Battlestar Wiki Talk:Faster-than-light communication/Archive 1

Talk:Faster-than-light communication/Archive 1

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Is it really FTL?

It should be noted that just because the Cylons can transmit signals over long distances, that doesn't necessarily mean those signals travel faster than light. A sufficiently strong signal could (in theory) travel very long distances, especially if the Cylons have set up amplifiers at strategic points in space. Only when the time it takes for the signal to arrive is very short can we assume it's FTL. I personally think very few of the examples are FTL communication:

(Note: 1 AU = 150 million kilometers, the average distance between the Earth and the sun)

  • Tracking the Olympic Carrier in "33"
    • A radio signal can travel 594 million kilometers (~4 AU) in 33 minutes, which is less than the distance between Jupiter and the sun (~5 AU), and not nearly the distance between Pluto and the sun (~39 AU). Since the Fleet has shown to be able to jump from one system to the next, it's likely it did just that during the jump chase. This means the tracking on the Olympic Carrier was either an FTL signal, or the ship transmitted the jump coordinates to the Cylons before jumping away.
  • Resurrection
    • We know there was indeed a Resurrection Ship following the Fleet, which could even have FTL-capable transmission drones to transmit Boomer's consciousness to Caprica. A Raider may also have been able to do just that.
  • D'Anna's documentary
    • Again, a fleet of 2 basestars, associated Raiders (around 1,500) and a Resurrection Ship was following the Colonial Fleet. The Raider D'Anna called in didn't have to come from very far, and the signal could have taken its time. Also, D'Anna says "two Raiders were lost relaying it back to the fleet", which indicates the Raider transmitted the documentary to the Fleet rather than transmitting it to Caprica directly. The Fleet may have dispatched a Raider (plenty of them around, anyway) to jump to Caprica and deliver the documentary there.
  • Tracking the tylium ship
    • The Cylons are a long time behind on the Fleet. Note that the Cylons only get to the Fleet's previous location 6 to 12 hours after they've jumped away. Since the Fleet waits 12 hours for the Raptor to rendezvous with them, they only jump every 12 hours minimum. In 12 hours, a signal can travel 13 billion kilometers (=86,4 AU), which is a quite realistic distance to jump.
  • Basestar communication
    • Use Raiders as go-betweens. Every basestar has 800 Raiders, so they can spare a few.
I still don't get the Tylium ship tracking. The fleet is trying to travel several thousand light-years to the Ionian nebula. None of their jumps will be just 12 light-hours, each jump will be a maximum range jump for the fleet, in a direction the Cylons don't in theory know. I can only see two ways to follow them. One is that the Cylons, in spite of everything we've been led to think, can tell where a ship jumped to by careful examination of the outgoing jump. The other is that they are getting information back from the target after it jumps. Of course there is a third -- somebody in the fleet is telling them the new coordinates, like in 33. Which doesn't explain them showing up at the old location 6 hours later. I didn't include another instance of FTL communication I suspect is taking place, as it's much more speculative. The Cylon god and/or the other powers manipulating events do seem to be communicating at will with both the colonials and the Cylons and their hybrids. But we have not yet been shown final info on the reality of the Cylon God and the inner Six, so that remains more a speculation.--Bradtem 21:04, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
You're right, I forgot the nebula was thousands of lightyears away. I'll ask Bradley Thompson how the Cylons are able to track a ship that's jumped several lightyears within 12 hours. --Catrope(Talk to me or e-mail me) 03:35, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

I suggest this article be revised to say "possible FTL communication", since there is a plausible alternative in each case. --Catrope(Talk to me or e-mail me) 10:27, 21 March 2007 (CDT)

