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Various reaction drives in M-Space and their fuel


Thot

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5 hours ago, Pentallion said:

Just watch Another Life on Netflix.  Their drive is reactionless.  It's what NASA is trying to make.  And it's FTL.  It's also the same kind of drive I used in Junkyard Blues, which will hopefully be released as an M-Space campaign in 2020.

Oooh, tell us about Junkyard Blues?

Check out our homebrew rules for freeform magic in BRP ->

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They use exotic matter to power an Alcubierre Drive.  The ship never actually "moves", it alters the space around it.  A good example is from the MIT scientist - I forget his name - who said he'd studied and helped reverse engineer alien ftl drives in Area 51: 

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A reaction drive is like when you throw a bowling ball.  Energy is applied and there is an equal, opposite reaction - which makes the bowling ball move.  Now imagine that bowling ball sitting on your bed.  You step on the bed and the bowling ball rolls downhill onto your foot.  No energy was applied to the bowling ball.  That's what their (the aliens) reactionless drive did.  Our job was to figure out how.

NASA started, stopped and has now resumed research on the Alcubierre Drive.

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This technology would not actually propel the ship to speeds exceeding light; instead, it uses the deformation of spacetime permitted by General Relativity to warp the universe  around the vessel. Essentially, when the drive is activated the spacetime behind expands, while in the front it contracts. In this respect, the path taken becomes a time-like free-fall.

As the above article goes on to say, warp drive will require negative energy densities.  What some here call Unobtanium, I call something else in Junkyard Blues and the Netflix series Another Life calls simply 'exotic matter'.  What I call this exotic matter is based on the (fictional) breakthrough that allowed immense negative energy densities to exist based on the Casimir Effect.

If you want to know more - and why it is a critical component in the campaign - you'll just have to buy Junkyard Blues when it comes out, hopefully sometime next year. 

As for Junkyard Blues itself, the PCs starship crashes on a small planetoid composed entirely of wrecked starships.  The Junkyard.  They will need to learn how to survive on a twisted metal hellhole because it will take some time to make repairs and what they need to get off the Junkyard isn't readily available.  And they're not alone.

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I'm impatient with NASA, entirely unfairly.  But we had the gear to explore the moon when I was 8 years old.  Now my grandchildren are having to wait for Mars?  We should already be colonizing the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, damn it!  Outland and 2001 A Space Odyssey should be our nightly news instead of all that other junk.  Yes, there are medical and transportation challenges still to overcome.  But it as if NASA gave up on manned space travel after the Challeger disaster.  Tragic as that was, it is a fender-bender compared to the grand struggle for mankind to spread across the world, including the New World.  Let us build our domed undersea cities Atlantis and Pacifica, then use the experiences to guide our conquest of the solar system if we can't yet reach reach the stars.  It is who we are as human beings.  Our dreams have grown too small.

And I still want my George Jetson car, dang it!

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On 10/12/2019 at 12:44 AM, seneschal said:

I'm impatient with NASA, entirely unfairly.  But we had the gear to explore the moon when I was 8 years old.  Now my grandchildren are having to wait for Mars?  We should already be colonizing the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, damn it!  Outland and 2001 A Space Odyssey should be our nightly news instead of all that other junk.  Yes, there are medical and transportation challenges still to overcome.  But it as if NASA gave up on manned space travel after the Challeger disaster.  Tragic as that was, it is a fender-bender compared to the grand struggle for mankind to spread across the world, including the New World.  Let us build our domed undersea cities Atlantis and Pacifica, then use the experiences to guide our conquest of the solar system if we can't yet reach reach the stars.  It is who we are as human beings.  Our dreams have grown too small.

And I still want my George Jetson car, dang it!

It's not just NASA. It is the universe itself.  FTL is probably impossible. Generation ships are probably impossible. Interstellar travel of all kinds probably is impossible.

 

We have to deal with that.

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2 hours ago, Thot said:

It's not just NASA. It is the universe itself.  FTL is probably impossible. Generation ships are probably impossible. Interstellar travel of all kinds probably is impossible.

We have to deal with that.

I tend to feel that we literally do not know what is possible and what is not.

Every few decades, people seem to think that they have finally got things almost right, that there are no new Great Breakthroughs to be made (only details to work out).

History suggests that we are probably no more correct than they were.

And science fiction doesn't really care; everybody has their own hard-vs-soft thresholds for their sci-fi.   😁

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On 10/11/2019 at 3:44 PM, seneschal said:

I'm impatient with NASA, entirely unfairly.

I blame the socio-political environs of NASA, more than NASA itself.  I expect most of them are at least as impatient as you are...  😠

 

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Update:  this very morning I saw a TV interview with one of our lady astronauts showing off NASA's shiny new vacuum suits.  Apparently NASA is preparing a 2024 moon mission to establish a base on the satellite's south pole.  What we learn doing so will help pave the way to Mars.

