Be Cool, Be Cool (Redux)

It's official: zled lasers use the "adjustable-angle grip inside ring" thing, have their thumb-trigger on the side of the grip (it's pushed down, with the thumb, so bumping it with one's fingers doesn't set off the laser). The springs both hand and long lasers use are the same diameter as their lenses, although I also think there are bigger springs sold for certain applications (I don't think the long-laser's springs will be usable in the hand-laser). This means the standard hand-laser springs are 1.85 centimeters long, and the standard long-laser ones are 4.34 centimeters.

Another thing I decided was to use cylindrical casings for the lasers, rather than hexagonal-prism. They have an accessory-rail underneath their optical cavity casing, the way that, say, the TBL-37 37-millimeter gas-gun does, under its barrel (though not, of course, an actual Picatinny rail).

Changing the shape of the casing necessitates recalculating the heat-exchangers' size (which were based on less precise figures anyway). The long laser's waste heat (at 85% laser-efficiency) is 881.56 watts per firing; the efficiency of microchannel heat-exchangers is 1.5 kilowatts per second per square centimeter. This means that if we want it to only take one second to dump the waste-heat of firing off the entire spring's charge, it'll take 28.21 square centimeters; however, the people designing the thing don't use seconds. If we want it to take one dothã (c. 0.518 seconds), it'll take 52.495 square centimeters of heat-exchanger.

The outer diameter of the long laser is 8.775 centimeters, for a circumference of 27.567 centimeters; since the heat-exchanger is only on the top half, one dimension of the (effectively rectangular) heat-exchanger is 13.784 centimeters. Divide 52.495 by 13.784, and we discover that the long laser's heat-exchanger is a band 3.954 centimeters wide.

Doing the same thing for the hand laser we find a waste-heat of 282.09 watts per firing. It'd take 5.813 square centimeters to dump the waste-heat of emptying out the entire 16-shot spring (assuming one dothã to dump all the heat); the outer diameter of the hand laser's optical cavity is 5.5575 centimeters, meaning its circumference is 17.459 centimeters, and the dimension of a heat-exchanger along its top half is 8.7297 centimeters. That means the width of the heat-exchanger band is a mere 6.658 millimeters.


Kind of a High End Gift Shop II

561 is 3×11×17. Speculative material culture thoughts.
  • Was reading a thing, for sci-fi writers, about how cell phones now can do stuff most personal electronics in science fiction can't do. But one of the examples was cloud-based translation in real time.

    Two problems; first, of course, is that machine translation doesn't really work yet (and add in voice recognition and you're making things even harder). Second is that having your conversations translated in real-time is basically asking your service-provider to record all your conversations.

    Now, on the one hand this is great, because it means I don't have to rewrite anything. On the other hand, why do so many people not seem to realize that "the cloud" knows where they are at all times?
  • I think, from my research, that the way you're going to build houses in the future both will and will not change. What will change is how the walls are put up; what won't, is what the walls are usually made of. See, how you'll put the wall up in the future will be with a 3D-printed nylon matrix, but once it's up, you're pretty much going to add the normal foam insulation you do now. Then, you'll use the matrix as a support-structure for plaster and concrete (interior and exterior walls, respectively), only sprayed on rather than poured.

    Another thing people might do with drywall is install it the old-fashioned way, pre-fabbed, but with the drywall, though still fundamentally basically gypsum plaster, modified to be a phase-change material. The way that works is, when heated or cooled past a certain point, part of the drywall changes from solid to liquid, or vice-versa, changing its physical properties; this gives it improved thermal characteristics (both retention and transfer, depending on the phase) compared to regular drywall. The best way to do it seems to be using polyethylene pellets saturated with paraffin and mixed into the gypsum before it's pressed into drywall sheets; the two alternatives, soaking the drywall sheets in either paraffin or a fat, seem to be a fire hazard.
  • With regard to the zled spring-powered lasers, I decided to do them with carbon nanotube springs. The zled long laser is 9,991 joules per shot, and hold enough charge for 48 shots. That means its total charge is 479,568 joules. Given the energy densities of carbon nanotube springs of .3 megajoules per kilogram and 3.4 megajoules per liter, you wind up with a CNT spring that masses 1,598.56 grams, and has a volume of 141.05 cubic centimeters. The hand laser's shots are 3,197 joules each and it holds 16 shots, for a total of 51,152 joules; that means a spring that masses 170.51 grams and has a volume of 15.04 cubic centimeters.

