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Offline Psawhn

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Some thoughts about current descriptions
« on: October 29, 2007, 07:46:10 pm »
Winter's said that he's tried to get the description for techs and stuff as true to reality as possible. I've just been thinking about some things that probably deserve a mention in the UFOPedia, but won't require any coding changes or modelling changes at all.

Antimatter engines:
There should be a mention as to how the radiation from a proton-antiproton reaction is contained in the antimatter engines. Antimatter reactions produce deadly amounts of gamma radiation, and we don't want to turn every landing site into a fallout zone. Alien materials could probably stop gamma rays, but there needs to be a way to stop radiation coming out the back end, or from turning the propellant radioactive.
An alternative design is to use the antimatter reaction as a power source to heat up a propellant, shooting it out the back end like any other rocket.

Not to mention is how easy it would be to detect these engines in space. Current technology can detect the Space Shuttle's main engines from Pluto, and its RCS thrusters from the asteroid belt. (Yes, I stole those numbers from atomic rocket http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3w.html.) Probably the best way to get around this is to 'jump' in (or whatever the FTL device is called) to the upper atmosphere, otherwise a network of satellites in orbit would be able to detect incoming UFOs before they even reach Earth.



Plasma Weapons:

The current method of using a heat-resistant plastic to contain plasma is a roundabout try of getting around the 'plasma weapons don't work' deal, but it still doesn't quite work. Some months back, somebody posted the idea to some forums and they pointed out that this plastic would make near-impervious armour.

Last night, though, I thought of a different idea for the weapon. Instead of bothering with shooting an ionized gas and containing it, maybe the plasma gun actually shoots a superheated gel near its high boiling point (1000 to 3000 Kelvin). The gel is stored cold, and is only heated when fired. A fired shot would have the same effects as the current system, including a blaster shot's explosion through splashing and superheating of the area.
A grenade would spread this gel all over, combining napalm-like effects with concussive force.

In this version, plasma could instead refer to the process through which the gel is heated. The gun could heat hydrogen to a plasma state, and inject this into the gel in order to rapidly heat it. The ionic charge this gives the plasma/gel would allow magnetic accelerators to fire it. Once the gel is in flight, there's little to keep the plasma contained, and this leaks out and gives the projectile its glowing trail.

This gel could have undesirable properties at room temperature, restricting its use as armour or insulation. Perhaps it could be a powdery, caustic substance that reacts readily with air.

Machine gun:
I'm worried about the plastic belt the rounds are chained in. If it disintegrates upon exposure to air, then the magazine must be kept vacuum sealed. This does not sound like a reliable, rugged weapon for the battlefield. Bits of plastic from a partially-decomposed belt link could also get into the mechanics and jam the gun until they evaporate completely. Worse, if the case is damaged, air can leak in and disintegrate the chain before it is even loaded into a gun, rendering an entire clip useless.


I hope you don't mind these suggestions, Winter, I'm just trying to help. :)

Offline Winter

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2007, 09:04:33 pm »
Antimatter engines:
There should be a mention as to how the radiation from a proton-antiproton reaction is contained in the antimatter engines. Antimatter reactions produce deadly amounts of gamma radiation, and we don't want to turn every landing site into a fallout zone. Alien materials could probably stop gamma rays, but there needs to be a way to stop radiation coming out the back end, or from turning the propellant radioactive.
An alternative design is to use the antimatter reaction as a power source to heat up a propellant, shooting it out the back end like any other rocket.

You seem to be under some misapprehensions about the propulsion method we're using for UFO:AI. Direct proton-antiproton annihilation, unlike (for example) hydrogen-antihydrogen, produces charged particles (which can be used for thrust) rather than just gamma rays. At the level of AM we're using -- fractions of grammes -- there isn't enough radioactivity involved to produce harmful fallout.

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Not to mention is how easy it would be to detect these engines in space. Current technology can detect the Space Shuttle's main engines from Pluto, and its RCS thrusters from the asteroid belt. (Yes, I stole those numbers from atomic rocket http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3w.html.) Probably the best way to get around this is to 'jump' in (or whatever the FTL device is called) to the upper atmosphere, otherwise a network of satellites in orbit would be able to detect incoming UFOs before they even reach Earth.

Um, you do realise that in-atmosphere UFOs are being deployed from Carrier UFOs in Earth orbit, right? Currently the Carrier is the only written UFO type with an FTL drive, a rare and valuable and large installation. Lastly, this is space. UFOs don't need to even use their engines before they reach atmosphere.



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Plasma Weapons:

A rewrite for the plasma weapons is already in the works.



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Machine gun:
I'm worried about the plastic belt the rounds are chained in. If it disintegrates upon exposure to air, then the magazine must be kept vacuum sealed. This does not sound like a reliable, rugged weapon for the battlefield. Bits of plastic from a partially-decomposed belt link could also get into the mechanics and jam the gun until they evaporate completely. Worse, if the case is damaged, air can leak in and disintegrate the chain before it is even loaded into a gun, rendering an entire clip useless.


