space battle

43 views
Skip to first unread message

Jay Vassos-Libove

unread,
Jun 28, 1993, 2:22:21 AM6/28/93
to
[ Is this gatewayed? Does Joe end up reading this stuff? How
can I mail directly to him? Thanks! -Jay lib...@alf.dec.com ]

From the Piers Anthony series "Bio of a Space Tyrant" there
are some good descriptions of battle in space using conventional
propulsion - i.e. reaction mass ("fuel") is EXPENSIVE and very
bulky, so you just plain don't make lots of manouvres.. but
at the same time you DON'T just sit in place waiting for a
big sonofabitch missile to put a gigantic hole in your side.

The result is a cautious ballet of powered and gravity-aided
manouvres over a very large volume (Three dimensional) of space,
with occasional (and quite rapid and short lived) bouts of
weapons fire each time the ships get close enough to each
other to make each other possible targets.

I hope that this is the kind of fighting the B5 chooses; the
Star Wars and Star Trek (and every other TV or Theatre
production I've seen) space battle scenes are wholly
unbelievable. (Though Star Trek: The Original Series did
occasionally have a small fast ship flying by the Enterprise,
blasting away on its way past, then taking some time to
turn around and come back again).

Jay Vassos-Libove (lib...@alf.dec.com)

Pirate

unread,
Jun 29, 1993, 1:00:04 PM6/29/93
to
In article <LIBOVE.93J...@jumpey.gao.dec.com> lib...@jumpey.gao.dec.com (Jay Vassos-Libove) writes:

>From the Piers Anthony series "Bio of a Space Tyrant" there
>are some good descriptions of battle in space using conventional
>propulsion - i.e. reaction mass ("fuel") is EXPENSIVE and very
>bulky, so you just plain don't make lots of manouvres.. but
>at the same time you DON'T just sit in place waiting for a
>big sonofabitch missile to put a gigantic hole in your side.

[Stuff deleted]

>Jay Vassos-Libove (lib...@alf.dec.com)

Yeah, but this is the same series that had people 'fencing' in space with
little-to-no regard to action/reaction. A simple stab (can't lunge)/parry
would send both people spinning.....

Likely, a battle in space will take place around some gravity well, mostly
because that's where the strategic areas are (like homes and resources). I
could easily forsee most battles occuring around planets; one ship would go
into a tight orbit, another would go into another orbit. Most of the time
they wouldn't see each other, so most of the manuevering could happen when
they were out of sight of each other. A little thrust could speed them up,
slow them down, or just change the orientation of the great-circle.

Also, aren't most jump points near or in systems? Seems a likely place for
an ambush.....

I doubt battles would occur out-system, mostly because interstellar space is
just too damn BIG. The only time you'd ever spot another ship is if they
A) Suddenly came out of a jump and you just happened to be looking their way
or
B) They were under thrust and you just happened to be looking their way

The 'looking their way' part can be automated-- just use computers with
visuals. Easy enough. But imagine... If it were just one AU away, it would
take 8 minutes to see it (I think. Sound right?). And if it were just the
distance from earth orbit to uranus orbit, it would take how many hours? I
can't remember..... And you just COULDN'T catch up. As soon as you
thrusted, they'd see you.

I just don't see interstellar space being home to many battles, unless they
are fought around jump points. Are there any interstellar jump points? (I
have to admit ignorance.... They've only shown the movie once up here, and
I managed to miss it... I'd been waiting since I read about B5 in
Aboriginal SF many moons ago.)

Just my thoughts on the subject. A gripe I've had with a certain 'scifi'
(skifee) series who's name I won't mention but who's initials are Star Trek.

TTFN

- Tony

Alvaro Agustin Fernandez

unread,
Jun 29, 1993, 7:24:04 PM6/29/93
to

|> Likely, a battle in space will take place around some gravity well, mostly
|> because that's where the strategic areas are (like homes and resources). I
|> could easily forsee most battles occuring around planets; one ship would go
|> into a tight orbit, another would go into another orbit.

|> Also, aren't most jump points near or in systems? Seems a likely place for
|> an ambush.....
|>

I have a question for anybody out there about the jump points: are they
artificial or naturally occurring? In other words, are the gates we see in B5
_creating_ the rift, or are they just human superstructure added to a
naturally occurring phenomenon which allows a hyperjump?

It was my understanding they were artificial, and a standalone ship could
create one too if properly equipped. Am I correct?

|> I doubt battles would occur out-system, mostly because interstellar space is
|> just too damn BIG. The only time you'd ever spot another ship is if they
|> A) Suddenly came out of a jump and you just happened to be looking their way
|> or
|> B) They were under thrust and you just happened to be looking their way
|>
|> The 'looking their way' part can be automated-- just use computers with
|> visuals. Easy enough. But imagine... If it were just one AU away, it would
|> take 8 minutes to see it (I think. Sound right?). And if it were just the
|> distance from earth orbit to uranus orbit, it would take how many hours? I
|> can't remember..... And you just COULDN'T catch up. As soon as you
|> thrusted, they'd see you.

This is assuming:

a) no FTL waves of any kind with which to make FTL sensors
b) no FTL drive with which to pop out of hyperspace next to the other guy
_at will._

(a) certainly does not fit in with the B5 assumptions--FTL communication
is in evidence, implying FTL carrier waves of some kind. Thus FTL
sensors should be possible in principle and you would detect the other
guy far faster than eight minutes.

Besides, even if there aren't any FTL waves, it would take your opponent
eight minutes to see you thrusting as well. And if your ship can jump
by itself (which as I mentioned in the beginning I believe is possible
in the B5 milieu) then it could detect the other guy, jump, and have
a chance of catching the other guy if he's slow.

Since I do believe most B5 ships aren't self-jump-capable, I suppose
then that you are right, and most battles would occur around jump points.

By the way: I think Star Trek battles are eminently reasonable, given the
technology that is assumed to exist: lots of power, FTL drive and sensors,
and gravity propulsion allowing ships to circumvent most celestial mechanics.
B5 hasn't apparently postulated artificial gravity YET; we'll see if they
stick to it. Oh, and hugely powerful shields--does B5 have shields, by the
way?

I do think that the added restrictions (at least the ones apparent up to now)
make for a more interesting storyline. But I also think that the technology
in Star Trek appears to be more advanced than B5 in just about every
particular, and thus the battle tactics will likely be different. (Not a
flame/slam/whatever, just an observation!).

Stephen Watson

unread,
Jun 29, 1993, 11:35:55 PM6/29/93
to
alv...@owlnet.rice.edu (Alvaro Agustin Fernandez) writes:
>B5 hasn't apparently postulated artificial gravity YET; we'll see if they

Yes they have, but it must be expensive to do: the "bridge" or
whatever that traffic-control thing at the end is seems to have
gravity, but it's right on the axis, and in a non-spinning part of the
station.

BTW, I've only seen the pilot, and I've only just discovered this
group. Is there a FAQ yet?

--
| Steve Watson a.k.a. wat...@sce.carleton.ca === Carleton University, Ontario |
| this->opinion = My.opinion; assert (this->opinion != CarletonU.opinion); |
"Somebody touched me / Making everything new / Burned through my life / Like a
bolt from the blue / Somebody touched me / I know it was you" - Bruce Cockburn

Jay Vassos-Libove

unread,
Jun 30, 1993, 12:35:14 AM6/30/93
to
In article <fnatt.3....@elmer.alaska.edu> fn...@elmer.alaska.edu (Pirate) writes:

[ referring to Piers Anthony's "Bio of a Space Tyrant" series... ]

Yeah, but this is the same series that had people 'fencing' in space with
little-to-no regard to action/reaction. A simple stab (can't lunge)/parry
would send both people spinning.....

Very true. At least it got it partly right :-)

Likely, a battle in space will take place around some gravity well, mostly
because that's where the strategic areas are (like homes and resources). I
could easily forsee most battles occuring around planets; one ship would go
into a tight orbit, another would go into another orbit. Most of the time
they wouldn't see each other, so most of the manuevering could happen when
they were out of sight of each other. A little thrust could speed them up,
slow them down, or just change the orientation of the great-circle.

I admit that I hadn't thought of this, because:

So far, we've seen just the B5 station; will the series include action
around planets? From JMS' comments, it surely would seem so, so your
prediction sounds eminently reasonable!

I doubt battles would occur out-system, mostly because interstellar space is
just too damn BIG. The only time you'd ever spot another ship is if they
A) Suddenly came out of a jump and you just happened to be looking their way
or
B) They were under thrust and you just happened to be looking their way

The 'looking their way' part can be automated-- just use computers with
visuals. Easy enough. But imagine... If it were just one AU away, it would
take 8 minutes to see it (I think. Sound right?). And if it were just the
distance from earth orbit to uranus orbit, it would take how many hours? I
can't remember..... And you just COULDN'T catch up. As soon as you
thrusted, they'd see you.

I agree. I hope that JMS does NOT circumvent these (present-day) physical
realities (with the necessary exception of stationary jump gates and, I suppose,
really big ships that can create their own jump gates). 8 minutes is correct,
by the way - light travels at approx 186,000 miles/second, and the mean distance
between Earth and Sun is approx 93,000,000 miles, so 93,000,000/186,000 =
500 seconds which is a little over 8 minutes.

Just my thoughts on the subject. A gripe I've had with a certain 'scifi'
(skifee) series who's name I won't mention but who's initials are Star Trek.

As someone else has already pointed out, Star Trek assumes different (less
realistic) physical rules, allowing very great (almost free) power,
complete dismissal of gravity, and on-demand faster-than-light travel,
making battle in any place possible.

I can't wait for the series to demonstrate JMS' real thoughts on all
of these things! :-)

--

Jay Vassos-Libove lib...@alf.dec.com
Digital Equipment Corporation decwrl!alf.dec.com!libove
Atlanta Customer Support Center Opinions? They're mine, mine, all mine!
Alpharetta, Georgia and D.E.C. Can't have 'em!

Dennis Handly

unread,
Jun 30, 1993, 5:52:57 AM6/30/93
to
/ alv...@owlnet.rice.edu (Alvaro Agustin Fernandez) / 4:24 pm Jun 29, 1993 /

>B5 hasn't apparently postulated artificial gravity YET

Yes, it is achieved by spinning the station. Not very hi-tech.

