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Old April 23 2013, 12:38 AM   #32
Lenny Nurdbol
Lieutenant Commander
 
Location: New Jersey, with the Jersey Devil...
Re: Fist Warp Flight - Fist Contact Question

Discussing dilithium crystals can get Very Treknical very quickly and, more to the point, rather snotty depending upon how "official" you want to stand vs. how "unofficial" you want to go: into Treknical publications and novels going back decades... IMHO, I like to take the Whole Thing in--and many fans, particularly "newbies" who only go by the one-and-only "official" explanation of dilithium, beat me up over it...but to get on with it...

Throughout TOS and TAS, they're spoken of as channeling or controlling the ship's energy... Numerous episodes in fact speak of the crystals being Drained ("The Alternative Factor" and "The Infinite Vulcan" in particular)... The peace-loving Halkans in "Mirror, Mirror" don't want the Federation to mine dilithium because of the crystals' use for war or weaponry. In earliest Trek reference books they're defined as being an Energy Storage Conduit and are akin to a cell or capacitor, with the ability to be discharged... In fact FJ first came up with the Dilithium Cell in such things as the Type II Hand Phaser (with fandom following up with dilithium cells in use to power other hand-held field equipment, notable in supplemental TOs and the Line Officers Requirements Manual and the Starfleet Dynamics Manual and...)... The designers of the ST-TMP phaser pistols envisioned a pulsing dilithium booster cell in the rear of the phaser prop, going by the contractors' sketches... Spaceflight Chronology states that when exposed to a matter-antimatter reaction and allowed to absorb the energy output, the crystals Focus it and will eventually discharge a coherent energy beam, leading to Dilithium-Focus warp drive, a quantum leap in faster-than-light propulsion allowing ships to achieve speeds above warp 4 (explained in Star Maps' Introduction To Navigation Manual)... This is mentioned in-passing in a couple of 80s novels as well... So it comes as no surprise that it's also mentioned to have properties similar to rubindium crystals (extracted from the subcutaneous transponders in "Patterns of Force" they allowed Spock to make a simple but effective cutting laser to escape from their cell), and indeed the two are close to one another on the Periodic Table of Elements in the Star Fleet Medical Reference Manual... Line Officers Requirements and Starfleet Dynamics manuals say that dilithium possesses the ability to Transtate energy (going back to "A Piece of the Action") from one form to another and forming a vital component of the ship's power grid are the Energizers (reportedly the crystals seen in "The Alternative Factor")... One can easily imagine a plasma conduit conducting energy from a matter-antimatter reactor into a dilithium crystal circuit and that unit transforming it into electrical energy to provide shipboard power, which could very well be what that all-important "bobbing" crystal is about in episodes such as "The Paradise Syndrome" and "Elaan of Troyius" perhaps forming the primary hull's Energizer, pulling energy from the ship's warp drive engines' reactors... That's also what Spock supposedly is adjusting during the climax in ST II... Taking all of the above into account, dilithum obviously has multiple uses... In TNG, forget all of the above; doesn't exist to the new generation... In the 24th Century, dilithium is a matter-antimatter Moderator... You can't mix the two Without having dilithium in the middle otherwise the ship blows up... That's It... Nothing more, nothing less... And I don't buy that... I take dilithium to be taken to a new level in TNG's time by having it placed Within the reactor...but the bottom line is, properly designed, you certainly don't need dilithium for warp speed...
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