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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 January 11 2013, 02:34 AM   #16
Wingsley
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

The term "transwarp", as with the expression "protomatter in the Genesis Matrix", was a melodramatic bit of technobabble whipped up to suggest that the TMP-refit Enterprise was somehow getting "old", or otherwise soon to be obsolete. To this day, there seems to be no canon substance to the notion of what transwarp is, or what potential the technology could have, or how it is differentiated from "old" warp drive. No matter what any of us says or what citations we invoke, it's all speculation and interpretation.

The VOY ep "Distant Origin" seemed to suggest that the saurian Voth, who possesed this powerful transwarp ability, had passed some kind of ultra-high-tech threshold that amounted to the society establishing itself in an era far in advance of the Federation. The way Chakotay spoke about it made it sound like any society who mastered this mysterious transwarp had achieved some kind of technological Holy Grail, where space vessels travel at speeds a whole level of magnitude above what Federation-known starships commonly do. And again, it is spoken of in conspicuously vague generalities; there is little substance to explain what it means or how it differs from any other kind of FTL propulsion in the STAR TREK Universe. "VOY's "Hope and Fear" also seemed to make some suggestion that "transwarp" was super-advanced, and even displayed a new kind of visual FX, but there was no substance there, either.

"Hope and Fear", to my point-of-view, seemed to suggest that transwarp was a technology significantly different than "lesser" warp drive. While warp drive seemed to allow as starship to "keep in touch" with ordinary space (scanning, visuals, etc.), the more insular tunnels seen with transwarp seemed to suggest a wormhole effect. Then again, this didn't make sense either. Wormholes are supposedly link two distinct fixed points in space, but the transwarp conduit concept seemed to suggest that sometimes and not others. The crazy thing about the transwarp/slipstream endeavors seen in VOY suggest that Federation starship hull technology is unable to handle the stress; if this is the case for all transwarp technologies, then the much less advanced 23rd century Excelsior would never have been able to sustain transwarp velocities for any length of time.

Also keep in mind that the decree to declare Excelsior's transwarp a "failure" came from Gene Roddenberry through Richard Arnold. Whether that makes it "canon" is anybody's guess.

Here's my take on it, FWIW. This and 50¢ still can't get you a decent cup of coffee. There is a common thread between what Chakotay was saying in "Distant Origin" and what Captain Archer and Trip repeatedly talked about in ENT: FTL propulsion in the STAR TREK Universe seems to come in stages, which becomes a multi-generational technology convention of sorts. In "First Flight", Earth scored a major victory (much to the consternation of the Vulcans) by surpassing the Warp 2 barrier. The suggestion was that Earth spacecraft had been FTL-capable for over three-quarters of a century, but that they were all limited to Warp 2 before the NX prototypes shattered that (theoretical) barrier. Once the Warp 2 barrier had been shattered, this paved the way for the final development of the Warp 5 engine. (Again, something the Vuclans took much longer to achieve, thus leading to the suggestion that Earth was moving too fast into a realm they "are not ready" for.) Apparently through interaction with other species and technologies, Earth technology continued to advance over the ten years the NX-01 Enterprise was in flight. This was no doubt helped by the boom in starship construction during the Earth-Romulan conflict and the eventual founding of the Coalition of Planets, which gave way to the newborn Federation. Archer and Tripp toasted to their own Holy Grail: "to Warp 7", "the next generation", presumably the design goal for the first generation of Federation starships. It is safe to assume that, just as Warp 5 was initially difficult for the NX-01 to sustain, so Warp 7 would be a challenge for early Federation starships.

So the tubular warp nacelle technology continued to evolve from "These Are The Yoyages..." over the next hundred or so years. During TOS, Constitution-class starships kept exceeding their design limits of Warp 8, occasionally flirting with double-digit warp factors, but at far greater risk. So, how do you achieve superior velocity without the risk of dangerous double-digit warp factors? Why, you find a way to make lesser warp factors render greater FTL speeds, of course! Here's where the non-canon fandom constructs come in handy.

If the ENT-thru-TOS-era tubular warp nacelle technology can be broadly called "circumfirential warp drive", with all of its mass-producability, quirks, and limitations, then the very different nacelles seen on TMP-era-through-TNG-era vessels can be called "linear warp drive". (Goldstein & Goldstein's 1980 "Spaceflight Chronology" suggested the Federation was investing in revolutionary technologies that would lead to super-fast, huge, super-powerful starships-of-the-future, possibly with fourth-power "Super Warp" abilities.) It's been my conjecture for a long time that the TMP-refit "linear warp drive" was the first step onto this new technological plateau. Note that in both TMP1 and TMP5, the Enterprise is never ordered above Warp 7 in canon. What's so remarkable about that if the pre-refit Enterprise repeatedly sustained Warp 8 and above? If linear Warp 7 is fourth-power, that would be (roughly) the equivalent of (circumfirential) Warp 13.39. That would make a linear-warp-driven Connie a remarkable evolution over her predecessors of the decades before. And if subsequent refits and new starship classes built upon this technology, then Warp 9 for Picard's Enterprise-D would be like Warp 18.7 for Kirk's TOS Enterprise.

