TOS Nacelles

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Patrickivan, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. Patrickivan

    Patrickivan Fleet Captain Newbie

    Jul 16, 2006
    Dude, it doesn't say the reaction isn't in there either... It's clearly something that can be interpreted either way, and because you do so without providing evidence, doesn't help your point.

    And this isn't fanon or speculation... It doesn't sound like a flippant comment from Scotty either. It was a very serious and controlled conversation.

    'By Any Other Name' Scotty.

    "I have opened the control valves to the matter/antimatter nacelles"...

    Nacelles are not something that is enclosed within the body of a vehicle. It's external. You know this.

    And even your quote substantiates further evidence to support the theory that the m/am reactor is in there. key word in your quote is engine...

    "atop the ship and attached to the engineering hull by slender pylons, house the main starship engines"


    I do hope that my tone is hopefully not being too Adversarial. It's not my intent to ruffle feathers- just engage in a discussion...
  2. TIN_MAN

    TIN_MAN Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Aug 26, 2007
    A lot depends on the distinction between "engines" and "reactor" An engine is a machine that converts energy into mechanical force or motion. Such a machine is distinguished from an electric, spring-driven, or hydraulic motor by its use of a fuel.

    Now, I think we all agree that the TOS nacelles house the engines for propulsion? So if the reactor is somewhere else and the warp coils merely generate an energy field analogous to how an electric motor generates an electromagnetic field (both are "warped fields" according to physicists) then the nacelles and their coils could not be called engines. Since they are, the nacelles must contain something more than mere field generation coils.

    Furthermore, a true engine such as a steam engine or internal combustion engine works by bringing the fuel into the engine itself where the fuel is utilized to do the work (the expansion of gases and combustion in these cases).

    So the upshot of all this is that the M/A-M reactor can be a component of a warp drive engine, but not the engine itself. So if we assume that the reactor is in the secondary hull, then that would make the nacelles and the secondary hull all part of "the warp drive engines", but instead, in TOS only the nacelles are referred to as "the engines". Therefore the nacelles should contain M/A-M reactors; otherwise they cannot properly be called “engines”.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  3. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    They did tend to throw around the term "engines" rather casually.
  4. Patrickivan

    Patrickivan Fleet Captain Newbie

    Jul 16, 2006

    And agreed... And to be fair, most people will indiscriminately use motor and engine regardless of what they actually mean... And I expect nothing less from writers. Especially back then.
  5. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

    Oct 14, 2005
    Austin, Texas
    Sorry, but that's not really true. You took the definition from "the Free Online Dictionary," of course... and that's one possible definition, but not the real technical definition. Some similar definitions also require it to "have moving parts," by the way, which is also not really necessary for something to be an "engine.")

    In fact, there are analytical engines, there have been "computational engines" for ages (the abacus has always been considered a computational engine) and so forth.

    Furthermore, let's look at a term often (not entirely correctly) used as a synonym... "motor." Motors, unlike "engines," MUST result in mechanical work being done. Motors are one subcategory of "engines."

    The root definition of the term "engine" is the same as that of the term "engineer." Both derive from the same latin root as the word "ingenuity" does.

    If anything, the term "engine" is far, far more general than is usually recognized. And engine is, at the root, simply a device which does work... not NECESSARILY "mechanical work." A device which transforms one less-beneficial form of resource (one such resource may be "fuel") into another more beneficial form (such as "movement").

    Still... it's true that the warp engines of the enterprise DO meet the general definition you stated. Just wanted to make sure that people don't get a false impression of the meaning of a term.

    Now, in a conventional gasoline driven internal combustion engine, such as what drives our automobiles, the transformation occurs within that "engine." And I can't think of any other place the term is used where the "engine" isn't where the "reaction" occurs.

    By the time of TNG, it's clearly established that the reaction occurs in the secondary hull of the ship, and that the nacelles only contain the "motive element" of the propulsion system.

    This works in automotive terms, of course... think of the nacelles as the tires, and the "warp core" as the engine. Thus, the things on the 1701-D are not "engine nacelles" at all. The "engine" is in the secondary hull. (And yes, dialog supports that, doesn't it?)

    Can anyone remember any time during TNG that the nacelles were referred to as "the warp engines?"

    If you were to think of this in aerospace terms, you'd have a single big engine in the main cabin of an aircraft, and long driveshafts going out to the wings to turn some form of propeller.

    Of course, in aerospace terms, this isn't what's done, is it? The "engines" aren't in the main cabin, driving external propellers. The engines are external, and provide both power and propulsion to the rest of the aircraft.
    "Warped fields?" I think that's stretching to apply a "Treknology" term to a very well-understood real physics term, don't you?

