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Comparison to megatons, precisionEdit

Present-day descriptions of explosive energy is usually given in tons of TNT, not just "tons" (kilotons, megatons). We don't know if the 24th-century "isoton" is similarly-defined (though it would make sense if it is simultaneously used as a unit of weight, as suggested by the article), but if we're going to compare it to a present-day megaton, we should probably qualify it.

In addition, the conversion rate of 2.5764 megatons per isoton has too many significant digits. While we have a fairly precise idea how much energy a perfect matter/antimatter reaction would create, all we know about standard photon torpedoes is a maximum yield of "25" isotons. With only two significant digits to work with, our conversion should be represented as 2.6 megatons per isoton (megatons TNT per isoton).

Finally, while I applaud the original author for working all of this out, this information might be better suited as background information. The Technical Manual does seem to give us the information we need to calculate this, but its use in canon sources was probably made without this information in mind and could generate some misleading interpretations. The invention of the isoton was certainly intended to allow writers to come up with values without having to tie them to real-world units. --Fastolfe

Actually it was background information, hence the italics. Nevertheless, I've clarified what was otherwise supposed to be "understood" as "background". --Alan del Beccio 02:40, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

The conversion rate appears in non-italicized prose in the first paragraph. --Fastolfe 02:42, 13 October 2006 (UTC)

It should not be there. I am moving it to background. --OuroborosCobra talk 02:45, 13 October 2006 (UTC)
This is my first responce to a topic, please let me know if I am doing it right, I just ask you to be polite.
Understanding the amount of power being used is key throughout all of the Star Trek series and the author of the Photon Torpedo has not done the homework. In many places metric prefixes are used in conbination with a commonly known words associated with energy. Worf said in the episode with the "Dowd" that they were being hit with "400 gigawatts of partical energy!" and that it had collapsed the ship's shields. Obviously very important and is pretty specific information. The prefix ISO is taken from Greek meaning"like" or "similar". Given this, the author has totally changed its meaning, I believe just because it sounds good as techno-speak. Next, assuming that it is a metric prefix, as most, if not all units are given in Star Trek, it would come after Mega, Giga, Tera, Peta, Exa, Zetta, and the largest I could find was Yotta,(source: US Metric Association) which minimally would give us a yield of 2.57 X 10 to the 27th power, tons of explosive equivolent using the afore mentioned TNT model. As anyone who has studied modern warfare could tell you, there are weapons of the 2.6 megaton x 25 (65 megaton equivolent) magnitude thermo-nuclear devices already deployed and ready for launch now. That would make the only difference between what we already have, and what is being used in a "missile" 200+ years from now, the speed at which the weapon is delivered. But using the metric model that I mentioned earlier, which is actually somewhat more realistic given we can get over 100 megatons from a Plutonium fusion reaction vs a Matter/Anti-Matter (I think I read somewhere that the torpedo had 1.5 lbs. of each component, that could be wrong though) complete annihlation process. A tremendous difference in the amount of energy being released. This would give a Photon Torpedo enough power to kill a planet, and possibly a Gas Giant, maybe even a star. Realistically, we have no idea how much power is contained in a 2.57 X 10 to the 27th power blast or what it could do (there are probably some physicist who could figure out how much territory it would destroy.) However, if it was only half of that, 2,570,000,000,000,000 (rounding down by one zero) Tons of TNT equivolent, there is no ship, even plated with "Insanium" that could take that kind of hit. Just the concusive force hitting (not penetrating) the vessel would smash the people against the bulkheads hard enough to kill them. So to my point: the theory that a Photon Torpedo has a yield of 25 Isotons (65 megaton equivolent) or that it is the next notch up the metric chain are both practically un-usable and a real definition of how much energy is generated should be established based on an equal weight of matter/antimatter, like one gram or a kilogram. (information only: it only takes 7 grams of Plutonium to make a fusion thermo-nuclear device. For a comparison I recommend going to this website:, and you will see what 2000lbs (1 ton) of gasoline can do.) This would not only fill in the Photon Torpedo question, but it would also start working on the problem of how much power is being generated in the Warp-Core, and how much power the entire ship uses/has at its disposal and what might happen if they had to jettison the Core. In the episode where the Enterprise was transporting two shapeshifting creatures, it was noted that the transmitter on one of the planets was generating a "Terawatt" of power that was needed to get through the atmosphere. I believe Ryker said, "that is more than our entire energy output." or something to that effect. That kind of gives and upper limit to the Warp-Core potential, and since it is matter/anti-matter, another piece to the power problems. -Shaggrat-
While I can appreciate the hard work Shaggrat has put into this post, I have to burst his bubble, I'm afraid. The useage of the term "isoton" in context is straight out of the Tech Manuals (acceptable resources for Background info) and the ~64 megaton yield for a standard photon is simple physics, which by the way is 14 megatons LARGER than the largest nuke ever actaully detonated on Earth.Capt Christopher Donovan 07:55, 17 October 2006 (UTC)
Forgive me, I had not read the original article on this, and I most certainly didn't know that this was "canon." And I most certainly think that a technical writer of any capacity would just make up non-sensical prefix to weights and measures. That just creates ambiguity. As to Capt Cristopher Donovan comment. We are both half right in this case. The largest TND to be detonated by the U.S. was 52Mts. But that is not the largest. The Russian 1961 RDS-220 detonation was of 58Mts, but that was a partial yield. The full yield for this device would have been in the neighborhood of 150Mts (source: However,pretty much all of the "Nuclear nations" have decided to go with lots of small warheads. However he is right, there are not a bunch, in fact no 30+ megaton devices deployed at this time, so this serves as my retraction of the "lots of 65Mt device all ready deployed." statement. From now on I will believe that the capability of Photon Torpedo is between 25-200 Isoton blast or 65-520 megaton blast. -- -Shaggrat-
The Constitution-Class was refit in 2270 with Mark VI, The 25 isotons is the theoretical maximum yield limit for the standard photon torpedo first developed in 2268. It would seem that the Mark VI had a theoretical maximum yield limit of 25 isotons. The Mark VI had a 64.0 kg warhead, 64 kilograms of antimatter contains 2749.44 megatons of destructive force.--Cuo 18:47, 9 May 2009 (UTC)

