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Help with a creative writing piece (not homework)

  1. Jan 11, 2010 #1
    Hello all, I would like some insight regarding a creative writing piece I am working on. As I stated on my topic this is not homework, it is an independent science fiction piece I've been working on for some time.

    I apologize in advance if this is in the wrong forum, and would appreciate direction to the proper forum if it is in violation of forum rules/guidelines.

    My conundrum involves the use of long range sensors on a ship that is moving faster than the speed of light. Personal disclaimer: I have a general knowledge of physics but am in no means an expert and am taking fictional liberties (many apologies!).

    To be more exact; my fictional spaceship is traveling inside a pocket dimension which allows it to then move faster than the speed of light through conventional means (Ion engines). I thought this to be the most 'realistic' form of FTL travel that allows my ship to circumvent traditional laws of relativity. I also figured that it neatly avoided the issue of running into a speck of dust at several times the speed of light (big bang part 2?).

    So my problem is that I require a way for the ship to be able to use spectography to analyze star systems it approaches, while inside of the dimensional bubble. This ability is vital to my work as it is key to conveying the main character's growing sense of futility in his mission, which he hides physically from the rest of his crew.

    I cannot simply have the ship drop out of it's 'bubble', as it's already established that it takes it approximately 15 months to generate enough power to create this effect in the first place. Also the ship cannot afford to constantly drop in and out of spin drive because of concerns involving maintenance and economy of resources.

    I apologize for being so vauge, but I am looking at a potential publisher and can't afford to be too liberal with the details of my work. Also I realize that I am taking several liberties with the laws of physics in general, but I would like to limit those liberties and establish every technology and aspect of my fictional ship in as much reality as possible.

    With that in mind, does this community have any thoughts on how a ship operating inside a pocket dimension might be able to still conduct long range spectrography? I would really like to avoid 'magical and mystical' futuristic technology that just makes stuff work. Seems like a cop out to me.

    Thank you in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 11, 2010 #2


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    hmm... well, I should start by saying that we really can't offer much more than speculation here. Physics is a carefully constructed logical framework and once you break one rule (like the speed-of-light limit) or invent one new concept (like pocket dimensions), there's no telling how much else of physics you'll have to discard to get a consistent system.

    Anyway, just for the fun of it, let's see if I understand you correctly: basically you're saying that the ship does its FTL travel by shifting to some sort of alternate spacetime (the "pocket dimension"), travels a while, then shifts back to ordinary space at a point which is further away than it should have been able to travel in that time? If that's the case, there has to be some way for the radiation signals from the ship in the pocket dimension to get to the star system and back. Sometimes the argument is made that radiation can do things which normal matter can't (like in Stargate, radio signals can travel in both directions through a wormhole), so you might try to justify that somehow. Or the ship could have some sort of a passive sensor that picks up ambient radiation emitted/absorbed/deflected by the star system being scanned. (I guess that would make sense for spectrography) In that case I think you'd need some sort of device that could bring the radiation into the pocket dimension from the normal universe. The trouble is, a ship that's in a pocket dimension can't really have a well-defined notion of position in the normal universe at the same time, so you'd have to invent some method of specifying what location in normal space this device would be taking radiation from.

    To be honest, I really don't see this working without some sort of major technological magic. But perhaps that's why I'm a scientist and not a science fiction writer myself :wink:
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