Let's Discuss the Romulan Bird of Prey!

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Albertese, Jun 1, 2013.

  1. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    My firtst encounter with the Romulan BoP were the AMT model kits (before I saw the episode) and for some unconscious reason I already felt the model (option 3 if I remember correctly) to be too big next to the AMT Enterprise.

    Maybe it's the lack of truly interesting exterior features (like a hangar bay?), the vessel looks rather compact and more like an oversized shuttlecraft compared to the Klingon Battlecruiser or the Enterprise.

    For me, option # 2 is the one that feels right. I wouldn't really mind option # 1 but anything bigger than # 2 looks odd to me.

    Bob

    P.S.

    Just came across this great source with descriptions and lines from the original "Balance of Terror" script.

    Here, the Bridge of the Romulan Bird of Prey was originally envisioned to be a "cockpit"...hmm...sounds like the BoP was rather intended to be some kind of stealth bomber (coming from a mothership?). ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  2. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    Interesting link to the script, thanks for the reminder! FWIW, I'm also favouring option 2.

    I know what you mean about the model size, if you're referring to the 3-ship set; the Romulan bridge/cockpit definitely suggests a smaller vessel. In fact, were it not for the aforementioned "cute" factor of option 1 I might even plant my flag there - effectively a small control crew riding a massive power plant and torpedo tube.
     
  3. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Yes, I also had the AMT 3-ship set in mind. But I'm afraid I have slipped into the option # 1 camp (Hi, Albertese), partially due to that "cockpit" intention in the original script. :rolleyes:

    While it's correct that the obvious analogy in the episode is that of a destroyer chasing a submarine, the vessel itself is not depicted as some kind of sea monster but as a flying bird of prey...!

    It just doesn't have pylons like the Enterprise but forward-swept wings which could suggest atmospheric travel and planetfall capability (and has roughly the same size as the Romulan Bird of Prey envisioned for STFS before it turned into a Klingon BoP).

    The Commander's wondering whether they still had nuclear warheads on board suggests that the vessel was stripped of weight, very much like the US bombers in the Dolitle Raid on Tokyo.

    We never see a ship wide announcement on the Romulan vessel (in contrast to the Enterprise) and the only fatality the Romulans suffered appears to be the centurion (= small crew).

    And last but not least the tail fin doesn't really serve a believable purpose, if the vessel was much, much larger. It is reminiscent of a ship's or plane's rudder.

    Bob

    P.S. Alternately the tail fin might be the Romulan's vessel excess heat dissipator / intercooler. I wonder how this would reflect in a size comparison assuming the width of the intercooler is comparable to that of a Federation Starship.

    Another, previously unmentioned, analogy that rather suggests the BoP to have aeronautic than maritime qualities, IMHO, is its use to test a weapon of mass destruction (the plasma-energy projectile).

    I had already mentioned the B-25 bomber Doolittle Raid, but failed to mention that the test of the new weapon is reminiscent of the atom bomb the Enola Gay (B-29 bomber) used to destroy Hiroshima...

    Bob
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  4. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I still find myself in Option 2 camp. I think the slightly larger version seems more like a legitimate threat against the Enterprise, and I still like the notion of a cramped ship filled mostly with tech. Also, despite the intention, the control room wasn't an out-and-out cockpit on screen, which keeps me from jumping ship to Option 1.
     
  5. feek61

    feek61 Captain Captain

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    In the original script the BOP was suppose to be about the size of the saucer section of the Enterprise. The original story idea was that the Romulan's had stolen plans from the Federation. CMDR. Hanson actually says something like "our design" upon reporting the ship to the Enterprise. He recognized and identified the ship as the same shape as the primary hull of the Constitution class starship. That being said; I would have to go with option 2 or 3 (actually I think I would vote for 2.5 because there should be a size between the two IMO).
     
