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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old Yesterday, 06:10 AM   #1
medwatt
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Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

Hello,
I like to kid myself that most of the devices used in Star Trek will be possible in the 24th century but whatever way I try to convince myself I cannot wrap my head around relativistic time. From special relativity, relative motion very close to the speed of light implies that the passage of time on two different relativistic frames of motion is substantially different and should therefore be taken into account. According to Einstein, the factor is exactly sqrt(1-(v/c)^2) where v is the relative velocity between the two time frames. What I'm trying to say is that every time the warp drive is engaged, unless folks at starfleet or on Earth are traveling at the same speed there can be no way the Enterprise maintains a time invariant correspondence with either of them. Every time the Enterprise docks at a starbase, one should expect a new century and a new generation.
For example, during one episode in TNG, Picard returns to his brother's house in Paris after several years (in Picard's time frame) and finds his brother alive. This should be impossible.
I have only watched 6 seasons of TNG (waiting for the blu-ray release of the 7th). So, I wonder if this issue has been resolved with some clever explanation in any of the other series because it makes it impossible for me to partake in any of the voyages knowing that one fundamental truth cannot be accounted for.
Thanks
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Old Yesterday, 06:46 AM   #2
MacLeod
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

So you accept that Warp Drive gets around E=MC^2 but not that travelling using the Warp Drive also negates the effects of relatavistic travel?
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Old Yesterday, 07:02 AM   #3
Ithekro
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

In theory, the very first episode "The Cage" explains that they finally broke the time barrier, which to some would imply they fixes it so traveling at high warp speeds no longer has any sort of Relativistic time problems.

The little section of hull at the rear of the NX-01 Enterprise was suggested by Doug Drexler to be some sort of compensator for the problems of relativistic time at warp speeds.
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Old Yesterday, 01:50 PM   #4
Trekker4747
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

The Warp Drive does not move the ship faster than light, it simply bends and manipulates space/puts the ship in another dimension, to make that the case compared to real universe. The fastest the ship ever moves is "Full Impulse" which is about .25c. At that speed while there's some relativistic effects they're very negligible. (1:1.03)
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Old Yesterday, 03:46 PM   #5
KaineMorrison
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
The Warp Drive does not move the ship faster than light, it simply bends and manipulates space/puts the ship in another dimension, to make that the case compared to real universe. The fastest the ship ever moves is "Full Impulse" which is about .25c. At that speed while there's some relativistic effects they're very negligible. (1:1.03)
I think, and always have, that that Theory is complete bull...
If a Warp Drive "bends" the Universe, then Warp Drive would be Instantaneous.
There also wouldn't be varying degrees of Warp Speed.
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Old Yesterday, 03:55 PM   #6
medwatt
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
The Warp Drive does not move the ship faster than light, it simply bends and manipulates space/puts the ship in another dimension, to make that the case compared to real universe. The fastest the ship ever moves is "Full Impulse" which is about .25c. At that speed while there's some relativistic effects they're very negligible. (1:1.03)
Then why don't the light from stars look like points if they're not traveling faster than light ?
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Old Yesterday, 03:57 PM   #7
medwatt
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

MacLeod wrote: View Post
So you accept that Warp Drive gets around E=MC^2 but not that travelling using the Warp Drive also negates the effects of relatavistic travel?
If I believe in the transporter then I think it means I also believe in E=MC^2 too !
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Old Yesterday, 04:10 PM   #8
Trekker4747
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

KaineMorrison wrote: View Post
Trekker4747 wrote: View Post
The Warp Drive does not move the ship faster than light, it simply bends and manipulates space/puts the ship in another dimension, to make that the case compared to real universe. The fastest the ship ever moves is "Full Impulse" which is about .25c. At that speed while there's some relativistic effects they're very negligible. (1:1.03)
I think, and always have, that that Theory is complete bull...
If a Warp Drive "bends" the Universe, then Warp Drive would be Instantaneous.
There also wouldn't be varying degrees of Warp Speed.
"Bending" doesn't mean that you make a long distance an instant trip. And it's not strictly bending the entire universe it's just contracting the space in front of the ship and expanding the space behind it. (Technically no propulsion, thus no relativistic or acceleration effects at all.) But it takes more power to bend more space and the amount of space you can bend is dependent on the limits of the technology and energy sources you have.

Maximum warp represents the limits of technology and available energy resources, bending space as much is possible to shift a significant mass, which equates to a couple thousand times c.

It'd be ludicrous to think that a ship could contract the countless light years of space between it and its destination to make an instant trip. Instead it only contracts the space around the ship (often represented by the warp bubble on displays) the warp factor just determines how "compact" the space is being made. More compact it is, greater the energy needs, higher the warp factor.

But only "so much" can be done.

Then why don't the light from stars look like points if they're not traveling faster than light ?
A) Because the ship is and isn't traveling faster than light. It's not in the sense that it is not physically moving at relativistic speed (or, really, likely any speed.) But it is still crossing a distance which effectively means it's moving meaning objects being observed outside from within the ship would appear to be traveling by.

B) A "parabolic" effect as space is contracted/expanded around the ship causing light to bend and shift in peculiar ways. (Think of the difference between looking out a regular glass window, and a prism, or other translucent material that's not perfectly clear.)

C) (Meta) The creators of the show simply thought it represented the best illusion to audience to give the idea of motion. In "reality", oddities with even traveling at even light-speed or greater aside, the stars probably wouldn't appear to move much. Think of it this way, when you're riding in a car driving down the road and you look out the window: the shoulder markers whip by at the same speed as the car. You look further to the middle distance and trees/houses/buildings move slower. Objects on the horizon are hardly moving at all, and celestial objects in the sky (the sun, moon, stars) are basically perfectly still.

Same should, more or less, be true here. The stars likely would be moving since we are going at a great speed and perspective is changing relative to those distant objects at a meaningful rate (if your vehicle was moving at 1000s of miles an hour those distant objects would move by faster) but they're still very, very, distant meaning your perspective isn't changing much. The rate things move outside the windows probably wouldn't "really" be much different than how we see things moving when the ship is supposedly at impulse.
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Last edited by Trekker4747; Yesterday at 04:21 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 11:24 PM   #9
MikeS
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Location: Liverpool, UK
Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

Trekker4747 sums it up beautifully. This was made reference to in the technical manuals. It is also a story point in those fantastic Borg origin books (Destiny - David Mack)
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Old Yesterday, 11:40 PM   #10
bbjeg
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

Speaking of relativity, with warp and a telescope, people of the 24th century should be able to glance into the past. If a ship left a particular area at warp (faster than light) and then glanced back at that area with a telescope, they would see themselves warp off, right?
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Old Yesterday, 11:46 PM   #11
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Relatavisitic Time in Star Trek

This is, of course, a fictional universe with physics made up to allow easy contact and interaction between alien races, so there's really no reason to be a stickler about relativity.

But yeah, as others have said the official explanation is 'Subspace'. Warp engines create a bubble of subspace around the ship.
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