The narrator of "Galactic Patrol" appears to be the traditional "omniscient narrator" - there's no evidence that it's an in-universe historian or character, as the narrators in later books are.Universe - p7
Dominating twice a hundred square miles of campus, parade-ground, airport and spaceport, a ninety-storey edifice of chromium and glass...
Wentworth Hall, centre of Earth's Lensman training program. Its topmost floor has a wing for the "Five Year Men" - those in their final year of training - and on, or near, the ground floor is the Commandant's room, Room A. From this, it seems logical to assume that it functions as both residential hall and administrative centre for the Cadet Corps.Universe - p7
...the space-black and silver perfection of the dress uniform of the Patrol... glittering golden meteors upon their collars or the resplendently polished ray-pistols and other equipment at their belts.
Dress uniform of the GP. Possibly
just for the Cadet Corps, but there's nothing to indicate that the rest of the Patrol doesn't use the same colours.Technology - p8
The sergeant-major touched a stud at his belt and all vast Wentworth Hall fairly trembled under the impact of an all-pervading, lilting, throbbing melody as the world's finest military band crashed into "Our Patrol".
"Squads left - March!" Although no possible human voice could have been heard in that gale of soul-stirring sound and although Kinnison's lips scarcely moved, his command was carried to the very bones of those for whom it was intended - and to no one else - by the tight-beam ultra-communicators strapped to their chests.
The communications gadget is I'd guess worn under the dress uniform, rather like one of Conway Costigan's "Service Specials" in Triplanetary, and I'd assume that they've earpieces & mics too if they're to have a chance of hearing whatever's said, but it's not said either way. The "ultra" prefix for the communicators may indicate that the devices use ultrawaves. I'm not sure what special significance the "Our Patrol" music has, but at a guess I'd say it's the anthem or what-have-you of the Patrol.Technology - p8 & 9
In their path yawned the shaft - a vertical pit some twenty feet square extending from main floor to roof of the Hall; more than a thousand sheer feet of unobstructed air, cleared now of all traffic by flaring red lights. Five left heels clicked sharply, simultaneously upon the lip of the stupendous abyss. Five right legs swept out into emptiness. Five right hands snapped to belts and five bodies, rigidly erect, arrowed downward at such an appalling velocity that to unpracticed vision they simply vanished.
Six-tenths of a second later, precisely upon a beat of the stirring march, those ten heels struck the main floor of Wentworth Hall, but not with a click. Dropping with a velocity of almost two thousand feet per second though they were at the instant of impact, yet those five husky bodies came from full speed to an instantaneous, shockless, effortless halt at contact, for the drop had been made under complete neutralisation of inertia - "free", in space parlance.
The first evidence of Lensverse inertialess technology - and the training required to march off into the shaft, because that's a hell of a drop even if you know on an intellectual level that it's perfectly safe. Essentially, the cadets went from zero to terminal velocity practically instantly whilst travelling down the shaft, and back to zero once they landed on the floor at the bottom. Given how easy it'd be to mess up the formation without any inertia there may be other, unmentioned, technologies at work - perhaps forcefields to prevent turbulence for example.Technology - p9
His left eye was artificial and his face bore dozens of tiny, threadlike scars; for not even the marvellous plastic surgery of that age could repair entirely the ravages of space-combat. Also, his right leg and left arm, although practically normal to all outward seeming, were in reality largely products of science and art instead of nature.
Lt-Marshal Fritz von Hohendorff, the Commandant of Cadets at Wentworth Hall, has had major cybernetic work done following injuries. Also better than what we have today if it can mimic the look of a limb so well. Nothing like stem cells or regenerative medical procedures yet exist in the setting, although the "Philips treatment" is developed later in the series.Technology - p10
The forearm was wrapped in thick insulation, moulds and shields snapped into place, and there flared out an instantly-suppressed flash of brilliance intolerable. Then the moulds fell apart, the insulation was removed, and there was revealed the LENS. Clasped to Kinnison's brawny wrist by a bracelet of imperishable, almost un-breakable, metal in which it was imbedded it shone in all its lambent splendour - no longer a whitely inert piece of jewellery, but a lenticular polychrome of writhing, almost fluid radiance...
A device on Hohendorff's desk that attaches the Lens to the bracelet and then fixes that around the person's arm (or whatever). Given how Kinnison is later taking the thing on and off I guess there's a release mechanism hidden in it somewhere that isn't mentioned here - it's that or he has to literally cut it off (assuming it's not so loose it can be slid off over the hand).Universe - p11
...every year one million eighteen-year-old boys of Earth are chosen as cadets by competitive examinations. You know that during the first year, before any of them see Wentworth Hall, that number shrinks to less that fifty thousand. You know that by Graduation Day there are only approximately one hundred left in the class.
Of the million original cadets, only one in ten thousand will become a Lensman. Women aren't allowed to become Lensmen by Arisian edict - see the Triplanetary analysis for more on that. At any rate though, there are a hell of a lot more Lensmen than you get in most similar groups such as the Jedi or Green Lantern Corps. Spoken by Hohendorff.Universe - p12
Every man who can be made to reveal any real weakness is dropped. Most of these are dismissed from the Patrol. There are many splendid men, however, who, for some reason not involving moral turpitude, are not quite what a Lensman must be. These men make up our organisation, from grease-monkeys up to the highest commissioned officers below the rank of Lensman.
Some info on the Patrol's organisation and the quality of the personnel. This is unlikely to be the only source of recruits, given the massive expansion the Patrol undergoes by the end of "Grey Lensman", otherwise I suspect that there would be too few people to do everything. Anyway, the Lensman rank is quite interesting: all the members of the class, from the sergeant-major up to Captain Kinnison, are Lensmen (or are once they all get their Lenses), yet sergeant-majors aren't normally considered commissioned officers. Possibly there is some higher rank to which only Lensmen may be promoted. Spoken by Hohendorff.Universe - p12 & 13
No man who can be cracked has ever worn, or ever will wear, the Lens.