Whew!  I feel better now.

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

I tend to feel that we literally do not know what is possible and what is not.

Well, the last fundamental breakthrough in physics was almost a century ago. I'd love to be wrong, but it doesn't seem there are big loopholes that allow interstellar travel in this universe or any that is accessible.

If our own physics isn't indicator enough, consider this: We have not been visited.

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1 hour ago, Thot said:

Well, the last fundamental breakthrough in physics was almost a century ago. I'd love to be wrong, but it doesn't seem there are big loopholes that allow interstellar travel in this universe or any that is accessible.

If our own physics isn't indicator enough, consider this: We have not been visited.

Dunno.  While I believe that we are limited by real natural (and supernatural) laws, mankind has consistently accomplished feats thought previously to be impossible.  That's the point of the Tower of Babel story in Genesis.  God Himself said (speaking of the bad people who were giving Him the middle finger, mind), "If I don't do something to stop these guys, they will establish an Evil Galactic Empire with their baked-mud technology.  There's nothing they won't be able to accomplish."  And that's why He confused the languages.

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1 hour ago, Thot said:

Well, the last fundamental breakthrough in physics was almost a century ago. I'd love to be wrong, but it doesn't seem there are big loopholes that allow interstellar travel in this universe or any that is accessible.

We are still trying to find out about the nature of space, and concepts like Dark Matter and Dark Energy may provide inights and even future technologies that find ways to work around the limitations of Einsteinian space-time. Right now, they are reminiscent of the Ether postulated to carry radio waves. Like the concept of the Phlogiston theory, which got the order of magnitude of the mass of chemical energy wrong, but ultimately was vindicated with E=mC² or m=E/C², the properties of the yet unobserved space may provide a medium in space that a future drive might interact with.

The alternative is a space-warping technology. Whether it takes something like the Alcubierre math using exotic matter with negative energy or something slightly less extreme like a circular near-singularity by slowing C (not in vacuum, but in the medium used) to walking speed and moving the medium at that speed while pumping it full of light, weird effects may be possible.

We haven't gotten much closer to understanding gravity and whether there is a quantum "particle" describing the exchange.

 

Also, there have been assumptions about physical limitations that have been overcome by engineering, like e.g. optical microscopes with resolutions better than the raw application of the Heisenberg relation suggested, by not directly looking.

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If our own physics isn't indicator enough, consider this: We have not been visited.

Within memory of our culture, which is at most 12,000 of our planet's rotations around the sun.

And the planet might be a protected biodiversity habitat, or rather might have been one prior to our efforts during the last few centuries. When the park rangers return, they might be angry about the squatters.

Assuming that it takes sublight speeds to travel from star to star, would you send such an expedition lasting centuries to watch primates fling their feces at one another?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 minutes ago, Joerg said:

  ... When the park rangers return, they might be angry about the squatters...

JESUS IS COMING !!!

and boy, is he pissed

 

Edit:  we don't have to buy the ENTIRE vonDaniken hypothesis to posit that at least ONE of our Earthly legends has an alien-origin attached.  Not to mention that "odd sightings" (i.e. non-contact surveillance) from thousands of years ago could easily have been unrecorded, or have records we haven't yet found, or have found but haven't properly interpreted).

Edited by g33k
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Just now, g33k said:

JESUS IS COMING !!!

and boy, is he pissed

As predicted by the evangelist John, in Revelations. Or somewhat differing in details.

 

Musing about the Fermi paradox can be fun, or it can be dull.

Me, I want me a form of space opera setting that makes a couple of unobtainium assumptions in a sufficiently logical form, much like I accept similar assumptions for magic, deities, or even an improbable universe like Glorantha.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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30 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Me, I want me a form of space opera setting that makes a couple of unobtainium assumptions in a sufficiently logical form, much like I accept similar assumptions for magic, deities, or even an improbable universe like Glorantha.

I'd like to see Glorantha: Starships, which would be like Starfinder, the space version of Pathfinder - aliens and robots I mean "construct-golems" use D&D magic as science. I'm not a fan of D&D but the idea is exceptionally cool because you have demonic rifles and efreet-enchanted spacesuits for walking on the Sun and druids to maintain living ships, etc.

A Glorantha: Starships mechanic would involve a lot of the same cultic activity as the game now. Mahome runs your engine or whatever.

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10 hours ago, g33k said:

I tend to feel that we literally do not know what is possible and what is not.

Even if we are not sure about our own physics, we can deduce from the fact that there is no alien colony on this planet.

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And science fiction doesn't really care; everybody has their own hard-vs-soft thresholds for their sci-fi.   😁

Sure, I do FTL SF myself from time to time, have even written a novel or two with it. But let's not kid ourselves: Those are no less fantasy than stories with elves, dwarves and orcs.

