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Old April 25th, 2003, 08:04 PM   #1
repcisg
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Default Technology

Compression engines

Throughout history man has sought to move himself and his goods from one place to another with ever increasing speed and efficiency, starting with a simple wooden raft floating in a river to days modern spacecraft.

As space can be compressed, stretched folded or even torn. Then by creating a spatial compression wave and moving that wave faster than the speed of light it is possible to travel between and to the stars in reasonable time periods. This is not warping space in the conventional sense but rather compressing local space to create a local wave structure. An out side observer would see any object inside the wave as being in normal space. Any energies such as beam of light would follow the curvature of the wave when entering or leaving the wave structure.

As with any wave structure the more energy put into the wave the faster it will go. But wave structures also present problems around massive objects such as planets or stars. Their massive gravity wave stretches space making it harder to compress. Thus trying to drive a space craft through a star system would be like trying to run through knee deep water.

Suggested Basic characteristics of a compression wave drive.

1) While the drive can be used near large planetary objects, the amount of compression that can be achieved is limited by the spatial stretching that has already occurred by the planetary or solar object in the vicinity. This will require far greater energies to achieve high velocities. In other words it is advisable to say out of planetary systems unless you need to be there. Imagine running on a dry track then trying to run through knee deep water, the closer you are to a large gravity source the deeper the water.

2) Drive design will determine wave shape. A circular wave generator will produce a uniform three-dimensional wave structure suitable high efficiency long-range travel. A flat or rectangular wave generator will produce a steer-able but less efficient wave structure suitable for high maneuverability. Transports and high efficiency ships would be found using circular or ring structures as wave generators, while warships and others requiring a high degree of maneuverability would use rectangular or triangular engine structures. A Colonial Viper, for example, would use a triangular structure while Cylon fighters would use a flat or box wave.

3) While the compression wave should not be visible to an external viewer some sort of visible distortion might be appropriate, for dramatic effect.

4) Objects in close proximity to a vessel using a compression wave would be carried along in the wave. Simple thrusters could be used to move around in the wave but the further away from the generator you get the weaker the wave. If you move to far from the wave center you will fall out into uncompressed space. This technique could be used to “Tow” or give a lift to another ship.

5) You never want to reverse direction inside the wave, you want to steer it to change direction. If do a flip as done in B5 you run the risk of either canceling the wave suddenly or doubling the waves energy catastrophically. Either way you could ruin you day and a perfectly good spacecraft.

There have been some interesting discussions about cosmic string lately that could prove interesting as a means of travel for our heroes. I need to study the a bit more.

Just my thoughts at the moment.
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Old April 25th, 2003, 09:13 PM   #2
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Interesting post, repcisg. Theoretically, this would be used to travel between systems. As one moved further away from a star, the amount of energy required to achieve compression, based on the hypothesis, would decrease in comparison to what it would take in the system. Therefore, in the system, speed would be low in comparison to that possible between systems. Still, to reach, let's say, 'full' compression, or a speed exceeding that of light in normal space, it would still take a large amount of energy.

Quote:
A Colonial Viper, for example, would use a triangular structure while Cylon fighters would use a flat or box wave.
Due to the relatively small sizes of the Viper and the Raider, it would be difficult for them to carry enough energy to reach 'full' compression. Also, due to their use as fighters piloted by human and mechanical humanoid, it is unlikely that they could fulfill their primary mission at such high rates of speed anyway. Therefore, my supposition is that if the compression engine discussed was the primary engine of interstellar vessels, small vessels such as Vipers, Raiders, and shuttles would use a different engine system that would operate at sublight speeds. Continued acceleration, and the requisite use of fuel, could drive up the speed but never above light speed.

The original series presented two potential problems with sublight Vipers:

In the Nova of Madagon, the Warriors used Vipers to clear the minefield as they approached Carillon. Presumably, the fleet could have already slowed sublight speeds prior to this point since they were approaching a gravity well.

Apollo and Starbuck flew into the Void as they approached Kobol. Again, we don't know how far away they were away from the planet or how big the Void was, but it could be assumed that they were they were either approaching Kobol or the magnetic properties of the Void itself slowed the fleet to something less than light speed.
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Old April 25th, 2003, 09:14 PM   #3
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Default One more thing...

I believe the C.O.R.A. equipped recon Viper in The Long Patrol was said to be "the fastest ship" in that part of the galaxy or something similar, with a speed at or approaching light speed. It had its laser generator removed so modifications could be made to the engines. If the compression engine theory was adopted, the mods could have been that the recon Viper was equipped with compression engines which were used to speed its approach to the prison planet.
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Old April 25th, 2003, 11:33 PM   #4
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In a compression wave everything is relative. To the pilot and ship they never leave real space but are riding a wave of compressed space. Because a viper is a small ship the wave ampitude (I'm borrowing from radio waves here) would be small (Less energy) as comparied to the size of the wave needed to move the Galactica. The relative amount of energy to move a viper would be miniscule compared to moving something the size of the Galactica. The same would hold true for a Cylon fighter.