Therefore it would be manifestly unfair to stigmatise the rest of them because they were not born with that extra something, that ultimate quality of fibre which does, and of necessity must, characterise the wearer of the Lens. For that reason not even the man himself knows why he was dismissed, and no one save those who wear the Lens knows why they were selected - and a Lensman does not talk
More on those who don't become Lensmen. Of course, as in the previous quote they do
discriminate against non-Lensmen, because there seems to be a glass ceiling on promotions for non-Lensmen, the ruling Galactic Council consists solely of Lensmen, and so on. Not telling someone why they were dismissed I'm also unsure about, as that could backfire if people become too obsessed with finding out why they didn't make the grade. Spoken by Hohendorff.Universe - p14
...when it had been proved beyond question that every Lensman was in fact incorruptible, the Galactic Council was given more and ever more authority. More and more solar systems, having developed Lensmen of their own, voted to join Civilisation and sought representation on the Galactic Council, even though such a course meant given up much of their systemic sovereignty.
"Now the power of the council and its Patrol is practically absolute... Furthermore, any Lensman can commandeer any material or assistance, wherever and whenever required; upon any planet of any solar system adherent to Civilisation; and the Lens is so respected throughout the galaxy that any wearer of it may be called upon at any time to be judge, jury and executioner. Wherever he goes, upon, in, or through any land, water, air or space anywhere within the confines of our Island Universe, his word is LAW.
"That explains what you have been forced to undergo. The only excuse for its severity is that it produces results - no wearer of the Lens has ever disgraced it.
Hohendorff describing the power of the Lensmen within the confines of Civilisation. Interestingly, solar systems at least occasionally seem to develop their own Lensmen before joining Civilisation, and some may not have any representation at all if they want to join yet haven't developed their own Lensmen. More, the Galactic Council must be huge - if every solar system is sending just a single representative, then we're talking tens of billions of representatives by the end of the series. IMHO, this makes the idea of unrepresented systems more plausible, unless a Lensman from another system / species is willing to represent them on the Council.
Incidentally, it's never mentioned how one becomes a Council member - in Samms' time he simply told them they were (as in Rigel or Petrino), but since then it's never mentioned. Unless the Councillors are chosen by some sort of voting system in most systems, Civilisation would appear to be some sort of idealised meritocratic aristocracy (ie, rule of the best men) or oligarchy.The Lens - p14 - 16
"If it had been a scientific invention or discovery it would have been duplicated long ago," the Commandant made surprising answer. "It is, however, not essentially scientific in nature. It is almost entirely philosophical, and was developed for us by the Arisians.
"They are a peculiar race," the Commandant went on. "Instead of being mankind's worst enemies, as is generally believed, they are the sine qua non of our Patrol and of Civilisation. I cannot understand them; I do not know of anyone who can. They gave us the Lens; yet Lensmen must not reveal that fact to any others. They make a Lens to fit each candidate; yet no two candidates, apparently, have ever seen the same things there, nor is it believed that anyone has ever seen them as they really are. To all except Lensmen they seem to be completely antisocial; and even those who become Lensmen go to Arisia only once in their lives.
"Thus, each being about to graduate into Lensmanship is sent to Arisia, where a Lens is built to match his individual life force. While no mind other than that of an Airisian can understand its operation, thinking of your Lens as being synchronised with, or in exact resonance with, your own vital principle or ego will give you a rough idea of it. The Lens is not really alive, as we understand the term. It is, however, endowed with a sort of pseudo-life, by virtue of which it gives off its strong , characteristically changing light as long as it is in metal-to-flesh circuit with the living mentality for which it was designed. Also be virtue of that pseudo-life, it acts as a telepath through which you may converse with other intelligences, even though they may possess no organs of speech or of hearing.
"The Lens cannot be removed by anyone except its wearer without dismemberment; it glows as long as its rightful owner wears it; it ceases to glow in the instant of its owner's death and disintegrates shortly thereafter. Also - and here is the thing that renders completely impossible the impersonation of a Lensman - not only does the Lens not glow if worn by an impostor; but if a Lensman be taken alive and his Lens removed, that Lens kills in a space of seconds any living being who attempts to wear it. As long as it glows - as long as it is in circuit with its living owner - it is harmless; but in the dark condition its pseudo-life interferes so strongly with any life to which it is not attuned thta that life is destroyed forthwith."
Hohendorff talking again, this time about the Lens and the Arisians. The idea of the Lens being attuned to the individual life force or mentality of someone is interesting, because it prevents the use of evil clones and, depending on exactly how it works, may even prevent a clone with the same memories etc as the original from wearing it safely.Universe - p18
Shops and factories, city-like barracks, landing-fields stretching beyond the far horizon...
A brief look at the scale of Prime Base. It's unknown if it's near the Hill or not though - the old Triplanetary headquarters is never mentioned in the later books at all, nor is Prime Base's location made particularly clear.Technology - p18
...tiny one-man helicopters...
Damned if I know why I'm including it, but the Patrol has them at its base.Technical Note - p18
In the "big teardrops" - cruisers and battleships - the driving force is always directed upwards, along the geometrical axis of the ship, and the artificial gravity is always downwards along that same line. Thus, throughout any possible manoeuvring, free or inert, "down" and "up" have the same significance as within any Earthly structure.
These vessels are ordinarily landed only in special docks, but in emergencies can be landed almost anywhere, sharp stern down, as their immense weight drives them deep enough into even the hardest ground to keep them upright. They sink in water, but are readily manoeuvrable, even under water.
