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Introducing New Words When Everyone Knows the Definition Already?

Crumbly Writer

I've got an interesting situation, in that I want to introduce an entirely new alien life-form word for a unique scientific/mechanical concept. The problem is, it wouldn't come up in dialogue, since everyone would already know the term. The main character uses it in a command situation, as it affects everyone's life, but there's really no call for him to say "by the way, that's the mathematical term for ...".

Just for informational purposes, the term I'm using is "vils", and it refers to a complex calculation the onboard computers use to calculate the least amount of lost travel time by avoiding an interspace collision. Since a collision with an object traveling in the opposite direction, when you're traveling by a factor of multiple light speeds, could destroy not only you, but entire solar systems, the Intuitive captain would call for a "one vil" or a "twenty vil" diversion.

Traveling in a jet engine, a one vil diversion wouldn't amount to much distance lost, but if you're traveling at five or ten times the speed of light, and the latest jog last for four hours, you're talking about a vast amount of space between the two resulting destinations. The "vil" is a term the onboard computer would use to calculate both how to make the turn (the degree of direction change), but also how much time and distance loss that would entail.

Getting back on topic, how do you broach defining a term that everyone in the scene is already familiar with (the Earthlings in this case are the newbies in this case, so they wouldn't want to look like complete novices by stating the obvious).

I know that Ernest like using parentheses, but everything I've read indicates that parentheses are Not employed in fiction, and I'm not sure about using a footnote, as there's no way to implement that on SOL other than in an 'end of chapter' note or creating a bibliography at the end (or beginning) of the story, which most readers aren't going to quit the story just to read.

The dialogue WILL have an argument about the distance the captain calls for, but I can only refer to the information indirectly.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

The consequences of the decision is tied to the magnitude, in other words, how many vils. Discuss that.

A need arises that requires the navigational calculations. Options are presented to the commander. He has to weigh the risks with the extra time to get to where they're going, based on how much of a navigational change he orders.

Have the characters debate that, not the calculation itself.

Bondi Beach

@Joe Long

The consequences of the decision is tied to the magnitude, in other words, how many vils. Discuss that.

A need arises that requires the navigational calculations. Options are presented to the commander. He has to weigh the risks with the extra time to get to where they're going, based on how much of a navigational change he orders.

Have the characters debate that, not the calculation itself.


Exactly. Context will tell the reader what he or she needs to know. By all means avoid parentheses, footnotes, asterisks, or any other kind of extraneous notation.

You've got some room to run here, assuming your readers are already on board with the general elements of the world you've described.

bb

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

A need arises that requires the navigational calculations. Options are presented to the commander. He has to weigh the risks with the extra time to get to where they're going, based on how much of a navigational change he orders.

Have the characters debate that, not the calculation itself.

That makes sense, but the discussion is over whether they should divert at all not by how much, as the ship's captain is claiming knowing information the other intuit (2nd captain) doesn't possess.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

That makes sense, but the discussion is over whether they should divert at all not by how much, as the ship's captain is claiming knowing information the other intuit (2nd captain) doesn't possess.


You could have the navigator and the helmsman arguing for different amounts of diversion while the captain makes his case that no diversion is needed.

Replies:   Joe Long
Geek of Ages

@Bondi Beach

By all means avoid parentheses, footnotes, asterisks, or any other kind of extraneous notation


Unless you're writing one of the many fiction books that have used them. Examples: Douglas Adams' oeuvre, Infinite Jest, and didn't House Of Leaves, also?

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

As to the original question, I would probably use it like this:

"Adjust helm to fifteen vils," the captain ordered, referring to the deviation in course to avoid interstellar collisions.

I'm fine with the narrator voice being one that provides some translation for the reader.

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

You could have the navigator and the helmsman arguing for different amounts of diversion while the captain makes his case that no diversion is needed.


Right - one of the options is no diversion at all. The point of the debate between the crew should be the cost/benefit analysis

richardshagrin

vils


I did a moderately quick online search for the word. It appears in French and Spanish and seems to be related to the English word "vile". How did you come up with it for your story?

Ross at Play

I recall you posting here, "$10 words are okay, just avoid using $100 words." To me, 'vils' seems like a $100 word. I wouldn't use it at all unless it was going to be used in a number of places throughout a story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej
Updated:


I recall you posting here, "$10 words are okay, just avoid using $100 words." To me, 'vils' seems like a $100 word


It strikes me that "vil" and "vils" in this situation require OR are definition over and above a simple diversion.

For a start there is the change in course (which earthlings would think of in terms of degrees up, down, to port or starboard), the degree of change (sudden, slowly and everything in between), the period of the temporary course change before reverting to a course for the original target/destination and probably a few other concepts.

For all this why not have a "phrase" which can be abbreviated to VILS (a parallel to FBI for Fed.......)

The bridge crew can then discuss the various changes (as already suggested) thus educating the reader

Ross at Play
Updated:

@sejintenej

For a start there is the change in course (which earthlings would think of in terms of degrees up, down, to port or starboard)

With no fixed points of reference, up or down and port or starboard have no meaning.
If a ship coming the other way is flying up-side-down, according to your orientation, then both turning to what they consider is 'port' could keep them on a collision course!

I think ultra-fast space travel with communications between ships to avoid collisions would require an agreement something like South is always pointing directly at the centre of the galaxy and East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy.
You'd still need an agreement about which is Up and which is Down, e.g. if a ship is traveling parallel to the galaxy's plane of rotation, then someone is standing Up, not Down, if East is on their right when they turn towards North.

I think for CW's problem, the crew could discuss an 'adjustment' specified by orienting the ship from 0 to 360 degrees clockwise from Up and thrusters on the underneath of the ship then alter its course by some number of degrees or seconds.

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@richardshagrin

vils


To do a detour again is revils. Someone who repeats detours is a revilsder. And backwards that reads ...

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

With no fixed points of reference, up or down and port or starboard have no meaning.
If a ship coming the other way is flying up-side-down, according to your orientation, then both turning to what they consider is 'port' could keep them on a collision course!


Port and starboard are relative to the ship's current heading so don't require an outside reference. "Adjust course 20 degrees starboard" would be sufficient to navigate around a local obstacle. If you're plotting a course from a current location to a distant destination, you might say "Set course to 315 degrees".

I space, one could use the galactic center and plane as a reference, as I believe was done on Star Trek (and that's assuming the navigation is done within just one galaxy.)

Unique and easy to detect objects such as quasars could be used like GPS. The ship would have a catalog of objects, and by identifying where each lie relative to the ship they can calculate the location and course.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Port and starboard are relative to the ship's current heading so don't require an outside reference.

No, port and starboard are only "relative to the ship's current heading" if you and everybody else is sailing on the same "ocean".
That's why I suggested there would need to be a general agreement about what plane the ocean is on. The same plane as the galaxy's rotation would be a suitable way to define compass points on that plane, but there would still need to be an agreement about which side of that was "above water".
Bearings to nearby objects would be needed for actual navigation, but you need to define at least compass points and an orientation to figure out the locations of those objects.

Replies:   Joe Long  Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

No, port and starboard are only "relative to the ship's current heading" if you and everybody else is sailing on the same "ocean".


For two ships on the same ocean, their port and starboard are only in reference to their own current headings, and have no relation to the other ship.

If you and I are facing each other, my left is not your left.

It's a local system, distinct from a global one.

Replies:   Ross at Play  sejintenej
Ross at Play

@Joe Long

If you and I are facing each other, my left is not your left.

NOT when flying directly at each other in space and we both think the other is standing up-side-down.
The concept of port and starboard could still be used in space to avoid collisions, but there would need to be a common agreement about what plane they must treat like the ocean, and which side of that plane is above water.

