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Trek Tech Pass me the quantum flux regulator, will you?

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Old December 28 2007, 02:18 AM   #1
ren0312
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Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

Does anyone have any idea as to what the total yield is of photon and quantum torpedoes in megatons, I think they are at least in the 2-5 megaton range, with photon torpedoes having a yield of 2 megatons and quantum torpedoes having a yield of 5 megatons, but I do not know how much more, plus how much damage can the shields of a Galaxy class absord in terms of how many megatons of yield is needed in order to punch a hole in it, if say, the United States were to use all of its nuclear weapons against the shields of the Enterprise D, will it be enough to bring down its shields?
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Old December 28 2007, 06:52 AM   #2
broberfett
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

Depends on the writer. Photon torpedoes supposedly use anti-matter. There was that old Star Trek episode where Kirk takes some anti-matter down to a planet, lures this vampiric energy cloud towards it and then beams away before it goes off. The explosion blows away half the atmosphere of the planet.
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Old December 28 2007, 09:16 AM   #3
Timo
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

The tech advisors helped out the writers a lot here, postulating a variable yield for the torpedoes. This was an observed fact for basically the entire history of photon torpedoes in Trek, and was made retroactively canonical in ENT when photonic torpedoes were introduced in the third season (that is, the mid-2150s) and explicitly said to have a highly variable yield.

In terms of real-world timeline, the idea was solidified earlier on already: tech books began to speak of variable yield in the eighties with the rebirth of Trek in the form of TNG and the TOS movies. The first canon reference to variability might be in TNG "Redemption" where Data orders "love pat" torpedoes fired to expose the cloaked Romulan ships.

So the real question here is probably "How much is the highest possible yield that a starship's shields have to defend against in a characteristic Trek space battle?". It might be that the highest technically possible yields are never used in actual ship-to-ship combat; perhaps multiple medium-yield torpedoes are the preferred way. Or then a succession of yields, so that at first a volley of low-yielders would hurt the enemy and make him an easier target for the more expensive medium-yielders...

I guess the point is, we don't know the upper limit of photon torpedo or quantum torpedo yield for an onscreen fact, but thanks to the tech advisors, we are at liberty to choose as high or low a value as we please. Further, we are also at liberty to choose how much of that the shields of a starship need to repel in a typical battle.

To be sure, some books, mainly the TNG and DS9 Tech Manuals, suggest a maximum of 3-5 kg of matter being converted to energy per photon torpedo, meaning hundred-megaton blasts at best (not really enough to do the "atmosphere-ripping" effect from TOS "Obsession" as mentioned above, even assuming a very small planet). Whether such blasts would have the same effect against shields as hundred-megaton nukes would is unknown; the mechanisms involved might be quite different, as the spectra of radiation released would differ a bit.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old December 28 2007, 09:58 AM   #4
JuanBolio
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

I always found it a terrible shame that the VFX guys rarely, if ever, tried to convey the awesome power of the ship-to-ship weapons of Star Trek. Even when weapons were supposedly set to maximum yield, the resulting explosions seemed to carry all the destructive force of a small cruise missile. Often less.
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Old December 28 2007, 11:43 AM   #5
ren0312
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

Timo said:
The tech advisors helped out the writers a lot here, postulating a variable yield for the torpedoes. This was an observed fact for basically the entire history of photon torpedoes in Trek, and was made retroactively canonical in ENT when photonic torpedoes were introduced in the third season (that is, the mid-2150s) and explicitly said to have a highly variable yield.

In terms of real-world timeline, the idea was solidified earlier on already: tech books began to speak of variable yield in the eighties with the rebirth of Trek in the form of TNG and the TOS movies. The first canon reference to variability might be in TNG "Redemption" where Data orders "love pat" torpedoes fired to expose the cloaked Romulan ships.

So the real question here is probably "How much is the highest possible yield that a starship's shields have to defend against in a characteristic Trek space battle?". It might be that the highest technically possible yields are never used in actual ship-to-ship combat; perhaps multiple medium-yield torpedoes are the preferred way. Or then a succession of yields, so that at first a volley of low-yielders would hurt the enemy and make him an easier target for the more expensive medium-yielders...