A note by Doc Smith on the design of the mid-sized warships of the Patrol, including their ready use as submarines. It's not said just how manoeuvrable underwater they are, but with starship engines & shields they're likely to be far better than anything we have today (although I can imagine the noise generated by a rocket engine underwater would be a dead giveaway on any sonar
).Technology - p18 & 19
A space-ship it was - but what a ship! In bulk it was vastly larger even than the superdreadnoughts of the Patrol; but, unlike them, it was in shape a perfect teardrop, streamlined to the ultimate possible degree.
The basic shape of the Britannia
, the ship Kinnison is about to be given command of. At this point in time, it seems ship designs were based around teardrop-like smaller ships and spherical larger ones - the former being faster but less well armed, and the latter better armed but slower, due to their less streamlined shape.Universe - p19 & 20
"Oh, I see, sir. It takes ten years of proved accomplishment ot rate command of a first-class vessel, and I have no rating at all. You have already intimated that this ship is experimental. There is, then, something about her that is new and untried, and so dangerous that you do not want to risk an experienced commander in her. I am to give her a work-out, and if I can bring her back in one piece I turn her over to her real captain.
"Right - and wrong," the old Admiral made surprising answer. "It is true that she is new, untried, and dangerous, so much so that we are unwilling to give her to any of our present captains... She uses explosives; of a type that cannot be tried out fully except in actual combat. Her primary weapon is what we have called the 'Q-Gun'. The propellant is heptadetonite: the shell carries a charge of twenty metric tons of duodecaplyatomate... You graduated Number One, and in every respect save experience you are as well qualified to command as is any captain of the Fleet; and since the Britannia is such a radical departure from any conventional type, battle experience is not a prerequisite.
Kinnison and Port Admiral Haynes (a fictional rank, he is the commander-in-chief of the entire Galactic Patrol) discussing the mission. For the record, whilst Kinnison is an untried captain, he does spend an unspecified amount of time (probably a few weeks) as captain learning the ropes before heading off on a mission.
The weapon seems to be a fairly conventional cannon rather than railgun, coilgun or similar; however, this does not rule out the Patrol having such weapons - the reason they want to use an old-fashioned cannon is given below.Universe - p20
"You lock to the pirate with tractors, screen to screen - dex about ten kilometres. You blast a hole through his screens to his wall-shield. The muzzle of the Q-gun mounts an annular multiplex projector which puts out a Q-type tube of force - Q47SM9, to be exact. As you can see from the type formula, this helix extends the gun-barrel from ship to ship and confines the propellant gases behind the projectile, where they belong. When the shell strikes the wall-shield, something will have to give way - all the Brains agree that twenty tons of duodec, attaining a temperature of about forty million degrees absolute in less than one micro-second, simply cannot be confined.
"The tubes and tractors, being pure force and computed for this particular combination of explosions, will hold; and our physicists have calculated that the ten-kilometre column of inert propellant gases will offer so much inertia and resistance that any possible wall-shield will have to go down. That is the point that cannot be tried out experimentally - it is quite within the bounds of possibility that the pirates may have been able to develop wall-screens as powerful as our Q-type helices, even though we have not.
This is why they want to use the heptadetonite propellant, rather than say use a railgun (assuming they have them) - the idea is that the inert gases released, by being contained within the Q-type helix / gun barrel, give the shell the extra oomph needed to punch through the wall-shield.
Meanwhile, the type formula of the Q-type helix appears to be referring to the "Q47SM9", and a 40 million degree fireball is consistent with what you'd expect from a nuclear explosion, despite being from what appears to be a conventional explosive in all other respects.Universe - p21
"And you may as well know now a fact that is not yet public property - that even conveyed vessels are no longer safe. The pirates have developed ships of a new and extraordinary type; ships that are much faster than our heavy battleships, and yet vastly more heavily armed than our fast cruisers. Thus, they can outfight any Patrol vessel that can catch them, and can out-run anything of ours armed heavily enough to stand up against their beams."
"That accounts for the recent heavy losses," Kinnison mused.
An indication of the technological advantage that Boskone currently has.Technology - p21
We must learn what the pirates' new power-system is. Our scientists say that it may be anything, from cosmic-energy receptors and converters down to a controlled space-warp - whatever that may be.
Haynes talking about possibilities for the new Boskonian power source that gives their ships such an advantage. It turns out to be the cosmic-energy receptors, and the off-hand mention of a "controlled space-warp" is the only reference to the idea that we get - we never get any idea on how such a think would work, although if I had to guess I'd say it'd be something related to a black hole or singularity.Technology - p22
She is the fastest thing in space, developing at full blast an inert acceleration of ten gravities. Figure out for yourself what velocity that means free in open space!"
"You have just said that we can't have everything in one ship," Kinnison said, thoughtfully. "What did they sacrifice to get that speed?"
"All the conventional offensive armament," Haynes replied frankly. "She has no long-range beams at all, and only enough short-range stuff to help drive the Q-helix through the enemy's screens. Practically her only offence is the Q-gun. But she has plenty of defensive screens...
Haynes and Kinnison on the Britannia
. The part I really want to look at is the section focusing on the speed it can reach:
According to all the sources in the series, the maximum speed of a ship is determined solely by "air" resistance - ie, when the forward thrust from the engines equals the drag caused by interstellar gas. Thus, we can use the drag equation to get a rough idea of the force required to move a ship at a particular speed. In the books, ships are normally seen travelling at no more than 90pph - 90 parsecs per hour, or 7.7142e14 metres per second. The drag equation is as follows:
Drag = 0.5 x p x v^2 x A x Cd
Where the drag is measured in Newtons, "p" = the density of the fluid in kg/m^3, "v^2" is the velocity squared, "A" is the reference or cross-sectional area of the object (m^2) and Cd is the drag coefficient. In this case I will use a drag coefficient of 0.47, which is the same as a sphere according to Wikipedia. Thus we have:
Drag = 0.5 x p x 5.95e29m/s x A x 0.57
For "p" I will use a figure given in the next book, which is 1 atom per 10 cubic centimetres of space, or 1.67e-24kg per cubic metre.
