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Old August 19 2013, 12:13 AM   #234
Robert Comsol
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Location: USS Berlin
Re: Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

...I thought it was very concise and actually a little too short for my liking, but many thanks for the time and educational effort on behalf of a layman like myself regarding these intricate matters.

It's one of these rare occasions to talk to somebody at the BBS who apparently knows what he is talking about and I'm in desperate need to have some internal arrangements of my WIP TOS Enterprise evaluated for scientific credibility.

zDarby wrote: View Post
Something has to stimulate the warp nacelles into making the warp field. What that something is is up for speculation.

... But gamma rays turn back into particles as soon as they're able, especially from M/AM as the energies are so high.

... Thus, paradoxically enough, more energetic gamma rays would supply less energy to the warp nacelles. (I've not calculated this, but it feels right.)

So, IMHO, gamma rays seem to be a terrible method of energizing anything. Especially if it's something that needs high amounts of power, like warp nacelles making warp fields.
What would you make of the illuminated energy plasma we see in the intermix and warp cores of TMP, TNG and beyond?

Is the only energy that can be harvested from annihilation heat, is there different energy that could be put to use and do we need the dilithum crystals to come up with an "exotic" speculation (other than amplification of energy which appears to be one of their "exotic" properties)?

zDarby wrote: View Post
Further, though I will not pretend to be an expert in any way, my understanding is that the amount of ambient gamma ray energy in interstellar space is pretty small.

Still, none of these statements is evidence against gamma photons as being the initializing particle for warp fields. Indeed, I could probably conjure several supporting features of "gamma ray energizers" for the warp nacelles.

Probably the biggest hurdle, from my perspective, is transferring whatever gamma rays are produced in your reactor to the nacelles. Since they don't interact with matter well, I find it difficult to think of a method to direct it. However, once you have high energy plasma, making gamma rays is easy via bremsstrahlung. So maybe directing the gammas made in the reactor is not needed?
It is my understanding as well that natural gamma radiation is measly but provided the warp coils were of an exotic nature yet unknown to us, even tiny gamma radiation could do the stimulation and help us to rationalize interstellar travels featured in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Mudd's Women" and - possibly - "Balance of Terror" (without the additional stimulation of "onboard" gamma radiation from the reactors).

"Gamma Ray Energizers"...this is where it gets interesting.

Yes, the channeling of gamma radiation has caused me nightmares, because gamma radiation either passes through solid objects or is absorbed. Not a chance to reflect and direct it like a laser beam unless we'd invent an extra exotic technology which I'd found rather undesirable.

But if I understood you correctly you could create an energy plasma which acts like a "carrier" and convert it back into gamma radiation where this might be needed?

zDarby wrote: View Post
What made you think of gamma rays in the first place? And what precisely do you expect them to do? (Those questions might sound snotty but I mean them earnestly.)
Kirk's references to wind and sailing ships (which sound like waxing poetic considering a starship is essentially a submarine), the question whether natural gamma radiation (alternately dark energy?) could qualify as some kind of "interstellar wind", and because gamma radiation is a product of either fusion or m/am reactors.

zDarby wrote: View Post
The discussion about fusion and lithium cracking is rather interesting. It hangs together well. But I don't buy that the 23rd century would still be using lithium-produced tritium as fuel. ... So though I totally buy that the author [Sam Peeples, "Where No Man Has Gone Before"] intended the lithium cracking station to mean a tritium breeding station, I don't buy that that's the in-universe explanation.
I see. And learned something today, thanks!

zDarby wrote: View Post
However, though I can't think of a method off hand, I see no reason why dilithium could not have some property that would be useful for increasing the efficiency of fusion reactions....or, perhaps it's able to take fusion plasma and modify it to be more like M/AM plasma, making it better suited for use in the warp nacelles. This could be the elusive "energizer" circuit. Using a dilithium crystal to increase the energy of a fusion plasma to M/AM specs by sacrificing total plasma particle density? (No free lunch!) And then, from there, the plasma would goto the intermix chamber? Maybe through another set of dilithium crystals?
That sounds intriguing. And for my taste a thousand of times better than the assumption, that dilithium crystals are immune to antimatter...

zDarby wrote: View Post
When I hear the word 'battery', I think of a volume of material that has energy stored in it, an energy that does needs very little coaxing to be released. IE a material that has some potential energy that needs only be given a path for release. Maybe that stored energy is rechargeable and maybe it's not. (Definitions of this feeling get slippery quickly.) By which I mean to say, IMHO, "auxiliary" power is fusion and "battery" power comes from some energy storage medium. ...

Nuclear isomer batteries seem the most promising as they could be recharged. They'd also remain stable without input power. Unfortunately, I know of no method to induce controlled energy release from isomers. Still, it's the 23rd century! They should have a better understanding than I. ...

A small, simple fission reactor might work. It'd be best with a xeno effects field keeping its volatiles in stasis until needed. But it could only be viable if the whole thing could also be well shielded within a relatively small volume. Perhaps using critical-fluid uranium-hexaflouride as both core and working fluid? In a three phase thermoacoustic brayton cycle? The problem here is the amount of time it would give you: years instead of days. Of course, special care with geometry would solve that quandary. Again, it's the 23rd century.
Are we looking at a historic opportunity to finally give these nuclear fission allusions in TOS the finger and presume that the underground fission reactor on Janus VI in "The Devil in the Dark" was actually a sophisticated nuclear "battery"?

zDarby wrote: View Post
Of course, if I'm accepting simple, turn-key fission reactors as "battery power" then a turn-key fusion reactor would work, too. For example: a supersonic shock confinement reactor. Basically, it's a specially shaped shock tube. Once the deuterium gas is going super or hypersonic in the tube (not sure which) it hits a set of mounds mounted on the sides that force shock waves to culminate to the center of the tube. Where the waves intersect, deuterium gas (now plasma) fuses. The reaction is inefficient but probably implementable in the 23rd century... Even so, this seems more like "secondary auxiliary" than "battery" power.
Could a supersonic shock confinement reactor look like the GNDN props in the TOS engine room? I usually associate the donut shape with most kinds of nuclear fusion reactor proposals.

Thanks for sharing this with us!

"The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth" Jean-Luc Picard
"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
Albert Einstein
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