Graham Kennedy's Rebuttal

Written: 1999.07.27

Having recently discovered and read through the pages concerning me on Mr. Wongs site, I am posting this message in response. This message is being posted both to Mr. Wong personally and to alt.startrek.vs.starwars.

My aim is not to provoke prolonged discussion of these issues; should a thread be generated on the newsgroup I will not be taking part in it, as I don't subscribe to this NG anymore. Given Mr Wongs apparent attitude toward me, I see little point in engaging in e-mail exchanges with him either.

Rather I am simply presenting my own side of things - indulging my "right to reply", if you will. In some cases I have highlighted instances where I believe Mr Wong is being selective in his quoting of my material. I don't mean to imply deliberate wrongdoing on his part, but am simply seeking to present a fuller case. In other cases I point out mistakes on his part. In some cases I have accepted the criticisms of my work, and posted it here along with the rest in order to present the most balanced view I can.

The headers below are the ones used on Mr Wongs site, listed in the order I found them there a couple of weeks ago. It is possible that Mr Wong has updated his site in the intervening time to correct some of the problems I point out below.

Example 1) Thermodynamics? What's that?

Here Mr Wong puts forward a perfectly valid argument against 12.75 million Terawatts being a low end output for the E-D's warp core.
I can only assume that Mr Wong read the first part of the page he is criticizing and then did not bother to read down through the rest. If he had, he would have read this in the TNG Tech Manual section :

Now while this is within an order of magnitude of the previous value, it does indicate a substantially reduced output since we are comparing minimum output to maximum output. There are possible answers to this problem : Most importantly, the Enterprise-D actually achieved a speed of Warp 9.7 during Encounter at Farpoint, indicating that the warp core can pull considerably more than the designed maximum out of its warp core when needed. In addition, the technical manual was written in 1991, a date which corresponds to 2368 of Startrek. The "True Q" episode is set some three months after the beginning of season six of the show, in 2369. It is possible that the Enterprise received a hefty upgrade to its warp core in the interval. In addition, the Enterprise may have been running some kind of very energy intensive scientific experiments at the time of Amanda's visit which required the core to be running at close to the maximum limit.

And in the Summary section, this was the overall conclusion of the page:

Maximum Warp Core Output : 4.77 x 10^6 TeraWatts - 12.75 x 10^6 TeraWatts

In other words, my site *discounted* the figure at the top as a low end output - and suggests the self same thing that Mr Wong did on his own page, that the ship may have been doing something of which we are unaware.

Example 2) How not to read a chart

Graham's scanned chartAs it turns out we both made an error on this one, and amazingly the errors are very close to being identical. Mr Wongs interpretation of my error is mistaken - I did not have a problem reading off a log scale, I had a problem finding out exactly where the intercept was. As did he.
I read Warp 6 as intercepting the power axis at 4x10^6 MJ/Cochrane, not the 2.5x10^6 MJ/Cochrane that Mr Wong got. I recently acquired a rather large scan of this chart, and I am attaching a section to this message to show where he and I went wrong. I have highlighted the portion of the chart concerning Warp 6 and dragged it to the axis; clearly the intercept of Warp 6 on the power axis is significantly above the figure Mr Wong claimed, and significantly below the figure I claimed.
All this is slightly complicated by the fact that the scale is slightly inaccurate. for the following I have calibrated to the section of the scale between 10^6 and 10^7 MJ/Cochrane, rather than the overall thing.
My read of the true level is 3.247x10^6 MJ/Cochrane. Another slight inaccuracy creeps in because of the Cochrane value for warp 6 - from warp 1 to 9 this is given by Warp Factor^(10/3), which gives 392.498, rather than 392. The TM rounds it down. So a more accurate figure for Warp 6 is 1.274x10^15 W.
Mr Wongs claim of 9.8x10^14 W was 23.1% under this, I was 22.4% over. As I said, remarkably similar overall errors.

Example 3) Let's pretend we know about nuclear fusion

Mr Wong states that:
"Deuterium and tritium are invariably indicated in nuclear fusion texts by the term 2D or 3T rather than 2H or 3H as Graham uses."
Microsoft Encarta 96 World English Edition shows the D-D reaction, with the reactants labelled as 2H. IIRC the text book I used from school used the same notation, but I don't have it to hand at the moment to check.
It's perfectly possible that these are rarities, and I don't suggest that Encarta is a serious scientific resource. But the word "invariably" means *always*, and this is clearly not the case.
The further criticisms in this example are correct, and had he posted them to me they would have been incorporated. As it happens somebody else emailed the information to me at 15:30 on Thursday 8th July. It will be included in a future update, although I can't say when for sure.

Example 4) Genesis- the fine art of wild exaggeration

Many of Mr. Wongs criticisms are of my wild assumptions, and these are in many cases valid enough interpretations of the event. However, Mr Wong heavily implies that I tout this page as some form of Concrete Proof. While he copies almost the entire page to support his analysis, he omits the header which reads :
NOTE - The following calculations are based on a number of unproven assumptions concerning the operating principles of the Genesis device. In formulating these figures I tried to make the simplest possible interpretation of what we actually see the the Genesis device do during "Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan". I tried to be as fair-minded as I possibly could, and I tried to make all assumptions err on the low side while still sticking to the basic idea. Even so, these calculations should be approached somewhat cautiously - especially as the conclusion is somewhat overwhelming!
In reference to his various other criticisms, I agree completely that his interpretation of the event is a reasonable one. However, as with much of the technology shows in Trek I believe that the Genesis Device operated on fictional scientific principles as yet unknown to us, and so cannot reasonably be expected to obey current scientific law. Mr Wongs approach to sci-fi differs from mine in this respect - see the next example for more on this.

