Antimatter Dreams by David Wright


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Post January 14, 2010, 02:10:34 PM

Antimatter Dreams by David Wright

This story demonstrates that even if it's our job to understand people, we may miss some very important signs in those closest to us. Of course, for most of us, the consequences are not fatal.

How many parents of young people who commit suicide or mass murder claim to have been oblivious of the fact that their child was on a dangerous path? Neighbors may have an excuse for saying that Joe Chaos (Not His Real Name) "seemed like a normal guy, quiet, kept to himself,..." but one would hope that a parent would be able to tell that something is THAT wrong.

How plausible is the science in this one? I didn't spot anything that was flat out wrong (Bill Wolfe might), but really, the story could have been set at a propane facility on Earth for the most part (something that would go BOOM if sabotaged).

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Post January 15, 2010, 10:39:16 PM

This story is about ‘what goes on in another person’s head!’ And that can be very scary---- just ask any seasoned bartender, cop, lawyer, judge or shop-steward.

Good intro, grabbed my attention.

I find it interesting that Patrick’s mother, Ayesha, is a doctor of psychiatric care. A psychiatrist not able to understand nor communicate effectively with her son, is a good technique to show how difficult it is to know what goes on in another’s head.

One point: I don’t think that old Mr. Folger would have beamed his students in the eye with a laser pointer. Laser pointers are known to damage eyes, and a science teacher would understand their danger.

The science should be kept to a minimal, since too much info-dump will take the readers’ attention away from the story. Just enough in science will do.

l-1’s feats in cyberspace were left to our imagination. However, he must have accomplished near impossible deeds there since the boy sitting in the next seat stared with a mixture of reverence and disbelief. And the boy’s question to Patrick does suggest that Patrick is a hero in this cyber-world---- if that is a good name for it.

When I was a kid, a guy by the name of Roy could beat any pin-ball machine in the back room of a neighborhood store. His reputation surrounded him like a force-field, and even the bad-asses of the neighborhood respected him! At thirteen, being very good in a cyber-world of reality-mimicking graphics especially when thousands if not hundreds of thousand of other kids hang there, would give you a God-like statue before your peers!

Patrick must have confused reality with his cyber-world. The reference to ‘Unholy Grail’ and ’Druid Knight,’ toward the end of the story by Jerry, the gallant astronaut, suggest that IAMC is an ‘Unholy Grail.’ But assumptions like the one I just made can be dug out of almost any story.

Often, the author interjects sub-plots on an unconscious level! He/She is not aware of it! I do believe that happens but am not saying it happened in this story. It might have.

Good story set in Sci/Fi.
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Post January 16, 2010, 10:18:20 AM

Re: Antimatter Dreams by David Wright

Robert_Moriyama wrote:How plausible is the science in this one? I didn't spot anything that was flat out wrong (Bill Wolfe might), but really, the story could have been set at a propane facility on Earth for the most part (something that would go BOOM if sabotaged).

Comments????



The science isn't bad. Mr. Wright did not make the mistake of trying to explain too much, it's fairly straightforward stuff. A few quibbles about EM-proof, rad hard circuitry (which we have now) and the amount of radiant energy the matter/antimatter annihilation would have given off, but nothing major. If you could see the glow from the ground, you're probably dead, so a lot more people just got killed than we think, most of them just don't know it, yet. Very little of the total energy of this kind of event is given off as visible light. We’re talking half the surface area of the planet getting a lethal gamma dose.

I saw this piece as more about how those we love can shatter all our dreams, hopes and aspirations in ways that a stranger never could. Ayesha's childhood and accomplishments, her relative success and eventual downfall are reflected on a grand scale by the entire antimatter space station.

Turns out that both were delicate, fragile things susceptible to sabotage by those she cared about most.

By the end she welcomed her death, she'd lost everything. And if some kid on the shuttle recognized I-1, it won't take too long before her son will be facing a little reality of his own.

Fantastic story. And one of the saddest I've ever read.

Bill Wolfe

edited post script:

Somehow, I can't see a propane facility being the savior/killer of the world or the epitome of a person's greatest hopes. This one had to be supersized in order to reflect the magnitude of the betrayal.
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Post January 16, 2010, 05:52:36 PM

I liked it, felt very human and the end surprised me. I love stories that can balance the human/character side with a bizarre/future/fantasy background.

