Was putting limits on Warp Travel a bad idea?

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by The Overlord, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. at Quark's

    at Quark's Captain Captain

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    Hmmm, I consider the Alexander-Worf story in that ep the primary reason for the ep being there. Even though probably more screen time is given to the 'soliton' plot, to me it ultimately felt like an excuse to get Alexander in danger after disobeying his father .... and then the "traveling at warp via an external energy wave is cool" idea applied to it.
     
  2. at Quark's

    at Quark's Captain Captain

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    To me that felt like an act of desperation. She was concerned with the greater idea of warp engines damaging the fabric of space-time generally. Not only that specific region, although the effects were most severe there, because of that narrow corridor everyone had to travel through already.

    Desperate to prove her point, she knew that the had to give a demonstration in a region where the effects would be visible at once, which could therefore not be a 'relatively unaffected' region of space. (This is speculation on my part, yes). So region-wise, she had no choice except there. And of course, the TNG crew most probably would have captured here before she could reach another candidate region anyway.

    Was it a sane choice ? Don't think so. But someone willing to die herself only to give that demonstration must be viewed either as a person fanatically devoted to a cause , or as a mentally unstable person, anyway. So I don't have a problem with the ep as such for that, as such people do exist.

    Just like in the real world, where we have people who could be labeled 'eco-terrorists'. She might just be an extreme example of those.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013
  3. I-Am-Prepared!

    I-Am-Prepared! Ensign Red Shirt

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    I think it was ridiculous that they made "Warp 10" some transcendental state where you're everywhere at once...as if they somehow "knew" that when they were creating the warp speed scale. They've never substantively explained why the jump from warp 9 (which they zoom around at all the time!) to warp 10 should create such a leap. Easy hook for a story, but makes no sense otherwise. And it gave us Paris and Janeway and lizard babies. Enough said!
     
  4. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    The Warp 10 being infinite velocity wasn't really a bad idea, but it was ultimately executed horribly or wasn't enforced that well. Ideally, it would have simplified the warp scale, avoided cumbersome-sounding warp factors in dialogue like Warp 187.4, and still allow the Galaxy to be a fairly large place that couldn't be traveled in just a few seconds. Warp 9.1 to Warp 9.9 would have been sufficient "speed of plot" velocities with Warp 10 an unreachable velocity, something that no vessel could really reach, no matter what. VOY's "Threshold" should simply not have happened in that light, IMO.
     
  5. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Why wouldn't they know? In the real world, we use the speed of light in much the same way. Or with temperatures, we know that zero Kelvin is the lowest possible, even though we've never achieved it. The scale is built around the theory.
     
  6. I-Am-Prepared!

    I-Am-Prepared! Ensign Red Shirt

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    But this is totally different, the jump from 9.9 to 10 is more than just another increase in speed...it's somehow a leap from zooming about really fast to suddenly being everywhere at once. Assuming this was known when the scale was created, then somehow this phenomena is fundamental to warp theory. But as far as I'm aware it's never really been explained *why* this is so. Whatever speed Warp 9.9999 is....why exactly does going anywhere beyond that land you everywhere at once? Let's pretend Warp 1 is the speed of light - what exactly *happens* from a scientific perspective at 10x the speed of light to cause such phenomena? I mean, Picard and crew zipped around to emergencies at Warp 9 all the time, and they weren't even close to being everywhere at once. It just doesn't make very much sense. But, as I said, this is TV and it *is* a good storytelling device, just a slightly boneheaded one. And a difficult one to realise and execute with any sense of realism.
     
  7. at Quark's

    at Quark's Captain Captain

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    What was the real-world reason behind changing the warp scale for TNG, anyway? I believe I remember reading that they didn't want to muddle around with ever-higher warp numbers, but really, what would have been the harm in letting zip starships around at warp 17? By the time VOY ended, they wouldn't have been anywhere near ordering speeds like 'warp 8472' ....

    Or did they want to keep warp speeds somewhat 'associated' with mach, for the audience ?
     
  8. Start Wreck

    Start Wreck Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's infinitely fast, and it isn't sudden, it's a gradual increase. There's an enormous difference in speed between 9.9 and 9.99, another enormous difference between that and 9.999, and again between 9.9999.
    Theoretically, Warp 10 should be impossible, but as a mathematical model by which to create a warp scale, it makes sense.


