SandySandfort on September 23, 2010, 09:24:50 am
--
Furniture in low gravity

With the recent (22 September) look into Wally's bedroom, we have the exposure of a damning lack of reasoned consideration on the part of the artist.  

The low gravity on Ceres dictates how furniture must function.  For example, while seating must bear up under the muscular strength of human beings each flinging around an average 70 Kg adult mass, bookshelves and other items seen in Wally's room would be designed much differently than they are for use in a one-gravity field.

In the low gravity of Ceres, that bookshelf as pictured wouldn't do the job.  With a full gravity to hold them down, books can be counted upon to sit where they're put.  Without that weight, keeping them in place without something like bungee cords would be impossible.

Down is down; even if it is only .028 g. The books have exactly the same mass on Ceres as they do on Earth. They are not going to float away. (See, Newton's First Law of Motion.)

Whatever the living quarters and working spaces might be in Ceres, they will be different from those seen on Terra.  I admonish the creators of this series to bear that in mind.

And I admonish you to remember that the story is the story, not nit-picky details about decor. I am perfectly happy with the artist's choice of furniture in this strip and am confident that it would serve well in .028 g, without resorting to bungee cords.

J Thomas on September 23, 2010, 09:54:51 am

Down is down; even if it is only .028 g. The books have exactly the same mass on Ceres as they do on Earth. They are not going to float away. (See, Newton's First Law of Motion.)

There would be some differences. For example, gravity would provide about 1/30 the surface friction that slows down moving objects that slide across floors or tables etc.

Those differences might easily allow new furniture designs. I definitely don't fault you for not letting that distract you from the story. If you put a lot of thought into new designs and came up with something people didn't recognize, that they could spend time thinking about to imagine how it would work, that might be fun. I won't at all mind if you do it sometime. I don't mind if you slow down the story for things like that sometimes. But if you want to give us familiar background while you push the story, that's just completely fine.

In low gravity people wouldn't walk the way they appear to. Friction again. They certainly couldn't run like we do. I can imagine floors and sidewalks with lots of little indentations to provide toeholds. You lean over until you're practically crawling, until your head is maybe 6 inches from the ground, and you push with your toes, almost like swimming, and a tiny upward component is enough to keep you from falling down. When you're ready to stop accelerating you occasionally push the ground with your hand.

But if you showed people doing that it would look weird. It would particularly look weird to people who looked at it for the first time, who weren't sure whether to keep reading. The story doesn't need it.


jamesd on September 23, 2010, 01:36:30 pm
Down is down; even if it is only .028 g. The books have exactly the same mass on Ceres as they do on Earth. They are not going to float away. (See, Newton's First Law of Motion.)

A minute vibration or jolt would send the books flying in all directions.

Have an orthodox bookshelf with a bungy strap holding the books in, or spring loaded book ends.  Screw the chest of drawers down.  Tools, such as pens and spanners, need clip holders.

In one thirtieth gravity, people just do not need chairs, and chairs would not do much good unless bolted down and equipped with safety belts.

Since everything has to be strapped down or clicked into place, and the ceiling is easily accessible,  put storage furniture on the ceiling, and when people access stuff on the ceiling, they look like they are floating.

In one thirtieth gravity, up and down would mostly be perfectly clear, but there would occasional violations of it - some stuff would be bolted to the ceiling or walls, when we would expect it to be bolted to the floor.  People would most keep their axis upright, but would sometimes travel horizontal, like superman, or upside down, to get their heads and hands close to something on the floor.  Sometimes they would hang from, or briefly float near, the ceiling.

Tucci78 on September 24, 2010, 04:56:16 am
--
In the responsory post by SandySandfort we read an admonition that:

"...that the story is the story, not nit-picky details about decor. I am perfectly happy with the artist's choice of furniture in this strip and am confident that it would serve well in .028 g, without resorting to bungee cords.

The point of the comment to which this response is uttered wasn't about "decor" but rather engineering.

