Dilithium Crystals and Nuclear Fusion - A Star Trek Reunion Story?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Robert Comsol, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    This thread has a lot of really long posts! I keep wanting to read it but never have that kind of time... but, this morning I took the time and read the whole thing!

    Some fascinating arguments on both sides of this one. Over all, the idea of "batteries" being fusion reactors make a good deal of sense. Really, the word "battery" actually means a group of similar things working together for a common purpose. Before the widespread use of electricity, the word "battery" was most commonly used to refer to a line of cannon deployed on a battlefield. In fact, even the modern parlance of "battery" being used to describe, say, a D cell, is a misnomer: a single "battery" is in fact technically a "power cell" and a bunch of them together equals a battery. In fact, the only common battery that is actually a "battery" is a 9 volt, which is actually six AAAA size power cells (yes: that's 4 A's) that are soldered together and in a common casing. The idea of the Enterprise's batteries being, in fact, a row of small fusion plants, perfectly fits the definition of the word.


    But I did notice this little oddity:

    Robert Comsol, where are you from? Most Americans would know that Omaha is a city in the state of Nebraska, not a state by itself... ;)

    --Alex
     
  2. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    You are mean! Especially ST IV and some of its ideas (please not another time paradox debate) isn't excactly "science" but has a lot of fiction downright to nonsense. They can't re-crystallize dilithium in the 23rd Century because they don't have gamma radiation?!? When you have nuclear fusion or matter-antimatter annihilation the one thing these crystals are most definitely exposed to is - gamma radiation!!!!

    However, I dare to say that ST IV is an exception. And in this particular (TOS) thread thus far, I do believe to see more convergence and continuity than the opposite, which may suggest that the producers of TOS paid more attention to these trivial issues, than (sorry to say) the producers of ST IV.

    Bob
     
  3. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    The thing is that gamma radiation can be found from many different sources. They could've collected gamma radiation from the sky. Or from their own M-AM reactor!

    So, is it that these special photons must originate from a nuclear fission reactor/reaction? Are dilithium crystals picky about the source of the photon?
    SPOCK: If memory serves, there was a dubious flirtation with nuclear fission reactors resulting in toxic side effects. By the beginning of the fusion era, these reactors had been replaced, but at this time, we may be able to find some.
    KIRK: I thought you said they were toxic.
    SPOCK: We could construct a device to collect their high-energy photons safely. These photons could then be injected into the dilithium chamber, causing crystalline restructure. ...Theoretically.​
     
  4. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    You're talking about the impulse engines? Other than that I do not recall a specific line or event that established that warp power in TOS was possible without the use of dilithium crystals somewhere in the "chain" of energy creation.

    For the future of TNG that has been established.

    ENT is a retroactive continuity attempt that tries to tell us that that's the way it always had been but essentially a result of poor TOS research which I consider to be the biggest problem in "Treknology" still today.

    Just for the fun of it, I'd really like to see a poll which provides your research data (TOS Enterprise also has two matter-antimatter reactors and antimatter pods in the nacelles) and then let the fanbase vote.

    To paraphrase one of my favorite lines from "Chicago": Do you believe what you heard in TOS or do you believe what you are being told (by ST "experts" et cetera).

    Actually, I'd prefer to take the "First Contact" findings with a grain of salt from a strict TOS or "Metamorphosis" point of view so to speak. According to the 1970's fan explanations dilithium crystals were (or will be ;)) discovered on one of Saturn's moons in the 2050's. I do, however, like your heading.

    What about Lazarus tiny one-man time- and spacecraft from "The Alternative Factor"? It used two standardized 23rd Century dilithium crystal pads (apparently he didn't come from the TNG future) but what was its power source? Nuclear Fusion or matter-antimatter?

    @ Albertese

    Oops...sorry about that error, Nebraska it is. Do I presume correctly it was supposedly Offutt Air Force Base we saw in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday"?

    The funny thing is that last night my wife showed me a test with stereotypes: Where I live the superiors usually expect that their employees do their work as efficiently as possible without expecting words of gratitude in exchange. US citizens also feel that we have an obsession while researching issues to go back to prehistoric events (I can't exclude the possibility that this tread may be a graphic visualization of that :rolleyes:). Naturally, I'd be inclined to say I'm from Vulcan, but I'm not aware that Berlin is the capitol of Vulcan.

