Balance of Terror

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

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Would the travel times be long, though? The Carrizal came and went, and nothing suggested a timescale of years there. Then two other starships came within range of the Romulans, suggesting it was trivially simple for Starfleet to re-vector ships to investigate unexpected losses - not really possible with slow ships.

    And if Earth warp drives were that fast, then Romulan ones captured from Earth would probably be, too... "Balance of Terror" suggests no imbalance between the warring sides - both have primitive ships and weapons, and neither is credited with a crippling underdog position or with vastly superior technology.

    Duane's account of the events could be taken as an interpretation of what happened, written at a specific in-universe timepoint of Star Trek by specific people whose knowledge would be finite. It's certainly not at odds with the slightly different take of the Sherman-Shwartz novels, and need not be much at odds with the onscreen material, either: if written a century later, or by an actual Romulan defector in the know, it might tell a "slightly more accurate" story.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Novels are not csnon.
    Spock is guilty of nothing. Based on his performance in First whyva assume he is a Romulsn or a collaboration based solely on appearance??
     
  3. Avro Arrow

    Avro Arrow Rear Admiral Moderator

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    Spock didn't conspire with the enemy, and Stiles's accusations were just based on the fact that the Romulans looked like the Vulcans.

    I disagree vehemently with you about this, but I doubt either of us are going to sway the other, and I don't really have any desire to engage in some pointless internet argument.
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, no disagreement with Spock being innocent. He just looks guilty as hell to Stiles, and should look guiltier still to Kirk if he had any brains.

    But I think our disagreement runs much deeper than the plot of "Balance of Terror". You seem to think that race categorically cannot be guilt, and that the man suggesting such must be evil and wrong by default. This idea has no basis in fact - of course race can be the fundamental reason to all sorts of stuff, such as sickle cell anemia, or the indirect but no less real reason to secondary stuff, such as skin color correctly suggesting political affiliation or family history. Within that broad selection of connections, there are plenty of cases of "guilt", and the episode at hand suggests one scenario.

    Trying desperately to hide such connections beneath loud yells of "racism!" is just plain silly, and I think "Balance of Terror" is an especially egregious example of this. And, incidentally, would have been much improved by a line or two discussing the fact that the racist buffoon has a very good point. With Kirk putting his fingers in his ears and shouting la-la-la, the anguished and embarrassed looks of the other bridge characters lose their intended meaning and merely become signs of them being slaves to prejudice themselves.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I thought that point was made. With Sulu (of all people) indicating his agreement with Stiles about the possibility of Romulan spies and suggesting upgrading their security status (to which Kirk agreed).
     
  6. The Librarian

    The Librarian Commodore Commodore

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    The reason people call it racism is because you're repeating the exact same racist logic used to unjustly imprison hundreds of thousands of people for no reason other than their race. You say "only in Hollywood could this be a coincidence" but that's not true at all, as evidenced by the demonstrated loyalty of Americans of both German and Japanese descent, the latter despite the best efforts of the (white) American government and people. Spock is but one of many Vulcans in Starfleet. It is in fact a coincidence that he's aboard and the Enterprise is responding rather than the Intrepid.

    The fact that you believe that race can be "categorically guilt" is incredibly disturbing.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Naah. It's just a matter of applying some reason to the issue. You are seeing analogies. I see statistical significance (we're talking about a century of no attack, and then this single Vulcan and yes attack). The latter is objective reality.

    But never mind. This is science fiction - its situations are supposed to be extreme. Nothing on this earth approximates the situation in "Balance of Terror", at least nothing bearing the slightest relevance to race. See back to my hyper-convoluted "They didn't know that their WWII opponents the Nazis were Germans" analogy to get a better understanding of how detached this episode is from any reality currently imaginable.

