From: phipps@chopin.Physics.McGill.CA (Martin Phipps)
Date: 15 Aug 93 18:43:38 GMT
Subject: Not the Technical Manual
NOT THE TECHNICAL MANUAL
2) WARP SPEED
4) WARP DRIVE
5) "DROPPING OUT OF WARP" AND "CONTINUUM DRAG"
6) SPECIAL RELATIVITY AND TIME DIALATION
7) GENERAL RELATIVITY
8) TIME TRAVEL, "LINEAR TIME" AND CAUSALITY VIOLATION
9) TRANSWARP, WORMHOLES AND SUBSPACE CONDUITS
11) "FULL IMPULSE"
12) PHASERS AND DISRUPTORS
This file is intended to summarize some of the discussion that has gone
on in this newsgroup. I think it adequately shows that there is a lot
more to Star Trek technology than that which appears in the ST:TNG
2) WARP SPEED
The following warp formula was given by Greg Berigan: for a given warp
speed = W^(10/3)+(10-W)^(-11/3)
in units of the speed of light. This is an imperical fit to the curve
given in the ST:TNG Technical Manual. As Jason Hinson recently pointed
out, the curve given in the Technical Manual is canonical because in
"The Most Toys" Wesley gave a distance, time and warp factor consistant
with it. The following section on distances also lends credence to this
formula. (TOS warp went by a W^3 formula.)
Marcus Lindros recently gave a summary of what is known about distances
as described on Star Trek. To summarize his summary:
1. Gamma Hydrae (mentioned in TOS: "The Deadly Years" and
"Star Trek II") is 130 light years from here. This then is the
approximate distance to the Romulus and Kronos. Thus, it takes less
than four months for the Enterprise to travel there from earth when
travelling at warp 6.
2. Of the all the real stars mentioned on Star Trek all but three
(Mintaka, 2500 light years; Deneb, 1900 light years and Rigel, 900 light
years) are within 200 light years away from our sun.
4) WARP DRIVE
A plausible explanation as to how warp drive works was posted by
Christopher Petit (if I recall correctly). The idea was that the warp
field that is prgduced and surrounds the ship is asymmetrical and that
the rhape of the warp field determines the speed with which and the
direction in which the ship travels.
5) "DROPPING OUT OF WARP" AND "CONTINUUM DRAG"
We know from "Brothers" that if the Saucer Section were to separate from
the Warp Drive then the Saucer Section would "drop out of warp" (Picard)
The explanation is that the warp field has to be maintained continuously
or else it would "decay" and the ship in question would drop to sublight
speed. The inadequacy of this explanation is clear if one remembers
that Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object an object in
motion will tend to remain in motion unless acted on by an external
force. This force is then, clearly, the same force that prevents the
Enterprise from obtaining an arbitralily large speed. This force has
been refered to as "continuum drag".
In order for "continuum drag" to prevent the Enterprise from obtaining
arbitralily large speed, it has to be a force that increases as the
Enterprise increases speed. For an airplane, the drag force is air
resistance and this is indeed a force that increases with velocity.
This does not, however, provide us with a clue as to what prevents
the Enterprise from obtaining arbitralily large velocity in what is
relatively empty space.
The best anology I can think of is closely related to the explanation
for warp drive given in the previous section. Imagine stretching a
rubber band. Rubber bands can't be stretched indefinitely because the
tension increases as the rubber band is stretched; in fact, the tension
in a rubber band is such that if you let go of it, it will return to its
original shape. Real rubber bands are not ideal, however, in that they
have elastic limits and, therefore, break when you stretch them too far;
this can be seen to be analogous to a ship being torn apart when it
exceeds its warp capabilities.
6) SPECIAL RELATIVITY AND TIME DIALATION
Galileo introduced the principle of relativity, namely that physics is
the same to all observers regardless of their relative speed. At the
turn of the century, scientists proposed the idea of "ether" to explain
how light could be propagated in a vacuum, thus introducing a special
frame of reference. Experimental evidence was that the speed of light
is a constant for all observers regardless of their relative speed.
Albert Einstein thus proposed Special Relativity, the theory that all
observers in non-accelerating frames observe the same physics and that
the speed of light is the same to all observers. The latter principle
implies that one cannot exceed the speed of light, simply because we
would perceive light to travel at its normal speed and, thus, a
"stationary" observer would see light itself to be travelling at faster
than the speed of light! In order to have faster than light travel then
we must allow for the possibility for light itself to exceed the speed
of light, thus disposing of this principle.
This principle can not be disposed of lightly as light is nothing more
than a time developing electro-magnetic field. The electric field obeys
d^2 E 1 d^2 E
----- + --- ----- = 0
dt^2 c^2 dx^2
where c is the speed of light. Thus if c -> infinity then light cannot
propagate. Thus, c cannot be infinity. It is reasonable to suppose that
the speed of light in subspace would be warp 9.997, the speed of subspace
Now let's consider a means of faster than light travel that would
preserve the principle of relativity. First, let's consider a
"relativistic effect" encountered when travelling at "relativistic"
sublight speeds. As mentioned in the section before last, we have the
t' = sqrt(1-v^2/c^2)*t
where t is the time experienced by an observer and t' is the time
experienced by the passenger travelling at a velocity v relative to
the observer. For example, consider v = .60 c and t = 1000 days then
t' = 800 days. This effect is known as "time dialation".
Now suppose one were to enter warp. The principle of relativity
implies that one does not have to be travelling at any particular speed
when one enters warp because this would imply the existance of a special
frame. This principle also implies that one continues to measure time
exactly as one did when one entered warp because the frame of reference
that one was in when one entered warp was no less important than any
other frame. Thus, we have the possibility of two ships in warp having
come from different frames of reference and being "out of phase" with
each other in that each ship would consider passengers in the other as
moving relatively slowly (the same effect occurs, of course, when two
ships travelling in normal space have relative velocity). There could
be many ways this problem may be overcome, the most simple of which
would be for both ships to drop out of warp and travel at the same
Jason Hinson successfully found one aspect of this theory that is not
immediately obvious, namely that this theory makes time travel possible
in a way far more plausible than any method used on Star Trek (IMO).