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

We haven't gotten much closer to understanding gravity and whether there is a quantum "particle" describing the exchange.

The thing is, we have. It's just a lot more boring than we had hoped.

6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Also, there have been assumptions about physical limitations that have been overcome by engineering,

But it's not an assumption.  See, even if Special Relativity's axiom  of light speed being an ultimate upper limit turns out to be wrong, the amount of energy required to get even close to that speed is forbiddingly high. I mean, really, really forbiddingly high.

 

6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Within memory of our culture, which is at most 12,000 of our planet's rotations around the sun.

Why would aliens leave? And why would then not another civilization come, settle and stay?

At least one of the many civilizations that must exist in our universe would feel the need to grow and spread out. That one would grow exponentially, eventually settling every known place in the universe (not just our galaxy). And that would have happened millions of years ago already - which means we'd already be a part of it.

We have not been visited, otherwise we'd simply know from direct, on-planet evidence that interstellar travel is possible. The answer to Fermi's paradox is not a great filter, but the simple fact that interstellar distances are just too large to overcome.

6 hours ago, Joerg said:

And the planet might be a protected biodiversity habitat, or rather might have been one prior to our efforts during the last few centuries. When the park rangers return, they might be angry about the squatters.

The notion of an interstellar embargo of any kind only works when there is FTL. Without it, how are you going to enforce it?

But even in protected parks, there are violations of that protection status from time to time.  By now, we would have noticed.

6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Assuming that it takes sublight speeds to travel from star to star, would you send such an expedition lasting centuries to watch primates fling their feces at one another?

I would simply not care for the local animals (and animals some interstellar civilizations would deem us, and treat us accordingly). I'd just do what we humans always do: Take what's theirs and be rich with it. And we humans do that because it is the optimal strategy to spread our genes, which is what we (and any other lifeform conceivable) are evolved to do. This would not differ with aliens.

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5 minutes ago, Thot said:

Even if we are not sure about our own physics, we can deduce from the fact that there is no alien colony on this planet.

Sure, I do FTL SF myself from time to time, have even written a novel with it. But let's not kid ourselves: Those are no less fantasy than stories with elves, dwarves and orcs.

This is what people said about flying or sailing past the horizon, too...

Why would there have to be an alien colony on our planet to prove past visits?

1 minute ago, Thot said:

The thing is, we have. It's just a lot more boring than we had hoped.

Quantum gravity is not really resolved, is it?

1 minute ago, Thot said:

But it's not an assumption.  See, even if Special Relativity's axiom  of light speed being an ultimate upper limit turns out to be wrong, the amount of energy required to get even close to that speed is forbiddingly high. I mean, really, really forbiddingly high.

Yes, zipping around at near-lightspeed with something like a buzzard ramjet (something quite close to a second order perpetuum mobile) appears quite unrealistic. Moving through interstellar space is a boring case of millennia of "are we there yet" with the slight problem of remaining alive and goal-oriented during that journey.

 

1 minute ago, Thot said:

Why would aliens leave? And why would then not another civilization come, settle and stay?

Why settle here? Just because we have adapted for this, our planet's circadian cycles and surface gravity might be deleterious to the visitors, our biosphere too aggressive, and our atmosphere toxic or at least noxious to the explorers taking a look at our rock with their interstellar probes.

1 minute ago, Thot said:

At least one of the many civilizations that must exist in our universe would feel the need to grow and spread out. That one would grow exponentially, eventually settling every known place in the universe (not just our galaxy). And that would have happened millions of years ago already - which means we'd already be a part of it.

Sure. But why would such a civilization settle on planets? Look at the level of urbanisation humanity has accumulated in the last few centuries, and extrapolate from there. Constructing the perfect habitat is what we perceive as the hallmark of civilization. Why deal with all the drawbacks provided by planets? And then, a planet in a resource-depleted aggregation disk like ours when a freshly formed solar system has way more in terms of accessible resources?

 

1 minute ago, Thot said:

We have not been visited, otherwise we'd simply know from direct, on-planet evidence that interstellar travel is possible. The answer to Fermi's paradox is not a great filter, but the simple fact that interstellar distances are just too large to overcome.

You are extremely focussed on planetary life as the only thinkable way of expansion. What are the advantages of having to reproduce aeons of adaptive evolution just to occupy another mudball if your technology allows you to survive travel across interstellar space?

Look at the projections made by SF authors like Jules Vernes and his contemporaries. Those were made by extrapolating their cutting edge technology and society into the future. Our own projections are likewise limited, but of course we are at the pinnacle of insight and couldn't probably be surpassed, aren't we/could we?

 

Plus, do we have clear evidence that the introduction of cyanobacteria to our biosphere was not an invasive species?

