@Crazy Eddie: I would like to both thank you and apologize.
First off, I am sorry that my mind is so incredibly closed that I will very likely never come to see the early Romulan Empire from your POV. This is not for lack of logic on your part but an abundance of invested time on the opposing view on my part.
However, I would very much like to thank you and generally show my appreciation for showing me that the one-system, STL view point is, indeed, valid. Only here, through your explanations have I understood this fact. By no means am I putting down anyone else who has previously expressed this point of view, only that I have never come across a discussion with an individual who was patient enough to express it so completely. Thank you.
I am not Trekkie enough to argue the point, so I will leave that to my betters who are. Please do not take any offense if I continue to post to this thread, ignoring sound arguments on the matter by yourself and your like-minded peers. It will not be because I view them with distain, for, indeed I am very likely to follow them avidly, even while I disagree with them silently... For, you see, I am not convinced yours is the superior POV, even while I admit neither is mine.
Thus let it be understood I will, until further notice, assume the BOP is a warp capable part of a multi-system, fusion powered Romulan Empire. This is not because I assume this is the best interpretation (anymore) but because I can not deny the other interpretation also works. Which is a long way of saying it's my *preference* to start with this assumption.
@Praetor: Thank you. It is my intention to post more along these lines now that I've given up on prove my above preferences and decided to just declare it.
For example, in the past few months I've gathered a better understanding of the anti-xeno effect, a quantum process that could, theoretically, produce all sorts of usefully products and processes just by properly measuring the material to be processed. (That was a rather bad sentence.)
For example, I recently learned that Nickle56 --the exhaust of my favored fusion cycle for advanced Romulan fusion, as mentioned above-- has a half life of only a few days, when it decays to Cobalt56 via electron capture. By measuring such a nucleus in the right way you could --again, theoretically-- force it to decay much more rapidly, in a matter of minutes or seconds, adding more energy to the final tally. If one then used the same technique to force the Cobalt to beta-decay into Iron56, you will have ended by converting 0.9+% of the mass to energy! (I'll calculate more accurate numbers later.)
But the anti-xeno process lends itself to an exciting possibility for the Federation: more efficient use of the ram scoop. Only a very small portion of the hydrogen in the interstellar medium is deuterium, greatly reducing the usefulness of the scoops for the deuterium reliant Federation. But, using the anti-xeno effect, it might be possible to force half the regular hydrogen collected to capture their electrons and transmute into neutrons, which will then very much want to join the unaffected hydrogen to form deuterium... Just what the impulse engines ordered! And though this process will probably take more energy than it gives off --the mass of a proton and electron is not that much different than that of a neutron-- it could potentially increase a starship's abilities to refuel itself by several hundred times!
My family is becoming annoyed with how much time I'm spending, so I must continue later.