  6. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Or if you go completely with the movie comparison, a Buckley class DE was about 93 m in length and very close to double the U-boat in displacement. Which seems like the best fit with #2.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, I got the wrong impression about the movie, which I have never seen, sorry to say... A Buckley wouldn't be quite as overwhelming an opponent to the sub as a full destroyer in terms of speed and gun firepower. That is, Kirk firing phasers at the distant Romulans when their cloak flutters would be analogous to a situation where a stable and speeding destroyer would be firing the 4.7in guns at a briefly surfaced sub - a fireworks display quite different from a badly rolling DE firing her 3in guns or Hedgehogs.

    But as said, FASA gameplaying sometimes involves a Bird of Prey opponent that is a fairly even match to the Federation heavy cruiser, essentially a #3. In firepower terms, that is.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I've finished with the warp calcs. It's easier to link to a .txt file than use the CODE method of posting tables, and there are several tables.

    Basically, assuming a fusion powered warp BOP that uses basically the same amount of power as the Ent-D for the same warp factor, and that is limited to the fuel she can carry, Scenario 4 is probably the winner, though Scenario 3 may also, depending.

    But if she has high efficiency ram scoops and an efficient way of converting light hydrogen to heavy hydrogen --beta decay via quantum anti-xeno effect anyone?-- then Scenario 2.... possibly Scenario 1, but probably not.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  9. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I honestly don't want to derail the hard work zDarby is presenting here, but I feel compelled to mention that many of us assume that for warp drive (TOS style exclusively ;)) we'd be needing fuel.

    However, there is no evidence for that in TOS. To be capable to perform warp drive the warp engines need to be "re-energized" and the obvious question remains "by what".

    • In "Where No Man Has Gone Before" the warp engines are repaired / re-energized by what I can only conclude to be a power transmission from Delta Vega, not too dissimilar from the power transmission obviously performed in "The Cage" to power the phaser cannon on Talos IV. The chief engineer, Lt. Kelso, actually abandons the ship to perform these repairs. :eek:
    • Similar story in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday". Definitely no port around to refuel antimatter, but still they manage somehow to "re-energize" the warp engines.
    • And in "The Mark of Gideon" antimatter fuel doesn't appear to be an issue either, the ship can "re-energize" itself apparently indefinitely without ever visiting a port or fuel station (blssdwlf may have some other quotes I currently can't recall)
    Then we have this waxing poetry in "The Ultimate Computer" and the movies ("May the wind be at our backs"). Essentially the Enterprise is a submarine in space. Certain underwater currents carrying a submarine could probably qualify as an analogy to "wind" but that's not the case with a starship and solar winds most definitely will not do a mentionable job.

    Considering matter-antimatter annihilation (and nuclear fusion) produce mostly gamma radiation I've come up with a wild theory that actually natural gamma radiation in space could be the stuff that propels a ship forward (like the wind in a manner of speaking) where antimatter and/or fusion reactors merely serve as "boosters" and onboard devices to manipulate the warp engines into higher performances.

    How they could possibly accomplish that in the 23rd Centuy is beyond my understanding, but then, neither do I know how the transporter system actually operates. Sufficient to know it does the job, it has been designed for. ;)

    And then there is the other alternative popularized by Franz Joseph (IMHO as a result of his talks with astrophysicists or people who knew more about the subject than others), i.e. "space energy" (which also reflects in the TMP movie Enterprise blueprints). Back in the 1970's it might have sounded outrageously like scifi, but given our current, yet insufficient, understanding of "dark energy" (well, some form of yet unknown energy is apparently there) this might be a suitable and alternative candidate to merely relying on onboard fuels.

    In the context of this thread, and though many of us usually consider "impulse power" to be a synonym for "sublight particle (fusion) thrust engines", the Romulans might just be using fusion reactors ("impulse power") to achieve higher warp velocities and therefore the Enterprise would be able to outrun the BoP because its antimatter reactor provide the bigger boost when it comes to warp speed.

    Thoughts? Measure!

    Bob
     
  10. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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  11. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Robert,

    I do not necessarily oppose the notion of a particle flux being a large factor in the creation of a warp field. But why do you think those particles should be gamma rays? It seems a strange choice.
     
  12. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    First, I believe that dilithium crystals could also amplify nuclear fusion energy. I elaborated on the possibility here and feel that TNG's suggestion (crystals do amplify) is not a retroactive concept as it already had been suggested in "Pirates of Orion" (TAS).