    But I do agree with your overall point. You're correct... without the "engine" part (transformation of one resource... fuel, etc... into another form... high-energy radiation, heat, mechanical work, whatever) happening in those nacelles, they can't be called "engines," but they CAN be called "warp nacelles." Which is, of course, EXACTLY what was done in TMP, TNG, etc, but not in TOS.

    And in TNG, we often hear the "warp core" described as being "the warp engine," don't we?
  6. throwback

    throwback Captain Captain

    May 27, 2011
    My view is that the Enterprise is powered by a reactor in the secondary hull. This reactor provides and draws power from the nacelles. The nacelles are the propulsive mechanism, and are used for moving the ship. The design of the Enterprise is based on the precedent set by vehicles on Earth. I believe the reactor can be separated from the nacelles, and the nacelles can be set apart from the reactor. I believe the nacelles contain both matter and anti-matter which is used for the propulsive force that moves the ship. I believe the reactor powers the equipment that drives the particles to collide, and produces the power needed for propulsion. I believe the reactor powers the shielding technology that prevents an excess of particles to collide, and, in the case of severe contingencies, the nacelles can be jettison. I believe there may be other safeguards built into the class that will protect the crew.
  7. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    That's an interesting question. If in TNG, the "warp core" is the same as the "warp engine" (single) shouldn't any reference to the TNG warp engine be singular? If it is referred to as plural, would that imply the nacelles since that's at least two? FYI - there are 48 instances in TNG where the plural, "Warp Engines" is mentioned.

    In "New Ground", Geordie sounds like he is making a distinction between "warp engines" and "nacelles". Then again, he also sounds like Zephram Cochrane built the FIRST warp drive as well.
    LAFORGE: No, no, no, no. I mean, we're going to see something that people will talk about for years. I mean, think about it. No more bulky warp engines or nacelles. A ship just generates a Soliton wave and then rides it through space like a surfboard. This is going to be like being there to watch Chuck Yeager break the sound barrier, or Zephram Cochrane engage the first warp drive.
    Gotta love TNG :)
  8. TIN_MAN

    TIN_MAN Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Aug 26, 2007
    True, but since we are discussing the mechanical and/or engineering definition, these others are not relevant. We can be sure that the nacelles are not "computational engines" or "analytical engines". :p

    Not at all, but I can understand your confusion, it's my fault, I should have been more precise in my wording, so allow me to clarify.

    As we know, the space warp concept was incorporated into "Treknology" based on the advice of scientific advisors that Roddenberry and his team consulted, so it is based on "real physics". Specifically, I was thinking of the Kaluza-Klein unified field theory that applies Einstein’s curved (warped) space-time to electromagnetic fields.

    It was this "real physics" of the unified field that I was referring to in my analogy since all force fields whether electromagnetic, gravitic, strong or weak nuclear, are distortions (warps) in space-time. So no, I don't think its stretching to assume that star trek's ”real physics"-based warp field should work on principles analogous to “a very well-understood real physics term”.

    Incidentally, electromagnetism isn’t that very well-understood, while we can model it mathematically and proclaim “laws” for it, we really still do not know what it really is, other than to say it’s a distortion in a five dimensional space-time continuum. ;)
  9. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    ...So, to recap, what indication is there besides the (noncanon and probably not too closely adhered to) TMoST that the nacelles would participate in power generation? Dialogue, plot twists, visuals?

    Spock once using the term "power nacelle" was mentioned here. What episode is that from?

    Well, we can squabble about the definition of "external". Antimatter might be stored in protruding pods - but in ones protruding into a vacuum housing within the ship, or into the fuel flow, etc. (Many a fluid flow system has components inserted into the flow in pods or nacelles, after all - for measurements, sampling, spicing, heating, cooling, controlling the flow.)

    Timo Saloniemi
  10. Patrickivan

    Patrickivan Fleet Captain Newbie

    Jul 16, 2006
    Power Nacelle--- I found this from Star Trek scripts at FromThe Doomsday Machine...

    "SPOCK: 'I would say none, Captain. The energy generated by our power nacelles
    seems to attract it.'"

    Squable? Over the definition of nacelle? You're kidding, right? Because a nacelle IS an external componant of a vehicle. There is no interpretation of that. Even a Trek writer from the 60's would know that.

