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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Misc. Star Trek > Trek Tech

Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old May 22 2010, 02:39 AM   #1
Kai Winn
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battles at warp speed

watched the expanse last night where our heroes had troubles with a particularly stubborn klingon. the bird of prey chased the enterprise at warp 5 and fired his disruptor beams, enterprise banged back with phasers and torpedoes. how does it work at speeds faster than light? both ships travel within their own warp bubbles, and as soon as torpedoes and beams leave the bubbles, they should be reduced to light speed at best. i guess the fire control system can compensate if the ships fly side by side or the rear weapons fire at the chasing ship, but there is no way the weapons of the chasing ship can hit the vessel ahead.
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Old May 22 2010, 03:07 PM   #2
blssdwlf
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Re: battles at warp speed

TOS Star Trek has had warp battles where there were no restrictions on the use of phasers and torpedoes. By TNG Star Trek, the production crew made changes to the way things work in Trek and limited phasers to sublight-only. By DS9 and Voyager, some of those "limits" were ignored.

If you want to throw some "tech" at it, the beam weapons like phasers and disruptors were warp energy saturated or jacketed for FTL use while the torpedoes carried their own warp units
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Old May 22 2010, 03:33 PM   #3
Mytran
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Re: battles at warp speed

The way they were originally envisioned, phasers are an outgrowth of the technology which makes deflector beams that sweep way ahead of the ship, clearing particles and whatnot out of the way. By definition, those would have to be travelling faster than the ship in order to work at all.
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Old May 23 2010, 01:57 PM   #4
JarodRussell
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Re: battles at warp speed

The problem is, how can you even see what you're firing at if you move faster than light? What emissions could the sensors possibly detect?
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Old May 23 2010, 02:09 PM   #5
blssdwlf
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Re: battles at warp speed

If you accept that Star Trek has the technology to travel FTL, then if they are able to utilize weapons and sensors at FTL then they have the technology to do so.

TOS Star Trek was smart enough to be vague about how exactly their technology worked. TNG focused in on subspace sensors, IIRC.
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Old May 23 2010, 08:10 PM   #6
Crazy Eddie
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Re: battles at warp speed

Kai Winn wrote: View Post
watched the expanse last night where our heroes had troubles with a particularly stubborn klingon. the bird of prey chased the enterprise at warp 5 and fired his disruptor beams, enterprise banged back with phasers and torpedoes. how does it work at speeds faster than light? both ships travel within their own warp bubbles, and as soon as torpedoes and beams leave the bubbles, they should be reduced to light speed at best.
As for beams, the answer is simple: light always travels at the speed of light in all reference frames. So even if you're moving at warp five and the other ship is moving at warp five, a beam of light still moves as a beam of light back and forth between you. If the other ship is moving at warp seven, guess what? The beam moves at light speed to him AND to you, from both reference frames. Of course that means he gets hit by the beam before you see him get hit by the beam, so targeting gets a little tricky when your relative speeds are high.

As for torpedoes, I'm pretty sure they have their own warp fields anyway, so it hardly matters.
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Old May 24 2010, 10:44 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: battles at warp speed

By TNG Star Trek, the production crew made changes to the way things work in Trek and limited phasers to sublight-only.
Actually, they didn't. All we saw was that they didn't bother to show us any warp speed battles - from which it follows that we didn't see warp speed phaser battles, either, in contrast to all the other Trek TV shows with their prominent warp speed phaser battles.

TNG did show us some warp chases where our heroes used torpedoes for defending themselves - but not in anger, not really. In "Encounter at Farpoint", they fired warp torps as a diversion, to blind the enemy without harming him. In "Best of Both Worlds", they did arm torpedo bays just prior to attempting a warp escape from the Paulson nebula, but they never fired those torps. And in "New Ground", warp torpedoes were used for thwarting the warp-speed soliton wave menace. There never was such a pitched battle at warp that a dramatic excuse for showing warp phasers would have existed.

So TNG failed to show warp phasers. All other TV shows showed them, though. And no show or movie, including TNG, ever had a character suggest that phasers wouldn't work at warp. To the contrary, in ENT "Fallen Hero", our heroes were agonizing over the problem that phasers, which obviously were supposed to work at warp, might not operate perfectly yet, due to teething troubles. By the end of the episode, they did work just fine.

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Old May 24 2010, 01:34 PM   #8
blssdwlf
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Re: battles at warp speed

Timo wrote: View Post
By TNG Star Trek, the production crew made changes to the way things work in Trek and limited phasers to sublight-only.
Actually, they didn't. All we saw was that they didn't bother to show us any warp speed battles - from which it follows that we didn't see warp speed phaser battles, either, in contrast to all the other Trek TV shows with their prominent warp speed phaser battles.
Hmm - that is a good point. A bit of luck that the production crew didn't explicitly state the limitation as published in their TNG:TM

Good examples, Timo. Were there ever any instances of any pursuing warp ship firing their weapons forward? Or were they all just about firing aft weapons at the pursuer?
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Old May 24 2010, 03:52 PM   #9
Timo
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Re: battles at warp speed

VOY alone has plenty of references already. Torpedoes were fired forward on occasion, such as "Flashback". Phasers were fired forward, back and sideways with equal ease in "Message in a Bottle", and forward in "Non Sequitur", plus no doubt several other eps I forget. All sorts of alien beam and bolt weapons were fired forward, too.