    If we go with a spring cartridge that's the same diameter as the lens of the hand laser, which is 3.2175 centimeters (exactly one-quarter bãgh), the spring for the hand laser is only 1.85 centimeters thick. The one for the long laser, meanwhile, if it's the same diameter as the hand laser's spring (maybe make 'em usable on either?), is 17.35 centimeters (almost seven inches). If I don't feel like worrying about that, well, the long laser's lens is twice the diameter of the hand one, for a spring 4.34 centimeters thick. (Maybe you can still use the long-laser cartridges on the hand laser, it just looks dorky, like a "snail-shell" magazine for a handgun.) Think I'll go with the first one; the long-laser spring-cartridge just sticks out the back real far, used in the hand-laser.

    One thing I'm getting rid of is the break-action; now the lasers have the circular hand-guard, and the end of the laser sticks past it in back. Thinking instead of the grip being part of the circle, the grip is a post inside the circle, that has an adjustable angle (I think made of memory-material, to mold to your hand). I had worried that would make the thumb-trigger unworkable, but it can be on the side instead of the back. That'd probably give you a firmer grip anyway.
  • The total weight of an average VAJRA trooper in armor is, as mentioned, 104.5 kilos (the VAJRA troopers are both male and female). Add in the weight of 1000 rounds of 13-millimeter HEIAP plus polymer-linked belt (43.5 kiograms) and you get 148 kilos. And then the weight of a three-barrel Gatling gun (I use the 20-millimeter M197 rather .50 BMG GAU-19 because it has to deal with that level of muzzle-energy and recoil) is another 60 kilograms, bringing the total to 208 kilograms.

    The average recoil force on the M197 when fired at 1500 rounds per minute is 5.8 kilonewtons, which might actually still be enough to knock a VAJRA trooper over. On the other hand, though, the canceled XM301 cannon from the equally canceled RAH-66 Comanche attack helicopter had a recoil force of 3.5 kilonewtons.

    Since it requires 2.7 kilonewtons to knock down a 113-kilogram basketball player, it would (assuming it scales linearly with weight) require 4.97 kilonewtons to knock over a 208 kilogram VAJRA trooper. (Actually it'd take more than that, because the VAJRA trooper has the center-of-gravity of a 166.5-centimeter average human, not a basketball player.) So 3.5 kilonewtons is not enough recoil-force to knock over the VAJRA troopers! (But 5.8 would be.)
  • I had had transport aircraft (not fighter-planes) propelled by all-electric jet engines. Only, there's probably no way to do that; you might be able to heat the air electrically before sucking it through your fans, but it'd be incredibly inefficient. It'd be much more efficient to just use superconducting ducted fans, like those Airbus is working on for their VoltAir concept.

    Indeed, you might not need superconductors; we've already demonstrated an electric plane, the E-Fan, with performance comparable to other ultralight planes like the Cessna 162 in everything but range. With the kind of battery technology my setting has, the range issue would go away. Then again you might need superconductors for the kind of performance big ducted fans do, I'm not sure.
  • There's a type of battery called "Cambridge crude" which, while not particularly impressive in terms of energy-density (1.08-1.8 megajoules/liter, 0.468-0.9 megajoules/kilogram, compared to gasoline's 32.4 and 44.4, respectively), has the interesting property of being a liquid. Okay a sludge, hence its name.

    What's important about that is, you can pump it in and out of cars relatively quickly, or simply swap your tanks in or out (also proposed with the batteries of the VoltAir). I imagine that that (possibly the second one) might be what drivers do with the silicon-air batteries my setting uses; metal-air batteries normally involve liquids, and one probably doesn't want to wait while they charge. They have comparable energy density to gasoline (actually better—51.223 megajoules/kilogram, 75.924 megajoules/liter), and it can be time-consuming to charge metal-air batteries.
  • It seems like the "blood" of my androids won't be a polyacrylonitrile gel after all. Silicon-air batteries apparently work by dissolving silicon in an "ionic liquid" composed of oligofluorohydrogenate (a flourine salt) and 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium (an imidazole derivative).

    Then again, apparently ionic liquids are fairly viscous, so maybe it'd still behave something like a gel; they might also add something to it to let it "clot", so your $450 million android doesn't bleed to death. (And that's just the price for his brain, his body probably costs a pretty penny too—though a drop in the bucket compared to the AI and the hardware to run it.)

    They also, as I think I've mentioned, have a dye in it, to make leaks noticeable (since I think it's clear, on its own).
  • I've mentioned zledo perfume their clothes. Actually their military has clothes lined with odor-absorbing resins; it's a bad idea for your enemy to smell you coming (some Asian cuisines are just a straight-up liability), and their enemy for most of their history certainly could. They probably had activated charcoal centuries before we did, and not just because they didn't take a century or two off for retro cosplay.

