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The Original Warship - A Science Fiction Thread!

Discussion in 'Research' started by Sheilawisz, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello everyone!

    Well, one fine day not so long ago I happened to find a cardboard box around here filled with many old drawings and world building notes of mine. When I say old I really mean it, since the drawings and notes in question were created back in 1992 or perhaps even earlier than that.

    Back then, little me was fascinated by Space stories and starships of various types!

    I was quite surprised to find the drawings that described what today I call the Original Warship. I had parts of a story in my mind back then, and the space vessel in question was supposed to be the protagonist ship and also a home for my rather tragic, unhappy and mentally unstable characters as they ventured into travels and combat.

    The original design later evolved into wildly exaggerated versions that just got larger and larger, the space weapons also became sheer madness and the project was eventually abandoned... and today, so many years later, I have come to the conclusion that the original concept was the best of all and that it even had potential to be real Science Fiction instead of just Space Fantasy.

    In this thread, I would like to explain the Original Warship and get some feedback from a realistic and scientific point of view.

    Style and Design

    The original warship was a very simple design, with a rod-like shape and a very thick and strong metallic hull designed to resist a lot of punishment in battle. It was quite similar to a real submarine, windowless and boring, instead of the stylish designs seen in famous space stories out there.

    This type of design and materials allowed the warship to ram enemy vessels at high speeds, almost like a giant space bullet, and also it would suffer little or no damage after impact. It was just a huge and extremely solid piece of metal, with very little openings for weapons and for the crew to get in and out.

    Engines, fuel storage, oxygen reserves, command bridge and other critical areas were deep inside the ship, also protected by a heavy and honey-like substance which occupied most of the interior of the warship. This substance helped to absorb impacts and also to repair the hull in combat.

    Size and Mass

    The original drawing proposes two scale systems, which resulted in two very different lengths for the same ship design. Here I want to talk about the Compact version because I feel that it's the most realistic one, and I am starting to feel quite fond of it in comparison to the middle-size version.

    According to scale, the Compact Warship would be about 520 meters long and 90 meters thick. I have estimated that the total mass would be about twelve million metric tons if we consider both the powerful hull and the heavy liquid stored inside. A total midget if compared to the crazy sizes of many Fantasy spaceships, but still it would be bloody impressive it you witnessed this thing for real and just about to crash into your city!

    The middle-size version was about 1350 meters long and 240 meters thick. There are no estimations for the big-size class warships of this space navy, but the drawings imply that they existed.

    Propulsion system and Armament

    Well back then I did not know anything about antimatter, and so the Original Warship depended on Hydrogen Isotopes and Nuclear Fusion to survive. It was essentially a wild Fusion Rocket quite similar to the propulsion system of the hypothetical Orion starships, except that the nuclear blasts would take place inside of the vessel.

    This thing also had the ability to channel crazy powerful fusion blasts into controlled bolts and beams of plasma to attack other vessels with, by means of electromagnetic fields perhaps. The other weapons were described as machine guns capable of delivering kinetic energy in the range of 30 kilotons with every bullet, very useful for space combat and also for planetary bombardments.

    A third weapon was supposed to be some kind of extremely aggressive, caustic liquid that the warship could spray at enemy vessels in order to weaken their hull or even destroy them completely before they could fight. They did not carry any kind of smaller ships inside, and the crew was limited to very little numbers.

    So, what are your thoughts about this space warship? Is it somewhat realistic, or perhaps not quite? Does it make you want to know about the story and characters involved?
     
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  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    I like the idea of a "Space Bullet". It reminds me of 'Oumuamua.
    How did you come up with the 12M tonnes for the compact warship?
    My rough maths makes that about 3.5 tonnes per cubic metre. That seems like a lot to me.
    But when I wonder about fantasy Starships I tend to go the more high energy route with lots of power for shields and engines...
     
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  3. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello Joe!

    Thanks for your comments. Indeed, the mysterious interstellar object that you mentioned did cause some interesting comments from famous scientists. One of them pointed out that the most likely shape for an interstellar ship would be a cylinder or a rod, simply because this shape in particular would minimize the risk of collisions with dust particles at high speeds.

    That was when I thought for the first time: "Hey! Perhaps my Warship was not so unrealistic after all!"

    I agree that a mass of 12 million tons seems like a lot for the 520 meters long ship. The explanation is that the metallic hull is at least ten meters thick, and also this powerful metal is unusually heavy. Also, we have to consider that the warship contains mostly that heavy and syrupy liquid instead of just decks and air everywhere like a Star Trek vessel.

    It's an almost blind calculation anyway, I am not sure of what the actual mass would be precisely.