I hope you don't mind these suggestions, Winter, I'm just trying to help. :)

The way I imagined it, the magazine would indeed be vacuum-sealed, and because of this would be nearly impossible to puncture or damage. I'm not sure your comment about plastic jams is valid, either -- any material could produce a jam in similar conditions.

It's still kind-of iffy, though. If I get around to it I will indeed change it.

Regards,
Winter

Offline Psawhn

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2007, 09:38:24 pm »
You seem to be under some misapprehensions about the propulsion method we're using for UFO:AI. Direct proton-antiproton annihilation, unlike (for example) hydrogen-antihydrogen, produces charged particles (which can be used for thrust) rather than just gamma rays. At the level of AM we're using -- fractions of grammes -- there isn't enough radioactivity involved to produce harmful fallout.
But what happens to these charged particles after they've decayed? ;) Uncharged pions will most often decay to two high-energy photons (gamma rays.) Negatively charged pions also decay, though an antimuon, to a positron and other stuff (sometimes you get either photons or an electron-positron from positively charged pions.) Positrons annihilating with an electron also produce two gamma ray photons.

But you're right, I probably am vastly overestimating the fallout potential of these drives. In reality, it might only be comparable to radiation absorbed during high-altitude flights.


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Um, you do realise that in-atmosphere UFOs are being deployed from Carrier UFOs in Earth orbit, right? Currently the Carrier is the only written UFO type with an FTL drive, a rare and valuable and large installation. Lastly, this is space. UFOs don't need to even use their engines before they reach atmosphere.
No, I didn't realize that, haha :). Still, the atmospheric UFOs need to make some orbital or sub-orbital burns to put them on the correct reentry course, and one wonders why we don't observe the carrier UFO with telescopes to watch for any launches.


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A rewrite for the plasma weapons is already in the works.
Ahh, that's good. Plasma weapons are always touchy - cool glowy subsonic projectile guns are neat, but scientifically impossible, or useless in practicality.


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The way I imagined it, the magazine would indeed be vacuum-sealed, and because of this would be nearly impossible to puncture or damage. I'm not sure your comment about plastic jams is valid, either -- any material could produce a jam in similar conditions.

It's still kind-of iffy, though. If I get around to it I will indeed change it.
The main problem with a vacuum-sealed container is ensuring it remains in a vacuum (or filled with inert gas) while the bullets and chain move from the container to the gun. Other materials do jam, and they do have the added problem that they will not dissolve in air anyway (clearing the jam). The main difference is that physical stress needs to be applied to break bits off those material, whereas one that reacts with air needs only to have been exposed to air previously to break off into bits.


Thanks a lot for hearing me out.

Offline Winter

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2007, 08:55:48 am »
No, I didn't realize that, haha :). Still, the atmospheric UFOs need to make some orbital or sub-orbital burns to put them on the correct reentry course, and one wonders why we don't observe the carrier UFO with telescopes to watch for any launches.

You wouldn't be able to tell if a heat blip making entry into the atmosphere is or is not a UFO. Objects enter the atmosphere all the time. Thanks to UFO construction and materials, they might only generate enough infrared to register as a micrometeor.

I've been thinking about the Carriers a lot lately, and I think the best way to deal with the 'telescopes' direction is for them to have active camouflage systems that bend visible light. Would be a fun upgrade for other larger UFOs as well.


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The main problem with a vacuum-sealed container is ensuring it remains in a vacuum (or filled with inert gas) while the bullets and chain move from the container to the gun. Other materials do jam, and they do have the added problem that they will not dissolve in air anyway (clearing the jam). The main difference is that physical stress needs to be applied to break bits off those material, whereas one that reacts with air needs only to have been exposed to air previously to break off into bits.

Yeah. Like I said, I'll give this a rethink at some point.

Regards,
Winter

Offline TroubleMaker

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2007, 11:01:17 am »
I think the best way to deal with the 'telescopes' direction is for them to have active camouflage systems that bend visible light. Would be a fun upgrade for other larger UFOs as well.
How about the following type of camo?

Well, my English is far off perfection, so excuse for long and sometimes too misty explanation.

On the belly of UFO placed display screen of small size. It connected via optical fiber (light pipe) with equally located "camera" on opposite side of hull. So, looking to that screen we can see not UFO's innards, but something located behind its back: small part of hull becomes almost invisible.
Light pipe (optical waveguide) could be thin enough to occupy very little of internal space, it is wide, to be more exact - becomes wider, much wider, only near the screen and "camera". BTW, screen and "camera" are mutually replaceable and conducts light in both directions simultaneously because we do not use sophisticated equipment, but we using simple optical path.

Then, let us imagine that the belly (floor) and the back (ceiling) of UFO are paved with such optical pairs like mosaic. What then? Then we have apparatus which is ALMOST invisible in visible light (and may be in UV and IR light also). Even hugest UFOs are small enough to make light's delay (time needed for the light to travel inside light pipes) uncountable small. More, than larger UFO is, then such camo will be more usable because they have enough space to accommodate all of these optical wiring.