The whole "transwarp" / "slipstream" phenomenon still makes no sense, unless you assume multiple technologies and techniques are at play. I assumed that the Borg, the Voth and the counterfeit Dauntless were using some kind of fifth-power technology to assume their fantastic velocities. Maybe Captain Styles and the Excelsior were trying (unsuccessfully) to achieve this feat, but could never reliably sustain it, and the technology was put back on the shelf. If TransWarp 6 were a fifth-power velocity, it would be the same as LinWarp 9.39 for Picard's Enterprise, or CircWarp 19.8 for Kirk's TOS boat.

It's far from perfect, and I have no doubt there are those who will find plenty of holes in this approach, but this kind of stair-step/plateau theory to generational propulsion technology would go a very long way to bridging the gaps.
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Old January 11 2013, 09:22 AM   #17
Timo
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Once transwarp technology had been refined and reduced in size, those bumpers came off and thus explain the appearance of the "B" on the TNG's conference room sculpture wall.
That's an enjoyable one - the only downside being that the bumpers weren't removed from the Lakota for "Paradise Lost", despite said ship having supposedly been reworked to the most modern specs possible. Retaining of useless relic features from the 2290s would seem unlikely.

I'd postulate that the secondary hull cheek fairings are generic volume boosters that Starfleet slaps on to an Excelsior whenever it needs more space onboard her, for whatever reason. And, yes, they can also be ripped out when no longer needed. The shape is dictated by the warp field shape of that particular class, of course; other classes with different warp field shapes receive other kinds of volume boosters, and e.g. the best location for those in a Nebula or a Miranda is above and towards the stern...

The big boxy things on the saucer aft rim could be generic boosters as well, again being inserted where they don't interfere with the warp field. What is installed inside is up to the user, and not evident from the outside at all; some sort of heavy equipment is expected, though, so one of the surfaces of such a box is always constructed as a heat exchanger, similar to the heat exchangers (not nozzles!) of impulse engines.

The other E-B greeblies, at nacelle bows, look more "functional", alas. It's more difficult to postulate a connection that would span the century between the E-B and the Lakota in this respect.

To this day, there seems to be no canon substance to the notion of what transwarp is
...But a lot of canon exposure for the word itself. Which does seem to point towards it being a generic expression for "more modern than warp" or "better than warp" or "the next step in warp", even in-universe.

Warp "itself" is diverse from the get-go, as ships equipped with a drive of that name come in bewildering variety in the ENT era already. All sorts of technique can apparently achieve the sort of performance associated with "warp", in terms of the 22nd century. Or of the 23rd. Or the 24th. The same is no doubt true for "transwarp" - for each given period. The 23rd century transwarp could very plausibly and consistently be the 24th century warp, and for all we know the warp that Kirk routinely uses was transwarp to the people working on Project Starship or the Great Awakening or whatnot. For that interpretation, the onscreen material does offer actual pointers or at least supportive hints.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old January 12 2013, 04:08 AM   #18
Robert Comsol
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Wingsley wrote: View Post
"Also keep in mind that the decree to declare Excelsior's transwarp a "failure" came from Gene Roddenberry through Richard Arnold. Whether that makes it "canon" is anybody's guess.
So that is the "producer's" comment on the transwarp issue?
If it's just a claim of Mr. Arnold, I feel entitled to take it with grains of salt, as I do still remember very well what Brent Spiner once said about Richard Arnold at a ST convention...

Bob
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Old January 12 2013, 06:53 PM   #19
Albertese
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Robert Comsol wrote: View Post

... as I do still remember very well what Brent Spiner once said about Richard Arnold at a ST convention...

Bob
I didn't go to that one... What'd he say?

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Old January 12 2013, 09:40 PM   #20
publiusr
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Now in Best of Both worlds, we see the All Good Things Enterprise moving at Transwarp 13 as per Riker, so transwarp eventually was figured out in that timeline.
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Old January 12 2013, 10:10 PM   #21
C.E. Evans
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

publiusr wrote: View Post
Now in Best of Both worlds, we see the All Good Things Enterprise moving at Transwarp 13 as per Riker, so transwarp eventually was figured out in that timeline.
Or the warp scale was reconfigured in "All Good Things..." to where Warp 10 is once again not an absolute value.
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Old January 13 2013, 03:39 AM   #22
Wingsley
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

No character ever used the term "transwarp" in "All Good Things...".

There were repeated orders in the "future" era by Admiral Riker and Captain Crusher to take their respective ships to "Warp 13".
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Old January 13 2013, 10:52 AM   #23
Captain_Amasov
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Does anyone know how far the Alpha Quadrant border is from Khitomer? I know it's a case of speed of plot, but the Excelsior in STVI managed to reach the planet in less than a day.
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Old January 13 2013, 02:05 PM   #24
Robert Comsol
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Re: ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Albertese wrote: View Post
"I didn't go to that one... What'd he say?"
It was about something coming up in TNG, I believe to remember, which Richard Arnold presented to the convention goers. When Brent Spiner came to the stage he was asked about this rumor and bluntly said to the crowd "Richard Arnold is a pathological liar." A minute later he rephrased his remark: "I'll take the pathological back." ...

Unfortunately, due to a very bad personal experience (I was used as a scapegoat why Star Trek fans would no longer be allowed to visit the TNG sets at Paramount Pictures) I'm unable to disagree with Brent Spiner.

Bob
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