    You're just barking at the wrong mollusk if thinking that a scifi show showing how rational racism (witchcraft, belief in Apollo, genocide, take your Trek pick out of the endless selection) can be in the correct circumstances is worrisome. Disturbing, perhaps, but we need to be disturbed in order to comprehend what to worry about and what not to.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Saturn0660

    Saturn0660 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Even watching as a kid i've always assumed it was simply a fusion based warp drive.. Very power hungry but get the job done. Nothing more, nothing less.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually, the episode makes no sense unless the entire thing takes place within a single star system. In that case, the Romulans running on impulse power makes sense because neither the Romulan ship nor the Enterprise travel (too much) faster than the speed of light. If the Earth outposts are placed in the Romulan system's kuiper belt, then the comet they pass through is a long period comet moving close to the system's star, and the neutral zone is probably somewhere near what, in Sol, would be the orbit of Jupiter. So when Kirk describes the neutral zone as "between the planets Romulus and Remus and the rest of the galaxy" he is speaking literally.

    Later episodes retconned Romulan space to be a much larger region, or maybe we can explain it that the Romulans "broke out" at some point and annexed multiple star systems later on.
     
  10. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In Diane Duane's "The Romulan Way" (I know not canon but still interesting) the "Earth/Romulan War" is indeed with only the two planets known (erroneously) as Romulus and Remus (actually ch'Rihan and ch'Havran). The Federation later labels it the "Romulan Star Empire" but it is only after the war when the Romulans discover they are in a galaxy of wall to wall empires (Federation, Klingon Empire among others) that they go on a colonization and expansion frenzy taking dozens of planets.
     
  11. Cpt. Kyle Amasov

    Cpt. Kyle Amasov Commodore Commodore

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    From a modern-day perspective, it's simply not possible for the Romulan Empire not to have FTL propulsion during the war or TOS (also, there's no indication in Balance of Terror itself that they weren't warp capable during the war - Spock mentions primitive atomic weapons, but makes no reference to Romulan's warp capabilities.). FTL seems to be a widely available commodity throughout the galaxy, so it would be a major coincidence if they didn't have it for some reason, so it's weird that the issue keeps popping up as if there's some piece of canonical info contradiciting the notion that "Romulans *in general* have and had FTL".

    As per ST: Nemesis, they did have dilithium mines on Remus, so they basically have all the ingredients for M/AM warp drives available. It would be odd for them to mine it if they all ran on AQS drives, but then maybe they use both technologies, like disel and nuclear subs. I'd even suggest that most of their fleet was running on good old M/AM drives during TOS, with the BoP in Balance of Teror being the notable exception (sort of like their version of Discovery, if you will). (On an unrelated note, maybe earth even was the aggressor in the Earth-Romulan war, making a push towards Romulus to secure the Dilithium on Remus or was tricked into attacking them?). AQS seems to be a new thing during TOS and Scotty simply doesn't know what to look for, hence the impulse line (he did look genuinely surprised by it, too).

    Even if we would take Scotty's line "their power is simple impulse" absolutely literally (as in "the ship doesn't have *any* warp drive, neither M/AM or AQS"), the BoP in TOS may have used some sort of external source of FTL propulsion, like the warp sled thing of the Vulcan shuttle in TMP. You park it somewhere, do your sneaky attack run and go back to pick it up. No warp signatures or energy profiles to give away your position.

    I actually find the idea that Humans (or Andorians, Tellarites and even Vulcans, by and large) wouldn't know how Romulans look like much more worthy of discussion. I can only imagine the entire war being fought by Reman troops, but that seems to be a stretch (and even then, why would they not have visual communication - unless they deliberately don't want to use it).
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2018
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  12. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The Romulan Star Empire seems to have been toyed around with at some point by the writers. It would call for a lot of starbases surrounding the system though, if the map on Spock's screen is at all representative:
    [​IMG]
    Hmm, what's that weird "kink" in the RMZ? Seems odd for an orbital path around a star. Not to mention that Romulus and Romii/Remus seem to share the same orbit around their sun. Anyway, here's how it would look if we extrapolate that out to a circle:
    [​IMG]
    Setting aside the odd "kink" in the line of the RMZ itself, 56 outposts on permanent guard is a lot of resources! That's assuming we overlook the fact that space is 3 dimensional and the Rommies could just fly over it of course ;)

    All in all, I think it's simpler if we keep the scale larger on this occasion.
     
