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Deep Space Nine What We Left Behind, we will always have here.

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Old November 11 2012, 02:05 PM   #1
Photon
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Question about ship to ship energy beams

In WoW, Worf said the Klingon ships had closed to "point blank range" and then really hit the Defiant hard

Also, in BoT, the Romulans plasma energy torpedo thingy had "limited range". And hit the Ent hard but wlith less fury since the Ent backed away

Question, in space should not energy weapons stay the same until they hit something?
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Old November 11 2012, 09:06 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Not exactly. They would be subject to the inverse square law of being weakened by distance unless they had absolutely zero spread, at least. We don't know whether a phaser or disruptor beam has non-zero spread in general, but we have seen some phaser beams with lots of seemingly unnecessary spread. Say, this weak beam from "Return to Grace", clearly growing wider with distance:

http://ds9.trekcore.com/gallery/albu...ngrace_047.jpg

Since Dukat in that episode would have had no reason to command a spread for his beam, we might assume that poor-quality beams (such as the one specified here) spread a lot, and excellent-quality ones spread a little.

There might be other factors weakening the beam at a distance, too. The beam glows in every direction, meaning it loses some energy for each millimeter it travels, unlike a laser in vacuum. How soon does the energy loss from the glow add up to a noticeable weakening of the destructive effect?

Also, phasers and the like often need to travel faster than light to reach distant targets. The means of enabling this are unknown but probably involve the classic technobabble conceit, a subspace field. If this field "leaks", then there is power loss from that, too. Some sort of a containment field "jacket" may be part of very slow beams, too (and a deliberate removal of the "jacket" would explain the fragmentation effect or "proximity blast detonation" witnessed in TOS "Balance of Terror"), and may again be a cause of leaks - or even of energy drain, as the field might be maintained by siphoning off energy from the destructive qualities of the beam.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old November 12 2012, 10:16 PM   #3
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

I just hope all those errant torpedoe's self destruct if they don't hit anything after a set time.

Otherwise someone might have a bad day should they hit a planet in x years time.
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Old November 13 2012, 12:01 PM   #4
Timo
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

The backstage model of torpedoes is that they use the contents of their warhead as fuel for the propulsion system. So, a torpedo at the end of its run would have zero explosive yield, unless specifically commanded to retain some of the fuel.

OTOH, it would take a lot of time for a torpedo to reach a planet by aimless drifting - quite possibly billions of years. It sounds likely that the onboard containment field for the antimatter charge would decay and fail in a matter of months, weeks or perhaps days already, even if not specifically commanded to.

I do wonder what happens to phaser beams that miss... Supposedly, they don't simply snap out of existence when the firing emitter is turned off (we have seen phaser pulses with front and aft ends flying through space, after all). Running into one would be phenomenally bad luck, but the process in itself is intriguing.

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Old November 13 2012, 07:08 PM   #5
SilentP
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

I would imagine that stray shots are very unlikely to hit anyone who wasn't in the area with any kind of strength. Not only would you have diffusion of the beam, the energy of the beams would eventually be sapped by interstellar medium (remember, space isn't a total vacuum).

Also, referring to something you said earlier in the thread, Timo, there's never been an instance I can think of where phasers fire FTL. In fact, they all seem to be slower than light, since in nearly all cases, there is a noticeable travel time in the beam (i.e. not visually instantaneous), which would explain why it is in fact possible for ships and people to dodge phaser attacks.
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Old November 13 2012, 09:10 PM   #6
C.E. Evans
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

SilentP wrote: View Post
Also, referring to something you said earlier in the thread, Timo, there's never been an instance I can think of where phasers fire FTL. In fact, they all seem to be slower than light, since in nearly all cases, there is a noticeable travel time in the beam (i.e. not visually instantaneous), which would explain why it is in fact possible for ships and people to dodge phaser attacks.
Phasers have been fired at warp ever since TOS, although more often than not they generally aren't.

But here's a whole thread about the subject.
http://www.trekbbs.com/showthread.php?t=121803
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Old November 13 2012, 10:51 PM   #7
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Hmmm, my bad. I know I've seen TOS episodes where the Enterprise had fired phasers while at warp, but I put that down to having only loose technological limits and little technobabble in the series. I didn't realise (or perhaps more likely, remember) that there were instances in 'modern' Trek where it had occurred.
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Old November 13 2012, 10:53 PM   #8
R. Star
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Firing weapons at warp never made sense to me, unless it was a rear or side shot. If you fire a phaser or torpedo at warp wouldn't you just fly into it and damage yourself?
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Old November 14 2012, 09:29 AM   #9
Timo
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Why would phaser beams not move at warp speed when desired? After all, everything else does: sensor beams, communications beams, apparently sometimes also tractor beams and transporter beams.

Saying "they will run into their own fire" sounds a bit like "Worf can't fly over the Lakota - he would snap the wires and the ship would fall!"...

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Old November 14 2012, 01:12 PM   #10
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Timo wrote: View Post
There might be other factors weakening the beam at a distance, too. The beam glows in every direction, meaning it loses some energy for each millimeter it travels
If the phaser produce a stream of energized particles, which have a relatively brief half life of only a few seconds, this would be one way of explaining what we're seeing.

The beams would quickly just decay away, and not "roam the galaxy" for eons looking for a target.

If shooting at a target with a longer range, a slightly different particle with a longer half life, and perhaps less striking power, could be emitted.

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Old November 15 2012, 12:50 AM   #11
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Guess I wasn't paying attention to the tiny warp nacelles on the phaser and tractor beams.
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Old November 15 2012, 09:04 AM   #12
Timo
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

While our heroes repeatedly state that no natural phenomenon can move at warp speed, every show features at least one episode where a natural phenomenon does that very thing. Quite without the help of engines in nacelles...

Again, sounds like you are mightily worried about the ships' lights going out when they reach the ends of their extension cords, or Kirk's toupe falling off if Sulu flies upside down. There doesn't seem to be any point in applying random rules like that on how Star Trek works. The show has plenty enough random rules of its own!

Timo Saloniemi
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Old November 16 2012, 06:48 PM   #13
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

R. Star wrote: View Post
Guess I wasn't paying attention to the tiny warp nacelles on the phaser and tractor beams.
haha

Real life physics of traveling at speed of light are confusing enough. With warp, everything might be possible
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Old November 16 2012, 06:49 PM   #14
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

Timo wrote: View Post
While our heroes repeatedly state that no natural phenomenon can move at warp speed, every show features at least one episode where a natural phenomenon does that very thing. Quite without the help of engines in nacelles...

Again, sounds like you are mightily worried about the ships' lights going out when they reach the ends of their extension cords, or Kirk's toupe falling off if Sulu flies upside down. There doesn't seem to be any point in applying random rules like that on how Star Trek works. The show has plenty enough random rules of its own!

Timo Saloniemi
Is there really any proof of this, or is it just annoying fan speculation?
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Old November 18 2012, 02:27 AM   #15
T'Girl
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Re: Question about ship to ship energy beams

EmperorTiberius wrote: View Post
Is there really any proof of this, or is it just annoying fan speculation?
One non-canon creation by the fans, is something called a "warp sustainer." No existence on the show.

Ships and object in Star trek are depicted as being able to travel at warp speed without a warp engine. Just rewatched Brothers, Picard said the saucer would continue for two minutes at warp speed after separation, the saucer has no warp drive.

The probe that delivered K'Ehleyr to the Enterprise would appeared to have been too small to possess a warp drive. It was a seemingly empty shell containing the ambassador. It traveled at fairly high warp speed.

In TOS, the phaser beams traveled (for some distance) at warp speeds.

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