# Pimping the warp 2 barrier

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by shipfisher, Oct 26, 2007.

1. ### shipfisherCommanderRed Shirt

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My favourite little pet dodge of the warp 2 barrier in the early days of warp drive involves the "chi factor" theory floating around fandom, stating actual warp velocities vary depending on "local conditions". I'd think your sub-light velocity before jumping to warp would rate as a local condition, so how about if the chi factor involves relativistic time dilation effects being converted to velocity dilation effects in subspace. So without too much boring math, a run up to 0.6c before cutting in the warp drive buys you a 25% velocity gain.

You'd have a situation where by early warp ships would make near suicidal runs up to just under c to pump-up their warp 1.whatever as much as possible. This would also provide a rational for the genesis of the navigational deflector dish, which I've always assumed was redundant in subspace, where you should only be able to directly interact with things like em radiation and gravitational fields (for all those temporal slingshot manouvers ).

I've never seen or heard any canon reference to any relationship between sub-light speed and warp speed, or how kinetic energy is conserved in subspace, so I see nothing contradicting the above.

Just a thought. Any others?

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Well, that does make a certain amount of real-world sense. After all Mach speed is related to local conditions of atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature, not ground speed.

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Going by an Alcubierre warp model, it would make no difference at all. In theoretical physics, warp isn't actually motion in the conventional sense at all -- rather, you're occupying a bubble of spacetime whose topological relationship to the rest of spacetime is being altered by collapsing the space in front of it and creating new space behind it. It was actually summed up pretty well in Futurama's "Clone of My Own": "The ship doesn't move at all! It stays where it is, and moves the rest of the universe around it!"

So the effective "velocity" of the warp bubble is totally unrelated to the motion of the ship that's inside that bubble. In fact, it probably would be a very bad idea to have a lot of forward momentum when you created the bubble, because you'd just end up flying into the front of the bubble and being crushed by the extreme gravitational stresses of the space warp. Well, maybe that wouldn't happen if the warp-generating machinery was onboard your ship, because the warpfield would presumably maintain a steady distance from the generator. But your ship's kinetic energy would still have no significant effect on the performance of the drive itself, because it would only matter in relation to the "pocket universe" inside the warp bubble, not in relation to the greater universe beyond.

The only advantage of having high forward velocity when you enter warp would be that you'd still have that momentum when you left warp, due to conservation of energy. But that could be a disadvantage, because velocity is a vector quantity, with direction being part of it as well as speed. You might come out of warp travelling in the wrong direction relative to where you want to go, and thus have to waste energy braking and accelerating in the right direction.

4. ### BasillCaptainCaptain

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I've never heard of this "chi factor" but its an interesting concept and I really like it.

I've always favored the notion that local conditions (particularly gravity from stellar, planetary, and nebular bodies) affected warp factors and thus travel durations. In some ways, its the only way to explain the inconsistencies, especially in the early years, of how far Trek ships manage to get given what has now been set in stone regarding "warp factors and velocities."

It could also directly create and affect such things as "shipping lanes." An idea that one might normally dismiss given the layman's presumption that, in space, the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line. But just like relativity and space curvature, what if that were not the case in subspace land, and there were regions of high and low resistance as well as currents of flow that aided a ship's travel time. What if subspace itself is notably denser near and around stellar phenomenon and star clusters due to higher gravity; more dangerous to navigate, but ships peel through it faster because there is more to grab a hold of. Whereas, in deep empty space, a ship might travel slower because, like a plane with less atmospheric pressure at higher altitudes, it just has less to rip through. It might be just like a propeller driven or jet engine plane that could never fly on the moon; No atmosphere to provide lift for the wings or to thrust through the engines.

It could even have the opposite effect for areas of subspace considered too dense. Note the difference in airplane propellers, and that of a boat. The two mediums are different enough to require distinctions in their propellers. So imagine space and subspace being charted as to the optimal paths of interstellar travel. Just an idea.

