I thought I had posted my helmsman/hyperspace headcanon which I have used in The Exigencies of the Service and Engine Song, but I can’t find it so maybe I didn’t. Anyway, here it is, with the caveat that it’s kinda cribbed from Cherryh’s Alliance-Union-Compact ‘verse.
- Helmsmen are not actually capable of propelling a starship faster than the speed of light using only their minds. That would be silly.
- Hyperdrive works like this: when you are sufficiently out of a gravity well, you activate your hyperdrive vanes (external antenna things, honestly kind of vulnerable which is why they’re retractable) and go into a subuniverse where distances are shorter so you can effectively cross a certain distance faster than light could.
- Within this subuniverse, due to the wonky geometries, sensors don’t work effectively so you can’t do navigation except via dead reckoning. This means that nearly every species known simply points their ship at a known star position and hits “go” and unless your navigator is particularly incompetent you’ll hit that star’s gravity well.
- You re-emerge into normal space as soon as you hit a star’s gravity well (well outside the star’s actual atmosphere, thankfully). There are also non-star masses in deep space where smugglers like to use for meetings. Black holes are also viable targets, but are rather dangerous neighborhoods to hang out in.
- You re-emerge into space going very fast (though not above 0.1c, and therefore not meaningfully relativistic). A very convenient method of braking is simply to activate your hyperspace vanes again; you’ll go into hyperspace, get thrown out immediately, and bleed off velocity as you do. Repeat as necessary until your crew is vomiting all over your control panels or you have decelerated to a safe speed.
- Since humans and other non-troll species can’t change speed or course in hyperspace, lest they get lost, it’s very easy to tell where they’ll come out based on their vector when they went in.
- The thing helmsmen do for trolls is they can use their psionics and the brain-ship interface to sense their surroundings and manipulate the vane settings. This lets them change course safely, as well as get better performance out of their hyperdrive.
- Since the entire ship is at the mercy of the helmsman during flight, it is wise to ensure you can trust the troll you wire into your starship. Traditionally, HIC’s navy accomplished this via brainwashing and torture, but other methods are possible.
- Even troll sensory psionics are limited by lightspeed, so in normal space, radar and lidar are supplemented with “longscan”, which is basically systematized hunches about what ships are doing. Helmsmen typically also make excellent longscan enhancers.
Anyway, that’s what I came up with, because I like kitbashing interesting starship operation procedures. I hope this is useful to something.
As some of you might already have guessed, I’m a fan of Japanese girl idols. One of the many, many idol groups in existence today in Japan is NMB48, a Osaka-based spin-off group of the (in)famous AKB48. NMB has a weekly show that’s surprisingly entertaining as well as educational called NMB to Manabu-kun, in which the members of NMB and a few comedians listen to guest lectures by experts in various fields.
Back on May 15th, the theme of the episode was pataphysics/the science of sci-fi. One of the topics of the lecture held by university professor Yanagita Rikao was the age-old question of “WHY ARE MAGICAL GIRLS NEVER ATTACKED WHILE TRANSFORMING???”
This was his answer, based on the magical girl series Futari wa Pretty Cure.
Question: The transformation scenes in Pretty Cure are very long, so why don’t the bad guys attack the girls in the meantime?
“Even when I was little, I was thinking ‘Hey! Attack them now!’”
“I found this odd as well, so I watched the transformation scene many times. And what I noticed is, when the Pretty Cures yell ‘Dual Aurora Wave!’ and transform, a rainbow-colored column of light shoots up from the ground, going BOOM!”
“And then the Pretty Cures levitate, and go up into the air. Based on this, I believe the protagonists of Pretty Cure are being held up in the air by the power of light.”
“When we think of light, we usually think it heats up things or lights up things. But in reality, light has the power to hold up things as well.”
“When the sun is beating down on us in the summer, the human body is being pressed downwards by the sun beams with a force of 2/100,000g.”
“But this is only about a one-hundred of the weight of a mosquito, so no matter how hot it is, we don’t feel that sunlight is heavy.”
“So that means the light holding them up must be extremely strong. If we assume that the two Pretty Cures each weigh about 45kg and do some calculations…”
“It means the light during the transformation must have the energy of 2,100,000,000kW per 1m2.”
“While the entirety of power that Japan is capable of generating is only 100,000,000kW.”
“So they’re using 21 TIMES the amount of energy the whole of Japan can generate.”
“So what would happen if a bad guy jumped in to try to sabotage their transformation?”
“He would EVAPORATE INSTANTLY.”
