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According to this graph when you dial a gate you're telling it not only where to go, but where you are coming from:

alt text

(Source: Wikipedia)

I've always wondered, wouldn't the point of origin also require 6 symbols? For those of you not familiar with stargate addresses, this article will fill you in.

Here's the canonical article on Stargates themselves.

  • why it couldn't be five? x-x,y-y,P? if the symbols relate to the constellations, one would think such an advanced piece of technology would be able to compensate for when the two segments that look like they cross in the night sky don't actually. you could do it with four, involving more complex math, but that would make it impossible to do from looking at the sky. it would make sense, though, firstly to state how i believe the 7 symbols work, to and from earth: x-x,y-y,z-z, c; on regular DHD's, i would say the non-labeled 'c'enter crystal should always be the point of origin, for had you been – user12631 Feb 18 '13 at 11:52

18 Answers 18

47

You are right. If it is a six-digit address, then the point of origin would also have to be written with six digits.

But, it seems that a single symbol is referring to Earth: enter image description here

Also, according to:

This symbol is unique to the planet Earth. In the movie, Dr. Jackson interprets it as representing the Sun over the peak of a pyramid. Other planets are described as having their own unique origin symbols.

Source: Wikipedia

This would mean that there is a symbol for every single planet.

However, the part that makes least sense is that on any given stargate, every connection to another one requires dialing an address which always ends with the same symbol. The only valid addresses dialed from Earth, therefore must end with the Pyramid symbol. I mean, what kind of usability is that :) If it is always the same, shouldn't it be fixed instead of requiring that users dial it over and over again.

  • 7
    In Internet terms, I guess that means they use source routing? This used to be common for some non-Internet emails. – user56 Jan 17 '11 at 20:54
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    Maybe since the gates are relocatable, they use the closing symbol to adress the point of origin, rather than having a fixed point of origin per gate. – 13Tazer31 Jan 17 '11 at 21:00
  • 8
    According to SG wikia the Point of Origin is unique to its Stargate, so its more a stargate identification glyph. The analogy of a terminating signal (\0 in strings would be cool too ;) is a good one. Why to use: child protection! About the 6 coordinates, there'd be some possible explanations: 1) 3 symbols describe a sector or a suns position, 3 symbols present the usual location of the gate in this sector/system. 2) 2 symbols are worth one coordinate (compare 0-99 to 0-9), 3) I can't remember the episode, but addresses seem also to be name of a gate. – Samuel Herzog Jan 18 '11 at 0:42
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    Later in the franchise, they discover 8 and 9 digit gate addresses. Having the "point of origin" as a terminating character is probably essential to indicate "I'm done dialing". – keithjgrant Apr 20 '11 at 7:03
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    @MarkEmbling The DHD and the Stargate are separate units, the big red "Enter" button was probably just for the DHD (like the ^D character), while the point-of-origin was the terminating character for the Stargate itself (like the \0 character). – Izkata Nov 18 '11 at 0:50
37

The only sensible solution is that this symbol is a "terminator" allowing to dial larger-than-seven addresses, used to travel to Atlantis or Destiny -- otherwise it is purely redundant, because all gates seems to know their location (it seems they must be "calibrated" after relocation) and may send it to the remote gate.

About the uniqueness problem, in theory those symbols refer not to individual planets, but whole areas of the galaxy ("constellations") -- this way all planets near Earth should have the same origin symbol.

The other problem is why one needs 6 symbols to locate a planet; in 3D space only 2 points are needed to fully define two lines that cross in one point, so the remote address would need 4 symbols only.

Finally the strongest problem with this whole addressing system is that it is fairly ineffective and unstable; 36 points are way to small to expect that it would be always possible to describe planet's coordinates in this system. Thus, while also galaxies are not static the addresses would quite quickly become invalid or (luckily) change.