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Old May 24 2010, 08:27 PM   #10
mtblillie
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Re: battles at warp speed

^^^^^Timo is right, I have heard it stated several times that in TOS they were trying to keep up with the concept that battles would happen at incredible speeds at incredible distances. In combat it has always been about advantages and disadvantages, so the vessel that can shoot the farthest will have an advantage of shooting a target before they can shoot you, and a ship that is faster will have the advantage of being able to move in closer before being shot at, that coupled with both ships manuevering into firing position means a lot of FTL and sub-light combat at great distances, which makes sense in a stragic point of view.

It has also been estabolished many times that they moved away from the long distance fast moving battles because fans liked to see two ships duking it out rather than a little flash of light on the viewscreen (which would be more likely).

TWOK was the first example of this, and the writers and producers specifically made conditions that allowed for this. In the first battle the ships were close because Kirk thought it the Reliant was just in distress and not under enemy control, allowing Kahn to get as close as possible to inflict maximum damage, and the second battle they were in a nebula where sensors were limited, so they had to get close to make shots count, and at that time both ships were having engine trouble and could only go sub-light anyway.
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Old May 24 2010, 09:10 PM   #11
Timo
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Re: battles at warp speed

TNG sort of invented excuses for the proximity, too. Half the time anyway. After all, many a battle involved the enemy coming nose to nose with Picard first, to make some sort of an outrageous demand, and things deteriorated into a firefight only after these point-blank positions had been assumed.

It was relatively rarely that the E-D closed in on an enemy (or vice versa) in a clean-cut combat scenario. We got one in "The Wounded", where the Cardassian ship nevertheless attacked by doing a point blank strafing run - possibly because her pitiful deathrays wouldn't have been even that effective from a greater distance, possibly because her skipper wasn't really serious about destroying Picard's ship but more in need of an honorable way to open dialogue with the enemy. Yet that same episode also showed us the sort of long range combat we'd rationally expect. (Well, it didn't actually show it, because that wouldn't have been visually dramatic, so we got a tactical display show-and-tell instead...)

Another such sortie was the attack of the Klingons on the two Enterprises in "Yesterday's Enterprise" - again at short distances. One might again speculate the Klingons went for a capture rather than a kill, though. Especially since the exact same "tactical footage" was later used in "Rascals" to depict an effective boarding and capturing attack!

DS9 had a built-in excuse of sorts for short range battles: one of the hero assets was an immobile space station, while the other was a special starship with extremely short-ranged weapons. And ENT was built on the very premise of a primitive starship, legitimizing short combat ranges, too. So it's basically just VOY that did "needlessly" short-ranged fights on occasion.

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Old May 25 2010, 01:10 AM   #12
blssdwlf
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Re: battles at warp speed

blssdwlf wrote: View Post
Good examples, Timo. Were there ever any instances of any pursuing warp ship firing their weapons forward? Or were they all just about firing aft weapons at the pursuer?
I should've been more clear - any examples of warp speed combat in TNG that had ships firing forward?

I'm very aware that TOS had warp speed combat and Voyager, DS9 and Enterprise also dabbled in it once a while.

I'm specifically getting at whether the dearth of warp speed combat (with phasers) in TNG was due to the adherence to their published TNG:TM...
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Old May 25 2010, 11:09 AM   #13
Timo
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Re: battles at warp speed

There were very few TNG warp chases where our heroes would have been the hunter and the enemy the prey. In fact, the only example that really comes to mind is "The Survivors", where Picard chases the Husnock with apparent destructive intent - but never closes the range for firing. In other chases, such as after the Borg Cube in "BoBW II", our heroes have not tried to destroy the fleeing enemy with weapons fire, for various reasons.

OTOH, the reverse was true a couple of times. The Borg chased the E-D at high warp in "Q Who?", and fired those strange green bolts that drained the hero ship's shields. And the Klingons fired at the E-D in "Emissary" while rapidly approaching our heroes; since they essentially opened fire just after entering visual range, one would expect them to have been approaching at warp. This is not explicit in the episode, however.

Certainly our heroes didn't express surprise when weapons fire (including energy beams or energy bolts) reached them in a warp chase. This opposed to e.g. them repeatedly musing that a phenomenon they thought warp-incapable was moving at warp.

I'm specifically getting at whether the dearth of warp speed combat (with phasers) in TNG was due to the adherence to their published TNG:TM...
Now that is an interesting question. But if there was "adherence" there, it was half-hearted at best, because aliens were allowed to fire warp-speed beams with dramatic impunity.

I might suggest the dearth of warp fights was due to the cost of the warp streak VFX: they could use a certain set of stock warp scenes to portray generic warp travel, but a combat scene would have required special VFX (such as in "Q Who?") where every added element, such as phaser beams, would hike up the cost.

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Old May 26 2010, 07:53 PM   #14
Cyke101
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Re: battles at warp speed

It would be an interesting plot point if a superadvanced alien race could fire energy weapons at warp while our heroes don't have the technological ability. That puts our heroes at one heck of a disadvantage. Alas, that's not the case with Starfleet (nor is it a big deal anyway).

As a kid in the 80s, I always thought it made sense that phasers could be fired from aft and not forward when at warp. That way, a pursuing ship would simply ram into phaser energy, as opposed to the phasers running into something.

IIRC, didn't the E-D fire aft phasers at warp at some point?
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Old June 4 2010, 01:15 AM   #15
TargetPainter
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Re: battles at warp speed

I've always seen it happen but have never really questioned it. I can see the torpedo's as having their own warp bubble which allows them to be fired in either direction during warp. The phasers are another in entirely, but I would assume that it also travels at FTL speeds which it makes it possible for them to be fired safely from a vessel during warp. Would the beams have to be at the same warp velocity to hit a target? or would they simply disperse once they enter the warp field of another vessel? now I'm really curious..
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