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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 June 2 2010, 01:54 AM   #1
KnightInExile
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Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

I've always found the Enterprise A to be the most beautiful Enterprise of all time, such a graceful and sexy design. It was the only starship in which it looked great at every angle. However, one of the things that bothered me about it was its neck section and the warp pylon struts, they were way too thin and frail. Just by looking at those sections I could nearly see them snap off like twigs. In TWoK, the Reliant fired on the Enterprise's neck section and it was a miracle that it didn't break apart. Realistically, it should have broken off.

1. Is this where the structural integrity field comes in?

2. Also, what would happen if the starship Enterprise traveled at maximum impulse speed without the structural integrity field? Would the neck and warp pylon struts snap off?
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Old June 2 2010, 02:50 AM   #2
Christopher
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

Well, without air friction or gravity to impart strain on the structure, it's less fragile than it looks to our Earth-conditioned eyes. The only thing that would really put a strain on it is its own engine thrust pushing the saucer section forward against the inertia of the other sections. So I'd think it wouldn't be a problem if the acceleration weren't too abrupt. And if it were, then I'd think it would be the inertial damping field that would do the bulk of the protective work. I think an SIF makes a ship's hull more rigid, basically, and that would make it more vulnerable to breaking at the weak points. The more flexible the connector segments are, the better their ability to absorb accelerational stresses.

And of course in warp drive there are no stresses of that sort across the spaceframe, because the ship is contained inside a bubble of spacetime that's doing the actual moving. So the ship isn't subject to acceleration in the conventional sense.

If anything, the refit Enterprise's dorsal connector and nacelle pylons are thicker than the originals, aren't they? I'd think they'd be less fragile.
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Old June 2 2010, 03:14 AM   #3
KnightInExile
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

Christopher wrote: View Post
Well, without air friction or gravity to impart strain on the structure, it's less fragile than it looks to our Earth-conditioned eyes. The only thing that would really put a strain on it is its own engine thrust pushing the saucer section forward against the inertia of the other sections. So I'd think it wouldn't be a problem if the acceleration weren't too abrupt.
So, what do you think would happen if the Enterprise travel abruptly at maximum impulse speed without the structural integrity field?
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Old June 2 2010, 03:36 AM   #4
blssdwlf
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

Was there ever an instance where a Structural Integrity Field is used on the Enterprise-A? I don't even think that the TOS Enterprise had one.

In anycase, IIRC, in The Motion Picture, the acceleration from Earth orbit to Jupiter (or was it Saturn) implied something on the order of 1000g.
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Old June 2 2010, 04:48 AM   #5
KnightInExile
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

blssdwlf wrote: View Post
Was there ever an instance where a Structural Integrity Field is used on the Enterprise-A? I don't even think that the TOS Enterprise had one.

In anycase, IIRC, in The Motion Picture, the acceleration from Earth orbit to Jupiter (or was it Saturn) implied something on the order of 1000g.
If that was the case, could the neck and warp pylon struts sections hold together at that speed without the structural integrity field?
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Old June 2 2010, 07:33 AM   #6
blssdwlf
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

Since they've gone at full impulse and not broken apart it can be implied that these ships don't need a SIF. Just because they look thin and fragile doesn't mean they can't be made of some tough futuristic materials
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Old June 2 2010, 07:43 AM   #7
Timo
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

To be sure, in order to perform the feats of travel that we see them perform, these ships would need to accelerate at hundreds or thousands of gees at impulse, and probably millions of gees when going to warp. Something keeps our heroes from being crushed to wet and squelchy death during those acceleration events - and we can safely say it's not because future heroes are built of tougher materials! So we should be able to say that this same something protects the ships themselves, without requiring any particularly strong materials or artificial means of stiffening them.

In the TNG era, this something is called the inertial damping field, or inertia dampening field, or whatever spelling combinations one prefers. Apparently, it removes the effect of acceleration on mass, or more accurately it selectively removes the effect of the starship's acceleration but without making our heroes bounce around like inertialess ping-pong balls inside that starship. It sounds like a very plausible application of the already well established Star Trek mastery of artificial gravity.

It's never mentioned in TOS, but TOS ships couldn't work without it. It works together with the structural integrity field in TNG, and again the SIF could be a feature of TOS just like the IDF despite there being no explicit mention. After all, Scotty forgot to mention "plasma injectors" and "warp coils", too!

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Old June 2 2010, 01:12 PM   #8
Christopher
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

As I said, I think it's the inertial damper that matters most here, not the SIF. The only reason there'd be any problem with acceleration is because the impulse engines are on the saucer whereas the engineering hull and nacelles are just being "towed" by it, so their inertia would resist acceleration, putting torsional stresses on the connectors. But if you can damp inertia, then the problem goes away. The other sections of the ship wouldn't be torn away by the high acceleration any more than the crew would be crushed against the rear bulkhead by the high acceleration.
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Old June 2 2010, 03:20 PM   #9
blssdwlf
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

I agree on the need for "inertial dampers". Interestingly there is no mention of "inertial dampers" (and also "plasma injectors" and "warp coils" - but that might just be because they had not thought of them at this point or just used something else.)

The closest I can imagine is that the respective engines (impulse and warp) provide that as part of what they do in the form of "velocity balancers". These balancers appear to be also used by the transporter system as well as mentioned in "The Enemy Within".

But I see no reason there would be a SIF on these older ships as that would give storytellers a reason to wear them out and have constant "buckling" and repairs and refits done versus the newer ships of TNG...
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Old June 2 2010, 03:43 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

I can't really believe Star Trek starships, or anything similar to them, could ever be constructed without the benefit of structural technologies that go far beyond mere physical matter. Or if they could, then I'd see no reason for Picard to adopt technologies that Kirk didn't, as they'd make no real difference.

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Old June 2 2010, 04:00 PM   #11
blssdwlf
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

^^ Well there are two ways to look at that (probably more).

- TOS and TNG aren't the same "universe" and the materials tech in TOS is far advanced. Alot like the uber powerful antimatter in TOS, the super fast warp speeds, etc. They share some similar history and character names but the tech and physics is different. (Due to different production crews

- Or TNG uses lighter materials and need SIFs to maintain integrity whereas the TOS materials tech was much more dense (but strong enough). The TOS Enterprise was almost 1 million tons while the similar length but more voluminous Voyager only masses 700,000 tons.
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Old June 2 2010, 08:36 PM   #12
Ronald Held
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

All of the warp capable ships must have some sort of IDF, if for no other reason the greatly lower the effective inertial mass of the vessels.
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Old June 2 2010, 09:41 PM   #13
Elvira
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

In the Star Trek novels written by William Shatner (or whoever), he said that the deep sound you hear in the background rising and falling on TOS was the inertial dampers/structural integrity field ramping up and easing down again, during acceleration, deceleration and maneuvers.

It wasn't the sound of the engines themselves.

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Old June 3 2010, 07:40 AM   #14
Timo
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

That's cute and quite plausible!

Of course, the sounds could have been purely artificially generated to indicate stress levels, too. (Or then they came over the intercom from the engine room - a location known to be the source of some serious whining whenever the engines were strained.) But I really like this bit of Shatnerverse or ReevesStevensverse or whatever... Sometimes their extraneous explanations aren't so completely extraneous after all.

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Old June 3 2010, 11:07 AM   #15
Elvira
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Re: Questions About The Structural Integrity Field

Timo wrote: View Post
the engine room - a location known to be the source of some serious whining whenever the engines were strained
But in that case, the whining sounds were coming from Mr. Scott.
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