I read an interesting article recently in The Economist. Some birds manage to single out and catch a moth in flight using the same trick sailors use to avoid collisions. Sailors avoid collisions by noting the bearing of another vessel at one time, then if it's still on the same bearing a bit later then something must change to avoid a collision. Some birds will select a flying target and note its location in their field of vision. They then maneuver themselves in flight to maintain the target at the same point in their field of vision to intercept it.

Replies:   Joe Long
Ernest Bywater

According to some books I've read written by those involved in the space program and those they've given advice to on space the terms port and starboard are used in space and refer to the relationship of the heading of the craft they also negative for down and positive for up. Thus, to deviate to port by 20 degrees while going up by 10 degrees would be to steer port 20 at positive 10 - or something like that as I'm not sure which goes first.

Relationships were taken from three points - the vessel they're on or the major object in the local area (whatever that is) or the object they're heading toward.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

NOT when flying directly at each other in space and we both think the other is standing up-side-down.


Confessed I missed the upside down part. Ocean surface navigation is two-dimensional. In space you need to add a third dimension.

Let's take the galactic plane as the surface, and a line through the center and perpendicular to the place as the axis, which needs to have an arbitrary meridian. Then, as Star Trek did, you can define a course as x mark y, where 'mark' separates the two angles.

You can ignore whether the ship is 'upside down' by referencing whether they are above or below the plane (and perhaps some other detail I'm missing, but it can be done)

Ross at Play

@Joe Long

Confessed I missed the upside down part. Ocean surface navigation is two-dimensional. In space you need to add a third dimension.

That's okay. The penny does not always drop in space. :-)
Once you've defined your axes, you can specify any direction with a compass bearing from 0 to 360 degrees, plus a tilt from -90 to +90 degrees, although it would make sense to me to express that as the sine of the angle with a range of -1 to +1.
Defining the exes would require one line between two points to define North, then East would be perpendicular but could point anywhere around a circle, then a yes/no choice for which way is Up.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Joe Long
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Defining the exes would require one line between two points to define North, then East would be perpendicular but could point anywhere around a circle, then a yes/no choice for which way is Up.


Since our galaxy is a disk, a simple way to do it would be to pick one side of the disk as north, the other side becomes south, east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk and you need a third direction for in/out along the radius of the disk.

Replies:   Joe Long  Ross at Play
Joe Long

@Ross at Play

Yes, exactly what I was trying to describe.

Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Since our galaxy is a disk, a simple way to do it would be to pick one side of the disk as north, the other side becomes south, east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk and you need a third direction for in/out along the radius of the disk.


Or - alpha, beta, gamma and delta quadrants. But actually I like yours.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Joe Long

Or - alpha, beta, gamma and delta quadrants. But actually I like yours.


Describing three dimensional space requires three axes*.

* I had to look up the plural of axis.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Since our galaxy is a disk, a simple way to do it would be to pick one side of the disk as north, the other side becomes south, east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk and you need a third direction for in/out along the radius of the disk.

That is precisely what I said almost 5 hours before you.

... would require an agreement something like South is always pointing directly at the centre of the galaxy and East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy. You'd still need an agreement about which is Up and which is Down,

The only difference is you've swapped what I called the North-South and Up-Down axes.

Capt. Zapp

@Joe Long

In space you need to add a third dimension.


Which is what bit Kahn in the ass in "Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn"

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

The only difference is you've swapped what I called the North-South and Up-Down axes.


Most of the science fiction I've read that uses this kind of system uses north/south for the axis perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk.

Earth geographic north/south are based on the axis of the Earth's rotation. It makes more sense then for galactic north/galactic south to define the axis of the galaxies rotation.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Most of the science fiction I've read that uses this kind of system uses north/south for the axis perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk.

Okay. I'd go with that option then. I was just thinking through a problem with my fingers to figure out what would be needed.

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

the plural of axis

"Axes, pronounced AX-eez. Interestingly, axes is the only word in English that can be the plural of three different singular noun forms--ax, axe, and axis."

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

Interestingly, axes is the only word in English that can be the plural of three different singular noun forms--ax, axe, and axis.


Technically ax and axe are just different spellings of the same noun.

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Joe Long


@Ross at Play

NOT when flying directly at each other in space and we both think the other is standing up-side-down.

Confessed I missed the upside down part. Ocean surface navigation is two-dimensional. In space you need to add a third dimension.


In space you can't asume anything about the internal orientation of the other ship flying directly at you.

Depending on the drive system used by this other ship it's even possible it's going – in relation to the layout of its 'bridge' – full speed backward, left and down.

Relative to the plane of the galaxy the floor of the 'bridge' (if it has a floor) can be upended in any degree.

BTW, using a galaxy centered system to describe the course of a spacecraft going straight on over a long distance would be pointless.

Another thought unrelated to this discussion about directions:

How comes many space operas use a helmsman for steering the spacecraft?

Only ocean going ships have helmsmen, aircrafts of any size have pilots.

Why is spaceship more used than spacecraft?

HM.

helmut_meukel

@Ross at Play

@Dominions Son
Since our galaxy is a disk, a simple way to do it would be to pick one side of the disk as north, the other side becomes south, east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk and you need a third direction for in/out along the radius of the disk.

That is precisely what I said almost 5 hours before you.

... would require an agreement something like South is always pointing directly at the centre of the galaxy and East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy. You'd still need an agreement about which is Up and which is Down,

The only difference is you've swapped what I called the North-South and Up-Down axes.


No. Quite different:
The first is a system usable throughout the galaxy to describe positions and vectors in different star systems and how they relate to each other and to the galaxy.
The second can only be used within a local star system. To describe the position of the star within the galaxy you would need another system.

HM.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ernest Bywater

@helmut_meukel

How comes many space operas use a helmsman for steering the spacecraft?


Social inertia is the main reason. I suspect it's also because people relate spacecraft to naval ships more than they do to aeroplanes.

However, the real oddity is an aircraft like a Boeing 747 etc. is controlled by a pilot, while an airship like the Hindenburg was controlled by a helmsman.

Replies:   helmut_meukel
Zom

@helmut_meukel

Why is spaceship more used than spacecraft?

Historically?

astronaut (n.)
"space-traveler," 1929 in scientific speculation, popularized from 1961 by U.S. space program, from astro- "star" + nautes "sailor," from PIE root *nau- "boat."

helmut_meukel

@Ernest Bywater

However, the real oddity is an aircraft like a Boeing 747 etc. is controlled by a pilot, while an airship like the Hindenburg was controlled by a helmsman.


Thinking about it, a helmsman doesn't decide, he gets orders from the commanding officer. This is doable on a relative slow naval vessel and on a slow airship. In both cases any visible change of course will take some time due to the inertia of the ship and the very limited force of ship drive and rudder.
I shudder thinking about the inherent delay of such a system used with fast flying aircrafts.

HM.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

I did a moderately quick online search for the word. It appears in French and Spanish and seems to be related to the English word "vile". How did you come up with it for your story?

I'm dealing with dozens of alien species, so I'm inventing names and terms left and write. SO far, many of my alien names are sounding vaguely Jewish! I wanted a technical term which was easy to roll off the tongue. It has no tie in to anything Earth based, but it addresses the issues of faster-than-light collisions with small asteroids.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I recall you posting here, "$10 words are okay, just avoid using $100 words." To me, 'vils' seems like a $100 word. I wouldn't use it at all unless it was going to be used in a number of places throughout a story.

Not using any word for it makes it an even bigger issue, as they you've got to explain precisely what they're doing and how they're doing it. I've outlined the issue earlier, now I'm trying to have a technical discussion as a way of highlighting deceptions among the crew, so I need to be careful how I spread the information around.