I guess the point is, we don't know the upper limit of photon torpedo or quantum torpedo yield for an onscreen fact, but thanks to the tech advisors, we are at liberty to choose as high or low a value as we please. Further, we are also at liberty to choose how much of that the shields of a starship need to repel in a typical battle.

To be sure, some books, mainly the TNG and DS9 Tech Manuals, suggest a maximum of 3-5 kg of matter being converted to energy per photon torpedo, meaning hundred-megaton blasts at best (not really enough to do the "atmosphere-ripping" effect from TOS "Obsession" as mentioned above, even assuming a very small planet). Whether such blasts would have the same effect against shields as hundred-megaton nukes would is unknown; the mechanisms involved might be quite different, as the spectra of radiation released would differ a bit.

Timo Saloniemi
There was an episode in Voyager where photon torpedoes were said to have a yield of 500 megatons, far above the figures of the TNG and DS9 technical manual.
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Old December 28 2007, 11:50 AM   #6
ren0312
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

Timo said:
The tech advisors helped out the writers a lot here, postulating a variable yield for the torpedoes. This was an observed fact for basically the entire history of photon torpedoes in Trek, and was made retroactively canonical in ENT when photonic torpedoes were introduced in the third season (that is, the mid-2150s) and explicitly said to have a highly variable yield.

In terms of real-world timeline, the idea was solidified earlier on already: tech books began to speak of variable yield in the eighties with the rebirth of Trek in the form of TNG and the TOS movies. The first canon reference to variability might be in TNG "Redemption" where Data orders "love pat" torpedoes fired to expose the cloaked Romulan ships.

So the real question here is probably "How much is the highest possible yield that a starship's shields have to defend against in a characteristic Trek space battle?". It might be that the highest technically possible yields are never used in actual ship-to-ship combat; perhaps multiple medium-yield torpedoes are the preferred way. Or then a succession of yields, so that at first a volley of low-yielders would hurt the enemy and make him an easier target for the more expensive medium-yielders...

I guess the point is, we don't know the upper limit of photon torpedo or quantum torpedo yield for an onscreen fact, but thanks to the tech advisors, we are at liberty to choose as high or low a value as we please. Further, we are also at liberty to choose how much of that the shields of a starship need to repel in a typical battle.

To be sure, some books, mainly the TNG and DS9 Tech Manuals, suggest a maximum of 3-5 kg of matter being converted to energy per photon torpedo, meaning hundred-megaton blasts at best (not really enough to do the "atmosphere-ripping" effect from TOS "Obsession" as mentioned above, even assuming a very small planet). Whether such blasts would have the same effect against shields as hundred-megaton nukes would is unknown; the mechanisms involved might be quite different, as the spectra of radiation released would differ a bit.

Timo Saloniemi
What I am wondering is why are the yield figures so low, considering that the technology is 400 years adavanced of our time, if the typical photon torpedo has a yield no higher than the most powerfull nuclear weapons, then what is the one of using such advanced technology, why not stick to using hydrogen bombs and just stick a matter/antimatter warp core to them so that they can travel FTL or something, the most powerfull nuclear weapon ever tested was 57 megatons, the Tsar bomb of the Soviet Union, and that was in the 1960s, it is amazing to know that in the 400 years after that event, weapon yields have largely stayed the same, considering that 400 years have elapsed between the testing of the Tsar bomb and the TNG/DS9 era, you would expect photon and quantum torpedo yields to reach into the low gigaton range already, considering the fact that you have 400 years to research on making more powerfull and effective weapons.
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Old December 28 2007, 12:14 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

There was an episode in Voyager where photon torpedoes were said to have a yield of 500 megatons, far above the figures of the TNG and DS9 technical manual.
Isotons, to be accurate.

It's anybody's guess what an "isoton" is. Literally taken, "iso" is the prefix for "same", while the "ton" in current-day "megaton" means a thousand kilograms of TNT. Perhaps "isoton" simply means a thousand kilograms of something else than TNT? Something more easily standardized? If this new standard is anywhere near TNT in explosive power (or simply is the modern, more accurate name for tons of TNT), then 500 isotons would be half a kiloisoton, or about one-twentieth to one-thirtieth the kaboom of the Hiroshima bomb.