For "A" I will assume that the front of the ship is a square 100m on each side, giving it a reference area of 10,000m^2.
Thus we get:
Drag = 0.5 x 1.67e-24 x 5.95e29 x 10,000 x 0.47 = 2.34e9 Newtons
However, if we assume a much lower figure for the drag coefficient (0.197) we can get the thrust required down to just 9.8e8 Newtons (see below).
For a 1kg object to accelerate at 10 gravities (98m/s^2), requires 98 Newtons. For a 10,000 tonne object to accelerate at the same rate requires 980 million Newtons (9.8e8), and so on. However, the more thrust required to reach 90 parsecs per hour, the higher the maximum possible acceleration of the ship whilst inert. No figures for ship size are ever really given in the books, but with the next book indicating ship crews in the hundreds (400 for the Dauntless
), it's unlikely that the ships are much less massive than modern sea-going vessels.
Possibly, the "10 gravities" figure refers to what the ship's crew can safely
withstand: whilst its engines allow it to accelerate at several hundreds of gs, safety concerns limit this to a less lethal 10 gs. If you need to go faster or further, just switch on the inertialess drive and zip around like that instead.
In other news, we have a distinction between long-ranged and short-ranged weapons, although given that we don't yet know what they are like we can't say how sensible this idea is.Universe - p23
Although he graduated Captain of his class, Kinnison's rank was only that of a Lieutenant in the Patrol proper.Technical Note - p23
Navigation. Each ship has as reference sphere a galactic-inductor compass. This instrument, swinging freely in an almost frictionless mount, is held in one position relative to the galaxy as a whole by galactic lines of force, analagous to the Terrestrial lines of magnetic force which affect Terrestrial compasses. Its equator is always parallel to the galactic equator; its lines of zeroes is always parallel to the line joining Centralia, the central solar system of the First Galaxy, with the system of Vandemar, which is on its very rim.
The position of the ship in the galaxy is known at all times by that of a moving dot in the tank. This dot is shifted automatically by calculating machines coupled inductively to the leads of the drives. When the ship is inert this device is inoperative, as any distance traversed in inert flight is entirely negligible in galactic computations. Due to various perturbations and other slight errors, cumulative discrepancies occur, for which the pilot must from time to time correct manually the position of the dot in the tank representing his ship.
No description as to what these lines of force in the galaxy are (although the simplest would be magnetic fields, the ship's own systems may interfere with such a design too much), but evidence of holographic displays in the form of the tank.Technology - p23 & 24
The Britannia's code call blared from the sealed-bank speaker, and a string of numbers followed - the spatial coordinates of the luckless vessel's position.
Chief Pilot Henry Henderson punched the figures upon his locator, and in the "tank" - the enormous, minutely cubed model of the galaxy - there appeared a redly brilliant point of light.
More evidence of holographic technology for the tank.Technology - p24
"Right in our laps!" he exulted. "Scarcely ten light-years away! Start scrambling the ether!" and as the vengeful cruiser darted towards the scene of depredation all space became filled with blast after blast of static interference...
jams the pirate ship's communications as it closes from 10LY away. Not sure what this says about the ship's sensors, because its mission required it to respond to pirate attacks, not to seek them out, as it may have simply been waiting near several important trade routes for something to happen, without using active sensors to give away its position (whilst its passive ones were presumably not good enough).
In addition, the Lensman universe, like the Skylark one, appears to use something similar to the luminiferous aether - that is, a medium that permeates space and through which light is propagated (similar to how sound waves are propagated through air).Technology - p24
Manipulating his controls purely by touch, the while staring into his plate not only with his eyes, but with every fibre of his being as well, he hurled his huge mount hither and thither in frantic leaps. After what seemed an age he snapped down a toggle switch and relaxed long enough to grin at Kinnison.
"Holding 'em?" the young commander demanded.
"Got 'em, Skipper," the pilot replied, positively. "It was touch and go for ninety seconds, but I've got a CRX tracer on him now at full pull. He can't put out enough jets to get away from that - I can hold him for ever!"
Henderson puts a "CRX tracer" on the pilot - apparently some kind of FTL sensor that automatically tracks its target and may also set the ship to follow the target, given the way Henderson relaxes once it's on the pirate vessel.Technology - p25
The pilot shoved his blast-level, already almost at maximum, clear out against its stop and hunched himself even more intently over his instruments, varying by infinitesimals the direction of the thrust that was driving the Britannia towards the enemy at the unimaginable velocity of ninety parsecs an hour* - a velocity possible only to inertialess matter being urged through an almost perfect vacuum by a driving blast capable of litfting the stupendous normal tonnage of the immense sky-rover against a gravity ten times that of her native Earth.
More on the inertialess drive. It again strongly implies that the inert and free drives are the same thing, the only difference being whether the ship is inertialess or not. The asterix meanwhile leads to a technical note by Doc Smith, which is reproduced below.Technical Note - p25
With the neutralisation of inertia it was discovered that there is no limit whatever to the velocity of inertialess matter. A free ship takes on instantaneously the velocity at which the force of her drive is exactly equalled by the friction of the medium.
