The Beta Quadrant

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

  1. Captain Clark Terrell

    Captain Clark Terrell Commodore Commodore

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    Not necessarily. The maps are only 2D representations of known space. They don't take into account territory or borders beyond the plane of the computer monitor. It's possible both the Klingons and Romulans share a border with Cardassia that's above or below the plane in question.

    --Sran
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, it seems pretty clear that the Klingons don't share a border with the Cardassian Union they are invading. Else why not invade across that border? It's not as if there could be Maginot lines in space - the best one can hope for in interstellar space is some sort of a warning network, such as the one the Feds supposedly have against the Romulan Star Empire. And even that one doesn't seem to work too well, as in "Face of the Enemy" the enemy is not detected!

    Then again, invading Cardassia through Bajor means the shortest route imaginable from non-Cardassian space to the very center of the Cardassian Union. Even if that requires going through the Federation first, it's probably a very good strategic choice nevertheless, compared with crossing the border somewhere farther away. The Feds aren't so uptight about who sails through their space, especially under cloak.

    Many wars in the Trek universe probably take place across considerable distances of neutral or third-party territory. Why annoy your neighbors if your aim is just to pillage, or to destroy potential future adversaries? Klingons supposedly sent a fleet against the Breen in the past, just for the heck of it; we've never heard of border squabbles between the Klingon Empire and the Breen Confederacy.

    The Feds would be an exception to this, fighting only their neighbors, and only for defensive reasons. Then again, the Feds may well choose to expand by annexing very distant cultures, creating isolated patches of territory they have to defend, with neutral/third-party space in between. No aggressor empire would be likely to expand in such a foolish manner...

    The bottom line being, unless we have an explicit reference to a border between A and B, we should not deduce that such a border exists merely because A and B interact.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. blueshirt

    blueshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The real problem is that choosing to divide the galaxy into 4 quadrants is not just arbitrary, it's also silly in that it doesn't follow any "natural contours" of the Milky Way.

    It's the equivalent of drawing a line through Greenwich, England, and declaring that everything within 180 degrees to the west that's north of the equator constitutes the Earth's Alpha Continent while everything within 180 degrees to the east that's south of the equator constitutes the Delta Continent, regardless of the placement of land masses like Eurasia, North America, or Africa.

    The real question the Star Trek writers should have considered -- and didn't most of the series have a technical adviser to help them? -- is whether the Federation and its neighboring powers (Romulans, Klingons, Ferengi, Cardassians, First Federation) are all in the Orion Spur, or whether explored space includes parts of the Sagittarius or Perseus Arms.

    Their territories could easily fit into any odd shapes as needed within the 3-dimensional Orion Spur, allowing the writers to be nebulous, so to speak, about who borders whom.
     
  4. vulcan redshirt

    vulcan redshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    According to Wikipedia, the Orion Arm of the galaxy is 10000 ly long, by about 3000 ly wide and 1000 ly thick. Therefore, it would seem reasonable that this volume of space can contain the entire Federation and all its neighbours. - Assuming high warp speeds based on Voyager allowing travel of approx 1000 ly per year (~3 ly/day) the arm would take 10 years to travel the length of. So, given the relatively low travel times within trek stories, one would have to assume that, with the exception of stories involving super fast / long distance travel, everything does happen in the Orion Arm. Limted exploration or survey work may have been undertaken in the Saggitairus or Perseus arms, but these seem to be at least 5000 ly distant. This still leaves the 'above or below' argument with regard to the dispersion of the major empires in ST. THis would also allow the Enterprise in WNMHGB to pass 'up' or 'down' through the galactic disc and reach the edge of the galaxy in approx 6 month's travel, at VOY speed.

    FWIW, it would seem that Voyager started in the Carina-Saggitarius arm, then crossed to the Scutum-Centaurus arm (via the Nekrit Expanse?). Borg space is generally located in the Scutum-Centaurus arm. Later parts of the journey, possibly undertaken with the quantum slipstream jump, would take Voyager into the Norma Arm, where S5-7 take place.

