Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

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Teleros
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-06-15 01:06pm

This is arguably more insidious than Mentor simply lying, because he's implanting fixed, permanent beliefs into certain people.
Yeah, but it does let you keep the "can't lie telepathically" rule, and hell, the Arisians basically built the Galactic Patrol from the first multi-cellular lifeforms on Earth up for the sole purpose of smacking the Eddorians into the next plane of existence, without anyone in the Patrol realising this: they clearly have no trouble playing sneaky when it suits them.
In the relevant passage, they are nowhere described as Lensmen by the omniscient narrator. The story may have grown in the telling...
I kinda hope the tale grew myself, and as you point out it's not mentioned that they're Lensmen originally. Eh, it's an upper upper limit on what he could I suppose :P .
However, such beams do not fill all space around a ship, though they certainly fill enough of it to make it hard to steer a missile out.
They could also have been cones - the series DOES like it's variable aperture settings on beams after all - as that would help fill the gaps. Wouldn't need to be much of an angle either, to ensure that the other side would be flying into a "wall" of high energy death... and this would also of course mean that missiles couldn't travel far before being fried.

As for the maths... *hides*. Uhm, the usual % of a ship that's solid I've seen is 10%, for these sorts of calcs. Other than that I don't think I have much more to contribute that you can't do already, but perhaps give the maths & engineering members here a poke and see if they can help. I'm sure DW will be able to help for example.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-15 02:31pm

Teleros wrote:
This is arguably more insidious than Mentor simply lying, because he's implanting fixed, permanent beliefs into certain people.
Yeah, but it does let you keep the "can't lie telepathically" rule, and hell, the Arisians basically built the Galactic Patrol from the first multi-cellular lifeforms on Earth up for the sole purpose of smacking the Eddorians into the next plane of existence, without anyone in the Patrol realising this: they clearly have no trouble playing sneaky when it suits them.
True. Suffice to say that while I fully agree that the Arisians are on the side of good, they have their own insidious subtleties that I don't think the audience should be wholly comfortable with.

In any case, the evidence suggests that L1s and L2s can't lie telepathically. Whether the Children of the Lens can do so is another question...
In the relevant passage, they are nowhere described as Lensmen by the omniscient narrator. The story may have grown in the telling...
I kinda hope the tale grew myself, and as you point out it's not mentioned that they're Lensmen originally. Eh, it's an upper upper limit on what he could I suppose :P .
Well, on what he could do fresh from Arisia. I suspect he improved with practice. I wouldn't put controlling a pair of ordinary Lensmen past Kinnison (and he never actually managed to control three at once, originally). The interesting question is: does wearing a Lens actually improve your telepathic defenses? I'm not sure it does; it may just be an aspect of having a naturally strong mind (which all Lensmen do, of course).

There are Patrol officers who are in all ways Lensman-grade except for lacking some particular skill; take van Buskirk as an example. Would the typical human Lensman (not Kinnison, who's special even without L2 training) be all that much better at resisting mental attack than van Buskirk was?
As for the maths... *hides*. Uhm, the usual % of a ship that's solid I've seen is 10%, for these sorts of calcs. Other than that I don't think I have much more to contribute that you can't do already, but perhaps give the maths & engineering members here a poke and see if they can help. I'm sure DW will be able to help for example.
Mostly it's just a question of checking to make sure I did the algebra and mathematics right. High school stuff, really, though I suppose it might be high end high school.

As for solidity: A ship made of steel (density 8 kg/L) has to be roughly 10% solid material by volume in order to float in water (density 1 kg/L), because you need the average density of the ship to be less than that of water for it to displace its weight in water without having the ship go under. With aluminum (density 2.7 kg/L), you could theoretically make much more of the ship out of solid metal and still keep the same overall density. With wood, well, wood already floats; you can't make a wooden ship have an average density of 1 kg/L even if you make it out of a solid block of the stuff.

