The Beta Quadrant

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by The Overlord, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    We don't seem know much about the Beta Quadrant compared to the other Quadrants. In TOS it was suggested that the Klingon and Romulan Empires were in the Beta Quadrant, but by DS9 they both seem to be in the Alpha Quadrant. Plus if both those empires were in the Beta Quadrant, how would they be so close to the Federation to the Alpha Quadrant, to the point that Federation Starships can easily travel to both the Klingon and Romulan home worlds.

    So what exactly is in the Beta Quadrant?
     
  2. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The common explanation in the novels and fan maps is that Earth is right at the border of the Alpha/Beta Quadrants and the Romulans/Klingons are mostly in the Beta with Cardassia being on the opposite side of the Federation in the Alpha Quadrant. Though this gets problematic when you analyze just how the Klingons were able to invade or the Romulans were able to open their own second front against Cardassia.

    Really, it's not the first inconsistency in Trek and hardly one of the big ones. I just roll with it usually.
     
  3. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    I don't think TOS ever mention the Quadrants. Thats something that came into being with the films and TNG.

    Since the Quadrants would be next to each other its possible for a starship to travel to the capital worlds with a certain amount of ease. I can travel from the capital of California to the capital of Nevada in a few hours.
     
  4. TheSubCommander

    TheSubCommander Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    You are so two-dimensional :)

    Who is to say the Klingons had to traverse federation space to get there?
     
  5. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    As I understand it the concept of what a quadrant is wasn't established until the beginning of TNG, in TOS it was used rather loosely as a means of describing a location. It was only in TUC that the TOS crew used the new format (Sulu and the Excelsior were in the Alpha Quadrant when the Enterprise-A was in the Beta).
     
  6. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    You're right, the Klingon's strike me as being excellent at logistics being able to keep supply lines open through, over, under or around Federation space. They're a diverse people. Like that lawyer and those spies. ;)
     
  7. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    TOS used the terms "quadrant" and "sector" interchangeably, but one could argue--as proposed by some--that space was so much bigger in Kirk's day that sectors were divided into quadrants. By the time of the Khitomer Conference, however, this practice of having "sector quadrants" had likely ended.
    That's a valid point. Lose the idea that each galactic government exists in a perfect sphere, it's easy for them to have territories that wrap around one another.

    There is enough onscreen material to piece together an idea that the Federation and some of the other local galactic governments in the Trek Universe all occupy a region that spans the line where the Alpha and Beta Quadrants meet, with parts of their borders fairly close to one another. Having so many interstellar powers in close proximity to one another along the Alpha-Beta Quadrant border would explain some of the conflicts the Federation gets into.

    We could still have it be a case that the Klingons are mostly in the Beta Quadrant but have some territory or colonies in the Alpha Quadrant as well. There could also be regions of non-aligned space that anyone can cross through (a Neutral Zone could just be an agreement prohibiting Federation ships from crossing into Klingon territory or Romulan ships from entering Federation territory, but doesn't prevent any of them from crossing the Alpha-Beta Quadrant border through unincorporated territory).
     
  8. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    In TOS, I think a quadrant was supposed to be just some marked-off region on a star map, and the Federation contained many quadrants. TNG-era terminology re-defined a Quadrant, capitalized, as one-quarter of the whole galaxy.

    I suspect that a lot of Star Trek fans, and some of the writers, had no understanding of how big our galaxy is.

    - Our galaxy appears to contain up to 400 billion stars. That's a lot.

    - Even if you could travel at 1000 times the speed of light, it would still take decades to get from the heart of one TNG-era Quadrant to the heart of another [or to get from Earth to the center of the galaxy, as they did in ST-5; the spinoff TV series had much better science advisors than Shatner did for his film].

    So the galaxy is an absurdly large territory and far bigger than the whole Star Trek franchise would ever need to tell all its stories, as long as its size is understood.

    The Borg were placed in the Delta Quadrant and the Dominion in the Gamma Quadrant, both vastly far away, in order to explain how we had been isolated from them for so long. Things like Q's magic, trans-warp drive, or a wormhole are needed to cross the distance.

    As for the Klingons and Romulans, the only possible way they're in the Beta Quadrant is if the Federation is right near the Beta border, and these two alien empires are right near the Alpha border, like R. Star said.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...But ST2:TWoK specified that a quadrant was a subsection of a sector. Which can be retroactively applied to all the TOS references without a problem. It can also be applied to early TNG references to quadrants, such as the Morgana Quadrant: there simply are two types of quadrant, the local and the galactic, and TOS never concerned itself with the latter because there were no wormholes and the nearest thing to Q only ever flung Kirk's ship a thousand lightyears.

    And this would be enough to set up the situation where, late in DS9, Klingons are considered an "Alpha Quadrant species".

    That is, if Klingons were mostly in Beta, they'd originally certainly be known as a Beta species, the way Russkies were the Eastern foe. Indeed the whole Alpha/Beta division might have been devised to separate "us" from "them" in a putatively astronomical but essentially political way. But once they became solid allies in the war against the Dominion, they'd be "upgraded" into an Alpha culture, the double excuse being that they operate in Alpha for shared Alpha goals, and a corner of their territory also extends to Alpha. Basically, Russia counts as the West in certain contexts already...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    We are talking about cartographical conviences used to express varied political relationships, not real galactic structures, no? A quadrant is just a section of a larger territory that has been divided in four; any such division could be described as a quadrant. Moreover, the quadrants could be redefined in order to be useful to the context under discussion.

