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Do you focus on fantasy or realistic worlds?

Crumbly Writer

"Any technology that is distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced."

Based on a discussion in the 'Story Ideas' category, we got into a discussion (concerning science fiction) where I was advising someone to keep a potential story within the whelm of the 'believable' when I had to backup and explain that many sci-fi stories fall into the fantasy camp (ex. "Star Wars" and "Star Trek") while others fall into the 'hard' sci-fi category based on specific scientific principals (ex: "The Martian" and "Gravity"). That got me wondering how many authors fall into each camp.

This doesn't just apply to sci-fi, though it's a more prevalent distinction there. But do you create a fantasy world where everything 'just works', or do you concentrate on getting the details 'exactly right'?

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

This doesn't just apply to sci-fi, though it's a more prevalent distinction there. But do you create a fantasy world where everything 'just works', or do you concentrate on getting the details 'exactly right'?


Speaking as both an author and a reader of sci-fi:

I don't think the proper distinction here is between hard sci-fi and fantasy sci-fi.

For what you are calling hard sci-fi, you generally do need to get everything right.

However, suspension of disbelief is very important in a more fantasy sci-fi story and you need to avoid things that strain the suspension of disbelief.

Different events/devices within a single story can fall into one of three categories.

1. Known real world physics.

2. Outside, but close to real world physics.

3. Way outside of real world physics.

Things in category 1, you need to make an effort to get right. If you do deviate on an item in this category, you need a solid explanation of why it works differently in the story world.

Things in category 2 need a good plausible explanation (Your FTL drive works because it uses exotic materials outside the realm of normal physics)

Things in category 3 can just work but having a plausible explanation is better.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I never read SciFi. I used to love SciFi movies, though. I stopped watching them when they got too technical. I'm not interested in the technology. I'm interested in the story.

Tell me Scotty can beam Kirk up from the planet to the ship and keep it consistent and I'm happy. Just don't go into the technology of doing that. Just tell me the technology exists.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I never read SciFi. I used to love SciFi movies, though. I stopped watching them when they got too technical. I'm not interested in the technology. I'm interested in the story.

I actually enjoyed the movie gravity, but when they suggested humans in the future built an artificial black hole just so someone now can communicate with his daughter in the past it lost me. That's just the intellectual equivalent of mental masturbation but without the required happy ending. On the other hand, I thought the math in "The Martian" made it a better story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I was enjoying "Interstellar" until it got technical. And I guess the worm hole had the same effect on me as the black hole on you in Gravity.

I turned Gravity off. I got bored. Nothing was happening.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I turned Gravity off. I got bored.


Seeing comments like this makes me glad I don't follow the latest TV or Film stuff.

Switch Blayde

On an associated note, I watched "Taken 3" last night. I like those kinds of movies and suspend disbelief at the things the protagonist can do.

But there was a scene where the protagonist was in a stall in the ladies room with his daughter. Two girls were outside at the sinks talking. The bad guys stormed in, kicked the two girls out, and checked each stall. One was locked. They kicked the door in to find the daughter sitting on the toilet. No protagonist. No window. There is no way he could have gotten out, but he "magically" did.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

No protagonist. No window. There is no way he could have gotten out, but he "magically" did.


To leave her by herself he has to be lower than a snake, so he can easily slide under the partition or the door and not be noticed!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

To leave her by herself he has to be lower than a snake,


The "bad guys" weren't really bad guys. They were cops looking for the protagonist (he was being framed and needed to be free to get the real killers). The daughter wasn't in danger.

But when they don't show how he did something (like escape the restroom), I assume the author didn't know how to do it so it just happened.

demonmaster62
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I've always fallen more into the Sci-Fi that works as a morality play, Thus Star Trek always filled this role for me, much better than Star Wars.

It has just been in the last few years that I "Discovered" Doctor Who, especially Dr's 10 and 11. I find that they fulfill that need as well.

Adds nothing to the discussion, but I couldn't help myself.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@demonmaster62

I've always fallen more into the Sci-Fi that works as a morality play, Thus Star Trek always filled this role for me, much better than Star Wars.

That's very much my bailiwick. When I start out, I plan out the story's themes, and use that as my guiding premise. I try not to moralize too much, but my stories have a definite message to convey, even if I don't explicitly state it. However, reader's always accuse me of pushing an agenda which never even occurred to me.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

However, reader's always accuse me of pushing an agenda which never even occurred to me.


Everyone thinks that the Bettles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is about LSD even though Paul McCartney insists to this day that the song had nothing to do with drugs.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Everyone thinks that the Bettles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is about LSD even though Paul McCartney insists to this day that the song had nothing to do with drugs.

The author/artist creates the story/art, and hands it over to the reader/public who then takes it over. Then the analysis begins and soon the story is interpreted to mean something the original artist never intended.

Think of it as a communal effort between author/reader/reviewer/analyst. You write the story, and everyone else adds their own interpretation. Often, another author will then offer a different interpretation based on all above inputs.

El_Sol

I go for 'authentic' ... the pieces fit together. I also only care about the details that I need for the story -- not getting caught up in building the world out unnecessarily, which can lead to unnecessart exposition because you are so impressed with yourself on the world building side.

Enough detail to convince the reader the world is different... not so much they start nitpicking the differences.

Rohki Obyak

@Crumbly Writer

I do the soft sci-fi bit.

I get points of view that don't know a lot about the technology, say that internal monologuing takes time and don't give my characters a lot of time to act most of the time. Show, don't tell.

I don't know if it's a style that works yet, but it's one I'm enjoying greatly.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Rohki Obyak

I get points of view that don't know a lot about the technology, say that internal monologuing takes time and don't give my characters a lot of time to act most of the time. Show, don't tell.