It should be pretty clear by this that the only forces acting on an inertialess ship with regards to its velocity are friction and its drives. Given the problems the inertialess drive is already giving me, any ideas on how to have a inertialess ship travelling at only 90 parsecs an hour yet have an inert acceleration of 10g would be most
welcome.Technology - p25
Ordinary vision would have been useless, but the observers of that day used no antiquated optical systems. Their detector beams, converted into light only at their plates, were heterodyned upon and were carried by sub-ethereal ultra-waves; vibrations residing far below the level of the ether and thus possessing a velocity and a rage infinitely greater than those of any possible ether-borne wave.
More about the ether and sub-ether.Technology - p26
Soon a tractor beam licked out from the Patrol ship, touched the fleeing marauder lightly, and the two space-ships flashed towards each other.
Or rather, since the two inertialess vessels flashed together to repellor-zone contact in such a minute fraction of a second that any human action within that time was impossible...
Range isn't specified, but to pick a figure of a second, if both ships were travelling at 90pph you'd get a distance of 7.71e14m, or 5153.8 AU. Simply scale this up or down if you want to use a longer or shorter span of time for the "minute fraction of a second" - a millisecond equals 5.15 AU for example.Technology - p26
He thrust out tractor beams of his own, and from the already white-hot refractory throats of his projectors there raved out horribly potent beams of annihilation; beams of dreadful power which tore madly at the straining defensive screens of the Patrol ship. Screens flared vividly, radiating all the colours of the spectrum. Space itself seemed a rainbow gone mad, for there were being exerted there forces of a magnitude to stagger the imagination; forces to be yielded only by the atomic might from which they sprang; forces whose neutralisation set up visible strains in the very fabric of the ether itself.
The young commander clenched his fists and swore a started deep-space oath as red lights flashed and alarm-bells clanged. His screens were leaking like sieves - practically down - needle after needle of force incredible stabbing at and through his wall-shield - four stations gone already and more going!
First, possible evidence that the weapons distort space in some manner due to the violence - it depends really on what you believe the "ether" in the books to be. If space however, I'm not sure how you could measure such an effect - whilst light does have a gravitational field (despite being massless), it is ridiculously weak and so to get any dramatic distortion of space would require energies that do not square with the figures for power generation given later in the series (among other things). If it is similar to the luminiferous aether however, then you may not need energy levels quite so ridiculously high as you would in the first instance. Given the observed firepower of the ships and other weapons in the series, the second option is more probable.
Secondly, evidence that the shields can experience localised failures without going down - 4 of the Britannia
's 58 stations (tractor beams, repellors, projector one and the Q-gun were listed as being four of the stations before the battle commenced) are out of action and / or destroyed.Technology - p27
From its projector there leaped out with the velocity of light a tube of quasi-solid force which was in effect a continuation of the gun's grim barrel; a tube which crashed through the weakened third screen of the enemy with a space-wracking shock and struck savagely, with writhing, twisting thrusts, at the second.
Simultaneously the tractor beams, hitherto exerting only a few dynes of force, stiffened into unbreakable, inflexible rods of energy, binding the two ships of space into one rigid system; each, relative to the other, immovable.
The Q-type helix is projected from the Q-gun's barrel. It seems to act both as a weapon and a gun barrel in its own right, given the way it breaks through the shields.
Also, it takes only a few dynes to hold the two ships still enough for the above battle to take place, but obviously a lot more for the Q-gun to work properly.Technology - p27
For to those space-hardened veterans the velocity of light was a veritable crawl; and here was a thing that would require four or five whole seconds to cover a mere ten kilometres of distance!
2km/s velocity for the shell. Assuming it weighs exactly 20 tonnes - ie just the duodec, without any casing etc - that's 4e10J of kinetic energy and 4e7kg·m/s of momentum.Technology - p27 & 28
But although slow, this bomb might prove dangerous, therefore the pirate commander threw his every resource into attempts to cut the tube of force, to blast away from the tractor beams, to explode the sluggish missile before it could reach his wall-shield. In vain; for the Britannia's every beam was set to protect the torpedo and the mighty rods of energy without whose grim the inertialess mass of the enemy vessel would offer no resistance whatever to the force of the proposed explosion.
The Patrol ship uses its weapons to protect the Q-helix and the tractor beams somehow - perhaps simply keeping up the pressure and preventing any diversion of power to the weapons? It's not clear unfortunately how else they could protect either, unless offensive beams somehow interfere with one another, which may be possible given the nature of the ether.Technology - p28
...the unthinkable pressure of the blast would propagate backwards through the already densely compressed gases in the tube, would sweep away as though it were nothing the immensely thick metallic barrier of the gun-breech...
More on the Q-gun, and again why they used a propellant gas.Technology - p29
The pirate's shield had failed, and under the cataclysmic force of that horrific detonation the entire nose-section of the enemy vessel had flashed into incandescent vapour... revealing the crippled hulk of the pirate ship. She was still fighting; but ineffectually, now that all her heavy forward batteries were gone.
Despite the damage done to the pirate vessel, it is still capable of fighting. The position of the bridge is unknown, but there is a "control room" still in full working order within the pirate vessel which may also have been the bridge.Technology - p29
"Needlers, fire at will!" barked Kinnison, and even that feeble resistance was ended. Keen-eyed needle-ray men, working at spy-ray visiplates, bored hole after hole into the captive, seeking out and destroying the control-panels of the remaining beams and screens.
Needle beams are essentially precision beam weapons designed in space combat for destroying vital systems without trashing the rest of the ship. They're also used on helicopters and the like as we'll see in later books.Technology - p29 & 30
...armed with the deadliest weapons known to the science of the age, and powered by the gigantic accumulators of their ship.