    Definition of NACELLE
    : a streamlined enclosure (as for an engine) on an aircraft

    nacelle n
    (Engineering / Aeronautics) a streamlined enclosure on an aircraft, not part of the fuselage, to accommodate an engine, passengers, crew, etc.
    The Free Dictionary

    A nacelle is an outboard engine housing structure on spacecraft.
    Memory Alpha


    So We're getting there... Two quotes from two sperate episodes were we have "power nacelles", and "matter/anti-matter nacelles"...
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Naah. The purely aeronautical definition is already invalidated if the action moves to outer space - in which case the expanded definition applying e.g. to marine technology comes to play. A ship propeller can be mounted on an external nacelle or pod, or the very same structure immersed inside a tube within the ship for waterjet propulsion.

    On a more general note, definitions of technological terms are utterly meaningless for the most case in speculative fiction. After all, the real world already establishes that such definitions change overnight, in illogical ways (a tank has nothing to do with tankage, a boot is not related to footwear, there is nothing flashy about flash memory). So any argument depending on the definition of a technological term in 1960 or 2011 is a weak one, and onscreen usage always trumps Webster's.

    Timo Saloniemi
  12. Patrickivan

    Patrickivan Fleet Captain Newbie

    Jul 16, 2006
    I get your point about the evolution of words. But to be fair, you have to cite an example where a nacelle is anything other then an external componant of a vehicle... And more relevant, something in Star Trek to support the claim that the word nacelle means anything different then what we're accustomed to.

    A propeller mounted in a pod (such as an Azipod), is still a nacelle.

    Anyway- it looks like we're going to be running around in circles here if we don't reach some concenus (between you and I) on what they're talking about when "nacelle" is stated in the show...

    But again, the whole point of the thread is to see what on-screen evidence supports (or even discredits) the possibility of the Nacelles also housing the m/am reactors
  13. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    All I can offer up is the same comparison between references.

    When the threat to the ship (as well as the solution to the problem) are external, i.e., when the solution is not dependent on the engineering staff actually doing anything but lies in stopping whatever supercomputer or godlike being is doing something weird that threatens to blow up the ship, the quick and easy reference to the nacelles is thrown in.

    When the threat is internal, like the antimatter control valve has been fused causing a runaway reaction and the ship accelerating past warp ten, or somebody's rigged the engines to blow up the moment they kick in the warp engines, and the solution depends on Scotty actually doing something, we're presented with a single matter/antimatter reactor housed inside the hull, with the nacelles pretty much irrelevant to the situation.

    Again, specific trumps vague. And I'm pretty sure this is why in later Star Trek productions, starting with TMP, the tech was clarified along these lines, and not in line with the power-generated-in-the-nacelles model (and remember, this was set up during Phase II, meaning Gene Roddenberry and Matt Jefferies are the deciding votes, not me and my alleged anti-FJ agenda).

    As for the Constitution class being an anomaly, that's the sort of thing you do with a prototype, not with over a dozen starships. So, yeah, I'm all in favor of having the tech line up more with the rest of the franchise.
  14. TIN_MAN

    TIN_MAN Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Aug 26, 2007
    Yes, but those references are still there, so unless we want to disregard them or reinterpret them, we still have to account for them. We shouldn't assume that just because the "engines/power/M-AM is in the nacelles model" suits these kinds of stories that it wasn't well thought out or sensible. it was MJ's model apparently, at least at the time (of TOS) and it seems to be the model that most of the writers/producers were using most of the time?

    But this just tells us what we already know, that the plot dictates the techno-babble and not the other way around. Since in TOS these kinds of references are the odd man out, if we're going to consider giving less weight to some tech references over others, then these kinds should count for less IMHO because they're used less often?

    While I agree that the "reactor/engine is in the hull model" was most likely settled upon for it's greater dramatic story telling purposes, and that Roddenberry and Jefferies changed their minds at some point post TOS, this doesn't change the fact that there were specific references in TOS to "matter/anti-matter power nacelles/pods" and they warrant serious consideration.

    Agree with your first sentence, but not the second. To me, it's more likely that the TMP "E" is the prototype with its single engine/reactor in the hull and none in the nacelles, and that this innovation became standard from then on. No need to retcon TOS IMHO.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  15. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    I'd put the TMP refit in the one-off prototype category, but for different reasons.

    It was either Sternbach or Probert who described the TMP core as being lined with dilithium, enabling the reaction to take place throughout the shaft and not just at a central point.

    With the Enterprise-A, however, we're shown a main reactor core (yeah, I know, they're just reusing the TNG engine room, but work with me here).

    Now, with "Elaan of Troyius" and "That Which Survives", we've got a very strong case for a central reactor (in fact, those two episodes are where we get "matter/antimatter reactor chamber {M/ARC} and "dilithium crystal articulation matrix" in the first place).