    From what I understand, one thing both nuclear fusion and annihilation (matter-antimatter reaction) have in common is the production of gamma rays, energy and various atomic and sub-atomic waste particles. A small hint that gamma rays / photons may have something to do with propulsion in the 23rd Century comes from ST II (Joachim: "They damaged the photon controls"), IMHO.

    Fusion and annihilation energy is converted into some kind of exotic plasma (apparently it is but I wonder how and how much) which next stimulates the even more exotic warp coils to do what they have been designed for - enable space warp travel.

    Considering the various discussions (how to bridge interstellar distances solely with the impulse drive, once your ability to [actively!] "warp" space has gone) I couldn't help to mention the alternative (?) that natural gamma radiation could do the job.

    It's a wild, unorthodox and heretical concept, which probably isn't supported by the entire TOS onscreen dialogue (which I didn't have the time yet to fine comb) but I thought nevertheless one worth mentioning and food for thought.

    Thanks that you accepted the invitation, your comment is the first one I ever received as a feedback regarding this idea.

    Bob
     
  13. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Well, to be honest, as interested as I am in the idea, I was hesitant to reply as I didn't want to distract from responses to my posted calculations. But since those have turned up crickets, I feel free to pursue my curiosity about your speculation.

    Something has to stimulate the warp nacelles into making the warp field. What that something is is up for speculation.

    Gamma rays seem like a strange choice as they are, like you said, just highly energetic photons. And they're part of M/AM, fusion, fission and nuclear decay because these reactions jiggle the protons pretty hard and all light comes from the jiggling of charged particles. And because of the energies involved, those jigglings are violent, thus the photon wavelengths are tiny, thus they are gamma rays. But gamma rays turn back into particles as soon as they're able, especially from M/AM as the energies are so high.

    Gamma rays interact with matter only very sparsely as their tiny wavelengths basically requires them to ram head-on into a particle for anything to happen. The only thing that stands still long enough for that are nuclei and nuclei are very tiny targets. The more energetic the gamma ray, the smaller the wavelength, the more head-on the collision must be for the photon to interact. Thus, paradoxically enough, more energetic gamma rays would supply less energy to the warp nacelles. (I've not calculated this, but it feels right.)

    So, IMHO, gamma rays seem to be a terrible method of energizing anything. Especially if it's something that needs high amounts of power, like warp nacelles making warp fields. Of course, you could do worse --neutrinos or dark matter comes to mind as worse.

    Further, though I will not pretend to be an expert in any way, my understanding is that the amount of ambient gamma ray energy in interstellar space is pretty small. With some research we could probably find an estimate for the amount of gamma ray radiation per square meter received in low Earth orbit. That should give a lower bound on what to expect between the stars.

    Still, none of these statements is evidence against gamma photons as being the initializing particle for warp fields. Indeed, I could probably conjure several supporting features of "gamma ray energizers" for the warp nacelles.

    Probably the biggest hurdle, from my perspective, is transferring whatever gamma rays are produced in your reactor to the nacelles. Since they don't interact with matter well, I find it difficult to think of a method to direct it. However, once you have high energy plasma, making gamma rays is easy via bremsstrahlung. So maybe directing the gammas made in the reactor is not needed?

    What made you think of gamma rays in the first place? And what precisely do you expect them to do? (Those questions might sound snotty but I mean them earnestly.)

    ....

    The discussion about fusion and lithium cracking is rather interesting. It hangs together well. But I don't buy that the 23rd century would still be using lithium-produced tritium as fuel. Deuterium-tritium (DT) fusion is an ugly reaction. It produces quite a bit of energy but most of it goes to neutrons: ugly, nasty radiation. The only reason we would do it is because it's comparatively easy to do: tritium doesn't like being tritium and will take any excuse to be anything else. It is far better to use a catalysed deuterium-deuterium (CatD) reaction: approximately the same amount of energy is released but a smaller percentage is put into neutrons; plus its only slightly harder than (DT). At least, as compared to proton-catalysed-deuterium (pCatD) which is much harder but much better. So though I totally buy that the author intended the lithium cracking station to mean a tritium breeding station, I don't buy that that's the in-universe explanation.

