2006-08-16

Holst is Gonna Be Ticked

As you've no doubt heard by now, the International Astronomical Union has been debating a new definition for the word "planet", which, remarkably, has been undefined officially until now. In an era of space objects with names as ridiculously fanciful as cubewano, twotino, blazar, and so on, you'd think we'd have nailed down "planet" long ago. But, alas, not.

The new definition has something amusing. Way back when on the Spacebattles forums, a couple of ST-v-SW.Net's loyal opponents were shown a video clip of an exploding 'planetoid' in a Voyager episode. Screenshots from the video are still here.

Their claims were simply astonishing. The round, partially cratered body was said to have dilithium deposits "beneath the planetoid's crust [...] in the upper mantle, about sixty kilometres down". However, the opponents opened by arguing that the planetoid was a mere two kilometers in size.

Besides the depth given in the dialog, the mention of differentiation (i.e. crust, mantle, etc.) implying a certain size, the visible evidence of geologic activity, and so on, one of the points I made was that since the planetoid was spherical, it almost certainly had to be hundreds of kilometers in size because of the gravity required, based on our own local solar system bodies. This logic was rejected by the opposition, but eventually it was claimed that the roundness may have been artificial.

The IAU just gave me the authority to whip out a heaping handful of I-told-you-so. I quote:

"A planet is a celestial body that (a) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape [...] his generally applies to objects with mass above 5 x 1020 kg and diameter greater than 800 km."


Owned.

But anyway, the IAU definition attempt is bound to be controversial. While I'm a sentimental fan of Pluto being kept as a planet, the inclusion of Ceres will undoubtedly confuse folks.

But really that's just a "re-inclusion", since it was considered a planet when first found. People were actually looking for a planet in that spot when they found Ceres, since Ceres (and the rest of the asteroid belt) satisfies the Titius-Bode Law.

Also at issue is that there may be dozens of other valid contenders. As it stands, the IAU definition will, at present, bring the number of planets to 12. One of those twelve is Charon, long considered Pluto's moon. I still remember a National Geographic planet poster I had as a kid that said "small as it is, Pluto has a moon" ... but now this will be identified as a double-planet system since Charon qualifies independently, and the two orbit one another around a point not occupied by either.

But another dozen are on a "watch list" for planethood. Some are other asteroids like Ceres but smaller, whereas others are more of the same iceballs from the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud areas like Pluto or Sedna.

Though it might seem arbitrary, I would think a population criteria might be of value. The original reason Ceres stopped being called a planet is because other asteroids were found in the same orbit. The term "planet" comes from the Greek for "wanderer", and all eight classical planets share the fact that they wander alone. Ceres is part of a tribe of wandering bodies, some coming close to its size. Pluto and other iceballs wander about the outer solar system rather drunkenly, with highly eccentric orbits and so on.

Opposed as I might be to Pluto's demotion sentimentally, I can see the appeal of it rationally. But instead, it looks like Pluto's going to have a lot of company.

But I suppose we'll find out when the draft definition gets voted on later this month.

36 comments:

  1. Wow. Just wow.
    I mean, I know the debate has often been more about how loudly you yell your point rather than how much sense it makes, but damn.
    Way to completely leave the realm of logic, guys.
    I mean, if the spoken evidence said that there was something 60km inside the planet, even the most absurd abusing of that phrase can only decrease the planet's diameter to a bit over 60km! (And that's some insane abuse of it. "THEY MEANT THE MANTLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET, YEAH.")
    I mean, are they really trying to argue that video evidence is of greater canon than spoken?
    I mean, if they went and said "THE PLANET IS 13,000 KM ACROSS" and they beam over and it's 5 feet across, Ok, I'll take visual over spoken. But this, no.
    Do they really think the VOY crew are that stupid? They can't correctly measure how big a nearby rock is?
    Note: When you're in a spaceship, knowing how big things nearby are is a rather important thing.
    Janeway: Take us into orbit of that planet, Paris.
    Paris: Yes ma'am!
    *Wooshing of atmosphere*
    *Alien flies past the viewscreen*
    *Crash*
    Paris: Whoops, I thought it was only 5km across.

    Really now.

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  2. I mean, are they really trying to argue that video evidence is of greater canon than spoken?

    Actually, that is their position overall. I roll with it, too, since I play by the basic rules in force from the old ASVS days ... i.e. treat the programs as documentaries, the owners dictate canon policy, et cetera.

    And in this case, what they were trying to do was to find a reason -- any reason -- to suggest that the visuals were inconsistent. Not inconsistent with the dialog, necessarily, but inconsistent at all. They felt if they accomplished that then they didn't have to acknowledge the dialog at all, and could dismiss the rest of the visual evidence and/or the whole scene in its entirety.

    That last little part was the kicker. At first the main opponent in the thread was trying to actually argue the planetoid's size. But then he latched on to the idea that if he could find just one claim that suggested a smaller size and make it stick, then he could dismiss the whole scene altogether.

    I'm not even sure I caught on to that at the time ... I was just astonished that he eventually kept conceding to various points of mine demonstrating the proper planetoid size, yet kept making more and more ridiculous arguments and claiming victory, even long after I'd calculated that the scene didn't show anything of great import.

