Soliton wave

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Soliton wave

A soliton wave is an experimental propulsion system developed by Starfleet. It's a technology of the week from the episode "New Ground".


The soliton wave was generated by equipment on a departure planet (Bilana III in the test). The wave would envelope a test vehicle and push it through space at warp speed to the destination (planet Lemma II), where another set of equipment would generate a particle field that would dissipate the wave, dropping the test vehicle out of warp.

The initial results were promising, as the wave accelerated the test vehicle to warp speed and propelled it with 98% energy efficiency, 450% more efficient than a warp drive (indicating that warp drives are about 22% efficient at cruising speed). Unfortunately, the test did not continue as planned.

For unknown reasons, the wave increased dramatically in intensity, traveling faster than planned and destroying the test vehicle. The Enterprise, which was observing the test, had to accelerate through the wave (sustaining significant damage in the process) to get ahead of it and dissipate it with photon torpedoes to keep it from destroying the Lemma II colony.


The soliton wave test demonstrates a shocking lack of caution on the part of Federation engineers developing new technologies.

"One of the best examples of this reckless stupidity was seen in 'New Ground', where a 'soliton wave' propulsion idea was tested for the first time. Did they test on a miniature test rig? No, they tested it on a full-sized ship. Did they test it in a vacuum chamber? No, they tested it in open space. Did they point it at an uninhabited moon? Of course not. They launched it directly toward a populated colony!"
--Mike Wong


"Commander, at that energy level, the wave will not only destroy the colony... it'll take most of the planet with it."
--Ja'dar, TNG "New Ground"

Based on the quoted line of dialogue, Trekkies have concluded that soliton wave technology could be used as a strategic weapon of mass destruction in the event of total war with a power like the Galactic Empire. Warsies generally react as Mike Wong did, noting that "there was no accounting for the vast amounts of energy that the wave supposedly contained before its dissipation. Where did it go? Did it vanish into the same place where it came from? How convenient, that a supposedly vast amount of energy should appear from nowhere, accomplish nothing of consequence, and then disappear back into nowhere before... its true energy content would become obvious".

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