Quantum torpedoes Edit

A note was just added (as a background note in italics) on the yield of quantum torpedoes from the DS9 TM. There is of course nothing wrong with this note, and I am not suggesting that there is. I'm just wondering if anyone can remember an on screen reference for any yield for the quantum torpedoes. It would be great if we could replace the current note with something from on screen. If we can't, oh well, we'll just have to stick with the current note. --OuroborosCobra talk 07:40, 28 December 2006 (UTC)

Isotons, A Time To Stand Edit

It is perhaps ironic that if you work out a lower-end calculation for A Time to Stand, with their 90 isoton explosive destroying the ship at any distance within 800 kilometers, the yield per-isoton works out to a staggering 6,919 gigatons per isoton- enormously higher than the 2.6 megatons/isoton stated via the technical manual. For those interested, the calculation is thus: (((4*pi*800,000^2)*(30,000,000*180*60)/(4.184 *10^18)) The first smallest bracket figure is the surface area of a sphere 800 kilometers in radius; the second is the amount of energy per square metre the shields of the E-D could withstand (a very low-end calculation) from Relics (30 MW per square metre times 180 minutes times 60 seconds), and the final bracket is the calculation to derive it into gigatons.

Obviously it's very rough, and it's totally original research, and therefore likely not worthy of inclusion... but it's interesting none-the-less. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk).