Pirate

unread,
Jun 30, 1993, 3:17:01 PM6/30/93
to
In article <C9Ep0...@rice.edu> alv...@owlnet.rice.edu (Alvaro Agustin Fernandez) writes:

>|> The 'looking their way' part can be automated-- just use computers with
>|> visuals. Easy enough. But imagine... If it were just one AU away, it would
>|> take 8 minutes to see it (I think. Sound right?). And if it were just the
>|> distance from earth orbit to uranus orbit, it would take how many hours? I
>|> can't remember..... And you just COULDN'T catch up. As soon as you
>|> thrusted, they'd see you.
>
>This is assuming:
>
>a) no FTL waves of any kind with which to make FTL sensors
>b) no FTL drive with which to pop out of hyperspace next to the other guy
>_at will._
>
>(a) certainly does not fit in with the B5 assumptions--FTL communication
>is in evidence, implying FTL carrier waves of some kind. Thus FTL
>sensors should be possible in principle and you would detect the other
>guy far faster than eight minutes.

Actually, communication can be standard radio relayed through the jump
points. Then the only delay you would have would be the distance from the
communication point to the jump point.

>Besides, even if there aren't any FTL waves, it would take your opponent
>eight minutes to see you thrusting as well. And if your ship can jump
>by itself (which as I mentioned in the beginning I believe is possible
>in the B5 milieu) then it could detect the other guy, jump, and have
>a chance of catching the other guy if he's slow.

Very true.

And yes, a very large ship can be equiped with its own jump generator.
Although I have add the disclaimer that I _haven't_ been lucky enough to see
the movie.

>Since I do believe most B5 ships aren't self-jump-capable, I suppose
>then that you are right, and most battles would occur around jump points.
>
>By the way: I think Star Trek battles are eminently reasonable, given the
>technology that is assumed to exist: lots of power, FTL drive and sensors,
>and gravity propulsion allowing ships to circumvent most celestial mechanics.
>B5 hasn't apparently postulated artificial gravity YET; we'll see if they
>stick to it. Oh, and hugely powerful shields--does B5 have shields, by the
>way?

Yeah. True again. The ST battles _are_ logical in context. I guess I
disagree with the context more than anything else.

>I do think that the added restrictions (at least the ones apparent up to
>now) make for a more interesting storyline. But I also think that the
>technology in Star Trek appears to be more advanced than B5 in just about
>every particular, and thus the battle tactics will likely be different. (
>Not a flame/slam/whatever, just an observation!).

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Didn't take it as one.

Right again: the ST technology appears "more advanced." Arthur C. Clarke
said that any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic.
Frank from MST3K said, "E-i-e-I don't think so." (Not in reference to
Clarke, but I thought I'd mix my quotes.)

To twist the Clarke: Any sufficiently poorly-thought-out series will be
indistinguishable from silliness.

Here's to hoping (and betting) B5 won't be one of those.

Gary Hoo

unread,
Jun 30, 1993, 11:11:50 PM6/30/93
to
In article <fnat...@elmer.alaska.edu> fn...@elmer.alaska.edu (Pirate) writes:
>In article <C9Ep0...@rice.edu> alv...@owlnet.rice.edu (Alvaro Agustin Fernandez) writes:
>
>>a) no FTL waves of any kind with which to make FTL sensors
>>b) no FTL drive with which to pop out of hyperspace next to the other guy
>>_at will._
>>
>>(a) certainly does not fit in with the B5 assumptions--FTL communication
>>is in evidence, implying FTL carrier waves of some kind. Thus FTL
>>sensors should be possible in principle and you would detect the other
>>guy far faster than eight minutes.
>
>Actually, communication can be standard radio relayed through the jump
>points. Then the only delay you would have would be the distance from the
>communication point to the jump point.

Given that you can move matter FTL, you certainly ought to be able
to move energy FTL. They are two sides of the same coin.

Even if the physics that governs FTL somehow is "limited" to moving
matter around, it oughtn't to be an insuperable feat to perform the
conversion from energy to matter (e.g., from your radio message to
a controlled flow of neutrons, for example) in normal space, THEN
send the matter stream FTL. Reception would be the reverse process.

It's possible that the gates need to be as large as they are because
of some arcane twist of FTL physics, in which case small FTL sensors
and transmitters are probably impractical. But if, as seems likely,
the gates are big simply because they have to accomodate big ships,
you could build scaled-down gates for communications. Then there
would be no reason to relay standard radio messages through the gates.

(Oh, I forgot: you might be limited to ships if you have to navigate
while in transit. I assumed that you could always choose your
destination before entering the gate.)

Mind you, I don't say that any of this would be EASY. :-)

/gh
--
ga...@futon.sfsu.edu
DISCLAIMER: I do not speak for San | In the short term ... I'd suggest
Francisco State University, and I | some _really_ good scotch, preferably
trust SFSU is suitably grateful. | consumed in Aruba...--Vince Gibboni

is a kludge

unread,
Jul 1, 1993, 7:59:37 AM7/1/93
to
fn...@elmer.alaska.edu (Pirate) writes:

>In article <C9Ep0...@rice.edu> alv...@owlnet.rice.edu (Alvaro Agustin Fernandez) writes:

>>|> The 'looking their way' part can be automated-- just use computers with
>>|> visuals. Easy enough. But imagine... If it were just one AU away, it would
>>|> take 8 minutes to see it (I think. Sound right?). And if it were just the

Using a radar type of system it would take 16.

>>|> distance from earth orbit to uranus orbit, it would take how many hours? I
>>|> can't remember..... And you just COULDN'T catch up. As soon as you
>>|> thrusted, they'd see you.
>>
>>This is assuming:
>>
>>a) no FTL waves of any kind with which to make FTL sensors
>>b) no FTL drive with which to pop out of hyperspace next to the other guy
>>_at will._
>>
>>(a) certainly does not fit in with the B5 assumptions--FTL communication
>>is in evidence, implying FTL carrier waves of some kind. Thus FTL
>>sensors should be possible in principle and you would detect the other
>>guy far faster than eight minutes.

>Actually, communication can be standard radio relayed through the jump
>points. Then the only delay you would have would be the distance from the
>communication point to the jump point.

Here's a VERY simple description of B5 FTL which may either prolong or
kill this thread: You have a ship. You fly through the jump gate. You
are now in hyperspace. You fly in hyperspace at >c speed. You come to
Gate #2. You send a code sequence to open it. You fly through. You are
now in normal space again, somewhere else.

Now, here's how you do it in a ship without a jumpgate: You get a ship -
a REALLY HUGE ship - it has to be large enough to pretty much have it's
own jumpgate inside it, and jumpgates inherently need huge amounts of
power. Now, you take your ship and accelerate it to about .99c (you
must be going very close to lightspeed to jump like this) You hit the
hyperspace button and enter hyperspace. Fly around etc... Leave through
a jumpgate or use your ships power again - you probably have to be going
very slow in hyperspace to exit without help, but this is unknown because
the physical properties of hyperspace aren't well defined yet.

Now, currently I don't believe objects in hyperspace can interact at all
with objects in normal space unless said object is a jumpgate. Same goes
the other way around. To sense ships in H-space your ship would itself
have to at least partially be in H-space. It might be possible to send
drones out to watch hyperspace for visitors but that's beside the point.
The thing is, you couldn't use hyperspace to create FTL sensors that watch
for ships in normal space - if the sensing apparatus operates in hyperspace
it won't be able to operate in normal space without entering normal space,
which means it has to be a hyperspace capable spacecraft itself, which means
it has to be HUGE etc. What might be possible is to place sensing buoys
around your ship that send information FTL to your ship - assuming FTL
communications don't require a jumpgate, which they quite probably do...

>>Besides, even if there aren't any FTL waves, it would take your opponent
>>eight minutes to see you thrusting as well. And if your ship can jump
>>by itself (which as I mentioned in the beginning I believe is possible
>>in the B5 milieu) then it could detect the other guy, jump, and have
>>a chance of catching the other guy if he's slow.

>Very true.

>And yes, a very large ship can be equiped with its own jump generator.
>Although I have add the disclaimer that I _haven't_ been lucky enough to see
>the movie.

The problem with this is that the ship must be going VERY fast (around .9c
or higher) to enter hyperspace - at that speed it's going to take a lot of
power to maneuver at all so H-space wouldn't be all that useful. Also,
jumping without a jumpgate takes a prohibative amount of power.

The movie won't help you with hyperspace questions BTW. It will let you
see a neat CGI affect though :)

>>Since I do believe most B5 ships aren't self-jump-capable, I suppose
>>then that you are right, and most battles would occur around jump points.
>>
>>By the way: I think Star Trek battles are eminently reasonable, given the
>>technology that is assumed to exist: lots of power, FTL drive and sensors,
>>and gravity propulsion allowing ships to circumvent most celestial mechanics.
>>B5 hasn't apparently postulated artificial gravity YET; we'll see if they
>>stick to it. Oh, and hugely powerful shields--does B5 have shields, by the
>>way?

>Yeah. True again. The ST battles _are_ logical in context. I guess I
>disagree with the context more than anything else.

I find star-trek battles to be completely unreasonable - the Enterprise has
the capability to go from 0 to warp 9 (1.7k x c) in a fraction of a second,
or from 0 to high impulse (either c from some or .25c or so from others) in
a very short time - while the weapons used against them travel about as fast
as a yugo with tire trouble. By using their computer, they could easily
dodge any pathetic ST weapon thrown at them with the possible exception
of lasers, which would have to be far enough away for their FTL sensors
to detect and the ship move before they struck. In any case, no weapon can
hit them for longer then about .3 sec. Also, as Douglas adams points out,
space is big. In ST, they have tried blocking an empire sized border with
about 20 ships and some tachyons. Assuming the border is unreasonably small,
say 1ly, the border will be (6x10^12)^2 (for simplicity) square miles in
area - clearly impossible to blockade. This same reasoning goes
with most battles - their weapons have a range of maybe a few thousand miles,
a distance they can traverse in a miniscule fraction of a second on impulse
power alone.

Joseph L. Lockett

unread,
Jul 1, 1993, 8:48:46 AM7/1/93
to
In article <whatever> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu proposes:

>Now, here's how you do it in a ship without a jumpgate: You get a ship -
>a REALLY HUGE ship - it has to be large enough to pretty much have it's
>own jumpgate inside it, and jumpgates inherently need huge amounts of
>power. Now, you take your ship and accelerate it to about .99c (you
>must be going very close to lightspeed to jump like this) You hit the
>hyperspace button and enter hyperspace. Fly around etc... Leave through
>a jumpgate or use your ships power again - you probably have to be going
>very slow in hyperspace to exit without help, but this is unknown because
>the physical properties of hyperspace aren't well defined yet.

In what (apparently) preferred inertial frame of reference are you going
"very close to lightspeed"? If there is no preferred frame, then I can
_always_ enter hyperspace because I'm moving .99c relative to _somebody_.
If there IS a preferred frame, then you've just thrown Einsteinian physics
cockeyed. I suspect there is no mumbo-jumbo about necessary velocity
for independent (i.e. ship-mounted) jumpgates: just a very large power
requirement.