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    I thought about the terminator character, too. A good analogy would be Enter key. Still, having a different Enter key symbol on every stargate out there doesn't really change the usability issue. – Goran Jovic Jan 17 '11 at 23:30
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    Rather '\0' ;-) Well, SG is definitely one of the most illogical and inconsistent shows, and what's worse this dialing system is a glaring wannabe. – user48 Jan 18 '11 at 0:35
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    Oh, '\0' is a much better analogy. – Goran Jovic Jan 18 '11 at 9:41
  • no, the symbol isn't unique to an area but unique to the stargate itself! see my answer for details. – Samuel Herzog Jan 19 '11 at 4:28
  • The gates adjust their address-coordinate maps after connecting to a another gate. – David Murdoch Apr 26 '11 at 13:35
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In the original movie, there exist only 2 Stargates, one on Earth, and one on Abydos. In the series, they expanded the concept to have many Stargates in a network. As such, many of the explanations for this aren't in the movie, and are from miscellaneous episodes of SG-1. I'll try to cite sources. I'll also only be discussing the Milky Way gates, as those are the ones that SG-1 deals with, which is where the vast majority of our detailed knowledge of the Stargate system comes from.

The way that dialing for the Earth gate works is they dial the 6 digit address for the remote gate, and end with the Point of Origin symbol. This was an issue in the movie because there are 39 symbols (link) on the Stargate, and they were trying to dial at random. Assuming they even knew that only 7 were needed, that's still roughly 39^7 dialing combinations they'd have to try. As there are 9 chevrons (spots where you can lock in a symbol), this would not be initially clear.

The symbols are derived from constellations in the sky on Earth. Each of these correspond to points in 3D space, so to dial a gate, you need to know which 6 points are around your destination. Alternatively, you can acquire a phone book with a list of valid destination addresses, which is how Stargate Command operated. They retrieved a list of formerly valid addresses from Abydos (link), and started testing them to find which were still valid. This provided them with planets to explore on an extremely convenient weekly basis. After stumbling upon an Ancient Repository of Knowledge, their listing of valid addresses was increased by Jack O'Neill while he had Ancient knowledge (link).

The point of origin symbol was a large stumbling block (haha!) in the original movie as the coverstone that prevented the Earth Stargate from working before it was buried was missing the point of origin symbol. The SG-1 show explained this was further complicated by the lack of a Dial Home Device (DHD). Without a DHD, a way to control the dialing had to be designed and constructed. In addition, they needed a full 7-digit address before they could dial out successfully.

The way the point of origin works is that each Stargate has 38 symbols that are identical on all gates (ignoring the Abydos gate in the movie, which had symbols corresponding to the constellations on Abydos). The 39th symbol is unique to each gate, and is the point of origin. If you have a DHD to dial, you enter 6 digits on the DHD, then press the large red button. This instructs the gate to then lock in the point of origin and establish a wormhole. Without the DHD, SGC had to find the point of origin symbol, which Daniel Jackson did in the movie. This allowed them to have their computer system that interfaces with the Stargate dial the point of origin.

As others have mentioned, stars move in relation to each other, so Stargates need some way to adjust for this. For any Stargates that have a DHD, they are part of a subspace network that communicate information about stellar drift, and make the minor adjustments necessary for smooth travel (link). As the Earth Stargate lacks a DHD, the first trips through the Stargate had side effects. Namely the people emerged from the gate cold and dusted with frost. Eventually Samantha Carter was able to make adjustments in the Earth dialing computers for this, and future travel through the gate was normal.

  • 1
    It's extremely convenient for TV viewers that the show was weekly, but as with the Star Treks (and Murder She Wrote (did Jessica really know everyone in the USA? :) ), etc.), in the show's universe the stories of each episode do not necessarily happen on a weekly basis. – John Ferguson Apr 26 '11 at 8:42
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    I believe I was pretty much quoting a line in one of the early episodes. After getting the gate addresses from the cartouche on Abydos, Carter says something like, "We'll have to check each address with a MALP and weed out no longer valid addresses. I expect we'll find one valid address per week." – user1027 Apr 26 '11 at 14:25
  • Well remembered :) though I suppose a year in the show's universe is supposed to approximate to a season's worth of episodes, so calculations taking a week was a good way for the writers to justify things, and of course emphasise that they were doing serious calculations. – John Ferguson Apr 27 '11 at 8:52
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    IMO the whole "point of origin" glyph is a even bigger issue for the movie. They already knew there are 7 glyphs to enter ("Jackson found the last glyph"), so I'd expect a "just in case, let's blow them up" military would simply try to brute force first. After all, there are only 39 possible combinations left, even less assuming you can't dial specific glyphs twice. – Mario Aug 8 '12 at 10:26
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The point of origin doesn't resemble a coordinate in space, it's more of an idenitification token for the Stargate itself.
It's also the only symbol different on each Stargate, Milky Way Stargates usually have 39 different charakters, 38 of them are common along all Stargates, the 39th is the point of origin.