Consider the possibility that a ship enters warp and travels at, say,
warp 9 for, say, 11.561 hours and then drops out of warp and then
increases speed by a mere .14522% of the speed of light. What, in your
new frame of reference, was the time when you first entered warp?
According to the formula
ct' = (ct-vx/c)/sqrt(1-v^2/c^2)
the time for that event, t', is 13.898 hours in the future! Now,
suppose you re-enter warp and turn around (see, for example TOS: "Let
That Be Your Last Battlefield) and proceed at warp 9 back to your
starting point. This trip takes only 11.561 hours! So what you end
up with is two identical ships at the same place at the same time, one
which is, supposedly, going to leave in 2.337 hours and another that
has already come back! Jason Hinson hates this scenario because the
latter ship could convince the former not to go and then you have
causality violation. (For more information see Jason Hinson's regular
posting on Special Relativity and FTL travel or email him at
The possibilty of time dialation opens up many possibilities. Suppose
for instance that the Enterprise were to travel at v = .60 c. In
such a case, 1.25 years would pass planetside for every year that passed
on the Enterprise, the result being that people planetside would age at
a rate 25% faster than people on the Enterprise. As Leon Myerson
once pointed out, time dialation would have social consequences. How,
for example, does one describe how old one is? After all, some time can
be spent aboard ship, some planetside. Similarly, how does one decide
when to celebrate holidays like Christmas? Does one celebrate it two
or three times a year when one is on board ship simply because it is
being celebrated back on Earth at the same time? The latter question
may be moot; people can decide amongst themselves whether or not and, if
so, when to celebrate holidays. The former question is important
trekwise, however, because people are seen celebrating their birthdays.
As a birthday is apparently seen as an accomplishment, it is natural
to presume that each birthday counts off a year that the individual has
actually aged. People would then determine how old they are based on
the amount of time that had passed for them while they were either on
board or planetside. One could well imagine someone losing track of how
old they are. In contrast, the time in the ship's logs are given as
stardates which we can presume to be standard planetside time.
7) GENERAL RELATIVITY
Mark Craddock recently posted an article in which he was able to clarify
how General Relativity is in fact a generalisation of Special Relativity
and what implications this generalisation may have on the status of faster
than light travel. I got his permission to copy said article and it appears
Now let us examine what we mean by relativity. Isaac Kuo quite rightly
pointed out that relativity means that the laws of physics are
the same in all frames. This is a basic principle of physics and we
would give it up only after a fight.
Then we come to the Lorentz transformations. The LTs are a crucial
component of special relativity. They show different coordinate frames
how to transform position and time variables. Jason Hinson has a regular
post where he explains them and I don't wish to spend to much time on
them. But it is worth pointing out some often overlooked point.
Now we should ask where the importance of the LTs come from? The answer
is: The Minkowski metric. Einstein's procedure for synchronizing clocks
is based upon the assumption that the speed of light is a constant
for all observers moving less than c. Minkowski showed in 1908 that
special relativity could be recast in geometrical form by introducing
what is called the Minkowski metric. It essentially contains the
two assumptions that Einstein based special relativity upon. Minkowski
defined an interval ds, and related these to the coordinates x,y,z,t
ds^2 = -c^2dt^2 + dx^2 + dy^2 + dz^2.
Now the Lorentz transformations get there importance from the fact that
they preserve the above expression. Mathematically speaking they
make up the "Invariance group" of the Minkowski metric.
Tolman observed in 1917, (and Sommerfeld noted the same thing in a commentary
on Minkoswki's work around 1920 (?)), that if we allow FTL signals in
Minkoswki spacetime, that is a universe where the geometry is determined
by Minkowski's metric, then there exist frames where the FTL signals travel
backwards in time. Tolman used this to define what he called an anti-telephone.
This allows us to state a theorem (and it is a real mathematical theorem
which you can prove if you know enough differential geometry). If
FTL signals propagate on a Minowski spacetime, then there exist frames
with respect to which, the signals travel backwards in time.
This is the sense in which physicists say that FTL + relativity +
LTs => time travel.
It is not however the end of the story. The reasons are twofold. Firstly
it doesn't give the full picture of what is going on, and secondly,
we do not live in Minkowski spacetime.
The first point I will mention only briefly. we have to consider the
following simple thought experiment.
Let A send B a signal at velocity u > c, and let a moving observer
have velocity v. Then by applying the Lorentz transformations to
the above situation, we see that in the observers frame, the time
the signal is sent and the time it arrives are given by
t' = l(v)t(1 - uv/c^2), where l(v) = (1 -(v/c)^2)^(-1/2).
and so we can find v < c, so that the events occur in the opposite order
in the moving frame. This is however not the full story. We ought also
to consider what the events the moving observer measures actually are.
If the tachyon in the experiment has energy E, then in the moving frame
it has energy
E' = l(v)E(1-uv/c^2), and so we can find frames such that the energy
measured is negative. If the tachyon has charge e, then in the moving
frame it will actually have energy -e!. Thus in the moving frame
what actually appears to happen is that B emits an anti tachyon
which A absorbs at a later time! Not only is the time order of the
events reversed, but they are not even the same events! Susharden
use this to introduce what he called the reinterpretation principle.
Tachyons with negative energy moving backwards in time are reinterpreted
as antitachyons moving forward in time. In this way he hoped to avoid
the causality paradoxes which people had put forward. Several
authors claim that if you develop a consstent theory of tachyon kinematics,
then you can, using this principle. resolve all the tachyon paradoxes
put forward. This work is controversial, and I am personally sceptical,
but it is worth noting that people are looking at these things.
