Terra Incognita by E.S. Strout


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Post August 06, 2010, 11:23:55 PM

Terra Incognita by E.S. Strout

"This story would have been"

"easier to read if it"

"didn't have all these short"

"sentences with their own full quotes -- "

"I couldn't figure out who was talking"

"most of the time."

Along with that, the Saras don't seem to be taking the situation as seriously as they should, and the 'time-skips' happening between flights don't make much sense, either.
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Post August 09, 2010, 07:39:48 PM

FTL

It's interesting that the author quotes Albert Einstein at the beginning of the story "It it wasn't for time, everything would happen all at once" - and then throws away one of his most basic principles - Nothing travels faster than the speed of light. Nothing - not even with a gravity accelerator.
If such a thing EVER becomes possible (which scientifically it can't), it certainly won't be by the end of this century. Okay, that blows up Star Trek and Star wars.
I don't like it when people talk about Faster Than Light travel and then have their characters saying things like, "Toast me a bagel" and "I'll make coffee." Either set the story so far in the future that food is appearing out of thin air when asked for, or don't put FTL travel within the next 40 years. It won't happen. Sorry.
Little things: How do they know the monkey and dog that came back were EXACTLY the same?
I was becoming involved with the question: what might happen if you could go faster than the speed of light? Whereever there's a question, there's a story. I liked the introduction of Stephen Hawkings: an infinite # of identical space time-lines....was a good insertion. And then it just turns silly - in my opinion. Oh well.
At least in the original Twilight Zone version, the main character decides to go back to where he was. Perhaps others will enjoy this tale more than I did.
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Post August 14, 2010, 07:33:38 PM

Thanks for the comments, Lester. I started using the one line paragraph after reading the detective novels of Robert B. Parker, who uses similar paragraph construction. I think it makes for a faster and easier read.

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Post August 14, 2010, 08:12:53 PM

I don't like it when people talk about Faster Than Light travel and then have their characters saying things like, "Toast me a bagel" and "I'll make coffee." Either set the story so far in the future that food is appearing out of thin air when asked for, or don't put FTL travel within the next 40 years. It won't happen. Sorry.
I completely disagree, bd. Human culture changes at a pace that is positively glacial compared to the rate of technological change. Go back and read what the classic sci-fi writers thought of the future; Heinlein couldn't envision electronics without vacuum tubes, and his characters were doing math on slide rules -- and he was writing some of that stuff during my lifetime. (Of course, as much as I love his work, he was kind of a clunk.) Today, we use -- USE -- quantum tunneling in electron microscopes! And we still eat, dress, and speak in ways that haven't changed appreciably in centuries. Who's to say what isn't possible (at least in more than four dimensions)? And, after all, this is a lot of the fun of writing "speculative fiction."
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Post August 14, 2010, 10:12:31 PM

I dunno gang, I think we're on the edge of proving Gene Rodenberry to be the most under-rated visionary of the 20th century.

"Replicator, meet Media". So yes, for example, music or TV (& Movies) really do just about appear out of thin air - or the Series of Tubes, etc.

The reason Bagels don't *quite* appear out of thin air edges close to the Magick question - violations of the laws of physics. But durn close now, we're about to get universal food replicators too.

So then that question becomes a linguistic one.
"(Toast) (Bagel)."
Bagels aren't going anywhere, because round bready-thingies are tasty, and possibly useful as hockey pucks on the floor decking. "Toast" is a specific cooking method, so I think that will stay as a valid word too.
The only thing that will change is *what appliance* is used to produce one crusty-round-bready-thingie.

"Bagel, Toasted, with butter".
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Post August 15, 2010, 03:05:07 PM

Toasty

"Tea, hot, with lemon." Jean Luke Piccard Yeah, if we are far enough in the future for FTL travel (still impossible Richard) - then we are far enough in the future for replicators. Beer, cold, in bottle...yeah, that's the stuff.
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Post August 15, 2010, 03:57:20 PM

FTL travel

Along with Einstein's E=mc2 (squared) - which mathematically proves faster than light travel is impossible - even if there were tachyon particles, they could not interact with normal matter - not even for FTL three-ways. See below.

