How to abuse stargates

Contents

Introduction

I'm a big fan of a TV show called Stargate.

I've watched every episode of Stargate and Stargate Atlantis so far (as of September 2006), many of them multiple times. Based on the series, I've built some understanding on how the gates supposedly work.

Based on this understanding, I've came up with a few ways to intentionally misuse the gates.

- Joel Yliluoma

The stargates

Stargate is a networking stellar transportation device.

Each planet[1] of the network, designated by coordinates, has a Stargate, which is capable of both dialing to another Stargate and receiving a call [2].

In the most basic way of usage, the caller dials their Stargate to the destination address, and a wormhole forms between the two gates. Material may be freely transmitted via the wormhole in one direction only [3]. Radio waves can be transmitted in both directions.

[1]: The node of the network does not necessarily need to be a planet. The gate may be orbiting a planet or even aboard a ship currently in travel between stars (not in hyperspace).

[2]: And a few other things, as explained later in this document.

[3]: The material is actually transmitted as energy.

Facts

Yes, Stargate is fiction. The word "facts" here refers to things some of the Stargate episodes have established, instead of things that are based on pure speculation.

The gate

Stargate is a circular device, which consists of a supercomputer, an event horizon generator, a wormhole generator and a subspace communication device.

Energy consumption

Stargate is capable of harnessing power from a wide variety of energy sources, especially electricity. The exact amount of energy required is not known, but it has been shown that the regular size stargate can be powered up by a natural lightning (1x10, "Torment of Tantalus") or a storagehouseful of army lorries (2x21, "1969"). It has also been explained that the amount of energy required is exponentionally proportional to the diameter of the gate (10x03, "The Pegasus Project").

Stargate uses superconductors, which means it can store energy for a long period of time.

It has also been indicated that the gate can be dialed once without external power after an incoming connection (todo: reference).

The supercomputer

Stargate contains a supercomputer which is capable of processing the enormous amount of information required by material transfers.

The supercomputer can be interfaced with a device called DHD (dial home device) or a similar dialing computer, or it can be dialed manually by rotating the disc with physical force (see SG1 1x10 (The Torment of Tantalus.

(The physical dialing method is not possible with the discless gates found in the Pegasus galaxy.)

The protocol used to interface the supercomputer implements hundreds of security measures to ensure a safe transmit. It also allows to access the more lowlevel features of the gate, such as the subspace communication or the event horizon generator.

The memory

Stargate transmits objects in discrete units. This means that if you shove a long object into the wormhole, it will not emerge from the other side until the entire object is submerged in the event horizon, even if the object doesn't move for 30 minutes.

This is made possible by the enormous amount of memory within the stargate: it stores the energy signature (the data needed to construct the object) within the superconducting buffers of the gate until it can safely dispose of the data.

It is not known how big objects the gate can store.

Exception: In the case of thin objects, such as ropes (see 1x10 (The Torment of Tantalus) or staffs (see 3x06 (Point of View, the object may be transmitted partially if the power to the gate is abruptly cut.

The event horizon

The event horizon of the stargate has nothing to do with the event horizon of a black hole.
The term "event horizon" refers to the fact that it's the point that when crossed, stops the time completely for the object. It turns an animate object to inanimate or back.

The event horizon is an edge that separates two different forms of material existence.
Anything that is pushed to the event horizon will be stored in the memory of the stargate as energy, and similarly the event horizon also can reconstruct material.

The event horizon is not just a technical apparatus. It's a physical phenomenon. It allows a partially submerged object being pulled back from the event horizon, instead of the object breaking in pieces.

Subspace communicator

Stargate uses subspace communication to query whether a stargate exists in the target address and whether it's busy. It also uses the communication for software updates. (See SG1 7x09 (Avenger 2.0

Coordinates

Stargate coordinates consist of 7, 8 or 9 symbols.

7-symbol addresses

7-symbol addresses are the dominant type of stargate addresses. Seven symbols is enough to address every one place in a galaxy with a certain precision.

8-symbol addresses

When a remote galaxy needs to be dialed, an eighth symbol may be added to the address. However, dialing a remote galaxy needs an enormous amount of energy.

9-symbol addresses

Every stargate seen in the serie contains a ninth slot indicating the ninth dialed symbol, but so far we haven't seen any reference to it being ever used. Therefore, there are no facts about this item. (Apparently, information about the ninth chevron will be given in the Stargate Universe series that is scheduled to premiere in 2008.)

The construction of the addresses

The stargate addresses consist of coordinates which point to an area of space (the coordinates are not names of Stargates), where there may or may not be a Stargate.

The last symbol of the address somehow indicates a point of origin, which is vital for the address to function properly.

There are various ways to express a stargate address. Each symbol of the address comes from a set of 36 symbols.

