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Joachim told Khan right before the final battle the Wrath of Khan how starships are affected by nebulae. This was about when Admiral Kirk taunted Khan into following him into the Mutara Nebula where the wounded Enterprise would be a match for the Reliant.

Joachim: If they go in there, we will lose them.

That means he knows that none of the Reliant's sensors could detect the Enterprise inside the Mutara Nebula.

Khan: Why are we slowing?

Joachim: We can't follow them into the nebula, sir. Shields would be useless.

How did he know shields are inoperative inside a nebula?

Khan: Tactical?

Joachim: Inoperative.

Khan: Raise the shields.

Joachim: As I feared, sir. Nonfunctional.

This is all very specific knowledge about space combat involving the technology on Federation starships inside certain types of nebulae. It's also the kind of knowledge that is best learned from direct experience. Neither Khan nor his followers had much experience in space combat.

How did he know that?

Please provide answers based on canon sources.

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In canonical history order:

In the Enterprise series, we learn that the augment genetic material is stored in Cold Station 12. During this episode, the augments refer to the SS Botany Bay that Khan used to escape. This was a late 20th century DY-100 class sleeper ship.

In TOS:Space Seed this ship is discovered by Kirk's Enterprise and the augments attempt to take over the Enterprise with the help of Lt. Marla McGivers. So the augments would have gained operational knowledge of Constitution class starships at this time.

Even when you don't have direct combat experience with a vessel class, engineering knowledge of starships is a reasonable basis to extrapolate the behavior of shields and sensors in nebulae that contain huge quantities of charged particles - especially if your brain is augmented.

  • Also in that original episode, Khan read and absorbed a lot of technical knowledge (before the attempt to take over). He braught himself up to date very quickly. – Basya Dec 31 '18 at 12:39

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