After some delays, I'm FINALLY writing the chapter (which is why I'm up at all hours of the night!).

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

For all this why not have a "phrase" which can be abbreviated to VILS (a parallel to FBI for Fed.......)

The bridge crew can then discuss the various changes (as already suggested) thus educating the reader

That actually makes sense, especially since there are SO many different competing alien languages, the letters don't HAVE to actually spell anything out at all.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I think for CW's problem, the crew could discuss an 'adjustment' specified by orienting the ship from 0 to 360 degrees clockwise from Up and thrusters on the underneath of the ship then alter its course by some number of degrees or seconds.

Just a little context, this doesn't take place within a particular solar system. Instead, it's well beyond outside the solar system where the solar winds drop off. Since that area is largely empty of anything, running into another ship is unlikely. But because they're traveling SO MUCH faster than light, hitting a small pebble could be catastrophic, so they employ computer enhanced intuits (those who can detect when something's about to happen) to avoid these types of collisions.

The conflict is the human Intuit captain is essentially lying to the ship's crew, trying to keep them off guard, so when called on it, it launches into a separate discussion about a different topic--relating to the human's overall mission.

How far afield the ship moves is minor, what isn't minor is WHY the ship captain is lying to his crew!

Replies:   Joe Long
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

To do a detour again is revils. Someone who repeats detours is a revilsder. And backwards that reads ...

How long did it take you to come up with that one?

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

No, port and starboard are only "relative to the ship's current heading" if you and everybody else is sailing on the same "ocean".
That's why I suggested there would need to be a general agreement about what plane the ocean is on. The same plane as the galaxy's rotation would be a suitable way to define compass points on that plane, but there would still need to be an agreement about which side of that was "above water".
Bearings to nearby objects would be needed for actual navigation, but you need to define at least compass points and an orientation to figure out the locations of those objects.

In this case, the various navigation AIs plot out the course and the corrections, but the Intuit Captains' main objective is preventing the ship from going KABOOM when it strikes a tiny rock hurtling thru space. Again, the navigation AIs can handle the details, but the Intuits need to detail how BIG an obstruction it is. Factoring in how much FASTER than light they're traveling, multiplied by what they have to avoid, determines how far afield they'll end up--adding that much to their travel time.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Thus, to deviate to port by 20 degrees while going up by 10 degrees would be to steer port 20 at positive 10 - or something like that as I'm not sure which goes first.

That's useful. Again, since these are deviations from the preplotted 'fastest' course already laid out by the Navigation system, they're merely concerned with how far off they're moving and how long it'll take them to recoup the lost distances--which is all handled by sophisticated alien tech.

They're not avoiding Death Stars or Cruisers, instead they're facing a catastrophic collision with 'space dust', where turning away a hundredth of a degree means traveling hundreds of millions of miles.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Describing three dimensional space requires three axes*.

* I had to look up the plural of axis.

That's why dwarves are so good at space travel navigation, cause they always have several axes at hand! Only problem is, in space, those beards drift all over the place!

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

"Axes, pronounced AX-eez. Interestingly, axes is the only word in English that can be the plural of three different singular noun forms--ax, axe, and axis."

Does that make it the "Axes of Evil" (if they're each coming from a different direction)?

Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

Why is spaceship more used than spacecraft?

The convention (developed over time) seems to be that "spacecraft" refers to small vessels, while "spaceship" refers to large Federation ships. Putting it into a nautical analogy, a "craft" is a boat, while a "ship" is either a tanker or an aircraft carrier (of most of anything in between).

Hint: I fleshed this out in other, earlier stories about spacefaring races (btw, that's a race around the "Faring" galaxy).

Ross at Play
Updated:

@helmut_meukel

No. Quite different:
The first is a system usable throughout the galaxy to describe positions and vectors in different star systems and how they relate to each other and to the galaxy.
The second can only be used within a local star system. To describe the position of the star within the galaxy you would need another system.

No! Exactly the same.

These three pairs of what DS and I said all create the same three axes:

Me: South is always pointing directly at the centre of the galaxy
DS: you need a third direction for in/out along the radius of the disk

Me: East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy
DS: east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk

Me: You'd still need an agreement about which is Up and which is Down
DS: pick one side of the disk as north

This statement you made is not correct, "The second can only be used within a local star system." Local star systems I referred to would have no effect on what I specified. I was referring to the direction that local stars were currently rotating around the centre of the galaxy.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

hitting a small pebble could be catastrophic, so they employ computer enhanced intuits (those who can detect when something's about to happen) to avoid these types of collisions.


Wouldn't a deflector shield be easier and more reliable? Project a force in front of the ship to push those smaller mass objects out of the way. Like the cow catcher on a train.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Ross at Play

Take a sheet of paper and draw the disc-like galaxis.

Now DS wrote: "Since our galaxy is a disk, a simple way to do it would be to pick one side of the disk as north, the other side becomes south, east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk..."

Think of the disk as a clock: his suggestion would set north say to 12, then south would be at 6, east at 3 and west at 9. (assuming he meant north as starting point for east and west). Try to draw lines between north and south and east and west, their crosspoint would be the galactic centre.

You however said:

"That is precisely what I said almost 5 hours before you.

'... would require an agreement something like South is always pointing directly at the centre of the galaxy and East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy. You'd still need an agreement about which is Up and which is Down,'

The only difference is you've swapped what I called the North-South and Up-Down axes."

In your co-ordinate system the south pole would be in the galactic centre, where DS has only a crosspoint between the lines north-south and east-west.

You would have the same problem as somebody on earth standing at the south pole: which direction is North?

OTOH, I would avoid names like south, west, north, east, up, and down. I would use a XYZ-system with zero in the galactic centre. Now you've only to define where to set the x-line, which side has positive and which negative values and the unit size. I would set X to the largest diameter, Y would be in the same plane, but 90 degrees off and Z the smallest diameter (the thickness). I would name it Standard Galactical Co-ordinate System and the co-ordinates of a sun would then be expressed as SGC X+85.76322; Y-17.11754; Z-2.68391;

Let's assume each alien race has its own co-ordinate system, probably zeroed to their home system and their own unit size. If you know the basics of their system, there is no problem to convert co-ordinates from their system to SGC.

HM.

Ross at Play

@helmut_meukel

I would avoid names like south, west, north, east, up, and down.

I cannot be bothered discussing what names are given to the three axes, and how those names should be assigned.
My post to CW identified how many parameters with what value ranges are needed to specify locations and directions within a galaxy.
I suggested having one axis radiating out from the centre of the galaxy was one option, but there is nothing in what I posted which is inconsistent with a choice of axes which would generate a unique set of values for every point within a huge box shape.

sejintenej

@Joe Long

For two ships on the same ocean, their port and starboard are only in reference to their own current headings, and have no relation to the other ship.

If you and I are facing each other, my left is not your left.

The original reference to Vils seems to have been a possible command by the ship's captain to change course to avoid another vessel. Thus the change would be relative to the captain's ship's existing course prior to the change and does not concern outside bodies such as quasars, other ships, planets etc.

Certainly at a later stage in order to establish a new course to the destination then outside bodies could be referred to but vils refer to the initial deviation

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

Me: East is always parallel to local star system's rotation around the centre of the galaxy
DS: east and west are clockwise and counter clockwise around the disk


This is in fact a significant difference.

Mine is based on the galaxy as a whole

With yours, you have to deal with the fact that individual stars can be (most are) moving relative to the galaxy and it's overall rotation in any direction (including up/down in/out).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

Think of the disk as a clock: his suggestion would set north say to 12, then south would be at 6, east at 3 and west at 9.


