The warp fields use coaxial cores to develop a single North and South so gravitons are concentrated fore and aft. Gravity bends space and therfore gravitons are used to warp space, crunch it up infront of the ship, stretch it behind. Space is able to travel faster than the speed of light, therefore this can be done in such a way that it pulls the ship along. The ship itself then travels over the high density space and stretches it back to normal. This requires a bipolar flow to regulate.
The Earth's field flips (it has made its way down a degree at a time quite a while and is now speeding up in preparation) because it has a chaotic Iron dynamo creating it. It is believed that the lack of any decent field around Mars at the moment could be due to it being in the middle of a flip, and that Uranus' huge inclination of the axis could also be symptomatic - though our own field moves alot faster suggesting Uranus has another process in charge.
The 'momentary' lack of a field is momentary only in geological terms. If it should go, we will still be protected from solar particle scavenging of the atmosphere by the atmosphere's own bow shock, and the presence of life despite multiple flips in the past show we won't be in any danger and there'll be a new field along to replace the one that goes soon.
Different theories about how the exchange happens does include a whole series of multipolar fields swapping the baton at opportune moments, but this is just a model of what we would see on the surface. The Sun's field flips every eleven years (this could be the thing that set off the dynamoes in the first place) and as it does so it gathers more and more magnetic anomalies - sunspots are created by these - which coalesce and form one big anomally that migrates to the poles and changes the alignments. The Sun is a lot more fluid than the Earth, so we tend to do things slower and slightly different.
As for extending warp fields etc, the fields are there to stretch and crush space before and behind the ship. It is supposedly analogous to magnetic force (using the star trek interpretation of the Unified Force theory). As such, matching lines of force will allow the two fields to merge - as the field carried by the Solar Wind merges with Earth's field at the auroral lattitudes, allowing the particles in to create wonderful glows for people to look at and me to model at university.
It should also be noted that each nacelle generates its own field, and these match and interact. The two engine alignment is said to be the most efficient allignment of the overall field, though other alignments can always be used. Other alignments are simply not as efficient, requiring more energy for the same output. Single nacelle battleships have been used as the primary energy requirements are the weapons and shields, not speed. In general pairs of warp engines are preferred, though the dreadnought galaxy was explained away by saying pairs of warp coils have been evenly divided up from the original two nacelles and divided equally between the three.
ie, make up whatever configuration you think looks nicest and the science consultant on the show will come up with some explanation for it!
saquist, id say the challange has ended with that. Cuz we've exhausted every other possibliity. And id say that last post just summed it all up. haha maybe a scientist will make a break thru and we will have first contact april 3rd 2063 *tho we still need wwIII (bush will take that care of that soon) and some person named Zefran Cocrane.....*
Not BC Related, closed.
Reopened and moved to ST forum
thanks Elminster! :)