the dilithium closer to the matter-antimatter reaction energy. The supposed difference in tech though is that in TNG they said dilithium regulates the reaction but in "Booby Trap" they appear also to give back as well. But I think the big difference is that the crystals no longer charge up or buffer energy. That seems to have been re-written for the main deflector...
Robert Comsol wrote:
IIRC, my idea about the crystals was that they:
1. regenerated antimatter (and matter fuel) when m/am energy is applied to them by possibly borrowing from an antimatter universe
2. they store a charge like a giant capacitor or battery
I remember from your thread several TOS quotes that do hint the ship's capability to "re-energize" itself, i.e. refuel antimatter but I find your antimatter universe idea to be too "exotic" - for my taste that is.
Yeah, it's exotic
See my "Booby Trap" answer above.
Robert Comsol wrote:
My understanding of crystals is limited but from what I've read they act as amplifiers (Kirk: "re-amplify"!) and oscillators. Thus, the output is bigger than the input and if I'm not totally mistaken you can use the extra output to generate new antimatter from ordinary matter (plenty available via the Bussard "sinks" and thanks to warped space). I'm aware it's equally exotic but I believe this to be within established treknological parameters.
I believe this charge storage idea to come from "The Alternative Factor" but having just seen the episode - again - (is this "Cause and Effect"?
) I can't help the feeling that it is rather the incredible amount of charges that is channeled through these (diminishing their capabilities, hence the necessity to regenerate, re-amplify or re-energize these) than an actual discharge of the crystals that's weakening their power (i.e. capability).
I figured when a crystal can be "drained" they are discharging their stored energy. The amount of charge they can hold seems to be tied to how healthy the crystals are, IMHO.
"The Alternative Factor"
LAZARUS: That's very bad, Captain. If he comes through at a time of his own choosing. But I think if we hurry and you will help me, he can yet still be stopped. There's little time left. He meant to come through. When you accidentally passed through, it drained his crystals. It'll take him about ten minutes to re-energise with the equipment aboard his ship. That should give us enough time.
"Day of the Dove"
SCOTT: There's no change, Captain. The dilithium crystals are discharging.
"The Voyage Home"
SCOTT: Admiral, we have a serious problem. Would you please come down? It's these Klingon crystals, Admiral. The time-travel drained them. They're giving out. De-crystallising.
Robert Comsol wrote:
Let's also not forget that the screenplay is in some parts pure rubbish: Kirk arrives on a planet vis-a-vis the "good" Lazarus who consists of antimatter. This meeting couldn't
take place, neither in our matter universe nor a hypothetical animatter universe.
We should take treknological conclusions from this episode with appropriate quantities of salt, IMHO.
Here we'll just have to disagree. The antimatter in Star Trek, and especially TOS, is clearly "different" than what real antimatter is:
1. Antimatter from the antimatter universe reacts only universe-catastrophically with it's matching counterpart.
2. A tiny amount of antimatter can blow off the atmosphere of a planet in "Obsession".
3. An unknown amount of antimatter destroyed a giant space organism the size of a planet in "The Immunity Syndrome".
4. Antimatter doesn't react immediately under certain conditions as spoken in "That Which Survives".