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Brand New Elements in the Same Old Universe

  1. Dec 6, 2014 #1
    My interest leans more towards space opera than hard science fiction, but I'm aware that I can't completely ignore the universe as we know it. A question that has intrigued me lately is: "Are there really new elements and materials to be found in the galaxy, or are we going to find the same elements in any star system in the galaxy that we find here?

    The example from science fiction that immediately comes to mind is the dilithium crystal from Star Trek. Why would these things be found in other parts of the galaxy and not here? What would be the engine for creating the crystals in another part of the galaxy and not here?

    I'm not enough of a Trekkie to know if this dilemma has ever been dealt with by the fan base. The hypothesis that I have been playing with is that a white-hole incident happened in a different part of the galaxy, and the ejecta from that incident became part of the planetary structure in the star systems surrounding where the incident took place. I have no intention of writing up a paper on this subject for review from real physicists, but it seems a plausible explanation from a science fiction basis.

    Your thoughts and input would be appreciated.
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  3. Dec 6, 2014 #2

    Doug Huffman

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    Our universe is generally regarded as isotropic on observable scales. Long ago and far away I enjoyed a tale incorporating Lux and Relux as materials with properties similar to Unobtanium and Semi-unobtanium.
  4. Dec 6, 2014 #3


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    The periodic table is applicable everywhere, not just here.

    They would not. This is sci fic and has nothing to do with science.

    For sci fic purposes it seems to me quite reasonable that you could say that new "alloys" had been discovered. That is, new ways of combining existing elements to produce something new, the way bronze, which is copper and tin, made MUCH stronger swords that either copper OR tin. Don't go into technobabble about it, just state it as a fact.
  5. Dec 6, 2014 #4
    A story isn't actually being written yet. This is the gathering background phase of the process. I may be waving a magic wand here, but it's still a good idea to figure out how the magic wand might work. After all, you might want to write a new story about the same magic wand, and figuring out the mechanics of proper magic wand use will provide you with consistency from story to story.
  6. Dec 6, 2014 #5


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    Check up on Larry Niven's stuff. He is trained as a hard scientist, and often teams up with Jerry Pournelle who actually works as one. Larry has a whole fantasy series that he somehow makes plausible (well, maybe it just seems that way because everything is so damned cute, but still...) I can't remember anywhere near all of the stories. One for sure is "The Magic Goes Away", wherein magic is a natural resource like oil or timber. Whenever it's used, there is less available for the next time. So... what happens when someone deliberately builds an unstoppable wheel that spins constantly by using up all of the magic that gets near it?
    Get a copy of "The Flight of the Horse". Even if it doesn't help you regarding your question, I guarantee that you'll enjoy it. (Spoiler alert: museum gofer is sent back in time to retrieve samples of extinct species. Unfortunately for him, realities must be crossed in order to time-travel. The name of the book comes from the fact that, in the first story (each chapter is a new story), he goes back for a horse and returns with a Pegasus.)
    Oh, yeah... also read "What Good Is a Glass Dagger?" It's in the same series.
    A little more off-the-wall is Jack Chalker's work. It's total fantasy as opposed to SF or even sci-fi, but he attributes everything (not convincingly) to the manipulation of quantum wave functions rather than "magic" :oldeyes:. The books are actually very enjoyable, though. There are several series which are internally consistent but have no overlap with each other. I can tell you one thing for sure—after you read "Midnight at the Well of Souls" and its 5 or 6 sequels, you will become absolutely addicted to the video of Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero".

    I can't watch that thing without thinking "Stringer" the whole time. (You'll have to find out what that means for yourself.)
    As for elements, though... the only way that you could have a new one, which is actually done on a fairly regular basis, is to keep stuffing in more protons. The periodic table is full, but not confined. Heavier things can always be added (with the condition that they can exist stably at least long enough to be identified).
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  7. Dec 6, 2014 #6

    Thank for your time. I read a lot of Niven and Pournelle years ago, though I never got into Niven's Magic series. I've read some Chaulker but he always left me a little cold. I take your point about not being convinced about quantum wave function manipulation but, let's face it, how convinced are you or I really convinced by any of these hypothesis? I love some schemes for Faster-Than-Light travel I've read better than others--but I don't seriously think any of them would work.There's a reason why the word Fiction is under the word Science on the book bindings. I often worry that sci fi writers are nervous enough about dealing with the necessary conservatism of the science world that they throw interesting ideas away.

