Monday, May 31, 2010

Geometry in Space

I wonder if the first sailors expected vast stretches of nothingness when contemplating an ocean crossing - especially the ones who went just to see what might be on the other side. Whenever I contemplate writing the space flight portions of books I find I have to constantly challenge my assumption that traveling through interstellar space would entail vast stretches of nothing but vacuum. Recent photos from a series of new telescopes the world (and orbiting said world) over provide terrific views of the galaxy as a dynamic, living system which sometimes defies explanation. The 'impossible star', a star forming in the constellation of Scorpius, apparently exceeds the theoretical limit for a star's mass. What a thing for characters to see while tooling around interstellar space - phenomena that challenge the known laws of physics.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Airship Future

For the well-read paranormal enthusiast, what could be better than the confluence of Steampunk and Science Fiction? In an article for, E-Green Technologies describes their Airship, the Bullet 580, as a 'truck in the sky', albeit, a truck made of kevlar. Now that a steampunk staple has been brought out of the pages of fiction and into reality, can we look forward to joining the Air Corps? More importantly, will the Air Corps get to wear wicked cool leather enhanced uniforms and carry aether charged weapons? Where do I sign up?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sonic Weapons

Those of us with a maritime bent know about modern sonic cannons used to defend commercial shipping interests from pirates. Now comes an article about turning sound to medical use or to far more devastating military purposes. The technology exists and is being developed by scientists at the California Institute of Technology. The scientists developed a way to focus sound waves in one specific location while amplifying those waves. Taken to extremes, you melt large metallic objects (and the lifeforms therein). Applied with skill and finesse, you destroy disease processes in the body without damaging surrounding tissues. Does that expose one of the great truisms of humanity? It's not the size of the explosion - it's how you use it?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Solar Sailing

A British satellite is slated to be launched next year as proof of two concepts. One: that solar sails can provide solar wind powered propulsion for space-going vehicles. Two: that humans can send satellite 'garbage collectors' into orbit to clear away our space litter. The obstacles: no space craft has successfully managed controlled space flight using only solar sails and the existing swarm of space debris currently in orbit around the planet, which makes navigating orbital space a hazardous proposition. From a fiction stand point, sails of any kind are appealing and not just because I sail. On water. Sails in space sounds like fun if one can find adequate energy sources to power the sails. Could radioactivity leaking from a black hole propel a sail? Or suppose it's your satellite that's going up to collect garbage and destroy antiquated, abandoned space craft by burning it up on re-entry? Until you realize that one of your pieces of 'garbage' is fighting back...