This is additionally proved by wikia on the Beta Gate:

Throughout episodes in which the Beta Gate is installed in the SGC Gate Room (from "Small Victories" to "Redemption, Part 2"), its point of origin symbol is the same as for the Alpha Gate. Presumably, this is not canon, and is instead a production issue caused by reusing the same prop for both Stargates. As shown in "Solitudes", the point of origin for the Beta Gate is .

  • So this is inconsistent -- AFAIR beta gate replaced the original one at some point, yet the final symbol remained the same to the end of the series. – user48 Jan 19 '11 at 12:06
  • as said in the cite, thats not the canon version but a limit due to only one stargate model for the SGC. – Samuel Herzog Jan 19 '11 at 13:03
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When the original movie was written, the 'Stargate Network' was conceived as a very tiny network of gates. If you just take the movie at face value, it's only a connection between Earth and Abydos. Under that premise, the single symbol for point of origin made sense and didn't require the writers to strain their brains to come up with something that would be accurate for a different set of conditions.

It wasn't until they made it into a series that more Stargates needed to be added to give the show enough material for more than 2 episodes. By then, they were stuck with the limited-use coordinate system.

6

You would think that, for consistencies sake at the very least. It it was done scientifically, it would be a point of original and a vector, which I think would be 2 points, in Euclidian geometry. Maybe the reason it need 6 points for the destination, the wormholes don't pass through Euclidian space.

3

I've wondered this before especially why 6 symbols are needed for the end gate, when a point in space can be defined with just 3.

However after thinking about it a bit more the six symbols explain how the gates can move in their area, Eg around their star. As the symbols don't define a point in space but rather a box, which needs 6 symbols to define it's edges/faces. This also explains how a gate is overridden by a neighbouring gate, and that gates need a minimum distance apart.

As for the 7th symbol it can be thought of as an enter key. You might think why? Well because addresses can be longer, PoO always comes last, and because when dialling a milky way gate manually (presumably the gates in SGU can also be dialled manually, but the pegasus gates can't), there is no big red button on the DHD (the gate is dailies manually when there is no DHD or it doesn't work/is damaged) to start the connection so the 7th symbol is there as a safety measure.

Or it can be seen as a shortcut to dialling another 6 symbols to locate the current gate (a kind of macro). This is not as robust answer though because why not just use 2 symbol addresses for gates which the gate has the symbol for. (not all gates have the same symbols) and only have to dial 7 symbols when your gate doesn't have the point of origin for the remote gate.

  • You don't need six coordinates to define a volume of space. A sphere is defined by its center point and a radius, four coordinates. Moreover, using a sphere makes much more sense than a box would. – Junuxx Dec 21 '12 at 14:31
  • A box (assuming it's a cube) can also be done with 4 – user8719 Oct 17 '13 at 21:01
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Further to the other answers, there's one thing that doesn't make sense to me, given the SG-1 adaptation that the gates were built not by the Goa'uld but by the Ancients (I'm sure they didn't call themselves that...).

If the Ancients built the Stargate network, why is the point of origin symbol based on a Goa'uld pyramid ship???

