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Graphic Novelist Wanting to Verify Info

  1. Jan 18, 2012 #1
    I want to double check a piece of dialogue talking about a renovation in aerospace travel. This renovation enables Earth to Mar's transit in seventeen hours or so.

    "October, 2014. Terra-Cotter revolutionizes magneto plasma rockets by hybridizing thermal syncs and cyclical cyclotron resonance decreasing Earth-Mars transit to forty-eight hours."

    If this doesn't make sense, tell me how it can. And what it would require.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 18, 2012 #2


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    I think you mean "innovation". :wink:
    1] 48 hours to Mars is ridiculously short. At closest approach, and as the crow flies, Mars is 35 million miles away. (At farthest distance, Mars is over 400 million miles away.) Under optimal conditions (once a year) that's still a speed of 3/4ths of a million mph - 20 times our fastest space probe and 30 times our fastest manned capsule.
    2] That's not counting acceleration and deceleration. Factoring these in makes your top speed even higher, depending on how many g's you want your passengers to pull.
    3] The fuel to do this would be ridiculous. And more fuel means a bigger craft. And a bigger craft means more fuel. It is a snowball process. So, what happens is, you get a formula that correlates mass of craft with the inverse of trip duration. You craft might have to be 100 or 200 times larger than a craft delivering the same payload at more a reasonable speed of many weeks or months.

    At one point, you say 17 hours. This just cannot be done in any near future scenario. It would require new forms of propulsion so that the fuel storage does not consume 99.99% of your payload allotment. Also, regardless of fuel, you're going to definitely run into accelerative force problems with your passengers. No way around that except immersing them in water for the entire trip.

    We are a century or more away from what you want.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  4. Jan 18, 2012 #3
    And the theory of antimatter particle collision propulsion?
  5. Jan 18, 2012 #4


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    You haven't mentioned anything about that. I don't know what "magneto plasma rockets by hybridizing thermal syncs and cyclical cyclotron resonance" is.

    But if you're firing off a matter-antimatter rocket near Earth, the population will have something to say about the radiation.

    Regardless of your propulsion method, you'd need to verify how many g's your payload will be pulling.

    Assume it accelerates at constant rate for half the trip, then decelerates. So halve 35,000,000 miles and halve the time (17 hours or 48 hours depending on which you meant), how many g's must it pull to travel 17.5 million miles in 8.5/24 hours?
  6. Jan 18, 2012 #5
    Well, it may have been too advantageous of me to root all of by science fiction elements in factual "using the term loosely" theory. So, does this sound coherent enough that the less knowledgeable wouldn't care to understand it, and just accept it has a bit of unfeasible science fiction?

    By hybridizing, I mean that these spaceflight engines use combustive fuels to break atmo and then switch to ionic/plasma particle propulsion systems for travel within space. My understanding is that the VASMIR engine is too small to grant larger objects motion at great speeds, and can easily overheat when used steadily. So by recycling energy and using "I guess" cooling conduits of a sort, these modifications allow these multiple and much larger "versions" of the VASMIR to steadily propel spacecraft.

    It's supposed to be crude in a manner of speaking. Not to mention my science literacy is extremely limited when it comes to a exact and full understanding the jargon I'm using. I've done so much background research that my head is spinning, hard to keep it all in line and "accurate." I have a psychology background, and use biological psychology profusely with things like nano-molecular research.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  7. Jan 18, 2012 #6


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    I think the biggest problem is not the details but the big picture.

    Even if some revolutionary technology were discovered, it will optimistically be a decade before it could be turned into a propulsive system, and then another decade building craft to put people in it to go to a distant planet beyond any help if their new craft runs into trouble.

    You just would not have a new technology being turned into a manned mission in your timeframe.

    Not to mention the fact that what would these people do once they got there? If they are the first pioneers, then they need to bring their entire habitat with them, as well as the means to get home (and all the fuel to do so as well).

    Now, the keyword here is "realistic". In a graphic novel, realism is not necessarily paramount, so you can tell bigger lies, as long as you get your readers to accept it. The bigger the lie, the sooner in your story you need to tell it. So, in the first couple of pages, you must let your reader know that space technology has taken a giant leap.
  8. Jan 18, 2012 #7
    I do, after introduction to the main protagonist and how events in his life leave him wanting to get away when he accepts a proposal that has him placed in cryonic stasis for the better part of three hundred years. During this time, and given from a past recollection of coming to an understanding how the future became what it is; he narrates the advances that have humanity spread across terraformed planets like Mars and moons around Jupiter as well as living in city sized space-stations or within containment domes on places that were impossible to terraform, etc along those lines.

    Hence my timeline is generous enough to space-out the stages of the future settings development. However, this aforementioned bit of dialogue comes from a sub-character. I call IT, Buddy, which is a nano-brain that serves as a codex of human history. This gives me the opportunity to elaborate on how key settings came to be, societal structures, and what have you. Understandably, there is a lot that happens before this dialogue that's led up to it. I know it's coherent enough to "make sense" because I've taken peer reviews copiously. All of which get the idea.

    I could surmise the future setting for you if you'd care to read it. How it came to be, at least. I want to be as scientifically factual as I possibly can.
  9. Jan 19, 2012 #8


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    This is a resource that might help you: http://www.transhuman.talktalk.net/iw/TravTime.htm

    It allows you to work out the travel times under a specific acceleration. By selecting Earth-Mars Median distance and 1G constant acceleration (with turnover half way) we get 3 days and ~22 hours. To get that down to around 17 hours means going constantly at 25-30Gs which is going to post big problems to your passengers, you'd also have to take into account the amount of fuel it would use and the efficiency of the engine. The more fuel you had the harder the engine has to push to accelerated it at the same g-force.
  10. Jan 19, 2012 #9


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    There are two ways of writing SF. One requires you to follow physics - which means you have to understand it. The other requires you to create your own physics - which means those knowing physics will know you are making up stuff. In such a situation it is better not to go into details, as it is way to easy to make an idiot out of yourself. Just state there exists a technology that allows such a trip in 48 hours.

    After all, we don't care how does the light saber work and where does its energy come from, Star Wars are a great movie. We also don't care about the physics behind Gandalf's spells, we just love the Middleearth.
  11. Jan 19, 2012 #10
    Many SF writers use the "Inertial Dampener" concept. But as Borek said, for things like that where you have no idea how they do/would/could work, it's best just to say, "2015 - Inertial dampener facilitates sustained G-force of up to 28G" or something.

    Also, no offense, but I hope your whole story isn't riddled with jargony words/phrases like "hybridized thermal syncs" and "cyclical cyclotron resonance"...
  12. Jan 19, 2012 #11


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    A couple of pieces of advice to add to this: firstly make sure that whatever physics you use it is internally consistent e.g. Spaceship X is capable of accelerating to 0.99c in no time at all but the nation that built it still uses nuclear weapons as their most powerful. Secondly good SF explores (even if it is just as scenery/background) how a given technology/science will adjust society, e.g. if everyone is born with a chip in their brain that acts like a smartphone (communicating, general computing, GPS, googling, recording etc) then will anyone really know what it means to be lost? Or not be able to look something up? Or to forget? Or to be separate from others?
    Whilst this is a usual SF troupe personally I find it lazy except in Alastair Reynolds Revelation space series. There the technology is not only dangerous in the fact it can wildly malfunction but also because if a human is inside the zone of influence they experience adverse health effects e.g. heart palpitations because there is a disconnect between how much pressure it is sensing and how strong it is beating.
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