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Re: (TFT) please help (OT?)

At 8:28 -0500 11/9/11, TFT Digest wrote:
Space travel thoughts all... Mr T! I'm looking in your direction!

Sounds like the rest of the list has a lot better ideas than I for gaming versions of space combat.

	For "realism" I have a few thoughts.

	Transportation breaks down between "chemical" "nuclear" and "magic".

"Chemical" - what we have now. Limited to a few 10's of km/s and then only with huge fuel/mass ratios, so orbital mechanics is a big deal. You pretty much have to figure out how to let gravity and inertia take you where you want to go, and use your few km/s to get you set up properly for that to (eventually) happen. That's more or less the equivalent of sailing ships for transoceanic voyages - it'll take a long time and you are more or less at the mercy of currents and winds.

"Nuclear" - next generation, includes a pretty good range of possibilities up to 100's of km/s but all rely on getting a bunch more energy out of your power source than you could hope to get by chemical reactions. This is more or less the equivalent of steam ships and diesel ships. You can set a schedule and pretty much keep to it.

"Magic" - Star Trek/Star Wars, you have some sort of drive that makes space look like nothing. This would be more or less the equivalent of a modern jetliner for a transoceanic voyage. The water (representing "normal space") is no longer really relevant, although still visible; you are moving so far "above" it that it's just a pretty view; sea state, sargasso weed, the once-crucial currents and winds, all no longer signify (unless/until your drive breaks).

At some point, relativity gets involved and you start having to crank in time dilation, redshift/blueshift, and similar effects. At some point, very fast (relative to you) dust particles hitting you become fatal projectiles; likewise normal light photons blue-shifted up to the gamma radiation range. Apparently, "magic" drives overcome both of these effects and probably many others.

Whatever "magic" drives do to bust physics (and note, physics would tell you there is simply no way to travel 600 mph over an ocean - the waves would shred you even if your ship could survive), the weapons used will depend heavily on that. As has been pointed out, a laser is pretty useless against a ship that moves faster than light, no matter how powerful the laser is. So combat is a little bit of a wild card. Missiles make more sense than beams, imho.

I'm not sure whether it'll trap your thinking into an unproductive rut, but the sailing ships analogy above can be stretched other ways, as well. For example, one of the ISS's functions is to study the effect of prolonged weightlessness on human physiology; c.f. scurvy in the early days of sailing ships.

Hope this helps! Plenty more babble where that came from, just let me know what you want.

I note that this is sliding possibly off-topic for this list; if other readers wish, let me know and I can go to private mails.
						- Mark     210-379-4635
Large Asteroids headed toward planets
inhabited by beings that don't have
technology adequate to stop them:

				Think of it as Evolution in Fast-Forward.
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