# Applied Treknology (Scotty of the Gaps)

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

1. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Mainly this is a thread about fuzzy treknology: some things that apparently exist but whose workings are not well understood. I've been thinking about some of the technical aspects of these things and have come up with some IMO plausible semi-canon explanations. (Semi-canon meaning an interpretation of treknology that doesn't exactly follow what's been established, but doesn't necessarily violate it either).

Mostly this is for the background to a fan fiction or two that's still in development. As best I can tell any of these concepts can be applied to anything in the Trekiverse, though not necessarily to anything in the tech manual or backstage material.

First thing's first, some basics (more to come in later posts).

Subspace Field Theory
This is the Trekiverse "Theory of Everything." First and most fundamentally it maintains the equivalence not only of matter and energy, but of matter and space. In other words all elementary particles are essentially condensations of the space time continuum in the same manner as a gravity well. Furthermore, each of the four fundamental forces are actually the SAME force applied by a different force carrier. The electric force, for example, is mediated by photons while the gravitational force is mediated by gravitons. In 2059 Zephram Cochrane demonstrated the relationship between gravitons and photons by proving the principal of gravitomagnetism, which four years later led him to the first practical applications of gravito-plsamadynamics (GPD), which can induce gravitational potentials in the same manner as an electromagnetic field.

Gravitational fields are similar to electric fields in that any gravitationally charged object will exert a force on another gravitationally charged object. Most normal matter contains a positive gravitational charge and is therefore repulsed by the presence of antigravitons. Any accelerating gravitational field will produce a subspace field, within which the speed of light will be slightly higher or lower than it is to an observer outside the field. This has the effect of changing the rest energy of any object inside the field (E=mc^2 where "c" now has a significantly higher value). Natural subspace fields do occur in the case of, say, planets or stars with high rotational periods, and these subspace fields interacting over distances can create regions of raised or lowered "space-energy density". The lower the background energy density of a region, the less energy is required to generate an artificial subspace field.

A warp field is an asymmetric subspace field such that the speed of light is not only higher within the field, but non-uniform; C gains a vector component and is therefore higher in one direction and lower in another. So take the traditional visualization of a gravitational field--a flat gridded plane with a dent in the surface, forming the familiar "gravity well." Flatten the bottom of the gravity well like, say, a pie tin or a coffee cup, and this is a subspace field. If you then tilt this flattened indentation--or worse, angle it so that half of it actually protrudes above the plane and the other half dips below it--then you have a warp field. This, basically, is what a warp field is: a gravity well with a constant forward gradient that dissipates very rapidly at a boundary layer. The "back" of the warp field is raised because of the presence of antigravitons and the "front" is lowered because of the presence of gravitons. This is a "subspace" field because, within the field, space is locally flat with respect to an observer inside the field. In other words, it is a region of space with slightly different laws of physics than the rest of the universe.

Warp fields make navigational deflectors unnecessary, since anything that encounters the leading edge of the warp field will be accelerated away from the ship anyway.

More to come later.

2. ### JNGChief of Staff, Starfleet CommandRear Admiral

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Quick comments:

1. I thought the graviton was looking quite likely to be its own antiparticle

2. Navigational deflectors being unnecessary at warp doesn't seem supported by the show

3. ### ShawCommodoreCommodore

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It looks to me like your ideas are tied to a particle view of nature... specially gravity. Quantum gravity was always a house of cards because those behind the theory were attempting to make gravity a force and assumed universal time.

These particle physicist often point to how weak gravity is as one of it's unique features (and that it is always attractive)... but that is a totally 16th century view of the subject (and they have admitted to the fact that they are attempting to model a Newtonian gravity rather than what we know of as gravity).

To see just how off these ideas are, one need only run this analogy game in reverse... rather than thinking of gravity as a super weak force, why not attempt to apply aspects of gravity proportionally to the rest of the model. What if electromagnetism had time dilation (proportional to it's strength) like that of gravity? Think about how much time would be effected by a simple magnet in such a model.

All the other forces in nature are like actors on a stage, and gravity is the stage. Throwing in another actor and labeling him the stage manager doesn't negate the stage or the fact that it's role is still different than the actors.

The point of bringing all this up is that if you have tied Star Trek to pop science then you are dooming it to be dated. TOS Star Trek was vague on these ideas and it helped keep the show's ideas open for future interpretation. But if you start reaching by grabbing trendy science you risk problems like fan produced tech of the late 1980's that used cold fusion in Trek starships.