    The confusion happened because I was debating what the scene showed, and he quickly abandoned doing so. He was fixated on debating me, and when beaten tried to change the argument to something he thought he could win, no matter how silly.

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  3. Lord Edam de FromageFri Aug 18, 09:21:00 AM 2006

    Actually, that is their position overall. I roll with it, too, since I play by the basic rules in force from the old ASVS days

    except it's not really what that was all about. What we *see* has to be more reliable than what we are *told* because we trust our own eyes more than we do an unknown "expert"'s opinion (even if said opinion is canon dialogue).

    Unfortunately, some people took this too far(including your example here), so we end up with what we think we see being more important than what we are told, even if what we think we see makes what we are told completely stupid. It gets even funnier when these same people then insist that we have to be governed by visuals that dialogue says are unreliable

    /Lord Edam

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  4. The visual effects aren't any more canon than dialogue; frankly, they aren't any more reliable. There are always hordes of visual bloopers, gaffes, mistakes, or simply poorly done visual effects.

    Are we to believe spaceships move on wires? That the Bounty was a magically growing/shrinking Bird of Prey? That the exact same scene occurs exactly the same way multiple times (stock footage), in defiance of statistical probability? Of course not.

    Those who attempt to discard dialogue in favor of VFX are usually just pushing their own narrow interpretations. The point at which you say "Well, they must have been insane/incompetent" to reason your way through the dialogue having happened is the point where you have departed the canon.

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  5. Are we to believe spaceships move on wires?

    That is how it'll happen in the future. Watch.

    That the Bounty was a magically growing/shrinking Bird of Prey?

    It has functions we never knew. Mechanical shape-shifting. It's a damn transformer!!!

    That the exact same scene occurs exactly the same way multiple times (stock footage), in defiance of statistical probability?

    That's where the infinite improbability drive comes in.

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  6. I remember that thread from way back. It's on the same level of craziness as that one thread on the same board debating the Invisible Hand's entry and crash on Courscant scene fom RoTs. The Rabid Warsies were out in force to tell everyone that they were NOT seeing pieces flying off the IH (from sections not hit by TLs anyway), nor the hull glowing red-hot, and were NOT seeing the IH's undercarriage collapse on impact with the Courscant runway.

    This VOY example is only further evidence to the depths of fanatism these people take in denying any evidence that makes their opposition look far more powerful than they claim it is. What's more sad is that even with 17 gigaton shield capacity, that wouldn't stand up for more than a 10th of a second from their beloved 200 gigaton firepower that they like to claim for heavy turbolasers!

    AAGH! I say AAGH!

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  7. Medium turbolasers, dontcha mean?

    Everybody knows it's an absurd figure. Frankly - to go straight back to what I've been saying all along - it's a question of parity, not of the status of the source.

    Where the hypocritical behavior really shows is in denying the authoritative dialogue in favor of narrow interpretations of visuals while accepting decidedly less authoritative tech manuals over anything resembling the visuals.

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  8. No, no. I'am sure that they've got down now to justifying 200 gigaton shots for for light anti-starfighter TLs. :-)

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  9. You're clearly not up to date. They're already trying to prove the three digit gigaton yields for blasters.

    Next year, we'll hear that the training sphere, used by Obi-Wan onboard the Millenium Falcon, fired 1-digit kilotons of energy, but was absorbed by the Jedi Master's powers, since he didn't want his pupil, and as a matter of fact, the whole crew utterly vaporized.
    Brace yourself for R2's high kiloton energy arc btw.

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  10. No, no. I'am sure that they've got down now to justifying 200 gigaton shots for for light anti-starfighter TLs. :-)

    Are you sure it's for the LTLs and isn't the rating they're going for with Han's blaster shot in ANH in the docking bay, since the walls really aren't dirt and can suvive the massive discharges of rocket engines that obviously must be used to make the ships rise and fall from the docking bay?

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  11. Well, I don't know where they are in their crazyness, but Saxton makes sure that it increases each generation by a factor of total absurdity.
    First, AOTC, with the Acclamator's 50 GT x 4 per battery (quad cannons).
    Then I've heard much more for the Venator, nevermind if ROTS' novelisation strongly suggests yields infinitely weaker for turbolasers, no matter if the Invisible Hand loses plenty of bits here and there, sees its ventral structure trampled, all the stuff which would usually be used to argue for super armor, and then super fire. Of course, you have those ICS ice-moon vaporizing big guns for some of the CIS' ships.
    Which ended, logically, with teratons for the heavy turrets on ISDs. So yep, I wouldn't be surprised to hear something about gigatons of energy for the medium or even light turrets.