    Bob
     
  5. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Maybe Spock performed a Vulcan brain wash...pardon me...mind meld on the crystals.

    Sorry, if there's something you can't change, let's at least have some fun with it. :rolleyes:

    Bob

    P.S.

    Where do / did you find transcripts of the films?
     
  6. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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  7. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    Hmm... I think I can guess with that many clues. No worries, knowing one's own county's geography is probably good enough. Until recently, I wasn't that sure what exactly Bavaria was...

    :lol:

    --Alex
     
  8. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Actually talking about the warp engines or more specifically, "the entire ship's power". In "Mudd's Women" we see that prior to losing the last crystal their standard operating procedure is to just to bypass the crystals. And that would have worked if it were not for the blown crystal converter assembly. This again comes up in "Elaan of Troyius" where the assembly is sabotaged, robbing the ship of main power.
    SCOTT: We've got trouble, Mister Spock.
    SPOCK: I'm well aware of that, Mister Scott.
    SCOTT: One lithium crystal left, and that with a hairline split at the base.
    SPOCK: Better rig a bypass circuit.
    SCOTT: Can't. We blew the whole converter assembly.
    KIRK: Kirk here.
    SPOCK: Needed on the bridge, Captain.
    ...
    SPOCK: The entire ship's power is feeding through one lithium crystal.
    KIRK: Well, switch to bypass circuits.
    SCOTT: We burned them all out when we super-heated. That jackass Walsh not only wrecked his vessel, but in saving his skin
    KIRK: If it makes you feel better, Engineer, that's one jackass we're going to see skinned.
    SCOTT: But it's frustrating. Almost a million gross tons of vessel depending on a hunk of crystal the size of my fist.
    SPOCK: And that crystal won't hold up, not pulling all our power through it.
    It's more complicated than that, IMO. Years ago, I would've quoted one or more of the tech manuals along with the episodes. As the years went by and the more I started to watch the original aired material the more I noticed that the tech manuals were not even close to what was depicted on screen so I stopped referring to the manuals. And if you played FASA's Star Trek or Amarillo's Star Fleet Battles you'd have a different take on how things work on top of that. And then add on each fan's personal vision of how things work and you've got a recipe for herding cats ;)
     
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    @ Albertese

    Just make sure to know that most Germans do not wear traditional Bavarian clothing (short leather pants) which is limited to the federal state of Bavaria.

    Bavaria is also the name of a film production company (south of Munich) which made "Das Boot" (the WW II submarine film) and - at the very same time as TOS - an ambitioned, very trekish science fiction television series called "Space Patrol". The patrol cruiser Orion was saucer-shaped and also used a kind of warp drive (too bad it had never been translated to English).

    @ blssdwlf

    I can't help but feel that the dialogue in "Mudd's Women" is somewhat inconclusive.

    During Kirk's presence, Scotty says he can't "rig a bypass unit" because they "blew the whole converter assembly".

    (impressive continuity here: In "Elaan of Troyius" Scotty reports "The entire dilithium crystal converter assembly is fused. No chance of repair.")

    A few moments later Kirk orders "switch to bypass circuits". Scotty could have told Kirk that he just told him why that's not possible and goes for another explanation: We burned all (bypass circuits) out when we super-heated.

    It's like "we can't use bypass circuits because we blew the whole (one?) dilithium crystal converter assembly and those bypass circuits we had are useless anyway because we already used them up when we super-heated."

    Earlier, Delta-Vega was two light days away (it takes the speed of light / c two days to travel there), after they burned out the last crystal and had to rely entirely on battery power, they had already advanced to cut their traveling time (on sublight) down to 14 hours.

    This suggests they had warp drive energy provided with the help of the last crystal until this one failed, too.

    Could it be that "bypass circuits" are units that draw energy from the m-am plasma stream to feed other systems like the deflector shields? After all, it would appear it was the stress of using both the deflector shields and the transporter system that "super-heated" these circuits.

    Bob

    P.S. " And then add on each fan's personal vision of how things work and you've got a recipe for herding cats" :lol:
    But then on-screen information is "canon" making "personal vision" rather irrelevant (i.e. if you believe canon comes first, something I insist upon).
     
  10. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Actually, you're proof that it's herding cats. We both see the same on-screen information but we come to different conclusions ;)

    As to "Mudd's Women", the way I see it is that the bypass circuits are part of the converter assembly.