The article says that the Cylons might have FTL communication. It isn't definite, but just lists possible evidence. It's true that the Cylons could follow the Fleet in a really short distance. But personally I really have the impression that they are hanging several star systems behind.
However, I don't really see any concrete evidence for basestars communicating with each other. And that would the best situation to use Raiders as relays. --Serenity 10:48, 21 March 2007 (CDT)
Nothing more to add here, other than the fact that the only instance of two basestars communicating to each other is "Torn", where the Baltarstar receives communication from the hybrid on the infected basestar at Lion's Head. -- Joe Beaudoin So say we all - Donate 17:01, 21 March 2007 (CDT)
Yeah, the page is here for people to list examples of potential FTL communications, or definite ones if we find them. FTL via raider-messenger only works to a ship if you know where it is to jump to it. That requires all ships to constantly send raiders back every time they jump to keep central command aware of all their movements. Possible, but pretty difficult. I must admit it is never explained why it takes 33 minutes to re-track the fleet each time. As for 33, recall that the Carrier fails to jump, and 33 minutes later, no Cylons, and this is why they suspect the ship. Had the transmission been pre-jump, there would have been a Cylon attack 33 minutes later, and then no attack 66 minutes later. This strongly suggests the OC is transmitting somehow from the new location. The Cylon resurrection ship can't be just a short distance away all the time -- it's quite big, I would have to believe they would see it (with optical telescopes) as well as detect any radio noise etc. Tracking the mining ship is harder -- there is no way to track a lightspeed signature unless you get very close to it first. Everything we've seen suggests you can't tell where a ship jumped to by watching it jump, else we would have seen double-jumps every time they flee the Cylons etc. There is clearly a distance limit on Cylon FTL and resurrection. The ship in Torn that is infected is many light years away, and IIRC they move ships to stop them from resurrecting. If it were their own isolated resurrection ship for just that tiny area of space at lightspeed, no need to do that. In fact, one wonders how the dead basestar sent word of the infection if its raiders were disabled, except via FTL.--Bradtem 04:29, 22 March 2007 (CDT)
Oh yeah, one other note about 33. There is no need to consider a distant Cylon ship in this episode. Each time they jump, the immediate area has many Cylon ships. If the Cylons on board the Olympic Carrier were transmitting the new jump location before they jump, it would be received immediately by the Cylons attacking the fleet. The Cylons could then jump immediately to follow if that were their desire. They are either waiting 33 minutes to jump deliberately, or some other factor causes their jump to be delayed until 33 minutes after the Carrier's arrival rather than its departure. While no reason for this is given, possibly the FTL signal from the carrier at its new location takes 33 minutes to reach the Cylon attack fleet light years away. (This could be something about FTL we don't know, or time to triangulate.) If the Carrier's flight crew are Cylon, they can of course just retransmit the jump coordinates after they get them, before they jump, to the nearby raiders. If alternately it's Cylon spies aboard, they would have to wait until after the jump, scope out where they are, and somehow signal the Cylon attack fleet. --Bradtem 02:28, 24 March 2007 (CDT)


I've read and re-read the article and the talk page on this topic to make sure I understood its message. The conclusions are possible and is something to note at least in the continuity errors article, just as when the Fleet's size "magically" grew from around 44 ships to 74 ships from the Miniseries to "33". Otherwise, there is no aired source that suggests an FTL component to their communications, only that the writers have not dealt properly with the relativistic effects of communication. This was apparent in the Miniseries during the 2nd missile attack on Colonial One where Galactica and the liner were apparently able to talk in real-time but had to be quite distant. Many many other instances have happened. "Possible" does not equal probable, which is supported by and explained in a marginal or passive fashion by episode events.

Here are two items: Cylon resurrection has yet to explain its communication method and its technology (a wireless transmitter in the body), which, I feel, would need a little insight before determining how fast transmission can go. The second involves D'Anna's documentary. Transmission to a nearby Raider is, of course, cited. How D'Anna did this without tripping off Colonial monitoring (which has also been established in season 1 and 2 episodes) is one thing, but it is more plausible to suggest that such a transmission is picked up by a out-of-range-to-DRADIS Raider after a few minutes (such a transmission would go approximately 200 million miles in about 16 minutes), then it jumped to Caprica with the film. I should add a third: Boomer was killed while a Cylon fleet followed Galactica. After the Fleet left, the slower download transmission of Boomer would get to the Resurrection Ship in it as it entered the same relative space where the battlestar existed as it continued its pursuit of the Fleet. And nothing supports the notion that Boomer was resurrected on anything other than a resurrection ship as yet. Her consciousness, like any other data, could be stored for later reintegration, or she was simply flown to Caprica after resurrection. I don't remember any citation as to where she was. I'm sorry, but there are too many "possibles" here. I like the article's noting of questioning what is going on with this apparent speed of communication. I don't, however, like to draw it into plausibility since FTL communication isn't a plausible just because we say it is here--that's classic fanwanking. These are a series of large gaping continuity errors that we can't explain away like this and should leave be for now except as an error (with maybe asking a question to Bradley). Comments? --Spencerian 08:04, 22 March 2007 (CDT)

