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Old August 31 2013, 04:50 AM   #16
The Overlord
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

Timo wrote: View Post
We are talking about cartographical conviences used to express varied political relationships, not real galactic structures, no?
Absolutely - and we may even conclude that these are conveniences specific to individual cultures. Klingons may not believe in Alpha and Beta Quadrants: it's just the Universal Translator giving us the impression that they do, much like it fools us into thinking they believe in "hours" and sometimes also "meters".

Perhaps the alliance with the Klingons forced a reconsideration of the greater geo-political structure of the area round the Federation. Rather than Earth dividing Alpha from Beta, political planners decided that Alpha was a better description for an area under the influence of the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Empire. There's no need for these cartographical conveniences to be set in stone.
If this happened between TNG "The Price" and VOY "False Profits", it explains a thing or two... Moving the A/B border would necessarily also move the G/D border, thus allowing for a wormhole end that in "The Price" was at the very most 200 ly into Delta to now be several thousand lightyears into Delta and thus on the route of the Voyager!

Timo Saloniemi
I'm not sure the Federation is so petty as to define to geography based on political concerns. I would expect the Federation to be enlightened enough to be above such things and wouldn't resort to tactics similar to those Congress men who renamed French Fries to Freedom Fries.

Also the Cardassian Union has always been identified Alpha Quadrant, despite the fact the Federation always bad relations with them, that got worse when the Cardassians joined the Dominion.

I think a more likely explanation is Quadrants meant something much smaller in TOS, but where retconned into being a quarter of the galaxy in the TNG era, so the talk in TOS of the Klingon and Romulan Empires being in the Beta Quadrant doesn't mean anything in the TNG era cannon.
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Old August 31 2013, 02:34 PM   #17
jpv2000
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

The Overlord wrote: View Post
I think a more likely explanation is Quadrants meant something much smaller in TOS, but where retconned into being a quarter of the galaxy in the TNG era, so the talk in TOS of the Klingon and Romulan Empires being in the Beta Quadrant doesn't mean anything in the TNG era cannon.
That is the way I see it. The explored galaxy was much smaller in TOS. As exploration expanded the known galaxy the terms had to expand as well.
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Old August 31 2013, 07:15 PM   #18
Timo
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

I'm not sure the Federation is so petty as to define to geography based on political concerns.
Well, the division of the galaxy into four parts is obviously done on "political concerns" insofar as Earth is used as the all-important point of reference. That's politics as much as defining the zero meridian as being at Greenwich (and not, say, in Paris) is.

If this zero meridian were rotated a bit between the TOS movies and TNG, it might just as well be categorized as "less pettily political" than the original arrangement, as the Earthlings doing the defining would be moving the center of the universe away from Earth!

Also the Cardassian Union has always been identified Alpha Quadrant, despite the fact the Federation always bad relations with them, that got worse when the Cardassians joined the Dominion.
And? Russia didn't get labeled the East because it was evil - but because it was evil and in the east. Had Russia been to the south of Europe and North America, it would obviously have been associated with the South.

Similarly, Klingons and Romulans can be Beta villains, but Cardassia obviously cannot since it doesn't lie in the direction of Beta, but deeper into Alpha than Earth does. A different derogatory label would have to be invented for it, then.

I think a more likely explanation is Quadrants meant something much smaller in TOS
Sure, and they still mean something much smaller in TNG (in addition to meaning the four parts of the galaxy) - several early TNG episodes use the word "quadrant" in the TOS sense of "fraction of a sector". But how does that "explain" anything, or invalidate the concept of the galactic and the sub-sectoric quadrants existing at the same time in both TOS and TNG?

The explored galaxy was much smaller in TOS.
Actually, it was much larger - several TOS episodes make mention of going to the other side of the galaxy, or going to the rim (or, in TAS, the center), or being aware of what happens in all corners of the galaxy. That got severely downscaled for TNG.

Logically, we have to wiggle out of that somehow, as Starfleet can't really have been told to withdraw from the galaxy and then subjected to an amnesia machine! Perhaps we could take some of the TOS phrasings as figurative rather than concrete? But we certainly don't have any reason to think that the TOS heroes would have had less need for galaxy-spanning terminology than the TNG heroes.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old August 31 2013, 08:14 PM   #19
Nerys Myk
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

Timo wrote: View Post
I'm not sure the Federation is so petty as to define to geography based on political concerns.
Well, the division of the galaxy into four parts is obviously done on "political concerns" insofar as Earth is used as the all-important point of reference. That's politics as much as defining the zero meridian as being at Greenwich (and not, say, in Paris) is.

