Holt on April 24, 2011, 10:03:59 am
You forget that having cameras on her and her goons also creates a problem if the records are found. Having a record of her criminal activity creates problems

J Thomas on April 24, 2011, 10:09:07 am
You forget that having cameras on her and her goons also creates a problem if the records are found. Having a record of her criminal activity creates problems

Not if it's classified information.

And they don't have to reveal their cryptography keys. So nobody else knows whether the digital signatures are correct. For all anybody else who finds the records knows, they could be fakes.

enemyofthestate on April 24, 2011, 01:58:29 pm
"Fusion Power (desktop)—The UW outlaws any sort of atomic power on Earth, except for large centralized fusion plants run by the government. Off Earth, fusion power units are small and run homes, cars, burners, etc. The units produce electricity via an aneutronic fusion reaction using helium-3 and deuterium as fuel and bismuth as a fusion catalyst."

My recollection is that none of the three materials are radioactive and that they produce no residual radiation during fusion. All the helium-3 and deuterium one could ever want, can be found ... where? (Consider this an exercise for the student.)  ;D

Apologies; "magical" was a poor choice of word.

To achieve the performance you've described for the burners with a reasonable mass ratio (arbitrarily defined as <= 4 for a one way trip) would require high exhaust velocity.  For example, the Earth Ceres trip would need at least 6.1 Mm/s exhaust velocity to reach that goal. The 3He+Dt reaction is very friendly to bimodal use. The output -- minus any trivial amount siphoned off to generate electricity (the bimodal part)  -- could be used to accelerate a hydrogen plasma to the required velocity.

Unlike hydroponics, de-polymerization, artificial soils, drug manufacturing or fractional distillation,  fusion powered spacecraft are still only drawing board ideas with a dash of hope.  The word "magical" was not intended to imply impossible but rather a large amount of speculation -- which is what science fiction is supposed to do.

BTW, I don't get the use of bismuth to catalyze the 3HE + Dt reaction.  I know about the CNO cycle of course, but why bismuth?

Minor pedant point:  Technically, the most common isotope of bismuth (Bi 209) is radioactive and decays to thallium 205 by emitting an alpha particle.  However the half life is 1.9E19 years so, for any practical purpose, it is stable.

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/17319

Holt on April 24, 2011, 02:06:16 pm
You forget that having cameras on her and her goons also creates a problem if the records are found. Having a record of her criminal activity creates problems

Not if it's classified information.

And they don't have to reveal their cryptography keys. So nobody else knows whether the digital signatures are correct. For all anybody else who finds the records knows, they could be fakes.


Even if its classified it gets out. Look at what happened in the USA when the CIA were dealing drugs in US cities to pay for criminal activity in South America. Classified as fuck but it still got out.

The situation is one where simply classifying the thing won't work. Too many people involved and they can't kill them all without too much suspicion being levelled at them.

SandySandfort on April 24, 2011, 03:35:09 pm
"Fusion Power (desktop)—The UW outlaws any sort of atomic power on Earth, except for large centralized fusion plants run by the government. Off Earth, fusion power units are small and run homes, cars, burners, etc. The units produce electricity via an aneutronic fusion reaction using helium-3 and deuterium as fuel and bismuth as a fusion catalyst."

My recollection is that none of the three materials are radioactive and that they produce no residual radiation during fusion. All the helium-3 and deuterium one could ever want, can be found ... where? (Consider this an exercise for the student.)  ;D

Apologies; "magical" was a poor choice of word.

My knowledge physics is that of an educated layman. I did some research to come up with a plausible fusion explanation, but basically it is hand waving. You got me.

To achieve the performance you've described for the burners with a reasonable mass ratio (arbitrarily defined as <= 4 for a one way trip) would require high exhaust velocity.  For example, the Earth Ceres trip would need at least 6.1 Mm/s exhaust velocity to reach that goal. The 3He+Dt reaction is very friendly to bimodal use. The output -- minus any trivial amount siphoned off to generate electricity (the bimodal part)  -- could be used to accelerate a hydrogen plasma to the required velocity.

