The Battle of Britain

Re:  "See Star Trek Kick Asteroids in “Rise”"    


The topic of the "Rise"[VOY3] asteroid is one of Ossus's white whales.  He picked that topic as the target of one of his first attempts to go after me and my site long ago, and still smarts from the schooling he received.  

In the episode, Voyager fires a photon torpedo against a large nickel-iron asteroid, anticipating almost total vaporization of it.   Unbeknownst to the crew,  the asteroids were not just nickel-iron, but were instead composed of other materials, some artificial, as part of an alien plot to capture the planet the asteroids kept hitting.   The torpedo doesn't vaporize the asteroid (Voyager's crew having no more luck than the Nisu on the planet had), and fragments hit the planet . . . which is the idea.

Voyager discovers the alien plot when they beam aboard some of the asteroid debris.  The scene which Ossus concentrated on is one in which Chakotay splits a fragment with a pick-axe, exposing the technology inside: 

As we join the new "rebuttal", Ossus quotes himself from his old one (identifying himself as "a poster" whose objections I "addressed weakly"):

"If Chakotay was able to crack a beachball sized hunk of the thing open with a pick, how is it possible that Voyager did so little damage to it if Voyager's weapons were anywhere near what DarkStar is claiming? [...] This represents an EXTRAORDINARILY low strength for the rock.

So how can Voyager have done so little damage to rock that was that fragile if it had the firepower that DarkStar was claiming? The answer is, of course, that it is impossible.
"

What Ossus failed to grasp was that it is harder to vaporize something brittle . . . the whole idea behind brittle things is that they break.   They don't just sit there and melt or vaporize.

Anderson has since responded to the above criticism of his website in his "Objections" section:

"1. If Chakotay was able to tap a piece of the asteroid open with a little pick-axe, the asteroid must have been brittle. If it was made of such brittle materials, Voyager's torpedo should have done more damage.

There's a profound difference between taking a sharp pick against a solid rock and vaporizing it with a photon torpedo explosion. First, a rock has characteristics such as cleavage and fracture. That is, in fact, one of the ways rocks are identified.

Torres identifies olivine as one of the substances in the rock. You'll note that olivine has a brittle, conchoidal (shell-like) fracture. In other words, it breaks easily into curved fragments, not unlike glass does. Also pay attention to the fact that it is rather hard, but with a low density. Something hard, low density, and brittle is going to be easy to crack.

Compare this with iron, which they thought the asteroid was made of. It's softer, and thus more malleable. It has a higher density, and a jagged, torn fracture. Now, let's say you fire a bullet at a wall made of olivine. You'll probably end up with a hunk of broken fragments flying away, and might even get cracks running from the point of impact. Do the same to an iron wall, and if the bullet penetrates more than a dent's worth, you'll get torn metal.

Detonate a thermonuclear weapon next to that wall, and the olivine wall will probably shatter. The more resilient iron wall may either tear wide open, or just sit there and melt, et cetera, depending on various factors.

This would assume, of course, that the entire asteroid was olivine, and not nickel-iron with a couple of oddball chunks of olivine. Given the fact that it fragmented in the way it did without vaporizing as expected, that isn't a bad hypothesis. But, then, the Nisu astrophysicist dude mentioned in his transmission that the asteroids were composed of artificial materials . . . whether he had simply found evidence that triatium alloy was part of the asteroid, or had found that sensor signals were being distorted, or found that the majority of the asteroids were literally artificial is not clear.

In any event, the brittleness of a material is no indication that it will be easier to vaporize . . . indeed, it is far more likely to fracture uncontrollably, and in this case unexpectedly.
"

What Anderson said was accurate. One would expect a rock, like olivine, to fracture and break more easily than iron or nickel (or, iron and nickel), both of which are softer metals. 

The above confession is amazing.  It only took Ossus five months (at the time of "rebuttal") to finally realize that I was correct.   When I first put that objection up on the page, he responded:  "There is a difference, however your statements are still incorrect."