    Having more energy would be great, but that would mean Antimatter and I do prefer the Nuclear Fusion system. Antimatter is a real thing, but producing large amounts of it is so freaking difficult that I could very well use the Violet Energy from my Aylar starships instead. The plasma bolts from these warships would deliver the equivalent of Megatons of destructive energy in a single hit, after all.

    Some curiosities about the original Warship are that it carried a museum filled with desiccated bodies of their enemies, there was a large area dedicated solely to the torture, interrogation and execution of war prisoners and the entire ship was capable of landing on almost any planet thanks to a single retractile and metallic leg equipped with a giant paw.
     
  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    To misquote someone from Jerry Maguire; You had me at "paw".
    Any ship that has a paw will be cool....
     
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  5. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Busts through nearest wall wielding a slide rule like a sword.

    Did somebody say... SPACESHIP DESIGN!?

    First of all, this website is one of the best resources for realistic spaceship design out there, so I'd highly recommend taking a look at it if you want to dive a bit deeper: Atomic Rockets - Atomic Rockets

    Anyways, let's see what you've got here.
    All right, so a long, thin, windowless tube. This mostly fine. Your ship is military, and hence will be utilitarian. There's generally very little practical need to actually look outside with your own two eyes when in space, since anything worth seeing is generally so far away as to be basically invisible. Instead, you would rely on an array of telescopes, cameras, and other sensors. However, I'd argue that it may still be worth having a few small windows somewhere on the ship, just in case something goes wrong with your sensors, or your crew wants to see Earth through something aside from a TV monitor. Remember, crew morale is important.

    However, there is one issue with the overall appearance that a lot of authors neglect: heat dissipation. You mention that your power source is a nuclear fusion reactor. Even with hyper-efficient super-futuristic designs, your engines and generator are going to produce a lot of waste heat. In spite of what Hollywood would have you have you believe, the vacuum of space not cold. It's not really hot either, though. It's... a vacuum. Technically, it has no temperature since there is no material there to have a temperature. Thus, it basically behaves as a perfect insulator against convective and conductive heat dissipation, which are usually the main sources of heat dissipation of earth-based technology. When you hear "the temperature of space," what they're usually telling you is the temperature that an object will cool down too via thermal radiation if exposed to no other sources of heat except for starlight and background radiation.

    Realistically, the ship should probably have enormous solar panel-like structures to radiate away excess heat. Heat could be transferred to the radiator panels either by simple conduction or by a more efficient active heat pump.

    Yeah... Uh, don't do this. Think about how rough it is for two cars to collide on the highway. Now, imagine that scaled that up to orbital speeds and you'll have a general idea of why this would be very bad for the ship and crew's status as solid objects.

    Just for reference, orbital velocity in low Earth orbit is roughly 7600 meters per second. By comparison, the highest speed limit on a US highway is 36 meters per second. Even a "slow" collision in space could be in the hundreds or thousands of meters per second. I have a hard time imagining a material so durable that it wouldn't be instantly vaporized by a collision at those speeds. But, even if the ship survives, what about the crew? That's an awfully big shock that they'll be going through. Even if they were strapped into acceleration couches, they'd likely be very... tenderized after such a collision.

    Since, you've given a mass value for the ship, I can actually do some calculations here. For the sake of argument, let's say we have a collision at 500 m/s in which your ship completely penetrates its target, reducing your ship's velocity by 100 m/s in the process.

    (0.5 * mv1 ^ 2) - (0.5 * mv2 ^ 2) = (0.5 * 10,886,216,880 kg * 500 m/s ^ 2) - (0.5 * 10,886,216,880 kg * 400 m/s ^ 2) = 490 Terajoules.

    In other words, this collision is basically equivalent to setting off a nuclear bomb at the front of your ship. Which, now that I think about it, may not be quite as bad as it seems: Project Orion (nuclear propulsion) - Wikipedia Still, 490 Terajoules is an awfully lot of heat being transferred through your ship's nose. The ship itself may survive a few rammings like this, but without using some truly fantastical materials in its design it would hardly be undamaged after each one.

    However, even if you solve all of the massive engineering hurdles associated with ramming, you're still left with the problem that there are simpler, less dangerous, more effective ways of damaging your enemies, even methods that use the same idea as your ramming technique: Kinetic bombardment - Wikipedia

    So, yeah. Ramming should be usually be held out as a last-ditch suicide attack and not much else.

    This is a clever idea for self-repair that I could see being implemented in real life. In fact, I think I may have heard of something like this being considered for a real spacecraft somewhere. Just to be clear, though, what do you mean when you say "repair the hull in combat." I assume that this means the liquid hardens when exposed to vacuum. I don't know that it needs to fill most of the interior of the spacecraft, though, especially considering how heavy you say it is. Normally I'd say that this honey-goop makes your ship needlessly heavy, but you seem to be operating in a future where producing enormous amounts of thrust via nuclear energy has become cheap and easy, so I'll give it a pass.

