New Treknology Into Darkness

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by stj, May 19, 2013.

  1. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm not saying I approve but those are all much smaller ships. For Voyager in particular, they confirmed right off the bat that the ship was designed for atmospheric landing. I still think it stretches belief but not to the same extent as something as big as the JJprise - thisnk speed boat vs ocean liner. Same with the klingon bird of prey.
     
  2. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    And the Enterprise is designed to be able to operate in an atmosphere.
    This shouldn't stretch your belief any more than all the rest of the magic-wand-technology.
    But it does, simply because it happens to be a fact in the films directed by Abrams.
     
  3. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Do you know enough about the design of starships to be able to predict how small a ship would have to be in order to operate in a planetary atmosphere?

    Could the Enteprise-D's battle section do it?
    Could the Ambassador class do it?
    Could the Excelsior class do it?
    Could the Sovereign class do it?
    Could the K'Tinga class do it?

    There's a range of ship sizes in every century, but it's important to note that larger ships have proportionately more powerful engines. They may not be optimized for atmospheric flight, but that's a far cry from saying they're incapable of it.

    Data point: Marok explicitly says this in DS9 when he chooses to use a flight of Bird of Preys instead of battle cruisers, arguing the cruisers are "too unwieldy." The operation in question turns out to involve a series of low-altitude strafing runs by the Klingon ships on Jem'hadar ground targets, implying that otherwise a Vorcha or K'Tinga class cruiser would be required to do this and being slower and less agile in an atmosphere would have a lot more difficulty getting out of dodge.

    Considering we're talking about spaceships here, it's more like Space Shuttle vs. OTV. Curious, then, that both of them are able to operate in an atmosphere despite the difference in size.

    Actually, let's reflect on that for a moment. Every space ship ever made in history has had some capability to operate in an atmosphere; at a bare minimum, they've been equipped with parachutes and float devices. More advanced concepts have had wings and landing gear for glide landings, and SpaceX is developing capsules capable of propulsive landings at a prearranged landing site. Is it really all that strange to think that that same basic capability wouldn't be preserved and enhanced over two hundred years?
     
  4. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Every spaceship in history has been tiny compared to the Enterprise and if you look at how much energy it takes to get them up and out of the atmosphere and scale that up to the size of the JJprise and other starships it must be obvious where I'm coming from. I realise that you can invent magical technology that overcomes the energy needed to lift something that heavy but that isn't the science on which impulse power is based. They are actually trying to build one too:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/10/dilithium-crystals-warp-drive/

    "This engine, currently under development at the University of Hunstville by a team working in collaboration with Boeing, NASA and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, would by comparison be about twice as fast as the best current technology.

    According to Txchnologist, General Electric’s online tech magazine, this fusion reactor would be fueled by “a few tonnes” of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) and lithium-6 (a stable molecule of lithium) in a crystalline structure — hence the “dilithium crystal” claim. Technically, dilithium is a molecule with two covalently bonded lithium atoms, while lithium-6 features six bonded atoms, but we can forgive them for the temptation of using a little poetic license. When the deuterium and the lithium-6 are forced together under high pressure they undergo a fusion reaction — a process which they’re still trying to turn into a net producer of energy. While fusion isn’t yet a viable fuel source, recent developments in the field seem to indicate that we can’t be far away.

    The engine, dubbed the “Charger-1 Pulsed Power Generator”, would be constructed in space along with the rest of the spaceship to avoid the tricky engineering difficulties of getting all that delicate fusion equipment up through the atmosphere — just like the International Space Station. Once ready, the reactor would be engaged, and millions of amps are passed through super-thin lithium wires in 100 nanosecond pulses — this could generate up to three terrawatts of power. Those wires vaporise into plasma, which is collapsed onto the core of deuterium and lithium-6, inducing a fusion reaction.

    The energy from that would be forced out the back of the ship in a so-called “z-pinch” using a “magnetic nozzle”, a component which the team are also developing. The engine’s potential top speed? Over 100,000km/h. That’s roughly the same speed at which the Earth orbits the Sun."