From the moment on which the characters of Guy and Fiorella enter Ceres (page 11) the creators of this comic begin to emphasize that the prevailing very low gravity field of the asteroid makes a great difference in how people must ambulate (note the "Ceres walk" of which much is made through page 17), and there are features of design - "decor" if you wish - such as padded ceilings and vertical stanchions (page 12) to mitigate head injury and enable inadvertent high-fliers to bring themselves down to the deck again.

These pains are obviously taken to emphasize the fact that life in very, very low gravity has to be different from what prevails in a more "respectable" field of spacetime distortion, like on the Earth, on Mars, and on the Earth's moon.

Another factor impacting upon furniture engineering would have to be implied from the character of the younger Babbette Guzman, to whom we are introduced on page 14, as "an agent for the Ceres spaceport" despite the fact that she is a mere "pre-majority woman."

We learn later that she is 50 days short of being six-and-a-half Martian years old, which would make her about 12 Terran years of age, and she appears physically to be prepubescent.

Despite this we are informed (page 19) that the younger Babbette is "a certified and insured conveyor."

As the creators of this comic obviously intended, this presentation of the capable Babbette the Younger is designed to scream "labor shortage."

In today's mutilated American society, we tend to treat the subject of child labor with an invidiously inculcated emotional sense of revulsion, as if people in the first and second decades of life freed from incarceration in rigidly structured classroom schooling to take up "promotion and pay" in economically valuable ways represent a perversion akin to child molesting.  The attitude of the creators of this comic, however, is such that youngsters like Babbette participating in the productive praxis of her society must be taken as a healthy - indeed, necessary - phenomenon.

("Like I said, here in the belt we do what we can when we can do it.")

In spite of the asteroid population's relative wealth in raw materials and industrially useful energy, they are so "people poor" that even newcomers with only the most marginal marketable skills - like Guy and Fiorella - can get themselves a living on Ceres and in the civilization based thereupon. 

So why might an industrial civilization afflicted by a labor shortage show ingenuity not only in preventing scalp lacerations (with padded ceilings) but also engineering the most intimate living quarters - an adolescent's bedroom - in ways that cope with life in a very low gravity environment and a scarcity of labor?

Regarding the furniture in Wally's bedroom, think about the Ikea model, where such goods are sold to end consumers in compact unassembled kit form, with all parts (including one or two simple tools) required to put them together.  The reason for the Ikea practice is very much the same as we would see in the asteroid belt: it minimizes labor costs, including the labor associated with transporting, stocking, and even selling the kits versus lugging the assembled items around. 

Early in the '70s, industrial light-weight steel shelving became available on the consumer market, supposedly for use in people's basements and garages.  They were swiftly adopted by young adults in college and grad school, who recognized that these adaptable shelving units could be broken down and transported (or even carried, bulky but easily lifted) from one place to another.  Capable of holding hundreds of pounds of textbooks, these things represented a great advantage for students who must move house twice a year or more.

So why the hell is the bookcase in Larry's room not only not engineered to keep its contents from flying all to hellangone if it gets bumped, but also made to look like it was fabbed with a minimum of mass (belt industrial materials would be a lot lighter and stronger than mild steel) in a similar kit-form for the purchaser to assemble?

It is continually made clear that the people in the belt are not only free-spirited but adaptable.  They deliberately choose to live in an environment objectively far more hostile than what is commonly found on Earth or even Mars, and they set their ingenuity to exploiting the available resources while coping with the prevailing hazards.  This is in great part what makes reading Escape From Terra entertaining. 

With so much creative effort put into the scene setting we find in the first story arc, and sustained every step thereafter, it'd be lamentable to see the "strangeness" continuity lost in even small ways like the depiction of furniture in a teen-aged boy's bedroom.
--
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on September 24, 2010, 08:54:57 am
We appreciate your opinions, but we cannot please everyone, so we please ourselves. We have found that this pleases most readers and keeps us in the top 100 web comics on a consistent basis. I have a suggestion of my own. Put down the thesaurus, keep your hands where we can see them and back away.

