True Places Never Are

Queequeg was a native of Rokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.
—Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 12: "Biographical"
Damn but space coordinates are confusing. I was trying to figure out how zledo work the galactic coordinate system; I wanted to rename their stars so they're their actual coordinate (i.e. something like the Bonner Durchmusterung—"Bonn Observatory Perusal," roughly—star catalog, which lists each star as "BD" followed by its declination). The center of the galaxy, Sagittarius A* ("Sagittarius A-Star"), is 26,673 light years from Earth, give or take 42; our "galactic" coordinate system puts the sun at the center and runs one of the planes not through the actual equatorial plane of the galaxy, but through the sun, which is about 56.75 (give or take 6.2) light years above the equatorial plane.

That was only one headache; I also think that coordinates for anything round (like a galaxy) should be polar—especially for the zledo, who conceptualize orbits as movement in the sky of the center object (in this case, Sagittarius A*), and refer to distance from the center as "altitude", just as one might exactly describe an object's location on Earth in terms of its longitude, latitude, and elevation. So, what this means is that first I have to convert all the galactic coordinates of each star from the Sol-centered one to one centered on Sagittarius A*, and then convert those units to polar ones. (You remember that, from trig, right?) One piece of good news, I was worried that the galactic-coordinates' equatorial plane was tilted to go through Sol, but, mercifully, it's only shifted upward by 56.75 light-years. There's also the question of where to stick the prime meridian; that, zledo will stick on a line through mÕskoi (as we stuck Earth's through the Royal Obervatory in Greenwich).

Further credit given where due to our galactic-coordinate system, it appears to define north correctly, as being on your left if you face spinward (east) with your feet pointed at the center (nadir).

I worried about what units to express the distances in (spherical coordinates have polar angle and azimuthal angle, and then a distance, as two-dimensional polar coordinates have the angle and then the distance), but I actually don't have to. I can just treat, say, the virial radius of the Milky Way, which seems to be about 258,000 parsecs, as a unit circle, and then express distances as a fraction of that. Or, since the actual important part of the galaxy is more like half that many light-years—and whatever idiot called them "kilolight-years" instead of "light-millennia" should be pistol-whipped—I might use that definition of the galactic radius as my unit-circle, and express "altitudes" as a fraction of that.

But then it occurred to me, most of the West's more recognizable, systematic star names come from 1603 (Bayer designations), 1725 (Flamsteed designations), or 1879 (Gould designations); Chinese ones date to the Han (206 BC-220 AD) and Jin (266-420 AD) Dynasties, but were truly put on a systematic footing by the Jesuit missionary Ignaz Kögler, who compiled the Yíxiàng Kǎochéng between 1736 and 1744, with a revision, the Yíxiàng Kǎochéng Xùbiān, a century later, in 1844. Meanwhile we only even had our Sol-centered "galactic" coordinates starting in 1932, with a major correction in 1958.

So zledo could use an older, more Lhãsai-centered coordinate system, analogous to our right-ascension and declination one (but radians—they didn't always use radians, of course, but rather fractions of a circle, but radians' advantages eventually became clear), for naming stars. That's…not much easier, though, if any, because now, I have to define a celestial coordinate system relative to a planet whose ecliptic lines up roughly with Orion. (I checked, in Celestia: λ Serpentis does indeed have a recognizable Orion in its sky. There's probably someone who can actually tell me how the ecliptic plane of λ Serpentis is oriented, but since I can't find any such thing on the interwebs, neither can my readers—yet, probably, damn the inexorable march of science.)

Oh well. This kind of research is a necessary part of my creative process. I'll eventually hash it all out.


