1. Wodashin
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    Wodashin Member

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    The FTL Tech in my Story

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Wodashin, Jul 30, 2010.

    I'd just like to address the science in my story The Void, as it was the only way I could think of getting them out of the known universe quick enough.

    The gravity disruptors are a loophole around the speed of light. By condensing space in front of you and expanding space behind you, you are essentially surfing through space on the waves of nothing. This theory is, to me, the only serious way of going around the max speed as space is capable of moving faster than light many, many times. Your area of space never moves, you never move. Your area is not moving through time any quicker than it is on earth, space and time are not changed around your ship. You are riding the distortions, and it could be seen as not really moving but everything else moving.

    The ship is, technically, stationary.

    I was thinking about just dropping this and going with more grounded and well known space travel things like hyperspeed or something.

    I don't know.
     
  2. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Don't give up, Wodashin. There's always a chance to try something new.

    I agree with Irish87 that your story read almost like a lecture, but I can understand how showing vs. telling is hard to do. I myself have problems with it.

    Your story was still great though. It's a heck of a lot better than some other stories out there.
     
  3. Loaded-Dice
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    Loaded-Dice Member

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    There's generally 2 methods of faster than light travel.

    1 - Folding space time. You start at one point, and fold space until the point you want to reach is touching the point where you are. This is commonly known as a 'jump drive'. Also the way blackholes / wormholes work. This allow for instantaneous travel. You can add negative effects such as only being able to jump a certain distance, or only jump every so often. You may not be able to jump too close to a celestial body, or you may need a precise route / jump 'stations'. Think, Battlestar Galactica.

    1...S...P...A...C...E...2
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Long Time

    After folding space time
    1>2
    . .
    . E
    S .
    . C
    P .
    . A


    2 - Hyperdrive / Warpdrive. This is where the ship (usually) drops out of 'normal' space and accelerates to the speed of light and beyond. Time dilation is solved by creating a normal space-time bubble around the vessel. Since the vessel no longer exists in the 'rear' world, the ship and it's crew can't interact with anything or anyone in the real world and vice versa. Problems / Plot points can arise from this very same issue as well as maybe needing a specific calculated route (will they managed to get it in time!!), or catching other hyperspace 'paths', throwing them off route and into unknown space for whatever reason. Typical examples are Star Wars & Star Trek.


    If I was you and to make the story more believable, I would set it something like this. And btw, the universe is infinite so there is no edge :p Consider a galaxy maybe, there are gaps between galaxys that are generally believed to consist of dark matter, but who knows what could reside there......


    Anyway, if I was you

    The known galaxy/universe has been mapped out. There's nothing left to explore. Jump gates have been stationed throughout the galaxy/universe allowing instantaneous travel between two gates. Unfortunately, the gate draws so much power creating an event horizon, you can't jump again for at least another XX minutes, until the plasma relays have recharged themselves.

    The last gate to be built was the DVD-R, only XX months ago, right on the edge of the known galaxy/universe. No one had ventured that far, apart from the original gate builders of course, and certainly no one had gone beyond. That was all about to change today.

    The 8 man crew, 379 jumps & 2 years from home were aboard the Omega about to explore the unknown. Baines woke them from stasis to wave the last gate goodbye. Time to fire up the impulse / hyperdrive engines. The Void awaited...
     
  4. Wodashin
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    Wodashin Member

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    I'm VERY sorry for this, but my FTL is much more believable than most of the science fiction tropes out there. It has been discussed, and allows for literally unimaginable speeds, even infinite speed (theoretically). As I said, space can move faster than light and by riding space waves by condensing space in front of you and expanding it behind you, you could speed forward at faster than light speeds in your own little bubble of stable time and space. Star Trek uses a 'warpdrive', which is basically the same idea as mine only never explained on the show and only talked about off-set by the creators. Those who watch Star trek probably do not know what a warp-drive is.

    I'm personally a believer in String Theory and the belief in 'Membranes', which should exist in the same space. This would mean there would be an 'end' to our known Universe, or more specifically the end of matter. You would then enter empty space, a void if you will, that would span unimaginable distances. This is why most scientists say that to travel to other membranes we should create wormhole type things instead of going from point A to point B. These travel types do not allow for return to the origin membrane.