If you say so. I sure don't know. :)

BTW, I don't get the use of bismuth to catalyze the 3HE + Dt reaction.  I know about the CNO cycle of course, but why bismuth?

'Cause somebody on some forum said it might work to help induce and maintain a fusion reaction with helium-3 and deuterium. In other words, it sounded good.

Minor pedant point:  Technically, the most common isotope of bismuth (Bi 209) is radioactive and decays to thallium 205 by emitting an alpha particle.  However the half life is 1.9E19 years so, for any practical purpose, it is stable.

Your are absolutely correct... Your point is minor.  ;D

enemyofthestate on April 24, 2011, 06:33:53 pm
Mr. Sandfort:

I don't expect science fiction to be 100% accurate with regards to science.  That would take too much of the fun out of it.  Imagine the Lensman stories without the Bergenholm Drive or Star Trek without technobabble.  Hell!  the Ringworld turned out to be unstable.  None of the above made them any less good stories because to be good science fiction a story must first be good fiction.  Your stories are good fiction and any questions about the science would be mostly niggling.

When I started your series I intended to read the strip every weekend and suspend disbelief over minor questions about the science.  I guess my downfall was coming to the forum and reading a posting rife with profoundly ignorant assertions (link) and it built from there.   I now return myself to my regular reading schedule and ask that you keep up the good work.

quadibloc on April 24, 2011, 07:52:52 pm
My knowledge physics is that of an educated layman. I did some research to come up with a plausible fusion explanation, but basically it is hand waving. You got me.
I know that tritium is radioactive, so I had thought helium-3 was as well, but if it isn't, I stand corrected. Helium-3 can be found on the Moon; I would have thought it cheaper to find deuterium in the ocean than to get it from the Moon, but I don't know.

However, if I were proposing a fusion catalyst, I'd probably pick beryllium instead of bismuth - because beryllium is a light element, and bismuth a very heavy one. There's no particularly good reason why bismuth should be a better fusion catalyst than lead or thorium or gold - but one could at least handwave that beryllium could do something to a fusion reaction; after all, one of lithium's two isotopes is very useful in H-bombs.

SandySandfort on April 24, 2011, 09:28:43 pm
Mr. Sandfort:

I don't expect science fiction to be 100% accurate with regards to science.  That would take too much of the fun out of it.  Imagine the Lensman stories without the Bergenholm Drive or Star Trek without technobabble.  Hell!  the Ringworld turned out to be unstable.  None of the above made them any less good stories because to be good science fiction a story must first be good fiction.  Your stories are good fiction and any questions about the science would be mostly niggling.

As you probably have surmised, I try to keep things as scientifically accurate as possible. Like many other writers, I invent or accept "short cuts" such as "hyper-drive" and "time travel" to get to the story that motivates the characters.

Sometimes, these things take on a life of their own with unintended consequences. The "tanglenet" is a perfect example. Once released into the wild, I am forced to deal with aspects and ramifications that I did not anticipate. It is a challenge, but I accept it.

Feel free to make any suggestions or corrections you feel like. If possible, I will try to incorporate them into the EFT universe, if possible.

Thank you for your well thought out posts and your encouragement.

SandySandfort on April 24, 2011, 09:42:56 pm
I know that tritium is radioactive, so I had thought helium-3 was as well, but if it isn't, I stand corrected. Helium-3 can be found on the Moon; I would have thought it cheaper to find deuterium in the ocean than to get it from the Moon, but I don't know.

Both are found in the atmospheres of the gas giants. In future stories, one of the gas giants will be the home of floating extraction factories. As to a "catalyst," I am still hand waving.  :)

dough560 on April 25, 2011, 01:58:44 am
Keep on waving, you make it believable and fun.

J Thomas on April 25, 2011, 07:52:15 am
You forget that having cameras on her and her goons also creates a problem if the records are found. Having a record of her criminal activity creates problems

Not if it's classified information.

And they don't have to reveal their cryptography keys. So nobody else knows whether the digital signatures are correct. For all anybody else who finds the records knows, they could be fakes.