    So it occurred to me, their cops and soldiers (actually their cops are soldiers...like France's are), if married to civilians, probably kiss their spouse goodbye (well, you know, the zled equivalent), and then spray down with an odor-eliminating spray. Probably they do that at work, rather than "say goodbye, spray down" on their own doorsteps, that'd just be weird. I imagine there's probably some kind of spray-dispenser in the locker-room.

    If the spouse of a soldier or cop is one of their professional hunters, they probably don't have to bother about that, since the professional hunters also have to worry about being smelled.


De scripturae romanicos physicales III

SF writing thoughts.
  • I'd intended to have the dying words of a character involved in cybernetics be "Madeleines in tea would be disgusting", which is a Proust reference indirectly but directly is a Serial Experiments Lain reference (and Lain in its turn contains the only Proust reference in an animated TV show). Then, however, I find out that many if not most madeleines are lemon-flavored, not the disgusting almond-flavored first-aid emetics I've always thought of, and that wouldn't be nearly as revolting in tea.

    On the other hand apparently Proust made the whole thing up; madeleines don't do what he describes, no matter how dry or stale they are, and when you do get crumbs they have no flavor. Apparently the original line was dry toast, which for some stupid reason he changed to madeleines even though madeleines don't work for the scene. Why not toast? Isn't the imagery better when the thing you're using in it is something that can do what you describe it as doing?

    Like, what, did he think people would judge him for dipping his toast in the tea? Was he trying to ride some then-current "madeleines in tea" wave? Did he always panic and order a Manhattan or something? Maybe I'll have the guy say "Nobody eats madeleines in tea, I don't know why Proust didn't just say 'toast'—that was what he actually dipped in the tea anyway."
  • Zled society, at least in its dominant civilization, is quinquefunctional, where Indo-European society is trifunctional (and, arguably, East Asian society is quadrifunctional, with "those who rule and study" a distinct class from both "those who fight" and "those who pray", though scholars/administrators may also take a military or religious role). The five basic classes in zled society are priest and warrior/noble, of course—and then farmer, craftsman, and merchant, each in its own class rather than lumped together into "those who work". "Farmer", of course, includes miners, fishermen, and professional hunters—anyone whose wealth is in land rather than capital or expertise. The merchants are a go-between class, selling the produce of the farmers and craftsmen.

    I'm not sure how merchants who deal directly in agricultural products dress, but those who deal with craft-sodalities dress in plaids or stripes of the sodality's colors. (Zled craft-sodalities, as I think I've said before, are "lumpers" where our guilds were "splitters"; furriers, tanners, weavers, and fullers would all be the same sodality for them, they were four different guilds for us.) Merchants have sodalities like those of craftsmen, but they don't offer much training (beyond things like bookkeeping, presumably); they mostly function as an insurance co-op. Likewise the farmers have sodalities too, which are basically their "village" associations (which are a lot more vaguely geographical than our villages, especially with their modern tech).
  • Zbin-Ãld, the zled official language, has a feature I don't know any human language does. Its adjectives are only attributive, not predicative. In other words, you have to say "it's a strange thing" rather than "it's strange".

    It's quicker than it sounds, though, because another thing they do is apply adjectives to pronouns—"it's a strange it", which isn't grammatical in English (actually they're pro-drop, so they really say "being a strange it").

    They also, rather than calling each other "dear", etc., say things like "dear you". That's kinda like something you do get in, e.g., Japanese, e.g. "ore-sama" and "anata-sama" ("lord me"—exactly as arrogant as it sounds—and "lord you"—sometimes used with customers—respectively). But Japanese hasn't actually got pronouns, grammatically, and those are honorifics, not adjectives.
  • If you're going to use a technology or the issues surrounding it, for your story, make sure you actually understand it. E.g., opposition to genetic engineering of humans is nothing like depicted in the season (series?) finale of Minority Report. First off, "germ-line" gene-modification doesn't mean "in utero", it means "in the gonads" (hence "germ line", the "germ cells" are the precursors of the gametes)—it refers to making your gene-modifications inheritable.

    One generation-worth of genetic modification is potentially risky enough; making the modification inheritable could mean if you screw it up badly enough, you'll never be able to fix it. Now, once you do have the modification tested for safety, you could conceivably make it heritable—as I have said before, genotypes aren't Pokémon, we're not trying to "catch them all"—but our understanding of genetics is in its infancy, as shown, for example, by this Google Ngrams chart of the word "epigenetics". Note the meteoric rise after 2000.
  • I know I've talked about the Jingo/Gnostic/post-colonial narrative, on display from Attack on Titan to Elder Scrolls to (some of) Halo. Apparently, though, I'm actually much too generous, because here, Fabio Paolo Barbieri makes a convincing case that this narrative, as typified by X-Men, is actually Nazi.