I've been contemplating teaching an online writing course. If I decide to do so, I will inform this Forum. In the meantime, I recommend reading Writing Plain English, by Rudolf Flesch. Some of you need help with your writing. I would say, "you know who you are," but unfortunately, you don't.   ;)

--
In the responsory post by SandySandfort we read an admonition that:

"...that the story is the story, not nit-picky details about decor. I am perfectly happy with the artist's choice of furniture in this strip and am confident that it would serve well in .028 g, without resorting to bungee cords.

The point of the comment to which this response is uttered wasn't about "decor" but rather engineering.

From the moment on which the characters of Guy and Fiorella enter Ceres (page 11) the creators of this comic begin to emphasize that the prevailing very low gravity field of the asteroid makes a great difference in how people must ambulate (note the "Ceres walk" of which much is made through page 17), and there are features of design - "decor" if you wish - such as padded ceilings and vertical stanchions (page 12) to mitigate head injury and enable inadvertent high-fliers to bring themselves down to the deck again.

These pains are obviously taken to emphasize the fact that life in very, very low gravity has to be different from what prevails in a more "respectable" field of spacetime distortion, like on the Earth, on Mars, and on the Earth's moon.

Another factor impacting upon furniture engineering would have to be implied from the character of the younger Babbette Guzman, to whom we are introduced on page 14, as "an agent for the Ceres spaceport" despite the fact that she is a mere "pre-majority woman."

We learn later that she is 50 days short of being six-and-a-half Martian years old, which would make her about 12 Terran years of age, and she appears physically to be prepubescent.

Despite this we are informed (page 19) that the younger Babbette is "a certified and insured conveyor."

As the creators of this comic obviously intended, this presentation of the capable Babbette the Younger is designed to scream "labor shortage."

In today's mutilated American society, we tend to treat the subject of child labor with an invidiously inculcated emotional sense of revulsion, as if people in the first and second decades of life freed from incarceration in rigidly structured classroom schooling to take up "promotion and pay" in economically valuable ways represent a perversion akin to child molesting.  The attitude of the creators of this comic, however, is such that youngsters like Babbette participating in the productive praxis of her society must be taken as a healthy - indeed, necessary - phenomenon.

("Like I said, here in the belt we do what we can when we can do it.")

In spite of the asteroid population's relative wealth in raw materials and industrially useful energy, they are so "people poor" that even newcomers with only the most marginal marketable skills - like Guy and Fiorella - can get themselves a living on Ceres and in the civilization based thereupon. 

So why might an industrial civilization afflicted by a labor shortage show ingenuity not only in preventing scalp lacerations (with padded ceilings) but also engineering the most intimate living quarters - an adolescent's bedroom - in ways that cope with life in a very low gravity environment and a scarcity of labor?

Regarding the furniture in Wally's bedroom, think about the Ikea model, where such goods are sold to end consumers in compact unassembled kit form, with all parts (including one or two simple tools) required to put them together.  The reason for the Ikea practice is very much the same as we would see in the asteroid belt: it minimizes labor costs, including the labor associated with transporting, stocking, and even selling the kits versus lugging the assembled items around. 

Early in the '70s, industrial light-weight steel shelving became available on the consumer market, supposedly for use in people's basements and garages.  They were swiftly adopted by young adults in college and grad school, who recognized that these adaptable shelving units could be broken down and transported (or even carried, bulky but easily lifted) from one place to another.  Capable of holding hundreds of pounds of textbooks, these things represented a great advantage for students who must move house twice a year or more.

So why the hell is the bookcase in Larry's room not only not engineered to keep its contents from flying all to hellangone if it gets bumped, but also made to look like it was fabbed with a minimum of mass (belt industrial materials would be a lot lighter and stronger than mild steel) in a similar kit-form for the purchaser to assemble?

It is continually made clear that the people in the belt are not only free-spirited but adaptable.  They deliberately choose to live in an environment objectively far more hostile than what is commonly found on Earth or even Mars, and they set their ingenuity to exploiting the available resources while coping with the prevailing hazards.  This is in great part what makes reading Escape From Terra entertaining. 