If this zero meridian were rotated a bit between the TOS movies and TNG, it might just as well be categorized as "less pettily political" than the original arrangement, as the Earthlings doing the defining would be moving the center of the universe away from Earth!

i
Is it? Or it that just something seen in extraneous works? Is there an on screen graphic that places Earth as the zero meridian?
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Old September 1 2013, 11:54 AM   #20
Timo
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

AFAIK, the only thing that combines galactic quadrant graphics with labels for local detail is the Voyager route map, glimpsed at Astrometrics in Season Seven. At that sort of resolution, we can't tell whether Earth is at the zero meridian, or whether some other part of the UFP nucleus is - the inaccuracy would be on the order of a few thousand lightyears. That the Alpha/Beta border splits the UFP in twain is more or less clear from that graphic, though.

It's difficult to think of a "non-political" way to define the zero meridian. On the other hand, it's probably a good idea to have that meridian rotate along with the galaxy, rather than be defined in terms of something external to the galaxy. Differences in rotation speed will "soon" redefine any borders based on the meridian, but the "soon" is a matter of millennia if the meridian rotates around the galactic center "attached" to one of the star systems belonging to the UFP. It's not a real, practical problem then. A meridian "attached" to a star system much farther from the core, or much closer to it, let alone to an outside point of reference, would create more immediate political problems...

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Old September 1 2013, 06:16 PM   #21
Sran
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

R. Star wrote: View Post
Though this gets problematic when you analyze just how the Klingons were able to invade or the Romulans were able to open their own second front against Cardassia.
Not necessarily. The maps are only 2D representations of known space. They don't take into account territory or borders beyond the plane of the computer monitor. It's possible both the Klingons and Romulans share a border with Cardassia that's above or below the plane in question.

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Old September 1 2013, 06:25 PM   #22
Timo
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

Actually, it seems pretty clear that the Klingons don't share a border with the Cardassian Union they are invading. Else why not invade across that border? It's not as if there could be Maginot lines in space - the best one can hope for in interstellar space is some sort of a warning network, such as the one the Feds supposedly have against the Romulan Star Empire. And even that one doesn't seem to work too well, as in "Face of the Enemy" the enemy is not detected!

Then again, invading Cardassia through Bajor means the shortest route imaginable from non-Cardassian space to the very center of the Cardassian Union. Even if that requires going through the Federation first, it's probably a very good strategic choice nevertheless, compared with crossing the border somewhere farther away. The Feds aren't so uptight about who sails through their space, especially under cloak.

Many wars in the Trek universe probably take place across considerable distances of neutral or third-party territory. Why annoy your neighbors if your aim is just to pillage, or to destroy potential future adversaries? Klingons supposedly sent a fleet against the Breen in the past, just for the heck of it; we've never heard of border squabbles between the Klingon Empire and the Breen Confederacy.

The Feds would be an exception to this, fighting only their neighbors, and only for defensive reasons. Then again, the Feds may well choose to expand by annexing very distant cultures, creating isolated patches of territory they have to defend, with neutral/third-party space in between. No aggressor empire would be likely to expand in such a foolish manner...

The bottom line being, unless we have an explicit reference to a border between A and B, we should not deduce that such a border exists merely because A and B interact.

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Old September 1 2013, 07:17 PM   #23
blueshirt
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

The real problem is that choosing to divide the galaxy into 4 quadrants is not just arbitrary, it's also silly in that it doesn't follow any "natural contours" of the Milky Way.

It's the equivalent of drawing a line through Greenwich, England, and declaring that everything within 180 degrees to the west that's north of the equator constitutes the Earth's Alpha Continent while everything within 180 degrees to the east that's south of the equator constitutes the Delta Continent, regardless of the placement of land masses like Eurasia, North America, or Africa.

The real question the Star Trek writers should have considered -- and didn't most of the series have a technical adviser to help them? -- is whether the Federation and its neighboring powers (Romulans, Klingons, Ferengi, Cardassians, First Federation) are all in the Orion Spur, or whether explored space includes parts of the Sagittarius or Perseus Arms.

