Balance of Terror

Anderson here addresses two concerns about Romulan technology demonstrated in "Balance of Terror" [TOS]. They are related only by episode, and will be dealt with in two sections.

Part I: Romulan Warp Speed?

Map of Romulan Neutral Zone

The first of Mr. Anderson's claims is that a map disproves Scotty's statement about the Romulan ship involved in the episode being limited to "simple impulse," as opposed to warp power. Anderson presents a map that shows a group of outposts, and compares the comparative speeds of the Romulan ship and the Enterprise, which is known to be moving at maximum warp. He then concludes that this is proof of a Romulan ship moving faster than light. However, the grounds for this argument are shaky at best. Most importantly, Scotty never corrected his statement to Captain Kirk that they could engage the Romulans with a reasonable chance of victory. No one ever commented on the matter, following their brief meeting. If the Romulan vessel had actually been forced to move faster than the speed of light to reach the next outpost in line, someone should have commented on the matter, and realized that the Romulans were using warp engines and were not moving at speeds below that of light.

How then, is it possible that Anderson's map is incorrect by that much? The simple fact of the matter is that the map is a two dimensional representation of space. Space is three-dimensional. If the Enterprise is sufficiently above or below the plane of the outposts, or if the outposts are built on wildly different planes, it is entirely possible that the Enterprise could actually be moving as fast as it is while the slower Romulan ship is moving at a very slow speed. Moreover, the Romulan weapon is demonstrated as having warp-capabilities, although as will later be demonstrated the weapon cannot track in warp. Thus it would be highly possible for the weapon to be fired by an impulse-driven craft, and yet move at warp for a considerable distance, to impact the outposts.

Part II: Homing Weapon?

Mr. Anderson has apparently gotten into a debate with Wayne Poe and some miscellaneous "rabid Warsies" regarding a weapon used by the Romulans in "Balance of Terror." Mr. Anderson contends that the weapon actually changes direction, after accelerating to warp. He has a series of complicated diagrams depicting his belief that the weapon changed directions independently after it was fired, however there are other ways to interpret the visual evidence without resorting to such unfounded beliefs as weapons changing course.

Angle #1

Angle #2

Anderson's central point is that the view screen on the Enterprise shows the Romulan warship above the centerline, however the it would be quite easy for a camera installed on the Enterprise to be well above or below the centerline of the ship. Thus, while the weapon was fired at the Enterprise, and was above the plane of the camera, it could easily have been at a different angle from the ship.

Alternatively, the camera's orientation may not be depicting what is going on directly ahead of the Enterprise, or the Enterprise travels on a warp plane that is slightly different from the generally understood path of "straight ahead." The latter, strange assertion is actually supported by canonical film evidence. The opening credits of TOS do show that the Enterprise can move in a direction somewhat more vertical than the alignment of its stardrive section.

Finally, an analysis of the attack on the first station, as shown on the screen of the Enterprise, reveals that the Romulan plasma weapon has a slight "wobble," which could easily explain a change in course, even without a deliberate course-change. This is shown, to some extent, by the screen-caps on the link Anderson provides.

[Editor's note: just when I think RSA can't sink any lower, he goes and tries something like this. The ship is slightly above the axis on the viewscreen, therefore it must be approaching from a sharp angle? I like his cute picture. Does it occur to him that the following picture can just as easily explain the small Y-axis offset?

Angle #3

As long as the ship appears to be slightly above the view-axis of the camera, it satisfies the picture. No goofy angle of approach is necessary And keep in mind that we don't even know where the camera is; since we never see the top of the saucer in the camera during TOS, it's probably in the front of the saucer rather than the bridge blister. Mind you, it's always possible that it is a homing torpedo (it's not as if we know much about it), but RSA's "proof" for it is just plain goofy]

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