    Ah! So you do know about Project Orion! Excellent! You're going to need to clarify a bit for me, though. What do you mean when you say "the nuclear blasts would take place inside of the vessel," because this seems like an extraordinarily bad idea. Are you setting it off in some sort of "combustion chamber" with a hole open to space? I believe that, when set off in a vacuum, most of a nuclear charge's energy is not released in heated plasma, but rather as x-rays. If your combustion chamber could survive the burst of plasma (which would still quite powerful) and the interior were perfectly reflective, then I'd imagine that this would be fairly efficient, since you're guaranteed that all of the light energy will be radiated backwards, thus generating thrust. However, if it's anything but perfectly reflective, a lot of that energy would end up being transferred to the hull, resulting in at best a large loss of efficiency and at worst a ship-shattering kaboom. Probably the latter.

    Like I mentioned above, nuclear explosions that occur in a vacuum release most of their energy as x-rays, not plasma, so electromagnetic fields wouldn't be able to do much there. I'm not sure how you'd manage to realistically create a weapon like this. Lasers and railguns would probably be much more effective weapons, since you don't need to get terribly close to your target to do damage and the projectiles/light beams can't be effectively intercepted. Missiles would be useful, but they may be taken out with a well-targeted laser before they can hit their target.

    Your idea to spit acid on enemy ships is an interesting one, but not one that I think will be terribly effective at anything but close range, and you'd want to stay at long range as much as possible, especially considering that effective long range weapons would probably be available in the form of railguns and lasers.
     
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  6. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello everyone!

    Thank you Joe! The Landing Paw thing is a sweet detail that I had forgotten over the years, I also think that it's pretty neat and so I was quite happy about this the day when I re-discovered these old and frail drawings. The metallic paw in question was supposed to be similar to that of a dinosaur, with sharp claws and everything!

    Hello Vaporo, and thank you very much for your detailed post and for that wonderful link!

    I believe that the Original Warship was supposed to navigate in a way similar to a submarine, which means that it would depend on some kind of radar in order to sense and analyze its surroundings most of the times. It would also have the equivalent of periscopes, but those would need to be concealed into the relative safety of the hull during combat.

    About crew morale, well... the crews of these warships were often chosen based on how broken and heartless they could be, and the protagonists of this story were all lost souls with tragic pasts and plenty of Post Traumatic stress disorder. Actually they all were veterans from a World War which had nearly destroyed their planet, a few years before interstellar technology was invented.

    The Captain in particular was quite a nutcase and he suffered from anger issues as well!

    Give them a good collection of twisted video games, soothing music, antidepressants and plenty of alcohol and they are going to be fine. They were often asleep for loads of time during long journeys, anyway. They had no family, no friends beside themselves, no home back in their planet and in general nothing to lose.

    Yeah, the waste heat would be a huge problem for the original warship! This is part of what makes the design of realistic starships so difficult, and of why Fantasy starships always find imaginary ways to deal with the complications of reality. In this case, I am going to say that the heavy liquid is pretty good at absorbing the heat generated at the rear of the ship before it can cause troubles at critical areas.

    Thanks! Alright, so the warship does get damaged if ramming is repeated several times or else performed at too high of a velocity. They are going to leave it as some kind of desperate tactic, after all. Yeah, they have powerful machine guns and artillery to attack enemy vessels after all.

    That's right, the Goop is supposed to flow and harden so that even critical hull damage gets repaired almost instantly. The hardened substance is almost as strong as the metallic hull itself, and it can repair a lot of damage that would easily destroy a civilian ship.

    Exactly, the system described in my drawings is a nuclear chamber in which they cause crazy powerful fusion blasts so the warship can be propelled to high speeds. Just like fireworks, but... nuclear! I kind of guess that the interior of this chamber would need to be protected by some kind of Fantasy shielding a la Star Trek, so... sorry, quite unrealistic at this point.

    The alternative is that the material at the nuclear chamber is even stronger than that of the hull, but incredibly expensive which means that they cannot make entire vessels with that. Also, the idea is that these Warships can take high-yield atmospheric nuclear detonations straight on the ship and they would suffer just a tiny bump and a scratch.

    Again, very unrealistic but at least it feels more real than a lot of stuff out there.

    I am very fond of lasers, and I often play with a green laser pointer of mine capable of lighting matches and popping balloons. The idea of giving laser weapons to my old Warship is very attractive, and they would be green! I am not sure of how powerful those lasers could be, and the other problem is that high-powered lasers generate a lot of heat as well.

    A Warship Laser at full power would probably be powerful enough to quickly incinerate entire enemy cities, even if the warship in question is attacking from a distance of a billion kilometers or more.

    These vessels have machine guns and heavy artillery cannons, but those are the nuclear equivalent of chemical firearms instead of railguns.