    Evidence? You'll hear crazy things such as:

    - Some EU books (guides or stories) depicting BDZ operations. Nevermind if they're actually self contradicting on several points, like on the level of destruction, the nature of the operation, the number of ships involved and the operation's duration, and nevermind if most of them do not require that liquyfying stage.
    Of course, let's completely forget those books which talk about much lower yields as maximum firepower, aka "KJA die" books, even if they actually happen to be the closest thing to what was ever shown in Star Wars when it came to capship firepower... or even some X-Wing books, IIRC.
    In the end, all sources being lower than the movies.
    - Scaling down from the Death Star's super gun (which of course IS now a turbolaser, despite the way it acts against Alderaan), of course assuming that it's purely linear. I mean, did they actually try to use that kind of reasoning to scale down to the blasters as well? You know, a blaster has much more to do with a turbolaser in terms of behaviour, aspect and way it blows things up, than the Death Star's beam ever would.
    - Over generous interpretations and calculations based on Dodonna's murky dialogue, low ends be damned. Just as much as hyperbole.

    Remember the old times, purely based on observation, intelligent and honest estimations, had the HTLs, at best, firing bolts in the low 1-digit gigaton range.
    I've numbers down to 60 or 50 MT for medium turbolasers.
    And how was that supposedly too low?

    Ah, there's been the buzz about the Slave-I's weapons, notably those weird electric guitar mines and the missile.

    Well, bad news. I was watching that missile sequence. They fucking goofed in it. When you see the missile blow up behind the Jedi fighter, if you look closely, the fireball expands violently, but nothing really threatening to that sandwich asteroid.
    A few frames later, and the fireball's expansion velocity dramatically decreases, up to the point where there's little evolution in size.
    Of course, it's still completely pancaked between those two giant rocks, which are standing there, completely finen while Obi-Wan races away.
    Then, we jump to the next cut, with the whole explosion seen from far away, and, wow, suddenly, the explosion is immensively bigger, largely round, and the two asteroids have magically disappeared.

    Great.

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  12. My problem with the rabid Warsies is that they are hypocrites. They cite all of these massive yields from the E2:ICS. Then the movies come out and show lower yields, as do almost all of the EU novels. They then bend over backwards until they can see up their rear to try to reconcile the ICS with the rest of the universe by claiming variable yields.

    Yet when it comes to Star Trek, they do just the opposite. Whenever I have brought up DS9's "The Die is Cast" (TDiC), I am laughed at haughtily by the other debators, saying that I am an idiot for accepting it as evidence of high gigaton to low teraton yields for Trek weapons. They go on and claim to have debunked it while never offering any real evidence as to why it is wrong. The thing that gets them is that it is one of the few instances where full power yields can be calculable within a decent ballpark, if not from the visuals, then from the dialogue referring to the amount of time it would take to destroy the crust and mantle. And the thing that is the real killer for the Warsies is that the justification for using TDiC is variable yields, the same thing that they use to justify using the ICS yields in debates. This has been a double standard that has really made me angry.

    And just so you know, I am a Trekkie and an Warsie (yes, such people do exist). I don't really have anything against the ICS in and of itself. It's just that if you are going to allow one piece of highly contested evidence that significantly alters things for one side, then a contested piece of evidence that can alter things for the other side, which upon closer inspection is actually less contested when compared to other incidents in the show, should be allowed as well. That is why I believe that a fight between a Galaxy class starship and an ISD could be close. The ISD outguns the Galaxy, if not in bolt to bolt firepower, then in total firepower, but the Galaxy is faster at STL speeds, more maneuverable than the ISD and has better targeting sensors. And one thing that I've noticed is that if you allow the ICS and TDiC in the debate, the outcome is the same as if it neither were allowed. Bolt to bolt yields are comparable, Photon Torpedoes and Quantum Torpedoes are significantly stronger than turbolasers, how much stronger is actually dependant upon how much stronger torpedoes are than phasers and disruptors.

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  13. Seems the population idea is getting some traction thanks to a South American astronomer:

    http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060819_new_proposal.html

    Even though this means the demotion of Pluto that I was originally vehemently opposed to, I'm to the point where my mind has been changed and I'm willing to see Pluto struck from the list. With all indications being that "Xena" (aka "2003ub313" or whatever) is bigger than Pluto, and with the strength of the original proposal, there's just no way to avoid it if we're going to keep a reasonable definition, IMHO.

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  14. I remember that thread from way back. It's on the same level of craziness as that one thread on the same board debating the Invisible Hand's entry and crash on Courscant scene fom RoTs. The Rabid Warsies were out in force to tell everyone that they were NOT seeing pieces flying off the IH (from sections not hit by TLs anyway),

    Oh? I've certainly never seen a "Rabid Warsie" denying that there were pieces breaking off from the the IH. And since you seem to have information that the rest of us doesn't have, would you be so kind as to point out every single one of the turbolaser blast or torpedo that hit the IH. Also, did you miss that the ship, due to the hull stress etc. broke in two but fared much better than the Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D?

    nor the hull glowing red-hot, and were NOT seeing the IH's undercarriage collapse on impact with the Courscant runway.

    It's hardly surprising that the hull glowed or that the hull suffered further damage upon impact.

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  15. Oh? I've certainly never seen a "Rabid Warsie" denying that there were pieces breaking off from the the IH. And since you seem to have information that the rest of us doesn't have, would you be so kind as to point out every single one of the turbolaser blast or torpedo that hit the IH. Also, did you miss that the ship, due to the hull stress etc. broke in two but fared much better than the Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D?