    So, in conclusion, I'm using a more plausible and lesser known form of FTL to take a path that is thought to be impossible. A straight journey to another universe. This is impossible because of the distance, but at FTL I was thinking that perhaps you could travel straight to another universe in a way that allows you to return. Otherwise, you would be dead to your home universe. The reason my story seems like a lecture is because I can't just go 'Gravity Disruptor' and leave it at that because most people don't know the science behind it. Most people instantly know what a hyperdrive is, even though it has no specifics people just accept it as is.

    /endofthat

    I don't know how to both make it entertaining and not a lecture without impeding on my scientific integrity. I'm trying to make a hard science story, like 2010: A Space Odyssey 2 instead of Star Trek. I don't know, I'm an arm chair physicist so I'm not going to be as accurate or detailed as Clarke, nor do I want to be talking about La Grange points as that would make my story even more obtuse.

    I don't know, I'm just a teller. I'm not good at showing, but I want to learn. If I have to, I'll just say Hyperdrive or FTLdrive or something to make the story less obtuse. I'll make a normal sci-fi story. I just recently became enthralled in Clarke's books and Michio Kaku and Ronald Mallet's work that I wanted to do something different.

    I was also planning on slowly turning it into an odd horror like tale with weird happenings on board. Communications relay picking up strange sounds inspired by The Bloop (the fact that they pick up any waves is the weird part), insanity spreading throughout the ship due to them possibly never completing their mission due to humanity's over optimism in interdimensional travel, slowly learning that the rules of the void are far different than the rules of our own universe, etc.

    With direction, how does that sound? I don't think I could pull it off. :/

    I'm working on this on another site as well and I have more of it there, but this is a more professional site so I won't post more until I edit it to my liking. They're a lot more easy to please there though as it is not a writing site, so most people just like it since it's 'all technical n stuff'.

    When I write more, I want it ripped apart. I want to be better.
     
  5. Laser Sailor
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    Laser Sailor Member

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    Of course we do, it's basically an Alcubierre drive powered by a matter/anti-matter reactor. Both technologies are reasonable in the realm of theoretical physics and I'm using the alcubierre drive for my story, but I'm not going to explain how it works.

    Patrick Stewart was once ask why/how warp drive works, he replied something to the effect of "When I say engage, it goes." There is a point to just focusing on the story and leaving the technology to "just work".
     
  6. thecommabandit
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    thecommabandit Member

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    Okay, so a reader won't know what a "gravity disruptor" is. Why not name it after someone? There are plenty of things in the real world that could be called a scientifically accurate name, but are known by the person who invented them.

    And Laser Sailor has a point. How many people on a spacecraft would know how their FTL drive works? Probably only the handful of technicians, engineers and operators who maintain and use it. Everyone else would know what it does, just not how. The fact of the matter is that this is how most people approach everyday life. A lot of people don't know the operational principles of a car or a telephone further than how to operate it. You don't necessarily need to explain exactly how a piece of fictional technology works; as long as you know how it works you can write it consistently and believably. Smarter or curious readers might be able to work it out, but as long as any plot-critical elements are explained as and when they're required ("Ensign, what's wrong with the Stephenson drive?" "I don't know sir, we can't maintain the forward condensor field. It won't work") it should be fine.
     
  7. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    Exactly, thecommabandit. I would have an interest in the technology, but that would only go so far. I'd to focus more on the events at hand in the story, and what the MC does to resovle them. How the hyper-drive works or what exactly the innerworkings are would fall to the back of my mind.

    T1
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    When you try to explain your FTL drive, you risk sounding ridiculous to those readers who happen to understand the limitations imposed by relativity. In the science fiction community, there are a great number of extremely savvy scientists, from high school geniuses to world famous physicists like Stephen Hawking. Relativity physics were taught at the sophomore level of undergraduate physics forty years ago. Although it seems counterintuitive, the science is well established, including clear limits on what is possible, and the knowledge of it is not limited to an elite handful of bigbrains.

    Unfortunately, your gravity disruptor concept falls into this category. It's as bad as the tempo rubata loophole exploited by James Blish in his Cities in Flight saga to literally crush the Vegan maurader supercraft.
     