I'm confused. Are you describing fictional characters, or reader responses? I'll often have characters who don't know much about what they're getting into (they make more convincing naive characters who react to surprises better). The key is, my stories focus on their attempt to unravel an unknown question, here scientific vs. who murdered whom.

The best bet, is to pick a style which works for you. Read around and imitate different styles, then refine it to make it your own. Just check back in here occasionally to learn the basic rules of the road concerning issues like POV, perspective and other essential issues before you cement your style in place.

If you don't like the hard/soft sci-fi labels, you can always use the technical/fantasy sci-fi distinctions.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Considering the site, Hard science fiction would involve heroes with erections.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Considering the site, Hard science fiction would involve heroes with erections.

Hardly!

(I'd have said "Erectly", but I'll save that for when they make a LEGO version of the movie.) 'D

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I'd have said "Erectly", but I'll save that for when they make a LEGO version of the movie.


Wouldn't "erectly" require an Erector Set version of the movie? Does anyone remeber Erector Set?

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Wouldn't "erectly" require an Erector Set version of the movie?


Back in the mid 1990s I was in one of those management training courses where they conducted silly team building exercises. One of which was to develop a company, company name, design and build a monument for the Egyptian Pharoah's latest battle win; we couldn't use the word monument in the company name. Two of the terms were all female, and their company names were Egyptian Erections and Massive Erections - due to the hype with political correctness, us guys would've been in major trouble if we used those names, but the girls got away with it. Oh, my group's company was Nile Needles and we had a structure like Cleopatra's Needle.

Down here erector sets were put out by a company called Mechano and were know as Mechano sets.

Replies:   Grant
JohnBobMead

@Dominions Son

Does anyone remeber Erector Set?

I had an erector set as a young child. It was pretty flimsy, I believe they used to be much sturdier. The one Ryan Clark had in Forgotten Killer (by Wes Boyd) was clearly much sturdier than the one I had.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@JohnBobMead

It was pretty flimsy


The one I had were very strong, even used some parts for a temporary car repair when it was 40 years old.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Grant

@Ernest Bywater

Down here erector sets were put out by a company called Mechano and were know as Mechano sets.

Ah, Mechano.
I didn't have one- they were very expensive. But a friend did & it was awesome. I've heard the current ones use thinner metal than the older ones did. We certainly built some very strong things with the old sets. Cars, trucks, cranes etc.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Down here erector sets were put out by a company called Mechano and were know as Mechano sets.

Going back a little further, before erector sets, I remember Lincoln Logs, where you constructed your own 'Lincoln' style log cabins based on interconnecting wood logs. Now those were sturdy, I know because my brothers and I used to hit each other with them. Also, a little younger still, those old wooden blocks could easily put a whole in the wall, even if thrown by a three year old.

By the way, if no one's looked recently, the modern erector sets are very sophisticated with the kids building mechanical robots.

Replies:   Grant
Grant

@Crumbly Writer

By the way, if no one's looked recently, the modern erector sets are very sophisticated with the kids building mechanical robots.

Some of the Lego Technical set my Nephews have are just incredible what can be done with them.

Perv Otaku

@Crumbly Writer

This doesn't just apply to sci-fi, though it's a more prevalent distinction there. But do you create a fantasy world where everything 'just works', or do you concentrate on getting the details 'exactly right'?

Let the world fit the plot and the goals of your story.

If technobabble or some other form of extensive minutiae is what you're interested in, then the details ought to make sense. If explaining things would just get in the way, then don't bother with it.

I mostly stick to the latter, though I've done one major story that was entirely the former. Two thirds of the story was explicitly crafted in order to reach end results of revealing elements of technobabble. I was fortunate in that, plot-wise, the means of getting there stood on its own fairly well and the technobabble pay-off hardly even mattered. I even cheated by completely hand-having a few facets that were necessary to the set up but have no possible explanation grounded in real science.

I think the "hard" type stuff comes from asking "what if?" as in "what if this happened?" or "what if something resembling this fantasy thing existed in a real-ish world in some shape, manner, or form?" Whereas the "soft" stuff is more "I want a story where these awesome things happen."

Wheezer

If the story is good, I can overlook minor blunders in the laws of physics or in the physical representation of our universe. It is when the willful ignorance (or just plain ignorance) of the author starts to overwhelm the story with erroneous minutiae that I have to give up. I abandoned a certain 'wolves in space' story because of the willful disregard and inconsistent application of basic facts. OTOH, I can accept that an FTL drive can fold space and transverse the galaxy in an eyeblink. Declaring that the galaxy is only 200 light years in diameter - not so much. If it's only mentioned once or twice then I can just pretend that the author dropped a comma and three zeros. :P

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Wheezer

Declaring that the galaxy is only 200 light years in diameter - not so much.


As a reader and not a scientist it would depend on the method that the presentation uses.

Take the story "Lost Empire" by "Pars001" it is done as follows: "this galaxy is 200 light years across"

The implication is that there are more than one galaxy in the universe. Not all the sizes would have to be the same then.

Replies:   Wheezer
Wheezer

@docholladay

A bit of basic research will show that 200 light years is only the diameter of a medium to large sized globular cluster within a galaxy (20-100 parsecs). Even the smallest galaxies are a few thousand light years across. Any collection of stars only a couple of hundred light years in diameter is not a galaxy.

Replies:   docholladay  sejintenej
docholladay

@Wheezer

Okay I never claimed to be a scientist. But its possible to worry too much about the scientific and technical details to either enjoy or write a story.

As a reader I want to enjoy it although its nice to pick up a few facts along the way in a good story, but I don't worry too much about those if the story is enjoyable in itself.