>Now, currently I don't believe objects in hyperspace can interact at all
>with objects in normal space unless said object is a jumpgate. Same goes
>the other way around. To sense ships in H-space your ship would itself
>have to at least partially be in H-space. It might be possible to send
>drones out to watch hyperspace for visitors but that's beside the point.

Though you could probably set up pickets "around" the hyperspace end of
your jumpgate to watch for vessels approaching that way....

I'd be curious to know where you got this information. Is it from
actual (JMS) sources, or mere speculation? It's hard to tell.
I very much look forward to the series, though, when we'll probably
all have a better basis for discussing this sort of thing.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
Joseph "Chepe" Lockett / jlo...@ricevm1.rice.edu › Hail HEGGA!
Hamman Hall Auditorium Administrator ›/ Nullum magnum ingenium sine
Rice University, Houston, Texas, USA /› mixtura dementiae fuit.-Seneca
Rice doesn't speak for me, nor I for Rice. At least, not here....

A Adams

unread,
Jul 1, 1993, 9:49:36 AM7/1/93
to

The two authors that come to my mind when considering reasonable
space fighting are CJ Cherryh and Stephen Donaldson. CJ Cherryh's
space fights might not stand up to rigorous checking (I don't
think anyone's would), but her slight of hand is probably the
best around. Stephen Donaldson's latest series has some believable
space fights (i.e. the only way to damage somebody is to ambush them
or be guarding a known position they're going to attack).
As has been said, too many space battles ignore the sheer size of space.

--
TTFN, Zaphod (Two Heads, No Brain)*E-mail*csc...@gps.leeds.ac.uk****
************************************snail*Flat 18,26 Brudenell Road**
**Happiness is a cigar ...*********mail*Leeds,LS6 1BD,UK***********
**shoved up a smoker's arse!**********Tel*UK-0532 789237*************

David C. Navas

unread,
Jul 1, 1993, 10:34:58 AM7/1/93
to
In article <watson.7...@sputnik.sce.carleton.ca> wat...@sce.carleton.ca (Stephen Watson) writes:
>Yes they have, but it must be expensive to do: the "bridge" or
>whatever that traffic-control thing at the end is seems to have
>gravity, but it's right on the axis, and in a non-spinning part of the
>station.

Sorry, that part of the station is, indeed, off center. Someone once did
a calculation as to the Gs present in the traffic-control area, anyone have
it handy?

--
David Navas ja...@netcom.com
dna...@us.oracle.com
"Talent develops in quiet places; character, in the full current of human life"

Joseph L. Lockett

unread,
Jul 1, 1993, 11:59:10 AM7/1/93
to
In article <something> ja...@netcom.com (David C. Navas) writes:
>In article <watson.7...@sputnik.sce.carleton.ca> wat...@sce.carleton.ca (Stephen Watson) writes:
>>Yes they have, but it must be expensive to do: the "bridge" or
>>whatever that traffic-control thing at the end is seems to have
>>gravity, but it's right on the axis, and in a non-spinning part of the
>>station.
>
>Sorry, that part of the station is, indeed, off center. Someone once did
>a calculation as to the Gs present in the traffic-control area, anyone have
>it handy?

Right here:

========================================================================
Newsgroups: alt.tv.babylon-5
From: ni...@halcyon.com (Jonathan Roy)
Date: Mon, 29 Mar 1993 04:59:50 GMT

Second SFfF RT
Category 18, Topic 21
Message 637 Tue Mar 16, 1993
STRACZYNSKI [Joe] at 01:35 EST

Re: the gravity in the observation dome question...HAH! Hah to ALL of
you! I not only have an ANSWER to this, it even has MATH in it! I got it off
another system (WITH the sender's permission to repost. Here, check it out!
Hah!

Sb: Gravity in B5's OPS Fm: J. Reed 70612,1706 To: All

Several forum members have questioned the amount of gravity present in
B5's control center. Is there a quick method (less than 5 min.) to
extrapolate this based on just the broadcast? All one needs is the rotation
rate of the station, and the distance of the control center from the rotation
axis.

In the title sequence, the shot begins with the station and pans into
the control center, ending up with a shot of the main window in the control
center. From later scenes, the window width appears to be roughly twice the
height of the humans behind it, or about 4 meters. Let's make it 4.5 meters
to set an upper limit. The control center's dome DIAMETER appears rougly 6
times the window's width (or 27 meters), 5 domes equal the "strut" width (135
meters), and the "endcap" of the station has a RADIUS of about 5 "strut"
widths (675 meters). Finally, the thickest part of the station is about 1.3
times the endcap, so rounding off, we get a station RADIUS of about 900
meters.

The rotation rate is somewhat trickier, since one must find a shot
without the camera movement affecting the apparent rotation rate. Although
only a few seconds of rotating station is visible at any one time, one may
have noticed the endcap of the station has 30 "notches" on it. Using a star as
reference, one "notch" rotates past in about 2 seconds, giving a period of
around 60 seconds (1 RPM).

The rotational acceleration, A, is given by: A = R (2 PI / T)^2 where R
is the distance from the rotation axis, and T is the rotation period
(PI=3.1416, and ^2 means squared). Plugging in the numbers, we find A at the
outermost part of the thickest section to be about 9.9 meters/(sec^2), or
roughly 1g.

I used the title sequence, freeze frame and a ruler to estimate that the
control center is located at rougly 1/4 of the station's radius. Noting that
the rotational aceleration is proportional to the distance from the rotation
axis, we conclude that the control center has approximately 1/4g.

As JMS has pointed out, humans should have enough "weight" to move around
fairly normally.

----------
F F Jonathan Roy, of the Free Access Foundation Email: ni...@faf.org
A Mail f...@halcyon.com for information, or FTP to halcyon.com: /pub/faf/
F F Vorlons, of the Galactic Bloodshed Development Team GEnie: J.ROY18
"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design." - _RotJ_

Gary Hoo

unread,
Jul 2, 1993, 8:47:55 PM7/2/93
to
In article <20ujj9$3...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:
>Here's a VERY simple description of B5 FTL which may either prolong or
>kill this thread: You have a ship. You fly through the jump gate. You
>are now in hyperspace. You fly in hyperspace at >c speed. You come to
>Gate #2. You send a code sequence to open it. You fly through. You are
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^[see (2), below]

>now in normal space again, somewhere else.
>
>Now, here's how you do it in a ship without a jumpgate: You get a ship -
>a REALLY HUGE ship - it has to be large enough to pretty much have it's
>own jumpgate inside it, and jumpgates inherently need huge amounts of
>power. Now, you take your ship and accelerate it to about .99c (you
>must be going very close to lightspeed to jump like this)

(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like
"breaking" the sound barrier--you just go faster until something
gives. I don't recall any insights from the premiere that this is
what's happening, and though anything's possible, it seems at
least extremely wasteful (as you approach lightspeed as a limit,
your apparent mass would increase without limit--that's tough on
gas mileage :-).

More importantly, while breaking the sound barrier is a
phenomenon that is allowable under known physical laws, it's
not clear that by extension, breaking the light barrier in an
analogous way (i.e., accelerating) is an allowable phenomenon
under "hyperphysical" laws.

I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
"velocity."

> You hit the
>hyperspace button and enter hyperspace. Fly around etc... Leave through
>a jumpgate or use your ships power again - you probably have to be going
>very slow in hyperspace to exit without help, but this is unknown because
>the physical properties of hyperspace aren't well defined yet.

Evidently. :-)

>Now, currently I don't believe objects in hyperspace can interact at all
>with objects in normal space unless said object is a jumpgate. Same goes
>the other way around. To sense ships in H-space your ship would itself
>have to at least partially be in H-space. It might be possible to send
>drones out to watch hyperspace for visitors but that's beside the point.
>The thing is, you couldn't use hyperspace to create FTL sensors that watch
>for ships in normal space - if the sensing apparatus operates in hyperspace
>it won't be able to operate in normal space without entering normal space,
>which means it has to be a hyperspace capable spacecraft itself, which means
>it has to be HUGE etc. What might be possible is to place sensing buoys
>around your ship that send information FTL to your ship - assuming FTL
>communications don't require a jumpgate, which they quite probably do...

(2) I'm confused. If you can communicate in hyperspace--or more
properly, via hyperspace--then why can't you "sense" things?
The difference between a communicator and a sensor is really
how you interpret what you're receiving.

As for sensing things within hyperspace and sending the results
of a scan to observers in normal space, it seems to me that that
is a similar problem to getting ships in and out of hyperspace.
What is the qualitative difference between the information
represented by a sensor's results and the information represented
by an object like a spaceship?

If your assumption is correct--that anything capable of mediating
between hyperspace and normal space, like a jump gate, has to be
huge--then you certainly couldn't have a large number of
hyperspatial sensors, but you would have clusters around specific
sites. If you don't have to have huge structures to interface
with hyperspace, then communicators and sensors immediately
become possible and likely.

Of course, as I think I said in another post, I didn't say it would

is a kludge

unread,
Jul 3, 1993, 1:48:07 AM7/3/93
to
ga...@springfield.SFSU.EDU (Gary Hoo) writes:

>In article <20ujj9$3...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

>>Gate #2. You send a code sequence to open it. You fly through. You are
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^[see (2), below]

The code sequence from your ship is to identify you to whoever owns the
jumpgate and to tell the jumpgate that a ship is coming through. If a
war is going on, you could tell the jumpgates to only allow ships with
friendly codes through.

>>must be going very close to lightspeed to jump like this)

>(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
> jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like

[See below]

[Snip]


> I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
> bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
> normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
> "velocity."

I pretty much answered this before so I'll be brief: [maybe not :)]

You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.
This makes the relative mass of the universe to your ship go down (big
leap of logic there eh? :) And for some reason to enter hyperspace without
a stationary jumpgate the relative mass of the universe to your ship has to
go way down. This is probably for energy reasons - maybe the energy
required to make a jump into hyperspace increases exponentially as the mass
of your ship decreases? Whatever the reason, you need to be going really
fast - not to impart speed in hyperspace travel but to decrease the relative
mass of the universe.

>>very slow in hyperspace to exit without help, but this is unknown because
>>the physical properties of hyperspace aren't well defined yet.

>Evidently. :-)

[Snip. You don't want to read that again]

>(2) I'm confused. If you can communicate in hyperspace--or more

Yeah, confused pretty much describes it... also, JMS could change the
laws of hyperspace travel at any time before it becomes well established
in the series if he or his science advisor thinks it appropriate...

> properly, via hyperspace--then why can't you "sense" things?
> The difference between a communicator and a sensor is really
> how you interpret what you're receiving.

A sensor is really a pretty ambiguous term, which is probly why ST loves
it so much. It can mean many things - a big telescope, a radar system etc.
If you can communicate via hyperspace but it requires the use of a jump gate
or a jump capable ship (by sending radio messages or something through H-
space to another gate/ship) then hyperspace will be useless for FTL sensing
of normal space. I don't know of any reason why it would be impossible to
sense things that are IN hyperspace - other ships etc - as long as you are
in hyperspace yourself.