    The Dominion would seem to be located in the farthest part of the Scutum-Centaurus arm also.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Milky_Way_Arms_ssc2008-10.svg Alpha quadrant would be top right

    Many of the Federation's neighbours seem to be based on military expansion and would likely envelop systems inhabited by other, less advanced races, only stopping if communication / supply lines become too long, or they border another empire of comparable strength. It would herefore be reasonable to assume that these empires generally occupy contiguous bubbles of space. the Federation, OTOH, expands through treaty and colonisation of uninhabited systems, which as I'm sure I have seen discussed before, will lead to a far more irregular shape, including pockets around independant worlds. I would envisage the Federation being shaped a bit like a cartoon splat shape, but in 3D, perhaps with some exclaves, and a few enclaved areas of independant 'nations'. This would allow the Federation to be big, yet also border a very large number of races, and also for the distance between, for example the Klingons and Cardassians to be relatively low. Additionally, until the treaty was broken, the alliance with he Klingons would presumably allow them free passage, no questions asked. Consider maritime law and law of the high seas, and the rights of travel associated with.

    Blueshirt, with regard to your reference to the 'arbitrary' position of the Greenwich Meridian, only a prime meridian in western Europe allows for the date line to be placed entirely within ocean (albeit with a few meanders here and there). A prime meridian, for example off the westernmost part of Africa (as I believe was once considered) would leave the date line crossing eastern Russia and Australia.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  5. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    ^Those ships have really slown down by the time of VOY. As Vulcan was only 4 days away from Earth (TMP) which would mean a travel time of 4ly per day.

    But ships in ST travel at Plot Speed.
     
  6. Bad Thoughts

    Bad Thoughts Commodore Commodore

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    This critique only makes sense if the four-part division of the galaxy was the only way that territory was perceived by the UFP. Yet there are numerous territories that are referred to throughout the franchise: the Typhon Expanse, various empires, the Neutral Zone, various star systems, the Badlands, etc. Some of these are astronomical features, others are political. Some are defined by the great powers, others by the people who live in them. Obviously, the lines of longitude and latitude, to which the Greenwich line refers, would seem arbitrary if there weren't other territories that were under consideration, natural or political: continents, river systems, mountain ranges, nations, provinces/states, counties/departments, etc. Even though the lines of longitude and latitude create a global paradigm of spatial arrangement, I don't expect to turn on the news tonight to hear about what's going on at 36°13′N 37°10′E, but at Aleppo.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
  7. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Plus, what benefit would there be from dividing up the galaxy along "natural" lines? On such a scale, there'd be nothing practical about those lines. Why should the Federation be limited by the contours of a galactic arm, when it's either too small to fill up the volume or too large to even notice the subtle transition from within an arm to outside it?

    Being inside or outside an arm isn't really something you could notice simply by flying from star to star. And in Star Trek, all stars, regardless of whether statistically typical to the insides of arms or the outsides, are likely to hold targets of interest. If there aren't "natural" planetary systems there, ancient civilizations have apparently made sure that there will be "unnatural" ones...

    Creating a zero meridian for a spherical or cylindrar galactic coordinate system is an obvious step. Using that to divide the galaxy in half would also be pretty natural, even if it had no practical applications; dividing in four is simply the more elegant, that is, more symmetric way to go. Just like East and West here on Earth have no practical significance but have accrued a symbolic political one, Alpha Quadrant and Beta Quadrant apparently have at least some symbolic worth. And, of course, the division between Alpha and Gamma is of utmost significance in the Dominion War, in almost exactly the same way as the division between East and West in the Cold War here on Earth.

    I think that's throwing in the towel a bit too soon.