It might also explain how a starship could actually experience anything unexpected like the "ion storm" of the TOS episode "Court Martial." Perhaps they only experience such phenomenon while or even because they are at warp speeds. And because slowing down to travel through them at impulse, or going around them might cause an enormously ridiculous delay in their schedule, they can be evaluated on a scale of necessary risk, and judged accordingly. Otherwise, I couldn't imagine anything analogous to a sudden storm happening in the otherwise slow boring happenings of the cosmos; at least not on the timescale of a ftl vessel, that it couldn't take into account and just skirt around. Even solar winds and flares could be outrun by a starship and I would suspect that major issues like supernovae and the like would be steered far clear of from the outset. It would be akin to some sort of "subspace phenomenon" that has the effect of a storm, should you actually be manipulating subspace as a travel medium, but would not even be noticed if you were just passing through at relativistic speeds; certainly not in any storm like manner at any rate.

I do take issue with navigational deflectors being redundant at warp speeds however. From what I understand about warp travel, space itself is distorted around the vessel, stretched behind and contracted in front, producing the propulsive effect. The ship itself however, just sits within its little bubble of normal spacetime continuum.

Since warp speed isn't like hyperdrive where the ship itself is taken into another dimension to circumvent relativistic limitations, I'm not sure that vessels are so certain to avoid direct interaction as you say. I'd have to see more information on this to form a better opinion though.

Final thought... I realize that I have probably over thought much of this, but the subject matter just got my brain rolling and I enjoyed the purging.

5. ### WingsleyCommodoreCommodore

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The "chi factor" was first mentioned in the "Introduction to Navigation: Star Fleet Command" booklet included with STAR TREK MAPS (Bantam, 1980).

Thi approach is by no means perfect. Instead of Cochrane's Variable (symbolized by the Greek letter "chi", which looks like an italicized "x") fluctuating due to the presence of gravity/mass as we know it, maybe it has something to do with the effects of dark matter and/or dark energy on warp drive.

This is one reason I felt that Archer's NX-01 ship was too fast for being 100 years before TOS. If his ship had been only capable of Warp factor 3 or 4, Cochrane's Variable would've made it possible to travel between stars without it taking years. With Cochrane's Formula, even early prototypes like Cochrane's Phoenix and the Valiant would've had at least minimal interstellar capability. This would explain how he was able to make it to deep space in TOS "Metamorphosis".

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The "chi" factor also explains why Archer's Starfleet has such an interest in the Vulcan "star charts" -- we can see the stars from Earth! But if the Vulcans have plotted subspace "shipping lanes" and such, then it makes a whole lot more sense. In fact, the recent Star Charts book mentions it.

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Personally, and in light of all the post-TOS Trek that indicates that warp is a common skill in the universe and Cochrane only invented warp fro Earth, I find it undesirable to think that there is any trick to warp 2, 3 or 4 after one discovers the basic secret of the drive. It would only be a matter of improvements to the details of the drive, all of them available in the open market, but their integration into a working whole a process that may be beyond a primitive newcomer.

Also, the effect of the chi factor should not be particularly pronounced, or else our heroes should spend much, much more screen time searching for the ideal weather conditions or routes or whatnot. But certainly a degree of chi (mostly time-dependent, thus as much analogous to weather as possible) would make lots of dramatic sense. And perhaps some systems like Sol are especially chi-hostile, with foul subspace weather most of the time, explaining how even ships in extreme emergency haste slow to sublight there.

As for ion storms, steering around them was not an issue in "Court Martial". Rather, it appeared that Kirk had standing orders to ENTER storms whenever possible, to make observations. In "Catwalk", OTOH, it appeared that these storms are massive phenomena that cannot be evaded and will affect even standstill vessels. It doesn't seem there would be any phenomena that only manifest at warp (indeed, our heroes often insist that NO phenomena do, against all evidence). Then again, many of these weird phenomena may well be related to subspace, and are not easily observable by standard physics but will affect subspace technology very adversely, hence the caution and alarm of our heroes.

