Dilithium crystals have been a crucial part of space flight in Star Trek since The Original Series, but the useful mineral is also dangerous.
SinceThe original series,Star Trekused dilithium crystals as a power source for chain motors; Star Trek: Discoveryseason 3 reveals why the element is so important and dangerous. In the future, this longtime sci-fifranchist techno-fifranchist will explain her physics, with a set of fictional terms, concepts and rules.Silithium crystals are a crucial part of spaceflight in the world ofStar Trek, and the item often serves as MacGuffin.Discoveryshows a future where the element is hard to find and the shortage seems to have had a disastrous effect across the galaxy.
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theDiscoveryThe Season 3 premiere, “That Hope is You, Part 1,” continues where the Season 2 finale left off, showing Commander Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) flying through a temporal wormhole , cast 900 years into the future. Burnham, who is stranded from her crew aboard the USS Discovery, quickly finds out that she has succeeded in her life-saving mission, but the future is not what she expected.
Burnham first learns that dilithium is rare in AD 3188, and that Starfleet, along with the United Federation of Planets, have indeed disappeared thanks to a cataclysmic event called “the burn.” According to Burnham’s new ally “Book” Booker, “the Burn” occurred when the dilithium became destabilized, claiming countless lives. Not only were many ships destroyed, the chain journey became much more difficult without the precious resource.
Why dilithium crystals are so important in Star Trek
During Kirk’s day, dilithium crystals were introduced as a crystalline element used in ship engines. Rather than being a fuel, the crystals look more like a regulatory substance: in Star hiking,Dilithium crystals are only able to regulate the matter-antimatter reaction in a ship’s warp core. The crystals are spent in the process, however. The element is naturally present but rare, making dilithium mines and dilithium storage facilities important in theStar Trekuniverse and attractive targets for attack.DiscoveryIn short “Runaway”, Po Queen of the mining planet of Xahia reveals the possibility of “recrystallizing” dilithium: a possible game changer not only for spaceflight, but for the economy in general.
In Star Trek, dilithium crystals are dangerous
Star Trekalso establishes that dilithium crystals are potentially volatile. Because crystals are an essential part of the chain core’s functionality, any problem with the crystal could result in potentially catastrophic effects on a ship’s engine. Emergencies with core warp are a common conflict for everyoneStar TrekWarp-core properties and a breach will easily wipe out a spaceship, with a full Warp-Core ejection often being the only course of action to avoid complete destruction. The materials inside the core are volatile: in one Star Trek: The Next Generationepisode, the terrorists attempt to steal an extremely volatile byproduct of the chain core, trilithium resin, to be used to make weapons (and are then destroyed by it). From the name, the resin is presumably produced by the use of dilithium. In addition, there is evidence that the crystal itself could be dangerous: inStar Trek: Lower decks,Ensign Sam Rutherfordrefers to the danger of “dilithium burns.“
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