    Heh, too funny for words this one. The 'Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D' indeed. Whose saucer section came out err, almost completely intact after crashlanding on that planet. Without any bits and pieces off falling off midflight. Oh yeah, except for the windows, which did indeed break after landing.

    It's hardly surprising that the hull glowed or that the hull suffered further damage upon impact.

    Pitty then that the best Star Trek equivalent (with that 'Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D' remember) showed us that the hulls of Star Trek ships don't suffer damage at all from such impacts. So much for the whole 'weak hull nonsense'!

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  16. Heh, too funny for words this one. The 'Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D' indeed. Whose saucer section came out err, almost completely intact after crashlanding on that planet. Without any bits and pieces off falling off midflight. Oh yeah, except for the windows, which did indeed break after landing.
    Except Picard said it was unsalvagable. "Completley intact" indeed.

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  17. By the way if you recall Invisible Hand's windows did not break after crashlanding.

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    Replies
    1. Instead earlier on, the window in the bridge was destroyed by General Grievous throwing the powered staff through it.

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  18. I guess you missed the fact the majority of the starship had in fact been destroyed, only the saucer section was still intact (this is not disputable, the saucer is there intact and on screen).

    Which means Picard was right: The Enterprise (referenced to as a whole ship in his log, not as any single part) was unsalvagable since most of it was blown up. Blown up bits of starship aren't salvagable.

    It also means your little verbal trick failed: enough of the ship was lost for it to be a total loss, yet the part I identified still survived intact. This is no different to you getting in a car crash and ending up with just a fully intact driver compartment and the rest gone (and yes, this can in fact happen). Your car would be unsalvagable, yet the driver compartment would be fully intact.

    As to windows:

    Yes, it's true. The never-touched windows of the Invisible Hand did not break. And yes, the top window -which was hit by a non-trivial ammount of debris, dirt and other stuff- of the Enterprise bridge did eventually break.

    Lucky us it means nothing: The part of the Enterprise that entered the atmosphere landed intact bar a single broken window. Which outperforms the Invisible Hands performance when crash landing by several orders of magnitude.

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  19. While the structure of the Enterprise saucer did survive intact, the internal components were smashed (IDF failed). Thus, with the engineering hull gone and the inside of the saucer a complete mess, why bother salvaging a vessel this far gone with a history of problems.

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  20. Heh, too funny for words this one. The 'Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D' indeed. Whose saucer section came out err, almost completely intact after crashlanding on that planet. Without any bits and pieces off falling off midflight. Oh yeah, except for the windows, which did indeed break after landing.

    The Crapship Enterprise was designed for seperation. The IH sustained heavy damage in the fighting and broke up as a result of it and still managed, despite the incredible damage, land in a controlled crash. And no, as others have pointed out, the Crapship Enterprise was unsalvageable.

    Pitty then that the best Star Trek equivalent (with that 'Crapship Enterprise NCC-1701D' remember) showed us that the hulls of Star Trek ships don't suffer damage at all from such impacts. So much for the whole 'weak hull nonsense'!

    Uh, what part of 'unsalvageable' did you miss? Also, the ship had plenty of visible damage.

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  21. It doesn't really matter how big the planetoid was. We saw exactly what hit Voyager and how fast it moved relative to it. We are talking about several 10-50m rocks and some superheated gas moving at roughly 1km/s relative to Voyager. That is maybe few dozen TJ of energy nowhere near "gigatons".
    Voyager merley got lucky.

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  22. Anonymous, you missed the point of the whole thing. We were not discussing KE energy imparted to Voyager's shields, but the raw EM energy release from the explosion of the planetoid. In the worst lower level, Voyager's shields withstood several tens of TJ without failing, or any sign of being near failure, which is quite impressive. But the EM energy hitting the cross-section of Voyager's shields would be nearly 17 gigatons. Either way, that's well above what most Warsies are willing to grant to ST shields. But my point still remains the same; why should it bother those fanatics that cling to the AoTC:ICS? A single 200 GT TL would rip through the 17 GT capacity shields like a hot knife through melted butter, and severely damge, if not outright destroy Voyager in a blink of an eye.

    Now to address the IH and E-D crashes. The E-D saucer does not show any signficant external hull damage, not even scorched paint after it comes to a stop on the surface of Veridan III. The forward leading edge windows survive intact after the saucer shears right through rock, soil, and thousands of trees. That after surviving the saucer sections *uncontrolled* high-velocity spinning dive entry of the Veridian atmosphere, and before that the massive close-range explosion that vaporized the stardrive section.

    Now contrast that with the IH, which was bombarded on the starboard side with TL fire from the Republic cruiser Mas Randar, but mysteriously breaks (well not so mysterious according to the script which has volatile fuel ignition as the reason) up as it enters the Courscant atmosphere (the TL fire was even distributed along the starboard hull, not concentrated into the midship area).

    The entire hull of the IH glows red-hot, even with small portions reaching nearly white-hot, which indicates a relatively low melt/vapor point for the hull materials (contrast this with the E-D where only the very leading edges glowed). A chunk of hull breaks off from the undamged forward port side of the ship and falls away (remember the IH was shot up by the Mas Randar on the starboard side). When the forward section of the IH crashes onto the runway strip, the lower hull glows noticably, then caves in, and collapses as the hull section slides out (contrast with the E-D saucer that did not crumple or collapse in any noticable manner during it's slide out). The IH hull on both the port (untouched by TL fire) and starboard side hull shows noticeable scoring discoloration.