Four squatly massive semi-portable projectors crashed down upon their magnetic clamps and in the fierce ardour of their beams the thick bulkhead before them ran the gamut of the spectrum and puffed outwards. Some score of defenders were revealed, likewise clad in armour, and battle again was joined. Explosive and solid bullets detonated against and ricocheted from that highly efficient armour, the beams of DeLameter hand-projectors splashed in torrents of man-made lightning off its protective fields of force. But that skirmish was soon over. The semi-portables, whose vast energies no ordinary personal armour could withstand, were brought up and clamped down; and in their holocaust of vibratory destruction all life vanished from the pirates' compartment.
Semi-portable weapons, and possibly personal beam weapons as well, can be powered by remote from the Britannia
. In addition we see them boiling if not vaporising the bulkheads, although we've no idea how long it took or how the bulkheads were constructed, so I won't try any calculations for this. "Vibratory destruction" again sounds like what you'd get with beams that travel through the ether, whilst we get a glimpse of the non-beam weapons still used in the universe.Technology - p30
But when the beamers pressed their switches nothing happened. The pirates had managed to jury-rig a screen generator, and with it had cut the power-beams behind the invading forces.
A shield generator can cut the wireless power supply to the semi-portables. The effect on the personal weapons is not known, but at any rate the Patrol's space marines switch immediately to using an explosive paste, so either they were disabled too or they were of insufficient power to bring down the screen.Technology - p30
"Bring up the ferral paste," the sergeant commanded.
The paste - successor to thermite - was brought up and the giant Dutchman trowelled it on in furious swings, from the floor up and around in a huge arc and back down to the floor. He fired it... Then mingled the flashing, scintillating, gassy glare of the thermite...
But the paste had done its work, and as the semi-circle of wall fell out the soldiers of the Lens leaped through the hole in the still-glowing wall...
The only time that ferral paste is used in the series. It seems to be a fairly conventional explosive used to breach bulkheads and the like. If it has a downside, it's that it seems to require a hell of a lot, given the "trowelled it on" description.
Note also that despite being used in close proximity to the space marines, there are no reports of casualties from either side as a result of the ferral paste.Technology - p30 & 31
The semi-portables and other heavy ordnance powered from the Britannia were of course useless. Pistols were ineffective against the pirates' armour of hard alloy; hand-rays were equally impotent against its defensive shields. Now heavy hand-grenades began to rain down among the combatants, blowing Patrolmen and pirates alike to bits - for the outlaw chiefs cared nothing that they killed many of their own men if in so doing they could take toll of the Law.
The hand weapons appear to be powered by an internal power supply, whilst there's evidence that the space marines brought other heavy weapons besides the semi-portables onto the ship. Finally, whilst pistols and the like have little effect against personal armour, "heavy hand grenades" do - and are powerful enough to shred an armoured human to pieces. No idea how you could calc this though, as it does not describe vaporisation and the like and the actual armour worn is something of an unknown too.Technology - p31
But the minions of the Law had one remaining weapon, carried expressly for this eventuality. The space-axe - a combination and sublimation of battle-axe, mace, bludgeon, and lumberman's picaroon, a massively needle-pointed implement of potentialities limited only by the physical strength and bodily agility of its wielder.
When the space-tempered apex of that thirty-pound monstrosity, driven by the four-hundred-odd pounds of rawhide and whalebone that was his body, struck pirate armour that armour gave way... a man does not fight effectively when he is breathing space in lieu of atmosphere.
Three things here - firstly, a description of the 30lb space-axe wielded by the Valerian space marines (humans from a 2.5-3G homeworld, who colonised Valeria around the time of Virgil Samms in "First Lensman"). The person described in the second part is vanBuskirk, a human from Valeria.
Finally, the battle taking place on the pirate ship is in a vacuum, and personal armour appears to have no means of automatically protecting someone when their armour is breached and the air leaks out.
In addition, airtight armour, in combination with its bullet-deflecting properties, makes it sound like powered armour: I'd be surprised if a human could wear a suit of metal armour with an air supply and shield generator unaided, especially when said armour is more or less impervious to light firearms.Technology - p31
...Or have they cut this beam, so you can't hear me? ... guess they have
The pirate screen raised earlier also cut off communications between the space marines and their mothership.Universe - p31 & 32
...only to feel the axe flash instantaneously to its mark and strike it with a gentle push, and to see his intended victim float effortlessly away from the blow. The pirate commander had played his last card: vanBuskirk was floundered, not only weightless, but inertialess as well!
But the huge Dutchman's mind, while not mathematical, was even faster than his muscles, and not for nothing had he spent arduous weeks in inertialess tests of strength and skill... but the delta-ray projector was so jammed that it would not soon again become a threat.
vanBuskirk & the other space marines are trained in both zero-gravity and inertialess combat to the point where they can make a change from fighting in gravity to fighting in zero-gravity and without inertia more or less immediately. He also deals with a "delta-ray projector" that the pirates were trying to bring into the fight, but we don't hear anything more about what it is.Technology - p32
Have your draughtsmen and photographers got everything down solid?"
"On the boards!" and "In the cans!" rapped out the two reports as one.
Doc Smith was probably thinking of literal cans of film when he wrote this, but it's possible that it's just slang or similar (think about turbolasers
). Certainly given the computers, robots and the like seen elsewhere it seems odd that they'd still use such old-fashioned equipment elsewhere.Technology - p33
"Space's so full of static you couldn't drive a power-beam through it, let alone a communicator.
This by the Communications Officer of the Britannia
. Possibly some hyperbole, but at any rate static noise of sufficient strength is enough to jam ship communications. Note that EM radiation should not be expected to have any effect, given the uselessness of such jamming when ultrawaves are first introduced in "Triplanetary".Technology - p34
The crew and the Valerian privates will man boats starting with Number Twenty-One and blast off as soon as you can get your tapes. Once away, use very little detectable power, or better yet no power at all, until you're sure the pirates have chased the Britannia a good many parsecs away from where you are.
