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

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Old February 3 2009, 09:04 AM   #31
Timo
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

I'm not even sure that the plasma is moving at all. That is, the conduits don't seem to be shaped like a loop, and normally the plasma isn't escaping at the business end, so the assumption is that it isn't being generated in the reactor end, either.

Rather, the plasma would be like the copper in electric wires: the immobile medium in which the energy travels. We hear about intermix ratios when people start m/am reactors, but that could be a start procedure only - an excess of matter would result in the plasma conduits filling up, after which the ratio would be changed to 1:1 and only energy would be pumped into the system. That is, until the next shutdown or emergency plasma venting.

And the energy being pumped into the plasma could indeed be something truly exotic - not electricity, nor compression waves, but something that only dilithium can produce when bombarded with the more conventional energies of m/am annihilation.

Timo Saloniemi
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Old February 3 2009, 09:05 AM   #32
kent
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
I don't think the conduits do much in the line of accelerating the plasma (for one thing, what would that accomplish? It's already moving at near lightspeed, which in the relatively short distance from the reactor to the nacelles is essentially instantaneous), but they do direct the plasma in the right direction(s).

I don't think the plasma moves at light speed at all....it would be VERY difficult to moniter and control if this was the case. And if there was a problem with plasma flow which there is sometimes, shutting the conduits down and redirecting the plasma flow would be VERY difficult and time consuming.

The reason why the plasma would be further accelerated is because in addition to proabably being slightly phased into subspace to get the desired subspace fields, highly accelerated plasma has an inherent gravitational flux which could be used to access subspace itself. That combined with the plasma being partially phased through subspace would be the key (along with the nacelles) to creating subspace fields.

I look at the nacelles themselves as more of a focuser of the altered plasma, which allows the ability to transform the plasma from altered plasma to subspace fields. It's like a transformer. It transforms one form of energy into another.
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Old February 3 2009, 09:07 AM   #33
kent
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Timo wrote: View Post
I'm not even sure that the plasma is moving at all. That is, the conduits don't seem to be shaped like a loop, and normally the plasma isn't escaping at the business end, so the assumption is that it isn't being generated in the reactor end, either.

Rather, the plasma would be like the copper in electric wires: the immobile medium in which the energy travels. We hear about intermix ratios when people start m/am reactors, but that could be a start procedure only - an excess of matter would result in the plasma conduits filling up, after which the ratio would be changed to 1:1 and only energy would be pumped into the system. That is, until the next shutdown or emergency plasma venting.

And the energy being pumped into the plasma could indeed be something truly exotic - not electricity, nor compression waves, but something that only dilithium can produce when bombarded with the more conventional energies of m/am annihilation.

Timo Saloniemi




Well, generally speaking, to get from one point or another you kind of have to move by some way. Plasma doesn't move on it's own, which supports the theory of magnetic plasma conduits "helping" it on its way from the core to the nacelles, in addition to plasma acceleratores. And there are references to "second stage plasma accelerators" we just don't know WHERE. But considering the conduits are long, it makes sense they are there. How many times has belanna had to shut down plasma accelerators, or some component like it.

And yes the energy could be truly exotic, which is why I have the theory that the dilitium is somehow a biproduct of interacting with subspace, thus making the resulting plasma a semi-phased material that has subspace properties. I'd say that form of energy is pretty exotic. And the plasma is created in the warp reaction chamber, that's pretty solid, and is what gets pumped into the nacelles or why would people say "we're venting drive plasma"?
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Old February 3 2009, 09:16 AM   #34
kent
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
The preferred power source in the Star Trek era seems to be fusion, with M/AM reactors being reserved for really high powered applications, like warp drive.

So, while everything else on board can function just fine on the fusion reactors, you need that big sucker to operate the warp drive, at least at any level that might be considered practical. It is, essentially, the core of the enitre warp drive system, hence "warp core".

As for the dilithium crystals, the high energy plasma that's produced by the matter/antimatter reaction is passed through the dilithium crystals, which focuses and intensifies the plasma stream, raising it up to the level necessary to generate a stable warp field. During TOS' time, the dilithium crystal assembly was separate from the reactor, whereas by TNG's time (maybe even as early as TUC), the crystals are now inside the reactor itself.

Actually the warp core and the fusion reactors BOTH power everything. Remember when the warp core is offline, in serious situations the power systems are partially operational. What's keeping the rest online are the fusion generators. A federation ship is ENOURMOUSLY energy hungry, with the transporters, replicators, lights, power doors, turbolifts, atmospheric controls, gravity generators, etc etc. If fusion could power all that alone that would be a miracle.
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Old February 3 2009, 09:37 AM   #35
JNG
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

kent wrote: View Post
And there are references to "second stage plasma accelerators" we just don't know WHERE.
I think there was a three-stage plasma accelerator running across the top of each catamaran hull on NX-01. Drexler compared it to a supercharger, if I remember correctly.

