2007-08-07

Delta Flyer II Acceleration

In "Drive"[VOY7], the new Delta Flyer is taking part in a race, and unbeknownst to the crew it's rigged to explode at the finish line, with the explosion feared capable of wiping out anything within a million kilometers.

The vessel comes to a dead stop at a stated distance of "less than a million kilometers" from the finish line, where Voyager and other vessels are gathered within a handful of kilometers. "Less than a minute" from the detonation, those aboard the Flyer realize what's going on and Paris sets a course for a nearby small nebula, hoping it will contain the blast to some extent. He books it and arrives just in time to dump the rigged warp core and get far enough away to survive.

Shortly after the winner crosses the finish line, Voyager is rocked by the explosion. Tuvok reports that it was the shockwave from an antimatter explosion, "approximately 1.2 million kilometers from here".

Now, besides the fact that it was clearly one helluva bang, this example also gives us the opportunity to compare two distances from a known stationary point. Voyager, after all, was right at the finish line. If the Delta Flyer was stopped relative to the finish line less than one million kilometers away, and then was approximately 1.2 million kilometers away circa the time of the blast, then obviously it must've travelled about 200,000 kilometers, assuming a straight line away from the finish line. (That assumption is actually not supported by the episode, so the true distance should be further, but whatever.)

And, of course, that's 200,000 kilometers in "less than a minute".

To travel 200,000 kilometers in one full minute would require a velocity of 3,333.333 kilometers per second. From zero, then, the Delta Flyer would've had to have reached a final speed of 6,666.666 kilometers per second.

To do that in 60 seconds would require an acceleration of 111.111 kilometers per second per second, or 111,111m/s^2.

That's 11,330.2g, or over 3 times the Earth-to-Jupiter performance of the Enterprise in TMP, and over 18 times the maximum estimated value for an ISD (from a preliminary (and sadly incomplete) analysis of the highest acceleration known in Star Wars).

Top Gear, eat your heart out.

9 comments:

  1. Interesting... Exactly how big of a boom would be required to get a recognizably destructive shockwave at 1 million kilometers, anyway? (For anyone who hasn't checked, that's a little over 71% the diameter of our sun.)

    To get just 4.184 GigaJoules of energy (1 ton of TNT) for every 350 x 150 meter patch of space (52,500 m^2, or a rectangle a little wider and longer than Voyager from a dorsal or ventral perspective), the Delta Flier's reactor would have to have exploded with a force of just under 60,000 Gigatons, or roughly 14,000 ExaJoules. And that's probably an extremely low figure (I doubt the energy equivalent of a single 2,000 lb bomb would be capable of destroying even any of the shuttlecraft in and around that race), from a souped-up shuttlecraft.

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  2. You know... Interestingly enough, there actually is a fair amount of support for 'uber-anti-matter' in Star Trek... This being one such example. To get even just the (relatively) small yield I did the math for above, you'd need almost 2800 TONS of matter and anti-matter, all mixing together instantaneously, and that figure only gets even more ridiculous when you move up to a more 'realistic' (in accordance with the statement that it would destroy anything within a million kilometers) blast yield. Either the explosion wasn't that big (which would make the whole need to get that far away rather pointless), or Trek ships really do use some uber form of anti-matter...

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  3. How on Earth did I miss this easy speed reference when I was going through piles of Voyager scripts? Not to mention the safe radius, but I sense a possible workaround that I'll bring up later.

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  4. I was watching The Empire Strikes Back just recently and this off-hand comparison sprung to mind. The Delta Flyer traveled 200,000 kilometers in less time than it took the relatively similarly-sized Millenium Falcon to close distance with the Executor above Bespin, which wasn't even 100 kilometers away when they noticed it. Interestingly enough as well, Leia had to visually and verbally point out the massive vessel before Lando altered course. No proximity alert klaxon, nothing. Whereas Paris had to detect the nebula at that distance before he could plot a course for it. And, if the EU is to be believed, the Falcon possesses a highly sophisticated sensor suite necessitated by the dangerous nature of Han's line of work, whereas the Delta Flyer is a beefed up shuttlecraft built with Voyager's replicators and spare parts from storage, unique in design but hardly exceptional in capabilities, the opposite of which is supposed to be true for the Falcon. ("I've outrun Imperial starships," "the fastest hunk o' junk in the galaxy," ".5 past lightspeed," "I've made a lot of special modifications myself" et cetera)

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  5. Anon:

    Well, in fairness given your example, the Delta Flyer is a Borg-enhanced design, thanks to Seven's input.

    JMS:

    Don't feel bad . . . I never noticed it either. But then I also never noticed several things you did, so just lemme enjoy that and we'll go from there. ;)

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  6. That's true. The weapons system was described as Borg-inspired, and the Flyer's "unimatrix shielding," even though it was designed by Tuvok, certainly sounds Borg-inspired. And we know they improved the design for the second iteration. Nevertheless, all respect to Seven's input, I wouldn't expect the Flyer to be too much more powerful than a runabout or Data's scout ship from Insurrection. In fairness, all these vessels appear to enjoy similar sublight maneuvering capabilites, given that we've seen the first three navigate similar obstacles (an asteroid field by the Flyer in Drive, the field in TESB, and a Kuiper Belt in Treachery, Faith and the Great River,) and the scout ship pulled off some rather impressive dives and twists in the atmosphere of the B'aku planet. I chose the specific example in TESB because, given the circumstances, we can reasonably infer that both the Flyer and the Falcon were traveling their maximum sublight velocities. The gulf between them cannot be accounted for solely by Seven's Borg expertise.

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  7. Well, they've got a lot of man made materials in Trek. Hell, if the size comparisson of human-to-antimatter pod in the TNG tech book is accurate (there isn't one, but you can do one eyeballing it), those pods aren't that big, yet, they're able to produce shitloads of energy over the long term without us ever seeing them needing to refuel. They probably do something to normal antimatter and the stored matter to supe them both up.

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  8. I agree with Anon, while the Delta Flyer is probably pretty maneuverable for a ship of her type, she didn't seem to be all that much more maneuverable than other, comparable ships, though she was better than the standard shuttle (this, of course, can be chalked up to the fact that she was built by a crew stranded in the Delta Quadrant with limited resources, and so while it would be a big step from what they had available, it wasn't necessarily a big step up from what could be created at a fully functional and supplied construction facility back in the Federation). The Borg tech probably did help, but as Anon said, it can't account for all the difference.


    As for the anti-matter pods, they do have the Bussard Collectors, and are presumably collecting stray particles all the time (though obviously not at the Cosmic Vacuum Cleaner level that was demonstrated during the Riker Maneuver in Insurrection), which would certainly help extend the ship's fuel duration, though not by a very significant amount (unless they went into Cosmic Vacuum Cleaner mode while passing through a random hydrogen nebula or two). Either Trek ships use some for of enhanced anti-matter, or their fuel supplies are stored and consumed at fusion-inducing densities.

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  9. This is not that potent compared to some events- Look at The Swarm, where Voyager herself crosses at least 500,000km in less than twelve seconds (which I think is the highest acceleration derivable, although it's likely that Relics is close for the Enterprise-D)

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