Wheezer

I agree, as long as it does not interfere with the story. In the '200 light year' example, it has not yet crossed that line, so I'm reading and enjoying for now. With 'wolves,' the errors were so numerous and so bad and self-contradictory that it interfered badly with my enjoyment of the story. It wasn't necessary to be a scientist either - just a high school science education (back when they taught science) and a hobby in amateur astronomy was enough. The grammar & spelling on that one was also getting worse with time and the author has a 'fuck off' attitude about it.

Replies:   docholladay
sejintenej

@Wheezer

A bit of basic research will show that 200 light years is only the diameter of a medium to large sized globular cluster within a galaxy (20-100 parsecs). Even the smallest galaxies are a few thousand light years across. Any collection of stars only a couple of hundred light years in diameter is not a galaxy.

What is the target audience? a crowd of PhD astronomers or "the man in the street"? As one of the latter I have no idea how many AUs a parsec is (and can't be bothered to look it up) but I know a light year is one h*** of a long way.

I agree with docholladay who wrote "But its possible to worry too much about the scientific and technical details to either enjoy or write a story. "

Replies:   madnige  Wheezer
docholladay
Updated:

@Wheezer

I never made it past the 9th grade. Thanks to that goddamned Atlanta Police Detective who got off on raping kids. They put my ass in a mental Hospital for over 4 years to keep me from Killing him for revenge. They released me after he was caught in the act of raping a young girl. He loved pre-teenage kids of both genders. All my knowledge and skills are self-taught and my respect for the LAW is non-existent.

edited to add: If I was to see a cop shot or wounded I would just stand and laugh as they suffered. I do carry a grudge big time.

OH that cop was really punished after he was caught. His fellow cops gave him Early fucking Retirement with full benefits.

madnige
Updated:

@sejintenej


As ["the man in the street"] I have no idea how many AUs a parsec is (and can't be bothered to look it up) but I know a light year is one h*** of a long way.


OK, I'm an engineer, not a scientist. I think a parsec is about 3-and-a-half light years (not quite to Proxima Centauri) (3+quater - I looked it up), and I know that a light year is as much bigger than an AU, as a year is to eight minutes (the time it tkaes light to get to the Earth fron the sun). Since light travels at nearly 300million m/s (in space) it's simple arithmatic to calculate a meaningly large number for a light year. I knew a galaxy, even a small one, was way bigger than 200ly though I didn't/don't know how big, just that ours is a lerge one. A really interesting thing I worked out a while back, to give a good sense of scale as to the size of the Earth/moon/sun, based on the scale of a kid's 6-inch globe (1:84million) the moon is about the size of a small apple on the other side of the room, and the sun's the size of a supermarket about a mile away. On that scale, a light year is nearly a quater the distance to the moon, a parsec is about the distance of the moon (and an AU is the mile to the supermarket mentioned earlier). Big numbers are usually pretty meaningless - give them some scale and they take on meaning. I was recently reading onne of the 'Lensman' books where this was put to use - one of the characters explained that flitting around the galaxy in a slow or fast spaceship was about the same timescales as flitting about America in a car or a plane.

Edit: that's a fictional, FTL spaceship. I'll leave the fat finger typing errors though.

Replies:   Dominions Son  Wheezer
Wheezer

@sejintenej

One need not have a PhD, BS, or any sort of college degree to understand basic science. They supposedly teach that in elementary & high school. Hell, just watch the TV series, Cosmos - either the old one with Carl Sagan or the new one with Neil DeGrassi Tyson.

Writers need to make at least some effort to get the basic stuff right. If that's too much trouble, then perhaps they should avoid setting their stories in outer space.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@madnige

OK, I'm an engineer, not a scientist. I think a parsec is about 3-and-a-half light years


A parsec is 3.26 light years. It's a unit of distance that is based on apparent motion of distant objects caused by the movement of the Earth around the Sun. As such, it's ultimately based on measurements of angles, not distance.

Parsecs are used in Astronomy because it's easier to calculate parsecs from the observational data than it is to calculate light years.

Personally I think parsecs are silly to use in Sci-Fi, because parsecs are based on a singular fixed point of reference (for astronomical purposes) and once you leave the earth, calculating some kind of standard parsec actually get's harder than using light years.

Replies:   madnige
Wheezer

@madnige

You're pretty close. I remember the space museum in San Diego had a neat solar system display when I lived there. Assume a scale of one million miles = 1 yard. (36 inches) The Sun is a 30" beach ball sitting on your home team's goal line. The earth is a green pea sitting 93 yards away on the other end of the field. Jupiter is a marble sitting an additional 400 yards (approx.) down the street. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is 15,000 miles away. :D

awnlee jawking

@Wheezer

Haven't you just wiped out FTL drives since, to the best of our current knowledge, they couldn't possibly exist? Goodbye space operas.

Nevertheless I'm going to continue with the 'zombies in space' novel I'm currently working on because I know some readers will be less discerning.

AJ

Replies:   Wheezer
Wheezer
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Nothing wrong with FTL drives in a story, however the author wants it to work. If he wants two gerbils running in a Dilithium exercise wheel with a pink dildo pressing against the wheel to generate the warp field, who am I to say different? :D

However, if the dumbass wants to drive his ship 12 light years in 6 weeks on his sublight engines because the FTL is fubar, then he's a dumbass - and an ignorant one! Sub means below, so a sublight engine pushes the ship at speeds less than light. To try to say otherwise is fucking with the language. Einsteinian physics rule at speeds below light. FTL means Faster Than Light. Since FTL is still only possible in the imagination of the writer, what happens there can be painted with a much broader brush. Don't want to deal with Physics? Then write Fantasy and move your ships through the Rainbow Ether with magic mushrooms and hookah-smoking caterpillars. In other words, write what you know if you do not want to bother with a bit of basic background research.

BTW: My comments are meant in general - not you personally.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
madnige

@Dominions Son

It's a unit of distance that is based on apparent motion of distant objects caused by the movement of the Earth around the Sun.


