Why place warp cores away from nacelles?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by shipfisher, Feb 1, 2009.

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  1. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    Well, every ship with warp drive and a main reactor powering it does have one... if "warp core" is synonymous with "main reactor". I just don't like the term. It doesn't make sense.
     
  2. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    It's not the placement of the warp core that's the topic. The warp nacelles have to be away from the ship itself because of the radiation, which on the defiant class the nacelles must have been heavily shielded. The warp core is in a centralized location that's close to the anti-deuterium pods and dueterium tank. You can't really put those into the nacelle pylons or the nacelles, there wouldn't be enough room. So they put the warp core (or in the Constitution class the reaction room, there wasn't a centralized warp core on that ship.) as close to the nacelles as possible. Also, the warp plasma gets accelerated VIA the warp conduits, so they have to be a certain length for this to happen. And warp core is simply a specific term for what the overal FTL engines do as a whole. The subspace fields warp the area of space around it to partially submerge it into subspace while still being active in our space. It can also be called "main reactor", and engineering can also be called "the reactor room". It's all synonyms.
     
  3. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The official blueprints to the Galaxy class, or specifically the Enterprise-D, shows the plasma conduits, and the various components that accelerate the plasma before it reaces the warp coils. I have blueprints of the USS Voyager (unofficial but based on my extensive knowlege, 100% accurate), also show the plasma conduits. FYI, the Enterprise-D blueprints were drawn by Mike Okuda.
     
  4. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The drive plasma is indeed created by the interaction of the matter-antimatter hitting the dilithium. It is then fed through the nacelles where it is accelerated in preperation for the nacelles (acclerated plasma has it's own gravitational turbulence, which would explain how the subspace fields semi-warp space.), then it interacts with the naclles materials to produce the warping subspace fields.

    Since there is no canon explanation of how this happens, I came up with my own viable theory.

    Perhaps Dilithium initially is just a form or variant of lithium. It's travelling through space on an asteroid or comet, and said asteroid or comet interacts with subspace in some way (a subspace pocket, a breach in subspace, etc.). Through that reaction, it changes the nature of said lithium creating dilithium. Then it hits a planet where it's mined. This would makes sense considering in TOS dilithium was a rare element.

    Because it phases into subspace and is bombarded with intense radiation in the process, when antimatter and matter collides with it the the crystal phases out of space time and partially into subspace, which phases the created plasma as well, which makes it the perfect fuel to create subspace fields. That also explains why the crystal doesn't annhiliate when matter and antimatter hits the crystal.

    Just a theory, but one that at least partially fits onscreen evidence.
     
  5. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like this theory.
     
  6. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    ...M/AM reactions and dilithium crystals have nothing to do with subspace. :wtf:
     
  7. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    The preferred power source in the Star Trek era seems to be fusion, with M/AM reactors being reserved for really high powered applications, like warp drive.

    So, while everything else on board can function just fine on the fusion reactors, you need that big sucker to operate the warp drive, at least at any level that might be considered practical. It is, essentially, the core of the enitre warp drive system, hence "warp core".

    As for the dilithium crystals, the high energy plasma that's produced by the matter/antimatter reaction is passed through the dilithium crystals, which focuses and intensifies the plasma stream, raising it up to the level necessary to generate a stable warp field. During TOS' time, the dilithium crystal assembly was separate from the reactor, whereas by TNG's time (maybe even as early as TUC), the crystals are now inside the reactor itself.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  8. shipfisher

    shipfisher Commander Red Shirt

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    One of your posts has swayed my opinion yet again Timo. Captain Robert April also makes a sound argument. I suppose the benefits of a central power core combined with drive units well clear of the inhabited parts of the ship more than counter any disadvantage that relatively long plasma conduits might have.

    I wasn't aware that the plasma was accelerated in the conduits Kent. This would be a great rationale for their length on it's own. I also have to admit to never having seen reference to any subspace effects being involved with any part of the drive system before the plasma transfers energy to the warp coils in the nacelles, though your theory(s) certainly sound interesting.
     
