An Inertial Damping Field System (or IDF) is one of those things that exist aboard starships in the Star Trek universe because the laws of physics say they have to; it's also one of those things that the writers have absolutely no concrete way of explaining because the technology is, as of now, completely unforseeable (see: Heisenberg Compensator). This unfortunately makes the system a bit difficult to describe. Nevertheless; here we go.

When a starship (or any other object) accelerates there is an inertial force to be overcome to get the thing moving. Any objects contained within the original object, however, are going to want to stay right where they are. If the ship accelerates slowly enough the inertial force is minimal. If however the starship accelerates too quickly, the crew would end up splattered against the closest fore-facing bulkhead. Starships routinely jump from (relative) rest to many hundreds of times the speed of light - anything not rigidly nailed down (like the crew's internal organs) would be atomized.

Hence the IDF. The Inertial Damping Field is a forcefield system generated throughout all the habitable areas of a starship designed to counteract this inertial force...somehow. Apparently the forcefields generate an opposing force to the inertial force that keeps things in one piece. How this works is rather thoroughly glossed over.

It should be noted that, while the system does an excellent job coping with whatever accelerations it is presented with, there is a lag (a tiny one, way under a second) that occurs during extreme maneuvering. It is for this reason that the crew is occasionally thrown over railings and the like during battles. It's a technological justification for a plot device, but admittedly a clever one. Realistically, that fraction of a second is all Newton would need to cream the lot of 'em.

The IDF system on most starships has built in multiple redundancies (including but not limited to its own backup power generators) to keep it functioning under practically any conditions. It's one of those things that's only noticed (however briefly) when it fails; it is otherwise taken completely for granted.

The IDF should not be confused with the SIF (Structural Integrity Field System) which keeps the ship in one piece while accelerating - the IDF is there specifically for the crew.



Some info taken from the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual. Most of it's from my head.

Now on most of the star trek web sites the inertial damping field is said to be used at warp but I go by what the story line shows and what I can find out about in physics on the theories that are talked about in the shows. On star trek most of the times when I saw them using the inertial damping field it was due to an outside kinetic energy source like a shock wave effecting the ship and crew. The inertial damping field is outside the ship like the warp field not inside the ship. The ship as well as the crew has to be protected.

The static warp bubble is the part of the warp matrix that is partly submerged in subspace. It shields most of the mass of the ship and crew. It stops time from slowing down. To produce momentum you need movement. The ship stays at rest mass inside the warp bubble and the flat space warp bubble or piece of time space moves. Without the movement of mass or momentum there is no inertia. I have been told that an object with no velocity in the current reference frame still has inertia equivalent to its mass this is true to a point but in subspace it is a lot less and the deeper in sub space the less and the ship is locked in location in a sub space bubble it cannot move as long as the bubble is stable. Now the warp bubble can be destabilized from energy or matter entering the bubble so this weakens the bubble or the shielding from inertia and general relativity. The warp bubble has to be balanced with the warp matrix this it is part of the warp matrix drive system. During extreme maneuvering the computer has to make adjustments to the bubble through a secondary system that is for inertial damping only.

When the ship drops out of warp they can go from hundreds of times the speed of light to a stop with no affect. Likewise they can accelerate to high warp from a stop with no effect. At impulse a low level warp field is used this decreases the energy needed and stops the effects of relativity and inertia.

If you look at this from real warp theory the bubble would be a flat space bubble with an inner and outer event horizon. The event horizons are produced from gravity and the scalar limiting factor.

To offset the inertial force you have to know enough about what is happening.

First what is inertia?

1. Inertia is the resistance of an object to a change in its state of motion or rest.

2. Commonly it is referred to as the amount of resistance to change in velocity of mass.

3. In physics it is a body’s resistance to change in momentum or short for (a body’s inertia mass).

4. In general relativity dealing with large objects inertia is referred to as geodesic deviation because of space time curvature. In other words the shape of space time has an effect on the inertial force.

Second what kind of energy is involved with inertia?

Kinetic energy or change in kinetic energy

Gravitational Force or change in gravitational force

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