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  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Only if you're assuming those outposts are arranged in a ring-shaped configuration around a region of space hundreds of light years in diameter, rendering them immediately useless. Here again is a point that the outposts only make sense in the context of a single solar system: because 56 outposts just beyond the orbit of Jupiter would be spaced about 1 AU apart, where at a reasonably high warp speed (say, warp 4 or 5) it would take a handful of minutes to fly from one outpost to the other. This is consistent with Enterprise's speed, the fact that the ship is able to make a flyby of the two destroyed outposts on its way to outpost 4; it's also consistent with the Romulan ship being able to make a series of surprise attacks on the outposts only a few minutes apart while still not actually being faster than the Enterprise.

    A ring of outposts around the inner orbits of a solar system makes sense, because you'd be able to monitor Romulan ships coming or going above and below the orbital plane just by tracking paralax motion and comparing your sightings with the other outposts. Nothing would ever be able to leave that system without the outposts knowing about it. The same ring around a larger region of space makes no sense whatsoever; for a region of space 50 light years across, the outposts would be spaced 5 light years from each other, so that even if a Romulan ship couldn't actually just fly between them without being noticed, it would be trivially easy to warp a few degrees above the plane of the outpost ring and avoid their sensors altogether, in which case the neutral zone isn't even a buffer so much as it is a minor navigational inconvenience.

    And there's yet another problem with the larger scale: Comet Icarus IV is a known quantity for Starfleet, and is active with a tail and halo already. This means the comet is relatively close to its star, probably within 6 or 7 AUs. And yet:

    KIRK: Thank you, Lieutenant. Check our course ahead, Mister Spock.
    SPOCK: A comet, magnitude seven, dead ahead, and the intruder changing course toward it. ​

    Which means they're already relatively close to whatever star Icarus-IV orbits, for the comet to be "dead ahead" on their path.
     
  14. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Note, we shouldn't get in the habit of thinking other solar systems will be similar to that of Earth. This was a logical fallacy that countless astronomers and astrophysicists fell into for decades. They didn't expect to find things like "hot Jupiter's" and "super Earths" yet it seems that those solar systems radically unlike that of Sols are more the rule than the exception.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I know that, I'm mainly eyeballing it here.
     
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  16. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    From a post I made elsewhere a while back after reading the story outline for "Balance of Terror", noting a few interesting details:

    ...in the direction of the twin giants Romulus and Remus 638...​

    Twin giants either means stars or gas giants, most likely the former. So a binary system was likely the intention, even if very widely spaced like Proxima Centauri is from Rigel Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri). Also, while unclear in the single mention, if the system name is Romulus and Remus 638, that could imply other star systems named Romulus and Remus, such as Romulus and Remus 422 or whatever, which could perhaps be are stars in particular region of space, much as systems in the constellation of Rigel being Rigel X and Rigel Y. Yes, I know this isn't standard, but Star Trek screwed the pooch or star catalog names a number of times.

    The script describes the map as showing:

    ...a curved space marked "Neutral Zone", and extending off the map beyond that a star system of which one of the planets is marked "ROMULUS"...​

    Is a "star system" a solar system? Regardless, there's no clarification as to what ROM II is on the map seen in the episode, since it's in neither document.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
  17. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ... outposts guarding the neutral zone between planets Romulus and Remus and the rest of the galaxy ...

    Could this be interpreted as the outposts are only along the one section of the neutral zone immediately adjacent to Romulas and Remus?