If you need to use science I would suggest staying with the solid foundations... General Relativity and the Standard Model (or Gauge Theories). They will apply equally well in the future as today as whatever is to come will be a refinement of their ideas. Better yet, leave some of that science as vague as possible.

4. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Kind of, but kind of not. In this theory, a "particle" is just a point of mass/energy/density of space itself. Kind of like Process Physics or something similar. It explains wave particle duality in a way that, technically, a particle is just a localized peak in a space-energy medium, while antiparticles are the corresponding troughs. This would explain virtual particles as well, and it would give you an excuse for how the main deflectors of starships are able to produce "graviton beams" without actually throwing the ship's entire mass halfway across the galaxy.

Subspace field theory--or rather Zephram Cochrane--figured out that time dilation only applies between multiple simultaneous events when one of the actors is within a moving gravitational field (i.e. a subspace field). In this case, the effect of time dilation is really a consequence of the the sub-space region having slightly different energy constants; in other words, it is not time that dilates, but the speed of light of in a vacuum.

First of all, it's WAY too late for that. Star Trek has already made references to things like Dark Matter, gravitons, anti-gravitons, string theory, "quantum singularities," (actually, quantum everything) and fog-bank nebulas whose existence violates all known laws of physics in the first place. I'm reasonably certain that the vast majority of Trek viewers are NOT physicists and aren't really going to know the difference; instead of basing it on pop science, I'd just as soon make up some kind of Trek science that is entirely fictitious and, therefore, entirely consistent with whatever new science comes out since we can simply say "Trek physics is more advanced and more correct, because it's based on discoveries in Teh FUTURE!"

The suggestion is noted, but the less solid the foundation, the less it's likely to overtly contradict "actual" physics. I do, however, think Trek science needs to have a foundation, or else we might end up with things like, say, a Captain using "warp particles" to pry open the event horizon of a black hole.

5. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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1. I have no idea, never heard of this before.

2. I'd prefer to explain this away as navigational deflectors only being necessary under impulse power, if at all (nothing in the show actually references the nav deflector being used at warp). More to the point, the only time the deflector is referenced as being used for the purpose of DEFLECTING things is for pushing large asteroids out of the ship's path. This happens, AFAIK, twice: once in Paradise Syndrome and again in TMP, the second attempt failing because the wormhole was screwing up all ship's systems. In light of this, I'd prefer to think that pushing things around is not the primary purpose of the deflector at all; if it was, it would kind of suck that by the 24th century most starships prefer to push asteroids and comets with tractor beams instead of the giant deflector dish which is supposedly custom-built for this purpose.

6. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Since the subject came up:

Main Deflector Dish
The main deflector is designed to handle all of the ship's high output long-range deflector beams. It works on a similar principle as warp fields, except in this case the deflector beam is a kind of subspace megaphone, generating a wave form in the very fabric of space-time itself. What makes it a deflector/tractor beam, of course, is that the wave form has a specific sawtooth pattern angled away/towards the source so that any object caught in the beam experiences acceleration in one direction or another. With advanced enough technology you could use this principle as a weapon (which the Borg do with their tractor beams to literally shake their enemies apart) but this is normally not practical.

The main deflector has three main functions. Firstly, under impulse power it serves either to push obstructions out of the ship's path, or--primarily--as part of the bussard collectors, which are mounted on the engineering hull behind and around the deflector. This placement is optimal since 1) the collector beam can sweep a wide area in front of the ship to draw alot of material during refueling operations and 2) it simplifies the storage and hydrogen pulled in by the ramscoop, which goes straight from the collector into storage tanks in the engineering hull where it can either be reacted with antimatter or converted TO antimatter for consumption later. The second function of the main deflector is for long range communications. Subspace radio involves the use of a standard radio signal piggybacked on a moving gravitomagnetic wave which can travel at nearly any speed, depending on how much power you can put into your deflector pulse; the more powerful your deflector, the faster your message reaches its destination. The Enterprise' subspace transceiver can send subspace signals over a short distance and can receive them over just about any distance, but sending a reply over interstellar distances would require the power of the main deflector dish. The third function of the deflector is, of course, to reinforce the ship's deflector screens.

7. ### ShawCommodoreCommodore

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I hope that is a joke.