    Thanks for everything, what other comments do you have? Any suggestions? Do you know what are the advantages and disadvantages of particle beams for space combat if compared to lasers?
     
  7. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Actually, I did a bit of thinking today and realized that fully enclosing the engine's explosion would give no thrust advantage whatsoever. Basically, fully enclosing it wouldn't work because the half of the rays bouncing around the interior would cancel out their own thrust before they could escape. To get the most out of each nuclear charge, you'd want to detonate it at the center of a half-sphere of hyper-tough mirror material, with the other half being exposed to empty space. So, no setting off nuclear weapons inside of your own ship.

    On the subject of particle beams vs lasers, there's upsides and downsides to both. Lasers are more focused (although they still suffer from diffraction at long distances), less affected by gravity, and always function at the speed of light. However, it may be possible to nullify the effect of a laser by simply covering your ship with high-quality futuristic mirrors. I've never heard of anyone proposing something like this, but I see no reason why it isn't possible, especially in a setting where materials tough enough to contain a nuclear blast exist. Of course, it would also be theoretically possible to simply shorten the laser's wavelength until it penetrated whatever armor the target was using, so it's your call on how well your fictional materials can reflect gamma lasers. Maybe you could even have an arms race going on, where everyone is trying to develop mirror armor faster than everyone else can develop high-energy gamma lasers.

    Particle beams would not suffer from this potential weakness. The particles would collide with the hull and transfer heat. Not much they can do about it. Better yet, if they're charged particles, you can even ionize their hull and cause all sorts of nasty electrical failures. Although potentially at the risk of ionizing your own ship as well. Those charged particles have to come from somewhere. Charged particle beams would also require ammunition in the form of a particle source. This could be as simple as a tank of compressed hydrogen or as complicated as a magnetic jar full of electron-stripped protons. Also, a particle beam would probably struggle in an atmosphere for the same reason you would struggle to throw a handful of dust more than a foot or two. It would still create a lot of heat and radiation, so it may still be somewhat effective if used from orbit against a ground installation (and everything for twenty miles around it) if it had high enough energy. But, it wouldn't be nearly as effective as a laser.

    Overall, I'd say go with some of both. That way your weaknesses are covered either way.

    Also, have you ever heard of a whipple shield? Whipple shield - Wikipedia. It probably wouldn't do much against a nuclear-launched shell, but perhaps you could consider it as a lighter alternative to some of your heavy-duty super armor.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  8. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello Vaporo and thanks for your comments!

    Oh, so the Wild Fusion Rocket system as I imagined it for the Original Warship is not plausible at all... Too bad, I really loved the concept! I may use this propulsion system anyway in case that I finally develop this story, adding some Magic here and there in order to improve and make it somehow effective.

    Another possibility is to switch from Fusion to Antimatter, but I am not sure about that one yet.

    I was drawing a little today, and I have come to the conclusion that a classic space rocket shape is more attractive than the rod style. You know, a long and slender design that is thickest at the middle and gradually becomes thinner from that point toward both ends. The nose of the vessel is round, not actually sharp, and the rear end is flat.

    The rocket-shaped Warship would also have a much lower mass if compared to the rod.

    This new drawing of mine also features four winglets at the read end, which look really cool but I am not sure... What would be their purpose? Would those little wings be useful for atmospheric entries or something else?

    Perhaps the winglets are equipped with artillery, laser weapons and machine guns?

    Thanks, I may include both laser and particle beam weapons for these warships. I think that the advantage of these weapons is that they travel so fast, so they would be very difficult to dodge even from a great distance. In the other hand, artillery volleys are devastating but they would be traveling at much lower speeds through space.

    I dislike that Laser weapons are often portrayed as weak, inferior and even useless in Star Trek and other Fantasy universes. If a laser beam is powerful enough, no shielding technology is going to stand against it for too long! It's a lot of very focused destructive energy after all, and the lasers that I am planning for my warships would be very serious stuff.

    We already have laser pointers powerful enough to instantly burn skin and clothing, you can lose your freaking sight if you play carelessly with them and they are even illegal in many countries... now imagine what the laser cannons mounted on a 520 meters long, antimatter-powered space warship would be capable of doing!

    What makes a Gamma Laser more dangerous than other types of laser energy?
     
  9. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Armor penetration. As the wavelength gets shorter and shorter, it becomes harder and harder to find a material that can interact with the rays meaningfully enough to reflect them. Which does lead to a problem at the extreme end of the spectrum: Sure, your laser can pass straight through the target's armor as though it were glass, but the same is true for the rest of the ship, and as a result the weapon has little to no effect.

    Conversely, as the wavelength shortens it becomes harder and harder to construct a laser that could generate the x-rays and gamma rays at the levels you desire. Just a note: there's no actual strictly-defined difference between x-rays and gamma rays. It's just generally held that x-rays are higher wavelength than gamma rays.