    I'd say that the E-D saucer fared better than the the IH hull section, but the IH is a much larger ship than the E-D, so in fairness I suppose you could chalk up the extra damage to the ship's larger mass, and having landing on a very hard surface.
    -Mike

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  23. What raw EM energy? When a planet explodes it releases energy through kinetic impacts of it's own fragments unless it is completley coverted into energy in which case it becomse pure light or EM. But that is obviously not what happens in the episode. In fact the explosion is no more brighter than a typical star.

    But my point still remains the same; why should it bother those fanatics that cling to the AoTC:ICS? A single 200 GT TL would rip through the 17 GT capacity shields like a hot knife through melted butter, and severely damge, if not outright destroy Voyager in a blink of an eye.
    Because they don't have 17GT capacity while, according to ICS, imperial medium turbolasers DO have 200 GT yield. I am intersted in quantifying the ships from ST and SW OBJECTIVLEY not giving out charity because SW ships would still win.

    Now to address the IH and E-D crashes. The E-D saucer does not show any signficant external hull damage, not even scorched paint after it comes to a stop on the surface of Veridan III. The forward leading edge windows survive intact after the saucer shears right through rock, soil, and thousands of trees. That after surviving the saucer sections *uncontrolled* high-velocity spinning dive entry of the Veridian atmosphere, and before that the massive close-range explosion that vaporized the stardrive section.
    The saucer was damaged enough to be declared a total loss. And no Picard wasn't referring to the stardrive when he informed Riker that it is unsalvageable since he hardly had to explain to his XO that ship torn into million pieces cannot be repaired. Secondly the saucer wasn't "spinning" but enetered the atmosphere and hit the ground at an extremley low angle.

    Now contrast that with the IH, which was bombarded on the starboard side with TL fire from the Republic cruiser Mas Randar, but mysteriously breaks (well not so mysterious according to the script which has volatile fuel ignition as the reason) up as it enters the Courscant atmosphere (the TL fire was even distributed along the starboard hull, not concentrated into the midship area).
    The IH already recieved prior damage at least from Anakin's fighter and probably before since it's fighter broke through it's shields so easily and the ship was the primary objective. And breaking up due to internal explosions is not the same as breaking up in a controlled fashion as Enterprise did. It's saucer section was meant to be detached and had two impulse engines while IH was nothing more than a lump of metal with no visible engines.

    The entire hull of the IH glows red-hot, even with small portions reaching nearly white-hot, which indicates a relatively low melt/vapor point for the hull materials (contrast this with the E-D where only the very leading edges glowed). A chunk of hull breaks off from the undamged forward port side of the ship and falls away (remember the IH was shot up by the Mas Randar on the starboard side). When the forward section of the IH crashes onto the runway strip, the lower hull glows noticably, then caves in, and collapses as the hull section slides out (contrast with the E-D saucer that did not crumple or collapse in any noticable manner during it's slide out). The IH hull on both the port (untouched by TL fire) and starboard side hull shows noticeable scoring discoloration.
    Of course you forget that Enterprise has a lesser crossectional area than the IH thus will recieve less energy from air friction and you continue to assume that it recieved no damage prior to encounter with Republic cruiser even when we know that is not true.

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  24. Speaking of Atmospheric re-entries, I will point out to Voyager's re-entry in Timeless (Voy 5) where she crashed herself into an L-class planet. I don't really remember the extent of the damage (and it was a divergent timeline, though not that divergent).

    I thought I'd just throw that one in for those that have the time and DVDs to check it out.

    Aponymous

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  25. Of course you forget that Enterprise has a lesser crossectional area than the IH thus will recieve less energy from air friction and you continue to assume that it recieved no damage prior to encounter with Republic cruiser even when we know that is not true.

    assuming the saucer section came down directly perpendicular to the center of the planet, you'd be correct. However, it did not and there was considerable air friction to the bottom hull as the saucer section plummeted down to the planet.

    And breaking up due to internal explosions is not the same as breaking up in a controlled fashion as Enterprise did. It's saucer section was meant to be detached and had two impulse engines while IH was nothing more than a lump of metal with no visible engines.

    Watch that scene again, you'll notice two things you convenently forgot to mention:

    1) after the star drive exploded, the shock wave knock the back end of the Enterprise's saucer section upwards and sent the remaining part of the Galaxy-class ship into the planets atmosphere - not originally the idea (it was supposed to assume orbit around the planet, not dive into it) - thus, one can hardly claim this to be a "controlled fashion".

    2) Impulse engines were knocked off-line. That was mentioned in the dialog. They might have very well had been ripped off the hull since they did nothing but add extra weight to the saucer section at that point. Again, hardly the "controlled fashion" you claim it to be.

    The saucer was damaged enough to be declared a total loss.

    Of course, there was that problem of getting it off the surface of the planet too. Externally, we saw little to no damage. Most likely, the "total loss" statement came from the idea that internally the ship was damaged beyond repair - say, structurally...