Example 5) Science vs dialogue

Mr Wong touches on something crucial here. The ethos of my site is, in general, to come up with a view of Star Trek which is consistent with what is shown in the episodes, NOT what is currently known about actual real science.
In other words, if a character makes a statement, then I regard it as being a "true" one unless it is contradicted by some other episode, is said by somebody who is clearly insane/stupid/joking, etc. If this means bending the science, then so be it - the science gets bent. I rationalize this by assuming that by the 24th century they will have an understanding of science which differs as radically from our own as ours does from a 16th century persons.
Mr Wongs approach differs, and this is fine by me. But while I am perfectly willing to accept his interpretations and assumptions for what they are, he seems to have considerable difficulty in doing the same.

Example 6) The warp power chart in the TM is a fundamental law, right? Isn't it?

Mr Wongs comments are valid enough. Many Trek fans interpret the TNG power graph as reflecting fundamental laws, myself amongst them. I find this statement, made by Mr Wong to be rather bewildering:
"He sometimes makes assumptions without even bothering to mention them, and treats the resulting conclusions as reliable. This is a good example:"
Followed as it is by a chunk of text from my site which contains the following less than ten lines later
we do not know how the mass of an object affects the power required to maintain a given speed, but to make a guestimate I will assume it is a linear relationship.
How this translates as not bothering to mention assumptions is something of a mystery to me.

Example 7) When starships explode

The vaporization stuff is reasonable enough. I would point out that Trek ships are designed to dump their warp cores, and that this wouldn't necessarily be a slow and easily visible event. However, the scene can certainly be interpreted in the way Mr Wong suggests by a reasonable person, so this is fair comment.
Significant figures - this one is another mistake on his part. When using numbers like this, I was taught that you always use as many decimal places as possible in the inputs to an equation. The *only* place you round is in the final answer. To round every input in an equation to 3 dp would lead to ever greater inaccuracies, most especially if the answers generated are to be plugged into further equations, and so on.
Mr Wong uses careful editing to avoid showing that I did in fact round the final answer. Here is what he quoted :
E = Mass x specific heat x Temperature increase
    = 1.002 x 109 x 900 x 2435
    = 2.195883 x 1015
    = 2,195,883,000,000,000 joules
And here is the following line, which he omitted :
or about 2,195 terajoules
the *answer* is rounded, the inputs are not. I did make a technical error in rounding the number down to 2195 rather than up to 2196 - a deliberate choice made because of digit preference - but like me, Mr Wong missed that one.

Example 8) Pegasus- putting a molten peg in a round hole

I would point out that the Warbird could have melted the entire volume of rock and used a tractor beam to control it, so explaining its anomalous behaviour. But both interpretations are reasonable enough alternatives. Fair comment.

Example 9) Consistency? Do we really need that?

The torpedo errors were pointed out by a gentleman named Chris Wagner, and removed in the 28th April update. Mr Wongs comment was perfectly justified, of course. Once again somebody got in before him.

Example 10) Maybe the word "altitude" means something different in Britain

The page gives *both* interpretations. I understand - but could not find out for certain - that many people use orbital altitudes as measured from the centre of mass of the body you are orbiting, since this is the figure you must put into equations concerning orbits. It would be perfectly reasonable to criticize, had I only shown one side of the argument. But that's not what I did.

Example 11) Melting, boiling ... how does that work again?

This page has been updated thanks to a posting from James Fox, who found numbers for latent heat of fusion/vapourisation that I was not able to. Some of Mr Wongs comments concerning the variation in specific heat capacity, etc., are fair enough and I have no problem with them. A further update will shortly incorporate new numbers sent to me by Jasper (Asmaul) McChesney, who told me he had some more accurate numbers for Aluminium.
Mr Wongs argument about Tritanium being a composite isn't very consistent with the way it is talked about in the show, (i.e. we often hear of Tritanium alloys), but that's just a matter of interpretation, so no problem there.

Example 12) Officer, I didn't see a speed limit sign yet, so the speed limit must be infinity. Can I go now?

This one came up again recently on rast, with Wayne Poe arguing a viewpoint similar to Mr Wongs. Suffice to say that while it has still not been established positively, what little evidence there is continues to classify this entire type of weapon as obsolete in the Trek universe. Naturally we will continue to differ on this one, and as with many of his comments that is fair enough.


I hope to see Mr Wongs pages altered to give a more accurate reflection of my site and its perceived shortcomings. Given the tone of many of his criticisms, my personal view is that a retraction and/or apology is in order, rather than a simple change.

I imagine that he will be reluctant to do the first and *highly* reluctant to do the second, but that may be my own bias talking. I await any reply with interest.

Mr Wong is welcome to include this post on his site, should he wish to grant me the "right to reply". However, if he does use this post I would insist that it be included unedited and in its entirety, for the sake of accuracy.

I very rarely visit Mr Wongs site, and when I do I rarely stay there very long. As such, I am unlikely to see any more material he posts concerning me or my website. So should further accusations of incompetence against me be posted there, I would ask that you not take my silence as agreement - but rather as disinterest.

Thank you for listening.
Graham Kennedy

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