ST III's "Transwarp drive"

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dale Sams, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Memory Alpha and common lore seems to hold that "It just didn't work" or "The dilithium broke down"

    That doesn't make a lick of sense. You would never get to the production stage where Excelsior was if the damn thing didn't even work.

    My personal fanwank was that what they are calling transwarp drive is simply TNGs warp capability and not what the Borg had. Makes sense to me.
     
  2. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Your intuition serves you well. When I met Andrew Probert in 1988 at the Star Trek Art Department he confirmed what you just feel. By the time of TNG they have simply dropped the "trans" prefix.

    Another canon hint comes straight from the bridge monitor displays of the NCC-1701-A: All the engine displays read lout and clear "Transwarp", so indeed, the evolution of warp technology did happen...

    Bob
     
  3. Unicron

    Unicron Continuity Spackle Moderator

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    I've always preferred something along those lines myself, since there's never been any canonical evidence to back up the claim among some fans that the project failed or didn't work. There * are * suggestions in sources like the TNG TM that the system didn't meet its intended expectations, but that's not the same as saying it was a complete failure.
     
  4. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I'm not so sure...

    I understand the graphics in Mister Scott's guide to the Enterprise do indeed say "transwarp", but the actual graphics as used on the show did not. I recall reading somewhere that there was some hullabaloo over Shane Johnson having modified the graphics, based on conversations with someone official on the subject, but that as photographed, it wasn't that way...

    I could be wrong. I'd love to see a screencap...

    --Alex
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which bridge? ST IV, V or IV? Because the book Mr. Scott's Guide added transwarp labeling to the graphics for the ST IV set, which did not actually contain them when filmed.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    We can identify at least one of the Mr Scott's Okudagrams in ST4, and verify that it doesn't have the long word "TRANSWARP" where SJ puts it.

    More specifically, the side view of the ship here (the upper individual monitor to the left of Spock's head) is otherwise identical to the one where SJ "reproduces" the bottom line label as TRANSWARP SUBSYS 7 4516, but the bottom line label in the movie is actually shorter than that - that is, it terminates more to the left, in comparison with the random column of numbers above it.

    http://movies.trekcore.com/gallery/albums/tvhhd/tvhhd2277.jpg

    This particular Okudagram no longer appears in the Trekcore HD screencaps of ST5 or ST6; similarly, the side view with warp field curves (labeled TRANSWARP GEOMETRY 4 1190 by SJ) is absent.

    In the end, none of the HD images reveal the word "TRANSWARP", and indeed most of the Okudagrams in the latter two movies seem to be labeled only with random numbers, not with descriptive words.

    This of course does not debunk the idea that the technology called "transwarp" became known as "warp" as soon as it was proved to be practical.

    Nor does it debunk the possibility that the theory underlying the Excelsior experiment was proven completely erroneous by the first attempt by the Excelsior to actually explore its supposed transwarp envelope. Captain Styles seems particularly moved by the computer's declaration "all speeds available through transwarp drive", as if he had never heard the boast before. He also feels he will only be breaking the earlier speed records of the Enterprise "tomorrow"; clearly, neither he nor anybody else has yet flown the Excelsior or any preceding testbed at speeds exceeding those of Kirk's ship.

    Why Starfleet would put so much faith in a faulty theory that they base the design of a huge starship on it, we never learn. But perhaps we misunderstood? Perhaps the Excelsior was a previous investment, and the transwarp experiment was only brought aboard later on, at relatively low cost?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. King Daniel Beyond

    King Daniel Beyond Admiral Admiral

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    Blurry background graphics are hardly indisputable in-universe fact. Even if it was the intent at the time for the 1701-A to be transwarp-capable, that the "trans-" prefix vanished and several statements from the producers since have dubbed transwarp a failure pretty much spells it out.

    I guess Scotty's "'Let's see that she's got' said the captain... then we found out, didn't we?" in STV could even be taken as in-universe proof of TW's failing. (and before you all say "but it would explain the quick trip to the galactic centre", I remind you it was well within the way warp speeds were depicted in the TOS Trek - edge of the galaxy in WNMHGB and "By Any Other Name", centre in "Megas Tu" ...)
     