With so much creative effort put into the scene setting we find in the first story arc, and sustained every step thereafter, it'd be lamentable to see the "strangeness" continuity lost in even small ways like the depiction of furniture in a teen-aged boy's bedroom.
--

Tucci78 on September 24, 2010, 11:26:48 am
Writes SandySandfort:

"I've been contemplating teaching an online writing course. If I decide to do so, I will inform this Forum. In the meantime, I recommend reading Writing Plain English, by Rudolf Flesch. Some of you need help with your writing. I would say, you know who you are,but unfortunately, you don't."

Thanks, but I've read it.  Along with a bookshelf filled - it's contents held in place by a full Terran gravity - of similar books on all sorts of writing and editing, from Strunk & White (The Elements of Style) through guidelines designed to structure submissions for scientific periodicals and textbooks, ensure compliance with professional standards and the damnable regulatory requirements of punishment-minded government agencies, et-interminable-cetera.

Commercial speech in North America, Europe, and the Anzac nations is anything but free speech.  Writing in that area is like negotiating a mine field, and I've been getting a living at it for a lot longer than I care to think about.

As for "put[ting] down the thesaurus," be advised that I haven't picked up one in - what is it? - forty years or thereabouts. Hell, I don''t have one in my reference-book-filled office.  Had to dig through the boxes in the basement to find one for my granddaughter last year.

What is it that intimidates you, Sandy, about a disputant who has a vocabulary?

Obviously, it seems to distract you from reasoned response to a reasoned position lucidly expressed.  It turns you from the matter at hand to an evasion based on your comic being "in the top 100 web comics on a consistent basis" (logical fallacy of ad populum) and a determination to substitute insult for staying on-topic (logical fallacy of ad hominem). 

I took the time and trouble to post on this matter because I thought it might help maintain the admirable levels of quality in this "in the top 100 web comics" publication.

Who knows? It might yet.
--
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

macsnafu on September 24, 2010, 12:12:20 pm
Sorry, but I think they're right about the furniture, although I would tend to agree that it's a bit nitpicky, since it doesn't really impinge on the story.   At the very least, it should look a little bit futuristic--good design isn't always obvious from appearances.   About the only thing that even seemed different in the room was the computer itself, and the shelf/table that it was on.  If someone decided to be deliberately retro (since we are dealing with a very individualistic society, and I suppose some would), I imagine it would actually look a little weird and out of place in certain ways. 

 Even worse than the room itself was the very ordinary-looking toilet in the bathroom.  Surely, they're not flushing with water--the gravity question aside, there's the simple but very large question of the disposal of waste materials. 

Again, I admit this is rather nitpicky, but maybe these things will come up in future stories.  Besides, once you start thinking about these little things, it's kind of hard to stop thinking about them.    :P
I love mankind.  It's PEOPLE I can't stand!  - Linus Van Pelt.

SandySandfort on September 24, 2010, 04:57:03 pm
What is it that intimidates you, Sandy, about a disputant who has a vocabulary?

Nothing. I am, however, annoyed by poor writing skills due, in large part, to the use of inflated and excess verbiage. That is why I suggested reading How to Write Plain English. You need a refresher. It is clear you have told the truth, you haven't picked a thesaurus in forty years. I hereby reverse my previous suggestion.

I still maintain that a one kilo book isn't going to fly away on Ceres, just because someone brushes past it. YMMV.

J Thomas on September 24, 2010, 05:50:54 pm

I still maintain that a one kilo book isn't going to fly away on Ceres, just because someone brushes past it. YMMV.

My mileage varies a little. I have two books beside me, both with plastic slipcovers, the top one about 1/2 kg. I hit the top one a little bit and it moves a few centimeters, about an inch. It moves fast at first and suddenly stops. The bottom one is on carpet. I hit it a little and they both go a few millimeters and stop quick.

If there was 1/33 the friction, how much farther would the top one go? Perhaps 33 times as far? Maybe a meter?