    However, though I can't think of a method off hand, I see no reason why dilithium could not have some property that would be useful for increasing the efficiency of fusion reactions....or, perhaps it's able to take fusion plasma and modify it to be more like M/AM plasma, making it better suited for use in the warp nacelles. This could be the elusive "energizer" circuit. Using a dilithium crystal to increase the energy of a fusion plasma to M/AM specs by sacrificing total plasma particle density? (No free lunch!) And then, from there, the plasma would goto the intermix chamber? Maybe through another set of dilithium crystals?

    ....

    When I hear the word 'battery', I think of a volume of material that has energy stored in it, an energy that does needs very little coaxing to be released. IE a material that has some potential energy that needs only be given a path for release. Maybe that stored energy is rechargeable and maybe it's not. (Definitions of this feeling get slippery quickly.) By which I mean to say, IMHO, "auxiliary" power is fusion and "battery" power comes from some energy storage medium.

    "Battery power" is not likely to be a chemical storage process --neither ion transfer nor oxidization-- or a thermal storage process --big blocks of white-hot metal attached to heat engines. In both these cases the energy density seems too low to do what's needed and still fit within the confines of the Enterprise. That leaves nuclear storage processes --decay, isomers or fission. Any of which might be controlled with judicious use of quantum xeno effects.

    Of these, nuclear isomer batteries seem the most promising as they could be recharged. They'd also remain stable without input power. Unfortunately, I know of no method to induce controlled energy release from isomers. Still, it's the 23rd century! They should have a better understanding than I.

    Without a highly efficient anti-xeno effect generator, I don't see nuclear decay as giving much in the way of power. Currently, this is what's meant by a "nuclear battery" and it's what's used on spacecraft like Pioneer 11 or Curiosity. But the power density is dismal compared to what the Enterprise expects.

    A small, simple fission reactor might work. It'd be best with a xeno effects field keeping its volatiles in stasis until needed. But it could only be viable if the whole thing could also be well shielded within a relatively small volume. Perhaps using critical-fluid uranium-hexaflouride as both core and working fluid? In a three phase thermoacoustic brayton cycle? The problem here is the amount of time it would give you: years instead of days. Of course, special care with geometry would solve that quandary. Again, it's the 23rd century.

    Of course, if I'm accepting simple, turn-key fission reactors as "battery power" then a turn-key fusion reactor would work, too. For example: a supersonic shock confinement reactor. Basically, it's a specially shaped shock tube. Once the deuterium gas is going super or hypersonic in the tube (not sure which) it hits a set of mounds mounted on the sides that force shock waves to culminate to the center of the tube. Where the waves intersect, deuterium gas (now plasma) fuses. The reaction is inefficient but probably implementable in the 23rd century... Even so, this seems more like "secondary auxiliary" than "battery" power.

    ....This post is way longer than I intended. :rommie:
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ...I thought it was very concise and actually a little too short for my liking, but many thanks for the time and educational effort on behalf of a layman like myself regarding these intricate matters. :techman:

    It's one of these rare occasions to talk to somebody at the BBS who apparently knows what he is talking about and I'm in desperate need to have some internal arrangements of my WIP TOS Enterprise evaluated for scientific credibility.

    What would you make of the illuminated energy plasma we see in the intermix and warp cores of TMP, TNG and beyond?

    Is the only energy that can be harvested from annihilation heat, is there different energy that could be put to use and do we need the dilithum crystals to come up with an "exotic" speculation (other than amplification of energy which appears to be one of their "exotic" properties)?

    It is my understanding as well that natural gamma radiation is measly but provided the warp coils were of an exotic nature yet unknown to us, even tiny gamma radiation could do the stimulation and help us to rationalize interstellar travels featured in "Where No Man Has Gone Before", "Mudd's Women" and - possibly - "Balance of Terror" (without the additional stimulation of "onboard" gamma radiation from the reactors).

    "Gamma Ray Energizers"...this is where it gets interesting.