Again, more very old-fashioned language in the forms of "tapes" of the data taken from the Boskonian ship. Second, evidence that the sensors that pick up energy signatures can detect a shuttle on normal power at a distance of at least 2 parsecs. Also, there must be at least 22 lifeboats aboard the Britannia
and, given that the first 20 are shared out between the 40 specialists & Valerian NCOs (2 per lifeboat), probably a good deal more. No idea as to the total crew size though.Technology - p35
...the spools of tape were sealed in their corrosion-proof containers...
On the other hand, it seems that the tapes of data may be literally tapes. Of course how much information they carry, what they're like etc isn't specified, so there's still the possibility of something more fancy (perhaps akin to the data-encoded metal wires in "Masters of Space", again by Doc Smith). That said, I'm sure that Doc Smith intended for it to mean something like a roll of film, but without saying as much we can avoid one of the more ridiculous technological disparities of the series.Technology - p35 & 36
"So they've solved the problem of really efficient reception and conversion of cosmic radiation!" Kinnison whistled softly through his teeth. "And a sun - even a small one - radiates the energy given off by the annihilation of one-to-several million tons of matter per second! SOME power!"
"That's the story, Skipper, and it explains completely why their ships have been so much superior to ours. They could have installed faster drives even than the Britannia's - they probably will, now that it has become necessary. Also, if the bus-bars in that receptor-convertor had been a few square centimetres larger in cross-section, they could have held their wall-shield, even against our duodec bomb. Then what?... They had plenty of intake, but not quite enough distribution."
"They have atomic motors, the same as ours; just as big and just as efficient," Kinnison cogitated. "But those motors are all we have got, while they use them, and at full power, too, simply as first-stage exciters for the cosmic energy screens.
Kinnison talking with Master Technician LaVerne Thorndyke about the information recovered. Little that can be calculated from here that's worth calculating, but the next book does give us some hard figures on power generation for the cosmic energy intake screen.Technology - p37
"All right, Hen, now we'll try out your roulette-wheel director-by-chance," Kinnison said, then went on, in answering Thorndyke's questioning glance: "A bouncing ball on an oscillating table. Every time the ball carroms off a pin it shifts the course through a fairly large, but unpredictable angle. Pure chance - we thought it might cross them up a little."
An apparently jury-rigged device for randomly altering the Britannia
's course, in order to draw out the pursuit and give the lifeboats a chance to escape.Technology - p38
We should have something to touch off those duodec torpedoes we havee left - all seven at once - at the first touch of a spy beam... of course we can't do it by stopping the spy-ray altogether, with a spy-screen, but I think I can establish an R7TX7M field outside our regular screens that will interfere with a TX7 just enough - say onr-tenth of one percent - to actuate a relay in the field-supporting beam."
"One-tenth of one percent of one milliwatt is one microwatt, isn't it? Not much power, I'd say, but that's a little out of my line.
Kinnison talking to vanBuskirk. Apparently a TX7 spy-beam requires just a milliwatt of power if vanBuskirk is right - there is no other source for the 1mW figure.Universe - p38
Senselessly she hurled herself directly towards enormous suns, once grazing one so nearly that the harrying pirates gasped at the foolhardiness of such exposure to lethal radiation. For not reason at all she shot straight backwards, almost into a cluster of pirate craft, only to dash off on another unexpected tangent before the startled outlaws could lay a beam on her.
Some of the manoeuvres performed by the Britannia
once all human control is removed. Note that whilst EM radiation would ordinarily be harmless given the inertialess drive, maintaining a course close to a star would mean resisting the pressure of the radiation on the hull that would ordinarily push the ship away from the sun at lightspeed, hence the danger involved.Technology - p39
At the touch of those beams, light and delicate as they were, the relay clicked and the torpedoes let go.
The Britannia, literally blown to bits, more-than-half fused and partially volatilised by the inconceivable fury of the outburst, was hurled in all directions in streamers, droplets, chunks, and masses; each component part urged away from the centre of pressure by the raginly compressed gases of detonation. Furthermore, each component was now of course inert and therefore capable of giving up its full measure of kinetic energy to any inert object with which it should come in contact.
The destruction of the Britannia
. Again no idea on how you could calculate this given the unknown size of the ship. The Britannia
would of course have been inerted when the explosion destroyed the Bergenholm.Technology - p39
One mass of wreckage, so fiercely sped that its victim had time neither to dodge nor become inertialess, crashed full against the side of the nearer attacker. Meteorite screens flared brilliantly violet and went down. The full-driven wall-shield held; but so terrific was the concussion that what few of the crew were not killed outright would take no interest in current events for many hours to come.
No idea how fast it was travelling, but given that the fastest ships in the books are capable of handling 10G of inert acceleration, it would not have to be travelling particularly fast to give the ship such a nudge. Of course the mass of the piece of wreckage is also important, but it just shows the importance of the inertialess drive in combat - without it heavy projectile weapons and similar could probably disable ships even if they failed to penetrate the shields.Technology - p42
The lifeboat flashed against the pirate's armoured side and the sergeant, by deftly manipulating his two small hand-magnets, worked it rapidly along the steel plating, towards the driving jets. There, in the conventional location just forward of the main driving projectors, was indeed the emergency inlet port, with its Galactic Standard controls.
The port is apparently a standard thing on Boskonian ships (vanBuskirk is familiar with it), and possibly other ships as well. Nothing's said about how easy it'd be to get to the engines from there though (eg for sabotage or an evacuation order).Technology - p43
A cargo port was opened and the Britannia's lifeboat was drawn inside.