There was a rather recent paper (a year or two ago) that tackled the problem that traces of a technological civilization prior to the Chixculub impact would be very hard. Even ceramics have a very hard time surviving such time-spans.

 

 

1 minute ago, Thot said:

But even in protected parks, there are violations of that protection status from time to time.  By now, we would have noticed.

With travel times in the range of our history as sapients in a slower than light setting, visits to outlying systems even by a swarm of drones don't have to occur that frequently.

 

1 minute ago, Thot said:

I would simply not care for the local animals (and animals some interstellar civilizations would deem us, and treat us accordingly). I'd just do what we humans always do: Take what's theirs and be rich with it. And we humans do that because it is the optimal strategy to spread our genes, which is what we (and any other lifeform conceivable) are evolved to do. This would not differ with aliens.

So what resources does our planet offer that you couldn't get out of the Jupiter or Saturn system or lift off Mercury with less interference and trouble? What exactly makes our dirtball prime estate for a space-faring civilization?

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 9/25/2019 at 7:21 AM, Thot said:

That was indeed my impression, but that's disappointing. Fuel is THE big issue with spacecraft.

Well, then I'll just have to use GURPS Spaceships, converted to metric. The stats will work with BRP with only slight conversion, I believe.

That's sort of the irony of space travel.  We always imagine Buck Rogers or Han Solo blasting into orbit, and that is true up to a point.  But once you've escaped the gravity well and gotten up to the desired velocity, being a rocket man is much more like Dave Bowman in 2001 A Space Odyssey.  You can shut off the engines and drift at speed until you need to alter direction or slow down ("The Blue Danube" optional).

"Open the pod bay doors , HAL!".

Humans have an annoying tendency to turn their elves and dwarves fantasies into realities, by risk and recklessness if not by smarts and science.  Jules Verne's submarine has already been mentioned; that is a smarts and science example.  The airship -- the classic German zeppelin -- is an example of the former process.  Now, the early 20th century Germans were indeed excellent engineers, scientists and machinists.  But they dominated the early lighter-than-air aircraft industry largely because they simply wouldn't quit trying no matter how many brave/foolish would-be airmen got killed in the process.  The French, British, Italians and Americans weren't as willing to endure the same level of risk and thus lagged behind.  There was nothing systematic about airship development; it was mostly trial and error.

 

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

This is what people said about flying or sailing past the horizon, too...

No, they didn't. Many people said it was theoretically possible, it was just supposed to be too difficult engineering.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Why would there have to be an alien colony on our planet to prove past visits?

There would be a colony (we would BE a colony) because the whole universe would be teeming with their colonies, nd there would simply be no matter left not used by their civilization(s). Billions of years of time!

Do a little compuation on how long we would need to settle the galaxy with 0.1c ships and a propulation growth rate of 2%. That's 400 billion stars. Please, do it. It's insightful.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Quantum gravity is not really resolved, is it?

Details. We know how gravity works and that matter causes gravity. Quantum gravity would just be a more detailed model that is reconciled with other models for other areas of physics.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Moving through interstellar space is a boring case of millennia of "are we there yet" with the slight problem of remaining alive and goal-oriented during that journey.

Not just a few millennia. Millions of years.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Why settle here? Just because we have adapted for this, our planet's circadian cycles and surface gravity might be deleterious to the visitors, our biosphere too aggressive, and our atmosphere toxic or at least noxious to the explorers taking a look at our rock with their interstellar probes.

Sure. But why would such a civilization settle on planets?

At the very least, to exploit the planets' resources. Break them up and consume them. But we'd have noticed if that had happened.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Look at the projections made by SF authors like Jules Vernes and his contemporaries. Those were made by extrapolating their cutting edge technology and society into the future.

But that is what I am doing. I am extrapolating, and the result is: Sorry guys, no FTL, no interstellar flight, but a solar system teeming with life.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Plus, do we have clear evidence that the introduction of cyanobacteria to our biosphere was not an invasive species?

We do have evidence that no alien intelligent life has stripmined our planet.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

There was a rather recent paper (a year or two ago) that tackled the problem that traces of a technological civilization prior to the Chixculub impact would be very hard. Even ceramics have a very hard time surviving such time-spans.

Sure, that is possible. I like to use that notion, too. Keep in ind, though, that we have found an awful lot of fossil fuels... which a prior civilization would likely have used.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

So what resources does our planet offer that you couldn't get out of the Jupiter or Saturn system or lift off Mercury with less interference and trouble? What exactly makes our dirtball prime estate for a space-faring civilization?

Our planet doesn't offer anything different from there, but more of it. Growth is exponential and needs EVERYTHING. If you can get it.

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2 hours ago, seneschal said:

Humans have an annoying tendency to turn their elves and dwarves fantasies into realities, by risk and recklessness if not by smarts and science.

Humans are creative users of natural laws, not changers of natural laws.

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