This would seem to support the idea.
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Old February 3 2009, 10:39 AM   #36
Timo
Admiral
 
Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Well, generally speaking, to get from one point or another you kind of have to move by some way.
But copper wires don't move when they allow electricity to get from one point to another. Even the electrons within don't really move: they just sort of wiggle around, kicking the next one, so that electricity is transmitted. Plasma could be analogous to that. After all, as you say:

"we're venting drive plasma"
which is something people only yell in emergencies. It doesn't occur normally - drive plasma doesn't escape from the ship unless something goes wrong, so there's no need to constantly get more of it, either.

And there are references to "second stage plasma accelerators" we just don't know WHERE.
Indeed. But acceleration need not involve movement from A to B: the plasma could be made hotter, or more conductive to warp energies, by accelerating it into even more frantic wiggling-in-place.

FWIW, the "superchargers" that are blatantly visible on the hulls of the Enterprise or Akira class ships don't seem to be at the midpoints of the likely conduits, but relatively close to the warp reactor. Their role thus might not be one of doing more of the same as the reactor does, after the effects of the reactor have died down a bit due to distance - but of doing something extraordinary to the plasma that doesn't happen at all on starships that lack the "plasma accelerators". That's sort of what a turbocharger does in a combustion engine, too: it doesn't directly help move the pistons with greater force, it helps modify the incoming fuel-air mixture with extra air.

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Old February 3 2009, 11:32 AM   #37
shipfisher
Commander
 
Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Plasma as a standing energy transfer medium - I like that idea Timo. I have often considered that 1:1 M:AM intermix drives worked like heat pumps, with that nasty, corrosive "coolant" being the refrigerant, the core being the evaporator and the nacelles being condensers, however the plasma being suspended in place like a super high-tension wire is a much better way to avoid dumping "exhaust" gas out any "tailpipe", which would require a much bigger fuel volume than trekships seem to accommodate and could possibly be a source of subspace drag as it transitted out of the drive field in a wake behind the ship.

As for why dilithium doesn't go bang when anti-matter hits it Kent, I've always thought that perhaps it must be excited or polarized in some way as the drive is being primed before start-up. In this energized state, the dilithium's unique crystal lattice structure forms molecular tunnels which contain and channel the energy of the M:AM reaction into the plasma without direct atomic contact - an alien geological quirk providing a ready-made molecular reactor. I admit this doesn't sound any better than your subspace phasing theory, but I tend toward the technically conservative, Occam's razor approach.

Last edited by shipfisher; February 3 2009 at 11:48 AM.
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Old February 3 2009, 05:22 PM   #38
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

That's more or less what the TNG manual suggests, Shipfisher.
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Old February 3 2009, 09:54 PM   #39
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

What I've never understood is how they can run fusion reactors without having 70% or more of the ship's mass be devoted to fuel.
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Old February 4 2009, 03:46 AM   #40
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

JuanBolio wrote: View Post
Well, the M/AM reactor not only provides power to the warp nacelles, but for the rest of the ship as well. Also, it IS safely away from most of the crew and living spaces - that's the whole point of having a secondary hull.
For ships that have a secondary hull; not all of them do.

Besides, AFAIK, the warp core only provides power for the most energy intensive systems on board, namely warp engines, deflectors and some of the weapon systems. Most of the rest gets its juice from the impulse engines primarily.

I actually tend to think the best place for the ship's deflector systems would be the nacelles themselves, probably right in the front of the nacelles co-local with what on most ships is the bussard collector. At least in this scheme it's easy to see how "warp power" would be transferred to the deflector systems; simply have all that drive plasma go to a field coil in the front of the nacelle to envelop and protect the ship instead of pulsing through rows of warp coils.
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Old February 4 2009, 03:50 AM   #41
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Timo wrote: View Post
And the energy being pumped into the plasma could indeed be something truly exotic - not electricity, nor compression waves, but something that only dilithium can produce when bombarded with the more conventional energies of m/am annihilation.
How about electrically charged gravitons and anti-gravitons?
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Old February 4 2009, 03:54 AM   #42
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

JuanBolio wrote: View Post
What I've never understood is how they can run fusion reactors without having 70% or more of the ship's mass be devoted to fuel.
Fusion reactors don't require that much fuel. In a given volume of the reactor only about 2% of the atoms in the reactor vessel are actually being fused; the rest are being heated by the energy released by those fusion reactions, either transferring heat to whatever's collecting the energy or waiting their turn to be fused with other atoms. Without venting the plasma propulsively, the Enterprise' fusion reactors could probably run for several years from a fuel tank the size of a swimming pool.
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Old February 4 2009, 04:10 AM   #43
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
Of all the engine components, the main reactor would need to be the most accessible if something went wonky. How'd you like to be the poor shlub who has to crawl all the way up those damn pylons to cut off the power flow or the ship is gonna blow up in five minutes....and it takes twenty minutes to crawl up that pylon?
It is my firm belief that if the reactor cores were located in places that were less accessible to desperate tooth-gnashing technicians, the occurrence of "The ship will explode in five minutes" plot devices would miraculously cease. Simply having the warp core in an accessible place leads the temptation to have the Great God of Angst engineer some incomprehensible situation that involves a bunch of engineers frantically banging on the warp core with hammers trying to keep it from blowing up.