  9. Captain Robert April

    Captain Robert April Vice Admiral Admiral

    I don't think the conduits do much in the line of accelerating the plasma (for one thing, what would that accomplish? It's already moving at near lightspeed, which in the relatively short distance from the reactor to the nacelles is essentially instantaneous), but they do direct the plasma in the right direction(s).
     
  10. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    no you're right there isn't any direct on screen evidence. but i would like to point out that other than the unsupported treknobabble there really isn't any direct anything that explains warp drive anyway.

    The plasma would have to in some way be prepped to create the subspace fields emitted by the warp engines. to say that it's just plasma that's accelerated by the warp reaction chamber would be a little odd considering all elements of the warp drive power creation have to be related in some way.

    That said, the only way I can feesibly ration that the dilithium doesn't mutually annihilate is that it's somehow related to subspace on it's own, thus altering the plasma itself into a partially phased subspace state, where it's further accelerated on it's way to the warp nacelles, prepped to interact with the warp coils materials that are known to interact with subspace.

    If it was just the nacelles themselves that interact with subspace, then they would have to have inherent properties themselves which relate to subspace. At least that's my rational when the dilithium itself doesn't mutually annhilate. If it was some other way, like the matter and antimatter reacting with say a dark matter pocket which has no detectible mass, then that resulting radioactive plasma is sent through the conduits to the warp nacelles in which the coils materials interact with this new type of energy combined of a dark matter, positive matter, and antimatter reaction, then I could see the warp nacelles being the direct creators of the warp subspace fields themselves.

    But that's not the case. Instead we have a material of positive matter, the dilithium, that seemingly doesn't annhilate when antimatter and matter touches it. No. Instead when the matter and antimatter mutually annihilate (I have no idea if i'm spelling that right lol.), it causes a reaction via the dilithium. This reaction creates the nacelle ready plasma. Why would there be a reaction with the dilithium in the first place if it didn't have some purpose in creating the fields? Why does there have to be dilithium at all at that point? Why not a simply very powerful explosion in which the energy is transferred through the conduits to the nacelles? The reason is the dilithium serves as an alteration or preparatory device that allows the nacelle interaction with the plasma to create warp fields.

    And they aren't gravitational fields, they are subspace fields that somehow warp space around the ship to allow travel through subspace while still somehow emerged in our own space (case in point, the ship is travelling through subspace yet we still see things in our own level of space. Hence the phasing of the dilithium.). Even a planet as big as Earth doesn't create gravitational forces on the level of warping space on that effect. It would have to be something akin to a black hole's level of space warping.
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not even sure that the plasma is moving at all. That is, the conduits don't seem to be shaped like a loop, and normally the plasma isn't escaping at the business end, so the assumption is that it isn't being generated in the reactor end, either.

    Rather, the plasma would be like the copper in electric wires: the immobile medium in which the energy travels. We hear about intermix ratios when people start m/am reactors, but that could be a start procedure only - an excess of matter would result in the plasma conduits filling up, after which the ratio would be changed to 1:1 and only energy would be pumped into the system. That is, until the next shutdown or emergency plasma venting.

    And the energy being pumped into the plasma could indeed be something truly exotic - not electricity, nor compression waves, but something that only dilithium can produce when bombarded with the more conventional energies of m/am annihilation.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't think the plasma moves at light speed at all....it would be VERY difficult to moniter and control if this was the case. And if there was a problem with plasma flow which there is sometimes, shutting the conduits down and redirecting the plasma flow would be VERY difficult and time consuming.

    The reason why the plasma would be further accelerated is because in addition to proabably being slightly phased into subspace to get the desired subspace fields, highly accelerated plasma has an inherent gravitational flux which could be used to access subspace itself. That combined with the plasma being partially phased through subspace would be the key (along with the nacelles) to creating subspace fields.

    I look at the nacelles themselves as more of a focuser of the altered plasma, which allows the ability to transform the plasma from altered plasma to subspace fields. It's like a transformer. It transforms one form of energy into another.
     
  13. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, generally speaking, to get from one point or another you kind of have to move by some way. Plasma doesn't move on it's own, which supports the theory of magnetic plasma conduits "helping" it on its way from the core to the nacelles, in addition to plasma acceleratores. And there are references to "second stage plasma accelerators" we just don't know WHERE. But considering the conduits are long, it makes sense they are there. How many times has belanna had to shut down plasma accelerators, or some component like it.