    Either way, it survived more intact than the IH did - which melted like a wax candle on the way down.

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  26. Again, thank you Warsie anonymous for proving my point. Even using the upper limits derived for the "Think Tank" event, you want to reduce down Trek shielding to the lowest possible amount.

    Yes, *some* of the energy involved was converted into kinetic energy (fragements of the planetoid sent flying outward at high relative velocity), some into superheated plasma, and the intital white light energy burst indicates some amount of high-energy EM was released prior to the breakup. I suspect that more than a mere few dozen TJ was imparted to Voyager's shields here (lower limits).

    Oh another about the IH entry, it was apparently at a lower than orbital velocity speed given that the IH and the other ships present in the battle seemed to just be hovering over one spot above Courscant, rather than actually orbiting it (using repulsor lifts to maintain altitude, not KE explains why the IH suddenly dropped straight down like a rock when it lost control after the battle with Ras Mandar). So that's another strike against it, and Warsie delusions of invincible neutronium armor.

    Another point, the IH's bow is rather blunt in shape, that is actually a good aerodynamic design to have for atmospheric entries, as it helps to more evenly distribute heating. The E-D saucer is a bad design, as the leading edges are very thin and narrow comparatively speaking and would concentrate the heating, making things worse from a heating standpoint for the materials making up the E-D hull.
    -Mike

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  27. I've been skimming, so pardon me if my popping-in here is improper. First, I'd just like to say that based on my own rough calc, still on page 3 (IIRC) of the thread I linked to, the energy imparted on Voyager's shields ... even assuming an even and omnidirectional spread of all the energy involved ... was probably not more than 300-400 megatons, or the equivalent of a few photon torpedoes. (This is why I kept telling Howedar that his attempts to continue arguing were pointless anyway.)

    Second, and related:

    What raw EM energy? When a planet explodes it releases energy through kinetic impacts of it's own fragments unless it is completley coverted into energy in which case it becomse pure light or EM. But that is obviously not what happens in the episode. In fact the explosion is no more brighter than a typical star.

    I am severely amused.

    You see, this has been my basic suggestion regarding Alderaan for a long while. That is to say, Saxton, Wong, et al. calculate the Death Star's shield strength based on the notion that the 1E38 Joules are evenly spread as if from a point-source of radiation. Saxton does make reference to the issue being one of debris, of course, but basically they just use the inverse square law and call it a day.

    As Saxton puts it, "Even if there were some way to rationalise or reduce the energy requirements of the Alderaan blast by appealing to reactions of some kind, the Death Star's shields were able to withstand a comparable amount of energy as the station stood within the blast region unharmed. The conclusion that the Death Star possessed power systems on the 10^38 J scale seems inescapable."

    Saxton calcs the shields as absorbing 1.6 x 10^-7 of the total blast energy, based on the inverse square law. But of course this reasoning is flawed.

    First, as noted, the blast energy is contained in specific quanta: debris. By analogy, imagine if you emptied a 30 round clip from a machine gun into a target circle. If you had a sensor behind the target recording impact energy on the target circle, then statistically the circle received 30 bullet's worth (30x). If you then use the area of the target and divide the target into equal sectors of a certain size ... say, one square centimeter ... then statistically each sector would receive some fraction of 30x. For example, if you had 3000 sectors, then by this reasoning each and every sector would've received an impact of 0.01x.

    On paper that looks fine, but in reality it's silly. Each sector did not receive 0.01x, because there were only 30 bullets, not 3000 tiny ones. The hits were not even across the whole target; they were confined to 30 discrete locations.

    Similarly, using the inverse square law and calling it a day is an iffy move at best, because in the case of Alderaan or the Think Tank planetoid it can only provide a ballpark estimate. Sure it's better than nothing, but it sure isn't written in stone. If nothing hit the ship then it's a profound overestimate . . . if a ginormous piece of debris slammed into the ship then it's a profound underestimate.

    Second, we have the superlaser itself. Whether you think SF or DET was the mechanism, it makes no sense to think that the Death Star would've been subject to her 1.6 x 10^-7 of 1E38J of debris. Indeed, this is especially true in the case of DET ... by what mechanism exactly does one think that a laser beam ejects an equal part of debris from its target back onto itself?

    If, for the sake of analogy, we quantize the laser and imagine a stream of bullets, then for each bullet impact that sends debris in all directions, the next bullet is going to hit it en route. Strike one.

    (More properly, we would simply note a slight disruption of the beam due to material ablation, a la part of the the purpose of Trek's ablative armor per the DS9 Tech Manual, but that's neither here nor there at the moment.)

    Strike two would be the fact that, per DET, most of the impact site and the area below must've been vaporized, blasting out in all directions. (While some of this vapor might've come back in the direction of the beam, most of that would not make it to hit the Death Star.) Strike two.

    Of course, Wong and friends tell us that the whole planet was made to glow white-hot instantly. That's another strike in a whole different inning, though, since it would require far more than a 1E38J beam to pull that off. But I digress ...

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  28. Again, thank you Warsie anonymous for proving my point. Even using the upper limits derived for the "Think Tank" event, you want to reduce down Trek shielding to the lowest possible amount.
    The upper limits from Think Tank are a few rocks and some gas moving at 1km/s. That is a few dozen TJ. What is the problem?