Even if its classified it gets out. Look at what happened in the USA when the CIA were dealing drugs in US cities to pay for criminal activity in South America. Classified as frack but it still got out.

It did? You mean, there are a collection of urban legends claiming CIA used to sometimes deal drugs in US cities?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIA_drug_trafficking

I don't see that there is any proof here. True, the Kerry Commission did claim it. And an LAPD chief claimed it, when the CIA chief was publicly denying it.

But all of this is completely deniable, ad it's people who want to believe stories that make the US government look bad who believe it. Sir, are you an enemy of the USA? Why are you trying to spread these scurrilous stories?  ;)

So, there are a whole lot of stories which have gotten out. There are the Area 51 stories about the US government storing crashed alien flying saucers. There are the stories that various die-offs of wild animals or farm animals was due to US military testing of biological or chemical weapons. There are the stories that various outbreaks of insanity were due to US government testing of psychoactive weapons. (I liked the one that said they dosed Sean Hannity with an LSD analogue and nobody noticed any difference.)

There's the claim that the CIA actually caused Chernobyl by direct sabotage. That led to one of my favorite jokes.

"How do you know that the CIA was not involved in Chernobyl?"
"I don't know."
"It blew up, didn't it?"

So, how many of the stories are true?
How many of the actual secrets got out?
How did you test your answers to either of those questions?

Quote
The situation is one where simply classifying the thing won't work. Too many people involved and they can't kill them all without too much suspicion being levelled at them.

You might be right. How do you know?

Holt on April 25, 2011, 07:54:33 am
Because it would be a political decision. Which means they'd need corrupt military higher ups to agree to it and be bribed. Why send Chang at all when he actually seems to be a good man is beyond me.

Azure Priest on April 25, 2011, 08:29:23 am
Because it would be a political decision. Which means they'd need corrupt military higher ups to agree to it and be bribed. Why send Chang at all when he actually seems to be a good man is beyond me.

They needed someone to testify as to the "horrors" of Ceres who has a reputation of being credible and honest.  Rhonda is neither.  He's the "carrot." Rhonda is the "stick."  My knowledge of "spooks" goes by Tom Clancy and Dirk Pitt type novels.

The current plot involves the UW trying to "find" an incident which they can publish back home about how "lawless" the belt is so they could justify a full scale invasion, without revealing the fiscal crisis brought about by the "let's appease the welfare crowd" form of government the UW has.

Unable to find one, which Chang would repeat at a press conference, Rhonda is trying to provoke one, by the most underhanded tactics imaginable. Her primary mistake is doing so in front of Chang.  Bound by orders or not, it was a DUMB and arrogant move on her part.

Ed's biggest mistake here is not demanding proof that Jenny is still alive.  Rhonda has already shown that her word can NOT be trusted.  While I believe the threat, subordinates who are unbalanced enough to follow those orders tend to be rather impatient when their "toy" is dangling before them.  So if Rhonda's threat is true, how do we (or Ed) know that Jenny hasn't ALREADY been gang raped, and cut into little pieces.  Rhonda's probably thinking "after we broadcast the 'beating' we can just say young Jenny was 'yet another victim of belter lawlessness' and send her mutilated corpse to the 'grieving family.'"  I just hope Ed is stalling here because his buddies need time to find and rescue her, and it's not already too late.

Edit: Don't forget, the "president" of the UW has already shown that he's willing to IGNORE/DEFY his government's own laws when they don't do what he wants.  "We need a new legal department....  Smarten up, this needs to be done on the QT."
« Last Edit: April 25, 2011, 08:34:45 am by Azure Priest »

Holt on April 25, 2011, 09:10:55 am
You assume this involves the UW president

J Thomas on April 25, 2011, 09:28:19 am

Edit: Don't forget, the "president" of the UW has already shown that he's willing to IGNORE/DEFY his government's own laws when they don't do what he wants.  "We need a new legal department....  Smarten up, this needs to be done on the QT."

I don't remember that from the comic strip. Are you perhaps mixing it up with President GW Bush of the USA?