> As for sensing things within hyperspace and sending the results
> of a scan to observers in normal space, it seems to me that that
> is a similar problem to getting ships in and out of hyperspace.
> What is the qualitative difference between the information
> represented by a sensor's results and the information represented
> by an object like a spaceship?

Huh? Maybe you're defining hyperspace wrong - think of it as an alternate
universe that physically coincides with ours in some ways, but allows
speeds that are faster than light in our universe. You enter hyperspace at
point A1 in our universe, A2 in h-space, go to point B2 in h-space at what-
ever speed, then enter normal space again at which time you are at point B1.
The amount of time elapsed is less than the amount of time it would take
light to go from A1 to B1 in our universe, so you have travelled faster than
light. Ignore paradoxes where appropriate :)

> If your assumption is correct--that anything capable of mediating
> between hyperspace and normal space, like a jump gate, has to be
> huge--then you certainly couldn't have a large number of
> hyperspatial sensors, but you would have clusters around specific
> sites. If you don't have to have huge structures to interface
> with hyperspace, then communicators and sensors immediately
> become possible and likely.

It's also possible that size isn't really the problem - energy is.
If this is the case then it's possible that some alien race may be able
to make hyperspace capable fighters or even H-Space nanotech stuff -
which would make FTL sensing apparatus possible. If it's possible to
send messages FTL without large amounts of energy/apparatus then FTL
sensors are also possible.

Basically, this is true: Anything capable of sending a ship of any size
through hyperspace made by either the Earth Alliance, the Narns, the
Centauri, the Minbari, and almost certainly the Vorlons has to be huge.
Any race with powerful enough technology to make fighters etc. hyperspace
capable would have such a massive strategic advantage in war that their
existance is probably unlikely.

Peter Loveridge

unread,
Jul 5, 1993, 4:12:06 PM7/5/93
to
On the subject of sensing ships going FTL or in Hyperspace...\

iI might be totally off base here but I seem to remember the bridge crew
saying they were detecting a ship approaching (meaning the battle fleet of the
dying ambassador, coming to pick up the supposed assasin, sorry I really can't
remember any names right now) in hperspace (though I'm not positive they used
that term). I have only seen i once and what I might remember is them
detecting the ship actually coming out of FTL.

Anyone???
Peter
no cool sig.

Gregory R Block

unread,
Jul 5, 1993, 5:18:30 PM7/5/93
to
In article <ploverid....@sfu.ca>, Peter Loveridge (plov...@fraser.sfu.ca) wrote:
: iI might be totally off base here but I seem to remember the bridge crew
: saying they were detecting a ship approaching (meaning the battle fleet of the
: dying ambassador, coming to pick up the supposed assasin, sorry I really can't
: remember any names right now) in hperspace (though I'm not positive they used
: that term). I have only seen i once and what I might remember is them
: detecting the ship actually coming out of FTL.

You remember correctly; however, that could easily have been telemetry
from the jump gate itself.

Greg

--
(: (: (: (: Have you overdosed on smileys today? Why NOT!?! :) :) :) :)
(: LEMMINGS: Like their computer counterpart, "lemmings" are a group :)
(: of people who begin their existence on Amigas, and migrate. :)
(: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: (: :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) Wubba :)

Andrew Milmoe

unread,
Jul 5, 1993, 6:43:17 PM7/5/93
to
>>In article <20ujj9$3...@news.u.washington.edu>
>> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

>>(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
>> jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like

>[Snip]
>> I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
>> bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
>> normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
>> "velocity."

>ga...@springfield.SFSU.EDU (Gary Hoo) answers:

>You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
>own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.

Unless you're postulating some sort of energy supply external to the
ship, possibly transmitted via hyperspace (which, from what has been
said before, seems cumbersome to implement, at the least), the ship
HAS TO CARRY THE EXCESS MASS FROM THE START OF THE TRIP. Using
matter-antimatter reactions as a best case (and some mysterious
non-action/reaction thrust), the mass of the matter-antimatter fuel
is precisely equal to the mass gained by the unfueled ship over its
rest mass. If less efficient power sources are used, the mass increase
is a miniscule fraction of the fuel carried. So I don't think that
this argument holds up.

>It's also possible that size isn't really the problem - energy is.
>If this is the case then it's possible that some alien race may be able
>to make hyperspace capable fighters or even H-Space nanotech stuff -
>which would make FTL sensing apparatus possible. If it's possible to
>send messages FTL without large amounts of energy/apparatus then FTL
>sensors are also possible.

I think the idea is that the gates and jump-capable ships need to
generate a field that translates objects into hyperspace. Making
the energy requirements for creating the field costly (or the
currently used apparatus inefficient) explains the 'observed'
size of the gates and ships, and does not necessitate near-c
pre-jump velocities (and, as you say above, any race that can
build ultra-compact power sources can build smaller jump-
capable ships).
As for the high post-jump speeds 'observed' (like the Vorlon
ship in the the premiere), it can take on the order of
100 hours or more to cross a solar system at <0.1 c ; the
only examples of ships travelling at speeds higher than this
in the premiere (though there may have been others) were the
Vorlon ambassador's ship and the Vorlon war fleet, both of which
would probably want to traverse normal space as fast as possible.
--
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
Andrew Milmoe |My opinions are those of UIUC, but they
mil...@symcom.math.uiuc.edu |are under contract to vehemently deny
|it at every oppotunity.

is a kludge

unread,
Jul 5, 1993, 7:37:43 PM7/5/93
to
mil...@symcom.math.uiuc.edu (Andrew Milmoe) writes:

>>>In article <20ujj9$3...@news.u.washington.edu>
>>> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

>>>(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
>>> jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like
>>[Snip]
>>> I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
>>> bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
>>> normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
>>> "velocity."

>>ga...@springfield.SFSU.EDU (Gary Hoo) answers:

>>You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
>>own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.

You really screwed up the attributions there... Big deal? Nah, who cares,
this is an alt group :)

>Unless you're postulating some sort of energy supply external to the
>ship, possibly transmitted via hyperspace (which, from what has been
>said before, seems cumbersome to implement, at the least), the ship
>HAS TO CARRY THE EXCESS MASS FROM THE START OF THE TRIP. Using
>matter-antimatter reactions as a best case (and some mysterious
>non-action/reaction thrust), the mass of the matter-antimatter fuel
>is precisely equal to the mass gained by the unfueled ship over its
>rest mass. If less efficient power sources are used, the mass increase
>is a miniscule fraction of the fuel carried. So I don't think that
>this argument holds up.

It isn't an argument it's The Way Hyperspace Works in the B5 Universe (tm)
Anyway they could be using external fuel like in a Bussard ramjet system,
or have some sort of magical gravity-intertia control gizmos that only work
on really big ships.

>I think the idea is that the gates and jump-capable ships need to
>generate a field that translates objects into hyperspace. Making
>the energy requirements for creating the field costly (or the
>currently used apparatus inefficient) explains the 'observed'
>size of the gates and ships, and does not necessitate near-c
>pre-jump velocities (and, as you say above, any race that can
>build ultra-compact power sources can build smaller jump-
>capable ships).
>As for the high post-jump speeds 'observed' (like the Vorlon
>ship in the the premiere), it can take on the order of
>100 hours or more to cross a solar system at <0.1 c ; the
>only examples of ships travelling at speeds higher than this
>in the premiere (though there may have been others) were the
>Vorlon ambassador's ship and the Vorlon war fleet, both of which
>would probably want to traverse normal space as fast as possible.

Ships don't have to be going any particularly fast speed to enter a
stationary jumpgate, and they don't come out at great velocity. The
speed requirements are only applicable to hyperspace-capable ships
that have to take the hyperspace jump machinery with them.

Joseph L. Lockett

unread,
Jul 5, 1993, 11:34:13 PM7/5/93
to
Sorry, I just can't take it any more. Flames ahead:

In article <ahem> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:
(Someone else writes -- sorry, lost the attribution!):

>>Unless you're postulating some sort of energy supply external to the
>>ship, possibly transmitted via hyperspace (which, from what has been
>>said before, seems cumbersome to implement, at the least), the ship
>>HAS TO CARRY THE EXCESS MASS FROM THE START OF THE TRIP. Using
>>matter-antimatter reactions as a best case (and some mysterious
>>non-action/reaction thrust), the mass of the matter-antimatter fuel
>>is precisely equal to the mass gained by the unfueled ship over its
>>rest mass. If less efficient power sources are used, the mass increase
>>is a miniscule fraction of the fuel carried. So I don't think that
>>this argument holds up.
>
>It isn't an argument it's The Way Hyperspace Works in the B5 Universe (tm)

Oh, bull-pucky. You are spouting the worst, most inane sort of pseudo-
scientific garbage, the sort of thing Babylon 5 seems mostly to want to
correct. I've seen JMS exhibit a fairly good grasp of actual physics,
and, even better, a willingness to let those physical limits open him
out to better plots and ideas, rather than constrain him into awkward
handwaving like yours. You show no indication or support that your
ludicrous ideas are at all shared by the B5 crew, so I must take them,
as they seem, to be the ravings of a Star-Trek-spoiled physical-science
dilettante.


>Anyway they could be using external fuel like in a Bussard ramjet system,
>or have some sort of magical gravity-intertia control gizmos that only work
>on really big ships.

See what I mean about the frantic handwaving? Your idea is bunkum, so deal
with it. As I posted early, the very idea of a drive that requires a
velocity "close to light speed" is ridiculous because a) there isn't
enough power to get you to that speed without setting up a godlike
antimatter-production infrastructure the likes of which you've never
imagined, and b) it presumes an absolute frame of reference in order
to be more than junior-high-school-level ravings, and such would cause
significant effects in our whole concepts of physical law and the universe.

Everything JMS has posted so far indicates a willingness, nay a determination,
that B5 be based on reasonable and consistent premises. Unsupported swill
said with fraudulent authority to be "The Way Hyperspace Works" does both
JMS and the show a disservice, as well as making a very trying argument
on UseNet.

-- Joseph L. Lockett
jloc...@hanszen.rice.edu

Ken Arromdee

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 2:12:27 AM7/6/93
to
In article <16C0213D6...@ricevm1.rice.edu> JLO...@ricevm1.rice.edu (Joseph L. Lockett) writes:
>See what I mean about the frantic handwaving? Your idea is bunkum, so deal
>with it. As I posted early, the very idea of a drive that requires a
>velocity "close to light speed" is ridiculous because a) there isn't
>enough power to get you to that speed without setting up a godlike
>antimatter-production infrastructure the likes of which you've never
>imagined, and b) it presumes an absolute frame of reference in order
>to be more than junior-high-school-level ravings, and such would cause
>significant effects in our whole concepts of physical law and the universe.