    Going beyond that would see you travelling at warp 9.99999. Then 9.999999, then 9.9999999, and so on.

    If Warp 10 was possible, it wouldn't come "just after" 9.9999. Technically, if Warp 10 is infinite velocity, there should should be an infinite number of warp scale decimal places after the 9 before we got to 10.

    Voyager portrayed that jump badly in 'Threshold'.
     
  9. Ssosmcin

    Ssosmcin Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked it in the old days when Warp Speed was just going really fast. "Warping out of orbit" was like leaving your driveway at 60 miles per hour. Thanks to TNG and wanting to have it all make sense, they did this warp field thing, with warping space and hoo hah, so at warp ten you became an iguana.

    Ah for the days when Nomad made the Enterprise go to Warp 11.
     
  10. mos6507

    mos6507 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I would argue that the episode calls into question the techno-utopianism of Star Trek, and as such it is the most disruptive but perhaps also the most relevent episode (albeit not a very entertaining one) considering the direction we're heading now with the planet. Things have gotten so bad in the real world that we are devising rube-goldberg geoengineering schemes to prevent runaway global warming, schemes that are likely to only make matters worse than doing nothing at all. It is increasingly difficult to hold onto an attitude that there is always a techno-fix to environmental problems. That narrative made most sense during the space-age of the 60s, but it is losing traction. More cynical attitudes like what you see in Cameron's Avatar better reflect the way things are than Trek. I know this cuts to the core of Gene's vision of Trek, but holding onto this idea would make Trek more relevant than the retreat to feel-good comic book fantasy we have now in nu-Trek.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Supportive nodding and grunting... I sort of liked the aspect that the phenomenon in "Force of Nature" didn't really require any steps to be taken, except at Hekaras - not in the human timescale of things.

    In that, it very nicely mirrors things like global warming or population growth: nothing wrong with it, we can take lots more of it just fine, indeed things will get much nicer thanks to it, it's 100% natural anyway regardless of whether we do it or nature does... But if we really want to do something about it, the only solution is to change the entire way we live and think. Good will have to become evil, black will have to become white.

    On the other hand, in Trek, it can be Somebody Else's Problem, as the Federation only represents a tiny fraction of the galaxy's inhabitants, and will evolve past warp drive in a jiffy anyway.

    A panicky slapping of speed limits is a very realistic reaction from the UFP, and quiet scaling back of limitations a realistic follow-on to that. It's not good publicity to say that there's no point in trying to fight warp pollution or global warming or population growth, but quietly admitting that there is no solution, and no need for a solution, may be the only acceptable solution.

    I don't see how "Force of Nature" would have needed to have any consequences after the end credits rolled. The whole point was that consequences would come millions of years later; returning to them within the same season, or the same spinoff show, or even the same Trek era in general, would have been just plain silly. Surprisingly, though, the gimmick of the episode did find pretty good dramatic use in VOY eventually, creating an "evil" motivation for the Hierarchy.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. C.E. Evans

    C.E. Evans Admiral Admiral

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    It's pretty much that. I believe there was a sense--likely by Roddenberry--that without any kind of limit, warp factors can become silly afterwhile and also make the Galaxy seem like a small place by having our heroes cross it in the blink of an eye.
    And that may have been due only to "Eugene's Limit" keeping the numbers somewhat in check. But I tend to think that if Roddenberry had known they'd eventually come up with stuff like "Warp 9.975," he probably would have just drawn the line at Warp 17 or so.

    I really do believe Roddenberry was honestly trying to simplify the warp scale by establishing Warp 10 as an absolute value. The new scale only starts getting "stoopid fast" past Warp 9.1, IMO--but otherwise it's generally just twice as fast as the TOS scale from Warp 2 to Warp 9.

    The irony, of course, is that neither the TNG or TOS scales really fit onscreen material all that well anyway, nor is there an actual difference between them ever mentioned anywhere.
     
  13. Karnbeln

    Karnbeln Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Warp 10 is the name of a defined limit of V=infinity on a logarithmic scale. What this means is that the difference between warp 1 and warp 2 is not the same as the difference between warp 2 and warp 3 - the difference between warp 2 and warp 3 is much, much greater. The higher your warp scale number is, the more any slight increase in your scale number means a greater change in velocity.

