Impulse Deflection Crystals and Warp Core

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by SicOne, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. SicOne

    SicOne Commodore Commodore

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    (1) Does the warp core in the refit Constitution-class from the movies era go all the way up the neck into the bottom of the saucer section?

    (2) What do the "impulse deflection crystals" right in front of the impulse engines actually DO?

    Regarding #1, it doesn't seem like there'd be room in the Con-re's supporting pylon to contain a warp core and all its associated apparatus. There's barely room for a turbolift, I'd think. I've never sat down with a protractor and measured out the width of the neck as compared to a 141.7 meter-wide primary hull, but surely some enterprising Trekker has, and could tell us how wide that pylon is.

    For #2, I've seen the "impulse deflection crystals" labeled such on diagrams, but never have seen an explanation of what they DO. Do they reflect warp core power into the impulse power system (and those are two separate power systems, according to Trek tech lore) in case impulse power generators have issues? Or, and I'm just floating this, are they capable of shunting impulse power into the warp core to give the ship a very limited warp capability if the warp core is "offline"? Hmmm?

    Surely this has been discussed before in great detail amongst us, but if so, please nudge me towards that thread. And thanks much.
     
  2. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I don't think there's strong onscreen support for the "impulse deflection crystal" interpretation, either in terminology or functionality terms. There are no explicating computer readouts or bits of dialogue. And Khan's dome is blown sky high yet his ship still outflies Kirk's at impulse; Kirk's TOS ship doesn't even have a dome like this.

    There's room for personal takes, though. I like what Doug Drexler did with NX-01, a ship with a very prominent "crystal". To him, the thingamabob is a device for manipulating the main warp field erected by the coils in the nacelles. And from elsewhere (say, DS9 "Emissary") we know that warp fields reduce inertia at sublight when suitably manipulated. Possibly there are two ways of improving a starship's inertia characteristics: using a "crystal" like this (or, rather, a piece of tech that needs to glow blue to the outside, and achieves this through various domes or circular or rectangular skylights in the various starships), or using dedicated internal coils that are separate from the warp coils (the TNG Tech Manual has doubletalk on this regarding the Ambassador class, our earliest post-TOS example of a starship that lacks the blue-glowing thingamabob).

    Since the blue doodads are all over the place in the various starship designs, I see no showstoppers with hooking them to the warp core one way or another. OTOH, I don't think the ST:TMP ship had a vertical warp core going up to the doodad. Rather, it had a plasma conduit (since in later appearances we learn that this is what tubes looking like that really are) taking power from an underfloor warp core (possibly spotted on a sister ship in ST:TUC, looking much like TNG era cores) to the nacelles and to the doodad. And running at an angle along the aft edge of the connecting neck for the latter purpose, because the Main Engineering set won't fit inside the ship unless moved aft so that the vertical part of the piping is level with the aft edge of the neck.

    As for power allocation, the very first regular TOS episode "The Corbomite Maneuver" had Kirk adding impulse power to warp power when struggling out of a hostile tractor beam. So there's probably a way to interlink all power sources (warp core, impulse reactors, batteries, Scotty's spare hooch boiler), and the chance to add something meaningful to warp by throwing in impulse. I doubt any ship could go to warp without main power, though - there's no story requirement for such, and a pretty strong dramatic idea from the get-go that warp drive is its own thing, sometimes fatally knocked out and not trivially restored even in part.

    So, internal impulse coils for certain ships at certain periods. Doodads for tweaking the output of warp coils for other ships at other periods. Perhaps crystals involved somehow. No need for a ramrod-straight connection to the nearest warp core. And sometimes multiple domes is better than one, and Khan may have benefited from a second dome on the belly of the Reliant (although we didn't see the telltale glow there).

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  3. psCargile

    psCargile Captain Captain

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    When you are trying to come up with sciency stuff without knowing what the sciency stuff could possibly be, grab a crystal. It works for New Age medicine, why not ship propulsion?
     
  4. David cgc

    David cgc Admiral Premium Member

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    About the "blue" part; it's a little more complicated than that for the Enterprise-Refit and -A. In TMP, the dome glows red when the impulse engines are firing, and is dark at other times (including at the jump to warp speed, suggesting the meme that the impulse engines turn off when the warp engines turn on, which makes sense but bothers me because it looks so counterintuitive on-screen).

    Doing a quick spot-check of the other movies, it looks like the dome is generally lit blue in TWOK, dark in TSFS when approaching Spacedock but then lit white during the fight with the Klingons, probably dark in TFF (it's barely visible in the shots I checked), and TUC is white at warp (and I found an insane matting error), dark during the battle with Chang, and lit white again in the final shot of the movie. I'm also a bit surprised by how rarely we see the Enterprise from above.

    I'm a sucker for the TMP idea that the exterior features shift depending on what the ship is doing (though that was only consistent in the later movies with the warp engine's inner grills only and always being lit at warp), so personally, I go with an interpretation that the color of the dome changes. Dark at rest or low speed, red for impulse power, and blue for warp.
     
  5. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Going by this rule (though I favour it increasing in blue-white intensity if I had my way, to portray an increase in Cherenkov radiation), perhaps the IDC is actually operating as a smaller subspace coil to help lower the mass of the ship - we know this action is required under Impulse propulsion in TNG-era vessels, so maybe at this stage the driver coil was exposed.

    Prior to this, TOS-era vessels would have utilised their warp nacelle coils to sustain mass-reduction for both Impulse and Warp propulsion, and when separated the saucer's Impulse output would be substantially poorer (maybe compensated for by only having to propel the mass of the saucer however).