    The fins would be thoroughly useless in space, except maybe for radiating heat, and a couple of tiny winglets probably won't do much in that regard. Any weapon you mount to the fins would probably be equally or more effectively mounted elsewhere on the hull, such as on a retractable arm. The only use I could think of is if you wanted to try an aerocapture maneuver:Aerocapture - Wikipedia, but from the sound of it your ship has more than enough thrust and delta-V (Which is to say, ability to change velocity) to not need such maneuvers.

    I suppose that they could be useful if you ever decided to land the ship on the surface of an atmospheric planet, but I don't know why you would want to do that often enough to justify the design feature. You primary thruster is a barely-controlled nuclear blast. Not really ideal for trying to land anywhere. I suppose that the ship could have small "conventional" maneuvering thrusters that are safer to use in an atmosphere and powerful enough to levitate the ship. But again, why? Orbital repair and refueling stations would exist in this setting, so there wouldn't really be much planetside that couldn't be more effectively retrieved or dropped off by shuttle. Perhaps stealth? The Project Rho site is very adamant that stealth technology would not exist in space, so perhaps "stealth" could exist in your setting simply in the form of landing on a planet's surface and finding a way to camouflage your ship. Although that would still be very difficult it the ship is as large is you say. Or perhaps even hiding underwater... Ooh. Chance for your submarine-shaped design to become an actual submarine.

    On making the jump from fusion to antimatter: You can do it if you want, but I don't really see a need to, especially not for a military application. Sure, it would be very high energy density, but fusion power is already pretty good in that regard. It's a pretty rare fuel source as well. Hydrogen for fusion would be available basically anywhere. Antimatter would not. Antimatter would need to be manufactured, which means that the energy would still need to be generated elsewhere by some other method. i.e. Antimatter is a battery, not a generator. Plus, it's more dangerous. If your magnetic containment fails, you suddenly have a city-killer level explosion on your hands. Or if the container receives too hard of a shock, the antimatter could bump up against the side of its container. Or if the container is damaged and the antimatter is released. Again, boom. For a military ship that is likely to encounter both of those issues, I don't know that I'd trust antimatter. Perhaps it would be good for a commercial space liner, but not something meant to see heavy combat.

    On lasers: The first excerpt on the "conventional weapons" page of the Project Rho site describes lasers as being very bad at damaging armor because of the diffraction they experience at long range, and only really good for destroying exposed sensors and weapons. However, in your totally overpowered setting you could counteract this by simply upping the power.

    Just a note: You seem to be designing from the top-down. You come up with an interesting drawing and then try to use science to justify it. This is fine, especially since you don't seem to be trying to write a truly hard science fiction setting, but just be aware that you're doing it the opposite way from how it would actually be done. A real design would start out with a list of requirements, then figure out what needs to be done to meet those requirements. The final shape would be the last thing the engineers are considering. Unless the final shape is part of the requirements, of course, but that would not usually be the case for a military application.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
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  10. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello again!

    I would like to reply faster, but these days I have been much busier than usual and things get complicated until nighttime. I do check the site early in the morning though, so again thanks for your comments Vaporo.

    Yeah, the idea about concealing these warships underwater is wonderful!

    They find a nice planet with deep oceans, it's not the right moment yet to attack some enemy fleet nearby and so the Captain decides to hide the Warship underwater. The vessel enters the atmosphere at some crazy speed, and then submerges with this huge and unbelievable splash! Oh yes, I can imagine it very clearly and it would look great on screen.

    The only problem is that these things are far denser than water, so they would sink straight to the bottom!

    Gamma lasers sound neat, but I think that green lasers are better and so I'll happily keep them. I know that all this stuff is very overpowered from a truly scientific point of view, but it's still under powered for Space Fantasy standards. That's why back then the Original Warship was abandoned, and over time I ended up with ships about the size of Portugal and capable of annihilating dozens of star systems with a single volley of their crazy magical weapons.

    They were also capable of traveling at a speed of about 40000 LYPH (light years per hour!) and the batshit from their cannons was even faster than that... So yeah, the Original concept and its new Rocket-redesign are far better and cooler than that.

    The Wild Fusion Rocket system would allow the Warship to reach a speed of 30000km/sec perhaps?

    Oh certainly yes, I know that real engineering is very different from what I am trying to do here. I am a Fantasy writer, after all! I enjoy it anyway, and it's kind of great that the original concept was somewhat realistic in many aspects. It came from my imagination when I was nine or perhaps ten years old, the original drawing is crude but sweet and so far it seems that I did a very good job back then.

    Allowing the Sci Fi Warship to go full Fantasy would be easier, but the scientific side can be great fun too.