  8. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    Well, I'm not aware of such statements and believe Andrew Probert, who impressed me as an advocate for continuity accuracy, had done his homework. Though I'd agree that the Enterprise-A should have had warp nacelles Excelsior style to convey the transwarp notion. ;)

    I apparently didn't pay that much attention to the fifth ST movie, but if I recall correctly they were going to the center of our galaxy, while in the two TOS episodes you mentioned they were going to the edge?

    I never object learning something new, but that Shane Johnson deliberately manipulated the original bridge displays would be quite a blow. I remember our correspondence and he accused me for "trying to find fault with his work" (well, if it's not accurate it's inaccurate, right?). Looks like that would have been something I would have found very faulty. :thumbdown:

    Bob
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    1) They were still going to the center in "Magicks".
    2) The distances involved might be different or equal; the edge might be close to Earth in some interpretations, but the core cannot be argued to be that.
    3) Yet they were not going to the center as much as they were going to the center, italics on the fact that they did not necessarily travel all the way in that direction. The heading is more important to the respective plots than the distance traveled!

    ;)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. The Librarian

    The Librarian Commodore Commodore

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    I always thought the idea that transwarp failed a bit silly myself, because there's no way they wouldn't have tested it somehow before scaling all the way up to the Excelsior. I could easily see it being the first manned starship with a transwarp drive, but surely they did some kind of computer, lab, and drone tests before that. I'd rather believe it wasn't as good as expected, but still a major improvement that resulted in the new warp scale.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, various jet and rocket engines were tested in WWII aboard very large and complex bombers, and proved to be complete duds.

    It's just that the bombers existed before the engines were added. This may also be the case with the Excelsior and her transwarp drive.

    Perhaps testing the drive aboard smaller ships or cheaply built rigs was out of the question, just like scramjets today cannot be tested in wind tunnels or on cheapo platforms, but must ride on state-of-the-art rockets launched from huge carrier aircraft as part of hugely expensive and complex test arrangements - and almost invariably fail, disproving the very concept that was supposed to make that particular design workable.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Vice Admiral Admiral

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    My own idea is that there was a very brief period in which Starfleet did have a number of transwarp ships capable of reaching speeds in excess of warp 15 (3,375c) on the TOS scale, but later advances in conventional warp engine efficiency led to both a redefinition of transwarp as well as a redrawn warp scale. Under the new scale, those earlier designated transwarp speeds now were in the warp 9.9+ range...
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps only the higher speeds provided by the transwarp engines allowed warp scientists to fully understand the sawtooth power curve that Sternbach and Okuda postulate for warp drive?

    That is, the curve has nine "teeth" for optimal power use - the nine integral warp factors. But at low warp factors, the first of those might appear to fit a certain formula (warp factor cubed times lightspeed), and all the rattling and whining at higher factors in primitive TOS engines hides the fact that this formula does not explain the higher "teeth". With better engines, one realizes that the previously assumed warp factors 7 and 8 were not matching the optimal speeds very well, and that factors like 12 or 14 were completely fictional and did not match optima at all.

    So, new engines reveal the new formula, and ships from then on sail at the real nine integer warp factors. Until even better engines come along, and new optimal teeth to the curve are discovered between the former warp 9 and warp 10... As seen in "All Good Things...". And perhaps given a few decades, a further set of optima is found. And yet further.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    I'd like to believe that these terrible bumpers of the Enterprise-B had been added to test new transwarp components / improve the previous transwarp mechanism.

    Once transwarp technology had been refined and reduced in size, those bumpers came off and thus explain the appearance of the "B" on the TNG's conference room sculpture wall.

    Bob
     
  15. SchwEnt

    SchwEnt Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Perhaps transwarp eventually became workable and the terminology changed. I'm thinking about a time when there were airplanes and then people also spoke of jet planes, to differentiate. But today people commonly speak of planes, no longer specifying "jet" plane.

    Maybe transwarp speed became the norm and people just ended up calling it warp speed, similar to airplane rather than jet airplane.

    While I'm here...

    Is there anything we know about transwarp that required substantial new engine technology?

    The Excelsior is cited as being a new transwarp starship, as if the ship was purpose-built around a new engine.

    But how do we know that the Excelsior isn't just the next great starship class and is incidentally a testbed for transwarp?

    Could the new transwarp be a breakthrough but mechanically maybe just an add-on to the dilithium chamber and a new intermix formula? Or is it a total re-work of previous engine designs?