Timo Saloniemi

8. ### WingsleyCommodoreCommodore

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The whole thing regarding various "time barrier" technological hurdles has been bandied about and there are of course various theories. I like to think that warp drive technology does have natural stages of development, which may relate to various factors: reactor power output (I would not expect a standard-spec matter/antimatter reactor of an NX-class vehicle to have the same magnitude of output or efficiency as a Constitution-class vessel), red-line/yellow-line of the "engine" (I would imagine that early warp engines had less capacity for fuel intake than later designs), nacelle stress (an NX class nacelle may hande Warp 5 in a completely different way than a Constitution-class nacelle), as well as overall ship's hull stress (remember Kirk's warning to Nomad when Nomad pushed the Enterprise to Warp 11). These are probably just a subset of the issues that affected the evolution of starships and warp engine technology.

I would expect that the NX Project was eager to play "catch up" with the Vulcans by learning the space-warp "tricks of the trade" that balance the above concerns to achieve better performance. That's probably why refits and newer starship classes with more streamlined designs are so important.

9. ### shipfisherCommanderRed Shirt

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Thanks everybody for the great responses on the subject here. There's always a very high quality of discussion in this forum. (I'd have responded sooner but for a minor family medical situation)

I'll admit to a little ignorance as to the nuts and bolts of the Alcubierre warp model, but it's probably the best hard sci run at the concept I've heard of. My thinking was simply that warp drive appears to have a temporal component as described on screen, the first reference ever being captain Pike's order to go to "time warp factor 7" in "The Cage". The fact that warping down gravity wells (TOS: Tomorrow is Yesterday, ST:IV) seems to be a precursor to an actual temporal drive (the Borg may have used close earth orbit in ST:FC for the same purpose, and let's not forget what happened to the Enterprise in low orbit around Psi 2000 in TOS: Naked Time ) suggests the warping of both space and time. If relativistic velocities in "normal" space have an effect on the rate at which time passes, I just can't help but see a possible connection.

The fact that sub-light velocity is a vector quantity can't be ignored of course. I figured you'd need to establish the absolute velocity vector, including the motion of the galaxy, star system, etc. to ensure you didn't go too far off course in exploiting a "velocity dilation effect", although this would probably be minimal over early, short interstellar hops (though if the velocity dilation effect only manifests along the forward axis of the warp drive, then the absolute velocity vector wouldn't cause any navigational deviation). Incidentally, I assume the warp propulsive effect is always directed along the longitudinal axis of any arrangement of warp coils, and would follow any change in nacelle orientation, with the sub c velocity dilation component dropping off as the warp drive axis diverges further from the sub c velocity vector.

I won't deny the many disadvantages of what I've already described as near suicidal relativistic speeds, but when the overriding concern of early interstellar exploration would probably be making transit times more manageble, it might seem worth it to those pioneering souls. In later centuries, I've assumed sub c velocities much above orbital approach speeds would be rare once warp drive tech matured, what with all that violent tactical manouvering and head on encounters with full stops in deep space.

Another incidental aspect of this whole scenario is a pretty stonking impulse drive, which is where I admit to being in the "impulse is a field drive" camp, requiring the warp mains to generate a helpful subspace field to let the impulse drive punch above its weight. The ambassador class NX-10521 prototype is the first to have a dedicated driver coil incorporated into the impulse drive for this job (TNG tech manual). You can't help noticing the significantly increased diameter of the warp nacelles on the amby - perhaps due to the now "warp optimised only" coils? Yet another assumption here would be the inability of (at least early) drives to generate concurrent impulse and warp fields, otherwise you could cram all that kinetic energy into your ship once you were "safely" in subspace.

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Agree on many things, disagree on some.

