Stargate/Wormhole FAQ

Created by Major Bobbi Jo Wichdt on Sun Jun 12th, 2016 @ 12:52am

The following questions are gathered from various sites to provide you with the best information on why the wormholes and associated tech do what they do and how it works.

Q: So why can people and other objects just go in the one direction while radio signals can go both ways? Is that ever explained or is it just fact?
A: When matter (e.g. a human) enters the gate, it's converted to energy, that energy is transmitted via the wormhole between the gates, and the receiving gate converts the energy back into the matter it originally was. However, the wormhole can carry electromagnetic energy without conversion. This means radio waves can traverse the wormhole. When a gate dials out, it then takes in matter and transmits it, the receiving gate will not receive matter and transmit it, so it's a one-way affair. This prevents messes that would happen if a person were to be stepping through a gate at the same time someone was coming out from the other side.

Q: In Stargate, how can you have a point of origin with only one coordinate?
A: When dialing, you have choice between 38 constellation settings and 1 for local device address. When you add the current planet symbol, you just add (the terminator: IE your gate's current address sigil) it calculates itself position automatically.

More problematic is the idea of recalculating the address position: if you are limited with 38 symbols, you can't just easily compensate stelar-planetary movement with other symbol. There is no direct line between two points. You have 3,010,936,384 possible combinations. Space measurements needs vastly more accuracy than that, because for one dimension you have just 1,369 combinations. If you imagine a grid 1369x1369x1369 which should include the whole of interstellar space, you end up with pretty big grid for selecting just one of the segments.
-Stanislav Brandejis

Q: What causes a stargate to not accept an incoming connection?
A: The rule is as follows: A wormhole cannot form if the interior of the stargate is occupied by something solid, like the centerpiece of a cover stone. (Exactly what constitutes "solid" in this respect is never explored.)The stargate itself may be covered, buried, or even on its way to being hurled into a star, but so long as the wormhole has space within the ring, there is no problem.
-Wiliham Totland

Q: Why don't more things come through the stargate to Earth?
A: They can knock, but it doesn't do them much good. Without a GDO, there is no reintegration of matter. O'Neil describes it as 'bugs on a windshield'. Unauthorized travelers splattered, but were just flashes of light to those on the other side.. -Jeff

Q: How can the Stargate symbols represent Earth constellations?
A: The Ancients were faced with the problem of concisely representing galactic coordinates, apparently based on a system of multilateration between known reference points. One obvious solution -- granted not the only one, and depending on the individual not even necessarily the most obvious solution -- is to use constellations as a representation of the reference point.

Naturally, they picked Earth, their home base in the Milky Way Galaxy, as their "Prime Meridian". Yes, the stars look different from different planets (although nearby neighbors, such as Abydos, might be close enough that at least some look more-or-less the same), but that's not the point. The Ancients had the technology to cross galaxies, and even travel between galaxies; naturally they had maps. And using their maps, any given Earth-centric constellation could easily be used as a symbol for any given reference point they wished. Even ones far beyond the ~1.5kly limit for stars (and, by extension, constellations) visible to the naked eye.

So, no, the Earth-centric constellation-based symbols on the chevrons no more lose their meaning on other planets than latitude and longitude lose their meaning in other countries here on Earth. Because they aren't constellations per se, they are symbols representing points in space used in a multilateration-based coordinate system. Very logical for an advanced space-faring race.

(Now, ignoring that for just a moment...) As to your second point regarding the various points being within the same constellation -- yes. You're right. All six of those points would be within the same (or within 2 or 3 neighboring) constellation.

Unless you put the point of origin inside that cube. Now suddenly it works, and becomes a cohesive, meaningful coordinate system for travel between worlds. (Or at least, worlds within the ~1.5kly that said constellations are visible from Earth -- unless the constellations used represent points out beyond that distance, which for a multi-galaxy-spanning empire seems plausible.) If the symbols even are literal representations of constellations.

Remember that when that illustration appeared (feature film), Jackson was explaining to a roomful of multi-star generals -- ironically with no knowledge of actual stars -- how these symbols could work as an "address" for a distant destination. He plunked down the "point of origin" far outside the cube he drew not as a literal representation, but to illustrate his point.

Of course, in that same film, these Earth-centric constellations no more than 1.5kly from Earth opened the gate to a distant galaxy on "the other side of the known universe"! This was of course ret-conned in Children of Earth, the pilot episode of the television show, to make Abydos one of the closest planets in our own galaxy to Earth and thus explain why its address still worked without the computers having to make adjustments for "stellar drift" (let's not get into the monkey wrench that that throws into the works!), but nonetheless that along with the gate's ability to dial other galaxies and even ships far far away do further lend credence to the idea that the gate symbols are just that -- symbols, rather than literal references to the constellations they appear to represent.