I knew that - Paralax error of one second of arc. I remember as a teenager reading another E.E.'Doc'Smith story (might have been one of the 'Skylark') where the hero tries to claim it's not an Earth-based measurement - shows that even the PhD's can get it wrong. I suspect the thought process goes something like 'it needs to sound spacey - can't use light year, 'cos the alien can't know what the Earth's year is - astronomers use parsec - let's use them too'. On the other hand, it should have been realised that it's fairly easy to get across the concept of Hydrogen atoms, their emission spectrum, the line we're interested in, and the number of wavelengths of that light that make up a light year (or other distance).

An interesting picture is on xkcd, from which it's easy to see that the Oort cloud is as much further away than Saturn, as Saturn is than the moon, and Everest is higher than a person. (they're all about the same vertical distance on the picture). Also, the 'next' picture is relevant

Replies:   Grant  Dominions Son
Grant

@madnige

An interesting picture is on xkcd,

I'm glad to see they included the Romulan Neutral zone & Ford Prefect's home.

Dominions Son

@madnige

I suspect the thought process goes something like 'it needs to sound spacey - can't use light year, 'cos the alien can't know what the Earth's year is - astronomers use parsec - let's use them too'. On the other hand, it should have been realised that it's fairly easy to get across the concept of Hydrogen atoms, their emission spectrum, the line we're interested in, and the number of wavelengths of that light that make up a light year (or other distance).


The other way to approach that is to take the scientific definition of a second

"The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom."

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/second.html

Define a light second as the distance light travels in one second and a light year is x light seconds.

Another way to go is to drop light years and simply use higher order prefixes with meters. A light year is around 9.4607 peta meters (short scale, use the long scale if your intended audience is more familiar with the short scale than the long scale).

Replies:   madnige
awnlee jawking

@Wheezer

No problem - I think I see the distinction you're making.

AJ

Wheezer

It was mentioned that aliens would not use a light year as a measure of distance. I think it is very possible that they would, only their light year would be based on the orbital periods of their own home planet and be a bit different than ours. Thus, in any meeting or cooperative efforts between the aliens and humans, there would need to be a conversion factor to resolve the differences in distance. If your aliens are oxygen breathers from earth-like planets, then their years are not going to be significantly different than Earth years. (look up Goldilocks Zone for extrasolar planets)

Replies:   madnige  sejintenej
madnige

@Dominions Son

A light year is around 9.4607 peta meters (short scale, use the long scale if your intended audience is more familiar with the short scale than the long scale).


The beauty of SI prefixes is that there is no short/long scale ambiguity - except for a few special common-use prefixes (like centi- and deka-, not mentioned in the above reference) they are all 1e3 apart (1000 for those who don't read engineering notation) - that's equivalent to the short scale.

My route to the light year was intended to minimise the number of concepts to be transferred: yours, using the standard definitions requires defining Caesium (which requires defining the periodic table), the correct isotope, what the ground state is, what hyperfine levels are, the total count required (to make a year - there's no point in defining the second if we're only interested in distance), and the speed of light, for a total of six concepts. Defining the numbering system and specifying the big number required is the most complex of the four concepts my route requires, but the simplest when going through our standard definitions (which are chosen for ease of use for measurement purposes), and indeed my concepts are a subset of those required for the standard definitions route. However, the hyperfine transition of Hydrogen (at 21cm) was considered sufficiently universal to be included on the Pioneer plaque.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@madnige

yours, using the standard definitions requires defining Caesium (which requires defining the periodic table), the correct isotope


Nope that is completely unnecessary, just provide a sample of the relevant isotope.

As to the number and complexity of the concepts involved:

1. In a first contact scenario, time is at least as important (if not more so) as distance as a base concept for dealing with other issues likely to come up. So delaying defining time units helps is not likely to gain you much.
2. If they can handle FTL travel, they have someone who can handle the needed concepts.

Replies:   madnige
madnige

@Wheezer

If your aliens are oxygen breathers from earth-like planets, then their years are not going to be significantly different than Earth years.


I make their year anything from our three months to three years, depending on star luminosity (factor of /*2) and planet position in habitable zone (/2 to *1.5)

Replies:   Wheezer
madnige

@Dominions Son

just provide a sample of the relevant isotope.


A little difficult from the other end of a comms maser - and. to provide an element sample, you've first got to ensure they know what to do with it ('For me? How sweet'. Nomnomnom) which is a whole consruction and operation manual.

I introduced this to show how EESmith's character should have defined an Earth-independant length scale, but it's been hijacked into a first-contact scenario. However, Caesium clocks didn't exist at the time the novel was written (time was defined in terms of the rotation of the Earth). Even now, because both sides would understand the concepts and would be able to translate between scales, it would be defined in terms of Hydrogen because that atom is simple enough to be modelled mathematically, rather than forcing them to build one of our atomic clocks just to establish a scale equivalency. We choose Caesium because it's fairly easy to get an isotopically pure sample and the technology involved is within our capabilities; other elements could easily be used (Rubidium is also used, Sodium AFAIK isn't but could be, Berylium has a single stable isotope but we wouldn't use it) However, our atomic clocks require a prior knowledge of the time scale to provide a precise time reference; a timescale based on Hydrogen emissions wouldn't.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@madnige

I introduced this to show how EESmith's character should have defined an Earth-independant length scale, but it's been hijacked into a first-contact scenario.


My route to the light year was intended to minimise the number of concepts to be transferred:


No, you introduced the first contact scenario. Absent first-contact there is no need to transfer concepts at all. Meters and/or light years are not particularly Earth dependent.

Wheezer

@madnige

In any story involving an interstellar federation or empire, it is a logical step to assume that they would establish a standard length for a light year, same as they would probably have a standard monetary credit, common language for ship to ship & ship to ground communications. (just as English is the universal language for air traffic control worldwide today) This would carry over to almost everything - weights, measures, broadcast standards, etc.