  • Star constellations (graphical way)
  • Syllables (spoken way)
  • Base-36 integer (computer way)

Most of the stargate users refer to addresses using the graphical way -- that is, drawing the symbols on a paper or selecting them from a computer screen.
The gatebuilders (ancients) also used the spoken way.

Because there coordinate system consists of only 36^6 different values for an entire galaxy, it means that gates within certain proximity of each others can not be dialed separately. One of them will receive the call.

It is not possible to dial from/to the hyperspace (faster-than-light method of space travel).

Because of motion of objects in galaxy (stars shift positions over thousands of years), very old stargate addresses may not work straight away without first compensating for planetary shift.

It is speculated that the six first symbols of the address work as anchors specifying the points where the actual address is triangulated in between.

How the transfer works

Material transfers using a Stargate only work in one direction: from source to destination. To transfer the opposite direction, the gate must be dialed again.

It is not certain where this limit comes from. To me, it seems like a limit of the program ran by the stargates, but according to the wormhole book written by Samantha Carter in one of the episodes of SG1, it is a feature of the wormholes themselves.

Notably, electromagnetic waves travel to both directions. It is not known whether the gate transmits the waves, or if the waves propagate literally via the wormhole.

Also, in the episode SG1 2x16 (A Matter of Time), gravity effects from the receiving end of the wormhole reach Earth backwards. The reasoning for this is not explained anywhere else in the serie.

Mode of transfer

A stargate transmits material as energy.

For why it does not transfer mass instead, list of possible reasons includes:

  • It would render the wormhole physically unstable.
  • Should the wormhole disengage prematurely, the payload would be forever lost
  • The safety of the transferred item could not be guaranteed (environmental hazard)

It is not known which kind of energy the stargate transmits.

  • Stargate travellers may sometimes collect experiences of the travel, such as that the travel was "rough".
  • In SG1 5x05 (Red Sky), a wormhole going through a star introduced an element (molecyles) to the star.

Barring these exceptions, we can assume a stargate sends the material as data.

Procedure

A stargate sends material in discrete units.

This means that until the travelling object is fully submerged in the event horizon, the gate keeps the object (or rather the data required to reconstruct the object) in its memory (buffers).

If there is an object partially submerged in the event horizon, the gate will not close the wormhole, until either

  • the power runs out (see SG1 1x10 (The Torment of Tantalus
  • the 38 minute limit is reached (see SGA 1x04 (Thirty-eight minutes. [4]

If the object is partially submerged in the event horizon of the sending gate, it may be pulled back.

The receiving gate also acts the same way: it will not start emerging the object until it has received all the data about it. This means that it will store the object in its memory until it receives a confirmation from the sending stargate that all data has been sent (essentially a command to start emerging the object). The command may also come from a DHD (see SG1 5x14 (48 Hours.

Presumably, when the stargate stars sending the data, it may not keep a copy of it.

[4]: If the wormhole is about to close abruptly, the sending gate will send the data to the receiving end in hope the receiving end will construct the object. However, if the time limit is reached or the receiving end runs out of power, the data (the traveller) is forever lost.

Safety measures

Very little is known of the numerous safety measures (security protocols) implemented by stargates, but at least the following features are known to exist:

  • Preventing wormholes that traverse through stars (5x05, "Red Sky")
  • Preventing redialing of a closed stargate when an object is still unemerged (5x14, "48 hours")
  • Preventing shutting down when an object is only partially emerged (3x18, "Shades of Grey")

Also, it seems that the stargates are designed to be reliable and durable.

Presumably however, stargates can be forced to ignore any and all of the safety measures.

Size

Stargates can be built in different sizes. Smaller gates need less power than larger gates. Most gates are built in a standard size large enough for a van-size "puddlejumper" spaceship to pass through the gate, but smaller and larger gates have been seen.

  • In 3x15 (Pretense), the Tollans have built a stargate of their own design (possibly in cooperation with the Nox), slightly larger than the standard ancient gates.
  • In 5x03 (Ascension), a descended ancient builds a small single shot stargate with materials ordered through the Internet.
  • In 9x06 (Beachhead), the Ori attempt to construct a "supergate", an extremely large gate capable of transferring entire spaceships through the gate. The gate requires so much power that it needs to be powered up by a black hole. In a later episode, such gate is seen in action.

Misapplications

Storage

Because the stargate contains enough memory to store big objects such as van-size spaceships, it can be used as a space-effecient storage.

Storage room

Activate the stargate without forming a wormhole. Shove stuff into the event horizon. Shut down the gate.

The stuff will be stored in the stargate's memory practically indefinitely, because the memory is superconducting and doesn't lose its charge even in million years.

Any time you need the stuff back, activate the stargate again without forming a wormhole. The stuff will be ejected from the gate (at the same speed it was stored there). (See SG1 5x14 (48 Hours

One-way time travel device

(Note that this has nothing to do with the solar flare trick used in the SG1 4x16 and 2x21 episodes.)

