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In many random occurrences of Stargate SG-1, the stargate can seemingly open instantly while other times it appears to slowly light up random symbols before a wormhole opens. I am referring specifically to incoming wormholes as viewed by the receiver. I am also talking about using the plain old DHD.

For example, in "Redemption, Part I" at the start of the episode, Walter is taken by surprise by the sudden opening of the stargate as SG-1 is ahead of schedule. However, Carter is clearly shown using the DHD on the other side.

There are many other occurrences of the gate suddenly opening, but also many occurrences of the gate slowly "dialing" from the receiving end. Is there any specific set of rules to determine how the gate appears to open from the receiving side?

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    To quote J. Michael Straczynski - "the speed of plot". I don't think this is addressed anywhere in the canon, unfortunately. – HorusKol Mar 29 '12 at 6:53
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    @HorusKol Love the quote from JMS. I am sure there isn't a canon answer for this, it's one of those "What would you rather see us staring at a spinning prop for 30 seconds or some actual plot development?" I don't recall it ever being necessary to the plot for it to be instantaneous either. – NominSim Mar 29 '12 at 12:06
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    I've always kind of inferred that it was doing the whole spinning sequence every time, but we just weren't subjected to the sequence every time as viewers. – BBlake Mar 29 '12 at 13:58
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    Why does the SGC gate need to spin on incoming wormholes anyway? – Xantec Mar 29 '12 at 15:03
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The gate doesn't have to dial if it's already been dialed to that particular location

e.g.

If Earth dials Tulac, then closes, and nobody travels to or from Tulac or earth, then the dialing process can be skipped as the gate has already spun and locked itself into the correct position. There are scenes where a gate has been immediatley redialled after closing, resulting in all locks suddenly glowing red and an event horizon coming forth within 1-2 seconds. E.g. in the Watergate episode

Also keep in mind in latter seasons, once you dial and connect to a planet, once the wormhole closes, the DHD remains dialed for a time with the coordinates glowing at the dialing end, one only has to press the red button in the middle to dial back, and assuming both ends are as they were no dial and lock procedure is necessary

What about the handy wavy stuff?

If you're referring to some of the more advanced races ability to simply wave their hand and a wormhole fades into view with no dialling or event horizon present, then no explanation is ever given other than that they have technology that is very advanced the others have no knowledge or access to ( thus they have no explanation of how it works other than that they're aware it has been done).

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    Do you have an episode as an example for the re-dialing the last dialed address without spinning the gate? – Xantec Mar 30 '12 at 0:31
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    If I remember correctly, stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Watergate had a scene at the end where the gate closes on the russian end, Jack & Teal'c are infront of the stargate when it's dialed back from the other end, the gate has already dialed so it glows red and makes the opening noise and they duck, followed by an event horizon a second later – Tom J Nowell Mar 30 '12 at 9:44
  • Also keep in mind in latter seasons, once you dial and connect to a planet, once the wormhole closes, the DHD remains dialed for a time with the coordinates glowing at the dialing end, one only has to press the red button in the middle to dial back, and assuming both ends are as they were no dial and lock procedure is necessary – Tom J Nowell Mar 30 '12 at 9:46
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    +1 for offering a possible explanation for how a non-tech or mid-tech race can still seem to dial instantly - which is one thing the question specifically asks about – Code Jockey Apr 16 '12 at 20:59
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It's dependent on the technology involved. For instance, we're at the bottom, it takes a few seconds for SGC to spin up the gate, the Goa'uld can do it a few seconds faster. The Nox are shown to have the power to instantly open the gate, as are the Tolan(?), and I believe Cassandra can open it instantly as well when SG-1 visits her in the future.

So, the short answer, it's relative to the users level of technology.

  • I wonder, does opening an instant outgoing wormhole also cause the other incoming end to open instantly? – Xantec Mar 29 '12 at 15:07
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    @Xantec If it does, I feel sorry for anyone standing around in front of it on the other end. – user4963 Mar 29 '12 at 21:24
  • If I'm not mistaken, Oma Desala could open the gate more or less instantly too, and both Oma and the Nox could do it without the Kawoosh. – Anthony X Sep 1 '14 at 16:22

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