Not to support the original poster, but....

You can use a Bussard ramjet to get your fuel.

As for absolute frames of reference, the simplest way to postulate a FTL
drive that doesn't give you time travel is _already_ to postulate an absolute
frame of reference....
--
"On the first day after Christmas my truelove served to me... Leftover Turkey!
On the second day after Christmas my truelove served to me... Turkey Casserole
that she made from Leftover Turkey.
[days 3-4 deleted] ... Flaming Turkey Wings! ...
-- Pizza Hut commercial (and M*tlu/A*gic bait)

Ken Arromdee (arro...@jyusenkyou.cs.jhu.edu)

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 10:34:27 AM7/6/93
to
In article <16BFE6DE...@ricevm1.rice.edu> JLO...@ricevm1.rice.edu (Joseph L. Lockett) writes:
>In what (apparently) preferred inertial frame of reference are you going
>"very close to lightspeed"? If there is no preferred frame, then I can

How about an electromagnetic wave, traveling through a vacuum, at speed c.

Not that I have any idea why a "jumpgate" works the way it does... Although
I am curious!

>_always_ enter hyperspace because I'm moving .99c relative to _somebody_.
>If there IS a preferred frame, then you've just thrown Einsteinian physics
>cockeyed. I suspect there is no mumbo-jumbo about necessary velocity
>for independent (i.e. ship-mounted) jumpgates: just a very large power
>requirement.
>

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 1:08:49 PM7/6/93
to
In article <1993Jul2.1...@nic.csu.net> ga...@springfield.SFSU.EDU (Gary Hoo) writes:
>In article <20ujj9$3...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:
>
>(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
> jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like
> "breaking" the sound barrier--you just go faster until something
> gives. I don't recall any insights from the premiere that this is
> what's happening, and though anything's possible, it seems at
> least extremely wasteful (as you approach lightspeed as a limit,
> your apparent mass would increase without limit--that's tough on
> gas mileage :-).

I will be very interested to see how Babylon-5 handles long travels.
Hopefully, they will not be going faster than light, but will instead
be contracting distances or time (warping spacetime).

> More importantly, while breaking the sound barrier is a
> phenomenon that is allowable under known physical laws, it's
> not clear that by extension, breaking the light barrier in an
> analogous way (i.e., accelerating) is an allowable phenomenon
> under "hyperphysical" laws.

As a matter of fact, there is an effect, and it is called Srenkov radiation
(I probably mispelled that). You see, in the same way that the speed of
sound varies between materials, the speed of light is also different for
different materials. The speed "c" that you are accustomed to is the
speed of light in a vacuum. So, for instance, if you accelerate an
electron in water past the speed of light in water, you get this eerie
glow of light. What you can't go faster than (or as fast as) is c.

>
> I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
> bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
> normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
> "velocity."

Space is space, it's just a mathematical vector (well, a tensor). Velocity
is change in distance over change in time. I don't know if I understand
the above -- would you explain it to me?

>Of course, as I think I said in another post, I didn't say it would
>be EASY. :-)
>
> /gh
>--
> ga...@futon.sfsu.edu

evetS-

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 1:21:42 PM7/6/93
to
In article <2136in$8...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

>ga...@springfield.SFSU.EDU (Gary Hoo) writes:
>
>You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
>own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.
>This makes the relative mass of the universe to your ship go down (big
>leap of logic there eh? :) And for some reason to enter hyperspace without

I would think that relative to your ship, the rest of the universe is
moving past you very quickly, and hence the relative mass of the universe
to your ship would be much larger.

Now, your ship would appear smaller to the universe -- maybe this is
something?

>Huh? Maybe you're defining hyperspace wrong - think of it as an alternate
>universe that physically coincides with ours in some ways, but allows
>speeds that are faster than light in our universe. You enter hyperspace at

Since I am sure you suspect that I find such a system incredibly fishy, I
won't comment ;-). (I think "weaselly" is a better term than "fishy" ;-)

S e e
t v

Mike Van Pelt

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 2:31:41 PM7/6/93
to
In article <2136in$8...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:
>You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
>own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.
>This makes the relative mass of the universe to your ship go down (big
>leap of logic there eh? :)

Sort of a logical bungee-jump -- was the bungee too long, or was
the bridge too low? :-) What actually happens is, in our frame of
reference, sitting here watching this guy zipping past at near c,
he has increased in mass, his time has slowed, and his length has
contracted. In his frame of reference, we are the ones who are
travelling near c, and it is we who have increased in mass, had our
time slowed, and length contracted. That's right, they're reversed.

Someone else mentioned something about "preferred" or "absolute"
frames of reference, and the fact that relativity is based on there
being no such thing. I wonder, though... It is possible to measure
our velocity relative to the universe as a whole, by measuring the
Doppler shift of the 3 degree Kelvin background. The last I heard
of the COBE results, the solar system does seem to be moving against
that background. Might the universe as a whole be a "preferred" frame
of reference? What are the implications of this for relativity?

(For that last question, I've crossposted this to rec.arts.sf.science.)

--
Mike Van Pelt | What happens if a big asteroid hits Earth?
m...@netcom.com | Judging from realistic simulations involving a
| sledge hammer and a common laboratory frog, we
| can assume it will be pretty bad. -- Dave Barry

Christopher Wood

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 3:41:54 PM7/6/93
to
In article <mvpC9r...@netcom.com>, m...@netcom.com (Mike Van Pelt) writes:
|> In article <2136in$8...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

|> >You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
|> >own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.

"Relativistic mass" has been out of favor in the physics community for
quite some time. As my physics prof. explained, "relativistic mass"
made too many other things counter-intuitive. So instead of changing
m, they changed f=ma to f=m*gamma*a, where gamma is the inverse of the
square root of 1 - v^2/c^2.

|> >This makes the relative mass of the universe to your ship go down (big
|> >leap of logic there eh? :)

|> Sort of a logical bungee-jump -- was the bungee too long, or was
|> the bridge too low? :-) What actually happens is, in our frame of
|> reference, sitting here watching this guy zipping past at near c,
|> he has increased in mass, his time has slowed, and his length has

^^^^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ --- ---OK--- ------ --- --OK-- ---
(see above)


|> contracted. In his frame of reference, we are the ones who are

----OK----


|> travelling near c, and it is we who have increased in mass, had our
|> time slowed, and length contracted. That's right, they're reversed.

Yup.

|> I wonder, though... It is possible to measure our velocity relative
|> to the universe as a whole, by measuring the Doppler shift of the 3
|> degree Kelvin background.

Yup.

|> Might the universe as a whole be a "preferred" frame of reference?

Nope. For proof of this, review the results of the Michaelson-Morley
experiment.

|> What are the implications of this for relativity?

None.

Chris
--
Chris Wood Bellcore c...@ctt.bellcore.com

Joe Pfeiffer

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 4:35:49 PM7/6/93
to
In article <2136in$8...@news.u.washington.edu> klu...@carson.u.washington.edu (is a kludge) writes:

>>must be going very close to lightspeed to jump like this)

>(1) I don't see how your speed in normal space would be related to
> jumping. This makes "breaking" the light barrier sound like
[See below]

[Snip]
> I guess you could accuse me of a Trek bias, or even of a Lensman
> bias, in that I think that a ship's intrinsic velocity in
> normal space need have nothing to do with its hyperspatial
> "velocity."

I pretty much answered this before so I'll be brief: [maybe not :)]

You have to be going very close to c to perform a hyperspace jump on your
own ship because at speeds close to c, the mass of your ship goes way up.
This makes the relative mass of the universe to your ship go down (big
leap of logic there eh? :) And for some reason to enter hyperspace without
a stationary jumpgate the relative mass of the universe to your ship has to
go way down. This is probably for energy reasons - maybe the energy
required to make a jump into hyperspace increases exponentially as the mass
of your ship decreases? Whatever the reason, you need to be going really
fast - not to impart speed in hyperspace travel but to decrease the relative
mass of the universe.

Uhhhh, no. Velocity on Earth has meaning, because it's relative to
Earth. When you say you need to go close to c, the question that
arises is, ``compared to what?'' The whole source of all the weird
behavior around the speed of light is that, no matter how fast you go,
c still measures out as 186,000 miles/sec. All very, very strange...
but you'll never accelerate to a velocity near c.

Of course, this is real life not science fiction...

-Joe.

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 5:49:39 PM7/6/93
to
In article <16C0213D6...@ricevm1.rice.edu> JLO...@ricevm1.rice.edu (Joseph L. Lockett) writes:
>Oh, bull-pucky. You are spouting the worst, most inane sort of pseudo-

Testy, testy... Better be careful...

>scientific garbage, the sort of thing Babylon 5 seems mostly to want to
>correct. I've seen JMS exhibit a fairly good grasp of actual physics,

Hmmmmm, very interesting. What are "actual physics"?

>See what I mean about the frantic handwaving? Your idea is bunkum, so deal
>with it. As I posted early, the very idea of a drive that requires a
>velocity "close to light speed" is ridiculous because a) there isn't
>enough power to get you to that speed without setting up a godlike

How about a big gravity well, or artificially warped spacetime? I can
give you plans for an anti-gravity device that will really work --
it is quite difficult to build, but that's an engineering problem ;-).

>antimatter-production infrastructure the likes of which you've never
>imagined, and b) it presumes an absolute frame of reference in order

Like the speed of light in a vacuum, c.

>to be more than junior-high-school-level ravings, and such would cause
>significant effects in our whole concepts of physical law and the universe.
>

>-- Joseph L. Lockett
> jloc...@hanszen.rice.edu

Me thinkest thou dost protest too much, over what is, let's be honest,
a television program, and one person's opinion thereof.

What was that line -- "Polemic sophistry doesn't challenge real-world
process"? Meaning, in part, that the guy (JMS?) is going to make his
show no matter what a few people on a little Internet newsgroup might think
about it.

Therefore... why don't we wait until something has happened on the show
(or is documented somewhere) before discussing the "physics" or
rationale behind it? It's like a bunch of people criticizing a book
they've never read!

L I G H T E N U P <0_\
<0 / It's not as if this is a Star Trek group!

:-) :-) :-) :^) 8^) B^) %^P =) P-)

Skip Sanders

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 1:34:49 AM7/6/93
to
> On the subject of sensing ships going FTL or in Hyperspace...\

Joe has stated that ships wanting to exit a stargate must send a comm
signal to the gate to "open" the gate, so the local traffic controller
at B5 will be aware that someone (and the codes may indicate size and
number of ships at times - that's uncertain) is about to appear.

Apparently, short of declared war, it's forbidden to REFUSE to allow the
signalling ship to transit, by treaty. (It would BE an act of war to
refuse transit.)