    Could the four-part division of the Milky Way have been reconsidered at some point? Why not? Before WWI, the West consisted of nations and territories west of the Rhine River. During the Cold War, the West stopped where the Soviet Bloc nations began. Now, the notion of Central Europe is gradually replacing the East/West divide, with nations like Poland and Czech Republic being considered geo-politically alongside Germany and Austria. We have broad categories, like the Middle East, which at its largest consists of territories that are more west than Western Europe (Morocco).

    Perhaps the alliance with the Klingons forced a reconsideration of the greater geo-political structure of the area round the Federation. Rather than Earth dividing Alpha from Beta, political planners decided that Alpha was a better description for an area under the influence of the Federation, Klingon Empire, and Romulan Empire. There's no need for these cartographical conveniences to be set in stone.
     
  11. Nine of Four

    Nine of Four Commander Red Shirt

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    When TOS refers to "quadrants", they are definitely not referring to the quadrants of TNG, DS9, and VOY. In TOS, quadrants are much smaller sectors of space.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Absolutely - and we may even conclude that these are conveniences specific to individual cultures. Klingons may not believe in Alpha and Beta Quadrants: it's just the Universal Translator giving us the impression that they do, much like it fools us into thinking they believe in "hours" and sometimes also "meters".

    If this happened between TNG "The Price" and VOY "False Profits", it explains a thing or two... Moving the A/B border would necessarily also move the G/D border, thus allowing for a wormhole end that in "The Price" was at the very most 200 ly into Delta to now be several thousand lightyears into Delta and thus on the route of the Voyager!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Why divide an object into quadrants if its not going to be four equal parts? These aren't hard borders, there are probably space faring cultures who's territories are in two, three or even four of the quadrants, just as there are countries who borders are in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Perhaps, but in terms of Europe or at least the EU, countries like Poland and the Czech Republic are classed as Eastern European. So sometimes is a matter of perspective of where you are looking from and from what you are measuring. i.e Geographically, politically etc..
     
  15. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    Increasingly, it's East-Central Europe, distancing those nations from Russia.
     
  16. The Overlord

    The Overlord Captain Captain

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    I'm not sure the Federation is so petty as to define to geography based on political concerns. I would expect the Federation to be enlightened enough to be above such things and wouldn't resort to tactics similar to those Congress men who renamed French Fries to Freedom Fries.

    Also the Cardassian Union has always been identified Alpha Quadrant, despite the fact the Federation always bad relations with them, that got worse when the Cardassians joined the Dominion.

    I think a more likely explanation is Quadrants meant something much smaller in TOS, but where retconned into being a quarter of the galaxy in the TNG era, so the talk in TOS of the Klingon and Romulan Empires being in the Beta Quadrant doesn't mean anything in the TNG era cannon.
     
  17. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    That is the way I see it. The explored galaxy was much smaller in TOS. As exploration expanded the known galaxy the terms had to expand as well.
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Well, the division of the galaxy into four parts is obviously done on "political concerns" insofar as Earth is used as the all-important point of reference. That's politics as much as defining the zero meridian as being at Greenwich (and not, say, in Paris) is.

    If this zero meridian were rotated a bit between the TOS movies and TNG, it might just as well be categorized as "less pettily political" than the original arrangement, as the Earthlings doing the defining would be moving the center of the universe away from Earth!

    And? Russia didn't get labeled the East because it was evil - but because it was evil and in the east. Had Russia been to the south of Europe and North America, it would obviously have been associated with the South.

    Similarly, Klingons and Romulans can be Beta villains, but Cardassia obviously cannot since it doesn't lie in the direction of Beta, but deeper into Alpha than Earth does. A different derogatory label would have to be invented for it, then.

    Sure, and they still mean something much smaller in TNG (in addition to meaning the four parts of the galaxy) - several early TNG episodes use the word "quadrant" in the TOS sense of "fraction of a sector". But how does that "explain" anything, or invalidate the concept of the galactic and the sub-sectoric quadrants existing at the same time in both TOS and TNG?

    Actually, it was much larger - several TOS episodes make mention of going to the other side of the galaxy, or going to the rim (or, in TAS, the center), or being aware of what happens in all corners of the galaxy. That got severely downscaled for TNG.

    Logically, we have to wiggle out of that somehow, as Starfleet can't really have been told to withdraw from the galaxy and then subjected to an amnesia machine! Perhaps we could take some of the TOS phrasings as figurative rather than concrete? But we certainly don't have any reason to think that the TOS heroes would have had less need for galaxy-spanning terminology than the TNG heroes.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    Is it? Or it that just something seen in extraneous works? Is there an on screen graphic that places Earth as the zero meridian?
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    AFAIK, the only thing that combines galactic quadrant graphics with labels for local detail is the Voyager route map, glimpsed at Astrometrics in Season Seven. At that sort of resolution, we can't tell whether Earth is at the zero meridian, or whether some other part of the UFP nucleus is - the inaccuracy would be on the order of a few thousand lightyears. That the Alpha/Beta border splits the UFP in twain is more or less clear from that graphic, though.

    It's difficult to think of a "non-political" way to define the zero meridian. On the other hand, it's probably a good idea to have that meridian rotate along with the galaxy, rather than be defined in terms of something external to the galaxy. Differences in rotation speed will "soon" redefine any borders based on the meridian, but the "soon" is a matter of millennia if the meridian rotates around the galactic center "attached" to one of the star systems belonging to the UFP. It's not a real, practical problem then. A meridian "attached" to a star system much farther from the core, or much closer to it, let alone to an outside point of reference, would create more immediate political problems...

    Timo Saloniemi