    So, if speed is limited to about 10% of Light and interstellar distances are huge... What would be the best option for allowing a faster style of interstellar travel? Trying to find a Wormhole somewhere? Opening wormholes of their own, perhaps? The idea of simply teleporting the ship without any kind of portal sounds great, but also very unrealistic at least to me.

    Thanks for everything!
     
  11. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Well, there is no truly realistic option for fast interstellar flight. The closest you could get would be either a wormhole or Alcubierre drive: Alcubierre drive - Wikipedia. You seem to be familiar with wormholes, and an Alcubierre drive is basically just a Star Trek warp drive. Basically, it encases a ship in a bubble of separate spacetime in which space is contracting ahead of the ship and expanding behind the ship. Since the ship is technically not moving and only the space around it is moving, it would be able to exceed the speed of light.

    However, both wormholes and Alcubierre drives are based hypothetical physics. As far as we know, there are no physical laws that say they can't exist, but that could change in the future. Wormholes are not known to exist naturally, and we only have the vaguest idea of how one might be manufactured, Plus, both would rely on exotic forms of matter with negative mass to stabilize them, and as far as we know these forms of matter are purely speculative. To my knowledge, the closest known phenomenon to negative mass is the negative energy density created by the Casimir effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_effect.

    On top of that, faster-than-light travel would in reality likely imply that time travel is possible and even easy. The reason for this is a bit complicated, requires a basic understanding of relativity, and is much better explained by the handy graphics on this site than by me: Sharp Blue: Relativity, FTL and causality - Richard Baker. Of course, most authors just ignore or handwave this particular inconvenience, since dealing with the ramifications is hard no matter which way you slice it.

    So, yeah. Basically, you're going to have to make something up if you want fast interstellar flight.

    Also, I've made another mistake regarding the propulsion system. I'd always assumed that an Orion drive was propelled by the raw burst of nuclear x-rays. However, I just did the calculation and discovered that pure photon thrust is several orders of magnitude too weak to be useful. I did some more reading and found out that the nuclear charges were actually designed to convert most of their energy into a plasma burst, which would strike the pusher plate and accelerate the spacecraft that way. So, yeah. Sorry. Putting a reflective coating on the pusher plate would have little to no effect.

    As for how much you would be able to accelerate your ship on Orion propulsion alone... Well, I'm still a bit fuzzy on how the math for these things works, but luckily the Project Rho site has some convenient mass and delta-V tables: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/enginelist.php#id--Pulse--Orion. You'll be looking at the one at the bottom, since it appears to be a fusion-based design in which everything has been pushed to its hypothetical science-fiction maximum. While there aren't any delta-V numbers for that particular design, it has 82 times the exhaust velocity of the previous design in the table (since it's plasma, not x-rays!), and thus 82 times the efficiency and delta-V. That puts you at 8200 km/s of delta-V. Still short of your 30000 km/s request, but 8200 km/s is still a HUGE amount of delta-V. By comparison, the earth moves around the sun at 30.5 km/s.
     
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  12. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Thanks Vaporo, this has been an extremely interesting thread!

    Well, personally I believe that Interstellar travel is impossible. Even the Orion starships would not be able to reach speeds high enough for the journey to be realistic, and the speed is also limited since you need to keep some bombs so the ship can be eventually slowed down. Also, there is the fact that interstellar space is not as empty as most people would believe.

    Any collision with a tiny something out there would have severe consequences, so without Magical solutions like Warp, Hyperspace, Violet Energy and others the concept of high-speed travel between star systems seems implausible at best.

    Now that I have mentioned this point, I have another question for you:

    My original drawings do not describe any system of energy shields for the Warship. It was supposed to be capable of taking and surviving a huge deal of damage in battle, but... What about high-speed collisions during Interstellar journeys? Even if the powerful vessel can survive the deadly blast, this kind of event would surely throw them off course by a lot of distance.

    How realistic are energy shields, after all?

    A part of me wishes for Interstellar travel, it seems so fascinating and adventurous... and yet, another part of me is very happy to believe that it's impossible. I know for sure that there are real space warships somewhere up there, probably they are looking for new victims and the only thing that protects us from them is distance.
     
  13. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Well, to figure out how to protect against interstellar debris I'd first need to know what sort of engine you'd be using. If you're using an Alcubierre drive, it's a non-issue since the ship is basically hiding in its own pocket of space. As I understand it, to reduce energy requirements the bubble would employ Tardis-like geometry and be microscopic when viewed from the outside while still being big enough to contain a ship on the inside. Beyond that, any stray debris that it collides with in spite of its small size would get "stuck" on the front of the bubble and be released as a forward-facing gamma ray burst upon arrival. Thankfully, (or not?) this would probably not be a terribly effective weapon because of how little matter and energy would collect on such a microscopic surface.

