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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 February 24 2009, 08:54 PM   #16
Mysterion
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

This is very OT, but I think it's a fun expanation of the slipstream concept written by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, used in the TV series Andromeda:

In most space-based science fiction shows, travelling between solar systems is accomplished simply by going very, very, fast. Hyperspeed, warp speed, superzoomorama speed. Not only is this if blatantly impossible, it's been done.

So let's find another way.

While humans were still playing with fun new inventions like the wheel, the Vedra made a startling discovery. The Slipstream. The Slipstream is an extension of our reality, an additional dimension that's integrally intertwined with our own. According to an application of quantum physics called string theory, everything in our Universe is connected to everything else. And the Slipstream is a place where those connections are visible.

In the Slipstream, small and weak connections (those linking small and weak concentrations of matter, such as the link between you and your jelly donut) look like strings, gauzy bits of cotton candy fluff. But large and complex and strong connections, like those between huge concentrations of matter, say planets or suns, form gigantic, pulsing ropes, writhing monstrous tendrils with the diameter of a skyscraper and the length of the universe.

The Vedra also discovered something even more exciting. If you enter the Slipstream, you can harness the energy of these cords… and ride them from one star system to another, like the Universe's largest and most unbelievably convenient rollercoaster.

The only problem is that the strings are in constant motion, crossing and recrossing each other in a hundred different places. So to get from one star to another, the pilot of a ship in Slipstream has to constantly choose between divergent paths in the stream. And the right path changes from moment to moment. Faced with such randomness, all a pilot can really do when it's time to choose it guess.

So, here's what happens when a pilot reaches an intersection. Before the pilot chooses, according to the physicist Erwin Shrödinger (you can skip this part if you want, we'll meet up in a few sentences), both paths are simultaneously right and wrong. In other words, they both manifest the potentiality of being correct and incorrect. It's only when the pilot chooses a specific direction that this potentiality collapses and one path becomes right, and the other wrong. But the cool thing about being an observer in a quantum reality like the Slipstream is that THE ACT OF MAKING A DECISION ALTERS REALITY. So when you guess that a certain path is right, in Slipstream space, 99.9% of the time, you guess correctly.

In other words (start back here if you skipped that last part), human pilots in Slipstream have to guess where they're going, but because of the nature of Slipstream space, they're mostly always right.

Unfortunately, Artificial Intelligences don't guess the way we do. They don't follow their guts. They don't hope they've made the right decision. They really do just pick randomly. In Slipstream, this is not a good thing. It means they're only right 50% of the time. Thus, computers can't pilot ships through Slipstream. Even the Andromeda, a sentient ship, can't pull it off. She requires an organic pilot, or she can never travel between the stars.

Okay, nice theory, but what does it look like? Good question. What we see when the Andromeda travels through Slipstream is this: The Andromeda reaches a point in normal space where the Slipstream is accessible (as far from gravitational sources like suns as possible). Then she shifts, distorts, and suddenly… she's someplace else, riding along a bunch of gigantic glowing ropes like an out-of-control roller coaster on a rail. When the ropes twist and wind, the Andromeda rotates and spins on her axis. When she reaches an intersection, she whips off at wild angles along new tracks, whizzing along to her destination. Finally, thanks to a series of monumentally lucky guesses by her pilot, the Andromeda arrives at her destination and shifts back into normal space. It's like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride on fast forward.

One interesting thing about moving through the Slipstream is that travel time has almost nothing to do with the distance between stars. If you're lucky and the Stream unfolds just right, you could get from here to the next galaxy in minutes. But if you're not lucky, and things get hairy, the same trip could take weeks or even months. About the only rule is that the more frequently a certain path is traveled, the easier and more predictable the journey becomes.

Most of the time. Unless it's not.
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Last edited by Mysterion; February 24 2009 at 09:07 PM.
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Old February 24 2009, 09:26 PM   #17
Magisterfrodo
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

I thought it was funny that it was stated that it would take them a matter of hours, but in the 30 seconds or so they were in slipstream, they made it all the way to the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, which would be the vast majority of the trip.
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Old February 25 2009, 08:09 AM   #18
JNG
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

Yeah, bit of compressed time for dramatic purposes there, which is why I am wary of taking any measurements directly from the Dauntless jaunt in "Hope and Fear." It's very rare in Trek that we can be sure the events we are supposed to be seeing are completely chronologically contiguous and uninterrupted...even if the writers/editors sometimes act as if the runabout really only did take 5 minutes to fly to the Gamma Quadrant and visit a strange, new world.