Swords and Plowshares IV

Material culture thoughts, though also some language ones. Hey, languages are classed as tools in Swahili (and I think other Bantu languages)—kiSwahili "coastal language" is the same noun-class as kitab "book". (Both, incidentally, are Arabic loan-words, though interestingly kitab treats the first syllable of the Arabic word for "book" as if it was the Swahili classifier-prefix for tools.)
  • Decided to redo my zled units so the dhaelã is 1.2 billion Planck masses, or 26.1174 kilograms. Sounds big, but it's very close to the Attic talent of 25.86 kilograms. This makes the heigõsu equal to 6.188627 newtons, the yadhõplai equal to 0.392984 joules, and the dothã nal-yadhõplai to 0.759143 watts (oddly close to 1/1000th of a horsepower).
  • Turns out that the animacy system in Navajo (which ranks nouns according to something like nine degrees of animacy—weird feature, gods and babies are less animate than adult humans) is a part of its direct-inverse system, also known as a "hierarchical alignment" because nouns are classed (usually in relation to transitive verbs) according to a hierarchy of things like saliency or animacy. Apparently even the linguists are still researching this stuff, but keep abreast of it, it could be cool for conlangs.
  • While reworking zled armor I've decided that their inner and middle suits are different. The innermost suit is just a mechanical counterpressure spacesuit; their skin is so loose that they don't need to stuff any extra padding in anywhere. Then the middle suit is artificial silk (or rather "cocoon-protein fiber", since silk is a specific one from Earth) soaked in a dilatant gel, with a heat dissipating lining—but that one's just graphene, which also has antiballistic properties. Then the outer suit is the metamaterial foam with both the second-sound and CMF properties, sandwiched in a layer of boron nitride nanotubes coated with a diamond-hard organyl-protected peptide (since zledo aren't from Earth, they don't use phenylalanine).

    Think the zled uniforms are the same stuff as the middle layer, artificial silk ("cocoon-protein fiber") soaked in dilatant, with a heat-dissipator graphene lining. The uniforms also have a layer that adsorbs (not absorbs) odors, so as to conceal the wearer's emotions. I also decided that zled soldiers wear cloaks made out of auxetic foam, to protect them from blasts—that had been what the middle layer of their armor was, but being under the hard outer layer would probably prevent it from expanding properly, which is how auxetic blast protection works (and would probably actually channel the force of explosions directly into the body).

    Their civilian levies (something like our National Guard) wear the same middle layer, but not the pressure suit—their civilian spacers do have a pressure suit and they can put levy armor over it, which is also what pirates do. The outer layer of civilian armor is just an advanced CMF armor, so it doesn't have the laser resistance of the military's stuff. (Most military body-armor is designed for shrapnel rather than direct small-arms fire, remember.)
  • Both civilian-levy and regular military armors' outer layer is powered, though only enough to negate its own weight—zledo don't need any particular help beyond that, what with being able to throw a small car, split a skull with a single slap, leap 10 meters horizontally or 5 vertically, and run 40 kilometers per hour (11 and 1/9th meters per second, in the space colonies where only SI is used), and all.

    Human troops (not the VAJRA powered-armor wearers) also have power-lifting systems, worn under their armor, to let them "hump" their packs and armor more easily, and also boost their strength a bit—enabling them to do a four-minute mile (6 and 2/3rds meters per second, in the colonies). Not sure exactly how much raw strength boost that gives; probably enough to let them control the recoil of a SAW without a tripod, though.

    And yes, my human space-colonies express their traffic's speed-limits in meters per second.
  • Damn but boron is important in my setting though, eh? Boron nitride nanotubes in zled armor and the springs that power all their stuff, boron carbide as the backing of the plates in humans' VAJRA armor; maybe I should add boron filaments in something like a civilian armor jacket or something, round out the list. I guess, like, leave instructions for your descendants to invest in boron, on the commodities exchange, starting around the 2200s. Make a killing.

    Lot of foams, too—composite metal foams, quasi-crystalline metamaterial foams, anti-blast auxetic foams—and gels, like the dilatant and magnetorrheological gels used in armors, and the gel that is the metal-air batteries. (The composite metal foams are like "styrofoam", incidentally, not, like, soap bubbles; the auxetic anti-blast foam is like "foam rubber", except not as fine-textured—and some auxetic foams are made of metal.)
  • I really need to get down to brass tacks about my robots' batteries. I keep seeing wildly conflicting reports for the energy density of silicon-air batteries, from 8.47 kilowatt-hours per kilogram to 14.23. Might have to go back to lithium-air ones, at 11.14 kilowatt-hours per kilogram, which is comparable to gasoline's 12.2. (Silicon-air being 16.6% better than gasoline was probably a pipe-dream, actually. Maybe by the 24th century, but still.)