Jumping to warp from standstill has always been considered viable procedure, across the full range of spinoffs and timeframes. Orientation, motion vector or acceleration vector have seemingly nothing to do with it. But an obvious "point and shoot" rule does indeed hold for nacelles and warping, necessitating some sublight reorienting before warp; additional sublight maneuvering could well take place at that point, for tactical gain.

Impulse requiring warp coils unless special ones are provided is an appealing idea. One might even say that the interesting blue dome doohickeys on certain starships are devices for using the warp field for impulse massplay; their absence would then indicate dedicated impulse coils. Thus, ENT era and TOS movie era rely on warp engines for impulse; TOS era and TNG era largely rely on separate subspace coils.

Timo Saloniemi

11. ### nil_jonesLieutenant CommanderRed Shirt

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I may have been missing the gist of the thread regarding Warp Fields vs. Impuls drives, but it seems that the idea of a subspace field to help make the Impulse Drive's Job easier isn't too far fetched...DS9 used a subspace field to lower the stations inertial mass and make the station's thrusters move the station OUT of Bajor orbit more quickly; even compensating for mass, DS9's thrusters couldn't have been more powerful than, say, typical RCS Quads.

Which makes me think also (and there may have been a thread on this already, and/or I'm digressing a little too much)... What's the speed limitations for other than straight-ahead motion with Impulse engines? I seem to remember Kirk ordering in TUC "All astern, one-half impulse power, back off..." I didn't think impulse engines work like that. does a subspace field AUGMENT the RCS thrusters in a situation like that?

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If the impulse drive is a pure "field drive", and uses one of those ubiquitous rows of doughnut coils, it probably can work pretty much as well forward and aft, but might have limitations in other directions. If the drive is an "augmented rocket", then there's bound to be a bias towards forward flight since the nozzles always point aft (or aft and up - what's with that?).

Going by onscreen evidence is probably our best bet here. And we see starships usually maneuver in a manner consistent with vectored rocket thrust, and inconsistent with the free 3D movement that an omnidirectional field drive would allow. So that's one for the "augmented rocket" theory - and it would seem to carry the lemma of thrust limitations in certain directions.

Timo Saloniemi

13. ### GodThingFormerlyA Different Kind of Asshole

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They were strictly Newtonian propulsion systems in TOS and TMP. If I may quote from the Sacred Codex, namely Gene Roddenberry's Writer & Director's Guide (Bible) dated April 17, 1967:

Of course, "impulse" in classical mechanics is simply a vector quantity defined by the time integral of a force acting on a test particle - or in this particular instance a space vehicle - over a finite time interval, so their mode of operation should have been self-evident to viewers with an IQ > 65. As for ST:TMP, I will quote the relevant paragraph from the German language edition of Gene Roddenberry's ST:TMP novelization that was translated by the film's technical advisor, Jesco von Puttkamer (Star Trek: Der Film, Moewig Verlag, 1980):

For those who do not read German a moderately understandable translation can be generated via Google Language Tools.

TGT

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Of course, that never really happened: the impulse drive behaved quite unlike rockets throughout TOS.

Okay, there might have been an element of "directed thrust" to it, but that's as far as the rocket analogy ever went. There was no propellant involved, there was no mention of exhaust, and the accelerations provided were physically impossible even for the ideal rocket.

What to make of the material in novels? Some, like Gene's novelization, describe a rocket; others, like Carey's Final Frontier, establish a field drive with similar finality. The latter makes more sense in terms of observed behavior and leaves more room for the impossibilities involved, but it remains as unaired as the former.

Timo Saloniemi

15. ### GodThingFormerlyA Different Kind of Asshole

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The occasional mention of "fuel" in regard to the NCC-1701 aside, I suggest that a rocket engine capable of accelerating a spacecraft to relativistic velocities in a matter of seconds slots perfectly into a universe where supposedly alien species that evolved hundreds if not thousands of light-years apart can produce humanoid(?) females(?!) as hot - at least to this 20th/21st century human male - as Mea 3, T'Pring, Sayana, Eleen, Kara, Daras, Drusilla and Ilia, to name just a few.

