# Warp, Motion, Accelleration... ugh...

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Johnny, Feb 2, 2013.

1. ### JohnnyCommanderRed Shirt

Joined:
Aug 2, 2007
Location:
Birmingham, UK.
Ok, so I got to this question after watching rocket launches on the old youbletuble.. don't judge me, I know it's a Friday and I should be doing that social thing I hear so much about...

Anyhow, impulse I get, thrust = movement/g-force, etc., requiring inertial dampers. But warp, based on the contraction and expansion of space in front and behind a ship means no thrust/movement/accelleration and therefore no inertia?

So two questions beg, does contraction/expansion in warp still result in acceleration/g-force whether it's moving around you or you're moving through it (yep I get it's all relative!), and if there's actually no 'technical' movement then why do ships generally accelerate to impulse before engaging the warp drive (besides the obvious running away from bad man with the guns), as if it's a pre-cursive requirement to get to a speed that relies on a lack of movement...?

Do I remember rightly that in VOY there was an episode where they created a low-level warp field? Also DS9 Emisary, again with the subspace field to reduce mass?

Oh, and is a warp field and subspace field the same thing? Weren't they brown in ENT?

Ok, that was more like eight questions!
J.

2. ### Captain_AmasovCaptainCaptain

Joined:
Feb 6, 2008
Are impulse engines purely thrust based? The ships in Star Trek wouldn't be able to to reach relativistic speeds at impulse if they were, would they?

Joined:
Nov 22, 2001
Location:
Ferguson, MO, USA
Depending on what theory you subscribe to, a warp field is made up of many layers of subspace fields, with propulsion achieved by pushing off them. The more subspace layers being pushed off of, the faster the ship goes at warp flight, IMO.

Another theory is similar to the one above, but involves the ship going continually deeper into the subspace domain. The deeper the ship goes into subspace, the higher the warp factor, etc.

In both, the ship's actual speed remains slower-than-light within its warp envelope.

4. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
If I'm remembering the details correctly from Jack McDevitt's CHINDI (a novel not related to the TREK universe at all, but just for comparison), the starships in that universe had two types of engines. The normal space engines moved the ship in the way we understand Newtonian physics—action/reaction. The n-space engines also charged up special hyperspace engines. The h-space engines instantly push the ship out of n-space and into hyperspace where speed and duration take on different values. (Basically, the ship must have normal space movement to have any movement within hyperspace.)

The story reveals that if a ship loses mass while in hyperspace, say by dumping cargo overboard, the ship will have greater speed when returning to n-space than when it left. This expose becomes important later in the story when the Earth ship must catch up with an alien vessel that has greater n-space speed than any Earth ship. The Earth ship pushes an asteroid into hyperspace with it, then dumps it there and returns to n-space traveling at a much higher speed.

Of course, this has no bearing on STAR TREK as there are numerous times when the Enterprise has maneuvered at warp speeds. The technologies in the show are all fictitious, naturally. But if the writers had nailed down details like the above, it might have made some of the stories more interesting.

Also, I don't believe it is necessary for Federation ships to build up any speed with impulse before engaging warp. One example that comes to mind is "The Enterprise Incident," where Kirk zings away from the surrounding Romulans at warp 9. If the Enterprise had so much as twitched on impulse, the Romulans would have blasted them. (Kirk did the same stunt in "The Deadly Years," but with a really cool reverb. "Warp factor 8, now!")

Joined:
Nov 17, 2001
Location:
There is some (non canon, I think) information out there that suggests the impulse engines do actually create some kind of low energy warp field that enables them to expend far less kinetic energy to move the space ship than they would without.

TNG or DS9 Tech manual maybe?

6. ### tighrCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Sep 5, 2011
Location:
California
The Picard Maneuver depends on instant warp from full stop.

Also, I'm not sure of the canonical reference, but I do recall somewhere it being stated that it takes more energy to travel at full impulse than it does to simply travel at Warp 1.

7. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
I rolled my eyes the first time I heard about this tactic. STAR TREK assumes starships that maneuver at many times the speed of light. Thus, they need FTL sensing and navigation systems, otherwise no one would ever be able to engage another ship. The ships would be like Deela in "Wink of an Eye" casually stepping out of Kirk's phaser fire.

Then some TNG writer invoked a "fossil light" battle tactic—akin to someone trying to use ramming against a modern carrier battle group.