Their territories could easily fit into any odd shapes as needed within the 3-dimensional Orion Spur, allowing the writers to be nebulous, so to speak, about who borders whom.
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Old September 1 2013, 08:19 PM   #24
vulcan redshirt
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

According to Wikipedia, the Orion Arm of the galaxy is 10000 ly long, by about 3000 ly wide and 1000 ly thick. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that this volume of space can contain the entire Federation and all its neighbours. - Assuming high warp speeds based on Voyager allowing travel of approx 1000 ly per year (~3 ly/day) the arm would take 10 years to travel the length of. So, given the relatively low travel times within trek stories, one would have to assume that, with the exception of stories involving super fast / long distance travel, everything does happen in the Orion Arm. Limted exploration or survey work may have been undertaken in the Saggitairus or Perseus arms, but these seem to be at least 5000 ly distant. This still leaves the 'above or below' argument with regard to the dispersion of the major empires in ST. THis would also allow the Enterprise in WNMHGB to pass 'up' or 'down' through the galactic disc and reach the edge of the galaxy in approx 6 month's travel, at VOY speed.

FWIW, it would seem that Voyager started in the Carina-Saggitarius arm, then crossed to the Scutum-Centaurus arm (via the Nekrit Expanse?). Borg space is generally located in the Scutum-Centaurus arm. Later parts of the journey, possibly undertaken with the quantum slipstream jump, would take Voyager into the Norma Arm, where S5-7 take place.

The Dominion would seem to be located in the farthest part of the Scutum-Centaurus arm also.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ssc2008-10.svg Alpha quadrant would be top right

Many of the Federation's neighbours seem to be based on military expansion and would likely envelop systems inhabited by other, less advanced races, only stopping if communication / supply lines become too long, or they border another empire of comparable strength. It would herefore be reasonable to assume that these empires generally occupy contiguous bubbles of space. the Federation, OTOH, expands through treaty and colonisation of uninhabited systems, which as I'm sure I have seen discussed before, will lead to a far more irregular shape, including pockets around independant worlds. I would envisage the Federation being shaped a bit like a cartoon splat shape, but in 3D, perhaps with some exclaves, and a few enclaved areas of independant 'nations'. This would allow the Federation to be big, yet also border a very large number of races, and also for the distance between, for example the Klingons and Cardassians to be relatively low. Additionally, until the treaty was broken, the alliance with he Klingons would presumably allow them free passage, no questions asked. Consider maritime law and law of the high seas, and the rights of travel associated with.

Blueshirt, with regard to your reference to the 'arbitrary' position of the Greenwich Meridian, only a prime meridian in western Europe allows for the date line to be placed entirely within ocean (albeit with a few meanders here and there). A prime meridian, for example off the westernmost part of Africa (as I believe was once considered) would leave the date line crossing eastern Russia and Australia.

Last edited by vulcan redshirt; September 1 2013 at 08:39 PM.
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Old September 1 2013, 08:27 PM   #25
MacLeod
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

^Those ships have really slown down by the time of VOY. As Vulcan was only 4 days away from Earth (TMP) which would mean a travel time of 4ly per day.

But ships in ST travel at Plot Speed.
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Old September 1 2013, 09:01 PM   #26
Bad Thoughts
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

blueshirt wrote: View Post
The real problem is that choosing to divide the galaxy into 4 quadrants is not just arbitrary, it's also silly in that it doesn't follow any "natural contours" of the Milky Way.
This critique only makes sense if the four-part division of the galaxy was the only way that territory was perceived by the UFP. Yet there are numerous territories that are referred to throughout the franchise: the Typhon Expanse, various empires, the Neutral Zone, various star systems, the Badlands, etc. Some of these are astronomical features, others are political. Some are defined by the great powers, others by the people who live in them. Obviously, the lines of longitude and latitude, to which the Greenwich line refers, would seem arbitrary if there weren't other territories that were under consideration, natural or political: continents, river systems, mountain ranges, nations, provinces/states, counties/departments, etc. Even though the lines of longitude and latitude create a global paradigm of spatial arrangement, I don't expect to turn on the news tonight to hear about what's going on at 36°13′N 37°10′E, but at Aleppo.

Last edited by Bad Thoughts; September 1 2013 at 09:28 PM.
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Old September 1 2013, 09:19 PM   #27
Timo
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

Plus, what benefit would there be from dividing up the galaxy along "natural" lines? On such a scale, there'd be nothing practical about those lines. Why should the Federation be limited by the contours of a galactic arm, when it's either too small to fill up the volume or too large to even notice the subtle transition from within an arm to outside it?