    I had actually done my computations of the battery-requirements for my bots based on lithium-air, I think; and 24 hours of activity on a single charge is actually unnecessarily strict, not least because the bots can eat to extract chemical energy à la EATR, and then use the energy gained that way to breathe, and re-oxidize their metal-air battery. (EATR reminds me: have I mentioned lately how much I hate your society's "we don't know fiction from reality" panicking over every robotics development that comes along?)
  • I try to make it clear in my books that the five major zled languages are not their only ones. One of the characters occasionally talks to members of his nation (mostly country people) in their pre-imperial language, and their major language is not the same language as the one the empire speaks even though it derives from it. (Zled linguists theorize their old language is related to one of the big ones, but the similarities could just be areal.)

    Two of the other zled civilizations/ecotypes have an official language and then a bunch of related languages, which I should probably make clearer. Think something like Hindi plus all those other Indic languages, or Arabic plus Berber, Neo-Aramaic, Hebrew, and the Ethiopian languages. Or Mandarin and all the other Chinese languages, only the northern examples of which are "dialects" (here we repeat the mit an Armey un Flot quote).
  • I honestly should probably rewrite my whole setting to use something slightly more realistic than the topological confinement fusion drive, since those airframe materials as light as aerogel now make it feasible to have a ship with almost any mass-fraction you want. (Though the big determinant of a ship's top speed is exhaust velocity—but a high exhaust-velocity, mediocre-thrust engine, like magnetic confinement fusion, suddenly gets a lot more feasible.) A ship's mass can be little more than that of the crew and environment systems plus the engine and propellant tanks (and any armor its role might require), with the rest of the structure accounting for a tiny percentage of the whole. I'm not going to rewrite that part, though, partly because it's a huge headache but also because topological confinement fusion is a Cool Idea. I like those in science fiction.
  • Turns out that the khângây use of tone, as grammatical rather than lexical, is the typical use of tone in African languages. Where languages like Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese use a difference of tones to distinguish words, languages like Maasai, Igbo, or Dogon use it to distinguish things like case. Of course, nobody couples that system with a Mesoamerican style agreement system (where verbs are a chord of their subject and object notes), because humans cannot produce chords with their mouths.


De fabularum mirabilium VI

Fantasy thoughts. Two in a day, yo.
  • Both Skyrim and Kingmaker have this trope where you go to a place—Avanchnzel and Labyrinthian in Skyrim, the Abandoned Hut the Stag Lord used to live in in Kingmaker—and a bunch of spectral apparitions re-enact the place's past, without a word of explanation as to why this happens. (I'll make an allowance for when you see Nyrissa's past in Kingmaker, because "it's Fairyland" is an adequate explanation. You could probably make the case that Nyrissa is showing you the Stag Lord's, too, but that's fudging the Author's Saving Throw for him.)

    In general it's just very lazy. Much better is the Resident Evil, finding journals everywhere, approach. You could easily find journals of Savos Aren's friends in Labyrinthian, the way you find those of the Nchuan-Zel expedition in Markarth; or those of Watches-the-Roots, From-Deepest-Fathoms, Breya, and Drennen in Avanchnzel; or the Stag Lord and his father. You even do find some scraps of the latter's journals. It's even easier if it's some kind of ancient thing—fill in the backstory in monumental bas reliefs as the characters explore a ruin. (You get a bit of that in Vordakai's tomb.)

    If you must do it in visions, have it be in a dream as they camp out near the ruins. Come on. (Also games should make "having to sleep" a thing again.)
  • In George "Rape-Rape" Martin's continuing quest to do exactly everything wrong, his dragon-eggs have scales. You know, like how bird eggs have feathers. And shark eggs are covered in denticles. And Gila monster eggs are beaded. Right? I had thought it was one of the many stupidities of the show (like its "keyboard on demo-mode" opening theme), but nope, that's in the book. I really ought to have known; the prop people, like the costume people and David Peterson in his capacity as conlang people, actually do their jobs. It's the writing and music people who are phoning it in, and the former are constrained by the source material.