Speed
One curious effect is that, unlike ordinary particles, the speed of a tachyon increases as its energy decreases. (For ordinary bradyonic matter, E increases with increasing speed, becoming arbitrarily large as v approaches c, the speed of light.) Therefore, just as bradyons are forbidden to break the light-speed barrier, so too are tachyons forbidden from slowing down to below c, because infinite energy is required to reach the barrier from either above or below.

As noted by Gregory Benford et al., among others, special relativity implies that tachyons, if they existed, could be used to communicate backwards in time[6] (see Tachyonic antitelephone article). Since time travel is considered to be non-physical[citation needed], tachyons are believed by physicists to either not exist, or else to be incapable of interacting with normal matter.
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Post August 15, 2010, 08:02:21 PM

"Tea, hot, with lemon." Jean Luke Piccard
Get it right, bottomdweller -- it's "Tea, Earl Gray, hot." I almost think that if Jean Luke were a forum member here, that would be his sig line.

By the way, I'm no physicist, but I think we're far more likely to attain FTL than anything like a Star Trek transporter (or food replicator).
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Post August 15, 2010, 09:45:23 PM

light travel

And what about NON-Local phenomena? It's proven. Einstein's spooky action at a distance.


My guess is that faster than light travel will be possible, but not until a new physics is invented.

One can always hope.

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Post August 15, 2010, 10:40:31 PM

And what about NON-Local phenomena? It's proven. Einstein's spooky action at a distance.
Quantum entanglement . . . I'm not convinced.

I recently finished a video course called "Impossible: Physics Beyond the Edge" (http://www.teach12.com/ttcx/coursedescl ... x?cid=1299) -- excellent course, btw -- and it talked about that, but it seems that these pairs of particles just come out behaving in a particular manner as they are created. Some take it that they effect each other over distance, but not everyone agrees, and I didn't think the lecturer gave a compelling argument that they did. There's a definite argument against quantum entanglement: if two particles effected each other instantaneously over any distance, then they could be used to transmit information at FTL speeds, and that breaks the rules, because it violates causality.

I'm definitely going to have to look at those again soon.
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Post August 16, 2010, 08:15:20 AM

Causality

Thank you, Lester - I couldn't have said it better myself, really, I couldn't. I was thinking about taking a course in pot throwing, but that 'beyond the possible' course you're talking about sounds even more interesting.
As far as the replicator - I saw Willie Wonka do it with a giant chocolate bar, so it can't be all that difficult. Submit.
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Post August 16, 2010, 08:35:39 AM

Non local communications

Watch out monkey-boy, cling to the outmoded little earthnocentric minds.

The universe is flat!

You'll fall off if you go to far, you can't have non-local phenomena.

RT
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Post August 16, 2010, 11:17:06 AM

quote

This exchange of ideas has led me to change my message quote. Cool.
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Post August 16, 2010, 01:04:15 PM

"Computer: beer, Buweiser, cold."

"Cannot comply. Product 'Buweiser' not recognized. Please repeat request when you are sober."

Bud-dweller, if you want to order any course from Teachco, I recommend you wait until it's on sale. Read the details on their site; they have BIG discounts that apply to all their courses on a rotating basis.
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Post August 17, 2010, 01:27:17 PM

foxnews.com headline April 5, 2010: Freaky Physics Proves Parallel Universes Exist.

I'm not a physicist and I got completely lost in the text. Just thought the headline was intriguing..

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Post August 17, 2010, 02:16:45 PM

gino, I just copied your entire top line into search -- I'm sure the results could take days and days to look at, but right from the top, I found:

http://scienceblogs.com/builtonfacts/20 ... e_ever.php

and here's the original article:

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/04/ ... test=faces

Here's another good link to a thread with some interesting comments:

http://www.davidicke.com/forum/showthread.php?t=111209


This just reinforces my suspicion of anything that Fox labels as "news," let alone "science."
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Post August 17, 2010, 04:06:08 PM

Thanks, Lester. I googled parallel univeerse and found the fox link about the third one down.