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    The Goa'uld co-opted the existing Stargate symbols, just as they scavenged technology from the species they conquered. You may want to post this as a new question instead of an answer. – user1027 Apr 15 '11 at 1:31
  • So you're saying Goa'uld not only used / moved the gates, they also modified the symbols? – Nick Bedford Apr 15 '11 at 1:49
  • I'm saying that they Goa'uld used Stargate symbols in their language to hide that it wasn't originally theirs. – user1027 Apr 15 '11 at 3:04
  • They couldn't have modified it, sg teams have been where the goauld haven't and the symbols are different. A bigger question is if the symbols are based on constellations how can that be as the constellations change over time and are different on different planets. Btw the pyramids were landing sites not ships. I think it's just a problem with goauld building the 2 stargazes in the movie but the ancients building many gates in the series. – Jonathan. Apr 26 '11 at 1:18
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Actually, when you dialing, you have choice between 38 constalation setings and 1 for local device adress. I think, when you add the current planet symbol, you just add (as mentioned: terminator) your gate current "mac" adress, which calculates itself position automatically.

When you after 6 symbol add one more from 38 constalations, you can choose designated area (galaxy) and when you add from 38 after that, you can get into secret partition (like secret parts in true crypt: if you know its there, you can access it, but if you dont, there is just a few possible combinations when you dial, in other: you hit squat).

more problematic is the idea of recalculating adress position (they can dial up just abbydos because of space expansion): if you are limited with 38 symbols, you cant just easily compensate stelar-planetar movement with other symbol: you just didnt make a line between two points. you have 3 010 936 384 possible combinations, but space measurments needs wastly more accuracy than that, because for one dimension you have just 1369 combinations. and if you imagine a grid 1369 * 1369 * 1369 which should include whole interstellar space, you end up with pretty big grid, and you selecting just one of the seqments. so, thats the real problem with stargate routing. its could be more acurate to use closest another gate, use its local adress and then triangulate from two points of origin, but still, those system would need some standart gauge beacons updates to be as precise as needed.

0

I would like to cloud your issue with additional facts. If you dial Abydos while the Abydos gate is working, you get a secondary address: the planet where an older team member was lost. Similarly, when the Cheyenne Mountain gate was in use, due to the attempt of a 'God' to destroy it, the Antarctic gate was being activated. It would be interesting to find the secondary address of Atlantis, since it came to Earth, or Destiny's secondary address, if one were to follow this logic to it's conclusion. Could there be another gate on Destiny? Are there tertiary and additional back-up address for Earth? Or near where Atlantis used to be? Could one find out by visiting Destiny, how to build a remote on Earth so that they could progressively find a route to Destiny, just as Eli did to get back to Destiny.

Additionally, if you put a KINO on a stick, could you pull it back through? It's interesting how many questions this speculation generates, doesn't it? Another specutation is that if a gate can be made in Carter's basement...oh, yes; it gets very complicated, doesn't it?

  • While interesting facts, you didn't actually answer the question. Additional answers should only be added when they add new information. – The Fallen Sep 28 '12 at 4:45
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As for the seventh symbol, I thought it had been established that it was to identify to the destination gate where you're dialing from as the Atlantis Dialing computer had been programmed only to accept connections from Earth. It could not do this if the dialing gate did not identify itself, given Earth's galactic position would have shifted in the ten thousand years since they left it.

My biggest problem with the gates is, if there are thirty eight identical symbols and a thirty ninth one unique to each gate, how do I dial the destination symbol, if it is not present on the DHD on Earth. If there are a thousand stargates for example, would I not have 999 other symbols I need to select from, each unique to that gate in addition to the thousandth symbol that would be Earth, and the thirty eight co-ordinate symbols?

It would be more logical to assume there would be two identical symbols on the gate to signify that is the planet's designated symbol (point of Origin) to enable it to be dialed from another location outside of that gate's box sector.

Am I making sense here?

  • There is no destination symbol. There unique symbol is for the source gate, the one you are dialing from.. – Izkata Dec 21 '12 at 2:33
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For those citing the movie, bear in mind that the reasoning of the coordinate system falls apart entirely in the movie, given that the destination (Abydos) is described as being in "the Kaliam galaxy, on the other side of the known universe", yet the coordinates are local constellations. Fortunately the series retconned Abydos to be in the Milky Way, fairly close to Earth, even. They probably could have made a more scientifically sound basis for the show if they'd changed more than that, but what the hell, the ridiculousness of it all (and their frequent self-mockery later on) is part of the fun.