The Chicago does not need to be able to float, and as far as I know it can't float anyway. Therefore, it can afford to be considerably denser than an oceangoing ship, and thus more compact than an oceangoing ship. And there are reasons to make it so- a denser ship will be structurally stronger, which is very important when you're landing the ship on a high-gravity planet and letting it crush its way down into a concrete pad to support its weight. That kind of thing demands a very tough hull and even tougher structural framework, if you want to be able to do it without damaging the ship.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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Re: GALACTIC PATROL (PART 1)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-15 04:04pm

Teleros wrote: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.
The meteor would be an obvious throwback to the old Triplanetary Patrol; one wonders what some of the less humanoid members of the Patrol wear...?
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.
That it is, and is confirmed to be in Second Stage Lensman. Me, I always imagine it sounding a bit like "The Caissons Go Rolling Along," but I'm a Yank, so that doesn't prove much.
Technology - p8 & 9
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.
Likely. This is the logical descendant (so to speak) of the inertialess shafts we saw in Patrol HQ back in Samms' day, apparently improved on.
Technology - p9
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.
True, although I'm not sure exactly how advanced the cybernetics really are. We're up to the point where we can almost produce reasonably convincing prosthetics of that sort, certainly ones that would be amazing by the standards of the 1930s. Also, I'm betting that by "artificial eye," Smith means a glass eye, not a prosthetic- because there's no discussion of functioning prosthetic eyes in Gray Lensman.
Technology - p10
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).
Sounds reasonable. Also, remember that no one else can touch a man's Lens when he isn't wearing it: if you're going to have the cadet ceremonially stretch out their arm to receive the Lens, it has to be done by a machine.
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.
Oh, absolutely. Though the Lensmen are more selective than any real group, they're a lot less selective than the "one superhero per planet" organizations they inspired in later 20th century fiction.
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.
There may be internal ranks among the corps of Lensmen, with any Lensman outranking any un-Lensed personnel. Thus, the sergeant-major of a class of Lensmen, on graduation, can now order around senior naval officers... who happen not to be Lensmen.

As for personnel, I agree. It seems fairly likely that they enacted a program of, if not conscription, at least greatly lowered recruitment standards to fill out the fleet for the mobilization in Gray Lensman.
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.
Well, no one said the Patrol was perfect. Except possibly the Patrol themselves... and if they did, well, that just goes to prove they can't be right all the time.

But jet back to the 1930s mindset, so to speak: "stigmatize" did not mean then what "discriminate" does now. To stigmatize someone who flunked the Lensman qualification (like, say, van Buskirk) would be to say "He- gasp!- failed the Lensman qualification! You know what they say about people who don't rate a Lens..."

And they don't do that. Van Buskirk is respected as a leader, promoted to what are probably the limits of his ability (he's a fighter, not a strategist). He's a damn hero, and is presented as such. But he will never wear the Lens, and it may be just as well, because can you imagine him being promoted to the level of responsibility that someone like Haynes or von Hohendorff holds? Or to take another example, no one thought about giving Sir Austin Cardynge a Lens- and yet he's one of the smartest men alive, and tough-minded and honorable by any reasonable standard.