However, after a little more thought I noticed that all it takes to keep books firmly on a bookshelf is a book-end that clamps in place. Put just a little bit of pressure on them and they get plenty of friction, entirely apart from gravity. So I have no objection to a bookshelf that looks like a bookshelf. I haven't thought of a better design yet, though I haven't put any time into it.

Another thing, since Newton's gravitational equations tend to use g as a constant linear term, doesn't that mean in 1/33 gravity it would take 33 times as long to pour a cup of coffee? If it takes 2 seconds on earth then it would take a minute there? We might have good reason to put pumps on coffee pots. Push the handle to make the piston squeeze out the coffee.

Again, it's interesting to think about such things but the story and the story's deadline come first.

Scott on September 24, 2010, 05:52:37 pm
Regarding Wally's bookshelf:

A properly-designed book-case not only holds the books in place but allows easy removal and replacement of the books. Bungee cords or similar restraining devices would not serve well. But note that the case is enclosed on three sides, limiting the books' freedom of movement. Also, what is not seen is that there is a small lip on the shelves to limit skidding, and that the shelves themselves are made of a shock-absorbent material that minimizes the problem of random impact-energy being imparted to the books. At first glance it LOOKS like an ordinary Terran book-case, but in reality it is designed for use in low-gravity environs.

Likewise, the toilet:
We only see the toilet with the lid down. With the lid up, there is gadgetry which uses a combination of air-flow and water to flush waste material away. (Note that there is no shortage of water on Ceres -- a Lunar toilet would have a different arrangement.) The seat surface also has a mild adhesive which forms a soft gasket-seal with the user's skin, preventing unwanted leakage.

So why do the toilet and book-case look so ordinary? Two reasons. 1) In-story: Colonists are made more comfortable in their strange environs if they can experience some familiarity. I don't know about you but I'd feel more comfortable sitting on a toilet that looks like a toilet, and not the robot from Lost In Space. Have you SEEN the ISS toilet? It scares the hell out of me. 2) Meta: I want readers to be able to instantly recognize the setting -- the gag in today's strip works because we can see at a glance that Wally is diving into a bathroom. We don't have to scratch our heads wondering what that weird gadget-thing is in the corner.

Tucci78 on September 24, 2010, 06:53:14 pm
--
In response to my query about what aspect of a disputant's vocabulary intimidates SandySandfort, the respondent writes:

"Nothing. I am, however, annoyed by poor writing skills due, in large part, to the use of inflated and excess verbiage. That is why I suggested reading How to Write Plain English. You need a refresher. It is clear you have told the truth, you haven't picked a thesaurus in forty years. I hereby reverse my previous suggestion."

Hm. Advocates of lowest common denominator "dumb it down" writing like Mr. Flesch have always struck me as the kinds of Boetians who degrade both the language and the thought processes which rely upon that language for handling abstract concepts.

Reducing the palette of expression to suit some vanilla-fixated writing teacher is too much like constraining a chemist to work only from the first two groups of elements in the periodic table.  I see no sense in it.  

As for the kinds of people who distract themselves from matters under discussion to advocate "dumbed down" writing as Mr. Flesch dictates....  Feh.

When I write to a client's demand - for pay - I write to suit his purposes, and do so quite happily.  While I can recommend elements or style to attain his objectives, he's got the "drop dead" responsibility, and therefore he's got to have the authority.  No problem.

Last time I looked, I wasn't writing for payment here, but to put my case forward in language sufficiently explicit to make my perceptions and conclusions appreciable to the likely reader. In this I have obviously not failed.  Note that the extent of response pertinent to the issue at hand - the engineering of furniture designed for living in very, very low gravity - gets nothing more than:

"I still maintain that a one kilo book isn't going to fly away on Ceres, just because someone brushes past it. YMMV."