Lots of physics journals occasionaly carry papers on these subjects.
The second point I made earlier is more interesting in my view. We do not
actually live in a Minowski spacetime because of curvature due to
gravity (more precisely, curvature which manifests itself as gravity).
This is the realm of General relativity. Before discussing this further
I note in passing, that if we allow FTL signals, then this in itslef
might imply that spacetime is not even approximately Minkowskian,
away from sources of matter. For example, if a source is moving faster
than light, then observers moving less than c might no longer measure
its velocity to be c. This would not invalidate special relativity.
It would simply become a special case of a wider theory. This possibilit
is however rather complicated.
So to general relativity. General relativity replaces Minkowski's metrivc
with a more general object called the metric tensor, g(a,b). (The a and
b are usually written as subscripts). The famous Einstein field equations
relate the Einsten tensor G(a,b) to the stress energy tensor T(a,b),
which contains information about the distribution of energy and
matter. The Einstein tensor is built by differentiating g(a,b). Thus
the field equations G(a,b) = 8piT(a,b), give differential equations
In general relativity, FTL travel is at least a mathematical possibility.
This is because one can write down metrics g, which allow some very
peculiar behaviour. For example, consider the metric with the interval
ds given by
ds^2 = -c^2dt^2 + exp(-2k(r))dr^2 + r^2(dq^2 +sin^2qdw^2).
This is in spherical polar coordinates. Now how do we extract information
from this? Well one easy thing to do is work out the radial velocity
of light. We set ds =0. This corresponds to what is called a null
geodesic, along which light rays travel. Then we set q =w = constant.
We then get
(dr/dt)^2 = exp(2k(r))c^2.
Exp is the exponential function. Thus the radial speed of light in this
dr/dt = exp(k(r))c.
Thus by suitable choice of k, we can make light go faster than c!
Remember, this is only a mathematical possiblity. There is no reason to
believe that we could find an energy distribution in the real world
for which the above is a solution of the einstein equations. But if we
could, then we could travel faster than c in this "warped space", but
never faster than light.
Recently, a spacetime involving a stable wormhole was discovered by
Kip Thorne and Michael Morris. (there original paper appeared inthe
American Journal of Physics in 1988). A wormhole is essentially
a short cut through space. of course DS9 viewers will be familiar with
the idea. Wormholes had been known since 1916 (It actually predates
the discovery of black holes). But all previous wormhole solutions
were unstable. They collapsed in microseconds. Thorne and Morris
worked out the properties that a wormhole would have to have to be useful,
worked out its metric, and then figured out the stress tensor required
to keep it open. It requires the existence of what is known as exotic
matter. This matter must violate what is called the averaged weak energy
condition. That, is that matter must have,on average, positive energy.
The lesser, weak energy condition, long thought to be a universal rule,
is now known to be violate by the casimir effect. Thus it is possible
that exotic matter may exist. Of course we do not know at this stage.
Even if exotic matter does exist, it is still not clear how to build a
wormhole, but maybe that will be done to. Thorne believes that we
may be able to pull quantum wormholes out of the vaccum, and inflate
them to macroscopic size. Well maybe. The jury is still out.
A stable wormhole is an example of what I mentioned above. it gives
FTL conection between to points n spacetime, but only those two points.
The spacetime is also radicaly different from Minkowski, at least
near the throats, so the LTs give no information. However you can still
get causality violations from what are called closed time like curves.
Basically, if you can induce a time shift in the wormhole throats,
then bring them close together, then you can enter the throat, leave and
come back again before you left. Fortunately, Visser (january 1993,
physical review D), has shown that quantum mechanical effects may
prevent bringing the mouths close enough to form a closed timelike curve.
hawking has conjectured that quantum effects will always make this so,
no matter how you arrange your wormholes. If he is right, then we may
well be able to travel FTL, at least in this sense, and have no causality
8) TIME TRAVEL AND CAUSALITY VIOLATION
Causality is the principle that causes preceed effects. We can imagine
causality violation in stories which involve time travel. This
restricts how we interpret these stories. Specifically:
TOS: "The Naked Time"
The Enterprise goes back in time three days. Will they meet themselves?
Only if they actually return to Psi 2000. Why should they?
TOS: "Tomorrow is Yesterday"
If the Enterprise went back in time a few hours, were there not *two*
Enterprises in orbit around Earth? The answer is, of course, yes. This
was something the script glossed over.
If in the revised history the Enterprise didn't pick up Captain
Christopher, then why did they have to return him? The answer is that
once they returned him, the incident never happened. This was
TOS: "City on the Edge of Forever"
The following is exerpted from Harlan Ellison's original script:
Could we go back, any of us ... say, to this time, 1930 of Old Earth?
Beckwith strains for the answer.
23 UP-ANGLE ON THE GUARDIANS
SHOT FROM TILT they look immense, rising up, almost Messianic in tone,
something reverential as they speak about their religion - time.
Yes, but it is not wise. Man and non-Man must live in their
present of their future. But never in their past, save to learn
lessons from it. Time can be dangerous. If passage back is
effected, the voyager may add a new factor to the past, and thus
change time, alter everything that happened from that point to the
present ... all through the universe.
24 SPOCK AND GUARDIANS PAST HIM
fascinated by the concepts, not the magic of it all.
Then time is not a constant. It isn't rigid?
Time is elastic. It will revert to its original shape when changes
are minor. But when the change is life or death - when the sum of
intelligence alters the balance - then the change can become
permanent ... and terrible.
Like changing the flow of a river.
A river, a wind, a flow, elastic. It makes no difference how you
imagine it yourself.
How long has it been since anyone went ...
We do not go back. We guard. For one hundred thousand years no
one has gone back.
SPOCK (to Kirk)
Captain, I understand now why we can breathe here, and why our
chronometers turned backwards.
The Time Vortex has been left set at 1930. While CAMERA DOES NOT dwell on
it, we should see the scene of the depression back there, to remind us
They've created a zone of no-time here.