But, alas, don't be fooled into thinking there's hope for Ossus . . . even with five months tacked on to give him time to figure things out, he's still going to make sure he finds some way to screw up:

However, Harry Kim expected that the asteroid (which he, at the time, presumed was made up of iron-nickel) to fracture and break apart. So, if olivine breaks more easily than iron-nickel, and iron-nickel is what he was expecting to fragment, how can the torpedo have demonstrated as much firepower as Anderon is claiming with this page? The simple answer is that it could not have.

Stupid Ossus:

Chakotay: "That asteroid should have been vaporized. What happened?"
Kim: "I'm not sure. Sensors showed a simple nickel-iron composition. We shouldn't be seeing fragments more than a centimeter in diameter."

Harry could not possibly have expected the asteroid "to fracture and break apart".   Just how in the hell do you get a 390 meter long asteroid to evenly break into tiny little one-centimeter-or-less bits by way of an explosion?  The answer is, you don't.   Remember, it was a photon torpedo they were using, not a giant Space Blender 4000.

The reality is that they expected almost total vaporization, though there would be some tiny escapees.

Additionally, Anderson's scaling work is highly suspect.

 . . . but evidently, he's given up on trying to argue with it.   Amusingly, so has Wong:


[Editor's note: in this page, RSA claims the asteroid above is 400 metres long (from the little orange dot, which is a photorp that's supposedly 10 metres wide because he figures the "glow" is that big )

Note how he doesn't bother trying to disprove that a torpedo's shield glow is up to 10 meters wide.   He just whines about it with the above, and tries to misrepresent it with the below:

5. "the pic below demonstrates the size increase of torpedoes fired from Voyager":

Yes, that's right. He claims that photon torpedoes get bigger after they're launched, and uses this enlarged size to scale the asteroid. Of course, the fact that the torpedoes are approaching the camera and thus obvious getting bigger due to perspective correction is undoubtedly lost on him ... 

Wong bares his desperation and retardation for all to see.   Let's look at the original use of that pic, quoted from the pre-existing objection response (which, like the debate, he didn't bother to read) on my page:

4.  You scaled the asteroid wrong.  First, torpedo glow doesn't increase after the torpedo exits the launcher.  Second, you scaled the torpedo when it was at the greatest distance from the launch point, and you can't know how big the asteroid is from that.

The scaling is correct, within a reasonable margin of error.  First, torpedo glow can increase . . . it's a shield after all, and we can't assume it's raised to full strength the nanosecond the torpedo exits the tube. Further, the pic below demonstrates the size increase of torpedoes fired from Voyager:

From "Hope and Fear"[VOY]

Note, if you will, that the second torpedo's illumination of the hull can be observed, approximately placing it directly under the port phaser strip's forward edge. By eyeball estimate compared to Voyager's forward docking port, the torpedo's main spherical glow is, at this point, approximately 10 meters wide. Even if we compare to the entire vertical surface of the saucer rim, the torpedo width is greater than it is by a factor of three, giving an absolute (but ridiculous) minimum of six meters. The torpedo thus appears significantly broader than it would've been when exiting the tube. Further, it is also significantly broader than it was mere moments beforehand, when a mere 60-70 meters further away:

That's right, kids.  What he claimed to be an issue regarding failure to correct for perspective is, in fact, his own lie.  As made apparent on the page, perspective had nothing to do with it . . . I was comparing against something the same distance away.  

(What's so amusing is that Wong would dare base his challenge on perspective issues, given his own ridiculous assertions regarding those same issues in "Balance of Terror"[TOS1].  Hell, I had a guy trained in architecture high-fiving me on that one.