Yeah.  A one-kilogram mass which is held to a smooth surface by all of about 1/36th of a terrestrial gravity, meaning an actual force of 0.06 pounds (a bit less than 830 dynes - 0.0083 kilograms per meter squared).  Dunno about anybody reading this, but I passed the physics requirement for my undergraduate degree in my junior year.  Haven't been called upon to use what I learned in the lab section of that course since that time, but I can still tell that 830 dynes isn't a whole lot of hold-down power.

Fly, no.  Get knocked off the shelf?  You betcha.

And a claim that "At first glance it LOOKS like an ordinary Terran book-case, but in reality it is designed for use in low-gravity environs" is altogether delightful.  Sure the Emperor's got himself a magnificent set of new clothes. Stylish cut, tasteful understatement in the drapery, and you've got to admit that it doesn't bind or chafe....

I join, however, in the opinion that having a commode that looks like a Terran toilet is perfectly appropriate.  It doesn't have to employ a water flush, and bear in mind that all seating elements have to put up with human mass (average about 70 Kg in adults) being flung upon them.  In a 1/36th gravity field, there is not enough "collecting force" to ensure that liquid and solid excreta will be caught without hellacious spatter in the sorts of squatter's urinals seen in Europe and Japan, or in using the classic vespasiani (stand-up urinals for men). 

For males, the only piddlin' alternative to a commode would be a relief tube.  Anybody else got any experience with that sort of expedient?  Or a so-called "Texas catheter"?  Yeesh.

That I have not been able to persuade SandySandfort of the argument I've articulated about furniture engineering is not at all because I have failed to couch that argument in the "dumbed-down" damn' near Basic English writing style advocated by Mr. Flesch but rather because SandySandfort doesn't want to read or hear anything along this line of what I had hoped would be helpful input.

So it's not how I have written but rather the content of the information conveyed in that writing that really evokes the ire of SandySandfort.  Got it.  

Heck, I've had plenty of clients who've refused to go with my recommendations over the years.  That's why I make sure I've got a good, strong "hold harmless" clause in the boilerplate of the contracts I sign.  

Like I said, their responsibility.  Not mine.
--
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

jamesd on September 24, 2010, 08:52:19 pm
A properly-designed book-case not only holds the books in place but allows easy removal and replacement of the books. Bungee cords or similar restraining devices would not serve well. But note that the case is enclosed on three sides, limiting the books' freedom of movement. Also, what is not seen is that there is a small lip on the shelves to limit skidding, and that the shelves themselves are made of a shock-absorbent material that minimizes the problem of random impact-energy being imparted to the books. At first glance it LOOKS like an ordinary Terran book-case, but in reality it is designed for use in low-gravity environs.

Likewise, the toilet:
We only see the toilet with the lid down. With the lid up, there is gadgetry which uses a combination of air-flow and water to flush waste material away. (Note that there is no shortage of water on Ceres -- a Lunar toilet would have a different arrangement.) The seat surface also has a mild adhesive which forms a soft gasket-seal with the user's skin, preventing unwanted leakage.

OK, but If he is in one hell of a hurry to get to that toilet, his body axis is going to be a lot less vertical and more horizontal than would be possible or safe in full earth gravity.

At full speed, say around five meters per second, gravity will only matter much over times greater than ten seconds, and distances greater than fifty meters.  Of course, in however great a hurry, one probably would not go that fast inside a house, but one would move fast enough that one would move as if in zero gravity.   

Ceres will look pretty much like a one gravity environment when people are standing around talking, and like a low gravity environment when they are doing something moderately active.  When doing something very active inside a small area, such as a apartment, will look like a zero gravity environment.

Tucci78 on September 26, 2010, 05:56:57 am
Quote
OK, but If he is in one hell of a hurry to get to that toilet, his body axis is going to be a lot less vertical and more horizontal than would be possible or safe in full earth gravity.

At full speed, say around five meters per second, gravity will only matter much over times greater than ten seconds, and distances greater than fifty meters.  Of course, in however great a hurry, one probably would not go that fast inside a house, but one would move fast enough that one would move as if in zero gravity.