    It occurred to me, though, that I kinda want my dragon eggs to be something weird. I considered something like shark eggs (or rather egg-cases), but shark egg-cases are such weird shapes due to being laid underwater. But it occurred to me, what if my dragon eggs are transparent, like many mollusc eggs are, but with a hard shell made of a gem-mineral? D&D dragons, after all, eat gems, so they can probably also put gem-mineral shells around their eggs. Maybe color-coded, with the wholly transparent shells being ice-dragons, the ruby ones being the fire-dragons, etc. (I don't exactly have chromatic dragons, in my setting.)
  • I realized that I can get a subjunctive into my Elven language by just adding a prefix to another prefix. And since my Elven verbs, like Tibetan ones, are marked for volitionality, the subjunctive-as-order can be readily distinguished from the subjunctive-as-wish. (I think the volitionality also gives something like a passive voice, which most ergative languages haven't got—though Mayan ones do. That's certainly one of its functions in Tibetan, the other main one being distinguishing something like "hear" from "listen" or "get X killed" from "kill X".)
  • There was another silliness in Game of Thrones. (The show; I don't know about the book but I wouldn't be surprised given Martin was shocked how high a 500-foot wall is, when he saw it in the show. Meaning he never looked at a 500-foot building in a photo, and drew lines to see what it'd look like as a wall.) Anyway, the silliness in at least the show, is that (people have crunched the numbers) the only way a certain scene of shooting down dragons would work, given the depicted ranges, is if the ballistae had a "muzzle" velocity of 2000 meters per second.

    I did some digging. The bolts of the kind of siege-engine that shoots bolts typically weigh about 2.4 kilos. (They also usually have a "muzzle velocity" of 60-150 meters per second.) One of those, at 2000 meters per second, is a "muzzle energy" of 4.8 megajoules. Given recoil force is 10% of "muzzle energy", that means every bolt launched from the device subjects it to 480 kilojoules of recoil—the equivalent of 114.7 grams of TNT, or, basically, two hand-grenades, set off inside the ballista (or whatever), every single time it's used. The thing would explode into splinters with one shot.

    Incidentally, 150 meters per second is an energy of 27 kilojoules—almost exactly half again the muzzle-energy of a .50 BMG round.
  • It occurs to me that a good way to explain the alignments, in D&D, is not so much "law vs. chaos" (a stupid idea unreflectively ganked from Moorcock) but "law vs. charter"—that is, whether the individual or society views things in terms of obligations, or in terms of rights. And then "good vs. evil" is simply whether they're going to use their rights or obligations, toward their proper ends, or abuse them, for their own gain. (Or respect others' rights and keep their obligations toward others, vs. ignoring others' rights or exploiting others' obligations.)

    Then ethical neutrality comes down to favoring neither rights and obligations (whether respected or exploited), but respecting or exploiting either as seems most prudent. Moral neutrality would be neither taking pains to respect rights or obligations, nor specifically exploiting or ignoring them—or possibly doing both in (roughly) equal measure.
  • Ballistae actually aren't tension weapons at all—they aren't giant crossbows. They're torsion weapons. Their two arms are separate, each sitting in the middle of two big twisted springs, and their "bowstring" is just suspended between the arms to hold the projectile in place. Interestingly a lot of ballista variants (e.g. the scorpio and the onager—though apparently the onager is considered a kind of scorpio) often shot catapult stones, not bolts. Then there was the polybolos, a repeating ballista that also holds the distinction of being the first use of the chain-drive. (Though not quite the first repeating missile weapon, that honor going to the Chinese repeating crossbow, invented in the 4th century BC—its association with Zhuge Liang, 181-234 AD, notwithstanding—whereas the polybolos was 3rd century BC.) China actually did use giant crossbows—repeating ones, in fact—as artillery, though.
  • Thinking I might change the settled rural culture's weapon familiarities from heavy pick, lance, and whip-as-martial to longsword, lance, and whip-as-martial. Though the heavy pick is a great cavalry weapon, in Pathfinder (for some dumb reason) it's not bludgeoning-or-piercing, it's only piercing. And the only thing the pick has going for it is a high critical multiplier.