If you use the stargate as a storage room, you can store also animated objects, such as people, there.
As soon as the objects cross the event horizon, their time stops.
They will not age in the gate's memory.

You can store your dog to the stargate and get him back 60 years later and he doesn't even understand that time has passed.

This technique was used used in SGA 1x04 (Thirty-eight minutes) to suspend the injured until medical aid would be available.

Shield, bunker

If an enemy attack would be imminent, create a small bunker for the stargate and install a computer there.
Program the computer to automatically extract the people from the gate after a period which is assumed to be enough for the hazard to be over.
The people are safe from environmental hazards when they are stored in the stargate. The hardest thing is to ensure that the gate actually will eventually let them out.

Garbage disposer

The storage room is easily converted to a garbage disposer, trashgate.

Simply wipe the memory after you have stored the stuff there. Wiping the memory is easiest done by dialing somewhere.

Or you can just shove the disposable stuff to the event horizon of an incoming connection. The standard programming of the stargate will discard everything that is pushed there.

Or, you can push the disposable stuff in the unstable vortex, "kawoosh", that forms when the gate is dialed.

An execution device

Executing people is easily done by tossing them to the trashgate.

Copier

Because the gate is programmable (see SG1 episodes 7x09 (Avenger 2.0), 8x17 (Reckoning, part 2), 4x06 (Window of Opportunity, there are many ways to create a copier.

  • Tell the gate to not discard the sent item when it emerges from the gate at the other side.
  • Patch the gate to ignore the messages from the receiving gate and continuously resend the same object over and over again.
  • Dial to multiple addresses at the same time and send an object. It will emerge from all of them.

You can easily make clones this way.

Infinite energy source

We have seen that energy sources, such as Zero Point Modules, can be sent through the stargate. This means that they can be copied too. By copying the same ZPM over and over again, you'll never run out of energy.

Maybe not?

Demonstratedly, stargate allows copying of energy waves (see 8x17 (Reckoning, part 2.

However, copying of material is a more complex question. To construct material, you need a huge amount of energy, as expressed by the well-known E=mc^2 formula. Where would the target stargate create that energy from?

If the stargates can not copy material, they are somewhat closer to unsafe than safe.

But they can still be used as energy generators. They convert any matter to energy, thus trash-to-energy conversions are possible.

Object transformer

A very basic way to transform objects using the stargate would be to flip them. Make right-handed people left-handed. Simply emerge them from the event horizon mirrored.

Subspace communicator

The stargates employ some kind of subspace communication. This is established in two episodes.
  • In episode 4x06 (Window of Opportunity), one gate dialed a couple of nearby gates simultaneously.
  • In episode 7x09 (Avenger 2.0), a stargate scientist created a virus that caused software changes in all stargates of the galaxy.

Presumably, the subspace communication could be piggybacked to allow nearly instant communication between any parts of the galaxy without establishing wormholes.

Weapon

The unstable vortex, "kawoosh", can be used to destroy any material. By building a large enough gate and dialing it up, it can gobble even entire spaceships or cripple them unusable.

  • In episode 2x03 (Prisoners), prisoners "escape" through the kawoosh, leaving only smoking stubs in shoes behind.
  • In episode 10x03 (Pegasus Project), the effects of a supergate kawoosh is demonstrated.

Weapon of astronomical destruction

By dialing a gate to another gate that is in proximity of a black hole, enormous mayhem can be caused.

  • In episode 4x22 (Exodus), a blackhole-dialed gate sent into a sun causes the sun to go supernova, leading into the destruction of an entire solarsystem.
  • In episode 5x05 (Red Sky), a wormhole traversing through a sun introduces a foreign element in the sun, disturbing its nuclear reactions, altering the composition of its outputted radiation. However, the catastrophe was eventually averted.

Time travel

This is not exactly a feature of the stargates.
According to SG1 episodes 4x16 (year 2010) and 2x21 (year 1969), a wormhole that passes behind the sun exactly at the moment a solar flare appears, will take back to the same stargate in the past (or the future).
This is obviously ripped from Star Trek.

Time dilation

By dialing a gate to another gate that is in proximity of a black hole, the gravitational effects of the other end can be translated to the dialing end, including the distortions in the flow of time.

  • In episode 2x16 (Matter of Time), SGC experiences strong time dilation as they accidentally dial to a planet in an unstable orbit of a black hole.

This is different from "one-way time travel" described earlier in this document, in that this technique translates the effects of time dilation to the surroundings of the gate without stopping the time flow entirely.

Alternate/paraller realities

By dialing the gate such that the wormhole spans across a black hole and then shocking the wormhole using a strong explosion directed at the wormhole, it is possible to redirect the wormhole into a paraller reality.
  • In episode 9x13 (Ripple Effect), SG1 teams from multiple paraller realities are stranded in a single reality because of a tampered wormhole.

Open questions


References

See also


Last edited at: 2008-03-17T16:47:48+02:00