Given that Ceres' negligible gravity wouldn't give much in the way of traction, it could be reliably expected that belters would be in the habit of grabbing any fixed object available to facilitate velocity changes. 

With the understanding that inadvertent loss of contact with the seat of a commode while voiding one's bladder or straining at stool would be very messy, I would think that the wall-mounted grab bars common in restrooms fitted to accommodate the handicapped here on Earth would be even more prevalent on Ceres, though for an entirely different purpose.

Vertical grab bars would be mounted on the bulkheads at the inside corners of turns and in doorways, with horizontal bars running down the lengths corridors, all to facilitate rapid movement and braking. 

And take note (pages 11 and 12) of the vertical stanchions spaced at intervals in the middle of the large chamber where Guy and Fiorella first set foot upon Ceres, which are obviously placed for no purpose other than for people not yet skilled in "the Ceres walk" to get down from the padded ceiling after having inadvertently whacked their rostral knobs against that thoughtfully padded surface.

The NASA Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) employs water's floatation effect to simulate microgravity, but it is easy enough for someone not privileged to suit up and breathe nitrox at taxpayers' expense in Houston to think of circumstances on Ceres as similar to movement in very, very low gravity as if one's body were immersed in a swimming pool, but without water's resistance (drag) to be either overcome or exploited. 

It is a helluva lot easier to change direction if there is a surface or other fixed object which one can exploit to push off from, or grasp and pull upon.  Even though H. sapiens took up bipedal ambulation millions of years ago (pretty much giving up the grasping function of an opposable hallux), we still retain a perfectly useful brachiatory ability, especially viable in microgravity.

Or when us naked apes find ourselves immersed in water, which is why rescue training stresses throwing a rope to a swimmer in distress before (or rather than) jumping in a la Baywatch and swimming bravely out to get strangled and drowned by the flailing victim.

The creators of this Web comic have shown real insight into the engineering exigencies (and opportunities) to be encountered by a civilization that has to cope with both microgravity and the very low gravity fields of planetesimals like Ceres.  This is one of the reasons why I myself like Escape From Terra so damned much.

Well, let's face it. Another key reason is that Fiorella and other characters on the distaff side have proven to be very easy on the eyes. 

I'm old, but I'm not dead yet. 
--
"I is a great believer in peaceful settlements," Jik-jik assured him. "Ain't nobody as peaceful as a dead trouble-maker."
-- Keith Laumer, Retief's War (1966)

SandySandfort on September 26, 2010, 10:24:54 am
LOW-GRAVITY WORK-AROUNDS

GECKO TECH--As I sit here in my volcanic cloud forest, I can see geckos running along my walls and ceiling in defiance of gravity. There is no reason to assume future nanobot technology has not been adapted to give shoes (or even bare feet) gecko-like traction in micro and zero g

SLICE IN TIME--Serial art/graphic stories/comics have their own conventions, which are every bit as formal as kabuki theater. While it is possible to imply motion with force lines and multiple exposures of limbs and such, each panel is still pretty much limited to a moment in time. Your brain supplies what happens between panels. Yes, while moving, people would tend toward the horizontal--even with gecko shoes. However, they would start and end vertically. Feel free to allow your imagination to  pose our characters any way that suits your concept of physics and aesthetics, between the frames.

DISTRACTION--As I said before, 'the story is the story.' Rather than have readers wonder why a guy in a hurry to toilet appears to be floating along horizontal, all we want him to think is, 'gee, the guy is in a hurry.'

OTHER NANOTECH APPLICATIONS--One poster assumed that the 'ordinary looking toilet' used water. First, have a look at the toilets on the space shuttle, ISS and Mir. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Toilets pretty much have to be seats with holes in them, in any gravity regime. Second, please visualize a bevy of nanobots in the  toilet and let your imagination do the rest. With regard to bookshelves, coat racks and such. let your imagination suggest how nanotech could augment the objects' mass and Ceres gravity.

Irrespective of what readers perceive as scientific errors, I hope you like the content of the stories and the cast of characters. I have already asked the artists to be more futuristic (whatever the hell that means). If time permits, I will offer them a short refresher tutorial on gravity issues. We are listening.