OK, it is just a poorly elaborated theory, even the skeleton (or even an embryo) of a theory, which needs come flesh to became usable, but I think it could be used. Am I too wrong?

Offline Psawhn

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2007, 03:56:49 am »
You wouldn't be able to tell if a heat blip making entry into the atmosphere is or is not a UFO. Objects enter the atmosphere all the time. Thanks to UFO construction and materials, they might only generate enough infrared to register as a micrometeor.

The UFOs still need to make a retrograde burn in order to put them on a reentry trajectory, though, even assuming the carrier does the plane change for them.

I'm still underestimating the alien's technological superiority, though. Active camouflage would work, but it would suffice just to make sure that no EM radiation heads toward Earth or any satellites. No need for fancy replication of whatever's behind the ship - when you're just searching for something in space you're looking for a bright dot. Ensure there's no bright dot in any wavelengths, and you're invisible unless you occlude a star (or pass in front of the moon or something.) That would ensure the carrier is effectively invisible. (It also gives a potentially cool picture of a closeup of the moon with an alien ship silhouetted against it, mwa ha.)

The harder part still is hiding the smaller UFOs' orbital burns. There are only four solutions to that I can think of:
1) The Carrier hides in a low orbit. Any satellites looking inward would have to see the UFO against the backdrop of the Earth, and the ships can radiate outward so no earth-based telescopes pick up something contrasted against the darkness of space. Any orbital maneuvering can also look like mere meteorites, plus atmospheric-based plane changes would be available if the UFOs weren't so unaerodynamic.
2) The Carrier hides in lunar orbit. Any orbital burns made by smaller ships would be done on the dark side, hidden from Earth's telescopes.
3) The Carrier hides anywhere in orbit from upper atmosphere to the moon, and imparts the kinetic energy to change smaller UFOs' orbits itself, like a catapult launch.
4) The Carrier doesn't hide in Earth orbit at all. It jumps in on the correct reentry orbit, releases ships, then jumps back out. Very Battlestar Galactica.

Options 1), 3) and 4) have the disadvantage of watching leaving UFOs to see where they go - when they go to the moon it's just "Where did it go?" "To the moon." "But we've searched and found no alien bases on the moon!"
4) Has the added disadvantage of bright in-jumps and out-jumps to aid detection, and I don't know how expensive a jump is.

Option 5), though, is that you've already thought up a cleverer and more elegant solution, and I'm just babbling my mouth. :)

Offline BlakeD

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2007, 02:01:48 am »
Active Camoflage is not far out from current RL research.  Given the "superior technology" of the aliens, they may have solved the technical limitations we're currently encountering-
Reprinted from http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070103-8539.html

Useful cloaking device is one step closer to reality
By Matt Ford | Published: January 03, 2007 - 03:00PM CT


Last October saw a major breakthrough in an area of research that, until very recently, was squarely in the realm of science fiction

Offline Psawhn

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2007, 04:02:23 am »
Except in space you don't need anything quite that complicated. Looking for anything in space means you're looking for a bright point. Active camouflage is only useful when you expect your ship to take up more than a pixel on their scanners, otherwise it does the opposite effect by generating more heat.

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2007, 11:13:40 am »
Great, here we go again. Rationalizing the aliens down to us humans except equipped with technology that we've already thought of, except haven't successfully implemented. I mean, who said the aliens look at space the way we do? They may not reason in terms of "a bright dot" or "pixels on a scanner". They could use, oh, I don't know. Gravitational detection at stellar distances with fractal estimation displays that, in theory, give an infinitely sharp image.

Sigh.

Offline Psawhn

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2007, 07:33:59 pm »
Directional radiators - being able to redirect almost all your heat *thataway* - is incredibly advanced technology, actually - especially if the aliens can do it in such a way that the radiator does not take up 2/3 the mass of the ship.

And my main question was actually how the aliens would hide from us humans, not other aliens. If the aliens disregarded simple EM photon emissions as a means of detection, then the existence of the Carrier ship would be mentioned in the game intro, and every incoming UFO would be detected hours, maybe days, ahead of actually reaching Earth's atmosphere.

Offline BTAxis

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2007, 10:20:08 pm »
Directional radiators - being able to redirect almost all your heat *thataway* - is incredibly advanced technology, actually - especially if the aliens can do it in such a way that the radiator does not take up 2/3 the mass of the ship.

Heh. That remark acutely reminded me about this image from the 1950s:

Offline XaverXN

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2007, 07:04:50 pm »
 ;D Brilliant

Offline Psawhn

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2007, 09:51:05 pm »
I've been thinking, and that's actually a good example of what needs to happen. It took mass production of integrated semiconductor transistors in order for home computers to be even feasible, not to mention the decades needed to refine the technology to make it economical.

Offline XaverXN

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Re: Some thoughts about current descriptions
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 10:50:47 pm »
While we're discussing Matter/Antimatter propulsion:

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"There is a highly-advanced cooling system continuously pumping liquid nitrogen through the engine housing in order to keep it cool"

That would mean the engine's never "warmer" than ~-196