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57523867-1/star-trek-fusion-impulse-engine-in-the-works/

    "The fusion fuel we're focusing on is deuterium [a stable isotope of hydrogen] and Li6 [a stable isotope of the metal lithium] in a crystal structure," Txchnologist quotes team member and aerospace engineering Ph.D. candidate Ross Cortez saying. "That's basically dilithium crystals we're using." Let's pause and savor that for a moment. Dilithium crystals. Awesome.

    Plenty of obstacles will need to be overcome during the development process. The issue of harnessing fusion is prominent, but there is also the question of turning the power generated by fusion into thrust for an engine. The craft using the impulse drive would also need to be assembled in space, much like the International Space Station.

    "Imagine using a 1-ton TNT equivalent explosive and putting it out the back end of a rocket. That's what we're doing here," Cortez says in a press release about the project. Now we can all practice saying "full impulse power" to our imaginary starship navigators."

    I'd pity the Iowa farms caught in that backwash. :devil:

    Oooh - and I found this in-universe theory too which looks fun. Once again though, the backwash would be pretty devastating on a planet's surface:

    http://orbitalvector.com/Deep Space Propulsion/Impulse Drives/Impulse Drives.htm

    Impulse drives come from the Star Trek Universe, and like most Star Trek tech it is based on fairly exotic physics concepts. Source material from Star Trek, which now spans over 35 years, is sometimes notoriously inconsistent, and the exact nature of the Impulse Drive often changes on a scriptwriter’s whim. However, I’ve run across two "official" (i.e., approved by owning company Paramount) explanations, listed below.

    GRAVITY WAVE IMPULSE DRIVE
    Tech Level: 19

    The gravity wave scheme is probably the neatest (in every sense of the word) explanation for how the Impulse Drive works. It seems likely that it was created by the show’s science advisors and then promptly ignored and/or dumbed down by numerous scriptwriters. It is, however, the best fit in describing the capabilities of the drive as seen on the various shows through the years.

    First of all, an impulse drive is NOT a conventional fusion or ion reaction drive as many people (and even some older source material) assume; those are reserved for a Federation ship’s "maneuvering thrusters." In fact, its proper name is the Inertial Magnetronic Pulse Drive--or more simply the I.M.Pulse, or impulse, Drive.

    The drive works as follows: a pellet of deuterium-deuterium fusion fuel is fused in a high-energy reaction (perhaps by a Daedalus-like system with crossed high-energy particle beams) that is contained and modulated in a "magnetronic" field. What exactly a magnetronic field is, and how it differs from a plain ol’ magnetic field, is not explained. Judging from how its used, though, it may be a magnetic containment field merged with a strong nuclear force or gravitic force field. (Not a "force field" in the Star Trek sense, but a small region of space where the strong nuclear force or the gravitic force is enhanced on a quantum level.)

    Basically, the magnetronic field contains and focuses the fusion implosion to such a degree that it generates a substantial amount of gravitic as well as electromagnetic energy. These powerful but short-lived gravity waves are used to push or pull the ship in various directions. By "pulsing" the drive thousands or even millions of times a second, a Federation ship can achieve the insane accelerations we often see on the show.

    The "focusing" of a high-energy fusion reaction to produce gravity waves may sound odd, but it is actually based on solid theory. Certain types of black holes called kugelblitzes (German for "ball lightning") can be created solely by extreme energy densities, just as conventional singularities can be created by extremes of matter density. Kugelblitzes are thought to have been formed in the wake of the Big Bang. The impulse drive may, in fact, be constantly creating extremely short-lived, or "virtual," microscopic kugelblitzes that evaporate after a few microseconds, living just long enough for the ship to use their gravitational influence.

    According to Star Trek’s canon, Impulse Drives operating all-out at peak efficiency ("full impulse") can achieve 25% of lightspeed, often within a few seconds. It is possible to go even faster, but at an ever-increasing cost to engine efficiency. Ninety percent lightspeed or so is supposedly the theoretical maximum, and the ship would have to be pouring all its power for hours into the drive to sustain ever-tinier increases in acceleration.