--
INTERNET: skip...@netlink.cts.com (Skip Sanders)
UUCP: ...!ryptyde!netlink!skipsand
NetLink Online Communications * Public Access in San Diego, CA (619) 453-1115

Sean O'Connell

unread,
Jul 6, 1993, 9:24:42 PM7/6/93
to
In <1993Jul6.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu writes:

> In article <16C0213D6...@ricevm1.rice.edu> JLO...@ricevm1.rice.edu (Joseph L. Lockett) writes:
> >antimatter-production infrastructure the likes of which you've never
> >imagined, and b) it presumes an absolute frame of reference in order
>
> Like the speed of light in a vacuum, c.

A limiting velocity is not a frame of reference, for that you need a specific,
permanent point in space.

-------
Sean O'Connell I'm insane, but it keeps me from going crazy.
se...@hacks.arizona.edu

Death - Life's way of saying, "You can let go of your ankles now."

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 8, 1993, 2:13:16 PM7/8/93
to
Peter Loveridge (plov...@fraser.sfu.ca) wrote:
: iI might be totally off base here but I seem to remember the bridge crew
: saying they were detecting a ship approaching (meaning the battle fleet of the
: dying ambassador, coming to pick up the supposed assasin, sorry I really can't
: remember any names right now) in hperspace (though I'm not positive they used
: that term). I have only seen i once and what I might remember is them
: detecting the ship actually coming out of FTL.


Yes, they detected them. However they only picked up on them when the
fleet signaled the gate to activate the vortex generators; at which
point the gate computer delivered the info it had on the incoming
signal.


--
Ron Jarrell
Virginia Tech Computing Center
jar...@vtserf.cc.vt.edu

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 8, 1993, 2:17:38 PM7/8/93
to
Skip Sanders (skip...@netlink.cts.com) wrote:
: Apparently, short of declared war, it's forbidden to REFUSE to allow the

: signalling ship to transit, by treaty. (It would BE an act of war to
: refuse transit.)


Forbidden is too strong a word. I was the one that pointed this out on
GEnie, and suggested that while an individual site owned their gate, it
would be considered the height of unfriendliness to refuse to open it,
and that some people would consider it an act of war. The Vorlons, in
particular, would certainly have attacked B5 had they refused to open
the gate and let them out to get Sinclair, and Laurel damn well knew it.

Joe didn't argue with my suggestion.

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 8, 1993, 5:51:31 PM7/8/93
to
In article <1993Jul7.0...@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu> SE...@HACKS.ARIZONA.EDU (Sean O'Connell) writes:
>In <1993Jul6.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu writes:
>
>> In article <16C0213D6...@ricevm1.rice.edu> JLO...@ricevm1.rice.edu (Joseph L. Lockett) writes:
>> >antimatter-production infrastructure the likes of which you've never
>> >imagined, and b) it presumes an absolute frame of reference in order
>>
>> Like the speed of light in a vacuum, c.
>
>A limiting velocity is not a frame of reference, for that you need a specific,
>permanent point in space.

I will give you a little excercise then: Pretend you are a photon, traveling
at speed "c" (surfing the electromagnetic waves). Calculate the speed of a
beam of light traveling away from you. Calculate the speed of a spaceship
moving at .7c. Calculate the distance between the sun and the earth at
perihelion. Pretend you are an entirely different photon, and calculate the
same.

Here is something else to think about: The argument being made is "You can't
get close to 3x10^8 m/s because it presumes an absolute frame of reference!"
i.e. that speed depends on where I am measuring it from.
If that is the case, then consider the following: Let us say that the one-
second mile was broken long ago, and we are jogging towards each other, each
of us running at a reasonable 0.6c. You look up, and see me coming towards
you. How fast do you think I am moving? 1.2c? I turn on a flashlight to
look behind me, because I thought I saw Einstein talking to Elvis. How fast do
I think the light travels? .4c? (I don't, I think it travels at speed "c",
although I have been known to be wrong ;-).

The reason you can travel .9c is because it is a speed measured relative to
a photon traveling at c, not relative to some guy on a space station whose
name begins with a "B" and ends in a "5" and backwards is spelled 5-nolybaB
and when operated on by the Clinton Transform is spelled DS9 (good-looking
and emotional but lacking substance and integrity... with a dumb theme song ;^).

The reason it is a "limiting velocity" is because it is the only fixed frame
of reference! ("Fixed" meaning that I can measure "distance" in space and time
identically from any frame moving at speed c).

(Of course, you are semantically correct. I should have said "Like a beam of
light traveling through a vacuum at speed c." I can nitpick too and say that
"c" is not a limiting velocity, but a limiting speed. ;-) Also, what you
really want is "a specific, permanent point in space and time." ;-) My
apologies for not being clearer.

Now, here are a few ways to move yourself to c and beyond:
1) Give yourself zero mass and nonzero momentum.
2) Make yourself imaginary.
3) Stop time for a while, but not motion in space.

>Sean O'Connell I'm insane, but it keeps me from going crazy.

Steve -- Smiley Invention: !^| <-- Cylon Smiley Warrior

SE...@hacks.arizona.edu

unread,
Jul 8, 1993, 8:30:44 PM7/8/93
to
In <1993Jul8.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu writes:
[summary: someone said "absolute reference frame" then above said "like the
speed of light in vacuum" then I said "a limiting velocity isn't a frame of
reference"]

And now:


> Here is something else to think about: The argument being made is "You can't
> get close to 3x10^8 m/s because it presumes an absolute frame of reference!"

That isn't even worth defending. That's like saying,"My car isn't moving
because there's no absolute frame of reference," and I don't think the judge
is going to buy that excuse when trying to get out of that speeding ticket. =)


> (Of course, you are semantically correct. I should have said "Like a beam of
> light traveling through a vacuum at speed c."

Actually, I think it would have been easier to just point out that speed and
velocity don't need an absolute reference frame, just a relative one consisting
of at least two points. Try telling the annoying, 'save the universe in the
last five minutes' teenager that the 'photon torpedo' heading his way isn't
moving "close to 3x10^8 m/s" and see what he says. =)


> I can nitpick too and say that
> "c" is not a limiting velocity, but a limiting speed. ;-)

Damn! And I'm the one who usually catches the speed/velocity mistakes. =)


> Also, what you
> really want is "a specific, permanent point in space and time." ;-)

What I _really_ want is to win the lottery, but I suppose that will do.

-------


Sean O'Connell I'm insane, but it keeps me from going crazy.

Joseph L Lockett

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 2:35:00 AM7/9/93
to
I THINK I've got the snarl of attributions straight. Apologies if not....

In article <1993Jul8.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu (Xenu Galactic-Conqueror) writes:
>In article <1993Jul7.0...@organpipe.uug.arizona.edu> SE...@HACKS.ARIZONA.EDU (Sean O'Connell) writes:
>>A limiting velocity is not a frame of reference, for that you need a specific,
>>permanent point in space.
>
>I will give you a little excercise then: Pretend you are a photon, traveling
>at speed "c" (surfing the electromagnetic waves). Calculate the speed of a
>beam of light traveling away from you. Calculate the speed of a spaceship
>moving at .7c. Calculate the distance between the sun and the earth at
>perihelion. Pretend you are an entirely different photon, and calculate the
>same.

'Tain't quite so easy. While it's been a long time since I froliced among
the quantum equations, I think I remember the directions they lead. If you
were travelling _at_ c, then your view of the universe would shrink to a
single point ahead and behind, and time dilation would be infinite, meaning
that by the time you ended up discerning something in one of those points,
the universe would have come to an end. I suspect, therefore, that your
example is meaningless. Professional physicists or more experienced
dabblers may feel free to refute me. :-)

>Here is something else to think about: The argument being made is "You can't
>get close to 3x10^8 m/s because it presumes an absolute frame of reference!"

This is a misinterpretation of the original post. You can, indeed, get
close to c -- it happens all the time in particle accelerators. The
problem lies in postulating that getting close to c allows you to do
something non-standard and spectacular like entering an alternate universe
called "hyperspace", which is an absolute action, not a relative one.
Suppose I take off from Earth, accelerate to .9c relative to Earth, and
then enter hyperspace. I've obeyed the legalistic restrictions postulated
earlier. My slimy lawyer-friend from Rigel VII takes off from his home-
world, but wants to cheat the system. He thinks as follows: "Well, given
the vastly different velocities objects in the universe move at, what with
Hubble expansion and what not, I'm surely moving at .9c relative to
SOMEWHERE." *Poof*, he enters hyperspace after spending vastly less
energy than I, and proceeds to make a killing on long-distance freight
routes.

> Steve -- Smiley Invention: !^| <-- Cylon Smiley Warrior

--------------------------*-------------------------*------------------------
Joseph L. "Chepe" Lockett | "Nullum magnum ingenium | GURPS fan, Amiga user,
--------------------------* sine mixtura dementiae | Shakespearean scholar,
jloc...@hanszen.rice.edu | fuit." -- Seneca | actor and director.
--------------------------*-------------------------*------------------------


--
--------------------------*-------------------------*------------------------
Joseph L. "Chepe" Lockett | "Nullum magnum ingenium | GURPS fan, Amiga user,
--------------------------* sine mixtura dementiae | Shakespearean scholar,
jloc...@hanszen.rice.edu | fuit." -- Seneca | actor and director.

Erik Max Francis

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 1:32:48 AM7/9/93
to
m...@netcom.com (Mike Van Pelt) writes:

> Someone else mentioned something about "preferred" or "absolute"
> frames of reference, and the fact that relativity is based on there
> being no such thing. I wonder, though... It is possible to measure
> our velocity relative to the universe as a whole, by measuring the
> Doppler shift of the 3 degree Kelvin background. The last I heard
> of the COBE results, the solar system does seem to be moving against
> that background. Might the universe as a whole be a "preferred" frame
> of reference? What are the implications of this for relativity?

In relativity, "preferred" frame of reference means that it's a frame of
reference which is somehow "better," according to the laws of physics,
than other frames. The conservation of energy means that no time is
better than any other. The conservation of linear momentum means that no
position is better than any other. The conservation of angular momentum
means that no direction (angular position) is better than any other.

If the cosmic background were in motion relative to us, that doesn't
necessarily mean that the laws of physics will work _better_ in that
frame of reference. It might be a _useful_ frame of reference -- but
that's different from the relativistic meaning of _preferred_ frame.