    So (and I'm making these numbers up entirely), warp 1 is 1X the speed of light, warp 2 is 10 times the speed of light, warp 3 is 250 times the speed of light, etc. Therefore, warp 9 is 100,000 times the speed of light, warp 9.9 is 120,000 times the speed of light, warp 9.97 is 160,000 times the speed of light... and so on. That means when you see one ship has a maximum velocity of warp 9.9, and another has a maximum velocity of warp 9.975, while that seems like that's hardly any faster the second ship is actually significantly quicker.

    This is because the velocity increases in relation to warp factors on a curve. This curve approaches, but never reaches, warp 10. 10 is defined as infinity, which you can never reach since infinity is an endless number. So the curve keeps getting closer and closer to 10 on the warp scale, but because the curve never reaches it, it starts running nearly parallel on a plot versus velocity - so you barely change warp factor, but velocity greatly increases.

    I'm making it sound way more complicated than it actually is, so I made a quick and dirty Paint version of the plot. Again, numbers are completely random.

    [​IMG]

    The warp scale to velocity relationship is defined by the curve. I have placed a red dot where the curve intersects warp 1, warp 2, etc, up to warp 10 (as well as warp 9.5). You can see the corresponding velocity by checking where the dot is on the X axis. As you can see, warp 1 is shown as about 40, and warp 2 somewhere around 110, a difference of 70 units of velocity (whatever they may be). The difference between warp 9 and warp 9.5, however, is somewhere around 200 units (and not just because I failed to space the units equally). As you can see, the closer you get to the warp 10, the more dramatic this effect is and the more rapidly you accelerate.

    This is all a very long way of saying that there isn't some arbitrary speed after which you either are suddenly stopped from accelerating or are everywhere in the universe. Warp 10 is simply arbitrarily defined by people as infinite speed, and you can always go faster and faster and faster after hitting warp 9, you'll just starting incrementing your warp factor by smaller and smaller numbers so that you never reach 10.

    (Warp speeds higher than 10, which appeared on TOS, are supposedly from a different method of calculating warp factors, from before warp 10 was set as infinite velocity. Which means when the Enterprise NX-01 travels at warp 5, it is actually travelling at, say, warp 3 on the TNG scale. Apparently, by the future depicted in All Good Things, the warp scale calculation method was changed once more; My assumption is that as ships started commonly traveling at speeds with ridiculous amounts of decimal places after 9 (Warp 9.99765 for example) there was a need to make that warp 9 area roomier to make the warp factor more wieldy. So infinite velocity was redefined as warp 15 or something, and the Enterprise's Warp 13 was something like 9.99985 on the normal TNG scale.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013
  14. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    It was a bad idea on many levels, as it was "restriction" only designed to send out some-sort-of half-assed message about environmentalism which really, really didn't come across well.

    It was further neutered by the fact that the Warp Factors mean nothing to us because no matter what warp speed is mentioned we know it'll work as fast as the plot needs it to. If the plot called for it Warp 5 would get the Enterprise from the edge of Federation space back to Earth inside of a couple of days (when it "reality" it'd take months.) So there was no point to it, especially since before too long a "solution" was found that didn't cause the "environmental damage" and didn't require the warp-speed limits.

    So it was a bad idea because it was invented only to preach and it was never really obeyed or followed up on and ultimately meant nothing since as far as what we see in the show is concerned the Warp Factor means nothing to us. Beyond we know that "Warp 9" is really fast and "Warp 5" is sort of slow.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Why? Drama is all about preaching, hopefully with the impact of a trained and well-funded evangelist - and if an idea can be created that does that and nothing but that 100% pure, without affecting anything else, surely it's a superior achievement.

    Why should it? It had no effects extending beyond the end credits - the episode made clear that the environmental problem was not an acute one, could not be solved, and would not affect our heroes except if they regularly visited Hekaras.

    Which makes this a particularly clean and efficient wrap. Warp factor never meant much to the heroes, either. Except perhaps to LaForge, who was supposed to be at the "human interest" focus of this adventure. But we know LaForge doesn't make noise about himself, so the impact of the events on him would not be expected to carry over to other episodes.

    Saving Planet Neverheardof is the bread and butter of Trek drama, and isn't hindered by the fact that the planet means nothing to us, its inhabitants are not our old friends, and the calamity it faces is an absurd one unrelated to our daily lives...

    Timo Saloniemi