    Yes, *some* of the energy involved was converted into kinetic energy (fragements of the planetoid sent flying outward at high relative velocity), some into superheated plasma, and the intital white light energy burst indicates some amount of high-energy EM was released prior to the breakup. I suspect that more than a mere few dozen TJ was imparted to Voyager's shields here (lower limits).
    No most of the energy was converted into kinetic energy. Some was converted into heat energy which was then slowly released in the form of EM energy as the planet expanded and cooled down. But as we see in the episode the expanding planet was white-yellow which limits it's temperature to a few thousand degrees and the EM energy hitting Voyager cannot possibly exceed a few TW let alone gigatons.

    Answering G2k regarding Death Star's shields:
    Yes there is of course the possibility that in Alderaan's particular case most of major high velocity fragments avoided Death Star and it got lucky just like Voyager did in "Think tank". However unlike Voyager whose exposure to the blast was a one time accident the Death Star is expected to reliably survive multiple planet destruction. You cannot possibly expect that Death Star should be relying on blind luck as it destroys the planet and hope the fragments will miss it.

    If, for the sake of analogy, we quantize the laser and imagine a stream of bullets, then for each bullet impact that sends debris in all directions, the next bullet is going to hit it en route. Strike one.
    False analogy. The bullet destroys targets primarily through momentum while laser causes the target to expand in all directions which will result in fraction of energy to shoot bach towards the attacker.

    Strike two would be the fact that, per DET, most of the impact site and the area below must've been vaporized, blasting out in all directions. (While some of this vapor might've come back in the direction of the beam, most of that would not make it to hit the Death Star.) Strike two.
    Wrong. Energy weapons heat their targets and cause them to expand in all directions therefore use of inverse square law is the optimal was to calculate the energy. Obviously that need not be accurate every single time since the explosion will be chaotic however statistically Death Star must be able to deflect that energy.

    Of course, Wong and friends tell us that the whole planet was made to glow white-hot instantly. That's another strike in a whole different inning, though, since it would require far more than a 1E38J beam to pull that off. But I digress ...
    You know I read Wong's "no math mentality" complaints many times and I finally see what he meant. In order to make 6*10^24kg object glow white hot you need to raise it's temperature to some 7000 K. Asuming the planet is composed of metal that means you need to impart E=m*c*T where c=600J/(kg K). This works out to 2.52*10^31J. That is four million times less than 10^38J. "Far more" than 10^38J beam indeed...

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  29. Actually I forgot to include meting and evaporation energies into the equation so the true figure would be closer to 6.5*10^31J but that of course changes nothing.

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  30. You cannot possibly expect that Death Star should be relying on blind luck as it destroys the planet and hope the fragments will miss it.

    Luck? If the Death Star was just supposed to be present while Alderaan magically exploded of its own volition then maybe you'd have a point, but luck has nothing to do with it in what I said. Reread "Second, we have the superlaser itself" and what follows.

    False analogy. The bullet destroys targets primarily through momentum [...]

    I'm afraid you have utterly missed the point of the quantization analogy, a point which did not require mechanism similarity. But if the difference throws you for such a loop, then instead of bullets imagine short little laser pulses, or whatever else enables you to follow along.

    Energy weapons heat their targets and cause them to expand in all directions

    Yes, thank you for pointing out what I already discussed. Now, please offer a reason to reject my thesis that the expansion toward the Death Star will be imperiled as a result of your DET beam. Or do you really think that the debris from the impact site can just travel back along the superlaser beam unimpeded?

    You know I read Wong's "no math mentality" complaints many times and I finally see what he meant. In order to make 6*10^24kg object glow white hot you need to raise it's temperature to some 7000 K.

    "No math mentality", hmm? If you say so. But your position is that of a no-reality mentality. Praytell, my good man, how do you expect to instantly and evenly heat a planet to your 7000K from a (virtual) point source of heat at the impact site? The answer of course is that you don't. Even if this were a big ball of something that readily conducted heat, it could not have happened that fast. But this isn't even a big ball of a good heat conductor ... it's a planet.

    Ah, wait, hang on, perhaps this will help. Since you seem to wish to reject what I say out-of-hand, I shall quote similar reasoning from your lord and master:

    "In reality there are a huge variety of process inefficiencies which would raise the energy requirement further. Heat transfer inside the asteroid body is negatively impacted by the non-homogeneous nature of the asteroid's chemical composition (which sets up countless heat transfer boundary conditions). Heat conduction through real-world substances is not instantaneous or even relativistic. The facing side of the asteroid will vaporize first, thus deflecting incoming energy and most likely causing the back half of the asteroid to vaporize through convective heating via contact with the superheated vaporized matter from the front side. All of these factors will tend to increase the actual energy requirement."

    Of course, given your resistance to the analogy of a quantized laser beam I'm sure you'll resist this one on the grounds that he was referring to an asteroid and vaporization instead of a planet and its heating. However, the basic principle remains the same no matter what you say.