    Needless to say, a gravity wave Impulse Drive is an extremely powerful and versatile form of sublight propulsion. Since the gravity waves produced can be either attractive or repulsive (like anti-matter, anti-gravity --theoretically-- exists, but is not generally found in nature) a ship equipped with an impulse drive can accelerate or decelerate without changing it orientation.

    The Impulse Drive exhaust ports shown on the Enterprise are not used in the same way conventional rockets exhausts are; they are used solely to vent the plasma the fusion pulses generate, and only add relatively small amounts of acceleration to the ship compared to that generated by the Impulse Drive proper. It should be noted, however, that even this ‘waste’ exhaust would still be dozens of times more powerful than any conventional rocket that exists today.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013
  5. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's an interesting question, actually. Does transwarp beaming work in the era where Spock Prime spent his last moments trying to stop a supernova? Or is it merely a harebrained theory by Spock's old friend, showing promise but only in Spock's personal opinion - something to be tested in a hopeless situation because there's no point not to?

    ...But also equipped with much feebler engines and less efficient power sources.

    (Although no, not all spacecraft till now have been atmosphere-capable. Many have been designed for operation in vacuum exclusively, and cannot withstand either takeoff or landing or both. Of these, the Lunar Module of Apollo is a rare crewed example, but several large and complex cargo-hauling spacecraft also exist that can only operate in freefall and utter emptiness.)

    Frankly, I have no idea where you are coming from. This "much energy" can be fairly easily quantified, but it barely registers on the scale of the other, well-confirmed starship achievements. We don't know how much energy warp or teleportation consumes (because obviously they consume nowhere near what today's physics would suggest, so different physics are at play), but whatever the figures, our heroes can ignore them in everyday operations as inconsequential. We do know how much energy it should take to accelerate these starships from planet to planet, or across dialogue-specified distances, and this puts mere puttering out of a Class M planet's gravity well to complete shame.

    It's also a matter of thrust. A starship can demonstrably do minimum acceleration, including one gee, for days at an end. There is nothing to stop her from doing that to lift off a planet, except perhaps ground blast damage - but we never hear of any blast associated with starship acceleration, so that point is moot.

    No such thing in canon. "Full impulse" is never either quantified or even indicated to be a speed. It's just a throttle setting - but it can be maintained apparently indefinitely. (Or for a handful of hours in "The Doomsday Machine", for some reason, perhaps having to do with the weird properties of the local subspace environment in that episode.)

    Reaching a known speed in seconds is extremely rare in Trek, and generally involves walking-pace movement (say, a few examples from DS9). Reaching an appreciable fraction of lightspeed at impulse is not seen in Trek, although we can derive from the lack of information some limiting conditions for what the ships can or cannot do there.

    In what sense? From canon, we have no information that it would be moving in any particular direction; from backstage material, we learn that it can be vectored. So, for takeoff, why not vector it away from the ground?

    If that doesn't work, simply put something in front of the exhausts. Such as warp nacelles; it works fine with designs such as the E-B or the Steamrunner.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  6. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    But that is exactly where I am coming from. Those 'well-confirmed starship achievements' involved massive power usage and TMP had it right - you should not really be warping space inside a solar system if you can avoid it (despite them doing it multiple times in the shows - it makes sense that it isn't smart because - well, you are warping space).

    For example - look at the shockwave that rattled peoples houses in Russia when that meteor hit. Look at the terror of the family in their car about a mile away when a fuel silo went up. Just because Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, and the Joker can ignore the massive shockwave from gigantic explosions for the sake of story convenience doesn't mean I shouldn't think it's silly. The same hold true for Trek. Or at least, that's my preference. I preferred it when they had energy limitations, when resources couldn't be resolved with the push of a button on a replicator, and when power consumption and fuel consumption has consequences.

    It is a personal preference. Maybe it's born out of the frustration of our modern throwaway society. I don't like magical technology much because we pretend there's no cost, no side effects, etc. I'd rather the tech had warts and all. It clearly doesn't bother the writers and if it doesn't bother you then groovy but it does bug me a bit.
     