Within the sphere of influence of the vortex time doesn't move.
All through the rest of the universe it flows at its normal rate,
but here -
If they can control time, how much simpler it must be for them to
control the atmosphere.
There is wisdom that lesser species have not grasped. Perhaps you
who call yourselves "men" will be next to guard all of time.
TOS: "Assignment: Earth"
The Enterprise did change history (as Kirk noted at the end) but we're
supposed to believe that it wasn't significant.
TOS: "All Our Yesterdays"
Mr. Atoz was sending people back in time. Nothing they did in the past
could change when their sun was to go nova.
Star Trek IV
Supposedly whales don't usually have any significant affect on history.
TNG: "Time Squared"
Picard was in a causality loop. When Picard followed the right course
of action, the loop ended.
TNG: "Yesterday's Enterprise"
Why was Guinan on the ship in the first place if "Time's Arrow" didn't
occur in the Federation/Klingon war universe? It's something to think
TNG: "Captain's Holiday"
Supposedly, causality wasn't violated in this episode because the people
from the future were unable to stop Picard from destroying the device.
More importantly, we're supposed to believe that the presence of this
device in our present didn't change the future in the first place.
TNG: "Redemption II"
In this episode we find out that Tasha Yar existed before she was born
and gave birth to a Romulan Commander. Say what? Patrick Rannou came up
with an explanation using the "established" effects of time travel:
"Like the guardian said 'Time is elastic, minor events will not affect the
timestream much unless they are of the matter of life and death. In that
case, the overall intelligence in the universe of time would be changed and
time would be changed for the entire universe. It would probably be
"To me, this describes quite well what happened in YE: at the moment the old
E came out of that workhole, the WHOLE UNIVERSE changed catastrophically
(well, maybe just the federations and klingons...), since the E's
disappearance to the end of time. Then at the moment the old E reentered
the wormhole, the whole universe's time AGAIN is changed from the 'war'
"i.e. if the old E entered the past-wormhole at say stardate 40000.00 and
then went to stardate 44000.00, then 'at stardate 44000.00', the whole
universe from stardate 40000.00 to infinite gets changed to the fed-K war
scneario. Then, at stardate 44000.02 the old Fed ship go back in time to
40000.02, and thus "at stardate 44000.02" the whole (fed-kling war)
universe gets changed. Sin ce between stardate 40000.00 and 40000.02 both
'original' fed-no-war universe and fed-K-war universe are virtually the
same, this means that nothing important happened ther and thus the 'third'
universe wll be in all cases identical to the original universe... except
that Tasha Yar commanded that ship, and survived for some time, then had a
girl named Sela.
"So, you can consider that in all episodes previous to 'Yesterday
enterprise', Tasha Yar existed only once (for all time) and was killed by
the black blob. And similarly Sela never existed either. But that universe
doesn't exist anymore. But this does not force us to throw all the previous
episode to the garbage can since the 'new' (third) universe, the one for
the eps after Yesterday Enterprise, feature the same events for all these
epsides. In the 'new' universe, two Tasha coexisted in time, one still
dying at the hand of the black pudding and the other 'appearing' at 40000.2
and then having a girl Sela.
"Now, what the guardian said would explain why such events prove
'catastrophic'. Since they affect EVERYTHING up to the end of time, it is
safe to bet that in a few million or billion years, that 'ripple' may have
cost whole civilisations to disappear and never exist. i.e. in the
fed-klingon war, the borgs could have vanquished both race easily, thus
preventing them from helping hugh, and thus the borgs could have wiped
everyone and everything in the galaxy, until the end of time. We can see
that such a thing cvould have proved a 'catastrophy' to the universe.
Fortunately, the old-E went back in time and fixed most of the damage back
in place. The only difference is the presence of Sela, but we can assume
that in the long shcheme of things she will stay within the 'elasticity' of
TNG: "A Matter of Time"
Rasmussen brought himself forward from the past. Supposedly, he was a
"nobody" in established history.
TNG: "Time's Arrow"
The aliens weren't worried about changing their history because,
supposedly, this was their first contact with humans. The crew had to
stop them or else they'd change their history. In the end, the crew
did change history by inspiring Jack London to go to Alaska and become a
writer. We're supposed to believe that neither this nor Twain's
"Mysterious Stranger" story had a significant effect on the course of
For that matter, in the *original* history, the Enterprise had to have
gotten involved for reasons other than those portayed in "Time's
Arrow I". Meanwhile, both the watch and Data's head represent causality
loops (although there were never more than two watches or heads around
at any one time).
(Note however that the loop that occured in TNG: "Cause and Effect" was
not actually a causality loop; the Enterprise never went back in time;
they just lived through the same events over and over.)
One problem with "Time's Arrow I" is rationalising Data's "It did
happen; it will happen" line with the concept of elastic time. This
can be accomplished as follows.
First, remember that Data has observed impatience when he begins a long
explanation and, thus, would probably chose to use short, two line
explanations even if they are inadequate. This would be the long
explanation: "You see before you a head identical to my own. Logically,
it follows that it *is* my head having been sent back in time. The fact
that I still have my head demonstrates that it has not been sent back
in time yet. This in turn implies that, as long as we follow our
present course, I will in fact be sent back in time and will loose my
head. Otherwise, this second head would no longer exist for we would
have already changed history by finding it." In other words, "It did
happen; it will happen."
DS9: "The Emissary"
The aliens in the wormhole were not "ignorant of the future", at least
not *normally*. One might well imagine that Sisko's "presence" caused
them to experience "linear time", something they weren't familiar with,
and that's why they were so p*ssed off!
In conclusion then, causality violation is a very real problem on Star
Trek. This is a challenge to both writers and viewers (who, inevitably,
have to suspend their disbelief).
9) TRANSWARP, WORMHOLES AND SUBSPACE CONDUITS
The FAQL for this newsgroup goes on at length about transwarp.