    As to your quote, yeah on both accounts. You can create new elements by stuffing more protons into it, and that new element will quickly degrade back into something more sustainable. How those same new elements could be formed in nature, and stay together long enough to be of use...well that might make an interesting story wouldn't it.

    I'm a space opera buff, and love those stories where explorers find a solar system that has huge deposits of Newthingiuim, and the action proceeds from there. The problem of course is finding a plausible reason why Newthingiuim is found there and not here.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  8. Dec 6, 2014 #7


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    Not at all. I merely mentioned that aspect because I wasn't sure of how... let's see... I'm not allowed to say what I really want to here... Okay, maybe I can get away with an acronym... I don't know how much of a BS quotient you want to impart to your story. I was a writer (haven't been able to for over 20 years, as you can see from my stumbling about on PF, since I went onto my ADD meds). I also have a mind that is science/engineering oriented, although not educated (I never graduated High School). I can BS to the point that nobody without a PhD can call me on something that I write. (It took over 30 years to write my novel because I had to design a fighter jet that was capable of Mach 8 and could withstand 114 g's of load in a turn. At the same time, I had to come up with a biologically and quantum-mechanically plausible way to make both a telepath and a teleporter. I kept having to upgrade the book, because I was trying to extrapolate a couple of years ahead of current technology. By the time I finished inventing something, someone did it even better in real life so mine was obsolete. The last straw was when NASA announced that their new plane was capable of Mach 25—single stage runway to orbit. :oldgrumpy:

    NASA has been actively pursuing this for a couple of decades, but it might just be a "make work project". Since nothing with mass can travel at the speed of light (there's no rule against "faster than", hence the possibility of tachyons), their idea is to enclose a ship in a "bubble" of artificially created space-time. Nothing in the math says that space itself can't exceed c in space, so the ship could theoretically sit still within its own little piece of space, which in turns zips through the Universe at any speed that they choose.

    Okay, kid... time to drop the hammer... :oldgrumpy: :oldgrumpy: :devil: :biggrin: . I wrote, and prefer to read, SF (Science Fiction). Those are the only 2 acceptable terms for that genre. I've gone through this so many times that I finally just boiled it down to a "cheat sheet": "Star Wars" and "The Mummy" are Fantasy. "The Blob" and "The Toxic Avenger" and "Godzilla vs the Smog Monster" are sci-fi. "Charly", "Contact" and "Fahrenheit 451" are Science Fiction. Referring to Science Fiction as "sci-fi" is like calling a man's wife a whore. There is nothing wrong with any of those genres—I enjoy them all—but you do have to keep in your own mind which one you want to write. SF is primarily sociological, with a background technology that is at least theoretically possible (with a couple of exceptions; there are some "staples" of the industry that people think are plausible but really aren't) but to some extent more advanced than currently exists.
    Well... The stuff that we are made of was formed in the supernova explosion of a Population III and maybe also a P II. There are a lot of P I's out there, and one of the damned things has to blow up eventually. Get up there with a basket to collect the smelly bits that get away. There will be your new elements. :approve:
    Alright, this has been strenuous. It's time for either sex or a nap... I can't remember which... :oldcry:

    edit: Regarding my list of examples above... I used the titles of the movies, since that is the form with which most people these days are familiar. The original print version of "Charly", for instance, is "Flowers for Algernon".
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  9. Dec 6, 2014 #8
    Danger, let me try this idea on you: I came up with something I call the Chandelier. What the Chandelier is is a collection of beenstalks that are connected with set of stringers. The beanstalks have to be distributed evenly across the equator of the planet--which mans that many of them are anchored in deep water. when finished the whole thing would look like a spider's web (which, unsurprisingly, is the other name I would have given this thing). The vertical members work as beanstalks, but the horizontal stringers provide living space for people. In theory all of the human race could live in this construct.

    How do I anchor all of the beanstalks, some of which have to be sitting in the deepest water on the planet? I haven't a clue.

    Compared to anchoring all of the beanstalks I would think that connecting the stringers would be relatively easier--but Relative is a relative term, isn't it.

    Much of this contraption would be riding out ocean storms much of the time, how would that affect the ride for everyone sitting above those storms?

    I would be surprised if there aren't a dozen other problems with my brainchild I haven't thought of yet. If I did I wouldn't have the training to come up with solutions (I'm neither a scientist or an engineer).