So the "Picard Maneuver" invokes "super physics" while relying on basic physics to work.

8. ### tighrCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Sep 5, 2011
Location:
California
The Picard Maneuver definitely assumes a lot of things, and I imagine that if actually executed it would have a low probability of success (of course, he was going against Ferengi, so FTW!)

However, the base assumption is that the battle is taking place at sublight speeds in relatively close proximity. Ships are firing at each other using phasers. I don't have details on FTL/subspace sensors, but it is probable that they are not monitored or in use when engaged in a local firefight. For example, I don't look at my GPS when the Chipotle I'm looking for is across the street. Sublight sensors would indeed be fooled for a split second by a ship suddenly warping to another area of space.

This is all destroyed by the fact that phaser fire presumably moves at the speed of light itself, so by the time you noticed the ship wasn't there anymore you'd also notice that you'd been fired upon.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot that the specifics of the Picard Maneuver require that you warp TOWARDS the enemy vessel (and not merely a sideshift), so if you're able to do that and fire instantly, yeah. They're probably screwed.

9. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
Why would they use a different set of sensors? For that matter, why engage in a "close proximity" fight with weapons that have effective range and power at superluminal speeds? Since the warp drive was obviously functional...

The Picard Maneuver belongs in the same fantasy tactics category as the "dogfighting" one-man ships in STAR WARS and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

The light delay between Earth and the Moon is about 1.3 seconds—long enough to matter when aiming weapons in a space battle. Yet 1.3 seconds is hardly an advantage worth mentioning with ships and weapons designed to engage at FTL speeds. So again, the Picard Maneuver is nonsense.

10. ### tighrCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Sep 5, 2011
Location:
California
Different deck of cards here... why do you feel "dogfighting" is not realistic in sci-fi?

Not only do I think it is realistic, I think it has its place. Star Trek simply chooses not to employ the tactic. Light fighters would be capable of maneuvering and avoiding torpedos and phasers, as well as being small enough to be difficult to lock on.

11. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Feb 26, 2010
If you guys watch the episode there are a lot of details that point to the "Picard Maneuver" as having worked because:
1. the ship accelerated almost instantly to Warp 9 from either sublight or more likely from Warp 2.
2. the Ferengi chose the wrong ship to fire at.

The Ferengi must have possessed FTL sensors since they ambushed the Stargazer as she was traveling by at Warp 2. In all likelihood, the FTL sensors reached some sort of upper limit at Warp 9 detection speeds or refresh rate, IMHO.

12. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
Take the climactic battle in STAR WARS (later subtitled "A New Hope") as typical. We see the X-wings circle the gas giant Yavin in a very short period of time—let's guess about an hour or less based on the graphic shown of the approaching Death Star. That's without benefit of the hyperspace engine shown in other movies of the series. But since that wasn't shown until later, let's assume just the speed seen in the first movie.

Obviously, the fighters could not dogfight at such speeds close to the Death Star. Maneuvering at "interplanetary" speeds would require either a very wide turning radius, or unbearable G-forces. The speeds and distances are not a small step up from today's jet fighters. The jump is many orders of magnitude. If someone gets on your tail, just aim for the sky and blip the throttle. No one would ever be able to engage.

Okay, let's grant inertial dampers, "Ka-pwing! Bulletproof vest!" We are now talking about maneuvers too fast for human control, to say nothing of being able target an enemy fighter. If we now grant computer control for maneuvering and targeting, why bother with the human pilot? Why not an automated drone or cruise missile-like weapon? Why are bows and arrows ineffective against an armored tank?

The one-man fighter would be totally obsolete in interplanetary space. The amount of effort for one fighter to take out another fighter is completely irrelevant compared to the big weapons the capital ships would be tossing about. And a one-man fighter is a flea-bite to a capital ship—excepting childish fantasy scenarios like STAR WARS where ducking in and pressing the destruct button takes out the entire works.

Dogfighting in space is nothing more than a fantasy concession to Earth-bound humans—just like the Enterprise's "swish" as it passes by.

13. ### ManticoreManticore, A moment agoAdmiral

Joined:
Mar 1, 2004
Location:
Austin, but not Austin
Didn't they say that the FTL sensors had been damaged? And if not, it's not that hard to believe that they had been throughout the fight.

14. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
I haven't seen the episode in question. I've read about the maneuver, only. If damage to the FTL sensors was not specifically stated in the episode, then we're really grasping at straws to make this thing work. In my opinion, damaged FTL sensors would spell the end of the fight one way or another. The Enterprise would be able to dart around anywhere delivering body blows to the enemy until they succumbed—without fear of counter strikes. It would not be necessary to "fake them out" by pretending to be two ships. Without FTL sensors, the Ferengi wouldn't stand a chance of hitting the Enterprise, except by sheer accident.

15. ### blssdwlfCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Feb 26, 2010
There was nothing said about damaged sensors. The only things that we know were the fight started with the Stargazer at Warp 2 when she was jumped.

After two passes from the Ferengi, Picard gets a bearing on the Ferengi ship by detecting it's sensor beam and then times the acceleration to Warp 9 at the Ferengi as the Ferengi's sensor pulse is on it's way back to the Ferengi.

The Stargazer then stops relative to the Ferengi ship and opens fire.

16. ### GarrowolfEnsignNewbie

Joined:
Jan 9, 2013
The Picard Manuever could only work if the attacking ship thought that the other image was a hologram or some sort of illusion.
The problem with it is the FTL sensors. They are not dependant on the speed of light by definition so they would only read one ship. Plus they would detect the burst of energy from the warp engines so there is no reason for any FTL ship to not know which one was which.
So the only way it would work is if they had been previously tricked into firing at a hologram and they thought this was another example. Of course their weapons would be tied to their FTL sensors so they would probably not fire at the original location even if the crew wanted to because there would be no target there. They would have to go to manual to make it work and by that point the image change will catch up with the ship.
When they showed it on the show the ship was only a lightsecond at most away so it would have only appeared for a second.
Of course having known about it would have automatically negated the whole tactic so the Ferengi were being stupid to fall for it but the Enterprise crew was MORONS for even considering it a problem.
It was just a case of writers with no good idea for a tactic doing something silly.

17. ### GarrowolfEnsignNewbie

Joined:
Jan 9, 2013
When you are using Impulse engines you are still under interial compensation so that the crew doesn't feel most of it movement. Personally I don't think that they should feel any of it but that doesn't look good on TV.
Full Impulse goes up to .25C and uses a low level warp field to reduce the mass of the ship so that a small impulse engine is enough. That way they don't have to stack the back of the ship with thruster bells like Star Wars.
Once you are at Warp you are not moving relative to the space inside the warp field but the space is moving relative to the space outside the warp field. Think of putting a ship model on a place mat and moving the mat instead of the ship.
Most of the time it is safer to generate a warp field away from a gravity well since that can cause wormholes and damage to your engines. That is the reason that they use impulse engines to pull away from a planet's gravity well before going to warp. If they were already away from one then they will just use their thrusters to turn and then go to warp.
A ship at warp has no acceleration. Some things like to say that if the inertial dampeners failed it would kill everyone. This is not true. It would mean that impulse travel would have to accelerate slowly but you could go in and out of warp without it.

18. ### tighrCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Sep 5, 2011
Location:
California
The ultimate solution Data came up with was monitoring for gaseous anomalies (presumably something that they can do FTL?). Maybe the Ferengi ship weren't monitoring for those changes, or maybe it is not standard operating procedure to monitor for those types of things. Without knowing that, it's a bit naive to call the crew of those ships "idiots".

19. ### MetryqFleet CaptainFleet Captain

Joined:
Jan 23, 2013
"Gaseous anomalies"? I immediately think ST6 when I hear that bit of techno-babble. The movie begins with Starfleet's latest and finest "boldly going" out to do grunt work—mapping gaseous anomalies.

These GAs must be of great interest to the Federation—either that or there was a continuity error in the script—because towards the end of the movie Uhura asks, "Well, what about all that equipment we're carrying to catalogue gaseous anomalies? ...Well, the thing's got to have a tail pipe."

They probably stumbled upon FARSCAPE's Rygel farting helium.

20. ### tighrCommodoreCommodore

Joined:
Sep 5, 2011
Location:
California
Rather, the "anomalies" that Data proposed tracking is the dispersion of space when a ship warps in. The ship takes the place of whatever was in its arrival destination, causing detectable ripples. Kind of like jumping in a pool, you're going to make a splash. Also, it is going to leave a vacuum in the place you just left, so space gases and particles will fill that void.

Contrary to popular belief, space isn't a total vacuum. There's stuff up there.

TNG's The Battle came out in 1987, a full four years before Star Trek VI.