    If the transwarp trials didn't work, maybe it would be a simple matter of using conventional warp intermix formula and removing the some isolated component from the engine room. The Excelsior would still be an impressive starship, not a complete lemon due to transwarp failure.
     
  16. Wingsley

    Wingsley Commodore Commodore

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    The term "transwarp", as with the expression "protomatter in the Genesis Matrix", was a melodramatic bit of technobabble whipped up to suggest that the TMP-refit Enterprise was somehow getting "old", or otherwise soon to be obsolete. To this day, there seems to be no canon substance to the notion of what transwarp is, or what potential the technology could have, or how it is differentiated from "old" warp drive. No matter what any of us says or what citations we invoke, it's all speculation and interpretation.

    The VOY ep "Distant Origin" seemed to suggest that the saurian Voth, who possesed this powerful transwarp ability, had passed some kind of ultra-high-tech threshold that amounted to the society establishing itself in an era far in advance of the Federation. The way Chakotay spoke about it made it sound like any society who mastered this mysterious transwarp had achieved some kind of technological Holy Grail, where space vessels travel at speeds a whole level of magnitude above what Federation-known starships commonly do. And again, it is spoken of in conspicuously vague generalities; there is little substance to explain what it means or how it differs from any other kind of FTL propulsion in the STAR TREK Universe. "VOY's "Hope and Fear" also seemed to make some suggestion that "transwarp" was super-advanced, and even displayed a new kind of visual FX, but there was no substance there, either.

    "Hope and Fear", to my point-of-view, seemed to suggest that transwarp was a technology significantly different than "lesser" warp drive. While warp drive seemed to allow as starship to "keep in touch" with ordinary space (scanning, visuals, etc.), the more insular tunnels seen with transwarp seemed to suggest a wormhole effect. Then again, this didn't make sense either. Wormholes are supposedly link two distinct fixed points in space, but the transwarp conduit concept seemed to suggest that sometimes and not others. The crazy thing about the transwarp/slipstream endeavors seen in VOY suggest that Federation starship hull technology is unable to handle the stress; if this is the case for all transwarp technologies, then the much less advanced 23rd century Excelsior would never have been able to sustain transwarp velocities for any length of time.

    Also keep in mind that the decree to declare Excelsior's transwarp a "failure" came from Gene Roddenberry through Richard Arnold. Whether that makes it "canon" is anybody's guess. :rommie:

    Here's my take on it, FWIW. This and 50ยข still can't get you a decent cup of coffee. :) There is a common thread between what Chakotay was saying in "Distant Origin" and what Captain Archer and Trip repeatedly talked about in ENT: FTL propulsion in the STAR TREK Universe seems to come in stages, which becomes a multi-generational technology convention of sorts. In "First Flight", Earth scored a major victory (much to the consternation of the Vulcans) by surpassing the Warp 2 barrier. The suggestion was that Earth spacecraft had been FTL-capable for over three-quarters of a century, but that they were all limited to Warp 2 before the NX prototypes shattered that (theoretical) barrier. Once the Warp 2 barrier had been shattered, this paved the way for the final development of the Warp 5 engine. (Again, something the Vuclans took much longer to achieve, thus leading to the suggestion that Earth was moving too fast into a realm they "are not ready" for.) Apparently through interaction with other species and technologies, Earth technology continued to advance over the ten years the NX-01 Enterprise was in flight. This was no doubt helped by the boom in starship construction during the Earth-Romulan conflict and the eventual founding of the Coalition of Planets, which gave way to the newborn Federation. Archer and Tripp toasted to their own Holy Grail: "to Warp 7", "the next generation", presumably the design goal for the first generation of Federation starships. It is safe to assume that, just as Warp 5 was initially difficult for the NX-01 to sustain, so Warp 7 would be a challenge for early Federation starships.

    So the tubular warp nacelle technology continued to evolve from "These Are The Yoyages..." over the next hundred or so years. During TOS, Constitution-class starships kept exceeding their design limits of Warp 8, occasionally flirting with double-digit warp factors, but at far greater risk. So, how do you achieve superior velocity without the risk of dangerous double-digit warp factors? Why, you find a way to make lesser warp factors render greater FTL speeds, of course! Here's where the non-canon fandom constructs come in handy.