So yes, there's a limit on how far any non-Lensman can hope to be promoted in the Patrol. The converse of that is: knowing that you've managed to select for the individuals fit to wear a Lens, and knowing that they will do a better job... why would you want the system not to promote Lensmen preferentially?
Universe - p14
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.
Yup. As for planets with their own Lensmen who are not formally adherent to Civilization, the most obvious example would be Palain VII. The Palainians probably neither know nor care about the day to day affairs of Civilization, and I very much doubt that any of them feel much interest in joining its government. The only exceptions would be Palainian Lensmen, and even they cannot claim to speak for their planet as a whole, because they are deviants by the standards of Palain.
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.
E.E.S.
[Emphasis added- S.J.]
A note by Doc Smith on the design of the mid-sized warships of the Patrol, including their ready use as submarines...
Note that this supports my theory that Patrol ships are denser than water; assuming their internal metal is about as dense as steel on average, with minimal use of super-dense materials like uranium and tungsten, this requires that they be more than 10% metal by volume.
Universe - p20
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.
Duodec is interesting and tricky stuff; Smith gives it nuclear weapon energy density in what is nominally a chemical substance, as you say. Frankly, if he'd written the stories five years later he'd probably have substituted atomic bombs for duodec everywhere...
Haynes and Kinnison on the Britannia. The part I really want to look at is the section focusing on the speed it can reach:...
[math]
Hmm. I'd like to come back to this, but frankly I'm a bit burned out on doing calculations for this reason today.
Universe - p23
...Lieutenant Kinnison...
Although he graduated Captain of his class, Kinnison's rank was only that of a Lieutenant in the Patrol proper.
This contradicts my earlier speculation to the effect that Lensmen might automatically outrank normal Patrol officers... though Kinnison certainly gives orders to officers on his ship, and they are followed vigorously.
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...
The Britannia 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).
In this era, "ether" was a synonym for "space" for poetic purposes ("blown out of the ether"), or for the underlying structure of space. It does not, strictly speaking, require that the Lensman setting have an ether-based cosmology, though I suppose it might.

The fact that the pirate is spotted "scarcely" ten light-years away, to my mind, suggests that the maximum detection range is longer than that in principle...
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.
Assuming that ultrawave detection (which I assume is being used) works like radio and radar (which was probably Smith's mental model for all this), I can imagine even fairly crude hookups that would allow a ship to automatically chase an acquired target, and for an active sensor to detect a target and keep a lock on it despite its attempts to evade. Indeed, both those things were possible in the context of radar as early as the late 1940s or the 1950s.
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.
I'll work on it. Eventually...
Technology - p26
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.
From a history-of-physics standpoint, "ether" is the medium of propagation for various... call them 'intangible' waves, in this case electromagnetic ones. Given the energy levels being slung around here, gravitational distortion simply isn't in the cards, so my guess would be that what's seen here is sidescatter from the interaction between the pirate beams and Dauntless's shields intense enough to cause visible EM phenomena in the surrounding space. I can't suggest a mechanism off the top of my head, but it has to be electromagnetic, I'd think.
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.
We've already seen this in Triplanetary and First Lensman, but since this was written earlier it has a special canon status independent of chronological order.
Technology - p27
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.
Presumably, the helix can be, heck (is) used the same way that the "polycyclic drill" was used by Rodebush and Cleveland to breach Roger's shields (you didn't reference that bit of Triplanetary, with Roger's survivors going up against the Patrol supership, but I'm sure you remember what I mean). One can in principle use them to drill the shield then fire something through the hole thus created.
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.
Hmm. Doing some purely in-brain speculation (no equations jotted), but assuming that ultrawaves work essentially like EM waves and are simply manipulated by different mechanisms, then given their extreme speed of propagation I'd expect them to carry virtually no momentum. The ultrawave equivalent of radiation pressure would be incredibly feeble for a given amount of energy transfer. Therefore, the tractors don't have to exert much force to keep the ships together even when they're dueling with megaton/second range ultrawave beam weapons.
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.
Which, of course, is a joke compared to the beam energies at work here. It's not the impact of the slug that matters here; it's the bursting charge.
Technology - p27 & 28
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.
The former explanation seems likely. Tell the truth, so does the latter: by concentrating offensive fire on the area around the helix, one might well generate interference patterns that make the helix harder to cut. Or they could just be shooting at the projectors nearest the helix, making it impractical for them to open up fully. Dunno.
Technology - p29 & 30
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.
Well, melting a few dozen tonnes of metal out of the way is a job for high gigajoule-range energies, and this probably only took a few seconds; I'd feel cautiously confident about rating semi-portables in the GW range. But I should sit down and give that some careful thought tonight.
"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.
Well, it's strongly implied that ultrawaves are simply an exotic analogue of EM radiation, one that propagates faster but behaves in (and can be used in) many of the same waves, to the point where in some contexts "ether" is used to refer to the propagation of these "sub-ethereal" waves, as in "clear ether!" and "murky ether" on the subject of enemy jamming attacking ultrawave communication.

