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

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Old October 3 2011, 03:03 PM   #31
Christopher
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

UncleRice wrote: View Post
Ok, when I say proton mass, I don't mean proton particles, I'm thinking something akin to a proton star. Something maybe 6 inches in diameter and with the mass of a star because it's just protons(and maybe some neutrons to keep it from flying apart).
There is no such thing. It's a physical impossibility. The more protons you get together, the stronger their mutual electric repulsion becomes, and the more neutrons you need to bind them into a nucleus. That's why small nuclei have equal numbers of protons and neutrons (for instance, carbon has six of each), but heavier elements need considerably more neutrons than protons to be stable (for instance, gold has 79 protons and 118 neutrons, while Californium has 98 protons and 153 neutrons). So anything as large as you're suggesting would need far, far more neutrons than protons.

You must be thinking of a neutron star, a stellar remnant made largely of neutron-degenerate matter.


It's small enough to fit in a suitcase, but will seriously mess up a planet if someone warps one into the neighbourhood.
Not possible. A typical neutron star has a diameter of around 24 kilometers, give or take. Compress its mass even smaller and you get a black hole, and the Schwarzschild radius of a black hole the mass of the Sun would be 3 kilometers (or 6 km diameter). That is, the actual mass of the black hole would be point-sized, but its gravity would be so intense that anything within 3 kilometers would have to travel faster than light to escape it, so basically 3 km is the closest you can possibly get to it. (That's called the event horizon because no events can be seen beyond it.)

A chunk of neutron-degenerate matter small enough to fit in a suitcase would instantly re-expand to non-degenerate matter in a huge explosion. It couldn't exist apart from its star. It's possible that a strangelet of that size could be stable, but it would be far below stellar mass and thus wouldn't pose the planetary-scale hazard you suggest (not from its gravity alone, anyway).


I was looking for some rules for warp drive that vaguely agreed with real world physics that wasn't addressed in an episode or movie. What I've come up with is:

1: Gravity complicates warp fields, but competent engineering can over come it.
True, but the gravity of something as dense as a neutron star might be too difficult to compensate for. Not to mention the impracticality of building a warp drive capable of generating a bubble over 24 kilometers across.


2: Mass will make a ship sluggish and unresponsive even if you have the throttle wide open but you can still reach speeds that break the fabric of time, so be prepared to back up and get a run at it.
One person is claiming that mass will make a ship sluggish, but he's basing that on unreliable evidence and it doesn't make physical sense. I'd discount his claims if I were you.

And there's no "breaking the fabric of time." Just because you can put those words together in that order doesn't give them any actual meaning. What you're doing is generating a spacetime geometry that causes the piece of spacetime you occupy to alter its relationship to the universe around it. There's no actual speed involved at all.


3: Just because a proton mass fits inside a warp bubble, doesn't mean you can make the extra mass move.
No, 3: There's no such thing as a "proton mass." You're thinking of a neutron star, and there's no way it could reasonably fit inside a warp bubble.
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Old October 3 2011, 05:37 PM   #32
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Actually, it shouldn't be difficult to believe that Trek's mastery of gravity would allow for pocketable black holes. Somehow, treknology already allows a starship of macroscopic mass to attain lightspeed; if the mass reduction trick works both ways, one might simply ramp us the mass of neutrons till each weighs in at fifty pounds, and then mold those into a fist-sized neutron star whose spacetime curvature is kept manageable by the "reverse warp field" around the thing. Perhaps not a suitcase application in the 24th century yet, but no doubt something you could install into a starship, or build a starship around.

We'd need specific additional technobabble to disprove the existence of this sort of treknology application; otherwise, it can be assumed to be part and parcel of the high energy magic of Trek engineering.

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Old October 4 2011, 03:54 AM   #33
UncleRice
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Mmm, ok, the premise of the story is that a naturally occurring antimatter star collapsed into a mass of neutrons and anti-protons. This this neutron/ anti-proton mass over a period of millions of years slamed into normal matter objects annihilating them an bits of itself until it's reduced to approximately the mass of an M class planet.