But hey, what's one more nail in the coffin of Wong's argument?   First, let's look at the torpedo two frames after departing the launcher (at 15fps):

Now, let's look at it a full two frames later:

Thirteen frames later (after we see the asteroid alone for a bit), the torpedo comes into view at this point:

One single frame later, the torpedo reaches this point:

Six frames later:

Now, it takes an additional 11-12 frames after the above frame for the torpedo to hit the asteroid, depending on whether one wishes to call the impact the first of the below frames, or the second:

Now, would someone please explain to me how in the hell that could be an itty bitty TESB-esque non-Voyager-size asteroid, given the torpedo travel time?  Even if you assume that Voyager fired the torpedo in a direction so that it would've grazed the 'camera', the thing still had to have travelled about 75 meters within four frames.  And then, it still took 32-33 additional frames for the torpedo to reach the asteroid.  How could it not be Voyager-sized?

 and crows "We blow up asteroids, too . . . and ours are bigger"; perhaps he blocked the AOTC seismic charges and their multi-kilometre destructive radius out of his mind]

Heaven forbid that someone use a weapon with a two-dimensional destruction zone.  It might mess up Kirk's hair if he stands next to it going off!

(Not to mention that (A) Wong knows good and well that I'm comparing it to the TESB asteroid shot Warsies have wanked about for years (i.e. the one involving Imperial firepower), and (B) unlike a photon torpedo, those seismic charges can't vaporize a damn thing.)

[Editor's note: As noted, it is ridiculous to contradict the observation of brittleness by saying it's made of a brittle silicate like olivine; this actually concedes the point! 

The above is a positively stunning display of Wong's charlatanism . . . as a materials science guy, one would not expect him to be so stupid regarding the topic.

See, I am not contradicting the observation of brittleness . . . as made abundantly clear, that's the whole point.  Had the asteroid been something less brittle than the olivine and artificial materials it was composed of . . . say, nickel-iron, for example . . . it would have been almost totally vaporized.   Wong's being a complete idiot.  And what's worse, he suggests a negative connotation to use of the canon . . . the piece Chakotay pick-axed was stated to have some olivine as a constituent!

It gets worse, and while one might normally chalk such errors up to ignorance, in RSA's case they are undoubtedly the result of deliberate deceit:

Of course I'm lying . . . after all, I'm The Great Satan™.   As far as Wong and his fellow rabid flunkies are concerned, everything I say is a lie, so Star Wars tech is better.  

First, let's review asteroids types, using information taken from Purdue University's relevant page on the subject.

This is funny in two ways.  First, he's about to try to argue about my classification of the asteroid as M-type, expressly based on what the Voyager crew thought the asteroid was composed of (i.e. nickel-iron).  Funny, I don't see a classification on the Purdue site which includes artificial materials or guidance systems.

Second, Wong is the guy who incessantly points to his own bachelor's degree in applied science in debates, in a desperate appeal to authority . . . thus, he keeps claiming that I have no science education whatsoever, saying that instead I get all my data from Google searches.   Gee, Wong didn't go to Purdue, and he's a mechanical engineer as opposed to an astronomer, so where did he find the site?   What, is AltaVista or Yahoo! supposed to be better as one's source of information? 

1. "The extremely dark and mottled coloring of the asteroid is a bit odd, but not unreasonably so. From what we know of the asteroid, it should fall within the parameters of an M-type . . . S-type if the olivine was common throughout ..." Think about this; it doesn't look like an M-type asteroid, and it's much too brittle to be an M-type asteroid, but we "know" it's an M-type asteroid anyway? Then he dismisses the appearance of a C-type asteroid by saying that if it's olivine, it must be an S-type! Think about this logic for a minute: he knows it's brittle, and olivine is brittle, so it must be olivine, so it must be an S-type asteroid instead of a C-type asteroid even though it looks like one ... so he can use M-type asteroid material properties. Are you dizzy yet?

Positively nauseated, but not for the reasons Wong would hope for.  