    In both cases Scotty was asked to rig a bypass and Scotty explained it to the level of the person who requested it.
    1. Scotty didn't have to explain it beyond the converter assembly to Spock since they're on the same level of technical expertise.
    2. But Kirk isn't and Scotty explained it for him. It could have easily went like this:

    KIRK: Well, switch to bypass circuits.
    SCOTT: Can't. We blew the whole converter assembly.
    KIRK: So?
    SCOTT: The bypass circuits are part of the WHOLE converter assembly and we burned out the whole converter assembly when we superheated...
    KIRK: Ohhh....
    :)

    Another one is "The Wrath Of Khan". The energizer this time was somewhat successfully bypassed (I guess Khan wasn't able to destroy the entire converter assembly :D ) and the Enterprise is operating on partial main power and no auxiliary power. The crystals are off to the side on top of the energizer that happens to be bypassed and therefore not part of the matter-antimatter chain at all.
    KIRK: What is working around here?
    SPOCK: Not much, Admiral. We have partial main power.
    KIRK: That's it?
    SPOCK: Best we could do in two hours.
    ...
    SULU: Admiral on the bridge.
    KIRK: Battle stations. ...Tactical. ...Uh oh.
    SPOCK: She can out-run us and out-gun us. But there is the Mutara Nebula at one five three mark four.
    KIRK: Scotty, can we make it inside?
    SCOTT: The energiser's bypassed like a Christmas tree, ...so don't give me too many bumps.
     
  11. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    In the episode "Up the Long Ladder", the drive type for the S.S. Mariposa was Yoyodyne Pulse Fusion. Here is an article from Wikipedia on what I think this could be, which is antimatter catalyzed nuclear pulse propulsion. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter_catalyzed_nuclear_pulse_propulsion)

    Realistically, the Phoenix, or the Bonaventure, would have a drive type less advanced than the Mariposa, but would still be capable of bringing a ship to warp.

    If I take into account that the Republic was powered by nuclear reactions, and was being used for training, and the fact that ships were faster in the 2250s than in the 2230s, I think that the shift to the matter-antimatter warp system occurred in the mid-23rd century. The first ships to have this system, that we know of, were the Connies.

    For me, there is something else to consider. Impulse is synomous in Star Trek with nuclear-powered engines. The S.S. Valiant and the Romulan Bird-of-Prey were both described as having impulse, yet were described or shown to be interstellar ships. So, these ships in my interpretation had a primitive warp drive that involved a nuclear reaction of some kind.

    I agree that Enterprise was an attempt at retroactive continuity.
     
  12. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    ^^^
    Throwback! I like that a lot. It also makes sense that Kirk would be describing the Matter-Antimatter drive to Sarek in "Journey to Babel" the way he did... assuming it was a relatively new development in starship propulsion.

    --Alex
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    That's right, the "BOT" Warbird and "WNMHGB" Valiant were impulse-powered yet interstellar. Good find on the SS Mariposa. Personally, I don't think they would have had crystals for their fusion power systems but under the ENT-continuity they probably would've had a M-AM Warp 2 engine with a dilithium matrix.

    Although I wonder if ENT overwrote "Up The Long Ladder"'s history since the dialogue placed the WW3 recovery into the early 22nd century and the launch of the SS Mariposa occurred under the European Hegemony which lasted till 2190 and was considered the "first stirrings of a world government"...
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I beg to differ. Compared to the average treknological interpretation of the TOS Enterprise's power infrastructure I do feel our conclusions to be remarkably compatible, especially since we (seem to) agree / assume that nuclear fusion plays a more significant role than usually accepted. :)

    It's the details from which we draw different conclusions and if I understood correctly you consider the possibility that warp drive is possible with nuclear fusion only, where I do agree except that it would require nuclear fusion energy to be either amplified or converted by dilithium crystals and mixed / integrated with the m-am annihilation plasma ("intermix formula"). In "Elaan of Troyius" we do not seem to see the ship running on battery power (to extend the duration of their interplanetary voyage), yet warp drive capability has been sabotaged because the dilithium converter assembly has been "fused".