According to "Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise", transwarp involves
creating a "'tear' in the fabric of three-dimensional space". Transwarp
then would be a lot like creating an artificial wormhole, where a
wormhole is a "hole" in four-dimensional space-time through which one
could pass and emerge at another place in another time. The ST:TNG
Technical Manual states on page 14 that transwarp is no longer used
because it failed to "surpass the primary warp field efficiency
barrier". This implies that transwarp was no more efficient as warp
and, seeing as how a ship could theoretically travel at arbitralily
large speeds while in warp, there was no advantage with transwarp.
Indeed, if as "Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise" suggests, transwarp
was developed as a result of the discovery of "interphases" in the
original series episode "The Tholian Web" then transwarp is potentially
unhealthy, capable of creating an "imbalance in the chemical composition
of neural and muscular tissues in human beings".
Joshua Bell pointed out that both the wormhole in "The Price" and the
one on _Deep Space Nine_ sends ships 70 000 light years away. This is
indeed across the galaxy. Joshua Bell estimates that it would take 70
for a starship to travel the same distance at typical speeds.
Mark Craddock recently posted an article on wormholes (not the one that
appears above, a more detailed one). Of particular interest to him was
whether or not a wormhole, assuming that one could exist and be stable,
could be used to generate time travel (forgetting Star Trek for a moment).
His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two other forms of travel are of note. In the Next Generation episode
"The Nth Degree", the Enterprise travels through what looks very much
like a "tear" in space to arrive at the centre of the galaxy; if this
was transwarp then it is *not* a very comfortable ride. Also, in the
Next Generation episode "The High Ground", individuals travelled by
by-passing three dimensional space; this sounds a lot like a personal
journey through transwarp and was indeed very unhealthy.
Finally there's the "subspace conduits" used in "TNG: Descent". Geordi
said that these were like "rivers in subspace" into which a ship could
fall and be "swept away by the current". He also said he wasn't familiar
with using "transwarp variables". Again, this suggests to me that
"transwarp" == "travel through subspace".
"What is subspace?" was the cry on the net and I would proudly declare
that "subspace is warped space is subspace". Then along came the
Next Generation episode "Schisms" with it's subspace "energy levels"
and subspace "domains". I was completely taken aback.
This was until Joshua Bell
emailed me and suggested that subspace was none other than
what string theorists call "inner space", namely those six dimensions
of space that are unobservable as required by the principle of
unobservability and yet manifest themselves in the quantum numbers of
observed particles (gee, maybe Star Trek technobabble isn't that bad
after all :) ), and that warp travel is made possible by unwrapping or
"warping" these dimensions of space and sending a ship through. While
I found this explanation relatively satisfying at the time, it now
occurs to me that this actually sounds a *lot* like transwarp. The
question remains then as to what it means to warp space for the purpose
of ordinary warp drive.
There is precendent in current physics for forces to manifest themselves
in different ways. For example, the electric attraction between
electrons and protons in atoms has the secondary effect of binding atoms
together; this is a secondary effect because the atoms themselves are
neutral. In fluids, this is known as a Vanderwals force. In molecules,
this results in convalent bonding. There is a similar example in
Joshua Bell came back with a slightly different idea, namely that warp
involves a starship being mostly in subspace but partly in real space so
that it continues to interact with real space but is much lighter, no longer
being given mass by the Higgs field that exists in real space. (I had
copied Joshua's post in which he gave this idea onto a disk but the copy
became corrupted; anyway, this was the jist of it.)
11) "FULL IMPULSE"
Before (finally) leaving behind the subject of warp, there is one thing
I want to deal with and that is the often quoted "full impulse" line
used when people at the helm increase speed from one warp factor to
another. Impulse does not measure speed but, rather, change in
momentum. However one defines momentum while in warp, it is clear that
as one increases speed, one increases momentum; thus there is indeed a
change in momentum and, thus, there has been an impulse, an acceleration
that has taken place over a given length of time. It's usage on ST:TNG
is, therefore, correct.
12) PHASERS AND DISRUPTORS
There is one thing that we know for sure about phasers, namely that hand
phasers travel at sub-light speed (TOS: "Wink of an Eye"). This alone
establishes that phasers are not beams of light but rather some material
particles. In order to reduce matter to plasma, it would make sense to
have the particles in question be charged. This suggests a beam
consisting of pairs of positively and negatively charged particles for
otherwise the beam would carry a net charge and would leave the
opposite charge behind on the phaser. It also makes sense for the
particles in question *not* to be protons and anti-protons because
nuclear particles would cause the bombarded target to become
radioactive (such a beam would be ideal for a doomsday machine, however)
This leaves us with the posibility that phasers beams consist of
electrons and positrons.
It isn't completely clear (to me anyway) whether or not ship's phasers
travel at warp speed. It would be desirable for the phasers to travel
at warp speed so that an enemy ship couldn't easily outmaneuver them.
This is particularly true if disruptor beams travel at warp speed.
Jason Hinson suggested the possibility of electron-positron pairs being
created not in the phaser itself but along the length of the beam, based
on my suggestion that virtual electron-positron pairs could be given
momentum by a warp field. (The actual mechanism by which particles are
accelerated is refered to as the "rapid nadion effect".)
When I proposed the idea that a phaser beam could be produced by
accelerating virtual electron-positron pairs, Jason Hinson wondered what
the density of virtual electron-positron pairs is in the vacuum. It
turns out that this density is not well defined since the Heisenburg
Uncertaincy Principle allows infinitely energetic pairs to exist for
infinitessimally short periods of time. The measured energy density
of pairs in the vacuum is then a function of the shortest length of
time a pair can exist and still be detected.