Erik Max Francis, &tSftDotIotE ...!apple!uuwest!max m...@west.darkside.com __
USMail: 1070 Oakmont Dr. #1 San Jose, CA 95117 ICBM: 37 20 N 121 53 W / \
If you like strategic games of interstellar conquest, ask about UNIVERSE! \__/
-)(- Omnia quia sunt, lumina sunt. All things that are, are lights. -)(-

Osma Ahvenlampi

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 1:11:28 PM7/9/93
to
In article <1993Jul8.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu (Xenu Galactic-Conqueror) writes:
>I will give you a little excercise then: Pretend you are a photon, traveling
>at speed "c" (surfing the electromagnetic waves). Calculate the speed of a
>beam of light traveling away from you. Calculate the speed of a spaceship
>moving at .7c. Calculate the distance between the sun and the earth at
>perihelion. Pretend you are an entirely different photon, and calculate the
>same.

a) c
b) c (because of time dilation affecting the photon)
c) 0 (and that's the same with any two points...)
d) traveling at exactly the same direction? this is a bit tougher...
I'd guess 0, but I might be wrong... Then again, I'm no expert, so the
3 previous answers might be wrong also...

>Here is something else to think about: The argument being made is "You can't
>get close to 3x10^8 m/s because it presumes an absolute frame of reference!"
>i.e. that speed depends on where I am measuring it from.
>If that is the case, then consider the following: Let us say that the one-
>second mile was broken long ago, and we are jogging towards each other, each
>of us running at a reasonable 0.6c. You look up, and see me coming towards
>you. How fast do you think I am moving? 1.2c? I turn on a flashlight to
>look behind me, because I thought I saw Einstein talking to Elvis. How fast do
>I think the light travels? .4c? (I don't, I think it travels at speed "c",
>although I have been known to be wrong ;-).

a) about 0.88c
b) c

I won't get into the frame of reference fight, but you can't travel at c. By
flexing my imagination enough, I can buy FTL, but never traveling at c. The
reason? You'd have to carry an infinite amount of fuel to reach c. No, don't
suggest Buzzard ramjets. You can't reach c with one, because there's drag
introduced by collecting the hydrogen, and that drag will get high enough
to stop acceleration before c. If you're interested enough, try to calculate
the speed at which that happens. And even if you started using your fuel tanks
at that point to make the gap between the current speed and c you'd still need
an infinite amount of fuel. And anyway, traveling at c, you wouldn't be able
to stop at the place you wanted. In fact, you wouldn't be able to stop before
the end of the universe, whether that's by the Great Crush or what ever.

All my text in this article is exactly that, mine. And that means it contains
only my personal opinions. Everything might be just pure bullshit. Do what you
want with it, but keep that in mind when you do it.
--
Osma Ahvenlampi - oahv...@snakemail.hut.fi

Osma Ahvenlampi

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 1:22:25 PM7/9/93
to
In article <C9vwy...@rice.edu> jloc...@owlnet.rice.edu (Joseph L Lockett) writes:

>This is a misinterpretation of the original post. You can, indeed, get
>close to c -- it happens all the time in particle accelerators. The
>problem lies in postulating that getting close to c allows you to do
>something non-standard and spectacular like entering an alternate universe
>called "hyperspace", which is an absolute action, not a relative one.
>Suppose I take off from Earth, accelerate to .9c relative to Earth, and
>then enter hyperspace. I've obeyed the legalistic restrictions postulated
>earlier. My slimy lawyer-friend from Rigel VII takes off from his home-
>world, but wants to cheat the system. He thinks as follows: "Well, given
>the vastly different velocities objects in the universe move at, what with
>Hubble expansion and what not, I'm surely moving at .9c relative to
>SOMEWHERE." *Poof*, he enters hyperspace after spending vastly less
>energy than I, and proceeds to make a killing on long-distance freight
>routes.

Which gave me an idea for a possible explanation:
To make a hyperspace jump with the jump gate in the ship you're traveling,
you'll have to be moving at high speed relative to your destination. In
most cases, that would be also high speed relative to your starting point,
but not necessarily.. This does give some new problems, though.. What if
you just jumped, without accelerating first, for example to flee from
a battle in great haste.. Would you then jump to any point along your
jump vector or what?
Well, I don't think this explanation really bears a closer examination, but
what the heck...

Pirate (Anthony Taylor)

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 1:57:26 PM7/9/93
to
In article <1993Jul6.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu (Xenu Galactic-Conqueror) writes:

>How about a big gravity well, or artificially warped spacetime? I can
>give you plans for an anti-gravity device that will really work --
>it is quite difficult to build, but that's an engineering problem ;-).

Oh no! I hope it's not that bogus '2-spinning disk' contraption that Uri
Gelli (or however he spells it) wannabe posted to the net about two months
back.

Are you saying you can produce anti-gravitons? I have a device that'll
produce anti-computrons. Problem is, every time I start it up, the computer
controller on it dies. [:]) <- scuba smiley

When you go near the speed of light, the light you run into will be blue-
shifted, and the light behind you will be red-shifted, but they will still
be going pretty close to c. The frequency of the light changes, and so the
energy of the light changes, but the speed of the light does not change.

While you are standard matter, there is NO WAY to go faster than c according
to the present model of the universe. If you were to become massless, then
maybe you could. If you were to transmute yourself into a tachyon, then the
less energy you had, the faster you would go, and you would never travel
less than c. Simple physics.

Warping space is out, too, I think. So far the only thing that warps space
to any degree (meaning besides simple gravity wells) appears to be a black
hole. Even if you could warp space, what good would it do you? Saying that
warping space will magically allow you to go faster than light is bogus.
Explain _how_ it will allow you to go faster than light.

TTP: I don't think B5 is going to use FTL in any form except the jump gate.
As a corollary to that, most space battles will occur near jump gates. The
question is, what special tactics are required or implied?

So far JMS hasn't indicated there would be any other kind of FTL. He hasn't
said anything about FTL communication (i.e., ansible or something similar).
SO! What does it all mean? Without psuedo phsyics (well, beyond the jump
gate, anyway).

Inquiring minds want to know.

TTFN

---------------------------------------------------------------
Pirate (Anthony Taylor) fn...@elmer.alaska.edu
---------------------------------------------------------------
You wake up one day and find you won't go back to sleep. -j.j.

james r yingst

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 3:26:44 PM7/9/93
to
How about this as another possible rationale: Jump drives have a finite
range which is somewhat smaller than most desired trip lengths. So, in
order to jump to somewhere outside your current range, you must first
accellerate to a frame in which the distance to your destination is
within your range.

For example: I am currently on Arrakkis, wanting to reach Tattooine. I
consult my handy star atlas, given to me by someone in an Arrakkis-based
reference frame, and I find that Tattooine is 1000 light-years away. I
consult my ship's owner's manual, and find that my jump drive can only
jump 100 light-years before I need to refuel. Damn! However I note that
I have really cool (almost magic!) :) sublight engines and acceleration
cushioning gear that allow me to accelerate near to c (relative to Arrakkis)
in a few days, without using too mush fuel (yeah, right!). So, I point my
ship toward Tattooine and accelerate to .995c (relative to Arrakkis, natch)
and note that the 1000 ly distance now looks to be only 100 ly. Hot damn!
I kick in the jump drive, "hop" to Tattooine, spend a few days decelerating
to Tattooine's velocity, and I'm there!

On the other hand, if you have jump gates at both ends then the jump drive
doesn't have to spend nearly as much energy getting into and out of hyper-
space, so instead it can have a much larger range while in hyperspace.
Thus no massive accelerations are necessary.

Well, what do people think? Any obvious problems? This probalbly has
causality problems, come to think of it. (Usually I just assume that all
FTL occurs in some privileged reference frame so that causality isn't a
problem, but I don't think I can do that here. Oh well. I hope someone
got something out of this!

Jim Yingst
yin...@argon.uug.arizona,.edu

Xenu Galactic-Conqueror

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 4:56:53 PM7/9/93
to
In article <1993Jul8.2...@colorado.edu> ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu (Xenu Galactic-Conqueror) writes:
>
>Here is something else to think about: The argument being made is "You can't
>get close to 3x10^8 m/s because it presumes an absolute frame of reference!"
>i.e. that speed depends on where I am measuring it from.
>
>The reason you can travel .9c is because it is a speed measured relative to
>a photon traveling at c, not relative to some guy on a space station whose
>
>The reason it is a "limiting velocity" is because it is the only fixed frame
>of reference! ("Fixed" meaning that I can measure "distance" in space and time
>identically from any frame moving at speed c).
>

Well, the long and the short of it is that I no longer have any idea what
I am talking about. I wish to retract all of the above until I have thought
about it some more (which might be a few years for a slow old guy like me ;-).

Good Day.

What does a Vorlon look like? A biped with hands?

Ron Hough

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 5:39:49 PM7/9/93
to
In article <21hoc2$5...@vtserf.cc.vt.edu> jar...@vtserf.cc.vt.edu (Ron Jarrell) writes:
>Forbidden is too strong a word. I was the one that pointed this out on
>GEnie, and suggested that while an individual site owned their gate, it
>would be considered the height of unfriendliness to refuse to open it,
>and that some people would consider it an act of war. The Vorlons, in
>particular, would certainly have attacked B5 had they refused to open
>the gate and let them out to get Sinclair, and Laurel damn well knew it.
>
>Joe didn't argue with my suggestion.

Uh... If B5 refused to open the gate, how *could* the Vorlons have
attacked? Heheheh. Assuming the jumpgate is the only way to get from point
A to point B without spending years in transit, if someone wants to close
their jumpgate, they really don't have to fear reprisals. Not for quite a
long time, at least. :-)

Ron


--
+ / + Prison bars are in the mind alone.
Ron Hough + ,___ /___ + Dungeons are an option of the spirit.
ro...@metronet.com + / / / + -- Calvin Miller
+ / / / + _An Overture of Light_

G.C.J. Timm

unread,
Jul 9, 1993, 7:56:33 PM7/9/93
to
In a previous article, ju...@wilkinson.cs.colorado.edu (Xenu Galactic-Conqueror) says:

> Steve -- Smiley Invention: !^| <-- Cylon Smiley Warrior
>

AT LAST! Something worthwhile comes out of Battlestar Galaxitive!
Jeff
Who waited a year and a half to see that show. BOY WAS I DISSAPOINTED!

Karl E Vermillion

unread,
Jul 10, 1993, 12:38:23 AM7/10/93
to
In article <C9x2u...@feenix.metronet.com> ro...@feenix.metronet.com (Ron Hough) writes:
>In article <21hoc2$5...@vtserf.cc.vt.edu> jar...@vtserf.cc.vt.edu (Ron Jarrell) writes:
>>Forbidden is too strong a word. I was the one that pointed this out on
>>GEnie, and suggested that while an individual site owned their gate, it
>>would be considered the height of unfriendliness to refuse to open it,

[snip]

>Uh... If B5 refused to open the gate, how *could* the Vorlons have
>attacked? Heheheh. Assuming the jumpgate is the only way to get from point
>A to point B without spending years in transit, if someone wants to close
>their jumpgate, they really don't have to fear reprisals. Not for quite a
>long time, at least. :-)

So what would happen to a ship if the exit jumpgate was not opened? Has
there been any mention of what transpires in between jumpgates? Do you
just circle until someone decides to open the door and let you out?