The small size of the viper would preclude a large fuel capacity so they would have a limited range of 5 to 10 light years (out and back). This would give them the range to check out nearby solar systems as was portrayed in the series.
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Old April 26th, 2003, 12:25 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by LucianG
The original series presented two potential problems with sublight Vipers:

In the Nova of Madagon, the Warriors used Vipers to clear the minefield as they approached Carillon. Presumably, the fleet could have already slowed sublight speeds prior to this point since they were approaching a gravity well.

Apollo and Starbuck flew into the Void as they approached Kobol. Again, we don't know how far away they were away from the planet or how big the Void was, but it could be assumed that they were they were either approaching Kobol or the magnetic properties of the Void itself slowed the fleet to something less than light speed.
The Nova Madagon incident can probably be best explained by suggesting that the fleet used a form of "Alderson" drive (I think that's the term - warp points etc. from other literature.) It would also explain why they had to traverse the Nova's minefields. Just consider the vastness of space and how many mines you'd have to use to effectively bar travel. Or, how many mines would you need to block transit using routes traversing space between Sol and Centauri?

As for the void - they did appear to exit it at something like a Jovian distance from Kobol's primary. It was portrayed (regardless of what it was supposed to be) as a systemic rather than interstellar effect. I don't believe this was what they intended though.

However, it is clear that the limited thought the creators put into FTL travel as judged by the evidence of the series would indicate a "realspace" drive. Plus, of course, I've always personally disliked the warp point concept given the extremely limiting effect it has on travel - moreover, it does raise even more questions as to how they managed to escape the colonies given the relative ease of guarding warp points due to their fixed location and finite diameter.
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Old April 26th, 2003, 09:02 AM   #6
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I'm impressed. A well thought-out treatise on potential near-lightspeed and FTL travel.

I'm certainly the last one to talk to about higher theory, but doesn't Einstien's Theory of Relativity pretty much preclude "normal matter" ever reaching the speed of light? This would suggest that, regardless of the method of propulsion, if the ship was still in "normal" space, then it would never reach lightspeed.

In literature, the most common methods of FTL travel have been "folded space" and "warped space" concepts (with the notable exception of EE "Doc" Smith's "inertialess" drive in the Lensmen books). Such concepts conveniently sidestep Einstien.

I will also point out that the "compression engine" concept is a spot-on description of Star Trek's "impulse drive." Note that "impulse" is used only for sub-light propulsion; when they go FTL, they "phase" the ship, by use of the "warp field", into another dimension, where Einstienian rules do not apply.

So, in the BSG universe (where FTL travel was never addressed, to the best of my recollection), they would need some form of FTL drive that negates or sidesteps the Einstienian rules, and the compression engine doesn't appear to do that.

All this thinking has given me a headache.

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Old April 26th, 2003, 12:34 PM   #7
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Good question Dawg, the best analogy I can think of is that of a surfer riding a wave. I in relation to the wave he is barely moving at all but the wave is moving at 10 to 15 mph. Which means the surfer is also moving at that speed.

Another analogy closer to home, as you sit in front of your computer are you aware of and can you measure the Earths rotation? As you read this you are moving at 1100 mph in an easterly direction but you cannot sence it. This would be true of a compresion wave in space, to the crew all the newtonian laws of physics remain unchanged. It is space itself that is carrying the ship forward.
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Old April 26th, 2003, 12:48 PM   #8
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Default Wave motion

Reminds me of the 1970's TV show "Starblazers" where the Yamato AKA Argo was powered by a "wave motion" engine and had a main weapon called the "wave motion" gun.
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Old April 26th, 2003, 06:15 PM   #9
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Sounds like the same concept, Viperman (although I don't remember that show at all).

Wouldn't mass and inertia still be a factor, even if it is space itself that is providing the forward momentum? Normal matter cannot travel at the speed of light, not in this universe. It strikes me that a ship trying to travel on a "space wave" would still not be able to exceed lightspeed, regardless of how fast the wave is travelling.

Or have I missed something?

You're right, though, repcisg, I don't feel our constant speed through the heavens, because everything I have as frames of reference (inertia, gravity, etc.) are all traveling at the same rate and direction. (Note, too, that we are all traveling at a very small fraction of the speed of light.) Now, do you feel how fast you are traveling in an airplane? No - you're frames of reference are so far removed that, even if you're looking out the window the ground appears to be passing so slowly beneath you that it doesn't feel fast.

All this brings to mind another question: what effect would such waves in space have on planetary (or subplanetary) bodies? What kind of stresses would a Battlestar compression engine put on a space station or small moon?

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Old April 26th, 2003, 07:24 PM   #10
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Does this mean that the Big G has two forms of engines. One for extra-solar travel and another for manouvering inside a solar system?

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