An alternate non-canonical explanation of the "phaser effect" (as
proposed by Leon Myerson) is for the phaser not to carry particles
at all but rather to give "warp impulses to atoms encountered" along
its path, thereby disrupting their molecular bonds. This sounds more
like what a disrupter would do. The main advantage of a phaser seems
to be that phasers have different settings used to "stun", "kill" or
"destroy". (This includes ship's phasers. See TOS: "A Piece of the
Action".) It isn't clear (to me anyway) whether or not disruptors have
There are a few problems with transporters that everyone can see without
even knowing any physics:
1. Storing enough information to completely reconstruct a human body
would require considerable memory. The idea is that each atom that makes
up our body has its own location in space and it's own velocity. Thus,
to completely decompose our body and store it in the transporter would
require six numbers for every atom in our body, all to high precision.
2. If it were possible to store that much information, then it would be
too easy to make duplicates of, say, Data, assuming you had the right
3. If you are completely decomposed during transit, are you not dead?
(This of course is not the case. See TNG: "Realm of Fear".)
The only explanation that would explain away all these problems is to
not have the people transported be completely decomposed. After all,
you, right now, are composed of individual atoms and yet you do not
need storage space put aside to keep track of where each of your atoms
are and where they are going. My proposal is then that atoms in the
"matter stream" continue to interact to the point that people travelling
in the transporter experience the illusion of being "whole" at all
times. (Joshua Bell describes this as "maintaining your topology".)
Even with this explanation, the Next Generation episodes
"Unnatural Selection" and "Rascals" (the transporters-can-make-you-young
episodes) do not make sense from the point of view of molecular biology.
Another problem with the idea of transporters is that you have to
get around quantum mechanics in order to use them. This is because you
*can't* take any single atom and instruct it to go to a definite place
and simultaneously have a definite momentum. This is due to the
Heisenburg Uncertainty Principle, namely that you can't simultanmeously
describe a particle's location and momentum to an arbitrary number of
decimal places. Of course, in "Realm of Fear", O'Brien does a
diagnostic of the transporter and mentions the "Heisenburg compensators"
Thus, with a mere two words, Paramount has made transporters somewhat
Then there's the issue of whether or not you can create doubles using
a transporter, an issue which was rendered academic by TNG: "Second
Chances", the episode in which Riker learns that when a transporter
locked onto him once, eight years ago, the transporter chief did so by
using two confining beams, one which beamed Riker on board, the other
which made a copy which appeared on the planet. (Note 1: I think we
can consider TOS: "The Enemy Within" to be non-canon anyway since it is
ludicrous to suppose that the transporter can distinguish between good
and evil.) (Note 2: I considered "Thomas" Riker to be the copy since
Geordi reasoned that the effect was due to the original confining beam
resonating with the planet's barrier [i.e. whatever it was in the atmosphere
that made beamout difficult] and reflecting back to the surface.) Thus,
in theory, Star Fleet Command could make copies of, say, Data using
the transporter ... although they'd probably try inaminate objects at
the first experimental stage. :l
One thing that is not a problem with the idea of transporters is what
happened to Scotty as described in the Next Generation episode "Relics".
In that episode, Scotty had placed the transporter in a "diagnostic
loop". In such a mode, he was able to survive for seventy-five years
without having his pattern degrade more than .003%. Given that his
pattern had degraded so little, it is natural to presume that he was
"frozen" in stasis and was not aware of the passage of time.
There seems to be a great deal of consensus as to how the holodeck
works. To begin with, it is clear that the walls of the holodeck
feature holograms to give the illusion of vast space. If one were to
move to towards one of the walls, the image that one sees would change
so that one would believe one was in the area that one had previously
seen "from a distance". With two or more people "spreading out", the
holodeck would have to create different images for the different people,
including images of each other as seen from a distance, if necessary.
The holodeck would manipulate sound in a similar fashion in order to
create the illusion that sounds are coming from a specific place, a
specific distance away.
The holodeck also provides objects that people can actually pick up.
The FAQL for this group stated that "Holodeck-replicated material cannot
leave the confines of the holodeck". This is, of course, not true as
demonstrated in "Elementary, My Dear Data" in which a map of the
Enterprise is taken out of the holodeck. In general, however, material
that is part of the holodeck program is beamed away when the program
ends. (The material in the holodeck is replicated and beamed away at
the "molecular level" and thus appears and disappears more quickly than
Finally, the holodeck provides images of people and animals who, if one
is close enough to touch them, are made solid. The illusion of
continuous motion is provided by the having the images continuously
It was said a Next Generation episode ("The Enemy", I believe, by Data)
that cloaking devices work by bending light around a ship and having it
appear on the other side. This alone would not prevent the ship from
being detected by other means. (In Star Trek VI, it was noted that
the Klingon Bird of Prey gave off neutrons while cloaked but apparently
only enough for it to be detected at short range.) Improved cloaking
devices would avoid detection from subspace particles (of which, as you
may recall, there are many, all with nifty sounding names). The ideal
cloaking device would be one that renders a ship transparent to all
means of detection. It was this kind of device that the Romulans were
trying to develop in the Next Generation episode "The Next Phase".
In the original series episode "The Enterprise Incident", Kirk manages
to steal a Romulan cloaking device. It has become a matter of
contention as to why Federation ships don't have cloaking devices.
A couple of people have sought to explain this, including Mark Runyan.
The following is taken from one of his posts.
1. Who says we don't have cloaking? Just because they haven't used it
doesn't mean they don't have it. (see 8 & 5 below) (See also 16 :-)
2. Why should the Federation chose to use cloaking? It is expensive in
energy, and it leaves you at an extreme disadvantage if you are tracked.
(see 6 below)
3. Cloaking shields don't work with Federation warp technology.
4. FASA history explains that it was tried but found unacceptable.
(see 6 & 16 below)
5. Cloaking just isn't the Star Fleet Way.
6. "Cloaking just isn't PRACTICAL for the energy/mass ratio of a
Galaxy class ship. Under current technology, of course.....(sorta like
asking why we don't have nuclear powered Stealth fighters.....)"
