Stargate

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Introduction

The Stargate is a device created by the Ancients that permits nearly instantaneous travel between two planets or other bodies inside a stable wormhole established with a second Stargate. The usual method of rendering a Stargate inoperable is to bury it so that there is no room to establish a stable wormhole.

The Stargate's Origin and How It Works

Amelius takes his plans for the Stargate with him
The Stargate itself was invented by an Alteran named Amelius millions of years ago (possibly as long ago as 50 million years). He got the inspiration for the device on the eve of his people's exodus from their home galaxy in a single spaceship. The Alterans traveled for thousands of years and then settled in the Milky Way, where they began to be known as the Ancients and they built the Stargate network. (Stargate: The Ark of Truth, 9.01 "Avalon Part 1")

The Stargate, made of naquadah (a quartzite metal not found on Earth) and weighing about 64,000 pounds, is shaped like a monumental standing ring. The stationary outer ring and concentric spinning inner ring work together to set coordinates that permit interstellar travel. The outer ring contains nine chevrons that lock on an inner ring symbol, or glyph. Seven are used to set a destination within Earth's galaxy, and eight are used to set a destination in another galaxy, although such intergalactic travel requires a tremendous amount of energy (2.16 "The Fifth Race"). It is not known what the ninth chevron is for. The inside ring has thirty-nine symbols, called glyphs, that refer to constellations. These symbols may also be pronounced in the Ancients language (7.22 "Lost City Part 2"). For a normal address, the first six symbols set a coordinate in a volume of space, and the seventh refers to the point of origin.

The naquadah material of the Stargate stores vast amounts of energy: enough to form a wormhole. With properly regulated energy distribution, it is safe, but since it is a very powerful superconductor, imprudent application of energy could cause it to explode catastrophically (5.14 "48 Hours").

When activated, the Stargate creates a wormhole between two Stargates that permits near-instantaneous travel from one to the other. When the Stargate activates, a blue whoosh of energy emanates out from the Gate, destroying anything in its path. After this initial burst of energy, an event horizon, a two-dimensional energy field that permits entry to the wormhole and that looks like rippling blue water, is created within the ring of the Gate itself, and the traveler simply steps through. Anything that goes through the Gate will arrive on the other side at the same velocity at which it entered. Arrows, bullets, and energy blasts can be transported through the Stargate just as well as a person, or things can be thrown through the Gate.

As a means of protection against hostile arrivals, the SGC built an iris over its Stargate. It sits less than three micrometers from the event horizon, so, while an incoming wormhole can still form, any matter sent through will not be able to re-materialize (1.03 "The Enemy Within"). This has proven deadly to some would-be allies whose people have died when their energy signatures impacted the iris and were destroyed (4.02 "The Other Side").

The length of time a traveler stays inside the wormhole varies according to the distance to be traveled. For travel in our galaxy, the average travel time is 0.3 seconds (9.14 "Ripple Effect"). However, since the traveler has been converted to energy for the trip, he or she is not aware of the passing time or the nature of the experience.

Although travel can only be in one direction, the Gate permits several forms of energy to traverse in both directions through an open wormhole. This includes radio waves and TV signals and allows people to stay in contact. It also allows Stargate Command (SGC) to send through probes, such as a Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe (MALP) or an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), and analyze the data sent back before committing to sending a human team.

Although the Stargate can be dialed manually by providing a power source and physically moving the inner ring around (a technique used in emergencies), usually a Dial Home Device (DHD) is used. These waist-high freestanding structures are generally located next to the Gate itself. The Stargate system has a built-in system of checks and balances: if, as one attempts to specify an address, the Stargate detects something that would result in unsafe travel to that destination, it will not permit the address to be dialed.

Although most Stargates that the SGC encounters are fixed in place on land or inside structures, they may also be located on starships, underwater, or in orbit. They may also be located on worlds that don't permit human life to exist. In addition, although Stargates are usually set up so that they are standing circles, it's also possible to activate them while they are lying on their sides, as long as there is room for an event horizon to form.

The Gate addresses that the SGC have come primarily from two places: from the cartouche on Abydos (1.01 "Children Of The Gods Part 1"), and from the coordinates that Jack O'Neill entered into the computer when his mind was hijacked with the knowledge of the Ancients (2.16 "The Fifth Race").

When someone offworld activates the Gate, the recipient of the wormhole can't turn the Gate off. Only the activator of the Gate can terminate the link, although the wormhole will automatically disengage after thirty-eight minutes. One strategy of harassment is to continually dial someone's Gate so they can't get out.