  9. Laser Sailor
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    Laser Sailor Member

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    His gravity disruptor is within the realm of theoretical physics. Google Alcubierre and his theories, it's basically the same principal.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Alcubierre drive theory has a number of serious holes that make it unusable as a "warp" drive, even assuming that it could be created at all. If you could establish the Alcubierre spacetime bubble at all, the rest of the universe ceases to exist for you, and the theory does not provide a means to return to normal spacetime.

    The energy requirements alone make it impossible to carry enough energy to return to normal space, even with total conversion.
     
  11. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I wonder how were we able to write billions of pages about fantasy worlds without a serious theory about how magic really works.


    It's science fiction, not science. You need a reasonable explanation and the reader is expected to ignore the small details. If you try to build a serious explanation, the reader will feel free to laugh about it.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Just make sure that when you give an explanation, it doesn't flat-out contradict established science. The readership for science fiction is generally very well informed. You are much better off giving no explanation than a bad one.
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Exactly right, Cog. Much of the science-fiction reading community comes from a science background, and those that don't generally have a decent understanding of such matters. What's important is not that it's a completely accurate, but that it's accurate enough to pass muster and not break the sense of immersion.
     
  14. daydreams
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    If you can include some speculative and at this point just fictional elements, one thing I would use is probably worm holes. It's not technically FTL, even though the result could very well be the same. Worm holes are theoretically possible, however to keep them open and stable is another matter, and that is where you have to add something that as far as we know does not exist, things like negative energy and such.

    And of course science fiction is indeed fiction, but if you ignore or disregard physics as we know it, then there's not much science left. But I think there are different levels of SF.

    In the horrible movie The Core, Earth's core stops spinning, quickly. It is never explained how, which is understandable since there aren't that many plausible explanations. Not that they would care if it's plausible, of course, with that premise. Also, for some reason the Earth's magnetic field protects us against microwaves! When it can't do that anymore, microwaves destroy buildings and bridges. This is not stretching or bending current science for artistic reasons (which would have been fine). No, this goes to the breaking point and beyond.

    In Space: 1999, a relatively small explosion on the Moon causes it to leave its orbit and leave the Solar system at such speed that the people on the Lunar base could visit a new planetary system several times in their lifetime. Nevermind that an explosion capable of sending the Moon on such a journey would likely pulverise the Moon in the process.

    In Armageddon, they manage to keep an asteroid the size of Texas secret until it is extremely close to the Earth. That close it should be very visible, not only to thousands of amateur astronomers, but to everyone with decent eyesight. Then to drill 800 feet and detonate a nuclear bomb to break it into two large pieces and separate them fast enough to miss the Earth? Not possible.

    So yeah, speculation is always fun, speculative theories, fictional science that could become reality, technology which is beyond our current capabilities, and such things. And yes, bend and stretch current science, too. But remove all science and i'm not sure why it's science fiction anymore.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It;s true, there is a lot of junk science in popular fiction, and all three of the cited movies/series smacked my brain with the atrocious science/logic. For example, in Space: 1999, notice how all the Eagles aloft at the time were able to easily land on the runaway moon without having to match course. They travel between stars at an impossibly high velocity and no way to change course or slow down, and yet they can spend hours or days visiting a planet they happen to pass near. Preposterous.

    Sometimes the very premise is offensively ignorant of science. Other times, though, the biggest flaw is trying too hard to explain something that doesn't need to be explained at all.

    I'm perfectly good with coming up with my own ways to rationalize questionable tech in someone else's story (my own tech, is of course, flawless ;)). But that all falls apart when someone in the story gives an explanation that is utter steaming cowflop.
     
  16. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    For me, if you're like going for scientifically accurate science fiction, you either need something not explained, like "The ship pops out and we are here" or similar hand waving, or spend a long time researching what will work by today's theories.

    I kinda agree with Cogito, some science in sci-fi is good, but a lot is junk or technobabble.
     
  17. daydreams
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    daydreams Member

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    Yeah, and if it's entertaining anyway, with good characters and interesting storylines and so on, I don't have to ask for much more. Sometimes it's just for fun.
     
  18. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    The thing about science fiction is that it is fiction. It doesn't have to be real or explained in such a way that it paves the way for the next generation of real world technology.