Think of it like an IP address (this very analogy is actually made at one point in the show in fact, although I'm going to add more detail...). If I tell you the IP of this site is, that's all the information you need to plug into your computer in order to connect to it -- but it's a far cry from the information that each packet you send needs to actually get there. Underneath that representation of the site's location is complex logic involving chains of "hops" from one piece of networking equipment to another. Each one has complex maps inside it that help the packets along to their destination. Along the way a given IP address gets mapped to other formats, e.g. mine becomes 00:1D:F4:94:69:95 (NB: Not my actual address) before it makes that final hop from my gateway to my NIC. This server, though, has absolutely no relationship to the numbers 198, 252, 206, or 16 -- that just happens to be the address. There's a whole lot going on behind the scenes; naturally a system as complex as the Stargate network would be doing even more 2 -- but all of that is beneath your awareness: All you need to know is the address, and you can talk to my computer.

And actually, you don't even need to know that! What physical relationship is there to this server's location and the server name? None. So how can you plug that into your web browser and still get here? Because there's another translation system built into our little network here called DNS; you enter a convenient, easy-to-remember sequence of symbols (the URL), and those get translated into an address (the IP), and then that gets turned into the sequence of hops, skips, and jumps that the actual packets take across the planet to end up here. It's the same with the Stargate network -- the 7 symbols aren't a physical address per se, but rather a mnemonic sequence of symbols that the DHD network uses to connect to one another and open up the wormholes.

Q: What are the stargates made of?
A: Stargate was made of naquadah, which is fictional superheavy mineral. Naquadah is superconductive at normal temperature (around 20°C). Although no other materials are mentioned, it is probable that Stargate is made of other materials as well since it would require very elaborate inner workings and systems to operate. This is because Stargate does not simply create stable wormhole, but rather creates very small one and disintegration field that disintegrates objects to fit this thin wormhole. That would be why objects can travel only one direction (particles would collide) and electromagnetic waves can travel both ways. In reality, elements with atomic number as high as naquadah would be extremely unstable and theory therefore is, that it must be placed somewhere in the "isle of stability" in the periodic table of elements.

Q: What methods are used to transfer power to a stargate?
A: It seems that two processes are required to establish a successful connection:

-Dialing in and locking the addresses with the correlating chevrons
-Creating a stable wormhole from the source gate to the destination gate
-This answer attempts to explain the 2nd requirement, since the 1st is relatively easy.

Typical Stargates: Ground Based

For typical, ground based stargates within the Milky Way gate system, as well as the Pegauses and (Universe)/Destiny/Seedship system, power is supplied by the DHD's Cold Fusion Reactor Core, which also powers the DHD itself. While not explained directly in cannon, power is likely transferred from the DHD's power source wirelessly through either microwave radiation, or more likely induction, since both the DHD and the stargate are made of the superconductive Naquahdah.

Typical Stargates: "Space Gates"

Gates that are fixed within the vacuum of space (space gates), most typically found in the Pegauses gate system, possess attached power nodes, which are affixed along the outer edge of gate. While the method of power is not exactly known, most likely the power source of each node is a modified version of the Cold Fusion Reactor Core, with the addition of electrical RCS stabilizers.

Non-Typical Stargates

For atypical cases, in which a DHD is absent or damaged, power can come from a number of sources, though in some cases those sources may have undesirable behaviors:

Direct Methods

-Static Electricity via lightning (SG-1, Torment of Tantalus)
-Current Electricity via heavy-gauge conduit (Stargate @ Stargate Command (SG-1); via jumper cable (SG-1, 1969)
-High Energy Electromagnetic Radiation via energy weapons fire (Atlantis, First Strike) Indirect Methods
-Extreme Gravitational Fields via black hole (SG-1, A Matter of Time)
-Static and current electricity, high energy electromagnetic radiation (e.g., microwave, infrared (heat), x-ray and gamma-ray), and even indirectly from strong gravitational fields.

Q: Why don't they just blow up the stargate?
A: A stargate is very, very durable. They have to be. They are containing the incalculable energies of an Einstein-Rosen bridge capable of distorting time and space between two distant locations. No ordinary material could withstand both the energy contained nor the stress of the space-time distortion needed to make the connections between two gates.