    @ throwback

    I'm not entirely convinced the SS Valiant had warp drive. The whole premise in "Where No Man..." is astonishment how that ship got to the edge of the galaxy, until it's disclosed that this ship "encountered a magnetic space storm and was being swept in this direction" (could the ship have been sucked into a wormhole which in the 1960's would have been called "magnetic space storm" for the lack of better terms, available then?).
    Even if it would have had warp drive the "magnetic" space storm might have rendered warp drive correction pointless so the ship had to rely on its old impulse engines to break free, which however and according to Kirk weren't strong enough.

    Where I also disagree is to assume warp drive capability for the Romulan Bird of Prey in "Balance of Terror". This was not established in the episode (Scotty: "Their power is simple impulse" - and no warp drive) and the star chart suggested Romulus and RomII to be in close (interplanetary) proximity to the Neutral Zone. For all we know the return voyage of the ship could have taken months or even years.

    Apparently, by the time of "The Deadly Years" the Romulans had refitted their fuel pods with warp engines, possibly as a result of the unholy Klingon-Romulan Alliance we learned about in "The Enterprise Incident".

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2013
  15. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Not exactly. To clarify, in the TOS continuity I consider FTL possible with nuclear fusion power or Impulse power (and Ion power, Total Conversion Drive, etc). Space Warp drive may or may not require a matter-antimatter engine. And I consider Lithium and Dilithium crystals as a new technology that was added on relatively prior to TOS.

    As to TNG-ENT, they've put almost everything under warp drive as dilithium-regulated matter-antimatter engines. The only "alpha quadrant" power that might not follow that are the Romulans with their forced quantum singularity power plants.

    That's true that the ship didn't have warp drive. However, I do believe that given a long enough straight run, she could achieve low FTL speeds under impulse power similar to her predicament in "WNHMGB". With impulse power only, the time to reach a base went from "days away were now years in the distance" but not decades or more.

    Simple impulse doesn't preclude FTL. If you watch the map it takes a minute or so to cross a square at "maximum warp". But at the speed they are pacing the Romulan it was only an hour to the neutral zone from Outpost 4. If they were traveling at sublight following the Romulan, I'd suspect it would take longer than an hour...
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    @Blssdwlf:

    Which crystals? Not the whole lot, necessarily.

    After Masters confirms that her underling has re-amped "the" crystals, they go for coffee. Kirk wanted "immediate" re-amplification, and Masters doesn't even report to the bridge when finished? This would make sense in three sets of circumstances:

    1) Kirk gave new orders (but we heard of none, and saw no motivation for such a thing).
    2) Some other part of the process is the bottleneck, so Masters knows there's no hurry, either with delivery or even with report.
    3) The underling only finished the first batch and inserted the second one, so it's time for coffee again - and Kirk will hear of the completion of the entire set only. Perhaps the first batch was already fed back into the main power system and is doing good work there, but just like Kirk says, the full set is needed for normal operations.

    Why? Why can't crystals be "born" at high energization level? Supposedly, these things can be spotted across significant distances, sort of suggesting they are very energetic in their natural state. Only weird anomalies or lots of hard use will reduce the natural level of energization and require a remedy.

    The special machine (seen in the episode) is needed to combat an anomalous drain equalling fifteen thousand years of hard use. An online energizer (discussed in ST2) deals with normal, minimal drain from use. Simple enough.

    Nothing particularly fundamental about that. It's just like an electric appliance today that can work with a fuze in place, or with a piece of thinfoil, and doesn't have the wits to tell the difference, vs. a more refined appliance that demands a proper fuze or the advanced automation makes it sulk and refuse to work.

    Or then this is no different from the crystals being atop the cylinders on Scotty's control room floor - until physically moved by the system into the very heart of the reactor.

    @ Throwback:

    Well, it had an atomic matter pile aboard. We don't know the purpose of this system any more than we know its exact nature. Considering Kirk's career path, it might rather be a weapons system - a munitions pile of some sort.

    As regards the ENT continuity thing, we could easily argue that the 2150s experiments with dilithium-regulated antimatter power generation of TNG style (painstakingly described in ENT"Bound") were ultimately fruitless ones - just like fission power for commercial ships has flopped big time, yet may return in the future. In the meantime, other types of power generation (quite possibly involving antimatter, but perhaps not dilithium regulation) would be in common use.