Replies:   ustourist  madnige
ustourist

@Wheezer

I can't speak on broadcast standards, but while most countries are now on the metric and decimal scale there is still one major holdout, so it may be dangerous to assume that aliens don't have similar problems.
Though for practical writing purposes I think the assumption would be necessary and not even need to be stated. The alternative would be explanations to satisfy one or two argumentative and nitpicking readers while sacrificing the majority who were able to use their imagination.

Replies:   Wheezer  Ernest Bywater  Grant
Wheezer

@ustourist

:D It could get out of control:

"Ensign, lay in a course for SexyMarmot IV, and give me an expected arrival date."

"Aye, Captain! SexyMarmot IV is 12.7 Imperial Standard light years away, or 15.2 Terran light years. If we run the Dilithium Gerbils at 50%, we'll arrive in 12 days Ship Time."

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Wheezer

You just lost all the animal rights SF audience!
:0)
Poor Gerbils....

Replies:   sejintenej
Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

Though for practical writing purposes I think the assumption would be necessary and not even need to be stated.


One common process used in many multi-book sci-fi stories where many planets are involved is to have an Interplanetary Standard (often based on Earth factors for Earth derived empires) and a local standard. Thus you can have a person who's ten standard years old and fourteen local years old etc. Same with distances etc.

sejintenej

@ustourist

@WheezerYou just lost all the animal rights SF audience!

:0)

Poor Gerbils....

Poor marmots as well

Do you have a thing about small mammals?

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@sejintenej

I plead innocent of any thought, word or action relating to marmots. I never went there! That was other people with guilty secrets hiding in a different thread.
Since I am presently in the states, I will plead the 5th on the rest of your question.

Grant

@ustourist

I can't speak on broadcast standards, but while most countries are now on the metric and decimal scale there is still one major holdout, so it may be dangerous to assume that aliens don't have similar problems.

As I understand it, even that holdout uses metric in most medical & scientific work (except for those times where some of those involved don't...)

sejintenej

@Wheezer

It was mentioned that aliens would not use a light year as a measure of distance. I think it is very possible that they would, only their light year would be based on the orbital periods of their own home planet and be a bit different than ours.

There is a part of this thread about using an isotope of caesium for time so why not Angstrom units for length because they should be standard everywhere. (increases the numbers but is more accurate LOL)

Dominions Son

@Grant

except for those times where some of those involved don't


Without bothering to tell the rest of the project team that they didn't.

Hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar. Wasn't there some kind of incident involving a space probe?

Replies:   Grant
Grant
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar. Wasn't there some kind of incident involving a space probe?


Yep.

NASA used metric, a contractor used imperial.

The probe was meant to orbit Mars to study the weather. It was determined later that the probe hit the atmosphere, and within a few seconds ceased to exist. The initial orbit should have been considerably further from the planet.

Another good one- a bridge involving Sweden & Germany. Engineering projects generally use sea level as their base reference point. However Germany & Sweden get their sea level reference points from different locations. The result is a difference of 27 feet, which was known about. Unfortunately instead negating the 27 foot difference, it got doubled, so when the bridge being built from either side of the river came together, there was a 54 foot difference in heights.

And one more- French railways gave the wrong measurements to a rail car manufacturer. 100s of new carriages were a couple of cm too wide to be able to pass a platform without hitting it...
Like the old saying says "Measure twice, cut once"

tppm

For non Earth based time and distance units, pick a random element, Hydrogen is convenient (and universal). Make the basic unit one wavelength of it's spectral marker.

madnige

@Wheezer

(just as English is the universal language for air traffic control worldwide today)


Reminds me of a funny I saw on Nick Scipio's site:

A Pan Am 727 flight waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:

Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"

Ground (in English): "If you want an answer, you must speak in English."

Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"

Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war."

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@madnige

Reminds me of a funny I saw on Nick Scipio's site:


That's at this link, along with a bunch of others:

http://imgur.com/gallery/xslm4

I particularly like:

The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206.

Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway."

Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven."

The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"

Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now."

Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?"

Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- And I didn't land."

sejintenej

and one which the Europeans will get but I don't know about Americans

Fog at Heathrow airport and all flights grounded. Eventually it lifted but a BA pilot complained that a Lufthansa flight (which should have been behind him) was given takeoff preference.

Hearing the complaint to control the German pilot radioed "but ve put our towel on ze runvay first"

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej


Hearing the complaint to control the German pilot radioed "but ve put our towel on ze runvay first"


Please explain, I'm an Aussie, and I don't get it!

Replies:   ustourist  Grant
ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

In Europe the Germans are renowned for getting up early at hotels and resorts and placing their towels on the loungers by the pool so that they get the best seats.
Since the English are civilized and respect the Germans made the claim on the loungers first, they persistently complain about it but do nothing.
(The Germans also complain that the English do the same thing).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

Thank you, it's the small cultural things that trip you up.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Thank you, it's the small cultural things that trip you up.

Yes; and that is what school teachers fail to teach you. As my friend Tachi showed me when he learned English you need a "pillow dictionary" (resident girlfriend)

Grant

@Ernest Bywater

Please explain, I'm an Aussie, and I don't get it!

I got it.
As ustourist posted, the Germans are renound for grabbing all the lounges (loungers in US- took me a while to figure out what they were the first couple of times I saw that spelling) that are available, well before most people are up.
It has been suggested they put them out the night before.

Crumbly Writer

@Grant

I can't speak on broadcast standards, but while most countries are now on the metric and decimal scale there is still one major holdout, so it may be dangerous to assume that aliens don't have similar problems.

The U.S. is the major holdout on using the metric system, but France remains the major holdout on using English as the standard language for air traffic communications (there's always someone who refuses to get with the program).