Shephen Hawking once believed that it might be possible to travel through a black hole to a parallel universe. His thinking has changed since then and now believes that the black hole traveler would only return to this universe but "in an extremely mangled state."

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Post August 17, 2010, 05:49:12 PM

Lester Curtis wrote:...

By the way, I'm no physicist, but I think we're far more likely to attain FTL than anything like a Star Trek transporter (or food replicator).


Nah, a food replicator is a snap. It's just a recipe robot. "Anyone with ten grand can build one". The only slightly tricky part is the waste reclaimation system on the back end to reproduce the raw materials, but that's more of a dollar efficiency problem. The military could do it if they really wanted.

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Post August 17, 2010, 05:52:56 PM

Lester Curtis wrote:
"Computer: beer, Buweiser, cold."

"Cannot comply. Product 'Buweiser' not recognized. Please repeat request when you are sober."

Bud-dweller, if you want to order any course from Teachco, I recommend you wait until it's on sale. Read the details on their site; they have BIG discounts that apply to all their courses on a rotating basis.


Buweiser is a cheap Chinese knockoff.
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Post August 17, 2010, 09:07:27 PM

Nah, a food replicator is a snap. It's just a recipe robot. "Anyone with ten grand can build one". The only slightly tricky part is the waste reclaimation system on the back end to reproduce the raw materials, but that's more of a dollar efficiency problem. The military could do it if they really wanted.
They'd do it if anyone would. After all, most soldiers would say the food tastes like crap already anyway.
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Post August 31, 2010, 11:39:22 AM

My thanks to all who read, commented and offered critiques on Terra Incognita.

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Post September 08, 2010, 10:06:58 AM

Re: FTL

bottomdweller wrote:Either set the story so far in the future that food is appearing out of thin air when asked for, or don't put FTL travel within the next 40 years. It won't happen. Sorry.


Actually, I think Gino did okay on this one.

They pushed the button, and the device worked. The closest I found to an 'explanation' of the FTL in the story was:


Terra Incognita wrote: "Steve, the G-probe has the capability to exceed light speed with Dr. Lynch's gravity drive engine. You know that."


Since we don't know what a gravity drive is, it's not bad science, at all. You can only get the science wrong if you use some. Gino didn’t. Though I do agree that this technological level is way too contemporary to be convincing.

One point, since we're talking about alternate timelines, what makes us think that this is even our current universe? Maybe they're more advanced. . . .whether it sounds like it, or not.

Don't forget that the engineers and scientists also said that man would never break the sound barrier, and of course, they were right. We never have. Jets and rockets exceed the speed of sound all the time, but cannot--by definition--break the sound barrier.

So it may be possible to go light-years in a matter of minutes, but not through normal space with regular mass. And if you have a gravity drive (ie: artificial gravity), you don't need inertial dampers.

Besides, no matter what, true FTL won't be velocity, as we know it.


I had a bit of a problem with the St@r Trek speak. Once you start using "space-time continuum and inertial dampers". . .you're just parroting one of several TV shows. Neither one of those things is necessary or even particularly real. It subtracts from the story, for me.

I thought that the internal dynamics of the space agency were a little Hollywood, as well. Test pilots don’t disobey orders and punch the craft harder than the test parameters allow. Not twice, they don’t. And NOBODY swipes an extra copy of a highly classified digital recording and takes it home. You’d go to jail for that. . .big time. And sending an engineer on a test flight just because you want another copy? Sheesh!

I did like the relationship between the test pilot and the engineer. Gives me hope, in a Heinleinesque kind of way.

Decent read, and food for thought.

Bill Wolfe
"I am Susan Ivanova. . . .I am the Right Hand of Vengence. . .I am Death Incarnate, and the last living thing that you are ever going to see. God sent me."

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Post September 08, 2010, 12:45:55 PM

Thanks, Bill. I always look forward to your critiques. I've been long fascinated by the possibility of parallel universes. Who knows? Perhaps there is another Bill or Gino lurking out there at the other end of a black hole.

gino

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