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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 December 18 2012, 05:46 PM   #1
Vanyel
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Vertical Warp Core?

Who does it seem that all the Starfleet ships we've seen, with the exception of the 1701 in TWoK, have vertical Warp Cores? On the Enterprise D it seemed to take up 2 decks, but specs, as I recall, showed it at 4 decks high. That's some 40 - 50 feet if you assume those decks it transverses have Jefferies tubes. Geordi almost fell from one of those decks and, if I again recall correctly people have been seen dangling from the platforms while the ship is in battle due the shaking of the ship.

Wouldn't a horizontal Warp core make a bit more sense? No decks to climb and the chief engineer or specialist can run to the area of the core that causing trouble. And whether it's laid vertically or standing horizontally it'll still take up room making Engineering one of the biggest rooms on the ship. But at least laid out it's easier to get to all the parts.

Granted, it may have to be lifted 4 or so feet off the floor to allow access to its under belly, but that's still safer than reaching across a ledge.

Please give an in universe explanation, before a filming standpoint. Two filming standpoint I see right off the bat is that you get to see the pretty pulsing or swirling lights and more of the core when it's standing up.
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Old December 18 2012, 06:04 PM   #2
Deks
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

A vertical warp-core could be easier to eject in case of emergency.
Remember... a star-ship produces its own artificial gravity field... therefore, the weight of the object will go towards the 'bottom' of the ship At least from what we've seen).

A horizontal warp-core would be problematic for ejection if the systems that 'push' the core malfunction.
In a vertical design, the ships gravity can push the core out of the ship (or something to that effect) seeing how that is usually the last thing to go out in case of catastrophic failure.
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Old December 18 2012, 06:25 PM   #3
Vanyel
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Deks wrote: View Post
A vertical warp-core could be easier to eject in case of emergency.
Remember... a star-ship produces its own artificial gravity field... therefore, the weight of the object will go towards the 'bottom' of the ship At least from what we've seen).

A horizontal warp-core would be problematic for ejection if the systems that 'push' the core malfunction.
In a vertical design, the ships gravity can push the core out of the ship (or something to that effect) seeing how that is usually the last thing to go out in case of catastrophic failure.
The weight would still be there. Opening up a vertical hatch should allow for the same forces to work to eject the core. Perhaps even a hatch that opens at an angle towards the rear of the ship allowing the ships forward momentum to help get it away from a ready to detonate core. And the whole thing can be done mechanically or explosively (blowing the hatch). The angled hatch could have a spring at the forward section of the core to help push it away from the ship too.
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Old December 18 2012, 06:59 PM   #4
C.E. Evans
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

I think it's purely a design standpoint for most Starfleet vessels. Federation starships tend to have their engine rooms positioned between an upper matter fuel tank (which may take the bulk of one or two entire decks) and a lower antimatter fuel pod area. What we see in most engine rooms is merely the end of the transfer shafts from each fuel source converging upon the dilithium reaction chamber.
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Old December 18 2012, 08:04 PM   #5
Darkwing
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Well, actually, the TMP-era linear intermix chamber (NOT "warp core", as the term hadn't been invented yet, and should not be retroactively used) had a vertical segment, from the impulse engines down to engineering, and a horizontal one going back to the struts leading to the nacelles. The later warp cores seem to have one intermix chamber with eps conduits feeding the power elsewhere, whereas the TMP version seemed to have intermix chambers as fr as they could go inside the hull, and conduits only outside the hull. So the vertical core is a refinement of the TMP intermix chamber, and they just chose to go with the vertical segment rather than the horizontal one, for ease of placement of conduits. Vertical cores mean one big hole in the deck, horizontal conduits mean lots of little holes in each deck.
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Old December 18 2012, 08:57 PM   #6
KamenRiderBlade
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

ENT had a horizontal layout, but it couldn't eject the warp core AFAIK.

Enterprise D and up had vertical along with most others of that era.

I'm pretty sure it's to make the ejection hole in the starship's hull as small as possible.

Since you have to have a physical hull, that ejection port will be considered a weak point since there will be less hull then the other areas of the ship.

Might as well design it to be as small a surface area as possible.
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Old December 19 2012, 10:27 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

ITRW, a major vertical piece of machinery is a good way to rationalize (and dramatically utilize) the otherwise insane-looking neck section of the hero starship. It would seem Andrew Probert went for the "utilization" angle in ST:TMP and finally also for the "rationalization" angle in TNG, after which Sternbach and Okuda did their best to carry on the tradition with ships of different shapes (including the oddball Oberth, even).