There is a part of this thread about using an isotope of caesium for time so why not Angstrom units for length because they should be standard everywhere. (increases the numbers but is more accurate LOL)

Wheezer, I wasn't aware of the Angstrom unit of measure. Just as a ballpark (without doing the math on my own, since I'm still trying to understand the basic measurement), what's a general light year in Angstrom (it doesn't have to be precise, because if we're talking standards between different star systems, they'd likely pick the most common one, rather than a backwater's like the Earths).

Also, while many consider these discussions a distraction from the topic, for us who write about other worlds, it's handy to discuss these topics. While they don't necessarily need to be a part of any story, we need to understand the concepts in order to build believable worlds (ex. my next story involves a group of Earth kids visiting another world, which has never encountered them before).

Replies:   Wheezer  sejintenej  tppm
Wheezer

@Crumbly Writer

An Angstrom is an extremely small unit of measure - one 10-billionth of a meter. Considering that a single light-year is about 9.46 Trillion kilometers, Angstroms are not a practical unit of measurement either. Besides, they are based on the meter, which is earth-centric. Since light travels so fast, and interstellar distances are so vast, it seems reasonable that any technological civilization out there would use the light-year as a unit of measure, if for no other reason than to keep the numbers manageable. Of course, as I stated before, their year would not match ours, so their light-year would be a different length. Not much different than miles and kilometers. You use what you are used to and use a conversion app when necessary.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Wheezer

Besides, they are based on the meter, which is earth-centric.


Not by it's current official definition. Nearly all the base metric units have be re-defined based on basic physics and physics constants.

"the fundamental unit of length in the metric system, equivalent to 39.37 U.S. inches, originally intended to be, and being very nearly, equal to one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the pole measured on a meridian: defined from 1889 to 1960 as the distance between two lines on a platinum-iridium bar (the "International Prototype Meter") preserved at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris; from 1960 to 1983 defined as 1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions; and now defined as 1/299,792,458 of the distance light travels in a vacuum in one second. "

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/meter

Replies:   Wheezer  tppm
Wheezer

@Dominions Son

now defined as 1/299,792,458 of the distance light travels in a vacuum in one second. "


The second is a very earth-centric measurement. Still, Angstroms are suitable for sub-atomic distance measurements, not interstellar ones.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Wheezer

The second is a very earth-centric measurement.


It started out that way, but the current official definition is not Earth centric.

"The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom."

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/second.html

Replies:   ustourist  tppm
ustourist

@Dominions Son

All of the measurements using numbers have to be earth centric by definition.
Assuming that aliens use a decimal system is rather egotistical of the human race since they may have an odd number of useable digits on which their system was based. Their system of mathematics could be constructed on totally different concepts that we have not researched. Mathematics as used is a human creation, not a universal occurrence.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@ustourist

All of the measurements using numbers have to be earth centric by definition.


Not at all. Converting numbers from one base system to another is actually fairly simple.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Dominions Son

Using numbers is the crux of the problem, which is why it is earth centric.
Feet, hands, inches were not numerical concepts, they were physical ones and subsequently almost standardized, but were a practical and accepted form of measurement and calculation for centuries along with chains, furlongs, rods, poles and perches. Converting from one base system to another requires understanding the other base system first.
Certainly it is possible to write a program to convert, but even taking the simple concept of farthings, groats, crowns and guineas, which was in minor variations used for centuries by the major nation at that time, it is not that obvious where the relationships lie.
16 farthings to a groat, 15 groats to a crown, 63 groats to a guinea. All legal currency.

Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

Using numbers is the crux of the problem, which is why it is earth centric.
Feet, hands, inches were not numerical concepts, they were physical ones and subsequently almost standardized, but were a practical and accepted form of measurement and calculation for centuries along with chains, furlongs, rods, poles and perches.

Don't forget, the "ounce" was adopted because, before that, the gold minors measured gold in "pinches", and so banks hired the biggest men they could find (with much larger thumbs)!

When (and if) we ever meet anyone from another planet, then we may revamp our definition of a year ("The Martian" used Mar's days), but until then, "light year" is pretty hard to mistake for anything else!

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

I totally agree, and being human I understand the terms used, but find that the assumption that aliens will have readily understandable concepts and measurements to be bordering on science fantasy and extremely arrogant.
The various earth nations find it almost impossible to agree on standard meanings and definitions, and there is no reason to believe alien cultures would be any different.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


Feet, hands, inches were not numerical concepts


You are correct, they are unit concepts to which numbers are applied.

All metric units are now defined in non-earth-centric physics based ways. Talking about non-metric units in this context is meaningless.


it is not that obvious where the relationships lie.

16 farthings to a groat, 15 groats to a crown, 63 groats to a guinea. All legal currency.


I wasn't talking about converting between different units (which are independent of the numbers they apply to) I was talking about number systems themselves (decimal, binary(base2), octal(base8) hexadecimal (base 16)).

Any alien race that has mastered interstellar travel and/or communications must understand the same physics we do and the same mathematical rules, even if they describe them in different terms.

Explaining our units and number systems so they can convert will be about the easiest part of communicating with an alien race. Relatively speaking, not that any of it will be easy.

Dominions Son

@ustourist

I totally agree, and being human I understand the terms used, but find that the assumption that aliens will have readily understandable concepts and measurements to be bordering on science fantasy and extremely arrogant.


Which is why almost everyone who has written anything detailed on first contact talks about starting with math and physics.

There are things that any alien race we encounter must necessarily have in common with us.

The same physics that apply to us must necessarily apply to them, and mathematics is the closest thing there is to a universal concept.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


The U.S. is the major holdout on using the metric system, but France remains the major holdout on using English as the standard language for air traffic communications (there's always someone who refuses to get with the program).