No, north would be one face of the disk and South the other. Think of it like a coin, North is heads and south is tails.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Dominions Son

With yours, you have to deal with the fact that individual stars can be (most are) moving relative to the galaxy and it's overall rotation in any direction (including up/down in/out).

You are deliberately being nothing but a pest, AGAIN!
You know damn well my post was describing how three perpendicular axes could be identified - I was not attempting to write a legal definition.
Please annoy someone else with your stupid nitpicking like this. I've had enough.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

You know damn well I was describing a single plane across an entire galaxy


No I damn well did not know that. If in fact that is what you meant it was damn stupid of you to use the "local star system" as the point of reference point for defining that plane.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

No I damn well did not know that. If in fact that is what you meant it was damn stupid of you to use the "local star system" as the point of reference point for defining that plane.

Read the original post, you moron.
The only mention of "local star system" was to identify the path of rotation "around the centre of the galaxy".

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

The only mention of "local star system" was to identify the path of rotation "around the centre of the galaxy".


An individual star's path of rotation around the center of the Galaxy can vary from the rotation of the galaxy as a whole, the plane of the individual stars orbit can be tilted from the plane of the overall galaxy.

You are still the moron for using that as the point of reference.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

The only mention of "local star system" was to identify the path of rotation "around the centre of the galaxy".


An individual star's path of rotation around the center of the Galaxy can vary from the rotation of the galaxy as a whole, the plane of the individual stars orbit can be tilted from the plane of the overall galaxy.

You are still the moron for using that as the point of reference.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

I assume you are lying.
I do not believe that was how you interpreted my original post. If it had been, you'd have mentioned it a long time ago.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

I do not believe that was how you interpreted my original post. If it had been, you'd have mentioned it a long time ago.


I was unsure what you meant because using an individual star system for that purpose makes no sense at all. I just left it alone.

Why do you think in mine I used the disk of the galaxy as the reference instead.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

children, play nice. Any system of location in space is purely arbitrary and based on whatever system the relevant government wishes to have applied. Most would normally be based on relativity to the seat of the government or the relativity of the spaceship itself. Thus anything goes.

Joe Long

and we'll be dead before our star moves any appreciable distance around the galactic center

Replies:   sejintenej
REP
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Hi DS.

I am confused by your discussion with Ross. To start with, a galaxy is a collection of individual stars and each star has a solar system that is comprised of its planets, asteroids, comets, etc. I am not aware of anything like a star system within a galaxy (i.e., multiple stars grouped together as a unit). Thus to me, the term 'local star system' is meaningless unless the term is meant to refer to nearby galaxies, which are star systems.

The only thing I can envision as the purpose of your discussion is defining a navigational system within a galaxy that can be used for determining a spacecraft's position and path of travel relative to its destination's position and path of travel. But why reinvent the wheel.

The most useful reference system for navigating within a galaxy would be a Cartesian Reference System. The galaxy's axis of rotation could be used as the Z-axis and two stars 90 degrees apart in the plane of the galaxy could be used to set the orientation of the +X and +Y axes and that would define which direction the +Z portion of the Z-axis would point relative to the plane of the galaxy. The position of the stars within the galaxy can then be defined by their Cartesian coordinates.

A spaceship's captain would only have to know the Cartesian coordinates of the spacecraft's location and direction of travel to determine a course change to reach a destination. The course change itself would most likely be given in terms of the spaceship's current axis of travel and the crew's current orientation of up-down, left-right.

Joe Long

@REP

I am not aware of anything like a star system within a galaxy


I understand "star system" to be synonymous with "solar system" - a collection of planets and other lesser objects orbiting a star. 'Solar' is an adjective form of 'Sol' which is a proper name of our star, so presumably there's only one 'solar system' out of the multitude of star systems. The 'local star system' would be the one you're present in at the referenced time.

geekofages

@REP

multiple stars grouped together as a unit


So, binary star systems? We know a bunch of those. Even Alpha Centauri is actually two stars.

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son
Updated:

@geekofages


Even Alpha Centauri is actually two stars.


Alpha Centauri is actually a trinary star system.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_Centauri

Geek of Ages

@Dominions Son

Right. Can't believe I forgot that.

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Alpha Centauri is actually a trinary star system.


Right, but it's a binary system with a loosely connected distant (0.21 ly) third star (a red dwarf).

The orbital period of Proxima is approximately 550,000 years.


I doubt it's possible due to the short observation period and the distance to be really certain of a permanently gravitational bond of Proxima to the Alpha Centauri binary.

Time will show. ;)

HM.

awnlee jawking

@REP

A spaceship's captain would only have to know the Cartesian coordinates of the spacecraft's location and direction of travel to determine a course change to reach a destination.


From the point of view of telling a story I think that's an acceptable simplification. But actually space is curved. If a Cartesian straight line course takes you close to the gravity well of a black hole, for example, you're not going to end up where projected :(

AJ

Replies:   REP
StarFleet Carl

@helmut_meukel

How comes many space operas use a helmsman for steering the spacecraft?

Only ocean going ships have helmsmen, aircrafts of any size have pilots.

Why is spaceship more used than spacecraft?


Since hopefully you're familiar with The Original Series (Shatner as Kirk) Star Trek, I'll use that as reference.

Sulu was helmsman, Chekov was navigator. The middle console between them was the astrogation console. Navigation determined the course to get the ship from point A to point B, which is trickier than ocean going navigation because in space, point A and point B are both moving.

Aircraft have pilots because the pilot is in command of his aircraft. The helmsman is not in command of his ship, that's the job of the Captain (who is called that, even if his rank is Ensign).

And ship versus craft is similar to what we see today, it's a size thing. You'll have a small craft warning due to bad weather (somewhere around 40 knot winds and 15 foot seas) but ships would pretty much ignore that. The Enterprise was a space ship, the Galileo was a shuttle craft carried BY the Enterprise.

Replies:   Joe Long  garymrssn
Joe Long

@StarFleet Carl

Sulu was helmsman, Chekov was navigator. The middle console between them was the astrogation console. Navigation determined the course to get the ship from point A to point B, which is trickier than ocean going navigation because in space, point A and point B are both moving.


Yes. Helmsmen operate the helm which guides the ship.

On the Australian TV show Sea Patrol the ranks and duties were driven home as nearly everyone referred to each other by those names - XO, RO, Buffer, Swain, Charge, Chefo

sejintenej

@Joe Long

Given the velocity that terra moves around the sun and the expanding nature of the universe I suspect that our solar system actually has a very considerable velocity relative to the centre of the galaxy.
A space traveller cannot afford to be even a million miles off after a multi year journey - he/she could be short of fuel, food and up to date star maps.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@awnlee jawking

you're not going to end up where projected


That is why navigators make mid-course corrections.

REP

@geekofages

So, binary star systems?


You're correct. I don't think of binary stars as star systems, but they are.

Ross at Play

@sejintenej

I suspect that our solar system actually has a very considerable velocity relative to the centre of the galaxy.

I've seen several estimates of that, and they were all a million miles in just a few hours.
It wouldn't matter that much if you stay within the same region of a galaxy - your initial speed would be similar even when it felt to you that you were stationary within the galaxy - but for big jumps ...

garymrssn

@StarFleet Carl

Navigation determined the course to get the ship from point A to point B, which is trickier than ocean going navigation because in space, point A and point B are both moving.


Considering that all present navigation is based on Standard Model Physics which prohibits FLT travel, it might evolve that nothing in present navigation theory would apply.