The salient difference being that both GR and JvP were, for better or worse, creatively involved with the production of ST:TMP. Carey, thankfully, was not. C'mon, FF had DaddyKirk inadvertently capturing a Romulan admiral (or whatever he was - I haven't read it in decades) by "rescuing" what he thought was a Vulcan hostage, to say nothing of that ostensibly human Enterprise crewmember who - because he likes to eat dinner one section of his tray at a time - turns out to be a Romulan spy. I mean, seriously...

TGT

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As a historian I am no more qualified than Diane Carey to define the fictional impulse drive of the Enterprise. Nevertheless, when I was in college and in the midst of my physics curriculum, I published blueprints and technical manuals based on Star Trek and TMP, and had a working understanding of how some of the functional parts of a starship might work. Here on this BBS I put together a cross section of the Enterprise based on Matt Jefferies' work and my own assumptions concerning function.

I coined the term "onset of critical momentum" to establish a "speed limit" for impulse. It was first tied to an understanding of the drive as wholly conventional, and was meant to establish a point of unacceptable time dilation. Later, when the TNG Tech Manual came out, I was intrigued by the notion of coupling the magical warp drive with the impulse to increase the latter's efficiency. So when I did the cross section, I used the fact that the 1701's impulse drive was always dark to explain the big, rectangular ports as part of an exotic antigravity drive. The small, round ports became the thrusters for an antimatter-initialized fusion drive, and the apparatus atop the impulse housing became a maneuvering thruster. The intent was to provide the ship with the kind of graduated propulsion systems we saw on Probert and Kimble's plan for the TMP Enterprise -- RCS, maneuvering thrusters, impulse and warp. My thinking was the antimatter-initialized fusion might be used, for example, for interplanetary travel in a star system, while the antigravity drive might be more of a tactical tool for the kinds of magical moves sometimes described when the ship was in combat. The thruster atop the impulse housing would then be for fine maneuvering, perhaps to make orbital corrections etc.

Something like this:

Here it is in cross section:

And here it is with the midline, trapezoidal chamber seen in main engineering peeled away to show one of the antimatter-initialized fusion rockets:

While I think it is indisputable that TMoST and the writers' guide defined impulse as a classical drive, I also think the dark ports and magical motion beg a broader explanation that still retains a classical component that involves fusion and antimatter.

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I don't see how that would be "salient" when none of that process showed up in the final product. The nature of impulse drive was not clarified in the movie - unless one counts the acceleration away from Earth and, within hours, to the near-lightspeed velocities required for reaching Jupiter in said timeframe, and notices that this is either impossible or then at least wildly fictional (that is, "the wizard did it" would be a far more plausible explanation) for a Newtonian rocket.

Unless, of course, one decides that a wildly fictional drive can be called a "rocket" merely because the terminology then fits the Holy Writ.

Speaking of Holy Writ, a rocket drive was indeed built into Pike's ship as per dialogue, and was an alternative to the "hyper drive" of the vessel. But Probert and subsequent designers have outlined a three-tier propulsion system, one that aridas also has beautifully and eloquently retrofitted to the TOS ship: warp, impulse, Newtonian rockets. The division between the three might not be clear-cut, what with the various "augmented rocket" interpretations, but the onscreen emphasis is on the augmentation rather than the rocket.

Timo Saloniemi

18. ### shipfisherCommanderRed Shirt

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Whew! I think it safe to say from the above that impulse drive principles remain one of the most contentious topics in trekdom. If you leave aside all but observed on screen ship behaviour and dialogue references, which remain at the top of the canon food chain as I see it, then Timo pretty much carries the day here if your trying to balance sci with fi in our beloved though heinously inconsistent trekverse.

Impulse as a field drive with a newtonian secondary mode seems the best fit to the trek I've been watching (and with most of the reading). The non-newtonian mode would be the go for all calls from the big chair for "all back full impulse" type manouvers unless those RCS thrusters have some more serious cajones than seems likely.