2. "If we assume that the asteroid started out at 200 Kelvin, and that it would therefore take 7.6 megajoules to vaporize one kilogram of iron, we are still left with a necessary energy figure of 184,790,301,840 megajoules. That's 184,790 TJ, or 44 megatons, as an absolute I-bent-over-backward lower limit." Interesting, isn't it? The asteroid is clearly fragmented, not vapourized, as we can see in the pictures. He even says "I am leaving plenty of room for Harry's comment that "we shouldn't be seeing fragments more than a centimeter in diameter"". But then he goes ahead and uses vapourization figures, not fragmentation figures, and he has the gall to call this an "absolute I-bent-over-backward lower limit"! 

The above is hysterical.   Wong thinks we should ignore the entire concept of vaporization because somehow (in his mind) the asteroid was supposed to be chopped to tiny one centimeter fragments by the explosion, as if a photon torpedo is some sort of Space Cuisinart.  

What's funnier is that he chose not to notice that I only calculated for 60% of the asteroid's mass (hence the "leaving plenty of room").   For slower children like Wong, that means that 40% of the asteroid would not have been vaporized in the above calculation.   It's still absurd to believe that the remaining 40% would separate neatly into less-than-a-centimeter rocks, but hey, that's bending over backward for you.  In reality, the vaporization fraction should be far higher.

He even goes so far as to repeatedly use Kim's "expectation" of vapourization as evidence! 

Wong acts surprised, as if he didn't realize that's the whole point of the page.   They saw a 390m asteroid which they believed to be nickel-iron in composition.   They fired one lone torpedo at it, and expected it to be almost totally vaporized.  

Normally, one's opponent in a debate may try to be deceptive, but he'll stop short of outright lies. RSA, however, crosses that line.

I'm curious . . . they say "it takes one to know one."   So Wong, as a liar, should theoretically be quite capable of identifying other liars.   But really, can he, as a well-practiced liar, be trusted to do so?   I'll let you be the judge.

3. "100 megatons (420,000 terajoules) would appear to be an extreme but fair low-end figure" Actually, given the fact that the asteroid was fragmented, not vapourized, and was observed to be brittle, the energy requirement for shattering a 400 metre wide asteroid (even if we accept his bizarre scaling) is only 10-15 kilotons (see calculator, using hard granite figures for cratering). 

No, given the fact that an asteroid of known nickel-iron composition was to have been vaporized, 100 megatons is an extreme but fair low-end figure.   Wong can plug whatever he likes into his calculator . . . it still won't tell us what the energy requirement for fragmenting an asteroid composed of artificial materials will be, or launching a 100 meter fragment away at ~750m/s.

He can claim that it's vapourized, but the screenshots say otherwise

An absolutely classic moronic lie from Wong.   Praytell, where do I claim that the "Rise" asteroid was indeed vaporized, hmm?  

4. "Certainly their own high-end estimates (250 TJ, 1500 TJ, and 701 to 2863 TJ) of the highest turbolaser firepower seen in the canon don't come anywhere close to even 100 megatons" This is another fine example of his pathological-liar tendencies: he takes the tiny-asteroid lower-limit from TESB and says we call it a "high-end estimate" even though we actually call it an extreme lower limit  

Funny, the claim of dishonesty seems to be based on Wong's belief that I said they call them high-end estimates . . . do you see me saying they called them high-end?  Or was it, in fact, me calling them high-end?   Anyone with a functional brain recognizes it's the latter . . . so naturally, Wong failed to do so.   

Warsies can wank themselves into believing whatever they wish, and I don't care what they call the results . . . the fact remains that they've never come anywhere close to being able to assign 100 megatons (420,000 TJ) to any canon example of Star Wars firepower, because . . . save for the Death Star . . . no such example exists.

Meanwhile, Trek has "Skin of Evil", "Cost of Living", "Rise", "The Die is Cast", "Broken Link", and so on and so forth, all of which demand that Federation torpedoes rank at 100 megatons or well above.

Most people can figure out the implication.  Why can't they?   


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