I don't think this belongs to "continuity errors". There is nothing that outright says that all communication in the series is bound by the speed of light. It's just what one would assume, and personally I'd prefer it that way.
That a transmission is sent at the SOL and then picked up by the Cylon fleet after jumping into range, still requires that this fleet finds out the position of the rag tag fleet. How can that method be used to track the Fleet if they don't know where they are in the first place? It can explain the resurrection if the position of the Fleet is known, but not the tracking. --Serenity 08:44, 22 March 2007 (CDT)
Somehow, the Cylons managed to track the Fleet, and Pegasus managed to track that Cylon fleet without the Cylons noticing. The latter is interesting; it means the Colonials can track a fleet unnoticed just as well as the Cylons can. --Catrope(Talk to me or e-mail me) 11:07, 22 March 2007 (CDT)
The essay from RDM, Naturalistic science fiction, states his goal: "The speed of light is law and there will be no moving violations." We, as contributors, cannot make assumptions based on our own desires or status quo from other SF if we want Battlestar Wiki to be a factual encyclopedia and not a repository of essays. As noted in series history, the Cylons have almost always tracked, if not followed the Fleet, if only to ensure they would be in the general vicinity to capture a resurrection signature from a killed agent as they all feared permanent death. Plenty of episodes note this. We don't know how (or why) the Cylons are able to track, but they do. And even if the Cylons have only a general location where the Fleet is, the fact that an EM signal expands outward for millions of miles means that they can pick it up rather conveniently. If ships can't move at the speed of light (which they don't, emphasizing the series' seriousness about this point), then communications don't either. The issues with downloading and communications is a cinematic conceit for keeping the audience from boring, plodding, overly scientific plot lines and is likely a necessary continuity error until we get some hard "facts" about its nature. --Spencerian 11:15, 22 March 2007 (CDT)
Well, there is obviously FTL communication -- by means of FTL jump -- so I don't think RDM, in talking about the speed of light being a law, is saying there is no FTL. How could he be? We haven't been told explicitly the means of Cylon communication or downloading so I thought it would be worth a page to collect various instances of FTL communication (be they by jump or some FTL communication device -- there is no difference, causality wise) and people could use that as a resource. It may be that after you look at all the examples of FTL communication you conclude they are all based on raiders making jumps. I think it's a pretty big speculative claim to suggest that the Cylons have always had resurrection reception ships within a few light hours or light days of the fleet, when the fleet keeps jumping light years. I mean, I have speculated myself that the Cylons are indeed always in range of the fleet and deliberately don't attack because they have another agenda -- but I consider that to be unproven speculation at this point. In the show, I'm had to presume the assumption the Cylons are searching for the Fleet. This may turn out to be wrong. But there is FTL communication, and the Cylons have a system set up for it (be it with jumping raiders or otherwise) so it seemed worthy of documenting. The Olympic Carrier incident (which I describe above) pretty conclusively requires either FTL signaling from the OC, or the Cylons trying to fool the fleet into thinking something, or a major plot error, of course. :-) --Bradtem 18:17, 22 March 2007 (CDT)
According to series information provided by Ron Moore, there is no faster-than-light anything in the Re-imagined Series. The lightspeed travel is, to the best of our information, "wormhole" travel. Nothing is supposed to move at FTL, just appear that way. Communications have a limited range (otherwise, why were Raptors used in "Occupation"? If FTL communications were available, Galactica herself could send or listen for a signal from almost whereever they were). I don't recommend trying to establish anything different from what the series creators noted before or as they developed it. Apparent FTL is not actual. Doesn't explain why or how the Cylons appear to have FTL communications, but it doesn't establish it as genuine. Again, this may be a conceit for cinematic continuity or a continuity error. Your ideas that the Cylons hang around away from the Fleet for various reasons is very plausible and supported in series events. The events of "33" may actually be something else than your assumption. Every ship in the Fleet has to get coordinates as to where to jump before doing so, so the Cylon's on the Carrier (possibly the pilot or co-pilot) are able to transmit this information before they jump. Simple, and effective. The reason that the last jump did not go through is possibly that the Cylon was revealed, but obviously was able to take over the ship and, again attempt to reveal the Fleet. The energies of a dying Cylon consciousness, like other EM, don't dissipate quickly and can travel over long distances, so the Cylons can get them at their relative leisure if they know the vicinity (light-minutes or seconds away) before the agent's signal attenuates too much from other EM. But nothing suggests, to my information, that the series'creators have changed their minds about this. I'll drop this question on the Official Communiques article and, soon, maybe we can get some insight from one of the series lead writers and co-producers. In the meantime, the article will go through its editing paces and stick around unless other consensus comes to play. I ask to leave the tag on the article, however, for administrative purposes so others know that the information is under some debate. --Spencerian 17:58, 23 March 2007 (CDT)