Replies:   sejintenej
jackwill.grimault

@Crumbly Writer

Maybe I'm breaking some forum rules here, but I'd like to respond to the original question: How do you introduce an invented word to the reader?

"Vil" seems to be "technobabble" to me. This term might sound derogatory, but to me, it's a valid means to show your story is set in a future high tech environment. Technobabble has the special property that you might not have to explain it to the reader at all: It's just like mentioning made up names of alien races to show "we are not alone." Maybe the author does not know what it means himself.

Well, in this case, the author does know. It's still not quite clear to me whether the reader really has to learn about it: It's good the author knows what exactly this is all about, but is it important enough for the reader to do, too?

Okay, suppose it is. The author needs to let the reader know. "Show, don't tell?" It's a problem here, as there is nothing to show: The characters use the term and everybody understands it.

A typical trick is to bring in somebody who does not understand: The rookie who shows he didn't get it, or who frankly asks about it, and the instructor explains. This is often only too obviously a device.

Okay, why not just forget about "Show, don't tell"? Checkov (no, not Pavel, Anton) probably didn't mean it this way, anyway. Just tell the reader. Insert a paragraph at the appropriate point and explain to the reader what the hell they are talking about it.

Or do it the Douglas Adams way: Have a Reader's Guide to the Story's Galaxy in the backhand to "quote" from it when it comes in handy. That doesn't have to be humorous. And SOL supports "blockquotes" in stories, right?

Or have a character think about it in a bit much detail, disguising the telling a bit.

Personally, as a reader, I wouldn't mind an explanation inserted without any ado. I might skip it when I'm not in the mood or too tired to get the technical details anyway, but I'd still like it to be there.

Dominions Son

@jackwill.grimault

"Vil" seems to be "technobabble" to me.


Worse, it's alien "technobabble. :)

Replies:   Joe Long
Joe Long

@Dominions Son

Worse, it's alien "technobabble. :)


Why I'd recommend simply using the term in passing, while the characters can debate their decision making (regardless of what word is thrown in the mix.)

It's the debate and conflict which is important to the story. It's technobabble when they can pull a solution out of their science books. "Captain! I have it! All we need to do..." fingers flying furiously over the control panel "is take this gobbledy and mix it with the gook - and shazam! Problem solved!"

BlacKnight

@jackwill.grimault

Or have a character think about it in a bit much detail, disguising the telling a bit.


David Weber has taken to doing this a lot. It is awful - awkward and not nearly so subtle as he seems to think. People don't just sit around thinking to themselves basic facts about their setting.

"As you know, Bob," is deplored for a reason. Making it, "As I know, Bob," is really, really not an improvement.

Ideally, you want to work it in such that the reader can gather the meaning from context without an explicit explanation. But, failing that, just tell the reader. Some simple narrative exposition is way better than trying to wedge it into dialogue, or, worse, into some poor sucker's internal monologue.

Or leave it out. I would question the need for this bit of invented terminology to begin with. People have been navigating and piloting things for millennia. Course changes are not a radical new sci-fi concept. Surely you can describe what you need to using actual words.

Geek of Ages

@BlacKnight

Thing is, using actual words is still technobabble. There's a chance some readers might understand it, but ultimately, for readers like me who don't know anything about navigating a ship, it doesn't really matter whether the words are made up or not; they all look made up anyway.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Geek of Ages


technobabble


From a search on-line for technobabble:
"SCIFI IDEAS

SCIENCE FICTION IDEAS "

INSPIRATION "

WRITING RESOURCES "

PODCAST

TECHNOBABBLE GENERATOR

We've created this technobabble generator to help writers characterful technical jargon to their science fiction works. Does a complicated piece of technology need fixing on your spaceship? Don't know what that piece of technology is? Try out the technobabble generator and see if its randomly generated nonsense fits the bill.

TECHNOBABBLE GENERATOR

I'm detecting a frequency shift in the alpha-wave frequency oscillator.

We need to isolate the rubidium flow circuit.

We need to scramble the ventral hyperwave pulse initiator.

Refresh the page for more randomly generated techno-jargon.

Like this? Try our Spaceship Name Generator."

Replies:   JohnBobMead
JohnBobMead

@richardshagrin

TECHNOBABBLE GENERATOR


You have an incredable skill, Richard. To find the most absurd thing to post. And have it be appropriate.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@JohnBobMead

TECHNOBABBLE GENERATOR


This site has generators for everything: alien names (classic and current styles), alien physical descriptions, planets, terrain, spacecraft/ships, ship names, as well as general technobabble. http://www.springhole.net/writing_roleplaying_randomators/index.html

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sejintenej

@garymrssn

Navigation determined the course to get the ship from point A to point B, which is trickier than ocean going navigation because in space, point A and point B are both moving.

Considering that all present navigation is based on Standard Model Physics which prohibits FLT travel, it might evolve that nothing in present navigation theory would apply


Surely it is great circle navigation with an extra dimension.
The fact that your start point is moving is highly relevant once you have started?
Yes, having left the start point you already have velocity and direction to correct as soon as you can compute and lay in a course or (great circle system) a series of courses. However a decent navigator / skipper will compute the course in advance and move out at the moment the computations call for a start.

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

Wouldn't a deflector shield be easier and more reliable? Project a force in front of the ship to push those smaller mass objects out of the way. Like the cow catcher on a train.

Yeah, a deflector would be easier, which is why Star Trek invented it out of whole cloth, but I've never seen any justification for the premise in any scientific principal. Every other sci-fi topic, from Warp Speed to time travel, have been extensive researched and discussed, with multiple realistic alternatives promoted. But there is no 'external energy shield' which holds up post a first glance.

Moreover, the risk isn't from tiny space gravel, it's from the multitude of potential risks you might encounter when travels thousands of light years in a short time (i.e. nearly instantaneously). While a 'space shield' might deflect small obstructions, it wouldn't prevent you from crashing into another craft, and unknown comet deflected by a nearby star, or any number of other obstructions. (The 'planetary dust' is just a more dramatic argument about relatively minor risks presenting monumental threats.)

Finally, how much energy would it require to project an imaginary force field millions of miles ahead of your ship, if you're traveling Faster Than Light? Frankly, that makes FTL travel seem like a minor inconvenience while protecting your ship would require an unlimited amount of energy on an ongoing near-perpetual basis. Just because an idea has been used once in cheesy sci-fi doesn't mean it's worth preserving indefinitely. However, in this case, I wanted to capitalize on an odd-set of skills that a future spacefaring culture might require, rather than relying on storytelling shortcuts from previous centuries.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, a deflector would be easier,


All good replies, but...

It's possible that once something is traveling faster than light it's then in hyperspace where objects in normal space don't appear.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, a deflector would be easier, which is why Star Trek invented it out of whole cloth, but I've never seen any justification for the premise in any scientific principal. Every other sci-fi topic, from Warp Speed to time travel, have been extensive researched and discussed, with multiple realistic alternatives promoted. But there is no 'external energy shield'


In the Star Trek universe, the navigational deflector is separate from the ship's shields. The navigation deflector consists of a magnetic field to push fine debris out of the path of the ship and automated tractor/repulsor beams to handle larger debris.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

OTOH, I would avoid names like south, west, north, east, up, and down. I would use a XYZ-system with zero in the galactic centre. Now you've only to define where to set the x-line, which side has positive and which negative values and the unit size. I would set X to the largest diameter, Y would be in the same plane, but 90 degrees off and Z the smallest diameter (the thickness). I would name it Standard Galactical Co-ordinate System and the co-ordinates of a sun would then be expressed as SGC X+85.76322; Y-17.11754; Z-2.68391;

Let's assume each alien race has its own co-ordinate system, probably zeroed to their home system and their own unit size. If you know the basics of their system, there is no problem to convert co-ordinates from their system to SGC.