    So, with TMP, they tried something different with the whole shaft being the reactor (I think the theory being that it was in a constant state of "stand by", making for better acceleration reaction time), and for some reason (probably that bit about not being able to fire the phasers when the main reactor is knocked offline) they went back to the standard reactor core model.
  16. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    Well, there are other episodes like "Doomsday Machine" and "By Any Other Name" suggest reactors in the nacelles as well.

    I looked up TOS and there are no instances of a "dilithium crystal articulation matrix" mentioned.

    TOS used "dilithium crystal converter assembly" and
    TNG and DS9 used "dilithium crystal articulation frame" and
    DS9, Voy and Ent used "dilithium matrix".

    Perhaps Starfleet used that reactor on many of their ships as the Reliant from TWOK also had the same TMP reactor shaft...
  17. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Or then that shaft had nothing to do with m/am reactions, and was merely the main plasma conduit up to the impulse engines and main phasers. Or even the main plasma conduit down from the m/am reaction chamber which sat in the saucer!

    Dialogue references to the shaft being a reactor do not exist, after all. And visuals indicate the ship can attain partial main power even when the horizontal shaft is severed by an emergency bulkhead.

    Timo Saloniemi
  18. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

    Feb 26, 2010
    Very true!

    That vertical shaft has never been referred to as a reactor. And in TUC if we didn't have future knowledge it would've appeared to be an upgraded version of the same shaft rather than the M/ARC from the E-D :)
  19. BK613

    BK613 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 3, 2008
    Never get the angst here: different engineering solutions exist in real life for the same problem. And those solutions tend to be driven by the specifications for a given design, not some desire to fit in with what came before (or may come after LOL.) Don't see why it wouldn't be true for trek.
    Besides, having the same warp drive model across two centuries says stagnation rather than advancement to me.
  20. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

    Oct 14, 2005
    Austin, Texas

    The term used in TOS, as you mentioned, is at the core of my own interpretation for what Dilithium does on the 1701.

    On that ship, the dilithium is the core of a "converter assembly."

    I latched onto that piece of TOS dialogue when I decided what dilithium was used for. And I still hold to my idea, since nothing (even in later series) has ever truly conflicted with this.

    The dilithium is used to convert one form of energy (the raw reaction products from a matter/antimatter reaction) into another form of energy (which is, pretty clearly, some variation of conventional electrical power, at least during TOS and even TMP... since we see plenty of sparking and electrical arcing, don't we?)

    This is the area where I so often disagree with CRA (who I hope isn't taking my disagreements as anything PERSONAL! :) )

    CRA tends to try to "retrocon" TOS to fit with later series. He takes ideas taken from later series, like the "dilithium articulation frame" concept from TNG, and incorporates those into TOS, while these terms were never so much as IMAGINED until many, many years later.

    What do we know about "dilithium?" Not much, really... but we do know a few things.

    1) Dilithium is a high-atomic-number element. It is not a molecule, it as an element. It is named "dilithium" not because there are two lithium atoms tied together, but because at some high atomic number, the period table repeats the pattern it follows initially, and this element falls into the same place in this second "stable range" in that table as it does in the first stable range (the range we know about today). Clearly, this range also becomes unstable at some point, and then stabilizes again, from whence we get "trilithium."

    2) Dilithium can be exposed to the high-energy reaction products of a matter/antimatter reaction and, at least within certain parameters, can survive it. However, if too much reaction energy is directed through it, the dilithium will become degraded and will eventually "decay" in some fashion.

    3) We know that the source of power on the ship, at the root, is the annihilation of matter and antimatter. But we know that the source of USEABLE power on the ship is from dilithium crystals.

    4) And we know that these crystals are used as part of a "converter assembly" in TOS.

    5) We also know basically what the ideal, processed crystals (optimized for use in the 1701) look like... flat, amber-colored monocrystaline "slabs" with clampable knobs at either end. But, we also know that it's possible to use rough crystals to generate SOME usable power (though certainly not as much as the "idealized" ones would). We see those flat-slab crystals multiple times during TOS, remember.

    6) We know that there is a separate engineering bay on the Enterprise where crystals are "recharged" (and where Lazarus steals some from). Presumably, "recharged" isn't a 100% technically-correct term... perhaps this is something similar to what is done in "The Voyage Home," but at this point is only effective with crystals showing a small degree of degradation, not with heavily-degraded crystals. Maybe this is more along the lines of what "annealing" is where metals are concerned?

    Have I missed anything?