The History of the SGC's Stargate

Earth's Stargate unburied in Giza, Egypt, in 1928
Earth had at least two Stargates at one time. For centuries, they lay buried, rendering them inoperative. The primary Gate, housed for many years in the SGC, was found by archaeologist Professor Langford on a dig in Giza, Egypt, in 1928 (Stargate: The Movie). Another, in Antarctica, was inadvertently discovered by Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill in 1.18 "Solitudes." The SGC transported their Gate to Thor's ship in 3.22 "Nemesis Part 1" in order to make an escape from the crippled ship which was about to be destroyed in the Earth's atmosphere. The Giza Gate was thought to be lost and the SGC replaced it with the Gate found in Antarctica. The Giza Gate, however, survived the destruction of Thor's ship in the Earth's atmosphere and was found underwater by the Russians when they salvaged the remains of the crashed Asgard ship (4.07 "Watergate"). In 6.02 "Redemption Part 2," the SGC was forced to blow up the Stargate. They then leased the Russians' Stargate, returning the SGC's original Gate to its home.

The SGC's Gate was the subject of many years of fruitless study. Despite years of research, nobody was able to figure out how to work it, although the Gate was dialed once in 1945 and a young researcher sent through. However, the technicians could not repeat this experiment, thus stranding the researcher, Ernest Littlefield, on the other side of the Gate (1.11 "The Torment Of Tantalus").

Professor Langford's daughter, Catherine Langford, an expert in Egyptology herself and for many years the leader of the research team studying the Stargate, contacted Dr. Daniel Jackson and offered him a job translating artifacts related to the Stargate. In Stargate: The Movie, Daniel made several leaps crucial to making the Gate work: before he even knew about the existence of the Stargate itself, he figured out that the coverstone associated with the 1928 Giza dig site referred to constellations and he deduced that the seven symbols that comprise a Gate address refer to six coordinates that fix a point within a volume of space (as in the six sides of a cube), plus the point of origin. With all seven symbols in hand, it was possible to dial the Gate.

When the Gate was dialed in Stargate: The Movie, it was assumed that the Gate permitted travel only between Earth and Abydos. However, in 1.01 "Children Of The Gods Part 1," it was realized that the presence of the cartouches on Abydos meant that the Stargate could go to millions of other worlds. Because Earth and Abydos are close to each other, the Stargate system could obtain a lock. But the system needed to be updated with centuries' worth of drift, so Earth's Gate hadn't been able to lock on worlds farther away, thus partially explaining previous researchers' inability to dial out.

Stargates in the Pegasus Galaxy

Atlantis Stargate
Some five to ten million years ago, Ancients left Earth in their city-ship Atlantis and went to the Pegasus Galaxy to settle down (SGA 1.01 "Rising Part 1", SGA 1.15 "Before I Sleep"). Because they're in a new galaxy, the glyphs on the Stargates in Pegasus are relative to constellations in that galaxy, rather than being identical to the glyphs on the Milky Way Stargates.

Another difference between the two types of Stargates is that the Stargates in Pegasus have 36 symbols rather than the 39 of the Stargates in the Milky Way. Showing themselves to be even more "modern", there is no spinning of an inner ring either. Instead, the glyph being dialed lights up and then the glyphs in succession along its path to its designated chevron blink on. When the chevron locks, the glyph dialed stays lit, while the ones along the path that are not part of the address stay dark.

The Ancients programmed their Stargates in Pegasus in such as a way as to require a very specific type of crystal to dial outside the galaxy and to dial Earth specifically. Therefore, only the Stargate in Atlantis can dial Earth. When the Ancients abandoned the city after submerging it, they programmed the Stargate in Atlantis to only allow travelers from Earth. Because of this extra precaution, the city stayed submerged for 10,000 years until those from the Stargate Program discovered its address and dialed it from Stargate Command on Earth.

The Stargates on planets in Pegasus have Dial Home Devices (DHDs) that look very similar to the ones in the Milky Way and operate identically. In addition to these large DHDs are the small console DHDs found in Atlantis and in the Ancients' Puddle Jumpers, small space shuttles that can fit through the Stargate. These mobile DHDs come in handy when dialing a Stargate that is in orbit over the planet rather than being present on the ground. The Stargates in orbit maintain their positions with automated stabilizing thrusters. As it turns out, the Wraith, the Ancients' enemy—and the reason why they abandoned their city 10,000 years ago—were also able to dial the Stargates that were in orbit from their small fighters called "darts".

Because of the amount of power needed to dial the Atlantis Stargate to Earth, alternate ways of getting to and from the Milky Way were explored. One such way was the use of the Daedalus-class starships, but that trip required about three weeks one way. Another method used the Stargates from both galaxies in a chain hung in the void with a space station in the middle that linked the two systems. The Intergalactic Gate Bridge and the Midway Space Station were functional for a brief while, but the Wraith managed to get to Earth through them. They also managed to destroy Midway, so the Bridge was no longer usable. (SGA 3.03 "Irresistible", SGA 4.17 "Midway")

Stargates of the Destiny Era

Destiny Stargate
The Destiny is an exploration ship launched unmanned by the Ancients millions of years ago from Earth (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1"). This ship followed a group of unmanned Stargate-planting ships, referred to as "seeder ships", that created and placed Stargates on inhabitable worlds as the group moved farther out into the universe one galaxy at a time. One of the first galaxies that the Destiny-era ships traveled through was Pegasus, where the Ancients themselves fled in their city-ship Atlantis when the Milky Way was hit by a devastating plague (5 to 10 million years ago) (SGA 1.01 "Rising Part 1", SGA 1.15 "Before I Sleep"). The Destiny-era ships themselves had moved on long before that time, however, so the Ancients of Atlantis, or Lantians, didn't see the need to follow, but they did record into their database the Stargate address of Destiny itself (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1").

