I just watched the TOS episode By Any Other Name in which the Kelvan invaders (easily) modified the warp engines of the Enterprise in order to fly from this galaxy to the Andromeda galaxy (2.537 million light years) in under 300 years. In the episode it was noted how much more advanced this technology was.

At the end of the episode the Enterprise turns around and heads for home. But what happened to all that advanced technology? How come the Enterprise post this episode continued to fly around at "normal" warp speeds?

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    I just watched this last night, was about to ask the question when I saw the onebox in chat. +1
    – user57650
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 18:21
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    Off the top of my head, the most likely reason is simply that they don't want to rely on technology they have zero understanding of.
    – Ixrec
    Commented Sep 4, 2016 at 18:27
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    @Valorum except Spock mentioned how the Federation could use the Kelvan technology to send a robot ship to the Andromeda in order to invite the Kelvans to resettle in planets our galaxy. And that idea was seen in universe as being reasonable. And the whole basis of the episode was for the Kelvans to find new planets because of the on going catastrophe in the Andromeda galaxy.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 2:04
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    Perhaps that's where the Excelsior's transwarp drive came from? Of course, the quoted speeds are still several times faster than Voyager over a century later. But then, the list of magic technologies never heard from again is pretty extensive... Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 3:54
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6 Answers 6


Frankly, an out of universe answer may be most applicable here.

With few exceptions, in terms of actual in-universe consistency (barring Stardates of course) you can generally watch TOS episodes in any order. The thing to remember with TOS is that it wasn't intended to maintain an arc or generally even minute consistency from one episode to the next (except in broader beats). It has been said that TOS has no memory from episode to episode - unlike later series, TOS was meant to be an anthology show or little morality tales set with the same characters and settings. Additionally, apart from production staff like Robert Justman, Dorthy Fontana, Gene Coon, and Roddenberry polishing and modifying scripts, each episode had different writers that may not have been familiar with previous episodes. Scripts were often selected as to what to produce and air next, not on a story basis but in terms of time and cost and simply if the script was ready to go or not.

TL:DR - because Jerome Bixby (story for By Any Other Name) didn't write the next story (Return to Tomorrow - John T. Dugan) and nobody bothered to worry about what happened in the previous episodes generally from a broader, overarching storyline perspective

  • source: paraphrasing and analysis from reading Marc Cushman's "These Are the Voyages, Series 1 and Series 2 production background books)

You could interpret it as the Kelvans removing the technology once they are safe, following their own version of the prime directive. Sudden introduction of intergalactic travel would undoubtedly tilt the balance of power in the galaxy, and in the end could end up affecting the neighbors.

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    However in the episode Spock mentioned how the Federation could use the Kelvan technology to send a robot ship to the Andromeda in order to invite the Kelvans to resettle planets in our galaxy. And that idea was seen in universe as being reasonable.
    – Peter M
    Commented Sep 5, 2016 at 2:03
  • What happens when Romulans or Klingons steal it from a Federation ship and head to Andromeda with an army instead? Commented Aug 24, 2017 at 2:26
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    With no supply lines, they get their heads handed to them by galaxy-spanning civilizations hundreds or more years advanced than them. Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 18:48

My guess would be the Roman's laptop. Sure, he knows what it is and what it does, and can even be instructed in its use, but he will never be able to even grasp the fundamental concepts behind its construction.

Similarly, the Federation has this technology, and knows what it does, but its technology is simply far too advanced to replicate. The Federation, though, being what it is, might have been able to confirm one or two of their already existing hypotheses, which advanced them enough to develop the transwarp drive.

  • It sounds like the development of the trans warp drive would be a good answer here. Do you have any evidence to back it up though that you could edit in?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Aug 21, 2020 at 5:11

Rojan probably made restriction of the technology a condition of their peaceful coexistence with the Fed...We have no clue what the Kelvins did on "that little planet you were on" where the enterprise first found them, but logic suggests that they started building a more extensive society for their eventual population growth..

First I can see the kelvin's creating a bunch of robots to do industrial labor, as the Kelvin's themselves sit back as the administration... If they can create humanoid shells, that could undoubtedly create their old Kelvin shells as well, and it's not known whether they did that or decided that the humanoid form was sufficient for living out their lives and presumably having offspring that would also be humanoid in physiology..

Anyhow I assume the warp 14 or whatever it was that the kelvin's attained with the crude matter antimatter Warp drive was caused by some Superior technology dealing with space itself rather than the mechanics of the vessel, which apparently was modified fairly easily but it's entirely possible that the robot ship that the federation would have constructed, would have then been finished by the kelvins with whatever confidential technology they were using..