J Thomas on September 26, 2010, 11:33:48 am
LOW-GRAVITY WORK-AROUNDS

GECKO TECH--As I sit here in my volcanic cloud forest, I can see geckos running along my walls and ceiling in defiance of gravity. There is no reason to assume future nanobot technology has not been adapted to give shoes (or even bare feet) gecko-like traction in micro and zero g

That won't give you vertical walking, though. Unless people don't mind the terrible disadvantages. Shinsplints? Bad angular momentum.

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SLICE IN TIME--Serial art/graphic stories/comics have their own conventions, which are every bit as formal as kabuki theater. While it is possible to imply motion with force lines and multiple exposures of limbs and such, each panel is still pretty much limited to a moment in time. Your brain supplies what happens between panels. Yes, while moving, people would tend toward the horizontal--even with gecko shoes. However, they would start and end vertically.

I don't see why they would start and end vertically. Waiting in a one-arm pushup pose would be no more exertion than leaning with your arm against a wall here. Standing up might give you a distance view, though. Assuming people cared enough about that to make high corridors where most of the space was mostly unused.

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DISTRACTION--As I said before, 'the story is the story.' Rather than have readers wonder why a guy in a hurry to toilet appears to be floating along horizontal, all we want him to think is, 'gee, the guy is in a hurry.'

This is the important point. We can have fun thinking about how to actually do things in very low gravity. There is no good reason to make your story less readable to fit those ideas. You want to take pride in making your story realistic. That's fine when it doesn't get too much in the way.

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OTHER NANOTECH APPLICATIONS--One poster assumed that the 'ordinary looking toilet' used water. First, have a look at the toilets on the space shuttle, ISS and Mir. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Toilets pretty much have to be seats with holes in them, in any gravity regime.

It might be quite practical to make a toilet be a tube about maybe 3 inches diameter or so, with a conformable ring on the end. It would have low pressure to remove anything that went into it. It could have a water spray to clean things pressed against it. When you're done you'd hold the tube a little distance away, and it would squirt more water inside itself to help clean it, with even lower pressure, and the air moving past your bottom would help dry you. In places where strangers might use the same toilet you'd want a disposable layer where it touches people, or some excellent way to disinfect it, particularly considering women's perineums. Places where people live in close quarters you might as well figure that everybody will get exposed to everybody else's germs anyway.

But in a graphic novel, it really helps readers when toilets look like toilets. If you ever have somebody walk in on somebody who's using the toilet and it kind of looks like she's standing up using a vibrator, readers will be confused.

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Second, please visualize a bevy of nanobots in the toilet and let your imagination do the rest.

Ick. Nanobots are the magic fairy dust of hard science fiction. We can assume they will do everything except the work that results in a labor shortage.

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With regard to bookshelves, coat racks and such. let your imagination suggest how nanotech could augment the objects' mass and Ceres gravity.

Easy. You have one layer of nanobots stuck to the bookshelf, and another layer stuck to each book. When you push the spot on the book that's covered with yellow nanobots they all let go. Magic fairy dust solves all problems.

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Irrespective of what readers perceive as scientific errors, I hope you like the content of the stories and the cast of characters.

Yes! Very much so.

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I have already asked the artists to be more futuristic (whatever the hell that means). If time permits, I will offer them a short refresher tutorial on gravity issues. We are listening.

It's a pleasant diversion.Don't let it get too much in the way.

Donald Kingsbury wrote _Courtship Rite_, a story about people living in an alien ecology where the only food that wasn't poisonous was the Eight Sacred Plants, honeybees, and human beings. He did a great job with the ritual cannibalism etc. Lots of people got grossed out and didn't finish the story. There were little jarring notes all the way through, even when you'd think you'd gotten used to it. Like, late in the story, a general puts his maps into a babyskin tube....

This is probably not the effect you want.

Find ways to let low gravity further the story, and ignore the opportunities to let it impede the story.

 

anything