“DEATH AWAITS ANYONE WHO DARES TO DISRUPT A PRETTY CURE TRANSFORMATION.”
“So this means the best thing to do would be to transform close to any bad guys.”
“Yes. They are the strongest while they transform, and are practically invincible.”
When you apply science to magical girls, you find out just how strong and horrifying they really would be.
i hate when scientists are like ‘this planet cant have aliens on it because there’s no water! the atmosphere is wrong! theres not enough heat to sustain life!’ because dude theyre aliens, nobodys saying they need any of those things to exist
we’re so humanocentric it’s infuriating. just because we can’t live there doesn’t mean nothing can! like, never mind aliens, we do this with our own fucking planet! scientists used to think nothing could possibly live at the bottom of the oceans, because “all life needs sunlight to survive, of course!” yet what did we find when we invented submarines that could go deep enough? the barren wasteland the scientists were expecting? fuck no! the bottom of the sea is teeming with all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures even wackier than anything they ever came up with in star trek!
when we discover aliens, we probably won’t even fucking realise it, because they’ll be so different from what we’re used to as ‘life’, we won’t even recognise them as living beings
things are heating up in the alien fandom
First, I’m going to link you to an article with a rundown on pupil shapes, because it covers some weird ones.
Cross-shaped pupils would likely serve a similar purpose as a Tokay gecko’s scallop, a dolphin’s u-shape, or cuttlefish’s w-shape: when it contracts, it gives multiple distinct openings that project multiple distinct images (if you’re a cuttlefish you have two fovea to take advantage of this).
this allows for incredibly precise judgement of distance, as there is a very narrow range in which all images will correctly overlap to form a single picture.
Otherwise, a cross could function in a similar way as a vertical or horizontal slit: when different parts of the retina have different photoreceptive cells, a slit pupil ensures that even contracted, all photoreceptors receive some light, where a round pupil would block some entirely.
R&D is basically a dumping ground for smart people who should on no account ever be left on their own. The more useful parts of R&D deal with the technicalities of living in space – air & water recycling, waste disposal, Helming efficiency. A whole bunch of displaced jadebloods go into developing the drones – tending the mothergrub and eggs and lusii, of course, but also the harvester and mining drones that shoot fresh supplies into space from planets adopted into the Empire. Other people who really, really should not be left on their own or around other people or drink a cup of tea unsupervised work on developing weapons – which is interesting, given that the Empire is a cohesive whole and has not needed to fight against any other Empire colonising their universe.
The place is full of people who are extremely needful of having their Own Way of doing things, and is the only place in the Empire that even pretends at letting Other Ways exist after Ascension. Of course, all of these Own Ways conflict with everyone else’s Own Ways, and all of these people are high-ranking and have access to some incredibly dangerous shit, which means conflict turns bad quicker than a snap of the fingers.
(Do note whose fingers remains undefined.)
Anyway, this is why R&D has psychologists. I’ve already talked off rairii‘s ear about R&D psychologists, since she was interested in the only place in the Alternian Empire that had psychological staff, so I’ll pop what I can find of that here for you, summarised as much as possible because me an’ words are a dangerous combination:
- R&D psychologists grew out of a tradition of psychological support rooted in casual concialiatory relationships – the very first psychologists were casually ashen/pale for pay in R&D and got overwhelmed by the demand, basically
- because R&D is terrifying and will break people
- The first generations of R&D psychologists were basically factions of scientists screaming at each other about what kind of support services net the most positive outcomes in the patient’s ability to contribute to the Empire long-term and that should just about tell you everything you need to know about R&D
- Later generations started developing and trialling medications for mental health problems that presented more frequently – anxiety is the big one, for obvious reasons, and there were also a lot of experiments with sopor derivatives as part of treating PTSD.
- the testing was exactly as ethical as you might expect from an empire that secretly tears apart and enslaves a significant proportion of the population as a renewable energy source
- this was eventually discontinued because the Alternian Empire does not give a single shit about your problems, especially when your problems are expensive.
If you want to know any more, do throw your questions onextendedvacation‘s way! I made the blog for keeping all the worldbuilding, amongst other things, so if you really want me to get into the nitty-gritty, that blog is going to be your jam.
In the film “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the character “Groot” is a walking, talking tree that seems to defy nature. How outlandish is the idea of a plant-animal hybrid?
Here’s a print for Beyond the Breach, a Pacific Rim fanbook. The Kickstarter can be found here, along with more information. A variety of incredible works are in the book, so please help fund it (and get a neat copy) if you can! A lot of love and hard work went into it, it’s pretty amazing!