    As for FTL vs. STL arguments, both the TOS pilot and "Balance of Terror" offer evidence and counterevidence in the same package. Scotty's claim that the Romulans had "simple impulse power" must be reconciled with the ship outrunning the hero ship at warp three, and covering distances on the map only slightly more slowly than the dot that marked the progress of the hero ship at maximum warp. OTOH, no witnessed movement in "Where No Man" explicitly takes place at FTL speeds, save for Kirk's arrival at the barrier ("Neutralize warp!") and his sally into it ("Ahead warp factor one!"), leaving us speculating about all the rest.

    However, I consider "the time to reach a base went from "days away were now years in the distance" but not decades or more" to be very weak evidence. Surely decades are still years, just a few more of them? OTOH, certainly TOS often depicted star-to-star journeys in the timescale of days, whereas star-to-star distances could well be in the order of 5-10 ly rather than 10+.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    The map shows two systems - Romii and Romulus. Systems in Star Trek are separated by many light years. The only way that is feasible to cross the distance between these systems or to launch an attack against an outpost is for a ship to have a form of FTL drive.

    As for the Valiant incident, magnetic space storms are localized events. They can occur on or near a planet or in a region of space. They are not wormholes. These storms have been mentioned in TOS, DS9, and VOY. (See here: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Magnetic_storm; I, also, did a search on Chrissie's transcript site - that's how I got the DS9 reference)

    The word wormhole was introduced into the English language in 1957. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wormhole)
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Nothing identifies those as systems specifically. They are just dots on the map, with legend text - something often used for individual planets as well. Indeed, they may in fact be "Romulus" and "Rom II", further reinforcing the image of them as planets rather than star systems.

    Says who? The only "magnetic space storm" ever mentioned was the one from this pilot episode; all the others were planetary phenomena with no known relationship to the spatial variant. Neither type is necessarily the same as "ion storm", and nobody ever gave us any specs about the extent of such things anyway.

    Yet, FWIW, we learned that ion storms can move at high warp speed, and in unpredictable ways (say, "Catwalk", ST:NEM). A ship caught in one could well be propelled across great distances at higher speeds than her own engines can provide.

    Whether there would additionally be a wormhole inside the storm, unknown to our heroes, we can't tell. Kirk did appear mightily surprised by the presence of an Earth vessel out there. Would he have been less surprised, had he known in advance about the ship's encounter with a magnetic storm? When Spock reads out the log, Kirk doesn't make it clear whether he finds the magnetic storm story a sufficient explanation for the ship's presence near the edge of the galaxy or not.

    And in any case would have been available to our 23rd century heroes, regardless of whether it was available to the writers.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

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    Ships older than the Enterprise used piles. The Republic had atomic matter piles and the Antares had an energy pile. What is a pile?

    "(Physics / General Physics) Physics a structure of uranium and a moderator used for producing atomic energy; nuclear reactor" (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/pile)

    Baffle plates are used nowadays in the construction of nuclear reactors. We know of two older ships that had baffle plates - the Antares and the unnamed Class J starship. This latter was another training ship.

    Delta Rays - the rays that injured Pike - is a term used in the real world to describe a type of radiation. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delta_ray)

    Having an open circuit in a nuclear reactor is a matter of grave concern, even nowadays.

    (http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/operati...ction/circuit-faults/circuit-faults-faqs.html)


    Timo, you can dance around the terms, but the basic fact is this: The people who wrote these episodes had a basic understanding of nuclear reactors. They applied that knowledge to Star Trek. We know from TNG that starships in the 22nd century were using for their prime drive type a pulse fission nuclear engine. It is possible that antimatter was used in these engines - even now, this is a theoretical concept. This propulsion method is called antimatter catalyzed nuclear pulse propulsion.

    * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter_catalyzed_nuclear_pulse_propulsion
    * http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/prop12apr99_1/
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Anything and everything that is piled. Which actually excludes nuclear reactors, save for certain experimental types that haven't been in use for nearly a century.

    ...But would be incompatible with piles, as something that is piled cannot slosh around.

    It's nothing specific to nuclear reactors or powerplants, though. And it's a bit unlikely to survive as a concept as power transfer technology mutates; it would be meaningless in microwave transfer of energy, say.

    Sure. And then they threw around the terminology to create a meaningless mess...

    ...Which isn't necessarily a bad thing. After all, it allows us to interpret the terminology any way we like to.

    Timo Saloniemi
     

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