Along come a mystery person who creates a pocket universe around the anti-protons sort of like Wesley crusher did with the Enterprise's warp drive (Remember Me). This allows a loop hole in physics. He isn't moving the mass, he is moving the access point to the pocket universe. He places this pocket universe inside multi-purpose cylindrical container equipped with a bale handle (see file BK3T-5). Said person of mystery puts container into storage at a Ferengi self storage facility in the Promellian region.

Weeks later a Cardassian arrives, ans spends several hours in a bar before buying Cardassian porn and retrieving the container. He places the container on the roof of his small budget shuttle while loading the shuttle with his porn and booze and forgets the container.

It is suspected the navigational shields held the container in place until about warp 4.3 to warp 4.6 at which time the container smacked into the shuttles warp pylon causing the anti proton mass to be released from the pocket universe. The shuttle is consumed by the explosion that rips a hole in subspace.

Somewhere several sectors away a junior Federation technician notices the explosion on a long range sensor and says: "This just ain't right. We need a closer look." (insert story involving Breen, Ferengi, an understaffed saber class ship, left overs from the Promellian/ Menthar war, and technobabble here).
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Old October 4 2011, 03:57 AM   #34
blssdwlf
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

@Timo - And there is also the massive V'ger from "The Motion Picture" warping around with an accompanying energy field over 2 AU (Director's Edition) or over 82 AU (Theatrical Cut) wide. If V'ger's technology uses warp fields for propulsion, encompassing a 24km object with a warp field would be fairly trivial.

Timo's idea of mass reduction is used notably from TNG's "Deja Q" where a warp field is used to reduce the mass of a small moon enough to be pushed.
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Old October 4 2011, 07:14 AM   #35
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

I was thinking about this today< and it occured to me that the size/mass of the object being moved must bear on the power of the warp drive given that larger ships have engines that are proportional to them. Otherwise we might as well have all warp drive units looking more or less the same size on the ship. This might work for Star Wars's "hyperdrive motivator" but it doesn't feel right for Trek. (Maybe not even in SW. I bet an Imperial Star Destroyer has a bigger motivator than the Falcon, or an X-Wing. Somebody stop me before i get too off topic!!)

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Old October 4 2011, 09:59 AM   #36
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

If you recall, Ds9 stated that creating a warp field around the station would lower it's overall mass (which allowed for thrusters to position the station at the mouth of the wormhole in a speedy manner).

This mechanism apparently takes place every time a warp field is created around the ship/station - which in effect easily explains 'jet fighter' type movements of large ships (which later on was apparently dropped for 'drama reason' - or as always - the writers forgetting (unintentionally or otherwise) what the technology can do).
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Old October 4 2011, 03:52 PM   #37
Cary L. Brown
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Deks wrote: View Post
If you recall, Ds9 stated that creating a warp field around the station would lower it's overall mass (which allowed for thrusters to position the station at the mouth of the wormhole in a speedy manner).

This mechanism apparently takes place every time a warp field is created around the ship/station - which in effect easily explains 'jet fighter' type movements of large ships (which later on was apparently dropped for 'drama reason' - or as always - the writers forgetting (unintentionally or otherwise) what the technology can do).
That wasn't the first time that this was ever done, either. Granted, this was never specifically mentioned during TOS, but nothing in TOS is contradicted by this either (which is one of my own criteria for what elements of later series I reject and what elements I accept).

We know a couple of things about "static subspace fields," from direct in-show evidence.

1) Subspace fields can be used to reduce the "apparent mass" of objects.

This was done in TNG (to let the enterprise move a much larger object.. can't recall the episode, but Geordi put the ship's subspace field around something... I'm thinking it was an asteroid???... to let the Enterprise move it. This was a technobabble thing, but I remember that the ship was trying to divert this (asteroid) but the tractor beam was too weak and the propulsion system was too weak to do it. The argument kept being "how do we make the ship able to move an object so big and heavy" and the "aha moment" was when Geordi realized that he could make the object lighter instead. (Anyone remember what episode this was?)

This was done again in DS9, in the pilot, to allow the station to be moved dramatic distances using nothing but the "position maintaining" thruster system around the station ring perimeter. What's notable here is that, unless the wormhole was literally just a couple of light-minutes away from Bajor (which is NOT evidently the case), this also infers other characteristics of a static subspace field, which I'll bring up in a moment.