Gravitational time dilation has never had anything to do with movement... time is different relative to the distance between any point in space-time and a large mass (which is an over simplification as the radial distance is also effected by gravitation).

Which begs the question... Who is making this stuff up?

8. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Never said it did. Only that time appears to dilate because certain reactions used to measure the passage of time happen more quickly in a subspace gradient than they do in "normal" space. For a fictional history, let's say that Doctor Cochrane discovered this by analyzing gravitational time dilation in Venus and found it to be much lower than predicted by general relativity; exploring this, he discovered that venus' slow rotational period produced a much smaller subspace field than Earth, so the speed of light in the vicinity of venus is actually 20m/s higher near venus than it is near Earth.

A wizard did it.

9. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Warp Engine
Though various power generation techniques exist, most Federation and nearly all Earth starships collide streams of ionized deuterium in a reactor core, with annihilation products being directed into a meson moderator (typically dilithium, though other materials are sometimes used). Fundamentally, the main drive system of the ship depends on a working fluid, typically gaseous mercury or phosphate. This gas, known as "warp plasma" functions as a conductor of charged relativistic pions, which gives the warp plasma a strong negative electrical charge.

In a warp core, a stream of ionized deuterium is collided at high energy with a stream of antiprotons, producing relativistic pions and gamma ray photons, and also ejecting electrons from the steam at high energy. The gamma ray photon and relativistic pion is absorbed and fused in the dilithium matrix and then re-emitted as a charged relativistic pion, which is transferred to the warp plasma and carried to the warp nacelles.

The strong charge of the drive plasma is used for electrical power production aboard the ship using Hall-type MHD turbines (older ships called these "energizers," or the Galaxy class' EPS power taps that actually bleed a small portion of the plasma into a secondary loop for power production. Beyond that, the drive plasma is passed through the ship's warp coils, which are made of verterium cortenide or some other ferrogravitic material (the gravitational equivalent of a natural magnet). When relativistic pions pass through the gravitational field, they decay spontaneously into graviton and antigravition pairs, both of which are focussed and transmitted from the nacelle.

Warp plasma is passed through the drive coils in pulses, with each pulse producing a dipole gravitational field all around the ship. The firing pattern of the warp coils is timed by the computer to produce an interference pattern so that the highest concentration of negative gravity is directly behind the ship with positive gravity in front of the ship, propelling it forward in space.

Note that an imbalance in matter/antimatter reactions within the warp engines may result in the production of neutral pions in the warp plasma. Neutral pions decay into gravitons only, which would result in a very steep gravity well in front of the ship with a disproportionately small gravity hill behind it. If the gravity well becomes intense enough it will collapse into its own swartzchild radius and the warp field will decay into a wormhole (specifically, a wormhole that lacks a terminus; the starship will continue to fall into the wormhole forever as its internal clock slows down asymptotically towards zero).

Warp factor is a unit of warp field distortion that indicates the total gravitic distortion, positive and negative, given as the square of one cochrane of subspace distortion. Exactly how fast a ship will travel under such and such a warp factor depends on many things, primarily the graviton flux density of nearby space in which the warp field forms.

10. ### ShawCommodoreCommodore

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Oh... I get it now. Take a bunch of stuff you vaguely understand (most likely from Wikipedia), dump them into a blender and hit puree for 30 seconds to a minute.

Ah... A wizard with no education and access to a blender.

Just to be sure... you don't also go by the name prometheuspan?

11. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Right. And then I take that science puree, add a half pound of flour, roll it up into a ball, and then cover the whole thing with a film of KY so you can stick it wherever you like.

Seriously, man. This is fiction. If you're here getting a yeast infection about it not being scientific enough, best to start a new thread in the Science and Technology forum.

12. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Phasers and Torpedoes
"Phaser" stands for "photon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". Phasers are coherent energy weapons of a similar nature to standard laser beams using extremely high-energy photons--Nu photons or "nadions"--at an energy level above cosmic and even gamma rays. Phaser energy is released in highly controlled frequency modulations designed to cause specific effects on target materials. Most of their effect comes from quantum resonance, matching the nadion pulse to the exact vibrational frequency of specific subatomic particles, depending on their rest energy. For example, the stun setting involves a resonance frequency optimized to excite free electrons, which may cause widespread uncontrolled depolarizations in a target's nervous system, or disrupt the normal functioning of electronic systems. The disruptor settings would excite protons, instantly ionizing the target at the atomic level, causing either thermal damage or even vaporization (and phasers set to vaporize a person would instantly turn a huge chunk of that person into an expanding cloud of ash, not unlike stabbing someone in the chest with an active plasma torch; you can't vaporize an elephant by shooting it in the toenail).

Phaser beams travel at the speed of light. Because of considerations of special relativity, starship phasers always travel at the speed of light with respect to all observes, even at warp speeds. There is therefore no practical reason why phasers cannot be used at warp speeds, although the relatively short effective range (up to two hundred thousand kilometers) make them difficult to use at FTL speeds.

Photon torpedoes are propelled by a gravitational "spike," which is basically the opposite of a gravity well. It is similar to a warp field, but it cannot be used for maneuvering. For this reason, photon torpedoes can only be fired on a line of sight to the target (something more or less in front of the launcher) with terminal guidance coming from arrays of divert thrusters mounted on the body. The warhead is a matter-antimatter annihilation warhead, the detonation of which drives the production of a modulated nadion pulse, similar to a phaser blast in its effects, but without a coherent energy pattern.

Quantum torpedoes are basically miniature warp nacelles with a tiny warp core in the nose of them. In general they are propelled to their target in the same manner as photon torpedoes, however the matter-antimatter charge is combined near a dilithium assembly such that most of the products of the reaction are charged relativistic pions; these are then reacted with the subspace coils in the torpedo casing, producing a powerful gravitational shockwave in all directions. This type of weapon renders shields and deflectors virtually useless, since the gravitational shockwave will heavily disrupt the physical structure of the ship no matter how well it's defended.

13. ### ShawCommodoreCommodore

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Not a problem... now that I see that you are performing an exercise best done in private, I'll be happy to give you your privacy.

But be careful... posting too much of this stuff might make you go blind.

14. ### Crazy EddieVice AdmiralAdmiral

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Shields and Deflectors
Since the leading edge of the warp field pushes other objects aside anyway, a navigational deflector is unnecessary: tidal forces in the leading edge would either propel any obstacle away from the ship at warp speeds or simply crush it to pieces. In other cases, though, the deflector screens may be necessary to provide 360 degree protection even when the ship is not in motion.

The ship's deflector screens are housed in the front ends of the warp nacelles: the red domes in the TOS Enterprise and the E-D, or the complicated grillework in the Ent-A. Deflector screens work on the same principle as warp drive, so the deflector coils in the front of the nacelle are basically modified warp coils. The deflector field is different from other subspace fields in that it is mainly a flat region of space surrounded by a raised "wall" of space (take the "coffee cup" from the above example and sit it on top of the grid instead of sunken into it). This means any matter or energy that enters the field will experience intense acceleration away from the ship until it either crosses it or is deflected away from it. At full intensity the deflectors can produce accelerations of up to 3kps^2; this is equivalent to the gravitational distortion produced by a star around ten solar masses, but with the entire effect of gravitation taking effect in a spheroid region ten meters thick.

The deflector field requires immense quantities of energy in order to reach its full output, similar to the amount of power used by the warp engines or the main deflector dish. Even he deflector screen's longevity largely depends on the survival of the gravitomagnetic field coils in the nacelle ends: as they handle more load the coils themselves experience mechanical stress and vibration (action-reaction) and tend to overheat. The hotter the deflector coils get, the less the effect of the deflector field, so the practical limit to how much load the deflectors can handle is dependent on the capacity of the ship's cooling systems. Overheating of either the deflectors or the warp coils themselves is handled by pumping coolant over the coils and then venting it through the emergency flush vents in the nacelle pylons.

Shields--different from "deflectors"--are an energy forcefield conformal to the hull of the ship. Shields are basically layers of additional armor composed of a "pseudo-material," that is, a material that has the property of being solid only in the presence of high electric potentials. The material itself is conductive and is secreted along the outer hull by the shield grid, the application of high voltage current holds the material in place. This pseudomaterial has, potentially, extremely high tensile strength as well as elasticity, but it is only as strong as the current that passes through it. Shield material is usually replaced just as quickly as it is ablated; on the other hand, loss of shield material may result in damage to the electrode terminals or gas dispensers in the hull, in which case any shield-layer damage becomes permanent until the damaged part of the defense grid is repaired. Personal and security forcefields work on the exact same operating principle, but at much lower voltages since their protective layers do not have to be as thick.