What I am wondering is why are the yield figures so low, considering that the technology is 400 years adavanced of our time
Well, the naval gun shells of our time are much less powerful than those designed fifty or sixty years ago. Aerial bombs get smaller and weaker by the day, too. And modern nuclear missiles strive for smaller and smaller warhead yields, as the destructive effect against hardened targets can be achieved through accuracy alone, and no real benefit against such targets would result from increasing the yield.

There might be little point in creating a gigaton explosion if a starship can be killed with a sub-megaton one. For planetary bombardment, why devise a special gigaton munition when the same effect can be achieved by firing a few thousand of the sub-megatonners? It's not as if a starship would often risk running out of torpedo casings... Especially in a planetary bombardment situation where she already must reign supreme in orbit.

To be sure, some Trek species do see the need for very large explosive devices. The Cardassians built the Dreadnought antimatter missile, with the potential for something like 20 gigatons. Apparently, this wasn't even a "superweapon" by their terminology, as they readily fired one against an insignificant Maquis encampment. Starfleet might have similar weapons in its possession - but a starship with a couple of hundred photon torpedoes with sub-megaton yield could present a comparable strategic threat, using accuracy and flexibility to multiply the destructive effect.

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Old December 28 2007, 12:59 PM   #8
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

^^ I also think that with Trek technologie you would be wary of constructing a gigaton kboom device because its not unlikely that some smartass/fluke/gaga computer turns the thing around and you'll be on the receiving end of yer own kboom..
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Old December 28 2007, 01:56 PM   #9
Ronald Held
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

The prefix "ISO" was used when they did not want to quantify how much it was. Or maybe soemone just liked it?
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Old December 28 2007, 03:00 PM   #10
Deks
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

The Voyager episode Scorpion stated that at the time the ship carried 32 photon torpedoes, explosive yield: 200 isotons (Seven of 9 said that).

I would hypothesize that the 200 isotons was a total number of output that all 32 photon torpedoes would generate at detonation.
Meaning that each photon torpedo in effect has an explosion of 6.25 isotons.
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Old December 28 2007, 05:09 PM   #11
Forbin
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

JuanBolio said:
I always found it a terrible shame that the VFX guys rarely, if ever, tried to convey the awesome power of the ship-to-ship weapons of Star Trek. Even when weapons were supposedly set to maximum yield, the resulting explosions seemed to carry all the destructive force of a small cruise missile. Often less.
My feelings exactly. We always got some pissy little gasoline explosion, often smaller than the ship the torpedo hit, rather than a nice 3-kilometer-wide blazing white ball of anihilating atoms.
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Old December 28 2007, 11:22 PM   #12
JuanBolio
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

As for future weapons being on par with modern nukes in terms of destructive power - keep in mind that you're comparing OUR doomsday weapons to THEIR standard-issue arsenal. The advantage of using antimatter over plutonium is that antimatter has a variable yield - you can inject a torpedo with a small amount to merely knock out a few of the enemy ship's systems, or you can fill it to the brim and outright atomize your opponent.

I'm SURE that their WMD's were far more powerful. When the Cardassian and Romulan fleet opened fire on the Founder homeworld, 27% of the planet's crust was destroyed on the opening volley. That's one hell of a big boom.
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Old December 29 2007, 02:00 AM   #13
Vance
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

Some time ago I wrote up a lot of tech info on torpedoes and phasers based on their 'canon' numbers and some real-world physics. The conclusions were interesting...

I'll spare the details and give the final results (somewhat rounded), in MT of TNT.

Tsar Bomba (1968): 57MT , world's most powerful nuclear weapon
Tsar Bomba (Proposed): 100MT
TOS Phaser: 3.2MT maximum per burst
TOS Photon Torpedo: 20MT maximum per torpedo
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Old December 29 2007, 09:48 AM   #14
JuanBolio
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

How did you calculate yields for TOS weapons? After all, we have VERY little if any data regarding any kind of technical specifications during that period.
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Old December 30 2007, 07:37 PM   #15
Timo
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Re: Yield of Torpedoes and Strenght of Shields.

...Not to mention "The Changeling", where the Nomad probe hits our heroes with the equivalent of 90 photon torpedoes (and the Enterprise barely shakes), after which Kirk hits back with just one torpedo and is flabbergastered as to how the enemy could have survived.

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