(to quote Roger Tang)
7. "It is not esthetically pleasing for the viewer to be treated to a
TV screen full of stars whizzing by without the Enterprise planted
squarely in the middle. Or worse, a TV screen full of stars just
standing in place while SFX for the Enterprise roaring by are
played in the background."
(to quote Tony Nardo)
8. Cloaking isn't foolproof (i.e. you can be tracked and you leave
indications that you are cloaked all about) and it leaves you at
a disadvantage if someone catches you that way (i.e. you can't
fire your weapons while cloaked). (see 11 below)
9. "The second reason is in the nature of the Enterprise. It is, first
and foremost, a science vessel. Possession of a cloak would be a
uniquely military function -- contrary to the design intent."
(to quote Jason Steck)
10. "Obviously the Feds have some type of cloaking device. ...
So why don't the ships have and/or use the technology? I think the
answer lies in the real world and not the fictional world of ST. ...
It would be too much of a crutch for plot resolution in far too many
episodes." (see 7 above)
(to quote Tom Kuchar)
11. "The answer I like to use is that they do. It can be used to go unseen
around non-technologically advanced peoples...It can't be used in space,
however, because the Romulans have worked on their sensors to pick up
Fed-Cloaked ships. ... They did, and the Feds couldn't figure out the
device, so the Romulans still have the Cloaking superiority."
(To quote Larry Diamond)
12. "Cloaking is probably dangerous (even if only slightly). Klingon and
Romulan 'acceptable losses' are probably higher than Starfleet's.
[... based on novels/FASA stuff/my own conjecture]" (see 2 & 4 above).
(To quote Christopher Davis)
13. "The canonical answer to why there are no cloaking devices on board
any Federation ship. They've found that cloaking devices don't
work with the geometry of the starships shape. It has to do with
where the Deflector Emitters are on the hull relative to each other
and does not allow for that kind of field manipulation."
(Baycon '90 PANEL Discussion - Rick Sternbach, Mike Okuda as reported
by Alan Takahashi)
(see 4 above)
14. "Why doesn't STTNG allow Federation use of cloaking technology anyway?
(Well, they CAN...after all, it's only a TV show!!) The real world
reason is that it's one of the facets that make the Romulans
different from the Federation. Also the fact that any resultant
space battles/warp maneuvers would be boring to watch."
(More from Baycon '90 PANEL Discussion - Rick Sternbach, Mike Okuda as
reported by Alan Takahashi).
(See 7 above)
15. "Richard Arnold was asked at a convention why the Enterprise doesn't
have a cloaking device. His response was that it was too militaristic,
i.e., having a cloak would indicate that the Enterprise was anticipating
a fight, which is a military way of thinking and hence inappropriate.
So this can be accepted as the "official" Star Trek line."
(To quote Peter A. David)
(see 9 above)
16. "They DO have a cloaking device, but there's a problem, they only
have one. When Kirk returned the Romulan cloaking device to the
Federation, they quickly turned it over to the scientists to
decipher how it works and develop one that will work for us. In
the process, they had to gut the Romulan device for parts.
Anyways, the fateful day approached, and they brought in a lot of
top brass to witness the first powering of the Federation Cloaking
Device. There was a hushed expectation... And the switch was
flipped. To their amazement and delight, the cloaking device
worked! And promptly disappeared. To this day they're still
trying to find the cloaked off switch. They know it's in the
(To quote Robert J. Granvin)
(see also 1 above :-)
17. "'No Useful Spinoff Technologies' This one is on the thinest ground
here, since the script writers could easily be writing a
counter-example right now. However, to examine what GR has stated
is Star Fleet's mission (in terms of 20th Century USA, I think of a
merging of DARPA, NSF, and NIH), cloaking devices do not have a
crucial role in emerging Federation Technologies."
(To quote A.J. Madison)
18. "By treaty, through which the Klingon Empire allied itself with the
Federation, the Federation agreed not to maintain any cloaking devices
while allowing Klingons theirs. Won't stop use of 'em by the Feds
when they're needed, but it might explain why, in such a delicate
situation, the Feds went to Kling...."
(To quote Roger Tang)
19. When asked "Why doesn't the Enterprise ever cloak?", Patrick Stewart
at Vulkon in Atlanta in 1992 answered "Well... how shall I put it in
terms you can understand? It's a technical thing really." Patrick
rubs his forehead in serious contemplation and continues, "Put
simply, we don't have a cloak button! I've looked all over the
bridge and nowhere can I find a single button that says `Cloak'!"
(To quote Sean P. Ormond)
20. There is some speculation that it isn't possible to shield and cloak
at the same time. This would make it much more dangerous to
shield and cloak."
That last point was confirmed in TNG: "Face of the Enemy".
A similar list was done by A. J. Madison and appears below.
"Here is the TechFandom Response:
(excuse the paraphrase, I'm on the less filling side of this debate, so some
might object to my choice of words for the explanations in this category)
The Federation does not use the Romulan Cloaking device because:
a) It requires an extremely specialized hull design, of which the TOS
Enterprise was extremely lucky that it worked. However, it seems to fail on
just about any other vessel. The Feds, in an effort to utilize resources with
the best return on investment, "gave up" on the technology.
b) The cloaking system, in order to work at reasonable levels of efficency
requires large amounts of the element "Unobtainium" (Ux) built into the outer
hulls of the vessel it is to cloak. Unobtainium is extremely rare and
expensive to purify. Therefore, Starfleet scouts and border monitors are
equiped with the system, but typical ships of the line (eg. the Enterprise
original, -A, et al.) are not. Some arguments suggest that Starfleet policy
(leaving the typical commander out on the cold) on this technology is an
attempt to convince the Romulans that the Feds/Starfleet does not have a
mastery of the technology.