I don't believe the episode specified that it was just the explosive that would cause the damage, but all of the rest of compound going down that would lead to the explosion. Also, it is possible that the shield don't defend by square meter, but rather by total energy, otherwise there would be no problem with absorbing impacts on multible parts of the ship at the same time, yet in The Expanse, it seems like the Klingons have a lot of problems with this. I just don't think that that figure has enough merit as it stands, although I would certainly admit that the whole isoton yield is somewhat in question (rather like the Enterprise's 1250 billion gigawatts) The preceding unsigned comment was added by Lewis zimmerman (talk • contribs).

Problem with realismEdit

from the example list, the Isotons appear to have a "Godzilla" like inconsistency of size and scale, are we to believe that firing 2-3 Photon torpedoes will destroy an entire planet? and that a malon export vessel's can take out multiple star systems if it detonates? while completely ignoring the the fact that such firepower could be weaponized EASILY but never is. Tbh Star Trek loses all credibility as a scientifically plausible series when it uses it's Isoton statements, might as well be saying "godzilla is the size of a house, no wait he's the size of a skyscrapper" unless they are trying to find some difference in when it's used as a unit of volume rather than explosive yield. but then again the entirety of Voyager doesn't have even the most remote level of scientific credibility or technical continuity. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk).

I've assumed that it's the same as with modern day warfare, that even though we have weapons that can blow out entire cities (nuclear bombs) we dont use them, because we don't want to ignite a war where all sides start using this type of weaponry. So yes, a few torpedoes can take out planets, but they arent used in this way. Species 8472 was the only race I remember that began a war where blowing up planets was part of the campaign, even though they used a directed energy weapon to achieve the effect. --Pseudohuman 08:20, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

what about the 90 isoton blast that's only 800 kilometers, in contrast to kim's statement that it takes little more than 50 to blow up an entire planet? that's godzilla scaling right there. The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk).

Isoton could possibly refer to scales based on types of weapons used. Could depend on proximity of the blast. If it was detonated in the atmosphere as opposed to the surface or even deep underground. Writers get things wrong all the time and the better solution would be to come up with an in-universe explanation if the canon explanation doesn't fit with your preconceptions. – Morder 11:32, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
There might well be an explosive material factor involved even though the blast radius is relatively small. A premixed matter/antimatter explosion (standard photon torpedo) might have a completely different effect than a gravimetric charge detonation (gravimetric torpedo) even if there is an isoton scale that applies to them both. Only a gravimetric detonation has been linked to planetary annihilation effects. A gravimetric anomaly in real science is a differential in the strenght of a gravity field. So one might conjecture that the sudden appearance of a strong localized gravity field on the surface of a planet can cause an effect very much different from that of a pho-torp. --Pseudohuman 12:28, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Hm, another meaningless unit of measurement, and worse yet, another blatant (and incorrect) abuse of the prefix iso-. Treknobabble stuff... --Sybok 20:46, January 22, 2010 (UTC)

For some reason, the “formula” that 630 isograms of the alien compound will effectively get the Equinox back to Earth worries me to death, i.e. 10 isograms per alien. We only know that Janeway had 10 isograms when she confronted Ransom, not that that’s how much there was in each alien. The fact that this amount would increase their warp factor by .03% for a month in no way equates to 10 thousand light years’ worth of travel. A revision is called for, I think.--Archer4real 14:02, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

That would be nitpicking. My opinion is that even though we sort of know how the warp drive works, we really dont. we really dont absolutely know for certain what any of those figures mean. so we should not interpret that there is an inconsistancy, since this is the only case when biomatter like this is used to power a warp drive.--Pseudohuman 16:08, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

Can’t tell if you’re agreeing with me or not. I didn’t provide the “formula”; I’m just questioning its conclusions and think that a lot of the details are false for lack of canonical evidence. The article should therefore be amended.--Archer4real 16:59, October 17, 2011 (UTC)

So is anyone going to remove this junk about 630 isograms of the alien compound being sufficient to get Equinox home? Ever? Thought not. Silly of me to ask, really.--Archer4real 15:32, November 7, 2011 (UTC)

No one is stopping you from doing so, if you wish.--31dot 22:22, November 7, 2011 (UTC)

Isoton-megaton comparison thingEdit

I thought I would write it here in more detail, because this misquoted information is found in all sorts of fan sites around the internet that "photon torpedoes are supposed to explode with a 64.4 megaton blast based calculations made from the TNG and DS9 manuals and that equals with 25 isotons" and try to point out that this comparison is based on NOT actually taking the time to read the manuals or checking if the Manual info correspond with any canonical on-screen statements, but just glancing through the technobabble and looking at the numbers: "1.5kg" from the TNG manual and "25 isotons" from the DS9 manual.