    It's perfectly natural to have ships travel faster over shorter distances. That's what they do in the real world, too - dash speed cannot be sustained for any length of time (unless your vessel is fission-powered, in which case dash and cruise speed tend to be one and the same). For journeys taking years or decades, the issue becomes even more significant: a short hop can be conducted without concern to wear and tear, but as the length increases, so do maintenance concerns. Quite possibly a ship capable of doing a hundred lightyears in a day and two hundred lightyears in a week will limit herself to doing a thousand lightyears in a year, lest a pit stop be needed where there are no pits to stop at.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And Voyager's estimated return time was likely factoring in all the general stopping that the ship would be doing along the way, not just for maintenance. It's not like they were just traveling nonstop the entire series.
     
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    All we know is that Janeway said "even at maximum speeds", indicating she felt maintaining of such speeds was a theoretical option only. This could definitely still be factoring in all the routinely expected delays, though. It would just be a tad silly to be speaking in terms of unattainable speeds and not ignore all the pit stops, too.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  10. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    So basically what you are saying the crusing speed of a TNG era ship is slower than the top speed of a TOS era ship. To draw an anology, go back even 50 years and you're average car might not get much faster than 70mph, today's cars can easily cruise at 90mph.
     
  11. blueshirt

    blueshirt Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Vulcan redshirt, I enjoyed that link, and it seems your projections for Borg and Dominion space match well with Timo's "Star Trek Star Charts" book.

    I agree the conquering empires likely would stick to mostly spherical territories. But the Klingons could be "down" from Earth regardless of which quadrant they're in and more easily have a literal sphere of influence that has lengthy borders with the UFP and Romulans yet remains within striking distance of Cardassia.

    Placing the prime meridian at Greenwich may be arbitrary, but it's also a very useful spot to select for exactly the reason you cite involving the International Date Line.

    On the other hand, the scientific definition of Western Hemisphere really does refer to everything within 180 degrees west of the prime meridian, but politically it's far more useful to refer to it as North and South America.

    Timo, by the way I very much enjoy your book and read through it often. I suspect scientists would want to establish a prime meridian for the galaxy, as it would be essential for mapping purposes, and Vulcan redshirt's link suggests somebody already did.

    I don't know how meaningful the alpha/beta line would be for the political and colonial needs of the Federation and its neighbors since exploration would be driven by the contours, or more precisely the stars of interest and astronomical objects of interest, of the Orion Spur.

    The "Alpha Quadrant" really serves more as a helpful political shorthand Star Trek's writers invented. I just always found it amusing because the Dominion War involved such a tiny part of the total quadrant. It's like saying "the Western world" when you mean the Benelux nations.

    I guess I think the Federation and Klingons should have been calling themselves the "protectors of the Orion Arm," or that Gul Dukat should have said the Cardassians were to be the "masters of the Orion Arm."
     
  12. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't know that Timo was one of our resident authors. I have that book.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, no - Geoffrey Mandel is the author. It's just that he discussed the book with a number of fans before proceeding, and the Alpha and Beta quadrant stuff is basically the research of Christian Rühl (see http://www.stdimension.org/) worked over by yours truly to best match what we knew of the Trek universe just before ENT premiered. So I get the generous "technical advisor" credit along with Bormanis, Okuda and Sternbach, while Christian gets actual "contributor" credit as due.

    Basically, my contribution is limited to pp. 46-47, 62-67 and the fold-outs at the end - it's my clumsy artwork redone with smooth printing effects, plus a couple of added details. And by visiting Christian's website, you can see it's not particularly original art anyway. It's just something where Mandel and I happened to agree a lot.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ah, there you are on the title page. I'll have to give that book another look soon.
     
  15. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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    I always think....

    Why isn't Betazed in the Beta Quadrant?

    :p
     
  16. Nebusj

    Nebusj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Obviously, because it's in the Beta Zedrant.
     
  17. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Because Betazoid women like Alpha males.
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Betazed in the alpha quadrant, is the counterpart of Alphazed in the beta quadrant.

    :)
     
  19. Captain Kathryn

    Captain Kathryn Commodore Commodore

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  20. jpv2000

    jpv2000 Captain Captain

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    :rofl: Good one.