Stargates appear to have some resistance to the effects of time or entropy as the oldest gate in the Milky Way galaxy is reputed to be 50 million years old! It has been shown several times that attempting to destroy a stargate is no easy task.
-Normal human nuclear weapons have no effect on the material comprising the gate itself.
-Even enhanced weaponry may destroy the planet before affecting the stargate.
-The stargate is so durable and contains so much energy within it, that when active, overloading the gate can actually render planets uninhabitable with the force of its destruction.
-A buried Stargate has the exact same effect as a destroyed one, it cannot be used effectively closing off access to that planet.
-But once the Iris system was created, a gate could be obstructed without having to bury it. A wormhole is prevented from forming if a significant obstruction is present inside the Stargate's ring.

Consequently, a simple way to seal a Stargate is to bury it, as was done to Earth's Giza Stargate. Another way of controlling travel through a Stargate is by placing a barrier just above the event horizon, which will prevent incoming matter from being reintegrated (essentially annihilating it). The Iris at the SGC and the Gate shield at Atlantis function in this way.
-Thaddeus Howze

Q: What do the 8th and 9th chevron symbols represent?
A: For the eight chevron, it's used as an additional calculation for extra-galactic travel (outside of our own galaxy), which serves as distance from here to there. For Atlantis, you'd most certainly need it as it is sitting in its own galaxy and separate from our own.

The ninth chevron is less conventional and is mainly used for Destiny as it points to a specific gate instead of a location. Because Destiny does not inhabit a fixed point in space like every other gate we've come across, it can't be dialed without this chevron due to the nature of where Destiny may be at any given time.

Both require a lot of energy to work and create a functioning wormhole for travel, much more than your average Stargate is meant to handle. However the last chevron, no matter how long the address, will be the point-of-origin and is thus not always the seventh chevron. If you were dialing to Atlantis, you'd still need an extra chevron for the extra-galactic address but the last (now eighth) would be the origin gate. The Atlantis chevron is inserted someplace between the address and origin chevrons. Same for the ninth.

The Stargate address can be seen as mathematical equation with the solution being the destination Stargate. Thus, if letters A-F were the first sixth chevrons, with the letter P being the point-of-origin (usually Earth), would make an address/equation look like this:

A+B+C+D+E+F+P = Destination

If you added an eighth chevron, to get to Atlantis, you'd add that extra co-ordinate (which we'll name G) for the extra-galactic travel needed. Our address/equation would look like this:

A+B+C+D+E+F+G+P = Destination

You can see that our P value (point-of-origin) has stayed in the same relative, but not absolute, spot as the first: the last value added to create our destination value.

And, finally, for the ninth chevron, our address/equation would be like so, assuming H for the rough equivalent of Destiny:

A+B+C+D+E+F+G+H+P = Destination

Again, P stays in its relative position to the others and remains as the last variable to be added to our destination address. Of course, how the actual "math" of gate travel is not known, and to my knowledge was never adequately explained in the show, so this is the best I could come up with. I'm sure that if they did, it would be a much more complex equation.

Q: Why would in-galaxy dialing need to account for interstellar drift?
A: Despite their apparently fixed location in the night sky, stars are actually moving fantastically fast. Our sun is moving 10 miles per second toward the constellation Hercules. Targeting our sun at a distance would be quite a feat after a light year or two of distance begins to separate us.

Stars are actually moving not only in rotation with galactic movement, they are also moving in relationship to each other, depending on how they formed, where they formed, how they have been affected by gravitational influences of other stellar bodies, including black holes, dark matter and other high mass stars.

Stellar movement can be affected by their planetary bodies as well, depending on how close an orbit they have, whether they are double stellar units and how close they are to the galactic core. Any system that was designed to deal with linking two places together by analyzing the gravity wells of stars, creating synchronized, dedicated wormholes between those two stars to tiny receivers on planets within that gravity well would need to compensate for:

-double star systems (there are more of these than you think)
-planetary movement around the star
-planetary rotation stellar
-movement of the star through the galaxy
-stellar movement in relationship to other gravity wells

In addition, the wormhole or Einstein-Rosen bridge has to be able to negotiate any ripples or gravitational anomalies between the two locations. It can be assumed the Stargate technology compensates for black holes or other gravitational bodies that could disrupt the wormhole bridge between the two locations due to stellar drift.

Q: What is the range of the average Stargate?
A: Milky Way gates can gate to any other gate in their home galaxy while powered by a standard DHD. With more power, they seem to be able to cross significant portions of the universe

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