Except, space is nothing like a three-dimensional coordinate system. Instead, space warps based on gravity. Thus planets physically bend space, as do various difficult to detect black holes. Assuming that all of space is merely a large blank sheet (in 3D) is underestimating the complexities of space travel. However, the reassuring countermeasure, as NASA has proved time and again, is that these obstructions are easily resolved through the application of mathematics. They aren't insurmountable problems, but they don't lend themselves to simplistic explanations.

As far as referring to "east"/"west" or "port"/"starboard", I suggest you simply avoid those colloquial terms altogether, as I'm sure we'll eventually come up with a more comprehensive system which isn't based in the 17th century navel navigation.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

The original reference to Vils seems to have been a possible command by the ship's captain to change course to avoid another vessel. Thus the change would be relative to the captain's ship's existing course prior to the change and does not concern outside bodies such as quasars, other ships, planets etc.

Using the premise of an Intuitive (someone who can predict events in the near-term future) avoids the difficulties of figuring out a chartiographic (can't figure out how to spell it) system for space flight. Rather than planning who's scheduled to be flying across thousands of light years distance, you merely avoid any potential disaster points and then subsequently scheduling how to make up the difference in time between the two different plans.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, a deflector would be easier, which is why Star Trek invented it out of whole cloth, but I've never seen any justification for the premise in any scientific principal.


As if there was a scientific justification for a precognitive crew. :)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

Except, space is nothing like a three-dimensional coordinate system. Instead, space warps based on gravity.


You are wrong CW. Space is three dimensional.

A three-dimensional coordinate system, also known as a Cartesian coordinate system, can be used to define the location of planets and other celestial bodies. The warping of space has no affect on the coordinate system. The planets and other celestial bodies exist and they have locations. The coordinate system just defines that location relative to a reference point regardless of how gravity may affect our perception of location from a second location.

JohnBobMead

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, a deflector would be easier, which is why Star Trek invented it out of whole cloth


It's been too long since I've read them, so I may be wrong, but I think E.E. "Doc" Smith had something similer in his "Lensmen" series; I'm real sure his ships had energy shields to protect against enemy energy beam attacks, but I don't remember if they also protected against solid matter. It I _am_ remembering correctly, then the concept goes _way_ back in the SF field.

Replies:   REP  Crumbly Writer
REP

@JohnBobMead

Like you, it has been a long time since I read the Lensmen series. I don't recall if mention was made about the ships capabilities, but a deflector would be different than an energy shield used to protect the ship from an energy beam attack.

Crumbly Writer

@jackwill.grimault

Maybe I'm breaking some forum rules here, but I'd like to respond to the original question: How do you introduce an invented word to the reader?

"Vil" seems to be "technobabble" to me. This term might sound derogatory, but to me, it's a valid means to show your story is set in a future high tech environment. Technobabble has the special property that you might not have to explain it to the reader at all: It's just like mentioning made up names of alien races to show "we are not alone." Maybe the author does not know what it means himself.

Okay, why not just forget about "Show, don't tell"? Checkov (no, not Pavel, Anton) probably didn't mean it this way, anyway. Just tell the reader. Insert a paragraph at the appropriate point and explain to the reader what the hell they are talking about it.

Okay, it's been a long time coming (it was indefinitely delayed by a computer failure (data drive crash), and further offset as I had to check ALL of my files to ensure every change to those files was properly captured), but here's the relatively short passage concerning "vils":

"We're finally past the heliosphere, so we're ready to begin the faster than light phase of our journey."

"Good, I'm eager to get this journey underway." Al concentrated a moment, before waving with his hand. "We need to jog our planned trajectory to port three at positive two by five vils."

"Five vils? That will delays us for some time."

"It can't be helped. After all, you don't want to plunge headlong into something you didn't plan on, would you."

"Wait up," another officer protested. "I haven't achieved the records you have, but I don't sense any impediments to our normal route."

"Excuse me," Al said, sensing a potential problem with others undermining him. "Who are you?"

"Sorry," Captain Yitzl said. "This is Albrechzkl, he's your second."

"I was led to understand there weren't enough Intuits to man the ships you have in the air. How do we rate two?"

Yitzl shrugged. "This has turned into a high priority mission. Beyond that, Albrechzkl isn't a full-time Intuit. He normally works in propulsions, as his natural abilities directed him elsewhere. But it was decided you needed an apprentice, leaning your techniques so we can spread your newer techniques throughout the fleet. Even though he's not up to your standards, and can't approach your prolonged speeds, he'll allow us to travel faster than light even during your off hours."

Al frowned, not having anticipated someone potentially questioning his every move. "Well, Albrechzkl, the conflict isn't an immediate risk of collision. Instead, it's a slight widespread anomaly which will affect the integrity of our journey."

"Okay, now I'm intrigued too," Yitzl said. "What sort of anomaly are we facing, and if there's no risk of collision, then what's the risk we're facing."

Al sighed, pausing before speaking. "That's part of what I was getting at before. Part of why we humans have done so well since arriving, is because of the conflicted nature of your Tandorian aides. We never knew it was unusual, but we have the ability to turn off our aids at will. Not only does this prevent them from countermanding us, it also produces a higher efficiency. Rather than allowing our aids to focus on thousands of different functions, we prioritize them. While we're off duty, we leave most of them running as needed, seeing as we don't know which will be required. But part of my previous performance was because, by shutting down those alternate functions, my aides can detect more detail than other Intuits.
"This anomaly, while risking no widespread calamity, does risk substantial delaying our journey."

"And yet you risk taking us five vils out of our primary path, for a duration of several hours, at a rate of multiple times the speed of light, that'll take us way out of our way. What 'minor inconvenience warrants that much of a disturbance?"

"Instead of a standard obstruction, like colliding with a small comet barreling towards us, I'm detecting a gravitational wave, which will not only affect our overall speed, it's likely to affect our navigation, causing us to accelerate in a new, unanticipated direction—which will require additional time to identify and correct. Thus the diversion, while unfortunate, will be much less severe than we'll face otherwise."

"Are you serious?" Albrechzkl asked. "That's … phenomenal. There have been occasional reports of gravitational wave disturbances, but we've never been able to predict them before."

"Again, it's all a matter of focus. Your aids, while helping a great deal, also constrain the very abilities they augment. Just as they provide additional security, they also rob everyone of the freedom to try new ideas and change the steady progression towards a predetermined destiny."

"Damn, it sounds like that's not something that you can teach others without those innate abilities."

"You'd be surprised," Al said, glancing at Captain Yitzl. "If you don't accept your limitations, you can often accomplish what was previously seen as impossible."

Note: This passage is right off my first draft, so it hasn't been edited or even reviewed, but I wanted to give everyone a view of where the story went with the information everyone volunteered.

As for "vils", I took the 'technobabble' route, not actually explaining it in any detail, but giving a vague idea of what it involves (I explain the role of "Intuits" in space travel elsewhere in the story). The main point of this passage, is that "Al" is trying to buy his team time to act by slowing the spacecraft's travel time, but is stymied by having a second Intuit second guessing his actions. Thus the entire chapter is about the conflict between everyone involved: the humans and the other alien species, the unique role the humans have been given—even if they don't deserve it—and how Al is trying to buy them time to ensure they don't get annihilated when they finally confront the almost certain death they're been assigned to.

The finished product, however, will be much more polished (including many more participants with alternate reactions to the information revealed.

Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

Or leave it out. I would question the need for this bit of invented terminology to begin with. People have been navigating and piloting things for millennia. Course changes are not a radical new sci-fi concept. Surely you can describe what you need to using actual words.