Being inside or outside an arm isn't really something you could notice simply by flying from star to star. And in Star Trek, all stars, regardless of whether statistically typical to the insides of arms or the outsides, are likely to hold targets of interest. If there aren't "natural" planetary systems there, ancient civilizations have apparently made sure that there will be "unnatural" ones...

Creating a zero meridian for a spherical or cylindrar galactic coordinate system is an obvious step. Using that to divide the galaxy in half would also be pretty natural, even if it had no practical applications; dividing in four is simply the more elegant, that is, more symmetric way to go. Just like East and West here on Earth have no practical significance but have accrued a symbolic political one, Alpha Quadrant and Beta Quadrant apparently have at least some symbolic worth. And, of course, the division between Alpha and Gamma is of utmost significance in the Dominion War, in almost exactly the same way as the division between East and West in the Cold War here on Earth.

^Those ships have really slown down by the time of VOY. As Vulcan was only 4 days away from Earth (TMP) which would mean a travel time of 4ly per day.

But ships in ST travel at Plot Speed.
I think that's throwing in the towel a bit too soon.

It's perfectly natural to have ships travel faster over shorter distances. That's what they do in the real world, too - dash speed cannot be sustained for any length of time (unless your vessel is fission-powered, in which case dash and cruise speed tend to be one and the same). For journeys taking years or decades, the issue becomes even more significant: a short hop can be conducted without concern to wear and tear, but as the length increases, so do maintenance concerns. Quite possibly a ship capable of doing a hundred lightyears in a day and two hundred lightyears in a week will limit herself to doing a thousand lightyears in a year, lest a pit stop be needed where there are no pits to stop at.

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Old September 1 2013, 10:29 PM   #28
The Old Mixer
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

And Voyager's estimated return time was likely factoring in all the general stopping that the ship would be doing along the way, not just for maintenance. It's not like they were just traveling nonstop the entire series.
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Old September 1 2013, 10:39 PM   #29
Timo
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

All we know is that Janeway said "even at maximum speeds", indicating she felt maintaining of such speeds was a theoretical option only. This could definitely still be factoring in all the routinely expected delays, though. It would just be a tad silly to be speaking in terms of unattainable speeds and not ignore all the pit stops, too.

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Old September 1 2013, 11:11 PM   #30
MacLeod
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Re: The Beta Quadrant

Timo wrote: View Post
Plus, what benefit would there be from dividing up the galaxy along "natural" lines? On such a scale, there'd be nothing practical about those lines. Why should the Federation be limited by the contours of a galactic arm, when it's either too small to fill up the volume or too large to even notice the subtle transition from within an arm to outside it?

Being inside or outside an arm isn't really something you could notice simply by flying from star to star. And in Star Trek, all stars, regardless of whether statistically typical to the insides of arms or the outsides, are likely to hold targets of interest. If there aren't "natural" planetary systems there, ancient civilizations have apparently made sure that there will be "unnatural" ones...

Creating a zero meridian for a spherical or cylindrar galactic coordinate system is an obvious step. Using that to divide the galaxy in half would also be pretty natural, even if it had no practical applications; dividing in four is simply the more elegant, that is, more symmetric way to go. Just like East and West here on Earth have no practical significance but have accrued a symbolic political one, Alpha Quadrant and Beta Quadrant apparently have at least some symbolic worth. And, of course, the division between Alpha and Gamma is of utmost significance in the Dominion War, in almost exactly the same way as the division between East and West in the Cold War here on Earth.

^Those ships have really slown down by the time of VOY. As Vulcan was only 4 days away from Earth (TMP) which would mean a travel time of 4ly per day.

But ships in ST travel at Plot Speed.
I think that's throwing in the towel a bit too soon.

It's perfectly natural to have ships travel faster over shorter distances. That's what they do in the real world, too - dash speed cannot be sustained for any length of time (unless your vessel is fission-powered, in which case dash and cruise speed tend to be one and the same). For journeys taking years or decades, the issue becomes even more significant: a short hop can be conducted without concern to wear and tear, but as the length increases, so do maintenance concerns. Quite possibly a ship capable of doing a hundred lightyears in a day and two hundred lightyears in a week will limit herself to doing a thousand lightyears in a year, lest a pit stop be needed where there are no pits to stop at.

Timo Saloniemi
So basically what you are saying the crusing speed of a TNG era ship is slower than the top speed of a TOS era ship. To draw an anology, go back even 50 years and you're average car might not get much faster than 70mph, today's cars can easily cruise at 90mph.
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