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Budding SciFi Author with many questions

  1. Jan 23, 2008 #1
    Hello, I am a student currently finishing my compulsory education in school and I have always been interested in science and literature, and so the next obvious step would be a love of SciFi.

    I often find myself getting ideas for novels that will never come to fruition, but I know have one idea that I’m willing to work at, and for this project I have a few questions that need answering so I decided why not ask the experts.

    I am not very educated and all I am really looking for is a yes or no answer followed by a simple explanation of how it works/why it doesn't.

    So here are my questions:

    • Could we harvest nebulae for the plasma and hydrogen they are composed of?
    • Can hydrogen be used as an effective fuel?
    • Can plasma be used as an effective fuel?
    • For paraterraforming (creating domed environments on an inhabitable planet) to happen, would that mean extracting resources from our own planet i.e. soil, oxygen, therefore leaving the planet with less of this and therefore in danger? Is it possible to get the necessary components from elsewhere?
    • If the aforementioned fuels were used (hydrogen/plasma) and were released out of the domed environments into the planets own atmosphere what composition would the atmosphere take? i.e.. What would the main gases be, would there be ash covering the ground etc.
    • Are walking vehicles i.e. Star Wars At-Ats, superior to wheeled vehicles in any way/situation/environment?
    • And finally, is hover technology possible i.e. Star Wars floating tank idea (See Episode I)

    If this isn't the right place to ask these then I do not mind and if you want me to explain more about what I am asking then just tell me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2008 #2
    Anyone else have any answers/ideas?
  4. Jan 25, 2008 #3
    In terms of paraterraforming, I would think this would have to be set in the far distant future. Unless the population gets so high that there literally isn't enough room for everyone, it seems a little impractical. On Earth we already have tons of land, a decent atmosphere, and close to the right temperature, and it's all close by. If conditions ever got so bad on Earth that we couldn't breath the air, I would think we would sooner live in domes on Earth than on domes millions of miles away.
  5. Jan 25, 2008 #4
    I understand this, which is why I am deciding to set the novel in a universe much like our own. This gives me the freedom to dow ahtever I want, however, I would like to make a slightly more realistic setting as opposed to "Ummm, aliens everywhere, and lots of lasers"
  6. Jan 25, 2008 #5


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    In theory, yes, we could fly through a nebula and scoop some hydrogen. Of course, nebulae are still less dense than some of the world's highest man-made vacuums, so we'd have to fly pretty fast and scoop for quite a while...

    Only if you have oxygen (to burn it) or a fusion device (to fuse it into helium).

    Plasma is just a state of matter; most plasmas are just ionized hydrogen.

    Most rocky planets have roughly the same compositions (nitrogen, carbon, oxygen, etc.). Ideally, we'd not have to bring any raw materials from Earth. It would be uneconomical.

    If you fuse the hydrogen into helium and then dump it to the atmosphere, most of it would escape the planet entirely and enter interplanetary space. Planets the size of Earth do not have sufficient gravity to retain hydrogen or helium gases in their atmospheres. If you burn the hydrogen, you produce water, which would stick around (and form lakes or glaciers).

    I don't think it's possible to make such a blanket statement in either direction.

    Such technology is not currently known, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. It currently appears that true anti-gravity is not physically possible, though.

    - Warren
  7. Jan 25, 2008 #6


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    Almost right. The NERVA and KIWI series (and maybe others) of rocket engines pumped hydrogen through a fission pile to heat it and produce thrust.
    The Bussard ramjet (and in fiction the interstellar ramscoop), though, are based upon funneling hydrogen into a fusion reactor.
  8. Jan 25, 2008 #7


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    In this case, the hydrogen is not used a fuel, or energy source -- it's simply mass to be squirted out the end of a rocket. The energy comes from the fission pile.

    - Warren
  9. Jan 25, 2008 #8


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    This might be just a war of words. The hydrogen constitutes the reaction mass, and by definitions that I'm aware of, that makes it the 'fuel'. I agree that the energy comes from an outside source, but it still has to have a medium to react with in order to do anything.
  10. Jan 25, 2008 #9
    It does seem like anti-gravity stuff is impossible from our current point of view, but with all of the work being put into theoretical physics, unification, QG, etc, I wouldn't completely write it off.
  11. Jan 26, 2008 #10


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    I can't really foresee that happening. People are still looking for 'gravitons' as the bosuns of 'gravitational charge'. Even if they turn up, it might not make any difference. A lot of Star Trek stuff, including inertial dampers and the tractor beam, were based upon the idea of using 'anti-gravitons'. Since the alleged particles are massless, might we not expect that, like the similarlly massless photons, they are their own anti-particles? After all, we know pretty much everything that there is to be known about photons, and yet nobody has developed 'anti-light'.
    If Einstein was correct, on the other hand, how do you propose to 'unwarp' space-time?
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