    If you're going the more mundane route of speeding your ship up to 10% of the speed of light and putting the crew into cryosleep, there are still ways to defend against impacts. Let's say that a typical micrometeoroid is the size of a grain of sand, so... about 1 milligram, we'll say. At 10% of the speed of light that's an impact of about 450 megajoules. Not including relativistic effects, which would make the number just slightly higher at these speeds. That's conveniently about 1/1,000,000th of the energy I described in my ramming calculation a few posts earlier. While it isn't quite the same thing, since the energy from ramming would be spread out throughout the nose and the energy from this impact would be concentrated at a point and thus is more likely to penetrate, I'd be confident saying that your vessel could survive an impact of this size, or even a thousand times this size, without much issue. As for how much it would knock you off course... This particular collision would drop your velocity by a whopping 2.75*10^-9 m/s. Not really worth writing home about. If you're still worried about the possibility of slightly larger impacts, you could just attach a huge steel (or the futuristic equivalent) plate to the front of the ship and be protected by that. Or a huge Whipple shield. Whipple shields are always good.

    To my knowledge, there is no physical effect that could be exploited to create a Star Trek style deflector shield. At least, not without turning your ship into a ball of vaguely magnetic or radioactive dust first.

    I think that I have to disagree with you on interstellar travel. I think that it's certainly possible, there are just has some serious technical, financial, and legal problems that need overcoming (Curse those pesky nuclear test ban treaties!) The duration of travel problem could be counteracted by building a generation ship or by using cryogenics, and micrometeoroid impacts could be mitigated in a variety of creative ways, such as very thick Whipple shields or strapping a two meter thick steel plate to the front of your ship.

    As for alien warships, I feel that if they're advanced enough to have warships then they would already be here in one form or another. So, I'm more skeptical as to whether they exist.
     
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  14. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello again Vaporo!

    Yeah, I was almost sure that Deflector Shields were just another example of Space Fantasy. They are very nice in movies and written stories alike, but in the end the concept is about as fantastical as Inertial Dampeners and Artificial Gravity. My original drawing does feature A.G. generators that provided constant service for most of the Warship, so that would have to be eliminated in a realistic design.

    Other Fantasy elements in my original concept are Cloaking technology, a dangerous beam weapon that allowed them to shrink enemy vessels and also a death ray capable of (wait for this!) transforming parts of other ships into fragile substances like cardboard and cheese, so that they would be much easier to destroy.

    Apart of a few things like that, the thing is somewhat realistic and I am falling in love with the rocket-style redesign.

    Oh well, I do believe that Generational Ships are a possibility. However they do not really represent interstellar travel, at least not from my point of view. I mean, if you start a travel that only the grandchildren of your grandchildren will complete... is that a real journey? I view that as something very different, and also I think that slowing down a huge city ship like that would be too great of a challenge.

    I would prefer the Cryogenics option any day of the week, at least it would feel more like a real journey to me. Also, I believe that relatively small ships are always preferable. A giant warship is just an easier target, and perhaps there would be no reason to build 3-kilometer vessels anyway.

    A new thread called The Fantasy Warship is coming soon! =)
     
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  15. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Vala

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    This kind of shocked me. For me, a journey that I knew would take tens if not hundreds of years would be a real journey. An epic adventure. Sort of like crossing the oceans to become settlers in a place called the New World but on a much greater scale and on an actual New World.
    Count me out for Cryo... I don't sleep well, don't like the idea or reality of small spaces or the cold. And then there is the film Passengers. I thought it was a Psychological Horror movie and nothing Romantic about it at all! And anyway... You go to sleep in one place and wake up in another [even of it hundreds of years later] isn't much of a journey. Think of all the things you'd miss!
    And I don't care if either choice is realistic, I want the best story, so I'm willing to accept the impossible as long as it doesn't feel improbable.
     
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  16. LordWarGod

    LordWarGod Dreamer

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    I have some crazy 500,000 km warships in my world that are powered by controlled black holes in the hull that are also used to provide artificial gravity. So don't worry about having crazy spaceships, in reality, anything is possible. We'll find a material that'll allow us to build Dyson Rings and Spheres some day.

    What would be space fantasy would be a spaceship that is powered by psychic energy from priests or whatever.
     
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  17. Sheilawisz

    Sheilawisz Queen of Titania Moderator

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    Hello Joe!

    Well, I agree that an interstellar journey lasting for decades or even centuries would be an epic adventure. I would want to experience all of it, from the moment Earth transforms into just a tiny blue dot in the distance to the moment of arrival at a promising new world... if that could be possible, which means that we would need some kind of anti-aging technology on board of this ship.

    It's the generational aspect of the Ark Thing that disheartens me a lot.