Of course, the in-universe solution is simple enough: at the first sign of trouble, the reactor scrams automatically. Most of these "The warp core's gonna blow!" scenarios pretty much hang on a totally contrived failure of dozens of backup systems and safety mechanisms that are supposed to prevent exactly this sort of thing from happening; I mean what's the point of being able to eject the warp core if the ejection system fails 99% of the time anyway? As for maintenance... if you need to access it that badly, just hop on a transporter and beam there with a specially fortified sight-to-sight system.

Of course, none of this is going to prevent plot contrivance scenarios from happening. The nacelle transporter breaks down for some reason, or they can't jettison the nacelle for some reason, etc etc. Basically, anything that can go wrong with a centralized warp core can go wrong with an external reactor.

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
You also don't want your main power source in a location that's just begging to be shot off by some smartass Klingon who's a really good marksman with a disruptor cannon.
How about some smartass augment with a phaser lock?

Same problem, really. Anything that can go wrong with a warp core can go wrong with a nacelle reactor. In this case, though, Kahn has to hit BOTH of the nacelles in order to deprive the Enterprise of offensive power. Otherwise, the ship can still function somewhat on its one good engine, enough to limp out of the battlefield by transferring drive plasma from the good engine to the dead one.

Captain Robert April wrote: View Post
As for the nacelles, it's not the power that makes them so dangerous, it's what they do with that power that requires them to be held out away from the main hull. In function, a M/AMRC is simpler than a fusion reactor, i.e., instead of having to induce a fusion reactor on some poor unsuspecting hydrogen atoms, which is pretty power intensive to begin with, with a matter/antimatter reaction, you just feed in protons and antiprotons from either end and they pretty much do the power generation all on their own, with the big trick being the containment part and channeling all that high energy plasma to the warp engines and wherever else it's needed.
Which are all good reasons to have the reactors in the nacelles. Their design is pretty simple... in fact, the warp cores on most ships really ARE small enough to fit inside the nacelles (the nacelle control room on the E-D could easily house an entire warp core). Their simplicity makes them less maintenance intensive than fusion reactors, and keeping them close to the drive coils simplifies the power transfer problem. The only thing this scheme would complicate is FUEL transfer; even if you can't store fuel in the nacelles (thus making them totally self-contained propulsion units not unlike a modern jet engine) pumping deuterium and anti-deuterium up to the reactors is bound to be simpler than pumping drive plasma and whatever it is they transfer. I doubt the EPS power taps would take up that much room, they could fit into the nacelles themselves.

The same logic applies to, say, aircraft propulsion; anything that goes wrong in a jet engine that would lead to catastrophic failure will happen way too quickly for your engineers to fix it in the nick of time, so your engine should simply shut down immediately until you can fix it later. If it fails so quickly that you can't shut it down, then you're already dead anyway.
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Old February 4 2009, 09:09 AM   #44
shipfisher
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Plecostomus wrote: View Post
That's more or less what the TNG manual suggests, Shipfisher.
I should have held on to my TNG tech manual. It would have made it easier to remember where I snatched that dilithium idea from.

I gave many trek books away years ago during a "divest myself of boyish things" phase while under the mistaken impression that growing older was always associated with growing up. My wife has assured me that I've managed to avoid the growing up part quite successfully so far.

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Last edited by shipfisher; February 4 2009 at 09:28 AM.
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Old February 4 2009, 05:48 PM   #45
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Re: Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Not going to quote but... the idea of the reactor scramming at the first sign of trouble... that's how it is in real life. Three Mile Island, most of the damage occurred due to decay heat after the reactor tripped. Chernobyl, they ran a damn foolish experiment in a realm of reactor-behavior they knew was prone to surges, the computer sent the shutdown signal dozens of times right up to the point of the explosion but the system was blocked from actually shutting down by the operators.

As for for the warp-core being simpler than a fusion-reactor, I don't think so. This is pure opinion and information based on the tech manual... but the warp core handles antimatter so it has additional layers of redundant protection... plus as designed look at the diagrams in the manual... we are not injecting a stream of frozen slush we are injecting a an ionized plasma/near-plasma stream into the core... The injectors are choked full of equipment to that effect.

Then you have the containment system that is absolutely critical-path, without that you die. And the heat-transfer system. And the dilithium crystal positioning system, and the interlock seals for the chamber, and the interlock seals for the PTC port...

A fusion reactor by contrast is a big torus or sphere wrapped with containment generators, a technobabble ignition system, a cooling system, and a plasma outlet. Thats why you see references to microfusion power plants in Trek Tech lit, because you can shrink that down to wee size as opposed to trying to shrink a warp core down to size.
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