    George Lucas wrote the STAR WARS series as an exciting space opera of sci-fi adventure. I still don't know how the star ships and blasters are supposed to work, but that doesn't matter to the telling of the story. It is simply enough to know that alien technology works on its own principles. It doesn't really matter if the reader/viewer understands the science behind alien technology, because its the story that matters, not the tech.

    For example, if I was writing/reading a story about world war two submarine combat, it wouldn't matter if I fully understand the principles of buoyancy, water displacement, how ballast or dive planes work. It is simply enough to know that submarines can dive, surface and move underwater.

    In the STARGATE movie it was revealed that the aliens had discovered a "New Mineral" and that all their tech seemed to be based on it. The movie didn't identify what the mineral was or how their tech worked, because it didn't really matter to the telling of the story.

    This is how fantasy writers get around the "how magic works" problem. The writer doesn't know how magic works. The reader doesn't know how magic works, but the old wizard character in the story, with bushy eyebrows and moth eaten robes, with his shelves of occult books and scrolls "knows" how magic works. The writer gives the reader only brief glimpses into the obscure knowledge of magic with vague references to extinct or fictional herbs, horns from mythological creatures and odd bits of supernatural substances, but it is never spelled out in concise detail. Oh sure, sometimes you get partial explanations out of context, with references to channeling mana, the stars being right, or the need to perform the ritual under a full moon, but you never get enough to fully understand the magic and this is by design. This not only circumvents the "need" to explain it, but maintains the air of mystique about magic that keeps a fantasy story interesting.

    The point I'm trying to make is that the story need not be a science term paper to be good science fiction. I firmly believe it is a mistake to get TOO bogged down in the fine minutia of the details. It is the story telling that deserves the bulk of your energy and attention.
     
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  19. daydreams
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    And all fiction is just fiction. The science word is there for a reason. No, you don't have to be super accurate, in my opinion. (It depends on how hard the SF is.) Just adding spaceships doesn't make it science fiction if it's not based on science at least a little. Space fantasy is a good way to describe some stuff that passes for science fiction today. I do enjoy them but sometimes I have to imagine they take place in a universe different from ours. Or just read them as any kind of fantasy.

    Is FTL possible in the story? If so, how, and why didn't we discover this before? Why, instead, did we discover that it's impossible to even reach the speed of light? With FTL I mean objects with rest mass moving through spacetime. Which is impossible, so FTL has to be something else. I guess that's where hyperdrives and such come in handy. But I would choose wormholes. Anyway, FTL might come with difficult consequences, which of course can make for an even more interesting story. Or you can try to explain them away somehow. Time travel, causality breakdowns... So physics as we know it has to be not just incomplete, but actually false to a degree before it's possible.

    Of course if social commentary or pure entertainment is the goal, one can ignore those things. But then it's just mostly fiction. Which is cool.
     
  20. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    I agree, the word "Science" is added to "Fiction" for a reason. It creates a category for fictional stories dealing with science, technology, extra-terrestrials and high concepts, such as time travel, cloning and reanimation of dead tissue to name but a few.

    Likewise the word "Fantasy" is used to create a category for stories about Dragons, magic, mythological heroes and King Arthur, again to name but a few.

    But that is just my opinion and I'll drop it here, as I do not wish to hijack the thread.
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there are really any absolutes, tho. Science Fiction and Fantasy can also be looked at from a very different angle that has little to do with the "stage props" of the genre.

    Science Fiction has always been, and when it is well written and true to itself and its purpose, remains a venue to discuss concepts of the human condition that might be too sensitive, too touchy to speak about in real world terms. Some of the very best science fiction pays less attention to the laser guns and aliens and space ships and much more to a humanist introspection. Look at Frank Herbert's DUNE.

    But that's just me soapboxing. To the intitial question - if I haven't already opined in the past - you just need to decide how important it is to the story. Star Trek never really bothers to explain to us how warp drive works, and in the few episodes it has tried, it always seems unnecessary. "We don't care how you got to Ceti Alpha Five! Just get there!!"

    Or....

    You can go the way of Clarke and Niven and really use actual science and make that science - its capacities and its limitations - work for you.
     

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