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Wormholes

Name : Wormholes1

A wormhole is a "tunnel" which connects two points in normal space and time. The distance between the endpoints of a wormhole through the tunnel is generally very much shorter than the same journey through normal space, and wormholes offer the possibility of covering huge distances - often in the tens of thousands of light years - in a matter of minutes.2

Wormholes could therefore prove enormously useful as a natural short cut across the galaxy, or even beyond it. Unfortunately virtually all known wormholes are extremely unstable - their end points wander unpredictably through space rather than being fixed in place. This makes them useless for transport purposes since there is no way to know where the journey will take a ship, and no guarantee that the wormhole will still be there for the return trip.2

There was much interest in 2366 when the Barzan discovered an apparently stable wormhole which stretched from their system to the Delta Quadrant, some 70,000 light years distant. The Federation and others attempted to acquire the rights to travel the wormhole in order to open up a new frontier of exploration; unfortunately on investigation it was discovered that only one end of the wormhole was stable; the Delta Quadrant end was as prone to motion as any normal wormhole, and two Ferengi scientists were stranded in the area when it eventually shifted.2

In 2369 Commander Sisko of Deep Space Nine discovered a wormhole which stretched from the Denorious Belt in the Bajoran system some 70,000 light years to the Gamma Quadrant. Historical records indicated that the wormhole had been there for some 10,000 years, making it the first completely stable wormhole known to exist.3 On investigation Sisko found the reason for this stability - the Bajoran wormhole is an artificial entity created by a sentient alien species which exists outside of linear space and time. He was able to negotiate with the aliens to secure right of passage through the wormhole, allowing exploration of the Gamma quadrant3, and unfortunately leading to contact with the Dominion4 and the ensuing Dominion war.5

Voyager was always on the lookout for wormholes whilst attempting to find a way to reach home territory6, and in 2371 such a structure was indeed located which led to the Beta Quadrant. Unfortunately it was ancient, and of very small size. Voyager's crew found a way to send communications and transporter signals through the wormhole, contacting a Romulan officer at the far end. However the wormhole proved to be a link in time as well as space - the far end connected to the year 2351, twenty years before the ship had been lost.7 Voyager also encountered the far end of the Barzan wormhole in 2373, but was unable to use the unstable entrance to reach the Barzan system.8

Given the possibilities of near-instantaneous travel on a galaxy-wide basis, there has been much interest within the Federation in creating artificial wormholes.9 Certain engine imbalances in the warp drive of a (refit) Constitution class Starship can generate a form of wormhole. This is extremely hazardous to the ship involved - the wormhole can sweep up material from normal space during its formation, posing a considerable risk of impact with the vessel. The wormhole effect can also disrupt ship's systems, making it difficult to avoid such dangers. Fortunately these occurrences are extremely rare, though the newly refitted USS Enterprise did experience one in 2271 whilst attempting to reach the approaching V'Ger cloud.10

In 2372 a team arrived at Deep Space Nine with the intention of creating the first deliberate artificial wormhole, using the USS Defiant as a space going laboratory for the experiment. They were successful, though considerable problems were encountered with stability of the structure and a resulting accident aboard the Defiant nearly led to at least one death. Further research continues.9
Yellow text = Canon source Green text = Backstage source Cyan text = Novel White text = DITL speculation

References
# Series Season Source Comment
1 TNG 2 Where Silence Has Lease
2 TNG 3 The Price
3 DS9 1 Emissary
4 DS9 2 The Jem'Hadar
5 DS9 5 Call to Arms
6 VOY 1 Caretaker, Part 2
7 VOY 1 Eye of the Needle
8 VOY 3 False Profits
9 DS9 4 Rejoined
10 Star Trek : The Motion Picture
Series: TNG Season 2 (Disc 1)
Source: Where Silence Has Lease
Series: TNG Season 3 (Disc 2)
Source: The Price
Series: DS9 Season 1 (Disc 1)
Source: Emissary
Series: DS9 Season 2 (Disc 7)
Source: The Jem'Hadar
Series: DS9 Season 5 (Disc 7)
Source: Call to Arms
Series: VOY Season 1 (Disc 1)
Source: Caretaker, Part 2
Series: VOY Season 1 (Disc 2)
Source: Eye of the Needle
Series: VOY Season 3 (Disc 2)
Source: False Profits
Series: DS9 Season 4 (Disc 2)
Source: Rejoined
Source: Star Trek : The Motion Picture


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 2,377 Last updated : 1 Jan 1970