    The sensible thing to do is to forget I ever came up with this thing. But, if I got another idea where this would be a good setting (the first one fell apart for unrelated reasons) I would write it in a heartbeat. I would start the story long after it had been completed and just assume a bunch of people who are smarter than me would have solved the problems. I love this damn thing!

    Sigh. Got things I need to do this afternoon, so I have to stop now. When I get back I'll tell you about ideas I have for my Star Wars-fantasy space opera.

    Have you considered the term: Bovine Byproduct?
  10. Dec 6, 2014 #9


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    All plants essentially do their own anchoring via the root system. I'd be far more concerned about how to isolate the stalks from the water, which would kill them.
    Also, remember that beanstalks are vines, and so need some external support structure. They can't stand on their own.

    That would depend entirely upon what sort of "suspension" system you incorporate.

    More like 852,473—but don't let that discourage you. :oldwink:
    Don't you dare! :oldsurprised: I forbid it!
    You march yourself out of here right now, young man, and inform your father that I am going to adopt you to save you from yourself...

    Are you nuts?! I grew up on farms and still reside in the heart of cattle country. I live with bovine byproducts.

    The bottom line here is that I really love your idea; what you do with the characters will determine whether or not it's a good story.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2014
  11. Dec 7, 2014 #10
    Interesting. I'm a farm boy myself. Born and raised in southern Minnesota. Actually it's 2:00 AM right now and I've been doing something very rural. I hit a deer a couple of hours ago, and got done dealing with the county an hour ago. It made the night really long just at the end. My car is going to need a new, driver's-side headlight and a bumper; I'm sure it won't cost more than about three thousand dollars. On the other hand Bambi is dead. Third one I've hit now. Damn!
  12. Dec 7, 2014 #11
    The mechanics here is why I like the White Hole Incident idea. The thought that occurred to me is that a white hole would spew out material that might have come from a different universe and that material might have an exotic composition because....well, it came from a different universe! Passing through the gut of a black hole might also create some new elements, the kind you're not going to get from a (relatively) local supernova. I freely admit that, as speculation goes, this idea is in the ether, but I'm doing this thought experiment for a space opera, not an article in Nature.
  13. Dec 7, 2014 #12


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    Have you ever tried "deer whistles"? They're very popular here, and work well. They're little plastic ultrasonic noisemakers that cost less than $20 and mount via sticky-pad to your vehicle. Each outputs a different tone which are combined into something specific. It can be heard by wildlife at least a couple of kilometres away. The idea is that they then know you're on your way and stroll off rather than see you at the last second and panic-run into your path. They work at above 50 km/h or so, and therefore might not keep your neighbourhood dogs safe. (In fact, that's a design factor intended to not unnecessarily irritate urban pets. Be impeccable about following the instructions. They have to be mounted at precise orientations and must be within line-of-sight of each other for the signals to blend properly. (You wouldn't believe the number of idiots that I see driving around with them hung on the undersides of their wing mirrors. :rolleyes: For one thing, they won't work upside-down, and for another the cab is in the way. And then they complain to the store about the deer guts in their grills and want their money back...) Anyone out there who isn't familiar with the situation (such as my high-school driver ed teacher in rural southern Ontario where there are no animals bigger than foxes) should know that hitting a deer is no joke. Something like .15% of the time it is fatal for the driver.

    And the combination, because the hypothesis that a white hole is the output end of a black hole is still considered viable as far as I know, could very well be your answer.

    Exactly! And therefore no one can prove it untrue. Now you're getting it... :devil:
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
  14. Dec 7, 2014 #13
    I live in a part of the state where the roads travel through the Minnesota River Valley and its smaller tributaries. The whole place is a wild game refuge. Many years ago I came across a deer hit outside of Mankato Minnesota (which sits inside the Minnesota River Valley) where the poor guy hit at least three deer--based on the animal body parts is saw spewed around. I won't describe what the car looked like, you may want to eat soon, but it was ugly. By the time I got there their was no one around who I could identify as a driver, everyone I saw was either a deputy, a city cop, or a highway patrolman. The windshield was gone on the vehicle (damn...I lied!), at the very least someone had to go to the hospital.