  7. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    What's this got to do with the technology in STID?
     
  8. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd prefer it if transporters sent crewmen down to planets and starships took them strange new worlds rather than the other way round. We just got into a debate about the energy that would be needed in STiD it lift a starship the size of the JJprise in a gravity environment.
     
  9. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Planets warp space, too. What difference does it make if an itty-bitty starship warps the space a little bit more?
     
  10. beamMe

    beamMe Commodore

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    Not to mention the energies required to propel a starship at FTL-speeds through the universe.
     
  11. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    What indeed? Does warping space suddenly cause potential damage to the fabric of space time? In fact it can. The casual disregard for the potential risks does speak to a throwaway society. And Scotty should be jailed for animal cruelty!
     
  12. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Are you being serious or facetious?
     
  13. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lol - I'm never being that serious on these sites but the degree of space time distortion created even by massive objects such as a star doesn't really correlate to warp drive. TNG also showed us that subspace fractures can occur. It makes perfect sense that standard practice would be not to do that near a planetary system even if they thought there was minimal risk.

    As for Scotty - if you kill somebody's dog is that not considered a crime where you come from? :rommie:

    The weird thing is that I can watch Star Wars and have no problem believing that the Millennium Falcon can take off easily. I think it's just because Enterprise just looks like it was never designed to land and had never (previously) landed and we were led to believe that these ships were constructed in space that led to the changes being so jarring. I thought it was cool that these hulking great ships were designed to operate in space. They feel somehow less credible to me now.

    P.S. Scotty also abused tribbles.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2013
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    On NPR there was talk about concrete semiconductors...
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And with both a power output and a maximum acceleration almost infinitely smaller. If the space shuttle orbiter had been equipped with anything even half as powerful as an impulse engine it would be able to maneuver in and out of planetary atmospheres on a whim; that for a slight upgrade of 1970s technology.

    It's also obvious that YOU haven't.

    It depends on the actual mass of the Enterprise and what is actually propelling the ship against gravity. At the high end of this assumption, the ship is using antigravs and subspace fields to cheat the normal laws of inertia in which case its thrust/energy requirements could be very, VERY low, comparable to that of a Saturn-V rocket at liftoff.

    At the low end, assuming a ship of 210,000 tons with no subspace trickery available and only thrusters/impulse engines, a ship the size of the Enterprise would require something like 10,500 meganewtons of thrust, or the equivalent of 300 Saturn-V rockets. That works out to 42.46 terawatts, which is about the amount of energy you would get by reacting 500 milligrams of matter and antimatter.

    The Enterprise is capable of consuming matter and antimatter without irradiating/crushing/demolishing everything within a hundred kilometers of it. We've seen starships going to warp in asteroid fields, in nebulas, even in planetary atmospheres without destroying everything around them. Whether you know anything about how these ships work or not, it's plainly obvious that starship engines -- even impulse engines -- are not entirely newtonian in nature and are massively cheating the "action/reaction" balance. HOW they do this is an open question; THAT they do this is long since closed for debate.

    I don't have to invent anything. Star Trek has done that for me. It's called a "warp core." Whether you realize it or not, the amount of energy needed to power a ship out of a planet's gravity well is miniscule compared to the power needed to propel that same ship to the speed of light.

    I would too if the Enterprise was constructed using early 21st century technology.:vulcan:
     
  16. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Then you should probably stop watching Star Trek.:vulcan:
     
  17. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's because the effects of warp drive are limited to the immediate vicinity around a starship and generally vanish when the ship drops out of warp. You may or may not have noticed that the Enterprise's use of warp in the solar system wasn't really that big of a risk to anything except the Enterprise, with its untested engine and lack of proper simulation (that and a random asteroid that happened to cross into its path).

    In a specific region of space that nobody cares about, in an episode that was thoroughly forgettable and whose plot repercussions were eventually ignored.