    The outposts aren't meant to be a part of a larger continuous grid (horizontal and vertical) between the entire Romulan empire and the entire federation. It's just those seven outpost in a row, symbolically keeping a eye on the Romulan home worlds.

    Satisfying the public, making the politicians look tough, and serving as a on-going irritation for the Romulans themselves.

    The rest of the RNZ is loosely monitored by neighboring star systems, random patrols and old antique sensor buoys that are parsecs apart.

    McCoy: "Based on what? Memories of a war over a century ago?"
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2018
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  18. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    Even if that were the case, wouldn't it mean the Federation was just wildly misinformed about what Romulans look like? There'd be no reason to assume the goblin-people being landed by Romulan ships aren't Romulans.
     
  19. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If everything is so tightly packed in though, one or more Romulan ships could rush towards an outpost and be past within those same few minutes. By the time the outpost had reported the incident, the ships would be long gone. At the orbit of Jupiter they are simply too close to do anything useful.

    If the outposts were reliant on conventional STL sightings then that might be the case. However, Starfleet uses subspace sensors that can track enemies light years away and instantaneously. Under those circumstances, you could place an outpost much further away and observe a much larger radius. Fewer outposts (say, about 7) would be needed where the two territories meet and if any ships were observed approaching the neutral zone this would give the outposts much more time to react.

    Check Spock's map again; there are numerous stars scattered all over it:
    [​IMG]
    The comet could easily be approaching any one of those star systems.

    Since we're veering into the debate about scale, it might be a good time to use this slightly clearer version of the map, reproduced by Masao Okazaki:
    [​IMG]

    I realise that this was just a visual aid to guide the episode's action but I can't help wondering - what scale is the grid at?

    The "scale" bar label shows "5000" units of something, and that each grid square is divided up into 6 sections.

    5,000 x 6 = 30,000 units of something, but what?

    Throughout TOS, different measuring systems are used freely and without preference such as feet, inches, metres, miles, kilometres, light years, parsecs, even A.U.s! So the units on the scale bar really could be anything. Let's try light years:

    1 Light Year = 9,460,528,400,000 kilometres
    half a L.Y. = 4,730,264,200,000 kilometres

    So, no joy from the metric system. But if we use miles:

    1 Light Year = 5,878,499,810,000 miles
    half a L.Y. = 2,939,249,905,000 miles

    Half a light year is just under 3 trillion (3,000,000,000,000) miles. If each of the 6 divisions of a grid square represents 500 billion miles then each of the units that the "5000" refers to would be 100 million miles.

    So, does a grid square really measure about half a light year along each side? If so, it would make for a very thin neutral zone! Also a very dense star field across the map, even assuming a three-dimensional viewpoint. For example, most of the squares have 2 or 3 stars featured. The Galaxy just ain't that full!


    Maybe we should look at a different measurement unit, for example:

    1 Parsec = 30,856,775,800,000 kilometres

    If each of the 6 divisions of a grid square represented 5 trillion kilometers, then each of the units that the "5000" refers to would be a billion kilometers. A whole grid square would be 30 trillion (30,000,000,000,000) kilometers, not too far off a Parsec.

    This makes the neutral zone about 1 Parsec deep (a comfortable distance from Romulan Space) and spreads those stars out a lot more. Plus we have a neat metric system with each unit onthe chart representing a nice round number (one billion kilometres)

    Now, both Parsecs and Light Years are hopelessly Terra-centric units, since they are derived from the orbit of our own Earth around our own sun. Metres (while also Terran) are a smaller and more versatile unit that could be easily shared and used by other races. Individual species would still have their own terms of course (I doubt a Vulcan or Andorian light year is the same as a Terran one). Perhaps pan-galactic standards could be set for ease of use accross all Federation members - why not 30 trillion kilometres for a "standard" Parsec?

    Then again, it is an Earth map that we see, so Earth measurements would not be too unexpected! :techman:
     
  20. Samuel

    Samuel Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Say what??!!??