    I watched Passengers with my sister and in general disliked the story and style of that film. It was more of a Comedy to me, nothing to be taken too seriously after all. The ship and its system to generate Fake Gravity were very cool, anyway! I prefer the interstellar ship from Avatar which was more realistic, even though the speed described was impossible too.

    If you want to sleep better, I recommend Chamomile infusion. I mean the real thing to get a super powerful infusion, not just tea bags. The liquid needs to get really dark and smelly, that's the trick. Just one large cup of that stuff for dinner, and I would be surprised if you keep sleeping poorly!

    Hello LordWarGod and Welcome to Mythic Scribes!

    Well, it's not that I am worried about having a crazy spaceship really. I love Fantasy, and I am already planning a new thread dedicated to a very fantastical version of my Warship. The idea behind this thread here is to analyze various aspects of my original concept from 1992, and try to determine just how realistic it was according to our current knowledge of physics.

    I think that the point and beauty of Science Fiction are that in this particular genre you have to work with actual science, as we know and understand it so far. Yes, there is a possibility that my Violet Energy will be discovered someday just as I have described it for my Aylar stories. Or perhaps not, who knows!

    Most likely, Violet Energy is just a Fantasy concept (in this universe, at least) which means that talking about nuclear fusion, railguns and even antimatter bombs is a more scientific thing to do for an actual Sci Fi story.

    I am a Fantasy writer anyway, and Fantasy shall always be my true love.
     
  18. LordWarGod

    LordWarGod Dreamer

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    I also write hard science-fiction as well. There's a weapon in my world called a Wreath that is essentially a weaponized Gamma Ray Burst on a galactic level. The weapon, when triggered, causes every single star in a galaxy to have a Gamma Ray Burst which will instantly vaporize an entire galaxy effortlessly. Rather than have one single explosion that would take forever to destroy a galaxy. It can be used to destroy multiple galaxies at once as well.

    While the "weapon" itself isn't realistic by scientific standards today, it's probably possible to weaponize stars to use to cause supernovas or GRBs if we reach that level of technological manipulation in the future.

    Also, I've got many beings that use space-time itself to travel around the universe effortlessly. Some exist in multiple dimensions and some simply use black holes for transport although that comes with a huge risk. Then there are some things that are very loosely science and would make people think that it's fantasy. Such as gigantic planet/galaxy eating monsters from a symbiotic dimension that takes in whatever it connects with. There have been scientific theories about alternate dimensions or other universes, this is my interpretation of what one of those universes could be. Something that literally takes whatever exists from other universes and becomes influenced by it, even human emotion.
     
  19. Vaporo

    Vaporo Sage

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    Now you've caught my attention. By what mechanism does such a weapon work? And to what ends? Why do you need to destroy an entire galaxy at once? It seems like a huge waste. I mean, here I thought the Death Star was overkill. Hard sci-fi is "hard" because everything in the the story is justified to some degree or another by real physics and could believably come to exist. What you're describing does not sound like hard sci-fi to me, even if simply because of the absurd scale involved. I feel like this story would have a LOT of justifying to do in order to be considered hard sci-fi.
     
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  20. LordWarGod

    LordWarGod Dreamer

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    The mechanism of the weapon, I have no idea. I'm stuck on it, still thinking about it, if you can lend any thoughts or ideas on it, that would be very appreciated.

    In my world, it's the Apocalypse. The Great Horrors invaded many millions of years ago and they were unstoppable. The Great Horrors were creatures from an alternate dimension that could range from a couple of miles in height to being the size of hundreds of galaxies. Driving many civilizations to flee towards safety as they were unable to harm or halt their advances. And due to the Dark Forest Theory, civilizations ended up attacking any fleeing civilizations to defend themselves out of fear, not knowing why they were coming. Total war and pandemonium as nobody realizes what the real threat is.

    The Wreath is a weapon designed to deny superior civilizations or the Great Horrors access to resources, energy and minerals in the event that they were overwhelmed and couldn't defend a galaxy any longer. Scorched Earth policy but on an universal scale. Since most Type II - III civilizations have an overabundance of galaxies at their disposal, it's a simple choice; do you want to lose an entire galaxy and allow the enemy to rake in the rewards or do you want to lose an entire galaxy and deny the enemy the rewards? They still have dozens of other galaxies they need to defend.

    This weapon became an absolute necessity for the human civilization in order to stand a chance at surviving the Great Horrors for when they finally reached them, several million years later. The only weapon they had that was capable of touching them was a Wreath and they had to use this weapon all the time as they retreated. It didn't work on the bigger ones, so they opted to destroy galaxies instead so they couldn't consume them and grow more powerful.

    It's an extreme weapon designed for extreme times. And that's just a human invention and it's barely enough to stop enemies. Although it's a lot more complex than this as described in my book that I linked on the World-building forums.
     
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