Here is the Response generated by everyone else on R.A.S(.T);
The Federation does not use the Cloaking device because:
1. It Does Not Work. Evidence suggesting this comes from several sources. In
ST:TSFS, then Adminal Kirk (& Sulu, et al.) was able to defeat the Klingon
version of the cloaking device without ANY special training OR special sensor
hardware. TNG era long range sensors regularly detect cloaked vessel
movements. In ST:TNG's Redemption II, no less than two (rather hastily
thought out, I might add) methodologies are shown that defeat TNG era Romulan
Cloaking devices. In ST:TUC, it has been demonstrated that Klingon cloaking
devices do nothing to obscure the propulsion (impulse) system emissions, and
thus make the vessel's location detectable with specialized gear.
2. (a) Starfleet Commanders Hate it. The supporting evidence here is
relatively thin. As demonstrated in only a couple of episodes, Romulan battle
tactics are to creep up on your target and when at point blank range, fire
your weapon (Plasma bolts, which are like a space going shotgun, in comparison
to the Fed's machine gun like Phasers) and Run Like Hell. Should you miss your
target... We have seen that Kirk likes to run around at high warp and blast
away with everything he has operational. Picard tends to prefer more complex
maneuvers with higher percentages of success (or fewer casualties). Neither
strategy seems to include skulking around under cover of invisibility and
blowing away the inattentive adversary.
2. (b) In the TNG era, intra-galactic politics indicate that unrestrained
Federation use of cloak technology would undermine its "We Come In Peace"
policies and reputation. Therefore, shooting at enemies from cover of
invisibility may be prohibited for reasons of policy rather than a deficiency
of expertise or technology. However, ST:TUC, shows that this battle tactic
is not above Klingon principles, especially if firing the weapon never
reveals your location.
3. There are no spin-off technologies from it. This is based more on
conjecture than any displayed evidence, and it only takes one script to
provide the necessary counter example. Phasers can be de-tuned to provide a
variety of materials processing methods (cutting, heat treating, material
change), the Transporter in various guises provides replication systems and
recreational equipment. One could suggest that the cloaking device only has
military (or the less charged word, defense) applications. Since Starfleet
is more interested in uncovering interesting stuff, rather the covering it up,
the cloaking device provides very little interest to the Federation Science
Foundation principal investigators. Also, the technology is subject to
obsolescence, like any other. Indeed, this was the message of the closing
scene in the TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident" that introduced the
"treknology". There does seem to be a cloak gap in ST:TNG, as evidenced by
one episode where Picard, in an attempt assertain the motives of a "defecting"
Romulan General, requests him to divulge the cloaking device "secret."
Therefore the technology has a number of strikes against it. It has limited
basic research appeal, only defense related applications, and subject to rapid
These lists being all very well, the fact is that Star Trek VI can be
better understood if the Enterprise A had cloaking technology, in
particular during the scene in which the Enterprise enters Klingon
space. We have Michael Seth Rostker to thank for the following quote
from the novelization (with comments taken from his original post).
"'Even if Enterpise ran cloaked in Klingon space, she still risked
detection by specially equipped listening posts inside the Klingon
When Enterprise is finally detected in Klingon space it is by such a
listening post, but the alarm that sounds is for that of a *cloaked*
'A feeble light on the aging screen blinked at him [the watchman],
indicating a cloaked vessel.' (pg. 225-226)
This aside, the cloaking device aboard the Enterprise could not have
been very good, for the scanners that detected her were described as
being quite outdated."
More than any other topic, stardates have been a puzzle for me.
Originally, Gene Roddenberry inteneded each stardate to be a day but
it is apparent that on ST:TNG 1000 stardates is a year (1000 stardates
pass each season and, most recently in TNG:"Chain of Command I", we've
had indications that each season is a year). I'm going to make some
assumptions in an attempt to solve this puzzle.
First of all, let's assume that the stardate system began in the year
2261 and each stardate was a day. In 96 years, 35064 days will pass.
Thus, the year 2357 would contain the stardate 35064. If the stardate
system was then changed so that 1000 stardates pass each year then the
year 2364 would contain the stardate 42064. Meanwhile, in the episode
"The Neutral Zone", the year is given as 2364 and the stardate as
41986.0. I will now compare calculated dates from TOS and movie
stardates with the dates given in Mike Okuda's _Star Trek Chronology_.
Episode/Movie Stardate Date by Calculation Star Trek Chronology
Where No Man ... 1312.4 2265 2266
Tomorrow is Yest. 3113.2 2270 2266
Space Seed 3141.9 2270 2266
All Our Yest. 5943.7 2277 2268
Star Trek I 7412.3 2281 2278
Star Trek II 8130.6 2283 2285
Star Trek III 8210.3 2283 2285
Star Trek IV 8390.0 2284 2286
Star Trek VI 9521.6 2287 2293
Another approach would be to say that 1000 stardates have always been one
year and have stardates 1312.4 - 5943.7 represent five years. One could
account for the missing stardates by saying that the stardates correspond
to dates in the log of whatever ship is called the Enterprise (i.e claim
that ships called "The Enterprise" had served a sum total of 41 years
up until the start of ST:TNG).
Of course, when you consider stardates you should keep in mind
that the episodes "The Battle", "The Arsenal of Freedom" and "The Big
Goodbye" featured Tasha Yar and stardates 41723.9, 41798.2 and
(supposedly) 41997.7 whereas Tasha Yar died stardate (supposedly)
41601.3 in "Skin of Evil". The bottom line then is that, while
stardates can be made give a fair fit for known dates, stardates have
not given enough consideration by Paramount to actually be useful.
Previously when I have posted this article, I have been obnoxiously
self-congratulatory, given the fact that this article clearly gives some
new perspectives on science as it pertains to Star Trek. I think it is
more appropriate for me, instead thank all the people who have posted
intelligent posts to this newsgroup, especially those who were cited above.
Martin Phipps aka Deja Dude The CeLiNeFan
Although one shouldn't laugh at one's own humour,
it is nice to know that somebody is.