There may be other references to subspace fields reducing apparent mass, but I can't think of any.

2) The other effect that such a field has is that it increases the local "apparent speed-of-light."

We know this because the 1701-D has a subspace field generation system attached to each computer core (according to the tech manual and yes, I'm pretty sure also in-show dialogue) to allow the "optical circuits" to work FTL.

There's an interesting side-observation you can make re: this... that is, that a static subspace field is NOT the same as a "warp field," since there is no indication that the "optical computers" on the Enterprise are in any way affected by using the warp drive, is there?

These two things, along with numerous bit of (mainly, but not purely, TOS-related) info that makes no sense otherwise, lead me to conclude that you could pair a conventional newtonian "impulse drive" with such a static subspace field to "reduce the mass" of the ship (allowing very fast acceleration/deceleration with minimal actual thrust application) and to actually permit ships using "impulse" to move faster than light.

This works for DS9's relocation, if the wormhole is more than just a few light-minutes from Bajor. It works for the idea that the Romulan War was fought using "impulse-only" ships. It works for the idea that TOS shuttlecraft were "impulse-only" but still had those external nacelles (they're not "warp nacelles" but they are "subspace field nacelles") and that a TOS shuttlecraft can move FTL. It works for "Where No Man Has Gone Before" where the Enterprise, without "warp drive" capabiity, manages to make it to a star system with potential repair gear before the third generation of the ship's crew dies of old age. And on and on and on.
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Old October 4 2011, 03:59 PM   #38
Cary L. Brown
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Overall, we have to accept that (a) we, in real life, have no idea how any Trek physics (beyond what is based upon real physics) works, and (b) most of the "magic physics" we see in Star Trek relates either to "magic particles" or the ability to manipulate gravity (which also occasionally strays into "magic gravity particles")

Warp drive is very likely one of those "magic gravity-related" technologies. How does this relate to actual gravity (as it exists in the real world)?

Simple... IT'S MAGIC. Or, in scriptwriting terms, it's a "McGuffin."
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Old October 4 2011, 06:21 PM   #39
Christopher
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Albertese wrote: View Post
I was thinking about this today< and it occured to me that the size/mass of the object being moved must bear on the power of the warp drive given that larger ships have engines that are proportional to them. Otherwise we might as well have all warp drive units looking more or less the same size on the ship.
Well, yeah; the bigger the ship, the bigger the warp bubble needs to be to surround the ship, and thus the more powerful the machinery needs to be to generate it. So I'd say it's more a function of the volume of the ship than its mass.


Deks wrote: View Post
If you recall, Ds9 stated that creating a warp field around the station would lower it's overall mass (which allowed for thrusters to position the station at the mouth of the wormhole in a speedy manner).

This mechanism apparently takes place every time a warp field is created around the ship/station - which in effect easily explains 'jet fighter' type movements of large ships (which later on was apparently dropped for 'drama reason' - or as always - the writers forgetting (unintentionally or otherwise) what the technology can do).
Yes, that's the idea. And it kinda makes sense. Mass is essentially, for these purposes, a distortion in the fabric of spacetime. If you "flatten out" spacetime around an object, you effectively cancel out its mass. So you're warping (i.e. reshaping) spacetime, you're just warping it in the opposite way from how your ship's or station's mass does so, thereby cancelling it out.
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Old October 5 2011, 05:48 PM   #40
Lord Manitou
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

If your talking ab0ut a substance that is largely photons you are talking about hydrogen or helium in outer space. If thier kinetic energy is high their electrons are stripped. They can make a substance with a very high specific gravity like in proton stars. In science fiction each episode is dependent on what is obviously impossible from today's point of view. For science to approach this pinnacle of technological advancement seems outlandish. Within Voyager's three dimensions of sub-space , attaining one billion miles per second is a matter of course. I can immagine the engines would have to be more powerful and bigger to serve a greater mass. To carry a high specific gravity they would need to be more expensive because of the greater warp factors surrounding the objects.
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Old October 8 2011, 04:39 AM   #41
John O.
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Maybe I can speak to this but not in the context of "canonically supported" information about warp drive.