    Post TMP with the Ambassador-class, we would have had the first of the new generation driver coils actually built sequentially inline with the Impulse engines, and dedicated purely to supporting Impulse operation and not Warp propulsion; this method then being refined with subsequent designs.

    YMMV, of course. But for me it beats having to not-explain a "magic space deflection crystal" or whatnot! :D
     
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  6. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I could definitely buy this interpretation of the "crystal". :techman:

    My thoughts exactly - this is why separating the saucer was really a last-ditch solution
     
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  7. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ^ Exactly this - and why it'd be a much more viable option by the time TNG swings around! :)
     
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  8. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'd also buy the mass reduction aspect of the crystal, but I seem to recall the intent from Mr. Probert was that the crystal would "deflect" warp power into the impulse engines.
     
  9. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Now see I normally treat the words of Mssrs Probert & Sternbach as gospel, but in this instance this sounds too much to me like magical pseudo-science so as to retroactively assign a function to something that was added to the studio model purely as a "neat glowy bit of detail".
     
  10. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was the 70s - crystals were the "in" thing! ;)
     
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  11. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure whether Mr. Probert added that particular detail at the behest of the studio. Some of his concept sketches had it, some didn't. Maybe he chose it because it looked best, maybe he chose it because someone liked it. Either way, I think Mr. Probert is not the type of designer to just add things because they look cool. He had his own reasoning, whether it jibed with what came later or not.
     
  12. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Oh, I wholeheartedly suspect that the design feature was studio or Roddenberry-influenced. But regardless of real-life cause, I find I cannot accept the pseudo-science function that was assigned to it when -for several reasons- there are far more logical alternatives available to us.
     
  13. Rick Sternbach

    Rick Sternbach Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've never been officially involved in any real tech on the Refit (even though I worked on TMP), but if I had to explain the whole deflection crystal business, as it relates to the impulse engines, I might say that a fraction the hot plasma in the vertical matter/antimatter core could be diverted to juice the impulse engines, and that the crystal in question could be a secondary dilithium matrix (the upper glowy thing) to smooth out the energy frequencies as they entered the impulse system. A small amount of straight deuterium would undergo fusion in the impulse reactors with the help of the bent-over plasma stream, and exit through the visible vents. That would be my guess. - Rick
     
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  14. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I'd ordinarily support this interpretation sir, except that the crystal is a deck or so above the junction between the vertical intermix shaft and the Impulse reactor, so that plasma has to travel beyond the reactor and then double back on itself needlessly. More glaringly however, is that it sits exposed on the exterior of the hull, so that:
    A) It would present an unnecessarily critical vulnerability what with being an integral element of both the Intermix and Impulse drive, and
    B) The destruction of the Reliant's crystal should in theory do more than just "knock out" the Warp Drive, but rather destroy the entire ship! :D

    Does we have a precise definition anywhere as to what the similar blue domes atop the forward nacelles are supposed to be/do?
     
  15. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

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    Roddenberry's novelization of TMP, while non-canon, is still probably a reasonable reference to how they were thinking the refit functioned in 1979. It specifically states this regarding the impulse engines: "microscopic amounts of anti-matter and matter were entering the intermix chamber, but the annihilation of even a pinhead of matter was sufficient for the impulse power which the captain would soon request" - which suggests that the plasma generated by a matter/antimatter reaction was deflected by the crystal and used to power the impulse engines. Even though "The Doomsday Machine" implies that the impulse engines were a "traditional" fusion drive in TOS, and TNG confirms it to be so later, it's unclear if TMP was going that route (perhaps by priming the fusion reaction as Rick suggests), or for something completely different. It could be as simple as the deflected intermix plasma itself being used for thrust independent of any other secondary fusion reactions or other magic occurring.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2016
  16. Blip

    Blip Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Which doesn't explain why we have an externally visible crystal dome, situated a deck or so *above* where the junction between the Intermix and the Impulse reactors would be..

    As Tom Cruise (never) once said, "Show me the logic! Show! Me! The logic!" :D
     
  17. Praetor

    Praetor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks Mr. Sternbach!

    Since you're here could you equivocate a bit about how you conceived the Voyager warp core working? I believe you once said that you conceived it would function quite similarly to the TMP core?
     
  18. drt

    drt Commodore Commodore

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    Well, there has to be a reason for it being externally visible, seems like the simplest explanation is that the dome itself is a radiator of some kind for the deflection crystal machinery underneath.
     
  19. Rick Sternbach

    Rick Sternbach Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Well, the TMP core made a certain amount of sense, even if the entire thing hadn't been documented at the time. Matter and antimatter came together in the big tube, made hot, hot plasma, and juiced the nacelles. In 1987, we worked out how the Ent-D core operated using the TMP core as a starting point, documented it like crazy, and then most every Starfleet ship was then simply a variation on a theme. The Voyager core returned to the visual style of the swirly TMP core, with our own spin on the hardware. Technically, still made a ton of sense. :)

    Rick
     
  20. Mytran

    Mytran Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Thanks for your thoughts, this is an issue that has bugged me for years! ;)
    I think the big question about the VOY Warp Core is that unlike its TNG and TMP predecessor there are no obvious plasma conduits in the main engine room.

    If the VOY core is like the TNG one (matter coming in from the top and antimatter from the bottom) then there needs to be one or more exit points (probably at the centre) to carry the plasma to the nacelles. I suppose the exit tube could be in the deck below the engine room (possible under that line of glowy floor panels) but then there's also the issue of accessing the dilithium crystals: something even engineers on the E-D needed to do from time to time. So, surely the logical place to house this access hatch would be in "main" engineering, wouldn't it?

    As I said, lots of thoughts!