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Post January 21, 2010, 10:12:27 PM

great story! love the prose, no awkward phrases. you should try to go pro.
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Post January 22, 2010, 05:30:36 PM

Antimatter Dreams

I believe very strongly that SciFi needs to be about the personal story, instead of just tech. I would rather have had a more spectacular summation of the story, however, than the summary given with the emphasis on the mom-son relationship. Perhaps something like this: 25000 miles above the Earth, the IAMC was being systematically destroyed, with 2000 lives hanging in the balance. Could the person Ayesha cared about the most be the cause of all this chaos?
The author has done his homework in creating this tale about an orbiting ring around the Earth. Lots of scientific detail makes it very believable. I too liked the beginning of the story: enter talking; start it out with action.
“She would track its slow descent on the horizon as the seasons passed from summer to fall to winter…” Nice detail work, allowing the reader to easily envision this miracle of technology. There are some info-dumps, but they’re necessary and not overpowering.
I’m not sure that I believe the IAMC could be endangered so easily. It’s like people thinking you can crash an airplane by talking on a cellphone.
I thought it was funny when it said: “Space is not the place to panic”. If you’re 25000 miles above the surface of the planet, and things are blowing up, it seems like the perfect place to panic!
Very well written, very nicely done. Good job!

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Post January 26, 2010, 01:31:52 PM

Re: Antimatter Dreams by David Wright

Bill_Wolfe wrote:
Robert_Moriyama wrote:How plausible is the science in this one? [...]
Comments????


The science isn't bad. Mr. Wright did not make the mistake of trying to explain too much, it's fairly straightforward stuff.


Just a side remark:
In 'Antimatter Dreams' David Wright wrote:Hydrogen atoms, accelerated through a 164,000-mile electromagnetic corridor, collide at this juncture to create anti-hydrogen protons.


If I read this right all the antimatter in the story is and has to be created. As far as I know creating antimatter needs as much energy as is set free by the mutual annihilation of said antimatter with matter. That is if your process is one hundred percent efficient. So in order to satisfy the world's energy needs using created antimatter you first need to have that energy.
But if you have that energy, why would you need or even want antimatter?
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Post January 26, 2010, 01:48:32 PM

Portability?

Suppose they are able to use captured solar energy to create tiny amounts of antimatter. (This is one reason they might want a structure with humongous surface area, like a ring around the planet.) The volume of created anti-particles would be tiny, and even when accumulated, would fit in relatively compact containers (suspended in magnetic fields). You could then feed the antiparticles into a reaction chamber anywhere -- at the bottom of the ocean, or on a spacecraft, where the amount of available solar energy would be negligible -- to provide usable power.

Hey, the reduced insolation (solar energy reaching the Earth or at least the Earth's atmosphere) would even help with climate change problems while the carbon balance shifted back toward "normal" over time. (Better than just reflecting energy back into space, this would make use of that energy.)

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Post January 27, 2010, 12:13:05 PM

Re: Antimatter Dreams by David Wright

vates wrote:If I read this right all the antimatter in the story is and has to be created. As far as I know creating antimatter needs as much energy as is set free by the mutual annihilation of said antimatter with matter. That is if your process is one hundred percent efficient. So in order to satisfy the world's energy needs using created antimatter you first need to have that energy.
But if you have that energy, why would you need or even want antimatter?


Actually, the way we do it now, we use tons more energy to make the antiparticles (with the exception of positrons, which occur naturally) than we could ever realize from them.

That's where the magnetic field that surrounds the Earth, enters the equation.

The super ring collider, by being up in the magnetosphere of the planet--gets a boost that we could never be able to do anywhere else (except a REALLY big ring around one of the gas giants).

Basically, we get the protons started using RF (actual microwaves) and--as Robert mentions, use an assist from solar electricity which is multiplied on numerous (~10E[sup]50[/sup]) loops around the planet with a magnetic 'downgradient' accelerating it at a more-or-less constant rate for actual seconds, before colliding it with another going the SAME direction--though not nearly as fast.

This downgradient is natural, and requires no energy to keep 'pulling' a freefalling charged particle around and around and around. It will ad 95% of the velocity to the thing. By the end, it will be in the 85%C range, enough for time dilation to start becoming noticeable.

