Colin Barrett: Blog

Back to Colin Barrett's Blog

Eden Rescue--chapter 37

August 12, 2014
Posted at 12:15 pm

A few points about the "science" in today's chapter. I use quotes around the word "science," because I have to acknowledge that this time I've played a bit fast and loose with it.
First off, gravitational lensing. I've ascribed it to the impact of gravity deflecting the flow of particles passing near a massive gravitational source, such as a star, but it's actually a lot more complicated than that. Yes, gravitational pull on the passing particles may have an effect, but the phenomenon is mainly due to the distortion of the space-time fabric caused by the star's presence. The thing is, try explaining that one in the context of a work of fiction that needs to flow. The second thing is that, irrespective of cause, the focal point of reconvergence of particles affected by gravitational lensing is nowhere near as short as I've postulated. Presumably the Ark is somewhere around one or two astronomical units beyond Eden's sun (one A.U. = the distance between the Earth and its sun, which of course varies depending on where Earth is in its orbit, but is conventionally set at 93 million miles, or about 150,000 kilometers). Current theory says that the focal point of gravitational lensing caused by our sun would be somewhere a bit more than 500 A.U.'s beyond the sun. There would undoubtedly be some intrusion of the nova's radiation into the nearby umbra (shadow) of Eden's sun, but probably (according to current theory, at least) not to the catastrophic extent that I've hypothesized.
Still, I think my science is at least a bit more accurate than that of Jack McDevitt in Devil's Eye or Robert J. Sawyer in Calculating God. Both writers used a temporally brief shield to avert the effects of a nova on a distant planet, and neither postulated the kind of focused effect caused by coincidence of the nova's magnetic and rotational poles that I have. Realistically, both don't quite work for the true astro-physicist, any more than does my own view. Science fiction doesn't always have to be 100% true to actual science, that's what the "fiction" part of the designation is all about.
The rest of the stuff about the effects of an incomplete transition of a material object into a Lorenzian wormhole, and the nature of "worm space," is obviously my own invention. There's no possible way of knowing these things, any more than it's possible to know today whether a large object such as a spacecraft could in fact traverse a wormhole (much less with directional control). At least what I've written sounds vaguely scientific and doesn't controvert as much knowledge as we have today.
That's about all the major science-type stuff for Eden Rescue. I thought it added something to the story. You can actually pretty much skip over it if you like; it's not crucial.