Um, "wormhole jumps" are FTL communication. This is one thing that even RDM can't contradict simply by saying so, even in his own show. (at least if he is sticking to his naturalistic SF guns, any more than he can say that black is white at least.) FTL communication means information travelling faster than light (including instantaneously.) It happens all the time in BSG. The colonials, as noted appear to only do FTL communication by sending ships on jumps, so I am not sure what you are asking about there. I thought this page would be useful to document examples from canon where the Cylons exhibit or suggest a different technology, just as we have a page that talks about their superior technology for FTL jumps. If RDM has said the Cylons have no means of FTL communication other than sending ships on jumps, then these are just continuity errors as you suggest. But I now understand you delete just about everything I put into this wiki, presumably because you differ on the idea of documenting in the wiki canonical events which relate to the mysteries of the show. For me a key element of this show is that it contains mysteries, and I think it's good to have wiki items that focus on understanding them without speculating. So I'm ready to leave in any event, certainly if this page is deleted. As to the point about the carrier, let me try to be clearer. If the carrier is transmitting the location of the next destination before the jump using lightspeed communications, then it would have done so before it made the jump which failed to join the fleet. Whatever made the Cylons wait 33 minutes to jump (it's not signal delay -- there are Cylons-a-plenty in immediate radio range of fleet ships just before each jump) would have had them arrive 33 minutes later, no matter where the carrier went. Instead, the Cylons arrive 33 minutes after the delayed arrival of the Carrier. We're never given any info on what the 33 minute delay is about, of course.
It may indeed be the case that the ressurection download is the only FTL communication, but I'm not going to speculate on that. I simply created the page because I thought it would be useful to outline elements of Cylon FTL communication. If, after reading them, you conclude that the Cylons have always had ships just out of range of the fleet for the entire series, then that is a very interesting conclusion, and if the page helped you think about it then it served a valuable purpose. (I think the same is true of the page I made listing all the visions, compulsions and hallucinations that you deleted.) I'm not trying to fill the wiki with speculation but I do think it is proper for it to list collections of notable facts from canon that may inform people in their own efforts to understand, and yes speculate, on the show in other media. In fact, that's how I came to this Wiki, to find facts to confirm or refute a speculation I was making about the show in the online areas where I do speculate. The anomalies listed on this page may document Cylon non-ship FTL communication, or they may lead you to other conclusions, and that's up to you. (Though I still wonder how they could have used raiders in Torn, which were infected, to send updates to other base stars, that's not explained by the Cylons-always-just-out-range theory)--Bradtem 02:21, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
As for the 33 minutes, RDM said it was meant to be left a mystery, because he didn't want to have technobabble like "Device Foo needs 7 minutes to complete its bullshit calculation, after which the total crap generator needs 20 minutes to... etc." Of course we can still speculate. IMO, there are three options:
          • The Carrier transmits a homing signal after the jump. In 33 minutes, the signal reaches the Cylon fleet, the Cylons plot the Carrier's position and jump. This means the Fleet jumps the same distance every time, which must be 33 lightminutes, or 3.96 AU (slightly less, even, because the calculation takes time as well), which is a very short distance in space. This theory explains why the Cylons jumped in 33 minutes after the Carrier's arrival, but is unlikely due to the low maximum jump distance.
          • The Carrier transmits its new position or its jump coordinates to the Cylons before jumping. The Cylons receive this transmission instantaneously, and need 33 minutes to crunch some numbers. They either have to plot the jump themselves (if the Carrier transmitted the new location) or convert Colonial jump coordinates to Cylon coordinates. This doesn't explain why the Cylons appeared 33 minutes after the Carrier's arrival. Also, 33 minutes is way too long for the Cylons to crunch the numbers: the Colonials were able to plot their jumps within 33 minutes (non-networked), and networking reduced their number-crunching with a factor 72 (from 12 hours to 10 minutes in "Scattered"). The Cylons are probably even faster than that.
          • The Cylons deploy Raider squadrons near every planetary system in Galactica's jump range. The Carrier's homing signal travels for about 30 minutes before being picked up by the nearest Raider squadron, which jumps to inform the Fleet. This explains the Carrier's last jump, but doesn't explain the constant time of 33 minutes very well. It's not very likely the Fleet picks a jump spot exactly 3.96 AU from the nearest Raider squadron 240 times in a row.
As to the basestar in "Torn", it isn't said anywhere that the basestar called in sick mere hours after it left. It may have been days, or weeks even. It could just have used regular communications. --Catrope(Talk to me or e-mail me) 10:45, 24 March 2007 (CDT)
Don't feel like this is a personal attack, Bradtem, and I'm sorry if it seemed so. As an administrator, I take a more direct need in ensuring that all contributors (including myself) keep to the encyclopedic needs of the wiki, so speculation articles are given extra scrutiny by their nature. I do appreciate your efforts, even if I don't agree with them. It's contributions like yours that go through crucibles of discussion and debate and, often, come out as a valued article. Catrope and others are throwing in their two cents, too, and there is no rush to hastily remove this article as it has significant merit as a continuity issue at the least. We should wait for Bradley Thompson's comments and then we can reopen the issue with a greater light. --Spencerian 12:15, 24 March 2007 (CDT)

Possible Explanation

After reading the FTL and FTL Communications pages I've come up with an explanation, if the BSG FTL drive is "Folding Space" don't you think it's possible to send communications in a similar way Jordan Edmond 19:27, 19 September 2013 (EDT)