As long as the collision was inelastic, you now have a negatively-charged anitproton, which is now SLOWED DOWN by the same magnetic fields that accelerated its positive predecessor. How you catch these things and stick them in a bottle is completely unknown.

Very cool.

I know it's complicated, but the basic premise is fine, and the only way you'd ever be able to make this work on an industrial scale.

The whole thing is highly speculative, but not outside what we think we 'know' about how the universe works. The problem of Single Proton Half Life (whether matter or antimatter) is a bigger problem. These things would have to be stored and transported as antimatter hydrogen or they wouldn’t last long enough to be used as an energy source. . .but that’s another problem and it didn’t figure into the story because the author was bright enough NOT to try and explain how that happened.

You can trust me on this, I also walk dogs.

Bill Wolfe
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Post February 10, 2010, 03:51:09 AM

Grand Story!

I approached this from the Web cultures perspective. Re: the Doctor misunderstanding her son, I think it's the same as the "Minister's Son". It's a special brand of interlooping effect of Free Will so that the kid with the Special parent is no longer statistically valid as a member of the usual range of patients studied by health professionals.

Also, her reflexes were seriously thrown awry with the clash of her "old style" training when faced with his new internet based identity. She made the mistake of failing to learn that new environment, for if she had, she would have picked up signs of trouble. As it was, she was effectively practicing outside her field.

She finally got it in the end, but only after her son felt so alienated he sought desperate feedback the only way he knew how.

What the story touches on is what I have remarked on as Web Branding. I have several web brands. Each is a *focused slice* of me as a whole. But with a little work, I desired that no one know the whole. Call it a 21st century variant of the Mysteries.

Speaking of Legends, try this news story out and watch the mood similarity. And woe to you if you are baffled by the topic initially.
--------------------------------
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/technology/ne ... 082&pnum=0

Supergeek pulls off 'near impossible' crypto chip hack

Deep inside millions of computers is a digital Fort Knox, a special chip with the locks to highly guarded secrets, including classified government reports and confidential business plans. Now a former US Army computer-security specialist has devised a way to break those locks.
...
Tarnovsky figured out a way to break chips that carry a "Trusted Platform Module," or TPM, designation by essentially spying on them like a phone conversation.

Such chips are billed as the industry's most secure and are estimated to be in as many as 100 million personal computers and servers, according to market research firm IDC.

When activated, the chips provide an additional layer of security by encrypting, or scrambling, data to prevent outsiders from viewing information on the machines. An extra password or identification such as a fingerprint is needed when the machine is turned on.
...

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Post February 10, 2010, 03:56:22 AM

Question of the Century

(Using another post for clarity).

From an entirely different angle, it pokes at the scare-monger theme of the decade. As a race we absolutely have to figure out how to get out of the grip of "Terror Never Dies". Our prior President used it to chilling effect as a carte blanche to do whatever he liked.

The story points out how much harder it is to defend in space, and therefore this is the angle all the old Golden Age stories mostly missed - in the early fragile stages, 40 years of work could really come crashing down into a heap. The son, by going for a more low-cost life, passed a quietly dismal judgetment on Dreams, vs. the mother's older life path of the Great Hope.

If it's not out of line for such a new entrant, this story just became one of my own private nominations for Best of the Year, beause the story theme is good for the next 20 until we conclusively find the deep solution to the problem it poses.
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Post February 10, 2010, 10:44:38 AM

Funny, I thought that I had read this story earlier -- turns out I hadn't -- just finished it.

Excellent story; it points out the dangers of being so close to a problem (a sociopathic genius in this case) that you can't see it.

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Post February 11, 2010, 05:18:48 AM

Measurement and Interaction

TaoPhoenix wrote:I approached this from the Web cultures perspective. Re: the Doctor misunderstanding her son, I think it's the same as the "Minister's Son". It's a special brand of interlooping effect of Free Will so that the kid with the Special parent is no longer statistically valid as a member of the usual range of patients studied by health professionals.

Also, her reflexes were seriously thrown awry with the clash of her "old style" training when faced with his new internet based identity. She made the mistake of failing to learn that new environment, for if she had, she would have picked up signs of trouble. As it was, she was effectively practicing outside her field.


As an assistant professor at a chair of psychology once told me, you cannot hope to successfully apply your psychological knowledge to persons close to yourself. Thus being a family therapist would not help you with your own family.

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