    (Also the two main kinds of undead mook, zombies and skeletons, have their damage reduction defeated by slashing and bludgeoning, respectively; no undead mook loses its damage reduction to piercing, only rakshasas do, and they're not in my setting.)

    Might give the heavy pick to the nomadic horse culture, actually, since it's somewhat similar to Plains cultures' "war clubs" (which were really hammers), and replace the hooked lance. I'd had their main melee weapon be regular clubs and greatclubs, but those are simple weapons, so almost all of them will know how to use them anyway.
  • I considered using the spiritualist emotional focuses (anger, dedication, despair, fear, hatred, jealousy, and zeal), from Occult Adventures, as the names of days of the week; the rationale for such odd weekdays being that the serpentfolk named them, as they named the months after the creature subtypes—I decided to have some of the barely-humanoid humanoids (serpentfolk, araneas, sahuagin) use psychic magic, instead of normal divine or arcane magic.

    But then I realized I can go with the energy types—acid, cold, electricity, fire, force, negative, positive, sonic—and just combine negative and positive into one day. Obviously they'd be named something other than "Acidday"; I'm thinking the English translations would be something like "Vitriol, Frost, Lightning, Flame, Distortion, Life, Ringing". But I'll probably translate them into my Common for my actual calendar, the way the Elder Scrolls setting does.

Sierra Foxtrot 14

SF thoughts.
  • Had considered using the parallax microradian as the zled equivalent of a light-year, and then maybe the picoradian for in-system measures and then "ten yoctoradians" for a day-to-day one. But, I hadn't considered that the "parallax" in question is from Earth's orbit, so I'd need to calculate what a parallax radian is from Lhãsai's orbit, instead (from Earth's you just convert arcseconds to radians). Apparently I never wrote down the orbital distance I had decided for Lhãsai around mÕskoi, and while trying to re-calculate it online, I discovered that science had determined 18 Scorpii, which I'd been using as mÕskoi, to be too young, by at least half a billion if not a full billion years.

    Fortunately I found that λ Serpentis is a similar star not that far from 18 Scorpii, so they don't have to move that much. And it has a nice Bayer designation with a Greek letter—lama in the Greek radio alphabet, which, for extra cool, means "blade". Its Chinese designation, similarly, is (Tiānshìyòuyuán)Shǔzēngyī, the First Shǔ Addition (to the Celestial Market Enclosure). That'd be Shǔzēngyāo on the radio, and thus in space-colonies. It's definitely old enough, at 3.8 to 8.7 billion years; I can also still fit Lhãsai's old orbital period inside its habitable zone, which saves a huge headache in rewriting.
  • Self-driving cars won't be. They will be driven by an algorithm, by the existing traffic and road conditions, and to a large extent, by tech conglomerates like Google. It will be like if you could get into a carriage and tell your horse your destination, but had no reins—and your horse is controlled directly by the goddess Epona or Demeter in her guise as Great Mare. (You might be able to take the wheel, but I wouldn't count on that being the normal procedure.)
  • Still wanted to give the zledo some sort of 'natural' unit. Turns out the zled "parsec" is just the semimajor axis of Lhãsai's orbit in AU, times our parsec, which means their "parallax radian" is also that much bigger. The old "parallax microradian" was 0.67275 light-years, or 6,364,666,884,499.273 kilometers; the zled parallax microradian is 7,078,947,990,186.918 kilometers. The parallax picoradian would be 70,789,479.902 kilometers, and the parallax yoctoradian would be 7.079 millimeters, ten of which would make 7.079 centimeters.