A bit more than that, CW. Going back to the 1800s there were many meridians used for navigation so there was a conference to try to standardise. It was acknowledged that Britain had already done all the mathematics so every country bar one agreed to use a point at the Greenwich (East of London, UK) astronomical observatory. To be worthwhile agreement had to be unanimous but France was the ni***r on the woodpile, demanding that Paris be the centre. Eventually France agreed to the Greenwich meridian on the condition that Britain eventually converted to metric. That was nearly 150 years ago and UK regs still state that road signs must show distances in miles or yards etc.

France still has a meridian through Paris called the Green Meridian

edits; previously uploaded before completion

Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

The various earth nations find it almost impossible to agree on standard meanings and definitions, and there is no reason to believe alien cultures would be any different.

It's hard to tell (not having encountered any alien species). One the one hand, you'd think an interplanetary society would have worked out most of their communication issues. On the other hand, what typically happens is the conquering invaders (who possess the most advanced technology) determine what everyone else uses, rather than selecting the most efficient.

It essentially depends on whether the aliens are loners, invaders, or members of a larger interplanetary group (with a roughly equal footing).

Unit selection is much different than is which technology is sold in which country. Having similar units eases communication and reduces errors in commerce, while technology standards determines which company/country will reap the benefits of massive contracts with all the competing countries.

richardshagrin

Light year. Would the opposite be Heavy year or Dark year?

Replies:   Wheezer
Wheezer

@richardshagrin

What's the opposite of a mile?

Replies:   richardshagrin
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

what's a general light year in Angstrom


9.461e+25, according to Google

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@Dominions Son

1,650,763.73 wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions; and now defined as 1/299,792,458 of the distance light travels in a vacuum in one second. "


If either of those were the actual bases of the unit, they would be round numbers, e.g. 1,000,000 wavelength of (fitb) or 1/300,000,000 of a light second. (Though a 300 millionth is kind of an arbitrary unit. Make it a 500 millionth and you might have something.)

As it is you have a preexisting unit, a meter, and are trying to find a more accurate way to define it, without changing it.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@tppm


As it is you have a preexisting unit, a meter, and are trying to find a more accurate way to define it, without changing it.


So what? If that produces a non-earth-centric definition that is useful. Why is that a problem?

Replies:   tppm
tppm

@Dominions Son

"The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom."


See my previous comment on the meter, in this case make it ten billion times for a universal unit. And why the cesium 133 atom particularly, why not say the hydrogen 1 atom?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tppm

See my previous comment on the meter, in this case make it ten billion times for a universal unit.


Again, so what, why is that a problem?

And why the cesium 133 atom particularly, why not say the hydrogen 1 atom?


I have no idea, you would have to ask the scientific body that created the current definition.

Why does it particularly matter?

tppm
Updated:

@Dominions Son

Somewhere up there someone wanted to get away from Earth centric measurements. Those definitions are using non Earth centric units (wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions) to define Earth centric units (meters). So to make it universal drop the meters and just use the wavelengths. And to make it even more universal use Hydrogen (which we know absolutely is everywhere) rather than any other arbitrary element.

Make your basic unit for both time (the time it takes light to travel that distance in a vacuum) and length 100 million wavelengths of activated hydrogen.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tppm

Somewhere up there someone wanted to get away from Earth centric measurements. Those definitions are using non Earth centric units (wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions) to define Earth centric units (meters).


Sorry, I have to disagree here. A non-earth-centric definition makes the unit non-earth-centric.

You have said absolutely nothing to convince me otherwise.

Replies:   tppm
tppm

@Dominions Son

you're wrong a meter is one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the pole measured on a meridian, redefined in wavelengths of some random element, and later redefined again as the distance light travels in a light meter. The basic unit hasn't changed, just the accuracy of the definition.

For instance defining a foot as 503,158.903,316,264,3 wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions doesn't make the foot a universal unit.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@tppm


For instance defining a foot as 503,158.903,316,264,3 wavelengths of the orange-red radiation of krypton 86 under specified conditions doesn't make the foot a universal unit.


Edited:

Universal is not the same thing as non-earth-centric.

A lot depends on what you are looking for a non-earth-centric unit for. The original request for non-earth-centric units did not even specify that aliens would be involved.

For a human interstellar civilization, the standard metric units work just fine, because by their modern definitions measures can be verified/calibrated without any reference to the earth itself.

A human who has grown up on a colony world and has no knowledge of earth would be able to derive all the base metric units from their current definitions just fine. That is non-earth-centric enough for nearly all purposes.

Further more, in any plausible first contact scenario involving technologically advanced aliens, those unit definitions can be communicated just fine without having to make up units that have no history of earth-centrism.

All of your objections matter only if you are trying to create units that are from some alien civilization. And even then, unless you are describing a very old multi-species interstellar civilization, the use of "universal units" created the way you describe is highly implausible.

sejintenej

All these deliberations suggest an advanced scientific knowledge and ability. Think of a story about and from the point of view of a less advanced society (think AmerIndians who have just been discovered in the Amazon Basin) invaded by a more advanced race. Again think of the peons who are taking over the rain forest - they don't know or care about the basis of measurement beyond paces, foot lengths etc. Do you NEED realworld measurements or do you create them?

Crumbly Writer

@tppm

what's a general light year in Angstrom

9.461e+25, according to Google

Ah, but in dialogue you need to write that out in text form!

As far as the 'non-Earth centric' discussion, as I argued before, until we actually meet and begin communicating with an alien species, the entire discussion is meaningless. The effort behind 'universal' units is to define commonly used measurements according to easily calculated measures. (Easily measured might be a misnomer, as few of us can create an atomic clock in our garages.) But if someone in Budapest and Istanbul can both arrive at a common measurement using a universal unit, then so can little green men (once we can convey how we calculate our measurements--which might take a very long time!