    If the ENT-thru-TOS-era tubular warp nacelle technology can be broadly called "circumfirential warp drive", with all of its mass-producability, quirks, and limitations, then the very different nacelles seen on TMP-era-through-TNG-era vessels can be called "linear warp drive". (Goldstein & Goldstein's 1980 "Spaceflight Chronology" suggested the Federation was investing in revolutionary technologies that would lead to super-fast, huge, super-powerful starships-of-the-future, possibly with fourth-power "Super Warp" abilities.) It's been my conjecture for a long time that the TMP-refit "linear warp drive" was the first step onto this new technological plateau. Note that in both TMP1 and TMP5, the Enterprise is never ordered above Warp 7 in canon. What's so remarkable about that if the pre-refit Enterprise repeatedly sustained Warp 8 and above? If linear Warp 7 is fourth-power, that would be (roughly) the equivalent of (circumfirential) Warp 13.39. That would make a linear-warp-driven Connie a remarkable evolution over her predecessors of the decades before. And if subsequent refits and new starship classes built upon this technology, then Warp 9 for Picard's Enterprise-D would be like Warp 18.7 for Kirk's TOS Enterprise.

    The whole "transwarp" / "slipstream" phenomenon still makes no sense, unless you assume multiple technologies and techniques are at play. I assumed that the Borg, the Voth and the counterfeit Dauntless were using some kind of fifth-power technology to assume their fantastic velocities. Maybe Captain Styles and the Excelsior were trying (unsuccessfully) to achieve this feat, but could never reliably sustain it, and the technology was put back on the shelf. If TransWarp 6 were a fifth-power velocity, it would be the same as LinWarp 9.39 for Picard's Enterprise, or CircWarp 19.8 for Kirk's TOS boat.

    It's far from perfect, and I have no doubt there are those who will find plenty of holes in this approach, but this kind of stair-step/plateau theory to generational propulsion technology would go a very long way to bridging the gaps.
     
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    That's an enjoyable one - the only downside being that the bumpers weren't removed from the Lakota for "Paradise Lost", despite said ship having supposedly been reworked to the most modern specs possible. Retaining of useless relic features from the 2290s would seem unlikely.

    I'd postulate that the secondary hull cheek fairings are generic volume boosters that Starfleet slaps on to an Excelsior whenever it needs more space onboard her, for whatever reason. And, yes, they can also be ripped out when no longer needed. The shape is dictated by the warp field shape of that particular class, of course; other classes with different warp field shapes receive other kinds of volume boosters, and e.g. the best location for those in a Nebula or a Miranda is above and towards the stern...

    The big boxy things on the saucer aft rim could be generic boosters as well, again being inserted where they don't interfere with the warp field. What is installed inside is up to the user, and not evident from the outside at all; some sort of heavy equipment is expected, though, so one of the surfaces of such a box is always constructed as a heat exchanger, similar to the heat exchangers (not nozzles!) of impulse engines.

    The other E-B greeblies, at nacelle bows, look more "functional", alas. It's more difficult to postulate a connection that would span the century between the E-B and the Lakota in this respect.

    ...But a lot of canon exposure for the word itself. Which does seem to point towards it being a generic expression for "more modern than warp" or "better than warp" or "the next step in warp", even in-universe.

    Warp "itself" is diverse from the get-go, as ships equipped with a drive of that name come in bewildering variety in the ENT era already. All sorts of technique can apparently achieve the sort of performance associated with "warp", in terms of the 22nd century. Or of the 23rd. Or the 24th. The same is no doubt true for "transwarp" - for each given period. The 23rd century transwarp could very plausibly and consistently be the 24th century warp, and for all we know the warp that Kirk routinely uses was transwarp to the people working on Project Starship or the Great Awakening or whatnot. For that interpretation, the onscreen material does offer actual pointers or at least supportive hints.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. Robert Comsol

    Robert Comsol Commodore Commodore

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    So that is the "producer's" comment on the transwarp issue? :rofl:
    If it's just a claim of Mr. Arnold, I feel entitled to take it with grains of salt, as I do still remember very well what Brent Spiner once said about Richard Arnold at a ST convention...

    Bob
     
  19. Albertese

    Albertese Commodore Commodore

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    I didn't go to that one... What'd he say?

    --Alex
     
  20. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Now in Best of Both worlds, we see the All Good Things Enterprise moving at Transwarp 13 as per Riker, so transwarp eventually was figured out in that timeline.
     

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