More on the Boskonian warship that Kinnison & vanBuskirk capture.Technology - p44 & 45
"The Lens receives as pure thought any pattern of force which represents, or is in any way connected with, thought. My brain receives this thought in English, since that is my native language. At the same time my ears are practically out of circuit, so that I actually hear the English language instead of whatever noise is being made. I do not hear the foreign sounds at all...
"Conversely, when I want to talk to someone who doesn't speak any language I do, I simply think into the Lens and direct its force at him, and he thinks I am talking to him in his mother tongue. Thus, you are hearing me now in perfect Valerian Dutch, even though you know that I can speak only a dozen or so words of it, and those with a vile American accent. Also, you are hearing it in my voice, even thought you know I am actually not saying a word, since you can see that my mouth is wide open and that neither my lips, tongue nor vocal cords are moving.
"It sends out only thought; and thought-waves, lying below the level of the ether, cannot affect a microphone... Of course I can broadcast a thought - everybody does, more or less - but without a Lens at the other end I can't reach very far. Power, they tell me, comes with practice - I'm not so good at it yet."
Kinnison tells vanBuskirk more about the Lens.Technology - p47
The lifeboat stopped instantaneously, in a free landing, upon the uninhabitated, desolate, rocky soil of the strange world. Without a word the two mean leaped out, carrying fully packed knapsacks. A portable projector was then dragged out and its fierce beam directed into the base of the hill besides which they had come to earth. A cavern was quickly made, and while its glassy walls were still smoking hot the lifeboat was driven within it. With their DeLameters the two wayfarers then undercut the hill, so that a geat slide of soil and rock obliterated every sign of the visit.
The lifeboat is landed free on a planet. The rest is self-explanatory, but included to give an indication of what someone can do with a DeLameter.Universe - p48
Captains of ships P4J263 and EQ69B47 calling Helmuth. We have stopped and have boarded the F47U596.
Boskonian ships, at least, appear to use registration numbers or similar rather than names, at least for official business. For the record, you can have up to 78.4 million combinations of 7 letters and numbers, and 80.6 if you include smaller combinations as well, although as we've no idea how the ships are registered it's quite possible that there aren't anywhere near 80 million Boskonian ships.Technology - p48
Did you see any numbering recorders on those ports? I didn't - of course neither of us thought of such a thing.
Boskonian ships record the number of times each port on a ship is opened (although not when, or by whom etc).Technology - p49
... rope-tentacled monstrosities... In savage blasts of DeLameters hundreds of the gargoyle horde vanished in vivid flares of radiance, but on they came; by thousands and, it seemed, by millions. Eventually the batteries energising the projectors became exhausted. Then flailing coil met shearing steel, fierce-driven parrot beaks clanged against space-tempered armour, bulbous heads pulped under hard-swung axes...
Unfortunately the catlats themselves are not described much beyond their shape - their size and mass is not known, although we can make a few guesstimates based on the full passage. If we assume that each catlat masses roughly 10kg (an arbitrary figure, but unfortunately we've practically nothing to go by), and that it takes ~3MJ to vaporise 1kg of water, then to vaporise 100 of them at once would require 1.5GJ as a bare minimum. I say vaporise because "vanished in vivid flares of radiance" certainly sounds like (very rapid) vaporisation. This figure does of course depend on the mass of the catlats, but I feel 10kg is a reasonable low end guesstimate for a winged, tentacled gargoyle.Universe - p52
...had been born and reared upon the planet Valeria, and that massive planet's gravity - over two and one half times Earth's... His head, as has been said, towered seventy-eight inches above the ground; but at that he appeared squatty because of his enormous spread of shoulder and his startling girth. His bones were elephantine - they had to be, to furnish adequate support and leverage for the incredible masses of muscle overlaying and surrounding them.
More on Valeria's gravity and vanBuskirk's physique: 6.5ft and weighing in at 400lb in normal gravity.Technology - p54
Their goal, a small, featureless tent of thin sheet metal...
"We can now think freely in open converse. This wall is the carrier of a screen through which no thought can make its way."
Worsel describing the first thought screen technology encountered in the books. Its carried or conducted by the metal of his "tent", although Kinnison is able to rig it up to work with a shield generator instead.Technology - p60
The light in the cavern now changed to a strong, greenish-yellow glare; and in that hard illumination it was to be seen thta each dying being was surrounded by a palely glowing aura... from the eyes of each one of the monstrous audience there leaped out visible beams of force. These beams touched the auras of the dying prisoners; touched and clung. And as they clung, the auras shrank and disappeared.
The Overlords of Delgon were actually FEEDING upon the ebbing life-forces of their tortured, dying victims!
Kinnison sees this through Worsel's mind, who is in telepathic contact with one of the Overlords. Whether the "life drain" beams are actually visible I'm not sure, given the method by which the scene was viewed, and it's also not made clear whether the Overlords actually need to do this or whether they torture and then do this life drain for fun.Technology - p64 & 65
...you don't need a metallic conductor any more than a snake needs hips... If a deVilbiss projector can handle that screen - and I think it can, with special tuning - vanBuskirk and I can fix things in an hour so that all three of us can walk out of here in perfect safety - from mental interference at least.
By happy coincidence, Velantian thought screen technology is compatible with Galactic Patrol shield generators. Then again, given that the Velantians are one of Arisia's special breeding programs and the foresight of the Arisians, perhaps it was intended all along. The joys of conspiracy theories...Universe - p65
As you saw, they [ordinary Delgonians] resemble us Velantians to a certain extent.
To visit any city of Delgon is out of the question. Every inhabitant of every city is an abject slave and his brain is an open book. Whatever he sees, whatever he thinks, is communicated instantly to his master.
Worsel describing the situation on Delgon. Velantians incidentally are perhaps best described as 30ft serpentine dragons, with at least 8 eye-stalks, extremely tough scales, very sharp claws and so on.