    Hey...you're right! I feel so evilly liberated!:devil:
  15. Dec 7, 2014 #14


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    Don't worry about me in that regard, but the young-uns probably should be spared. (I live near the eastern edge of a huge First Nations reserve, beyond which is Banff National Park, so... lots of critters.) My best friend used to work for the local towing company and I'd accompany him if I were bored, if it would be a long enough trip that he needed company, or if it promised to be "interesting". That was about 30 years ago, and photos of "Bambi vs. the Camaro" still grace the "wall of fame". (It was actually a Trans Am, but they look exactly the same and artistic license was taken because it sounds better.) When we arrived at the scene, one of the 2 female RCMP officers in our detachment, who was not widely noted for her sense of humour, was standing between us and the car with her notebook and pen in her hands laughing her ass off. When we asked her what was so damned funny, she could barely speak. "I... really, Jeez... I don't know whether to right this guy up for driving without due care or jaywalking or not wearing a seatbelt or..." and off in another giggle-fit, just stabbing her pen toward the car in a gesture for us to check it out ourselves. So we strolled up, and there was a muledeer upside-down in the passenger seat. It had gone through the windshield, clipped the driver's face with a hoof hard enough to break his jaw, and landed in the passenger's lap, which killed both of them.
    That same best friend, after he married my ex-girlfriend (no hard feelings, I was Best Man at the wedding) was travelling at night out in the country with her in their Ram and felt a huge thump. When he got out to investigate, there was a very alive and very pissed-off hawk stuck in the grill. Even though he had leather gloves in the truck, he wasn't willing to risk his arteries and eyeballs, so he drove the 50 km or so to the nearest town and parked in front of the Fish and Wildlife office. He called them and said that he didn't care what time it was, they had better send someone down to deal with it. Their objection was overcome when he pointed out that leaving it there was animal cruelty, but that conversely he would be charged with a felony if he tried to remove it and it died. (It's a protected species here.)
    A few years before that, my niece was driving my brother's Dodge Power Wagon. That's a fairly formidable truck. She hit a moose on a rural highway. When she shook off the surprise and looked around, the bell-housing and rear 1/4 of the engine were beside her in the cab, and the whole thing was sitting at an odd angle. The moose then stood up, gave her a dirty look, and trotted off into the woods. Upon exiting the vehicle, she saw that the impact had translated along the driveshaft and blown the rear axle off of the spring perches. It, along with the tires, was behind the truck. My brother was not pleased, but was of course immensely relieved that Shelley hadn't been injured at all.
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2014
  16. Dec 7, 2014 #15
  17. Dec 7, 2014 #16
    Danger and I have been bonding, but I have to admit the last few conversations are not likely to be of interest to this community--unless much of this community lives in the backwoods of Maine. So let me ask a question that should get us back on the reservation: Could there conceivably be local circumstances in the galaxy or the universe where some unique elements might be created? I've already stated my White Hole Incident hypothesis, but I've spent several years now thinking of multiverse questions and how different universes with subtle differences in their natural laws could--conceivably--interact. It is the first hammer I reach for whenever I think I see a nail. Anyone got a different hammer to bring to the construction sight?
  18. Dec 7, 2014 #17


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    Okay, back to unreality... :oldfrown:
    You can always just propose that someone has created such substances in a particle accelerator or similar device. After all, that is how most of the real new ones came about. As far as I know, the only limit is in what amount of energy can be put into the system.
    Also, you can bypass the beanstalk problems that I mentioned by just saying that it has been genetically modified for tolerance of salt water and whatever it takes to make it stand up, or say that it's an extraterrestrial plant species that just looks like a beanstalk and has been brought here for the exact structural purpose that you require.
  19. Dec 8, 2014 #18
    Forgive me, but I'm beginning to wonder: Beanstalk is one of those euphemisms that Clarke and Sheffield used to describe a skyhook or space elevator? I just thought you were pulling my leg the first time, now I'm not so sure.
  20. Dec 8, 2014 #19


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    Now I'm going to demonstrate the full extent of my ignorance. I love Clarke's novels, but I can't remember him using that term. I haven't read one in close to 40 years. I've never heard of Sheffield, other than as a steel manufacturer. :redface:
    This whole time, I've honestly thought that you were talking about plants. Hey, Niven had his "Integral Trees", which is very similar to what I envisioned from your questions. I thought that you were trying to do something similar.
    I'm very sorry if this misunderstanding hindered you in any way. I'd still like to keep conversing with you, if you're into it. :oldsmile:
  21. Dec 8, 2014 #20
    I'm not sure of the name of the Clarke book, I think it was The Fountains of Paradise. The name of the book that Charles Sheffield (an English physicist and science fiction, he's been dead a few years now) is The Web Between the Worlds.

    Stop talking to you? I don't think so!
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