ThymineC wrote:Nope. Like the schematics show, the caretaker's generator is heavily damped to reduce emissions. The caretaker can afford to do this because mostly it's pretty stationary and doesn't need to be particularly agile. Edit: If you mean the energy it emits, this will be in the form of highly focused beams, which Cornflakes already covers.
You can't make 100% efficient systems. Anything you do will produce heat, and producing a 100mw or gw laser will produce LOTS of heat. It really doesn't matter how damped you make it. It may be able to hide when it is in standby, but as soon as the system activates, it is going to be a lighthouse.
Disregarding that, space is not empty. If you shine a laser that powerful, it *will* be hitting quite a lot of dust and debris. It will not be visible to the naked eye , but it will be visible to sensors of any particular sensitivity.
To address the first point: the caretaker and all of the mines have a shell consisting of meta-materials. These have the property of being able to control the path of electromagnetic radiation in different parts of the spectrum. We've already developed meta-materials that work in the infra-red range: http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.3508
. In the advanced world of Limit Theory, I assume that the technology has reached the stage where these can cloak a significantly large volume of space, but are cumbersome. Any thermal radiation produced by the caretaker will have to pass through layers of this meta-material exterior which will guide it and expel it in the direction of nearby mines, which can then re-transmit onwards to other mines or just expel it into space. Even if the radiation were detected then, there's no way to trace it back to the caretaker.
As for the second point, that's a pretty good point, especially since Josh does love his dust. I've been searching for some source of information to tell me how much energy a tightly focused laser would emit through hitting matter over, say, 500 km in the almost perfect vacuum of space. I couldn't find anything.
Assuming that is actually significant, there's a way to modify the system to work but you're going to hate me for it.
You know Josh's idea of matter transfer units? In another proposal I made
, I suggest the possibility of altering the quantum mechanical behaviour of particles within a region of space to facilitate motion. At the bottom, under Extensions
, I consider the same kind of idea being applied to matter transport units. I imagine a modification of the system where the caretaker and possibly the mines are equipped with very weak but long-range matter transport units that establish (what I call) Heisenberg fields between themselves through which photons are transported. Since the properties of Heisenberg fields are configurable, you can establish ones which expel matter outside of themselves but permit light to travel through them as normal. I know you'll hate this because the science it rests on isn't as established as everything else I've proposed, but I do give a defence for the plausibility of the science in my other proposal. So long as science fiction ideas don't contradict
anything that's been firmly established in science, I'm quite happy.
ThymineC wrote:Sure. If you managed to make it far enough into the minefield to attack it, then yeah. It would be right in the middle. In the example I gave, you'd have to traverse 500 km of space to reach it. You'd also need to know the minefield was there in the first place, and the region of space it was centred on to find the caretaker.
Your caretaker is immobile, so you would not need to enter at all to destroy it. Just a single well aimed projectile once you've determined its location.
If you determine its location (see above).
ThymineC wrote:Another clever tactic! Fleet commanders who were able to spot a few mines could have extrapolated the position of the rest in an attempt to safely navigate the minefield. The caretaker would have adapted to this tactic by manipulating the position of the mines so that whenever a hostile is detected, the pattern of mines close to him are maintained while mines further back are scrambled into different positions, probably ones that will maximise the chances of intercepting hostiles that behave in expectation that the pattern of mines remains constant throughout the minefield. The caretaker is Borg. >:3
Its got to move thousands of mines. That will take a while and use even more power, and will also be illuminating the mines.
Actually, thanks to Cornflakes' improvements to the idea, all the mines can be moved simultaneously, and with a branching factor of 8 the highest power output along any one path is only 125 MW, again using tightly focused lasers, and above using matter transfer units you can get rid of any dust or particles that it might otherwise intercept.
The advantages of the current system over this one are that:
- Positron mines can be re-used indefinitely if they fail to reach their target. Micromissiles cannot.
- Positron mines can be coordinated to work together through the caretaker. Micromissiles probably cannot.
- Positron mines do not need to carry propellant so can reserve more space for their payload.
- Q-thrusters probably don't generate as many emissions as a missile burning fuel as it travels does.
- Positron mine payloads can be modified and overloaded on the fly. As the mine approaches the hostile, the caretaker could beam photons at it that it converts into positronium, allowing it to increase its payload past its sustainable limit.
- Positron mines can behave more intelligently, pursuing hostiles or differentiating between hostiles and friendlies better than a standard missile could, as a positron mine is controlled remotely by an array of powerful computers as opposed to the relatively low-power microprocessors I guess they'd put in missiles.
- Following on, you cannot re-program missiles to behave differently once they've been set up in the minefield. You can get positron mines to behave however you like since they're being actively controlled by the caretaker.
- Your mines couldn't be reused indefinitely either. Motion requires reaction mass(if we're discounting reaction mass then missiles just got a whole hell of a lot more effective).
Sure they could. What makes you think my mines require reaction mass? They use Q-thrusters, which by definition don't require reaction mass. Only energy.
- Missiles could easily coordinate with each other by one missile simply broadcasting to any nearby missile to attack its target. It doesn't know, nor need to know, if any other missiles are nearby to make this broadcast.