Sorry for adding all this detail so late in the discussion, but as I've said, I've been distracted by computer problems for several weeks now (one waiting for parts, the other searching for information lost and trying to save pieces stores on various alternate backups and portable drives).

But much of the conflict centers, not on the 'technobabble', but on the unique positions the humans find themselves in (largely a misunderstanding), which leaves them in the front line of a massive interstellar war they don't understand, trying to survive through subterfuge until they can fashion a way to survive before the ultimate conflict with the enemy.

The role of the 'Intuit", and the specific role the humans play in the brinkmanship of the alien war is already established elsewhere in the story. I was just dancing around how much to explain about something the players in the drama assume, while still capturing the deceptions involved.

Crumbly Writer

@BlacKnight

People have been navigating and piloting things for millennia. Course changes are not a radical new sci-fi concept. Surely you can describe what you need to using actual words.

Except, in a universe several millenium ahead of us, navigating a universe of gravity bending space is nothing like 2D navigating on the oceans in the 16th century, or 3D navigation among pilots on Earth.

Not only are we wrestling with FTL space travel dealing with relativity (few surviving by the time they return), but we're talking about space not being consistent enough to be measured on a simple X-Y-Z grid based system.

Even worse, these ships achieve FTL travel by expanding space before them (making the physical travel anyone following them even farther), while shrinking it behind them (to hopefully negate much of the increased distances involved) and you can't even consider a simple 'grid based navigation' system. You (as an author) don't need to provide the mechanics and the mathematics, but you've GOT to take the concepts involved and relate them to the reader, rather than simply saying "We used a magic ray which makes it just like a sailing ship in olden pirate adventures."

Once again, I'm fighting the literary current, because I'm purposely seeking out difficult to tell stories, going where no one else ventures, in order to tell stories never told before. I'm not looking for easy plots, I'm searching for the hard, unusual and hard to explain concepts.

Replies:   REP
Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

This site has generators for everything: alien names (classic and current styles), alien physical descriptions, planets, terrain, spacecraft/ships, ship names, as well as general technobabble.

I'll have to check it out. In a universe where each species speaks a different language using different wavelengths, and it's translated on the fly in their heads, we're already making all kinds of assumptions. As I've noted, many of my 'alien' names are already sounding like Jewish names with a lot of random "z"s, "x"es and "k"s in them. :(

Crumbly Writer

@Joe Long

It's possible that once something is traveling faster than light it's then in hyperspace where objects in normal space don't appear.

I've never understood where 'hyperspace' exists. Is it separate from 'normal' reality (like jumping into an alternate dimension, like using string theory to postulate crossing folded space to cross a wide expanse more quickly), or is it simply a way of crossing existing pace more quickly.

In my universe, FTL travel is accomplished by going as near the speed of light as you can achieve, then then expanding space before the ship, sucking you along. Technically, you're traveling less than the Speed of light, but in reality, you're traveling orders of magnitude faster than light, only then you face all the nastiness of relatively (a 3-hour voyage turns into a several hundred year trips).

I've used both in stories (jumping into an alternate dimension: "The Catalyst" and "Singularity") and (stretching space: "Stranded in a Foreign Land", "The Lad Who Poked the Devil in the Eye" and now this story, part of the "Not-Quite Human" series).

The rule in 'making up the rules of a universe', is that you lay out the rules in the first several chapters, and then you STICK blindly to rules thereafter, so readers don't question all the assumptions you initially made. Thus you CAN'T switch from FTL speeds with string-theory based hyperspace. It's either one or the other. You don't need to explain how each state exists, but you'd better not cross the one with the other!

Replies:   Joe Long
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son

In the Star Trek universe, the navigational deflector is separate from the ship's shields. The navigation deflector consists of a magnetic field to push fine debris out of the path of the ship and automated tractor/repulsor beams to handle larger debris.

Even as a ten-year old when the series first appeared on television, this explanation made ZERO sense! How does a 'magnetic field' deflect anything non-metal? You don't need something constructed of iron ore to destroy objects both traveling faster than light. Also (as I already pointed out) projecting a 'mysterious force' ahead of you, while traveling faster than light, involved massive amounts MORE energy than does simple faster than light travel (which already requires absolutely phenomenal amounts of energy).

It's true, you can always take the Star Trek/Star Wars/Dragon Riders of Pern examples and say 'I don't give a damn what's physically possible at some point in the future, I'm simply telling a fun story', but others WANT you to account for HOW such things are possible, even if you don't bore them with the details.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

As if there was a scientific justification for a precognitive crew. :)

In my world, there is. They start with the weak natural abilities humans seem to already possess, and augment them with nanobots (tiny computers floating in their blood) to make the previously unpredictable results reliable.

It's a stretch, by the best of calls, but it bears up under the 'internal validity' test (does the story make sense within it's own reality). And given the complexities of relativity in regards to space travel, it deftly dances around those difficulties with surprising ease.

Again, it's not a matter of basing the future on the past, or proving the future technology beyond a shadow of a doubt, instead it's all about creating a universe which makes sense in it's own world (the make believe world I'm creating) and then keeping the rules of that universe consistent so things make sense within that framework.

Cowcatchers worked in the Star Trek universe, and hyperspace works in the Star Wars universe, but in my particular universe, neither really pans out (which we all work from a different set of assumptions).

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Even as a ten-year old when the series first appeared on television, this explanation made ZERO sense! How does a 'magnetic field' deflect anything non-metal?


A strong enough magnetic field can affect anything that has an electric charge or is capable of conducting electricity. If it has an electric charge, it has it's own magnetic field that another magnetic field can push/pull against. If it's conductive, a magnetic field that is moving relative to the object can induce an electric current in the object, which will again produce a magnetic field.

but others WANT you to account for HOW such things are possible, even if you don't bore them with the details.


You don't think a deflector is scientifically valid. I get that. However, your workaround is psychic powers. How the fuck does that make any more sense from a scientific perspective than a deflector?

Crumbly Writer

@JohnBobMead

It's been too long since I've read them, so I may be wrong, but I think E.E. "Doc" Smith had something similer in his "Lensmen" series; I'm real sure his ships had energy shields to protect against enemy energy beam attacks, but I don't remember if they also protected against solid matter. It I _am_ remembering correctly, then the concept goes _way_ back in the SF field.

Using energy to block a physical attack (while remaining stationary, or at least traveling through space at a consistent speed) is vastly different than traveling faster than light by several orders of magnitude. In one, you're simply deflecting things from your ship, in the other, you're deflecting things billions of miles distant from your ship at the moment.

In Star Trek and Star Wars, they avoided this by NEVER MIXING FTL travel with battles in space (they'd all stop before battle), but in my universe, I wanted to wrestle with how new abilities a future star-faring face would require in a 'new breed' of humans.

I laid those features out in "The Cuckoo's Progeny", but now in its sequel, I'm fleshing out what they mean in real life (i.e. encountering the dangers of actual space travel and armed conflict in space).

Replies:   Dominions Son  Joe Long
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


in the other, you're deflecting things billions of miles distant from your ship at the moment.


No, that's not how it is supposed to work. It's an energy field that pushes fine particulate debris out of the path of the ship as the ship moves. The faster the ship moves, the harder the debris get's hit by the energy field, the more the debris is accelerated. No need to deal with anything at billions of miles no matter how fast the ship is moving.

You argue against deflectors by saying that there is no real world scientific justification for it. But then to get around not having them, you introduce something with even less scientific justification.

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

How does a 'magnetic field' deflect anything non-metal?