--
Karl Vermillion
kver...@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu "Never get out of the boat."

strac...@genie.geis.com

unread,
Jul 10, 1993, 3:22:56 AM7/10/93
to
As has been stated previously, large starships, such as carrier
ships, have enough energy resources to create their *own* entry into
hyperspace, their own jump points. The jump gates are mainly used for
smaller ships, or big ships that want to conserve energy.

Thus, the Vorlons used the jump gate in order to detach their smaller
ships *before* entering B5's space, so that they could go in on the attack
immediately, rather than having to separate from the mothership after
arriving via a separate jump point. Since they were expecting some sort
of Vorlon craft, no one thought much of it; the frequency matched with the
ambassador's craft. It's only when everything came out that they saw it
was more than it seemed.

One other item: a jump gate isn't like a light bulb, you can't just
switch it off suddenly. There are massive reactions and energy flows going
on in there, and it takes a fairly long period of time to shut one down
without blowing the thing to kingdom come. Also, you endanger any other
craft heading for it or midway through a jump. During the Earth/Minbari
war, EA jump gates were encoded to reject any ship coming in on the wrong
ID frequency, which helped to slow down misuse of certain gates, though
the codes would eventually get cracked, which meant they had to be changed
on a fairly regular basis.

In "Midnight on the Firing Line," you will see how a carrier-size
ship makes its own jump point.

jms

David Adrien Tanguay

unread,
Jul 10, 1993, 5:02:48 PM7/10/93
to
oahv...@snakemail.hut.fi (Osma Ahvenlampi) writes:
>I won't get into the frame of reference fight, but you can't travel at c. By
>flexing my imagination enough, I can buy FTL, but never traveling at c. The
>reason? You'd have to carry an infinite amount of fuel to reach c.

Not to suggest that c can be reached, but I don't buy your reason. As you
approach c, your fuel also increases in mass (carry anti-matter).
Relative to yourself, you're not going anywhere near the speed of light.
Relative to a passing ship that's already going near c (or a star on the other
side of the universe) you're near c before you even start moving, so it should
take (by your argument) vast amounts of energy to make any movement whatsoever.
In other words, the fuel issue, as stated, seems bogus.

c is an asymptotic limit for massive objects, so you can't actually go that
fast, but you can get arbitrarily close (in SF land).
--
David Tanguay d...@Thinkage.on.ca d...@Thinkage.com uunet!thinkage!dat
Thinkage, Ltd. Kitchener, Ontario, Canada [43.40N 80.47W]

Roger Crew

unread,
Jul 10, 1993, 8:09:22 PM7/10/93
to
>> You'd have to carry an infinite amount of fuel to reach c.

If you were carrying an infinite amount of fuel, your ship and
everything around it, including the entire universe, would collapse
into a singularity (gravity, remember?)

More to the point, if one is going to presuppose FTL travel and
communication then the question of what happens around the speed of
light is going to be the least of one's problems.

As far as B5 goes, my guess is that JMS doesn't want to be doing
time-travel & causality-loop stories every week. I'm also sure he
has enough material without having to deal with the implications of
interstellar empires/alliances in a universe where relativity ACTUALLY
APPLIES, i.e., where you have

(1) TIME DILATION: Your ship returns to Earth after its 5 year mission
exploring the galaxy and it's 50,000 years later, Earth-time...

(keep in mind that if you have FTL and can manage to arrive back only
5 years later Earth-time, then with little additional effort you can
arrive 5 years EARLIER Earth-time; consider the difference between
going back in time 49,995 years and going back in time 50,005
years... 'nuff said).

(2) LONG communication latencies: That rebellion on Betelgeuse V you're
only hearing about now happened 150 years ago, and it'll be another
200 years before the fleet you just sent out can arrive to do anything
about it...

(add FTL and you get news of the rebellion BEFORE it happens...)

Mind you, it could make a fascinating series either way (with or without FTL),
but selling it would be another matter.

The standard way out of this mess (which nearly everyone uses and which is
probably necessary to support the kind of interstellar politics/intrigue
stories that JMS wants to do in B5), is to suppose that all of this
relativity nonsense was just a mistake and that the universe is, in fact,
Newtonian, i.e.,

(*) there's only one frame of reference => EVERYBODY has the SAME clock.
(*) you can go as fast as you like if you've got the technology and are
willing to expend enough energy.

If you want to add requirements that ships be "in hyperspace" or made
out of chocoloate fudge in order to go faster than c, then all well
and good (this is SF after all), but it's not relativity that's imposing
these constraints...

--
Roger Crew OBEY MARRY AND REPRODUCE CONSUME STAY ASLEEP
Usenet: {arpa gateways, decwrl, uunet, rutgers}!cs.stanford.edu!crew
Internet: cr...@CS.Stanford.EDU

David Adrien Tanguay

unread,
Jul 10, 1993, 8:12:46 PM7/10/93
to
fn...@elmer.alaska.edu (Pirate (Anthony Taylor)) writes:
>So far JMS hasn't indicated there would be any other kind of FTL. He hasn't
>said anything about FTL communication (i.e., ansible or something similar).

Didn't Sinclair have a communication with some bigwig? (It's been a while...)
The conversation was in real time, and Garibaldi walks in and it's about him.
Without FTL communication, that bigwig would have to be pretty close to hold
a normal conversation.

David Adrien Tanguay

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 1:06:37 PM7/11/93
to
strac...@genie.geis.com writes:
> One other item: a jump gate isn't like a light bulb, you can't just
>switch it off suddenly.

You may not be able to shut it off quickly, but you should be able to close
it quickly by rejecting all ID frequencies, or otherwise setting the
mechanism that rejects some things to reject all things.

Is it possible to make a small gate, just large enough to allow communications
but not allow any ship? You can make any gate one-way (space to hyperspace)
by giving the outgoing ship a temporary code (active for, say, 3 ms).
With a separate communications gate, you can synchronize with a remote gate
to allow incoming traffic only for a brief time. If you're really paranoid,
this traffic would be a large armada, just in case the enemy taps the
communications and tries to tag along. The convoy armada would immediately
return to the remote gate.

Jump gates are fun. Lots of good story possibilites.

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 7:09:06 PM7/11/93
to
Ron Hough (ro...@feenix.metronet.com) wrote:
: Uh... If B5 refused to open the gate, how *could* the Vorlons have

: attacked? Heheheh. Assuming the jumpgate is the only way to get from point
: A to point B without spending years in transit, if someone wants to close
: their jumpgate, they really don't have to fear reprisals. Not for quite a
: long time, at least. :-)


Joe's already pointed out that some ships, namely the big explorer
ships, and LARGE military battleship/carrier types can punch their own
gates wherever they want one. I don't know if the vorlon ship that came
through the gate was one of them, but even if it wasn't, they just would
have bought a few days until a fleet WITH a carrier came through on it's
own.

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 7:12:04 PM7/11/93
to
strac...@genie.geis.com wrote:
[Lots of useful stuff]

Well, I see I didn't have to try to explain things for Joe after all
:-).

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 7:14:34 PM7/11/93
to

Oh, and before anyone comments, no, the message from Joe wasn't a
forgery.

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 7:06:27 PM7/11/93
to

By the way, I asked Joe on GEnie if he's the one that said that the
ships that can do their own jumps had to be going .9c to do it. He
doesn't recall ever saying that, which renders the argument moot from a
show perspective. Of course, I figure will continue for a while as
people branch off into "I know physics better than you do.."

Ron Jarrell

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 7:10:39 PM7/11/93
to
Karl E Vermillion (kver...@magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu) wrote:
: So what would happen to a ship if the exit jumpgate was not opened? Has
: there been any mention of what transpires in between jumpgates? Do you
: just circle until someone decides to open the door and let you out?


Joe's being purposefully vauge on that. (he hasn't completely cemented
it in his own mind yet.) But the way he's current describing it, yes,
it would hang there waiting for the gate to open, or eventually give up,
and head for another, presumably more friendly, gate.


Though I wonder if you can tell the difference between "won't open
gate", and "fusion reactor failed on gate.."

strac...@genie.geis.com

unread,
Jul 11, 1993, 10:20:14 PM7/11/93
to
The possibilities you suggest are fine, and would most likely be
implemented in the event that they *knew* something was coming. In the
case of the Vorlons, they didn't. And that's what triggered this part of
the discussion. But in any event...yes, those are all workable.

jms

David C. Navas

unread,
Jul 12, 1993, 11:07:30 AM7/12/93
to
In article <930712022...@relay2.geis.com> strac...@genie.geis.com writes:
> The possibilities you suggest are fine, and would most likely be

Kudos to whoever dragged him over here :)

jms: which post where you responding to? [Seen a LOT of suggs around here :)]

Genie members: does Genie not provide for including at least the "Reference:"
tag for follow-ups? Curious....

--
David Navas ja...@netcom.com
dna...@us.oracle.com
"Talent develops in quiet places; character, in the full current of human life"

Robert Wilde

unread,
Jul 12, 1993, 12:37:48 PM7/12/93
to
In article <yingst.742246004@argon> yin...@argon.gas.uug.arizona.edu (james r yingst) writes:
>How about this as another possible rationale: Jump drives have a finite
>range which is somewhat smaller than most desired trip lengths. So, in
>order to jump to somewhere outside your current range, you must first
>accellerate to a frame in which the distance to your destination is
>within your range.
>
>For example: I am currently on Arrakkis, wanting to reach Tattooine. I
>consult my handy star atlas, given to me by someone in an Arrakkis-based
>reference frame, and I find that Tattooine is 1000 light-years away. I
>consult my ship's owner's manual, and find that my jump drive can only
>jump 100 light-years before I need to refuel. Damn! However I note that
>I have really cool (almost magic!) :) sublight engines and acceleration
>cushioning gear that allow me to accelerate near to c (relative to Arrakkis)
>in a few days, without using too mush fuel (yeah, right!). So, I point my
>ship toward Tattooine and accelerate to .995c (relative to Arrakkis, natch)
>and note that the 1000 ly distance now looks to be only 100 ly. Hot damn!

A little problem: the distance from Tattooine to Arrakkis remains 1000 ly
no matter what reference frame you are in (the universiality of the speed
of light and all that).
--
|Robert Wilde| And General Shibeshi was tearing his hair out, becuase not
| wilde@husc | even to him had it occurred that a revolution could start at
| .harvard | a fashion show.
| .edu | -former member of the administration of Haile Selassie

Pirate (Anthony Taylor)

unread,
Jul 12, 1993, 12:31:55 PM7/12/93