So whether you take this to mean anything depends on whether you consider the post-Trek-developed concept of Alcubierre-derived "warp" drive concepts to be any authority on how trek warp drives would work. In other words, what I'm about to say is meaningless to this question if you don't think Trek warp drives work anything like our actual real life present day perception of how a warp drive would work.

I just came from that 100 Year Starship Symposium put on by DARPA and NASA-Ames in Orlando last weekend, and while I was there I saw a lecture by Dr. Harold White at NASA Glenn called "Warp Mechanics 101". It was a review of Alcubierre's warp drive metric, including energy density requirements, the mathematical formalism and even some updated mathematics on the subject. That's right, somebody from NASA Glenn is actually working on Alcubierre warp drive mathematics, albeit on his free time and not as part of his NASA-funded research.

But to the point - mass is immaterial to the power you need to create the warp bubble - but there's a caveat. Strictly speaking the only term that appears in the equations is the volume of the space that you need in the center of the bubble to be unperturbed; however, there's a field symmetry paradox wherein it becomes necessary to apply classical Newtonian momentum in the direction of intended travel before you switch on the warp field - because technically the field geometry has to be symmetric, but that would mean without any conventional momentum you wouldn't have a preferential displacement direction, you'd just head one way or the other. You fix that by using a conventional propulsion system to get velocity then go to warp. Incidentally, Trek always did this (probably without knowing why), as you'd generally have to be at impulse to go to warp, you couldn't just go to warp from standstill.

So how does this mean mass is important - well in a roundabout way, the math says that your 'apparent velocity' in a setup like this would be the product of the bubble's superluminal velocity and your Newtonian velocity, and since the acceleration you can impart to a body in space is dependent upon mass - ultimately your final velocity is going to vary inversely with the mass of the ship.

Incidentally, I thought I might pass on a tidbit of information - to say we have no idea how to create warp travel is not entirely accurate. Mathematically speaking it is understood that warping spacetime is done by negative energy densities or exotic matter densities. There have been laboratory scale experiments that have successfully measured negative energy density - see vacuum energy density, casimir forces, etc. These things aren't where they were 15 years ago - mysterious entries in Wikipedia. We know quite a bit more about them. My conversation with Dr. White after his lecture indicated they are trying to setup funding to conduct the first tabletop experiment verifying that spacetime can be warped with vacuum energy.
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Old October 8 2011, 03:25 PM   #42
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

^Wow, that's fascinating. When you say your effective superluminal (ESL) velocity is the product of realspace velocity and the warp velocity... would you be able to modify the warp velocity directly and only use realspace velocity to set your direction of movement, or would you have a fixed warp velocity component and need to accelerate in real space beforehand to set your warp speed? I.e. if you wanted to go twice as fast at warp, would you need to accelerate to twice the Newtonian velocity before engaging your warp field, or could you just thrust a little in the desired direction and then activate a warp field that's twice as strong?

And this does suggest that "Faster than light, no left or right" from the much-hated Voyager: "Fury" is actually true -- that you'd have to drop out of warp to change direction.
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Old October 18 2011, 04:38 PM   #43
UncleRice
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Ok, yeah separating the functions of warp and forward movement into two things that follow there own set of rules makes sense. That would mean warping a neutron mass, even one the size of a shuttle, would be impossible due to the inertia involved in the equation.
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Old October 18 2011, 05:10 PM   #44
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

^Not really, because presumably any neutron star or strangelet would already have some intrinsic momentum. There is no "standing still" in space. Everything's orbiting something, even if it's the center of mass of the galaxy. You just couldn't maneuver it, that's all.
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Old October 18 2011, 06:39 PM   #45
UncleRice
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Re: Mass, volume, and Warpdrive question.

Christopher wrote: View Post
^Not really, because presumably any neutron star or strangelet would already have some intrinsic momentum. There is no "standing still" in space. Everything's orbiting something, even if it's the center of mass of the galaxy. You just couldn't maneuver it, that's all.
Well there is putting something into warp, and putting something warp in a useful direction.
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