    But having realized that the parsec (or any other unit based on a parallax angle) isn't exactly a natural unit, it occurred to me that 100 million Bohr radii is 5.291(772) millimeters. Obviously that's not a very useful unit on its own (half a centimeter), but multiply that by 12 (1.2 billion Bohr radii) and you get 6.350 centimeters, which is about half the old zled unit, the bãgh, which was 12.87. 100 of them is 6.350 meters, a good length for e.g. surveying. And then 10,000 ("one myriad") bãghã, 12 trillion Bohr radii, is 635.01 meters, roughly comparable to a kilometer. A million-bãghã, 1.2 quadrillion Bohr radii is 63,501.265 meters, comparable to the Byzantine "day's journey" of 47 kilometers. A hundred-million-bãgh/120 quadrillion Bohr radii is 6,350.127 kilometers, and then a "myriad million"-bãgh/12 quintillion Bohr radius one, 635,012.563 kilometers—the latter two useful for things like low planetary orbit and lunar orbit.

    For larger ones I'd go with a trillion-bãgh one, which is 1.2 sextillion Bohr radii and 63,501,265.296 kilometers, or 0.424 AU—not quite three-fifths of a zled AU. 100 trillion bãghã is 120 sextillion Bohr radii, 6,350,126,529.6 kilometers or a little over 42.448 AU—38.165 zled AU. "1 myriad trillion" bãghã, 12 septillion Bohr radii, is 635,012,652,960 kilometers, 4,244.797 AU (3,816.488 zled AU) or 0.067 light-years; finally a quintillion bãghã, 1.2 octillion Bohr radii, is 6,350,126,529,600 kilometers, 424,479.740 AU, or 6.712 light years, just a little over two parsecs.
  • Come to think of it, the zled mass unit, the dhaelã, is 2.22 kilos. But the Planck mass is 21.7645 micrograms; 100 million times that, is 2.17645 kilograms. So I guess I can "metricize" their mass unit, too. Maybe 120 million, so it divides by 12 more easily? That's still relatively close at 2.6117 kilos—also almost exactly 7 Troy pounds. Then 100 of those, 12 billion Planck mass, is 261.174 kilos.

    Deriving the equivalent of newtons, joules, and watts from all this was a bit of a headache, but the result was interesting. Even though the mass unit was bigger than the kilogram, the length and time units being much smaller than meters and seconds made the derived units a lot smaller. Their newton is not quite two-thirds, closer to seven-elevenths, of ours, and then their joule is like a twenty-fifth of ours. Their watt's something like three-fortieths ours.

    I'm just naming their derived units "thrust", heigõsu and "work", yadhõplai, and then I'm just calling their power unit "dothã of work".
  • I'll leave their time units, the dothã, the aech (120 dothã'o), and the zbeihõlt (120 aecho, alone; in their colonies they derive those from the rotation-period of the planet they're on. The "standard" dothã is 1/172,800th of a Lhãsai day, because they make it twelve zbeihõlto each of 120 aecho each of 120 dothã'o (and, again, their "stellar" aech is the same length as a "stellar" minute).

    Though 1043—10 tredecillion, or, if you're continental Western European, 10 septillion—Planck times is a similar length, at 0.539121 seconds. But just like how we define the second as exactly 1/86,400th of a Julian day (1/60th of the minute that's 1/60th of the hour that's 1/24th of the day), because it's useful to astronomers, zledo define the dothã relative to their "standard" day, and don't worry about anything else. (The zled day is about 166,000 of the "10 tredecillion Planck times" unit.)
  • Turns out there are contact-lenses you can wear for up to 30 days without taking them out, now, so you probably wouldn't need to do nano-bot eyedrops all that often while wearing the filter ones. That certainly saves on rewriting, though I am gonna add zled military and police occasionally being glad of their filter-contacts. (Presumably they're a form of photochromic lenses, since they don't stop you from seeing color—maybe they're like ballistic ear-plugs and kick in instantly when they're hit with sufficient intensity of light.) Also occurs to me that zled signalers, their computer techs, might wear similar ones, but for filtering out certain light-wavelengths from screens.