Still, we should probably assume that quantum slipstream drive, borked as it is, appears capable of a range of speeds that can match even the transwarp hub business glimpsed at the end of Voyager. Seven of Nine did comment on QSD's similarity to transwarp conduits, which also appear to have a range of speeds depending on implementation but a very, very high top end.
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Old February 25 2009, 08:51 AM   #19
Herkimer Jitty
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

JNG wrote: View Post
Just for fun, by my favorite set of TNG warp equations, 260,000c would be around warp factor 9.999997359835618. Be home in time for dinner!
I'm sure that when Starfleet impliments a drive capable of such velocities, they'll either retool the scale (So that said speed is Warp 21 or something), or add another scale for said drive (I.E. Transwarp Factor 1, Transwarp Factor 2 etc etc).
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Old February 25 2009, 07:18 PM   #20
Cmdr Sho
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

hmmm.... but when voyager had the slipstream drive, why not just jump 10,000 light years stop, jump another 10,000 light years and so on?? that would have made sense..
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Old February 26 2009, 01:17 AM   #21
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

Cmdr Sho wrote: View Post
hmmm.... but when voyager had the slipstream drive, why not just jump 10,000 light years stop, jump another 10,000 light years and so on?? that would have made sense..
In a nutshell it took an extraordinary effort to stop, and they did mention the special crystals decayed rapidly.
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Old July 17 2013, 05:00 AM   #22
alpinedigital
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

JNG wrote: View Post
It was inconsistent across different appearances of the drive, but that phony message from Starfleet suggested the equally phony Dauntless traveled 65,000 light years in three months. To do that, it would be hustling along at over 2,600,000c, which is indeed "really, really, REALLY fast!"
The 'three months' was also mentioned (in the starfleet message they were decrypting, as the determined speed to for the crew to get home, so I guess either way, that's supposed to be accurate.

Last edited by alpinedigital; July 17 2013 at 05:18 AM.
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Old July 17 2013, 06:03 AM   #23
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

SicOne wrote: View Post
This is the point where you guys go, "really, really, REALLY fast!"...so just wanted to get that out of the way and try and find the Trek answer
Too fast.

Cmdr Sho wrote: View Post
hmmm.... but when voyager had the slipstream drive, why not just jump 10,000 light years stop, jump another 10,000 light years and so on?? that would have made sense..
The phrase "that would have made sense" is one of about two dozen reasons why I loathe Voyager.

Plecostomus wrote: View Post
Cmdr Sho wrote: View Post
hmmm.... but when voyager had the slipstream drive, why not just jump 10,000 light years stop, jump another 10,000 light years and so on?? that would have made sense..
In a nutshell it took an extraordinary effort to stop, and they did mention the special crystals decayed rapidly.
Actually STOPPING was never the problem, all they had to do was shut down the drive before the "phase variance" got so large as to collapse the slipstream. Simulations consistently showed that their engine setup could only keep the slipstream stable for about seventeen seconds, after which they started to run into trouble.

Voyager was in the slipstream for about a minute and a half at most. Assuming 100 seconds, that would mean they were traveling about 100 light years per second (probably faster, but this is a nice round number). At that same velocity, a fifteen-second slipstream burst would be short enough to ensure controlled entry and exit without the phase variance popping up and would still cover a distance of about 1500 light years. Assuming the engine might require a bit of checking and tuning between bursts -- say, five or six minutes before jumps -- then Voyager would be able to return to Federation space in about four and a half hours (43 consecutive slipstream jumps). They could have easily spaced that out over the course of a whole day -- one slipstream jump every half hour -- and been back on Earth in time for breakfast.

Instead, they assumed that their best option was to try and one-shot it to Earth and use some kind of technobabble solution to their shoddy engine design (or multiple solutions; "try inverting the quantum field! Try remodulating the deflector! Try a routing a graviton pulse through the feromactal drive!") instead of simply using the engine as-is and accepting its basic limitations.


Which, actually, brings me to an interesting thought: if I were to reinvent the slipstream drive for a TV or movie series and have it be an actual mass-produced engine technology, I'd build that basic limitation into it by default: the slipstream can only remain stable for about fifteen to twenty seconds and requires a couple of minutes of cooldown in between starts; that would basically make it a BSG-style jump engine, but it would be a lot more reasonable from a plot standpoint since the cooldown period might be highly variable (say, if your ship is old or you've been using the engines a lot or if you flew through a stellar nebula on the way here, that might increase the cooldown from 20 minutes to an hour).
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Old July 20 2013, 06:19 PM   #24
Elvira
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

Magisterfrodo wrote: View Post
they made it all the way to the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, which would be the vast majority of the trip.
No. They had to get not only get to the edge of the Alpha Quad, but then travel on the the edge of the Beta Quad.

Earth being at the juction of the Alpha and Beta Quads.

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Old July 20 2013, 11:53 PM   #25
MacLeod
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

Yes but aren't the quads laid out like this

Gamma Delta
Alpha Beta

So to reach the edge of the Alpha quadrant coming from the Delta quadrant you would have had to be in Beta Quadrant
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Old July 21 2013, 08:56 PM   #26
Elvira
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Re: How fast is quantum slipstream drive?

Yes, I stand corrected and humbled before your vast knowledge MacLeod.

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