    Yes, the channeling of gamma radiation has caused me nightmares, because gamma radiation either passes through solid objects or is absorbed. Not a chance to reflect and direct it like a laser beam unless we'd invent an extra exotic technology which I'd found rather undesirable.

    But if I understood you correctly you could create an energy plasma which acts like a "carrier" and convert it back into gamma radiation where this might be needed?

    Kirk's references to wind and sailing ships (which sound like waxing poetic considering a starship is essentially a submarine), the question whether natural gamma radiation (alternately dark energy?) could qualify as some kind of "interstellar wind", and because gamma radiation is a product of either fusion or m/am reactors.

    I see. And learned something today, thanks!

    That sounds intriguing. And for my taste a thousand of times better than the assumption, that dilithium crystals are immune to antimatter...:rolleyes:

    Are we looking at a historic opportunity to finally give these nuclear fission allusions in TOS the finger and presume that the underground fission reactor on Janus VI in "The Devil in the Dark" was actually a sophisticated nuclear "battery"? ;)

    Could a supersonic shock confinement reactor look like the GNDN props in the TOS engine room? I usually associate the donut shape with most kinds of nuclear fusion reactor proposals.

    Thanks for sharing this with us! :)

    Bob
     
  15. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    This thread has metamorphosized from its original relatively simple bird-of-prey discussion into something perhaps even more interesting.

    I shall aim to have more contributory feedback later. :rommie:
     
  16. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    ^^ Has it? I'd like to think we are still on track as these issues could have ramifications regarding what kind of technological capabilities the Romulan Bird of Prey had or had not. :D

    I'm warming up to the idea that "impulse power" could stand for "fusion power" but in Starfleet lingo is usually a synonym for "impulse sublight drive" (if the fusion reactors were mostly used for sublight propulsion).

    Bob
     
  17. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I have often thought it made it seem like the intent was no warp drive - and yet the damn thing has engines resembling the Enterprise.

    OTOH, the Galileo-7 had engines resembling the Enterprise and those were ion boosters, apparently, not warp engines. Perhaps the bird-of-prey also had ion boosters, and indeed she was only carried by a mothership to her location?

    Crap, is it Groundhog Day...?
     
  18. zDarby

    zDarby Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Groundhogs day is in February. You must be in a different kind of temporal loop. :vulcan: :rommie:

    As I am sure we all have figured by now, there are simply too many possibilities and too many discrepensies for us to be able to figure out with any certainty a consistant in-universe description of all the technical details. All we can really hope for is to make assumptions and then puzzle out plausible consequences of those assumptions using current knowledge. Yes, those assumptions about the Trek universe will be wrong and therefore the deductions will be wrong. But the final result will be a better understanding of *our* universe. And I think that is a goal worth wasting time on. :techman:

    This was what I was trying to allude to when I made my assumptions speech several pages back.

    .....I am working on replies to your inquiries, Robert. And thank you for them.
     
  19. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Star Trek never said the shuttles couldn't go to warp. The fact that the concept drawing didn't have nacelles but they were added later implies to me they decided the shuttle needed to be able to go far away from the ship. The use of shuttles in Metamorphosis and The Menagerie really implies warp drive.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...There, and in "Let That Be", unless Lokai was capitalizing on his supposed centuries-long lifespan to perform an interstellar journey in a standard shuttle.

    However, TNG "Descent" finally puts in onscreen writing what has been speculated on the background for some time: nacelles can be there for impulse, too. That is, the tiniest shuttlepods of TNG supposedly can't do warp, but that's never been canonical in dialogue - yet "Descent" has a graphic making it explicit that the pod Data appropriates has "750 millicochrane impulse engines" in its nacelles.

    Obviously, the mere cigar shape of nacelles doesn't tell us anything yet, as such things could hold weapons, sensors, fuel or cargo just as well as sets of subspace coils. The thing with the TOS and TAS shuttlecraft nacelles (and those of the Romulan ship) is the very close likeness to the engines of the hero ship, including the red-glowing forward caps, the fancy partial aft cowlings, and the occasional "intercooler tube".

    Timo Saloniemi