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I can offer an example of where you need 6 points to locate something. As a cnc programer when you place a chunk of metal in a machine you need 3 x locations to sit on (Think a three legged stool never wobbles) 2 y locations so it can't move move side to side and a z location so it can't spin. Every casting and raw chunk of metal is located off of 6 points. Then to program the machine to move the endmill to cut the part you need a point of origin which exists as x0y0z0 but it is always the same spot so it is considered a single coordinate instead of 3. Just a thought.

  • A 3-legged stool isn't 3 points in solely the X dimension; at least 1 of those 3 points has to be in a different Z dimension to prevent wobbling. It would at the same time be the one that prevents spin. All 3 would also act as an anchor as one of the 2 Y dimension locations. You've basically described only 4 actual points being necessary. – Izkata Sep 22 '14 at 11:36
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I always thought of it as the point of origin being an 'enter' key, while actual dialing was handled by thirty-eight (in the case of Milky Way 'gates) and thirty-five (for Pegasus and Destiny 'gates) glyphs representing sections of a sphere at a given radius around a center point. The first symbol would be paired with the second to form a line segment, et cetera, and then when the three line segments have been established the stargate looks for a destination 'gate within a radius of the point where they all intersect.

Eight chevron addresses could use a glyph representing a different galaxy or, more likely due to the increased variety of galaxies opened up, each glyph representing, in addition to a point at the edge of the Milky Way/Pegasus/Destiny dialling sphere, a set distance value, telling the stargate to look a set distance past that point for a destination 'gate, expanding the line segment.

0

When you use 6 symbols you are triangulating the position of the destination gate, you only need that planets unique symbol as a point of origin becaude, since you're on it already, you don't need to locate it. So after locating the destination gate it basically draws a line to you, and connects the gates.

0

It could make sense if the creators of the stargate (no spoilers) used Earth as the origin point so the Earth symbol might actually represent (0,0,0).

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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I thought maybe it's because each planet can have more than 1 gate, so the point of origin tells the outgoing gate the incoming gates address so they can dial back otherwise if a planet has two gates and you traveled outbound you wouldn't be able to get back to the same gate it wouldn't know which gate to connect to.

However the idea of a point of origin being included as needed to dial out is still flawed as there are more planets in stargate than the gate could hold on the face of it's dialing ring as displayed.

  • 1
    While interesting, you haven't seemed to answer the question of why the point of origin only has one coordinate as opposed to more. Why it doesn't need 6 symbols as well. – Edlothiad Jul 25 '18 at 11:39
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Premise 1: Symbols are only representations of planets or systems - not a reference based on their position.

Premise 2: A dialed location is an actual destination based on referential glyphs - which have nothing to do with the orientation of the target in spacial orientation with the systems or planets represented by the glyphs.

Premise 3: The exact position of a Stargate can not practically be a component of the "address" - due to various factors such as real-time orbital and planetary rotational positioning of both the originating and destination Stargates. References have only been made regarding accounting for "Stellar Drift" - the position of a Solar System's position in the host galaxy.

Premise 4: While there is a proven design to the universe as a whole, there are random elements. Such an example is that exact positioning of a destination cannot be dependent on a centered position between points in space represented by the location of other Stargates. (Impossible odds for even a handful of Stargates - let alone hundreds - or thousands...)

(Axiom: Upon completion of a dialing sequence, the Stargate "network" routes a connection via a focused signal to the general vicinity of a registered destination Stargate, and awaits a response from the destination Stargate prior to locking a signal and opening a wormhole (similar to Hewlett-Packard's "ENQ/ACK" data transmission signaling.)

Statements:

  1. Point of origin (Regardless of its position, there must be one)
  2. Distance from Point of Origin to Destination
  3. Horizontal Inclination position of the Destination relative to the Point of Origin
  4. Vertical Inclination position of the Destination relative to the Point of Origin

Conclusion: Only 4 actual components are required.

  • You need an empty new line before a list. I have edited this for you so it renders correctly. – TheLethalCarrot Nov 28 '18 at 17:21

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