    Now, as you might've noticed I don't have a lot of time these days, so while I thank you for helping to further idiot-proof my points I don't really have the time to idiot-proof them too much. I thought I'd already done so quite enough, but I see I was mistaken. In any event, please think before you reply, and I'll try to reply to the objections of consequence.

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  31. p106:

    Interestingly, the first use of the most powerful destructive machine ever constructed seemingly had no influence at all on the map, which represented a tiny fraction of this section of one modest-sized galaxy.

    It would take a micro-breakdown of a portion of this map to reveal a slight reduction in spatial mass, caused by the disappearance of Alderaan.


    I believe I mentioned that I would provide the quote in question in an earlier blog post. Note two things:

    Reduction of the total amount of mass in that space.

    Also - of incidental importance - there was no test-firing, as found in the EU.

    Of some additional interest (and if you want to talk to me about this further before I update my webpage accordingly) is the description of the demise of the Death Star, which - as we know - unleashed the energy of the volatile reactor in an uncontrolled fashion, causing its destruction.

    Without warning, something appeared in the sky in place of it which was brighter than the glowing gas giant, brighter than its far-off sun. For a few seconds the eternal night became day.

    We also know that, although the "day" lasted only a few seconds (easily missed onscreen) the reacting remnants of the Death Star reacted for several days.

    Perhaps 300,000 kilometers from Yavin IV - 0.2% of the distance between the Earth and Sun - illuminating Yavin IV with artificial day on its night side gives 1.6e21 watts, which if maintained for ten days gives 1.4e27 joules... in which case Yavin should have experienced a week and a half of day, rather than a few seconds.

    As an interesting point of reference, 1.6e21 watts is 380 gigatons per second.

    Hop over to my forum if you want to talk more about those with me, I'll be around there rather more than here.

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  32. I am intersted in quantifying the ships from ST and SW OBJECTIVLEY not giving out charity because SW ships would still win.
    Am I the only one seeing a problem here?

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  33. Yes, thank you for pointing out what I already discussed. Now, please offer a reason to reject my thesis that the expansion toward the Death Star will be imperiled as a result of your DET beam. Or do you really think that the debris from the impact site can just travel back along the superlaser beam unimpeded?
    Because as you yourself pointed out the explosion is not perfectly symetrical and fragments from other parts of the planet might find their way to Death Star. In any case the beam is only 1km wide while the Death Star is over 100 km wide. You are suggestiong, again, that Death Star should rely on luck and hope no fragments come it's way.

    But your position is that of a no-reality mentality. Praytell, my good man, how do you expect to instantly and evenly heat a planet to your 7000K from a (virtual) point source of heat at the impact site? The answer of course is that you don't. Even if this were a big ball of something that readily conducted heat, it could not have happened that fast. But this isn't even a big ball of a good heat conductor ... it's a planet.
    By work heating. You superheat a portion of the planet that starts to expand rapidly, pushes the material around itself which causes it to heat and so on. This way a planet can be brought to white hot state in a second especially since the beam exceeds the amount of energy needed for this by a factor of one million.

    Ah, wait, hang on, perhaps this will help. Since you seem to wish to reject what I say out-of-hand, I shall quote similar reasoning from your lord and master:

    "In reality there are a huge variety of process inefficiencies which would raise the energy requirement further. Heat transfer inside the asteroid body is negatively impacted by the non-homogeneous nature of the asteroid's chemical composition (which sets up countless heat transfer boundary conditions). Heat conduction through real-world substances is not instantaneous or even relativistic. The facing side of the asteroid will vaporize first, thus deflecting incoming energy and most likely causing the back half of the asteroid to vaporize through convective heating via contact with the superheated vaporized matter from the front side. All of these factors will tend to increase the actual energy requirement."

    And this helps your case how? The 10^38J figure does not exceed the vaporization figure by two or three times but millions of times which makes inefficiencies problem moot. And no heat won't be conducted quickly enough but that is irrelevant since the planet will expand so quickly it's own deformation and friction forces will heat him up to the point it glows white-hot as it did.

    Of course, given your resistance to the analogy of a quantized laser beam I'm sure you'll resist this one on the grounds that he was referring to an asteroid and vaporization instead of a planet and its heating. However, the basic principle remains the same no matter what you say.
    Any laser beam which is powerful enough to superheat the target in a second will cause that target to expand in all directions since a laser is a high energy/low momentum weapon unlike a bullet which will tend to throw the target in the direction of it's movement. The momentum of a 10^38J energy beam will be insignificant next to it's power therefore the beam will not be able to "shield" the Death Star against the fragments.

    Now, as you might've noticed I don't have a lot of time these days, so while I thank you for helping to further idiot-proof my points I don't really have the time to idiot-proof them too much. I thought I'd already done so quite enough, but I see I was mistaken. In any event, please think before you reply, and I'll try to reply to the objections of consequence.
    You haven't answered a single point and furthermore you demonstrated profound ignorance when claiming that you need "far more than 10^38J" to bring a planet to white-hot state even though the requirement is actually millions of times lower.

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  34. Pluto is now a dwarf planet... and we know that the "planetoid" in question MUST have enough gravity to be round...

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  35. https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/anyone-wanna-calc-this.52951/

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