The Database in Atlantis is huge and several years of study has already gone into it by the Atlantis Expedition and other scientists of the Stargate Program, including Dr. Daniel Jackson, who determined the destination of Atlantis itself (SGA 1.01 "Rising Part 1"). The Atlantis Expedition regularly sent portions of the Database that included diverse subjects, from the journals of Lantians (SGA 5.10 "First Contact") to medical data on the Ancients' physiology (9.09 "Prototype"), which was close to modern humans'. Sometime during all of this study, Destiny's code was found, but its destination was not apparent (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1").

The nine-chevron code needed to dial Destiny was finally used by the Icarus Project in 2009 (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1"). The code used Earth's Point of Origin symbol as the ninth chevron, even if the originating Stargate was not located on Earth. This might explain why Earth's symbol is on the Atlantis Stargate, even though the rest of the symbols are relative to constellations of Pegasus, just as the glyphs on Milky Way Stargates represent constellations of that galaxy. Because Destiny itself is not dedicated to a particular galaxy, so the code to get to it and its very symbols are not galaxy- or constellation-specific.

The Destiny Stargate has 36 coded symbols, the same number as the Pegasus Stargates, but fewer than the 39 of the Milky Way Stargates (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1"). When the ship stops by a planet with a Stargate, it uses seven symbols to dial the destination (SGU 1.02 "Air Part 2"). The Stargates on the planets, however, are not paired with Dial Home Devices (DHDs) (SGU 1.03 "Air Part 3"). Instead, a hand-held remote DHD must be used by explorers on the planet in order to dial home to the Destiny.

The entire Stargate itself spins in place in order to lock its chevrons, rather than the inner ring's spinning of the Milky Way Stargates or the no spinning at all of the Pegasus Stargates (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1"). One similarity with the Pegasus Stargate, however, is that the dialed symbols light up and stay lit during activation.

Dr. Nicholas Rush, the scientist who led the Icarus Project to dial the Destiny code and subsequently traveled to Destiny himself, speculated that the Stargate on Destiny was the original Stargate model, or prototype (SGU 1.01 "Air Part 1"; Kino 1.04 "The Stargate Room"). Unfortunately, Rush has not explained why he believes this to be so, given that the Ancients settled in the Milky Way before they sent out the seeder ships and Destiny from Earth.

Other Stargates

Orlin's Stargate
Orlin's Stargate - The Ancient Orlin, who retook human form from his ascended state, built a small Stargate in the basement of Samantha Carter's home with readily-available materials on Earth. The small Stargate was rigged with only one destination, Velona (P4X-636), and was not reusable after its brief activation. (5.03 "Ascension")
Tollana Stargate
Tollana Stargate - The advanced human race known as the Tollan built a Stargate on their new homeworld Tollana. It was completely compatible with the rest of the Stargates in the Milky Way, but it had a much more slender form. This Stargate was most likely destroyed when the Goa'uld bombarded the planet and destroyed the Tollan civilization. (3.15 "Pretense", 5.09 "Between Two Fires")
Odyssey travels through the Ori Supergate
Supergate - The Ascended race known as the Ori, brethren of the Alterans/Ancients, created a Super Stargate, or Supergate, that permitted them to fly massive warships through to wage war in the Milky Way from their extremely distant galaxy (now known as the Ori Galaxy). The large device required an enormous amount of power to activate and to maintain a stable wormhole over such a vast distance, so the Ori had to position it near a singularity, or black hole. They created their own singularities through advanced technology used through a Stargate that had the ability to collapse a planet, and they even sent the pieces of the Supergate through that same planet's Stargate. The Ori's first Supergate was destroyed during its creation, but they managed to create a second undetected. SG-1 used this second Supergate to travel to the Ori's home galaxy in search of Amelius's Ark of Truth, a device that helped to end the Ori's campaign. After the Ori's defeat, this Supergate remained intact and operational, and most likely, the Ori's warships returned to their home galaxy through it. (9.06 "Beachhead", 9.20 "Camelot", Stargate: The Ark of Truth)

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--Kylie Lee 20:21, 20 Jul 2004 (PDT)
--DeeKayP 23:56, 27 March 2010 (UTC)