    Now, of course, he could just be mistaking the standard paranoid oppression-narrative for its Nazi form. He (unwisely in my view) objects to characterizing Nazism as Marxist, though one wonders if he objects to calling Ceausescu's ideology Marxist, or what differences between Hitler and Ceausescu he can point to that justify excluding one and not the other. (Other than the foreign-policy differences that are probably attributable to Ceausescu having seen what happened to Hitler, I mean.) Barbieri also made some very wide-of-the-mark attacks on Goldberg's Liberal Fascism—despite himself having said, I believe, that Fascism was an outgrowth of the Progressive movement, and ignoring Goldberg's evidence of direct influence of Mussolini on FDR's policies (and admiration by Mussolini for FDR's policies).

    Nevertheless the narrative in question, wherever you stick it in your ideological taxonomy (it occurs to me that maybe I'm just a "lumper" while Barbieri is a "splitter"), is a pernicious, morally reprehensible brand of paranoia typical of totalitarian ideologies. On that, at least, all perceptive observers probably ought to agree.
  • A device I find very funny is the idea that while aliens might surrender to superior force, humans never do. You get it a lot in science fiction, where the alien conquerors had never met a species as stubborn as humans.

    Which I guess is why the language most of those stories are in is 60% words from Latin and French, right? (Adopted entirely voluntarily by the English, one assumes?) And I guess it's spoken where it is because the Britons were through using the island? And half the remaining words in English are from languages spoken in the British Empire, most of which was acquired without the total genocide of the territory in question (even in Ireland they only killed about an eighth the population).

    The fact is that the only reason humans are not extinct is we have methods of deciding who wins a conflict, other than "who's not all dead". And it's especially ironic to write such a conceit, in a culture where the standard response to being looked at by a stranger, is to assume the primate submissive posture. Russians and many East Asians think you look deranged if you smile at strangers—note that customers are not strangers, for East Asian purposes, but are for Russian ones.
  • There's this new (2014) literary movement/SF subgenre, spawned from Tumblr, called "solarpunk". It's about making "sustainable" future utopias (hence its naming itself after the maximally 30% efficient power-source that usually involves things like arsenic to manufacture its equipment). The word "post-scarcity" gets bandied about a lot, despite claiming that its speculations are "achievable with current technology" (an end to scarcity isn't achievable with current physics—or any other coherent model of the universe we actually inhabit).

    Basically, it's the kind of "hippie commune" science fiction you also get in Iain M. Banks, only with the tree-huggers more prominent than the free-love orgies. Also, it seems, generally lighter on the transhumanism (and probably on the incipient genocidal fascism, although it's only been a little over a year, give 'em time). I'm trying very, very hard to see how this is "punk"; if the "joiner" thing that cyberpunk mutated into was called "cyberprep" (not that cyberpunk's by-the-book Hollywood leftism was really punk), wouldn't this subgenre be more accurately termed "solarwaldorf"?
  • Someone on one of the anti-SJW Tumblrs had a good point about the do-it-yourself pronouns: languages have "open" lexical categories, like nouns and maybe even verbs (almost everyone can just start saying "airplane", say, or "veto", if they hadn't previously had those objects or activities), and "closed" lexical categories (like prepositions, articles, and pronouns). Since pronouns are nearly always a "closed" category, you can't actually make up new ones.

    Even in languages like Japanese, whose "pronouns" are actually nouns (other than various "this/that/yonder" constructions), you really can't make up your own, unilaterally. While it is true that a character can, say, use something like "Mokona" as Mokona's personal reference, that is because "Mokona" is also Mokona's name, and one of the accepted members of the closed "pronoun" category is "own name" (all Japanese "first person" references can be equally well translated as the third person, e.g. both "boku" and "sessha" basically mean "your servant", with "sessha" adding a "humble" or "clumsy").

    You most certainly can't have a character in a Japanese work use, say, "piggû-û-ui" as their first-person reference, and then reveal their name is "Buranjinguzunojôtei". You're only going to annoy your readers. And that's Japanese, which has a dozen quasi-pronoun personal references per grammatical person, and where a character using weird pronouns dragged from the tomb is an accepted literary device. How much less can you get away with it in an Indo-European language that actually has personal pronouns as a separate (and very small) lexical category?