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Old February 15 2013, 06:57 AM   #1
JirinPanthosa
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Combat at warp speed

One ship is at warp 8.60.

The other is at warp 8.63

Their speeds differ by more than lightspeed, yet they can still see each other on the viewscreen and target each other with phasers. How?

Once a ship goes to warp they should be untargettable, even the slightest variation in warp speed is millions of meters per second different, they shouldn't even be able to see each other much less target them with phasers. If they somehow can target each other, they should appear to be moving backward in time.
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Old February 15 2013, 08:18 AM   #2
Mister_Atoz
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Re: Combat at warp speed

Well, since we have multiple examples of starships fighting each other at warp, we pretty much have to assume that they can. Now, I don't really know how subspace works, frankly neither do you, since it doesn't exist, so let's speculate.

I think we need to keep in mind that starships travelling at warp aren't really moving in the conventional sense, but rather warping the space around them. Warp Factors aren't really speeds as much as they are measurements of how much starship are warping the space around them them. Although a difference between warp 8.60 and 8.63 might equate to a difference of millions of kilometres in normal space, a starship travelling 8.63 is only warping space marginally more than a starship travelling 8.60 relative to each other.

I wrote paragraph or two of elaboration, but it's 2am here and it was making my head hurt, so instead we'll just pretend that every weapons station on every ship in every fleet in the galaxy is manned by Q...or Gandalf...

Also, it's usually best to chuck the whole "backwards in time" causality stuff when dealing with warp speed...that's half the reason the writer's invented warp drive to begin with...
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Old February 15 2013, 09:48 AM   #3
Timo
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Re: Combat at warp speed

even the slightest variation in warp speed is millions of meters per second different
So what? If starships can go that fast, other technologies can probably go even faster. We know that communications zip across the galaxy quickly enough: a "radar" system based on these fast-moving information packets is all that is needed to track the enemy, even across a great speed differential.

Numbers, even big ones, are just numbers. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that megameters per second would be a major challenge, technologically speaking.

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Old February 15 2013, 09:56 AM   #4
CorporalClegg
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Re: Combat at warp speed

Magic!
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Old February 15 2013, 10:14 AM   #5
King Daniel Into Darkness
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Re: Combat at warp speed

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
One ship is at warp 8.60.

The other is at warp 8.63

Their speeds differ by more than lightspeed, yet they can still see each other on the viewscreen and target each other with phasers. How?

Once a ship goes to warp they should be untargettable, even the slightest variation in warp speed is millions of meters per second different, they shouldn't even be able to see each other much less target them with phasers. If they somehow can target each other, they should appear to be moving backward in time.
We can see the ships in the same shot, and never see any of that lightwave/going backwards stuff because it's impressionistic and hugely simplified. They can target each other because their computers think and calculate at FTL speeds.
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Old February 15 2013, 10:26 AM   #6
T'Girl
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Re: Combat at warp speed

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
yet they can still see each other on the viewscreen
I think what is on the viewscreen is usually a composite sensor image, and not simply a picture from a telescopic camera.
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Old February 15 2013, 11:39 AM   #7
Metryq
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Re: Combat at warp speed

CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
Magic!
"Any sufficiently repeatable magic is indistinguishable from technology."
—Corollary to Clarke's Law
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Old February 15 2013, 02:20 PM   #8
The Wormhole
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Re: Combat at warp speed

Dramatic license, or wibbly space magic. Take your pick.
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Old February 15 2013, 05:31 PM   #9
Star Wolf
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Re: Combat at warp speed

On a related question why is there often the emphasis of dropping out of warp to fight? I can see pulling the other guy out of warp as it would be harder for him to break contact.
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Old February 15 2013, 05:44 PM   #10
Timo
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Re: Combat at warp speed

That's one of the trio of real Trek combat oddities:

1) Why fight at impulse when warp is an option?
2) Why fight at point blank ranges when weapons demonstrably reach farther?
3) Why raise shields only at the very last moment?

These might be related issues, tied to power allocation. Perhaps ships at warp cannot shield themselves because the engines consume too much of the available power, or because shields during warp have to be configured in a special way. Shields might consume a lot of power, yet beam weapons might only pierce fully powered shields when fired right next to them. None of that is completely satisfactory, though.

It could also be argued that warp fields are easily collapsed by enemy fire (we see this happen in "A Time to Stand", say), so there is no particular advantage in waiting for the chasing enemy to do the collapsing.

The thing is, Star Trek combat is not just a rehash of any specific style of nautical warfare from Earth history. It is a mixture of several elements, with idiosyncrasies of its own - which makes it a bit more plausible than "battleships of Jutland in space" or "carriers of Coral Sea in space" or "frigates of Horatio Hornblower in space" or whatever. Plausible in the sense of there being more unexplained lacunae there, that is: we can insert explanations into those even when the writers and effects people don't do it for us.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old February 15 2013, 07:05 PM   #11
CorporalClegg
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Re: Combat at warp speed

Metryq wrote: View Post
CorporalClegg wrote: View Post
Magic!
"Any sufficiently repeatable magic is indistinguishable from technology."
—Corollary to Clarke's Law
Don't make me break-out The Dumbledore!
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Old February 15 2013, 07:12 PM   #12
T'Girl
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Re: Combat at warp speed

Star Wolf wrote: View Post
... the emphasis of dropping out of warp to fight?
Let's you divert power from the warp drive over to the weapons systems. Sure you can simply kick a torpedo out a air lock, but phasers are energy hogs.

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