I blithered on in a previous thread about my own Inertial Monopole PULSE idea, but I'll leave this thread to those great ideas already fielded above by others.

P.S. I came across a VFX test reel on YouTube back in July for the remastered version of TOS: Doomsday Machine which showed the beat-up ol' Constellation with very obvious plasma exhaust streaming out of its impulse vents (and a much more mechanical looking planet killer), unlike what made it to air.

Gorgeous pictures by the way aridas.

19. ### GodThingFormerlyA Different Kind of Asshole

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One may alternatively proclaim that the original NCC-1701's impulse engine ports are dark because - on the assumption that they are anti-matter energized Newtonian rockets - the resultant chain of reaction (pions > muons > electrons/positrons/neutrinos > gamma rays) would be completely invisible to the unaided human eye, although the producers of ENT apparently felt otherwise. The reason the impulse thrusters glow in ST:TMP, on the other hand, could be explained away by claiming that the Refit's new propulsion system was not yet tuned to optimum efficiency due to the rushed launch.

That is an extremely well considered and reasonable design solution with which I just so happen to vehemently disagree.

Fair enough, but when it comes to engineering - speculative or otherwise - I value simplicity above all else.

I would prefer a forcefield-based thrust reverser solution for those situations. Think of it as an astronautical variant of the Kitchen Rudder that Timo introduced me to several months ago.

TGT

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There is much to be said for your attachment to simplicity as a design preference. I'm not attached to any one solution to the contradictory bits and pieces of dialog and visuals from Star Trek. I just try to find the answer that smells least like the Danish cheese they call, "Old Man Ole's Grandfather's Underpants."

For instance, are the shuttlecraft equipped with "booster rockets" that just happen to look like nacelles? And yet, how can the shuttlecraft avoid being left in limbo once the Enterprise goes to warp in "The Menagerie" if those things aren't little warp nacelles? But, if that shuttlecraft is assumed to have warp drive, and these people can make wee little mini warp nacelles, then isn't it simply loony that the saucer wouldn't have -- not just antimatter-initialized fusion rockets, not antigravity drive, no... some kind of warp drive? Even if it's wee little warp drive. What kind of lifeboat is that saucer if the shuttlecraft can warp away but the rest of the crew is stuck out in the middle of nowhere?

But maybe the analogy of the aircraft carrier is informative here -- the carrier can sail a thousand times around the world without refueling, at a steady 35 knots. And yet it carries an air wing with planes that can fly at thirty times that speed, but only half way across an ocean.

Maybe creating a huge space warp for a huge starship would require huge nacelles, but the side benefit would be high warp factors. A small shuttlecraft might be able to use small nacelles but the penalty would be very-low warp factors and very-limited range.

If that's the case, then the idea that there are warp nacelles on the shuttlecraft wouldn't really have anything to do with how you'd outfit the saucer. And yet, you'd still be left with the quandary... if you have a level of technology that can warp space, wouldn't an antigravity drive be a much simpler undertaking? Warping space would involve some degree of antigravity to prevent the thing inside the spacetime distortion from being squeezed out of existence -- couldn't the same technology that afforded these people the ability to create space warps allow them to create a "simple" antigravity drive?

I don't know. I've obviously eaten too much Halloween candy and am obsessing over these angels dancing on this pinhead. If I were writing a story about a fictitious ship with spacewarp ability, I'd be hard pressed to explain why my ship then had to rely on just rockets to move through normal space. I can see a mix -- because it might not be advisable to bend space and use powerful antigravity drives in the confines of a star system. So you'd need a conventional drive for instances like that. But only such a drive? I can love simplicity, but I can't see the sense in that.

But that's just me, and in these instances I love sitting back and reading your illuminating corrections to my ham-fisted handling of questions that are way beyond my 15 physics credits' worth of reasoning. :thumbsup: