Balance of Terror

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Nightfall to-Ennien, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. Nightfall to-Ennien

    Nightfall to-Ennien Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    So I was in the shower and, having recently rewatched Balance of Terror, a thought occurred. Has the possibility been considered that when he made his pronouncement that “Their power is simple impulse”, Scotty was mistaken?

    He would have been making his determinations based on sensor data, in which it is possible he saw the energy signatures of impulse fusion reactors, but no matter/antimatter reactors, therefore surmising the impulse reactors were the ship’s primary power source. There is some evidence for this, the only feature on the BOP resembling impulse exhaust vents being on the aft of the nacelles, which would mean their reactors were either in the nacelles or had conduits running to them. This placement would provide for superior maneuverability compared to the Enterprise’s centralized impulse block.

    However, there is another possibility. It is established in later series that Romulan vessels, with the possible exception of their Klingon-designed D7-type battlecruisers, employed quantum singularity warp power as opposed to more conventional matter-antimatter reactors. This had to start at some point, and the plasma torpedo and cloaking device were both implied to be new developments to the Federation, so why not a warp core they had never encountered either? If something was so unfamiliar, they simply may not have recognized it, and only on later analysis may have figured it out.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    Of course, it's alway possible.

    I usually go with Scotty reviewed the sensor readings and and saw emissions that clearly showed that the Romulan ship was employing fusion reactors, and not antimatter reactors. This is where his statement about impulse power came from, the ship had warp drive powered by fusion.

    It's also possible (my conjecture) that the the Romulan ship possessed antimatter powered warp drive, but that ship expended it's antimatter traveling to the outposts at warp speed, traveling between the outposts at high warp speed, using it's cloaking device extensively, and in firing it's main weapon repeatedly.

    The antimatter was gone.

    It was returning home at a slower warp speed, using it's impulse engines to power it's warp drive.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
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  3. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    Neat idea, and it aught to be an honest mistake if the Bird of Prey was actually running at low power while being scanned, conserving energy and mechanical endurance for weapons charge up, cloaking, and running.

    It's been too long to remember, what was the immediate circumstance of the scan?
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No scan, really. Scotty is just mouthing off after glimpsing the Romulans in the video feed from the doomed Outpost. Oh, and after Spock has hacked into the internal sensors of the enemy.

    So we may argue Scotty is just guessing as the hero sensors never got direct readings - or is speaking the infallible truth, having been able to directly read the enemy engineering manuals thanks to Spock...

    Usually, the "Scotty erred" argument is opposed not because Scotty should be infallible, but because he never comes clean. If he claimed the enemy can only move at impulse/STL speeds, then either this must hold true, or then everybody was too embarrassed to say a word when the truth of the matter became evident.

    Of course, this issue is sidestepped if "simple impulse power" does not mean impulse/STL speed, or if impulse speed isn't actually STL; in such a case, Scotty may err about the power but the heroes still may run rings around the enemy and nobody will comment on Scotty's irrelevant mistake.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. ItIsGreen

    ItIsGreen Captain Captain

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    I always took the "simple impulse" line to mean a more 'brute force', less elegant way of breaking the light barrier - sort of like the modern petrol-engined cars that can travel in excess of 200mph but are hugely fuel-inefficient - rather than using a (supposedly more efficient) space warp drive like the Enterprise.

    The episode literally makes no sense unless the Romulans have FTL capability.
     
  6. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I eventually thought Scott could only detect the fusion reactor for the impulse engines.
     
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  7. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    I just assume he meant that while cloaked the ship can only run on impulse power, which is consistent with what we see in the episode, where the cloak and weapon chew up most of their power. Fans keep trying to make "impulse" mean "fusion" as opposed to its physics and aerospace meaning.

    But the real reason for this confusion is a disconnect between the shooting script and the aired episode. The script calls for the Romulan ship to be basically a starship saucer section sans nacelles ("espionage"). No nacelles, no warp, "simple impulse". The model they built added nacelles, creating the conundrum.

    Of course, an impulse only "empire" is a threat to no one outside their own system. So it seems possible someone tried to "fix" the problem by designing the ship to look warp-capable and forgetting to delete the line which contradicts that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
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  8. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If we take the later idea of Romulan Warbirds in the 24th century using quantum singularity powered warp drives, it is entirely possible that Starfleet (or perhaps Mr. Scott and Mr. Spock) had never encountered that power source before and it didn't register on the sensors as part of the propulsion system, or even the power grid due to the nature of the cloaking device and plasma weapon.
     
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  9. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    That's just it. Unless the string of monitor outpost were in the Romulas star system, the BOP would need to be moving at warp to get home in a reasonable time period.

    Exception to that is the thing with the comet had to happen at sublight speeds, and (unless the comet was really huge) be moving at only a thousand of so miles per hour.
     
  10. Go-Captain

    Go-Captain Commander Red Shirt

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    I heard an idea a few months back which involves the Romulans using detachable warp cores. They use the warp core to get to a system, drop it, and are left with an impulse only ship. I suppose that might result in a ship which has better sublight performance, but it should mean worse weapon and shield performance unless there are hard limits to maximum output and recharge rates far below the maximum output of a warp core. It might result in an easier ship to cloak, thanks to cloaking a smaller volume, but it would also leave the warp engine very vulnerable unless well hidden, or unless it carries its own cloak.

    It is also the opposite of the Enterprise-D setup, where the combat section is left with the warp core, and I think it contradicts how the 1701 is a lumbering mess without warp power. Then again, I think the Enterprise-D was running weapons and shields off impulse power until Captain Jerico demanded the power systems rerouted, but these ships are separated by a century.
     
  11. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Could that BoP have used a singularity prototype drive, unrecognizable by Spock and Scott, without violating any Canon?
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    All this is possible - the key issue is whether Scotty's error led to a further error by Kirk, that is, the "Cool, we can run circles around them then" bit.

    Nobody ever says "Dang, we cannot run circles around them after all!". So supposedly they could. As long as the "real" nature of Romulan power and drive systems does not give them warp speeds equal to those of Kirk's ship, all is fine, and we can choose between "Scotty erred and they have X instead of simple impulse" and "Scotty was right". And all other things being equal, we should then probably favor "Scotty was right" for simplicity (although it's way cool to think of this as connecting to the Artificial Quantum Singularity gig).

    It's a separate issue that the episode works better in the greater context if the Romulan ship moves at FTL than if they move at STL. It just narrows down our selection of speeds - better than STL, but not as good as Kirk's warp.

    And it's yet another issue that the episode contradicts itself manyfold on the speeds (the comet issue vs. the nature of the travels and distances, the fact that their weapon goes to extremely high warp without much comment from the heroes), and deciding on the deeper meaning of "simple impulse power" doesn't help much there.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We should be discussing how the plasma travels at FTL(No tech comments) while their ship is STL?
    More likely the ship used AQS drive versus having to dock in a FTL carrier? Or can the ship not travel FTL under cloak?
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    One way for the plasma belcher to work would be for the firing ship to stop producing a warp field for herself and instead turn that field into a forward-projecting chute propelling the plasma cloud forward. This would certainly result in interesting tactical limitations and the inability to warp much in Scotty's presence...

    Projecting of stuff forward at FTL is a Trek staple, including sensor beams and the supposed navigational deflector beam. A "semi-active" warp weapon would not be much different.

    As for cloak vs. warp, the Romulans might have spent months or years creeping up to their target invisible, but they could not have spent months or even days creeping from their first target Outpost to the second! So the ship must be capable of spanning at least one map grid per hour or so while remaining invisible. It's just that we don't know the scale of that map, meaning we can still prevaricate between STL and FTL. But it's IMHO a bit futile to argue for STL when we see with our own eyes the speed of the hero ship across that grid, and must accept that this is high warp.

    ...Unless the Romulan Star Empire really is but one star system wide, and the hero ship is forced to proceed at impulse (or at high warp amounting to less than lightspeed), as sometimes happens near stars (cf. a dozen discussions). :devil:

    Granted the "full" speed at which Kirk rushes to the scene is never actually called "warp". But Kirk merely alters course, not speed, when attempting to become a sensor echo for the Romulans. Which is weird in itself, in all scenarios, and establishes that there is no significant speed difference between Kirk in a hurry and the Romulans under cloak after all!

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like that idea, Timo. Expanding that, perhaps Scotty concluded "impulse" when he failed to to detect a warp field, because their warp reactor was otherwise occupied.

    On the other hand, maybe this was the first ship to use a singularity drive and it was undetectable to primitive Federation sensors? :rommie:
     
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  16. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Agree with Timo's comments. Are those outposts close enough to travel between them at SLT only cloaking within outputs sensor range?
    Even if a retcon I wonder only a AQS tractor could power the plasma weapon and cloak in a shop that size?
     
  17. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Commodore

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    Would a singularity use "fuel?"
     
  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Our primary source for what the thing does remains "Face of the Enemy", with a smidgen of "Timescape" thrown in, and we basically learn nothing there. If the thing were fuel-free, or more generally consuming nothing, this would probably be a major topic of discussion among the characters. As portrayed, it's merely weird tech without stated advantages.

    Romulans appear to still mine dilithium in ST:NEM. Do all their ships need the stuff? Do they have ships that don't have AQS power plants? Is it all for ground-bound applications or export?

    One might imagine AQS to offer advantages when combined with stealth - less "noisy" somehow? This is not stated (and indeed our heroes in the 24th century quickly figure out a signature that nullifies such benefits, whereas the ships before that era had imperfect invisibility for other reasons). But hey, if it fooled Scotty into thinking the one ship might be less powerful than she really was, then it worked!

    Then again, one might think of Romulus as North Korea or South Africa. Perhaps they go for AQS because their walled-off, besieged realm lacks a key resource required for operating more conventional starship power systems? Perhaps they have too little dilithium, say, and digging deep into Remus was not technologically possible before the TNG era?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes you have to throw mass into it,most likely hydrogen or deuterium.
     
  20. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Timo, military ships mostly useAQS while civilian and some military ships usevw warp drive?