    Another bit of safety equipment that's widespread in my setting, is suppressors: decided all my firearms are integrally suppressed. The sonic boom from supersonic ammo still makes a gunshot noticeable (though I don't think it's loud enough to be a hearing-loss risk), but it no longer gives away your position as much. (A big deal, fighting zledo.) Even their revolvers are suppressed, by just sealing the cylinder gap in such a way as to allow the cylinder to still rotate freely—presumably they have to be lubricated regularly. I was worried they might not be able to suppress shotguns, but as it turns out, we actually have suppressed shotguns now. (You'd still want shooting earplugs for blast noise, though.)
  • Apparently the projected energy density of carbon nanotube springs is 3.4 gigajoules per cubic meter. But apparently boron nitride nanotubes are an order of magnitude stiffer than carbon ones. 34 gigajoules per cubic meter is slightly higher energy density than gasoline, which is 32.4 gigajoules. Um…do zledo actually need to power anything smaller than a spaceship or a city with anything other than springs? I think I might have 'em even power their powered armor with springs now. Certainly their semi-feudal, subsidiarity-preserving social order would likely prefer to power things like cars with BNNT springs rather than with beamed power, since BNNT springs preserve privacy so much better. (Though they don't have quite our concept of privacy—with their hearing it's not really a custom you'd acquire.)

    Anyway. At a laser efficiency of 85%, the hand laser's sixteen shots, which are now 3,143.825 Joules (80,000 yadhõplai'o) each, requires ((3,143.825×16)÷.85=)59,177.882 Joules. That, with BNNT spring energy density, has a volume of 1.74052 cubic centimeters, and, with a cross-section as big as the hand laser's lens, is 0.220 centimeters high. Meanwhile the long laser's 48 shots of 10,060.240 Joules (256,000 yadhõplai'o) each, comes to ((10,060.240×48)÷.85=)568,107.689 Joules, which comes to a spring volume of 16.70904 cubic centimeters; with a cross-section as big as the long laser's lens, that's 0.528 centimeters high. The hand laser's spring cartridge (the proper term is "barrel", but in the context of weapons that would be confusing) is much more casing than it is spring.
  • Had to change references to superconductors in my descriptions of zled armor, since "superconductor" normally means electricity, not heat. Heat superconductivity is a thing, though, it's called "second sound"—so named because the heat propagates through the material analogously to how sound propagates in air. It occurs in superfluids, like liquid helium, and certain kinds of crystals. Basically zled armor changes its structure instantly, or at least in microseconds, from one like composite metal foam (vs. kinetic attacks) to one like those crystals, presumably somehow without changing its volume. They use lasers because lasers can, from close enough, put enough energy into a small area fast enough that the structure can't cope with it—though a laser shot still takes several hundred microseconds, i.e. an appreciable fraction of a millisecond, so the laser has to be within a certain range, to concentrate the energy into a small enough dot. Lasers can go through CMF like it's not even there; a 1.5 kilojoule laser, in a 1 millimeter diameter dot, having to penetrate a 1-inch-thick CMF plate, is 75,229 megajoules per cubic meter…whereas CMF can stand up to 68.

    Actually leaning toward changing all the references to "adaptive" armor to just "metamaterial" armor. Say, a dielectric foam "quasicrystal" with Umklapp scattering low enough to enable second-sound heat transfer, that can also deal with kinetic attacks as well as composite metal foam? If it's a metamaterial its composition is less important than its structure—because if I knew what kind of dielectric foam had that kind of thermal conductivity and the armor properties of CMF foam, I'd be patenting it. (Also apparently no second sound heat conduction has ever been observed at anything hotter than 120 Kelvin, i.e. -153.15° Celsius or -243.67° Fahrenheit.) And then I think sandwich the foam between layers of boron nitride nanotube weave, the outer side having a coating of n-tert-butoxycarbonyl-protected diphenylalanine, to stop blades (BN also stops neutron radiation). Then after a fight you use a nano-assembler to check for damaged BN nanotubes and fix scratches in the BOC-protected Phe? I think a foam that manages to have both properties, with an outer layer that imparts two others, is somewhat more plausible than an armor that can shift between all three.