Destructionator XIII wrote:
Even if we grant that interpretation in full, it doesn't say much. Here's some problems:
1) What engines do and what power generation does aren't the same thing. An example I like to use is the space shuttle. It's main engines put out many megawatts per ton. (I don't recall the exact number off hand and want to go outside soon so not going to look up...)
Say it's around 10 kW/kg. Does this mean we have 10+ kW laser pistols in the real world? Of course not. We don't even have electrical generators that get close to that power per weight.
Rockets, power generation, and weapons are all different classes of technology. One doesn't necessarily imply the other.
2) How much fuel did that take? Is it like the shuttle, where it needs to refuel after each mission? This has big practical considerations on the usefulness. Maybe they can shoot their big guns for a few minutes... then run out of gas.
3) Can it be scaled down, or is the size an important part of the technology?
And granting that interpretation in full isn't something I'm willing to do either.
The only really solid example of firepower in the movies is the Death Star blast in ANH, and even it still leaves problems 2 and 3 on applying it to everything everywhere.
I agree with the idea behind it, but I wonder if its as either/or as that. I mean your example about the space shuttle vs a small arm. It may or may not be valid, but the sheer "diferences" between the comparisons make it far less likely. Something might be more reasonable if its closer to home (such as the comparison between the firepower of a handun and a rifle when it coems to small arms that are roughly consistent in effects.) You might also compare the fossil fule engines of a battleship and a destroyer for a comparison, but comparing it to a nuclear aircraft carrier may be less plausible.
Secondly, I kinda question that you can assume just ANY variable happens. Even IRL large ratios are unlikely.. stuff like millions or billison of times "different" in comparison are highly unlikely - we'd be like having to compare chemical vs nuclear (for example), or a nuclear reactor vs a nuclear bomb to get those sorts of ratios. But you actually need to go higher than that, ratio wise, to stop the DS from implying some significant power generation for SW (and by "significant I'm saying "high megaton to low gigatons per second at least" for an ISD-sized vessel.)
In any case, while you can also make an argument for beam weapons, engines, etc. not neccesarily being easily scaled, that doesn't apply in general. I find it hard to believe you can apply that rationale to, for example, any kind of explosive application.. at least at really large 'differences" in power. Alot of this hinges on how you think the DS reactor works of course, but many of the competing thereos do allow for the weapon to, in some way, be easily converted into a munition of equal power, and it shoudl scale up or down somewhat well (at least as far as exploding goes. transporting or deploying it is another matter of course.)
So at the very least, I would expect the existence of the DS to indicate that the sheer amount of explosive they cuold chuck around for raw destruction has the potential to be significant. The only possible way around this, moreover, is to invoke significant degrees of technobabble that are at best arbitrary and worst made up as far as the evidence goes.
Destructionator XIII wrote:
I don't know of any written average, but we might be able to guess by looking at what they are doing most the time. Or, at least, what they aren't doing most the time.
They aren't firing the vast majority of the time.
They aren't making the jump to hyperspace the vast majority of the time.
They aren't running the engines at high power the vast majority of the time.
Those are the three biggest energy hogs, and they are used pretty rarely. Probably a total of a few minutes a day, if even that much!
So that would put the average at 1/1000 of the peak possibility (thereabouts - there's ~1000 minutes in a day) assuming they run full power for any of that and a negligible percentage the rest of the time.
Well, peak power is meant to run at a few hours most.. say like 2-3. We know that most starships carry consumables on average for months or years (which is, at least according to some sources, include fuel) so we migth figure that as a potentail lower limit approximation of operational time. i would figure that the number would fall somewhere between those extremes. The fact that hyperspace jumps can take anywhere from weeks/days to days/hours gives us a good idea of what might be "typical" as well.. (although hours is IMHO getting close to peak/exceptional performance.)
Alot of it really depends on what sort of function a ship is expected to perform and alot of other data we don't have. I mean I expect things like lighting computers and life support are usually not high end power draws. Ground combat probably isnt. What little I undertand suggetss FTL comms and sensors are significant, weapons are, engines are, hyperdrives are, and shields are.. and all of those are the key factors dictating the high (absurd) power generation potential.
Typical combat? Depends on the kind of target and the requirements. Pirates or mercenaries might not require the firepower that taking on a stationary platform might. The former might require a small fraction of power (say like even a millionth of a ISD's power draw) but the latter might require near max power (esp if they have DS scale battle stations) Other "combat" situations like orbital bombardment are unlikely to typically require peak generation (or hell, may not even reach NUCLEAR scale yields... People ovrestate the value of nuke firepower as an arbiter of ground combat, ImHO) My own opinion is that "typical" starship combat can get as low as maybe 100-1000x less peak power.