    And yes the energy could be truly exotic, which is why I have the theory that the dilitium is somehow a biproduct of interacting with subspace, thus making the resulting plasma a semi-phased material that has subspace properties. I'd say that form of energy is pretty exotic. And the plasma is created in the warp reaction chamber, that's pretty solid, and is what gets pumped into the nacelles or why would people say "we're venting drive plasma"?
     
  14. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Actually the warp core and the fusion reactors BOTH power everything. Remember when the warp core is offline, in serious situations the power systems are partially operational. What's keeping the rest online are the fusion generators. A federation ship is ENOURMOUSLY energy hungry, with the transporters, replicators, lights, power doors, turbolifts, atmospheric controls, gravity generators, etc etc. If fusion could power all that alone that would be a miracle.
     
  15. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command Rear Admiral

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    I think there was a three-stage plasma accelerator running across the top of each catamaran hull on NX-01. Drexler compared it to a supercharger, if I remember correctly.

    This would seem to support the idea.
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    But copper wires don't move when they allow electricity to get from one point to another. Even the electrons within don't really move: they just sort of wiggle around, kicking the next one, so that electricity is transmitted. Plasma could be analogous to that. After all, as you say:

    which is something people only yell in emergencies. It doesn't occur normally - drive plasma doesn't escape from the ship unless something goes wrong, so there's no need to constantly get more of it, either.

    Indeed. But acceleration need not involve movement from A to B: the plasma could be made hotter, or more conductive to warp energies, by accelerating it into even more frantic wiggling-in-place.

    FWIW, the "superchargers" that are blatantly visible on the hulls of the Enterprise or Akira class ships don't seem to be at the midpoints of the likely conduits, but relatively close to the warp reactor. Their role thus might not be one of doing more of the same as the reactor does, after the effects of the reactor have died down a bit due to distance - but of doing something extraordinary to the plasma that doesn't happen at all on starships that lack the "plasma accelerators". That's sort of what a turbocharger does in a combustion engine, too: it doesn't directly help move the pistons with greater force, it helps modify the incoming fuel-air mixture with extra air.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. shipfisher

    shipfisher Commander Red Shirt

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    Plasma as a standing energy transfer medium - I like that idea Timo. I have often considered that 1:1 M:AM intermix drives worked like heat pumps, with that nasty, corrosive "coolant" being the refrigerant, the core being the evaporator and the nacelles being condensers, however the plasma being suspended in place like a super high-tension wire is a much better way to avoid dumping "exhaust" gas out any "tailpipe", which would require a much bigger fuel volume than trekships seem to accommodate and could possibly be a source of subspace drag as it transitted out of the drive field in a wake behind the ship.

    As for why dilithium doesn't go bang when anti-matter hits it Kent, I've always thought that perhaps it must be excited or polarized in some way as the drive is being primed before start-up. In this energized state, the dilithium's unique crystal lattice structure forms molecular tunnels which contain and channel the energy of the M:AM reaction into the plasma without direct atomic contact - an alien geological quirk providing a ready-made molecular reactor. I admit this doesn't sound any better than your subspace phasing theory, but I tend toward the technically conservative, Occam's razor approach.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2009
  18. Plecostomus

    Plecostomus Commodore

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    That's more or less what the TNG manual suggests, Shipfisher.
     
  19. JuanBolio

    JuanBolio Admiral Admiral

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    What I've never understood is how they can run fusion reactors without having 70% or more of the ship's mass be devoted to fuel.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    For ships that have a secondary hull; not all of them do.

    Besides, AFAIK, the warp core only provides power for the most energy intensive systems on board, namely warp engines, deflectors and some of the weapon systems. Most of the rest gets its juice from the impulse engines primarily.

    I actually tend to think the best place for the ship's deflector systems would be the nacelles themselves, probably right in the front of the nacelles co-local with what on most ships is the bussard collector. At least in this scheme it's easy to see how "warp power" would be transferred to the deflector systems; simply have all that drive plasma go to a field coil in the front of the nacelle to envelop and protect the ship instead of pulsing through rows of warp coils.
     
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