Broadcasting to nearby missiles? What was that about beacons and lighting up in the sky? :p
In any case, these missiles could at best communicate with others close to it. My mines can effectively communicate with each other (although really it's just the caretaker doing all the work). Also, each missile would be quite dumb compared to the caretaker, since they can't carry more than microprocessors.
- Of course they need propellant. If we're making up non newtonian drives then physics are completely out of the window and we may as well say the mines work because magic(
), and this entire technobabble project becomes meaningless.
It's hardly magic. The idea is apparently plausible enough that NASA are investigating it ([url=hhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_vacuum_plasma_thruster]Wikipedia link[/url]).
- Yes, because I'm trying to extrapolate plausible functionality. If I just made stuff like a Q-thruster up, it would be trivial to design anything that works. Technobabble and math don't mix.
I've lost track of which point you're responding to but again, the Q-thruster stuff isn't made up. I'm basing the stuff on real experimental figures derived from tests.
- You know, I'm starting to wonder why you're not just pointing this super powerful laser at the enemy. It has, after all, a 1000km range. 1gw of Xrays will make anyones day highly unpleasant.
Because I don't really know or believe 1GW lasers would count as all that powerful in the world of Limit Theory. I guess the difference between us is that you prefer to only accept science fiction based on established hard science, whereas I prefer to only reject science fiction that goes against established hard science. I like imagining relatively large values for things like power and damage outputs (it contributes to the scale and epicness of the setting, in my opinion, but if over-done can ruin the immersion). This is a contrast of Star Wars scales against Star Trek scales
. I'd probably imagine Limit Theory to be somewhere in-between, but far, far closer to Star Trek's end. So I'm thinking maybe a standard laser would output 10-20 GW of power. The caretaker might be able to do some damage with its laser, but it's more effective at using mines.
If you do want to take the more realistic route, then we could just assume that, although the caretaker can generate up to 1 GW of power, it can only sustain ~125 MW lasers through any given emitter, so that it's forced to use multiple emitters anyway. (You could then counter that by saying, what's stopping the mines just re-coalescing the beams on the target at the full 1GW? No, be quiet! >;p)
- Doubtful. The mine is completely passive, relying utterly on a far removed facility to detect for it, power it, and guide it. The caretaker will not have as close of a look, and there will be significant time lag. Processing power is not hard to make in tiny, cheap packages. Nor are sensors that function within the operational range of the weapon.
Significant time lag? Only a few milliseconds. It's only a 500km distance at most and light travels pretty fast. And we're talking about science fiction here. Considering how fast processing power is advancing in real life, I think you can maintain that sufficient processing power could exist in tiny, cheap packages in Limit Theory for these purposes. You're imposing limitations that you can't substantiate at this point since the technology could easily exist within Limit Theory.
CutterJohn wrote:Of course you could reprogram the missiles. You'd simply need the appropriate key and then broadcast it within range. It detects the signal, powers up just enough to authenticate the communication, then follows the instructions within.
ThymineC wrote:How? Even assuming a person knew the minefield was there, the size of it, the number of mines in it and the initial starting layout of the mines, they'd still have a lot of trouble navigating it as the minefield will adapt as soon as the caretaker notices the hostile.
The assumption that this caretaker can't be detected is just pure fantasy. I can not imagine how you could possibly hope to hide a multi gw power plant.
It's just 1 GW actually. And this is covered above.
CutterJohn wrote:Tbh, I just realized another thing that completely negates the premise.. The caretaker must hit a baseball sized target from 1000km away with utter reliability. This means the mine *must* be able to tell the caretaker where it is every time it is to be moved, which means a signal that says "I'm here!", which means that mine has just given up any semblance of stealth.
Well, Cornflakes suggestion was that the mines would be able to guide matter. I extended it with the assumption that mines would be able to deflect light back at any angle, in order to facilitate having mines beam power and information between each other. They could in theory deflect the light back a full 180 degrees (or if this is not feasible, just deflect it around a little at a time in a circuit that encompasses a handful of mines). By bending the stream of photons back, the caretaker can maintain an accurate lock on the mines without the mines being detected.
CutterJohn wrote:You're trying very hard to make the ancient concept of a mine work in a space environment, which I can respect, but all you've done is transform them into an incredibly odd type of missile using a lot of handwavium and caveats to explain away weaknesses of the centralized design.
You've gone to a lot of trouble to impose limitations that don't necessarily exist just because they don't exist using today's technology. Everything I've said still seems to be in accordance with our present understanding of the laws of physics, even the stuff on Heisenberg fields.
The difference between us is that you take a pessimistic outlook on the technological capabilities within Limit Theory, but I take an optimistic stance. Next you'll be telling Josh that interstellar jump-gates are infeasible because they don't exist today.
It is useful feedback though! Between constructive criticism and refinements from Cornflakes, it's already altered significantly from the original proposal.
I do like trying to tie my ideas as close to established science as possible, with that being said, the closer the better, but I prefer to not rule out anything that hasn't been contradicted by established science, since you get more interesting things happening that way.