In-universe, I guess any orientation will do, but the currently postulated nature of the thing as a linear accelerator between two tanks probably does dictate a thing or two. Especially when one of the tanks needs to be ejectable in a hurry, even if the core itself perhaps need not be.

should not be retroactively used
Why not? We retroactively use "Starfleet" and "Federation" for Kirk's bosses even for the earliest TOS episodes.

Although I personally think we never saw a matter-antimatter reactor in ST:TMP, merely plasma conduits going this way and that (because from TNG we know that this is exactly what a plasma conduit looks like). The actual reactor in both TMP and TOS might have been buried somewhere in the lower decks, heavily shielded.

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Old December 19 2012, 10:57 AM   #8
Spike730
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

IIRC the Prometheus's "saucer" section was equipped with a horizontal warp core.
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Old December 19 2012, 10:59 AM   #9
Retu
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Another reason for vertical geometry might be cooling issues. As was stated above, a starship creates it's own artificial gravity and, in the show, artificial gravity has been proven to be very reliable. It seems to remain working, even when everything else does not.

Thermal convection needs only heat and gravity to work and it doesn't work very well horizontally. So that method might be used as a backup to keep the coolant circulating if the pumps stop working for some reason. Might not be enough for a warp core running at full power, but should work for removing the excess heat after emergency shutdown.
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Old December 19 2012, 12:35 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Thermal convection needs only heat and gravity to work and it doesn't work very well horizontally.
On the other hand, convection results in a gradient, with the cool, down-flowing medium getting warmer towards the bottom.

A horizontal core with a vertical convention going across it would probably be a preferable solution, then: each and every segment of that core would be enjoying the same sort of convection cooling.

Perhaps gravity would be useful in emergency shutdowns? With the matter tank on top and the antimatter tank at the very bottom, an interruption of fuel flow would result in the vertical core being drowned in inert matter raining from above, while the reactive antimatter drained to the bottom. Whether this would do any good in practice, it's hard to tell. But it bears some resemblance to passive safety measures taken in nuclear power plants today.

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Old December 19 2012, 03:08 PM   #11
Darkwing
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Timo,
it's an anachronism to use such language in-universe - just like saying "are you ok?" in a movie set in the early 18th century, when "ok" wasn't invented till the late 19th century. Out of universe, we can use it, but that leads to sloppy thinking and putting such language into the character's mouths. Sure, that can be retconned, but it's better to show that terminology evolves over time. It adds versimilitude if it changes over the decades.
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Old December 19 2012, 03:30 PM   #12
Timo
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Okay, sorry, I think I misunderstood. If I wanted to think of the TMP thing as a warp powerplant, I still wouldn't bother with inventing a 23rd century equivalent for "warp core" just for the sake of TrekBBS discussions. But if dialogue describing this thing were to take place in the 23rd century, then the dialogue would of course have to use 23rd century expressions...

On the other hand, ENT already makes it sort of clear that warp cores have been with us since the 22nd century. Doesn't mean that Kirk's TOS or TMP ship had one, of course. But the terminology would already have existed.

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Old December 19 2012, 04:04 PM   #13
blssdwlf
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Vanyel wrote: View Post

The weight would still be there. Opening up a vertical hatch should allow for the same forces to work to eject the core. Perhaps even a hatch that opens at an angle towards the rear of the ship allowing the ships forward momentum to help get it away from a ready to detonate core. And the whole thing can be done mechanically or explosively (blowing the hatch). The angled hatch could have a spring at the forward section of the core to help push it away from the ship too.
I'm wondering if a horizontal ejection system through the rear of the ship might not be in the best interest of the ship? If a horizontal warp core ejected backwards then the core could run into the ship (if the ship slowed down for whatever reason.)

However, if it was ejected perpendicular to the ship's motion it should clear the ship in most cases. (Much like a pilot ejecting from an aircraft.)

If the core were angled and it was a diagonal core it could be interesting but also unconventional for getting people to repair or maintain it in the ship, IMO.
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Old December 19 2012, 04:21 PM   #14
starburst
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

I always took the large machinery behind the mesh wall in the TOS Engine room to be the Warp Core, Scotty referred to that collection of pipes as the engines.
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Old December 19 2012, 04:46 PM   #15
DonIago
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Re: Vertical Warp Core?

Hm. I wonder whether the ejection system is oriented downward because ships in the Star Trek universe tend to favor being oriented on the horizontal plane...in other words, if a ship suddenly had to eject its core, better it be ejected perpendicular to the most likely location of other vessels.

I'd have concerns about what might happen if the ship was "above" a planet at the time though. Then again, I think that's usually not the case?
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