    So I guess the only real difference between you and me is that you never played Halo.:evil:

    There's a school of thought in Scifi these days that truly advanced starships should not only be capable of operating in an atmosphere, but also fighting in them. Partly that's because being on the ground and seeing two distant dots shooting at other distant dots isn't all that dramatically interesting, but mostly it's because of the issue of scale: in the REAL WORLD, naval vessels exchange fire at distances of a few dozen to a few hundred kilometers and usually they do so over a contested piece of realestate. If a starship wants to support an operation to hold, say, a city or a shipyard, it needs to be able to hover over that shipyard and blast the crap out of anyone who comes near it (or, in the reverse case, blast the crap out of the shipyard without having to wait two hours for its orbit to bring it back into firing position).
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  18. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks for the engineering info! I've never suggested that the ships would have insufficient power to escape an atmosphere using impulse power or thrusters, my issue is that the energy backwash should be pretty destructive based on the information I'd seen about the type of power impulse engines use. I mean, if the pylons can survive the event horizon of a black hole without snapping they must be made of an unobtanium/adamantium alloy or something (actually, now that I think of it again, that scene was really dumb too) and so they would be tough enough to stand up to a measly 1G. But just wait until they get a flock of seagulls bunging up their Boussard Collectors then we'll see who has he last laugh. :rofl:

    I do like the 'official' explanation for I.M.Pulse Drive but even that has a dangerous plasma vent, which I believe is part of canon. As should be obvious, I'm a lawyer not a physicist, so I admire the artistry of anything that sounds vaguely plausible, especially if it has an official downside for writers to exploit.

    I realise that the writers can invent wibbly wobbly 'anti-grav' tech to paper over anything about propulsion, although if the ship has that level of versatile anti-grav tech there are probably dozens of ways they should have been using it in various episodes. Blimey when you think of all the episodes that could have gone differently if the writers had only remembered a piece of tech under the old regime. How much worse is that going to get in NuTrek?

    I guess it's because the current writers seem to want to keep ramping up the tech that I feel the need to rail against it. Magical explanations are among the worst plot conclusions IMO. I'm clearly just a fuddy duddy :scream:

    As an aside, apparently, scientists have invented a tractor beam using two lasers as tweesers, although it's not a very good one at the moment. So now we have communicators, PADDS, magnetic levitation, the beginnings of impulse drive, transporters, and tractor beams. Rock on 21st century technology!
     
  19. Pauln6

    Pauln6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Solar systems are full of a lot of random asteroids. Probably fewer if they just fly up first... damn Galactic Plane.

    But warp bubbles can't be small - they have to be massive because you have to warp space all the way to your destination across light years. Not all the way in one go obviously, or travel would be instantaneous, but they have to squeeze quite a long corridor even at low warp. The higher the warp factor the longer the warped 'corridor'. If JJPrise can travel 90 light years in 12 hours isn't that a corridor of 20,000,000,000 km per second? That's huge!

    It's true! I prefer games with hobbits and/or Homer Simpson.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But also very very skinny: the corridor may be 20 billion kilometers long, but it's only about five hundred meters wide. Anything that wanders into that corridor is going to get pushed out of the way by the navigational deflector.

    More to the point, we don't really understand the interaction between the warp field and other objects in space. Again, we've seen ships go to warp in an atmosphere and in fogbank nebulas without really disturbing the local environment, and in the last movie we saw Enterprise drop out of warp in Titan's atmosphere. The warp field clearly causes some effect, but it seems to be that it merely allows things within that field -- starships, for example -- to obey modified laws of physics and move through space much easier than they would if they were outside of the field (and this probably applies to the deflector as well; most of those asteroids and subatomic particles wouldn't be so easy to push out of the way if they weren't inside the ship's warp field).

    Then you're missing out. Alot of very innovative science fiction is being manifest in video games these days. Actually, I've been saying for a while no that Star Trek is showing more and more influence from Mass Effect. Hell, the site of the Klingon gunfight in STID bears an uncanny resemblance to Wrex's throne room on Tuchanka (and I'm not just saying that because Gatatog Uvenk was voiced by Michael Dorn). Not to mention, the skyline of Ketha Province looks EXACTLY like the aerial view of Feros.