If you indeed take the time to read the sentence where the "1.5 kg" comes from you can find out that it is much more complicated. The sentence is: "While the maximum payload of antimatter in a standard photon torpedo is only about 1.5 kilograms, the released energy per unit time is actually greater than that calculated for a Galaxy class antimatter pod rupture." What does this mean? Well if you read the whole section about torpedoes you can find out that torpedoes aren't just missiles with a blob of 1.5 kg of antimatter in them, but that there is a whole lot of technology involved about premixing the warhead with magnetic field packets to get the warhead to detonate with a much more powerful blast "three orders of magnitude" larger... so how much would that exactly be?

Well there it reads "greater than that calculated for a Galaxy class antimatter pod rupture". Well how much antimatter is there in an antimatter pod on a Galaxy class vessel you would ask? Scrolling back to pages 68-69 you'll find out it is 100 cubic meters of antideuterium in liquid to slush form. And as we all know liquid antideuterium would weigh in at 160 kg per cubic meter, so the energy release that they get out of the 1.5 kg is enhanced to somewhere beyond 690 gigaton levels. That is what the Manual is actually trying to say. If you take the time to read it through.

As for the 25 isoton figure. It is unfortunately not followed up on the series and immediately retconned the first time an isoton figure is given for a photon torpedo, because it turns out to be 200 isotons from Star Trek: Voyager and can even be as high as 320 isotons according to Star Trek Into Darkness for photon torpedo warheads. Also all the stuff about 1.5 kg, has never been confirmed on screen in any way, or the contents of antimatter pods. So at the end of the day, it is all very vague. Only thing we can say for certain is that it was in no way the intention of the writers of the Manuals to suggest that you get a 64.4 megaton blast from a photon torpedo. It is supposed to be much much much larger. --Pseudohuman (talk) 16:57, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

Actually, it doesn't even state that... The part you cited adds a whole new unit to the mix, "released energy per unit time". This would be something like Watt, a unit of power and not one of energy. So, basically, what it states that whatever energy gets released, it gets released faster than that of a pod rupture (and potentially would have more destructive power because of that) - not that, magically, 1.5kg can be annihilated to more energy than some metric tons. --Cid Highwind (talk) 20:09, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

Indeed according to the technobabble, as I understood it, the 1.5 kg of antimatter are supposedly divided into thousands of parts and they are mixed with deuterium matter packets. At detonation all packets are released simultaneously to get a faster rate of particle annihilation when matter and antimatter annihilate each other to release the energy. So you get more impact power from the fast explosion that can be compared to the destructive forces of hundreds of gigatons blowing up, even though the explosion isn't any bigger. --Pseudohuman (talk) 21:39, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

I think this is where it becomes as unclear as you criticize the opposite view to be. ;-) Kiloton or Megaton (as in "TNT equivalent") are units of energy, not "destructiveness". So it would be correct to state that full annihilation of some amount of antimatter releases an amount of energy comparable to an explosion of X megatons TNT. Any technique to make sure that all that energy gets released at once would essentially not increase the TNT equivalent of the explosion, but rather just make sure that it is an explosion at all, instead of a slow "burn". --Cid Highwind (talk) 22:13, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