Perv Otaku

Seems like a silly thing to be arguing about. Of course any unit of measurement is completely arbitrary. There are a lot of "constants" in physics and chemistry, the universal gas constant, Planck's constant, and so on. These are all very complicated numbers that only serve to relate nature to the units of measurement we invented. Use a different unit, and you have to adjust the constant accordingly, because the universe doesn't change its math for your convenience.

The Celsius temperature scale is based on the freezing point of water at 0 and the boiling point of water at 100. But only at 1 atmosphere of pressure. And only in base 10. To get to something that applies universally to water you need to pull out the triple point diagram, which shows the phase changes across all possible temperatures and pressures, and the actual triple point would be a common reference point regardless of your units.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Perv Otaku

Seems like a silly thing to be arguing about.


Really? Is it any sillier than anything else people argue about on the internet?

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Seems like a silly thing to be arguing about.

Really? Is it any sillier than anything else people argue about on the internet?

I'd rather argue about pointless details about literature then listen to the pointless arguments spouted by most politicians. (God, only another year to go with electioneering!)

Replies:   Capt Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Seems like a silly thing to be arguing about.

Really? Is it any sillier than anything else people argue about on the internet?

I'd rather argue about pointless details about literature then listen to the pointless arguments spouted by most politicians. (God, only another year to go with electioneering!)

Capt Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

(God, only another year to go with electioneering!)

Unfortunately, the next round begins not long afterwards for the next election.

richardshagrin

@Wheezer

If you would walk a mile for a Camel, the opposite would be how far a Camel would walk for you.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

If you would walk a mile for a Camel, the opposite would be how far a Camel would walk for you.

In the case of both cigarettes and livestock, the Camels tend to walk over your chest, rather than coming back for you. If you don't got the bucks to pay their 'handler', they don't care a whit about you.

madnige

Revisiting the extrterrestrial application of the 'physical constants' part of this discussion, I noticed that the kilogram is nearing redefinition based on physical constants

Replies:   richardshagrin  tppm
richardshagrin

@madnige

I am surprised the kilogram is being defined. I would have thought the gram would be the primary measure of weight, or is that of mass. A kilogram is just 1000 grams. For the same reason they define a meter, not a kilometer.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
tppm

@madnige

That doesn't make sense. A kilogram is 1000 grams, end of definition. The base unit that needs to be defined, either by mathematical/physical constants or by an exemplar (the cylinder in the vault outside Paris) is the gram (originally the mass of one cubic centimeter of pure water at three degrees Celsius).

Replies:   madnige  Dominions Son
madnige
Updated:

@tppm


originally the mass of one cubic centimeter of pure water at three degrees Celsius


IIRC, originally intended to be the mass of one cubic centimeter of pure water at maximum density (about four degrees Celsius), but they were out by about 28ppm - even then, defined by cubic decimeter and kilogram.

The unit system is meter-kilogram-second, even though (as you say) kilogram is not a base measurement (although it is the reference standard). Prior to that, it was centimeter-gram-second, again with a non-base unit - and with two of the units not matching the reference standards (meter and kilogram). Before that, in a lot of the world, foot-pound-second. But then, the meter is now and a second was defined as an arbitrary number of wavelengths/oscillations of given light - and not even the same light!

The standards are chosen for relative ease of laboratory reproduction, to match historic prototype standards which had limited accessibility, and those standards were chosen to be a useful size - a standard of one gram would require a much more precise balance than for 1kg, and most real-world uses would require multiplying up to kg-scale anyway.

BTW, degrees centigrade are defined from the temperature in Kelvin, which is set from the triple point of water (0.01 deg.C), again chosen to make the new definition match the historical units. Even the historical freezing-and-boiling water temperatures, subject to small variances due to air pressure as they were, were quite a bit more sensible than defining 'zero' as the lowest temperature found by adding various salts to ice, and 100 as body temperature. {add] Though, that's just like defining 'inch' as the width of a thumb, foot likewise, etc.

Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

I am surprised the kilogram is being defined.


Ancient politics, what was supposed to be the baseline unit - the mass equivalent of a litre - had a name change due to the French politics and thus they changed it's name to kilogram because the smaller unit of gramme was 1 of 1,000th of it so the new name was simply 1,000 grammes.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@tppm

That doesn't make sense. A kilogram is 1000 grams, end of definition. The base unit that needs to be defined, either by mathematical/physical constants or by an exemplar (the cylinder in the vault outside Paris) is the gram (originally the mass of one cubic centimeter of pure water at three degrees Celsius).


Actually, no, for some reason the kilogram is the base unit for mass and a gram is defined as the thousandth part of a kilogram.

"The kilogram is the SI base unit of mass and is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram, a platinum-iridium standard that is kept at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM). The primary standard of mass for this country is United States Prototype Kilogram 20, which is a platinum-iridium cylinder kept at NIST.

The kilogram, originally defined as the mass of one cubic decimeter of water at the temperature of maximum density, was known as the Kilogram of the Archives. It was replaced after the International Metric Convention in 1875 by the International Prototype Kilogram which became the unit of mass without reference to the mass of a cubic decimeter of water or to the Kilogram of the Archives. Each country that subscribed to the International Metric Convention was assigned one or more copies of the international standards; these are known as National Prototype Meters and Kilograms. Learn more about the history and current definition of the kilogram."

http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/metric/mass.cfm

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

Ancient politics, what was supposed to be the baseline unit - the mass equivalent of a litre


Liter itself is falling out of favor.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

Liter itself is falling out of favor.


Litre is the original French spelling (where the word comes from) and is also used in UK spelling, while liter is the messed up US spelling that's falling out of favour due to it not being well understood outside the USA.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

Litering is against the law.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Litering is against the law.


Unless you're a pregnant female cat, or similar!

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