I humorously imagine a note at the end of the proposal, something to the effect of, "hey guys this is rojan, yes I'm in a human form but I'm not a traitor, we have found friends in this galaxy that are willing to share the wealth as per planets to inhabit, I DID NOT reveal any technology to these less technologically developed new friends, and while I still hold true to the Kelvin prime directive, We Conquer, conquering can be done in many different forms. As was revealed in our proposal, we are currently stationed on X planet in Y spiral arm, and anxiously awaiting your response. Kalinda says hi, hanok says hi, everyone's good and by the time you get here, we'll have a nice little Kelvin colony all set up and the radiation shouldn't start rising in this galaxy for at least another billion years or so. Be there or be square, regards, Rojan"

I make my assumption that the Kelvin's MAY choose to remain in their human form, both as a placating gesture to humanoid races that would find their true kelvin form, well, sort of hideous, AND that each one of the kelvins was at least a little curious about the sensations offered by the humanoid physiology, to the reaction of kalinda who was definitely interested in the sexual reproduction aspect of humans, the guy who got so caught up in the taste and feeling of actual food that he let himself get so drunk that he probably turned into an alcoholic, or hanok, who undoubtedly after McCoy was giving him injections of methamphetamine, developed a Jones and probably took a little bit of time for him to either Incorporate it positively into his existence, or seek out a 12-step program and kick the habit..

ANYWAY with the kelvin's obvious expertise in physiology and chemistry and biology, as well as astrophysics and advanced metallurgy and all sorts of other things, this made the kelvin's a first stop for federation engineers or other specialist for hints on how to do something a little bit better.. and while the kelvin's still obviously held the technology to conquer the entire federation, the entire romulan empire, the entire borg collective, and even the founders probably, they would probably be so interested in the new social connections and interpersonal experience aspect of humanoid existence that conquering would probably be kind of far down on their list of priorities... But one thing that would be known across the entire alpha and beta quadrant, don't f*** with the kelvins, because if you mess with the bull you get the horns..

I just can't understand the people who say, the federation studied the technology, when The logical scenario would be that Rojan and company simply removed it as easily as they installed it, once they reached the little planet where they were.. I further assume because the kelvin's only allowed four males to remain upright and taking nourishment, that Kirk spock McCoy and Scotty were expected to just die off in the intergalactic void and all the cubes kept as scientific projects that may or may not have been reconstituted once they reached kelvin...

ANYWAY I contend that by the time the Enterprise left orbit of the planet that is now called kelvin, ALL Kelvin technology remained on Kelvin but the federation was of course invited to stop by and share their problems whenever they needed to, because like the godfather, the little guys may not be specifically needed at the time but it's still good to help out.. also because the kelvin's were associated with the federation, maybe a little bit of advanced technology to defeat some enemies might be in order.. some advanced knowledge to cure plagues or some sort of diseases, who knows? I'm sure the militarists in the federation were continually bothering the kelvin's for weapons weapons weapons, until Rojan had to kick them out by threatening to use his paralyzer..


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    Breaking this up into a few paragraphs would make it more reader-friendly. Commented Dec 6, 2023 at 3:10

The technology would have been removed from the Enterprise for reverse engineering by Starfleet, and eventual inclusion in future starships. Hence the Excelsior had "Transwarp" drive in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. But some of the more easily analyzed technology might have remained aboard the Enterprise (especially if it would have been difficult to uninstall it). Hence the Enterprise would be reinforced to withstand high warp speeds, up to over Warp 14 ("That Which Survives").

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This is a pretty good theory, but it would be a good answer if you could find some quotes or references to back it up.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jul 17, 2020 at 17:34
  • The fact that the Enterprise D could go up to Warp 10, which was supposed to be quite an achievement, the fact that the Enterprise was going in circles at Warp 10 in "This Shall Be Your Last Battlefield" after they wrested control back from Bele, the vact, that, as I mentioned the Enterprise could handle up to Warp 14.1 without being destroyed, and the fact that the Excelsior had "Transwarp" drive. As for direct references to the Kelvans, in TOS it was hard to find a reference to any previous episode in a later one. Commented Jul 18, 2020 at 18:20

Rojan may have agreed to the technology being used for the robot probe, but insisted that it not be studied by Starfleet due to the risk of destabilizing the Milky Way galaxy's political status. Another possibility was that once the robot probe reaches the Kelvan Empire, the Kelvans might react angrily to Rojan's betrayal and use even newer technology to send a follow-up mission in considerably less time than 300 years, and they might expect Rojan may have shared Kelvan technology with local species. Independently-developed technology of the Federation and others would be less likely to be penetrated by Kelvan "infiltrative" technology.

I also wonder WHAT the Kelvan drive is that could achieve Warp 19.3 and maintain it for 300 years of continuous operation, as well as what they used for fuel? Bussard collection of ionized atoms in intergalactic space to fuel a slipstream drive?

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This sounds like some personal theories and a question; do you have any evidence to support one of these?
    – DavidW
    Commented Jan 21, 2023 at 22:34
  • I suspect it's like the ability to become psychokinetic by injection discovered in "Plato's Stepchildren" - It was forgotten about after it was sued. That explanation covers a multitude of TOS and TNG occurrences, if we are honest. Commented Jan 22, 2023 at 11:56

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