That is true. I was not being as clear as I should have been in my initial statement. "Megatons", while they are not units of "destructiveness", are still commonly used and thrown around as a label of the level of destruction with nukes in everyday conversations, when we are not talking scientifically about physics of anything. The point of the manuals, as I understood it was to point out that you cant just slab a megaton label to suggest you get the exact same results from a photon warhead as you would get from a 64.4 megaton nuke. --Pseudohuman (talk) 22:54, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

Yeah, but "megatons" is used for nukes exactly because it is a measurement of the energy being released - it's basically a shorthand for saying "this explosion is as big as an explosion of a million tons of TNT would be". In the case of a matter/antimatter explosion, the amount of energy stored in the whole matter itself (full annihilation) is an upper limit for the energy that will effectively be used for the explosion - so if a specific amount of antimatter corresponds to, say, a megaton of energy, there's no way to get anything bigger than a megaton explosion out of it. [1], [2] --Cid Highwind (talk) 23:29, August 21, 2013 (UTC)

I just want to note that I'm not disagreeing with anything you are saying. But as I understand what Okuda is trying to say is that what ever damage a 690 gigaton explosion does to things in it's blast radius is around the same level of damage caused by this smaller weapon because of the faster annihilation while the energy being released is smaller. --Pseudohuman (talk) 00:08, August 22, 2013 (UTC)

Of Tons and Joules Edit

In all this talk of attempting to reconcile the instances of the word "Isoton", there is one thing I havent heard anyone discuss: the Joule.

This unit of measure is used often in Next Gen and the tech manuals to express warp power outputs, but it is more versatile than simple electricity. Per Wikipedia, ( ) Joules can express a variety of forces over time. Watts per second, even surface area pressure over time, can be expressed in Joules.

Understanding the Joule allows us to easily reconcile the idea that 1.5 kilograms of fast-reacting antimatter in a photon torpedo is more destructive than the relatively slow-burning mass of antimatter in an entire storage pod. In the "kilograms times square meters / square seconds" portion of the Joule formula, reducing the denominator of time increases the Joule value. So, a large mass of antimatter may have a large "megaton" explosive potential, but the fact that it is burning slowly actually reduces its explosive power. This makes me think of pushing against a door at 5 lbs over 24 hrs versus pushing against the latch point at 120 lbs for a fraction of a second. One action is called "leaning", the other is "breaching".

There is one instance in the Next Generation Technical Manual that directly relates photon torpedo explosive power to a hard Megajoule measurement. In the description of the auto-destruct sequence, the devastating intermix of total antimatter storage and total deuterium storage is expressed as 10^15 megajoules. This is specifically stated as roughly equivalent to the explosive power of 1000 photon torpedoes. In the absence of the warp core, the secondary destruct system is listed at 10^9 megajoules, having the same power as roughly 500 torpedoes.

Straight division of these values into a per-torpedo basis yielded remarkably different results. 1000 torpedos at a trillion megajoules each, but 500 torpedos at only 2 million each. This suggests that the explosive force per weight of reactants increases on a curve, and not in a straight line. (Or the author of the tech manual simply got his math wrong, which can happen.)

If anyone out there is better at math than I am (which is highly probable) I would appreciate someone deducing that curve to finally tell us, once and for all, the actual Megajoule yield of a single photon torpedo.

How this relates to Isotons: it is my own personal belief that this imaginary unit of measurement is simply a shorthand equivalent to Joules, designed to keep the numbers managable for common astronomical measurements. Where the Joule is equal to (Kilos x Meters^2)/Seconds^2, Isotons are likely (Metric Tonnes x Meters^2)/Seconds^2. Equally likely is Kilometers instead of Meters, and Nanoseconds instead of Seconds. This also accomodates the fact that the prefix iso- means "same" as in "same as joules, just astronomically bigger"

As with all things Star Trek, it really is whatever you truly want it to be.

Keep dreaming, kids.  ;) 06:16, May 15, 2015 (UTC)

Thanks for the post, but articles are not for posting personal theories or speculation. 31dot (talk) 08:51, May 15, 2015 (UTC)

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