The same way it levitates a frog: http://www.ru.nl/hfml/research/levitation/diamagnetic/

REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


we're talking about space not being consistent enough to be measured on a simple X-Y-Z grid based system.


CW, you don't know what you are talking about.

In astronomy, a celestial coordinate system is a system for specifying positions of celestial objects: satellites, planets, stars, galaxies, and so on. Coordinate systems can specify a position in 3-dimensional space, or merely the direction of the object on the celestial sphere, if its distance is not known or not important.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celestial_coordinate_system

Astronomers use their spherical coordinates and the spherical coordinates of an object they wish to observe (i.e. satellites, planets, stars, galaxies, and so on) to determine the direction to point their telescopes and the angle above the horizon to set its elevation. If you aren't familiar with spherical coordinates, they are a 3-dimensional reference system that uses the center of Earth as a reference point for defining the location of any celestial body or item that can be seen from Earth.

Since we are currently using a 3-dimensional reference system in astronomy with great success, I see no problem with someone doing the same thing in some other galaxy.

Your hang-up regarding gravity bending light waves would only affect navigating between two defined points. In space travel, it would no different than navigating from San Francisco to London. Your would just periodically have to determine where you are relative to your destination and planned route and then make any necessary course correction. That can be done in both 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional modes of travel.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@REP

gravity bending light waves would only affect navigating between two defined points.

I agree with you on this point. The only effect of gravity I can see is that quickest route between two points would not be a straight line in your 3-dimensional coordinate system.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

And CW is also ignoring the fact that Earth bound air and sea travel have to deal with things that have similar effects on travel at their own scales.

Air travel has to deal with winds. Head winds will slow a plane down, tail winds will speed it up. Cross winds will push it off course.

Sea travel also has to deal with wind to a lesser degree and with currents in the ocean waters.

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

And CW is also ignoring the fact that Earth bound air and sea travel have to deal with things that have similar effects on travel at their own scales.

Air travel has to deal with winds. Head winds will slow a plane down, tail winds will speed it up. Cross winds will push it off course.

Sea travel also has to deal with wind to a lesser degree and with currents in the ocean waters.

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

REP
gravity bending light waves would only affect navigating between two defined points.

I agree with you on this point. The only effect of gravity I can see is that quickest route between two points would not be a straight line in your 3-dimensional coordinate system.

Don't forget that in some cases the light from a distant star is bent by the gravity of a body close to its course.

I'm not too sure about space travel (given current ideas about wormholes etc) but Dominion's Son's entry

And CW is also ignoring the fact that Earth bound air and sea travel have to deal with things that have similar effects on travel at their own scales

.
seems to ignore the difference between the great circle and the straight line course from a map.(He refers to wind and currents)

Replies:   Dominions Son  REP
Dominions Son

@sejintenej

seems to ignore the difference between the great circle and the straight line course from a map.


No, the difference just isn't important. Great circle navigation does not eliminate the effects of local weather or currents.

REP

@sejintenej

seems to ignore the difference between the great circle and the straight line course from a map.(He refers to wind and currents)


You are addressing the route. DS was addressing the factors that cause a ship to drift off of that route.

It may be called a Great Circle route because of the way it looks on a flat map, but it is actually the shortest route on a globe.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

DS was addressing the factors that cause a ship to drift off of that route.


Exactly. Gravity and the curvature of space would have the same sort of effect on interstellar space ships.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

Let's not forget CW's bending of light waves by a gravity well. Of course in a known region, the way a gravity well affects the light waves would be a known factor that could be compensated for when setting the initial course.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

Let's not forget CW's bending of light waves by a gravity well. Of course in a known region, the way a gravity well affects the light waves would be a known factor that could be compensated for when setting the initial course.


True, but even after that is accounted for, the ship which has actual mass will be affected by passing through the gravity wells differently from what the light was. Also, unless a convoluted route designed to stay out of stellar gravity wells is plotted, the ship could / will be affected by planetary gravity wells that could not be easily accounted for in plotting the route.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Dominions Son

True and those types of course drift is what mid-course corrections are supposed to correct.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

I've never understood where 'hyperspace' exists.


What you describe is similar to how I understand hyperspace.

The object doesn't really travel faster than light, but it bends the space around it or creates a wormhole, exiting normal space to take a shortcut to a distant location. Sort of like bending a piece of paper so that the ends are close to each other, and then jumping across that gap.

Joe Long

@Crumbly Writer

In Star Trek and Star Wars, they avoided this by NEVER MIXING FTL travel with battles in space


I don't think that's correct. I believe that they never fired phasers while in warp but they did use photon torpedos.

In Battlestar Galactica they were never seen while in FTL. They instantaneously went from point A to B, but the distance was of each jump was limited by the capability of their FTL drive and the amount of energy available. In season one Starbuck took a raptor back to Caprica but it took many more jumps than a battlestar and she was starved for energy by arriving. On one hand, that would make it easy to jump out of a battle situation, and often they did while under fire, but it was complicated by having a fleet of disparate capabilities and the necessity of sharing the destination coordinates with all the allies but not the enemy.

Dominions Son

@Joe Long

I believe that they never fired phasers while in warp but they did use photon torpedos.


That would be correct. The photon Torpedo was a matter/anti-matter warhead in a warp capable cruise missile. It only had a few seconds worth of warp power, but it didn't need much more than that.

jackwill.grimault

@Crumbly Writer

[Draft excerpt with "vils"]

As I conveniently forgot the explanation you gave what "vils" is exactly supposed to mean, I can assure this passage is working perfectly without the explanation. ;-)

As you said, the relevant points about the whole affair concerning "vils" are stated clearly enough; any more detail might distract from more important things.

StarFleet Carl

@Joe Long

I believe that they never fired phasers while in warp but they did use photon torpedos.


As further point of clarification to what DS said, phasers were still a light speed weapon. So the actual ship itself had to be traveling at less than warp one - the speed of light - to actually use the weapon. You fire the weapon directly ahead of yourself at warp 1.0001 and end up shooting yourself in the butt.

For those of us who were gamers - this was simulated in the game Star Fleet Battles. I don't know if anyone else still plays that - I don't have my copies of the game anymore - but I spent many an evening at the helm of my ships. (We used to play Federation & Empire - the strategic game - and then with the smaller battles, we'd actually do those in SFB, which was the tactical game.)

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@StarFleet Carl

Star Fleet Battles


Wow. I remember playing that back when the entire game came in a zip-lock bag about the size of the modern quart-size ones. That included the rule book, ship sheets (lots of little boxes), ship markers (little squares of press-board) and the fold-out hex battle map. Unfortunately the group I played with only lasted a few months.

madnige
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

A technical problem:

"We're finally past the heliosphere, so we're ready to begin the faster than light phase of our journey."


The heliosphere is the complete volume of space affected by the solar wind, so moving from the region of a planet away from the star they will leave the heliosphere, or pass the heliopause.

At 125AU distance, light takes 60000s, nearly a day to get to the heliopause, so if they get there in less than a day and a half (our 24hr days) they're using wildly variable acceleration or exceeding light speed already. At a steady one earth gravity acceleration it would take nearly two million seconds to reach the heliopause, around 22 days, and they'd be travelling at nearly 7% of the speed of light.

Regarding coordinate systems, there is already a Galactic coordinate system defined, for a multi-species use something similar to this would likely be applied relative to the administrative centre, or for a very widespread set of species, to the galactic centre with the primary direction either in the direction of galactic motion, or some other direction of greater import.

Either way, North is perpendicular to the galactic disk in a direction such that viewing the galaxy from the north, it appears to rotate anticlockwise, and East is in the direction of rotation.

ETA: I've found an interesting site discussing FTL in fiction

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