I think it likely that these beam weapons are simply "ultrawave lasers," though they aren't necessarily coherent.
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.
The latter seems more likely. We know that personal shields can block Delameter fire; it stands to reason that portable shield generators (implied to be heavy enough to be only somewhat man-portable) can too.
Technology - p30
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.
They're trying to achieve burnthrough in a hurry. This is compared to thermite; thermite works by burning really hot, hot enough to melt through metal. It's used in welding applications for this reason. So it's not a conventional explosive, and they probably use a lot of it to make sure they get a hole in the bulkhead instead of just a big gouge where they wanted the edges of their door to be.
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.
Score one for GP armor. Again, this isn't an explosive, though; it's a very high temperature incendiary.
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.
Well, at a minimum GP armor is tough enough mechanically to shrug off pistol bullets; since it's strongly implied to be metallic we can estimate its thickness from the real performance of metallic armors. It might be some kind of super-alloy, but there's no reason to assume so given that muscle-powered weapons can penetrate it.
Technology - p31
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.
I think I'm convinced by now; yes, I buy that GP armor is powered.
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.
For that matter, the same goes for literal drawing boards. Having done a bit of computer-assisted design and having tried to do even vaguely decent mechanical drawings by hand, I have to say that it would be a LOT faster to sketch out a piece of hardware on a laptop (or, hell, an iPad with a stylus) using CAD software than it would be to draw the thing by hand.
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".
Of course, there's no reason to assume that they can't jam ultrawaves too. Ultrawave jamming wasn't tried in Triplanetary, because as a general rule the people who were in a position to do so didn't know that ultrawaves were in use.
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.
Hate to break this to you, but data-encoded metal wires are 1930s technology too. You might be able to boost the information storage density, but it still doesn't compare to magnetic disks, optical discs, or flash memory. Frankly, a picture being worth a million bytes, I rather doubt a wire recording would be worth as much as a spool of film when it came to recording technical drawings.
Technology - p35 & 36
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.
Indeed. Along with this:
-It is not credible that cosmic energy screens operate purely by absorbing power emitted by stars, even if we include hard radiation in that total. The mechanism has to be something else; were Smith writing today he'd probably invoke 'zero point' energy.
-Note the distinction between power distribution and power generation. This may have afflicted ships back in Samms' day too; the availability of enough energy to generate or block certain forces does not always translate into the power to block them when they hit you all at once in a massive surge.
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.
Makes sense, I suppose...
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.
Hmm. Another thing to look at this evening, I guess.
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.
Indeed.
Technology - p47
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.
Indeed. You wouldn't have to vaporize much rock to trigger a landslide; you wouldn't really have to vaporize at all when explosive heating would shatter the rocks for you quite nicely. But this is still a hell of a lot of power being slung around.
Universe - p48Boskonian 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.
Use of serial numbers is natural for a culture that uses many different languages, as Boskone no doubt does. Names of the ships in, say, Kalonian would be meaningless to their crews, and vice versa.
Technology - p49
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.
On the other hand, "blasts" need not be instantaneous, especially since most Lensman energy weapons seem to fire on continuous beam settings. I think expecting short, sub-second bursts to destroy a hundred catlats at once is a bit excessive, and for myself I'd set the upper bound on DeLameters below a gigawatt, though I'm not at all sure how much below it.

Maybe I'm wrong there, though.
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Re: Inert and Free Speeds Reconciled!

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-15 10:22pm

OK. Said I'd look at some stuff. I think I've mostly fixed the problem you were having with reconciling the Dauntless's stated speed free with its stated acceleration inert. I'll look at the weapon energy questions later; I'd like to leave the weapon energy question for later.
Simon_Jester wrote:
Haynes and Kinnison on the Britannia. The part I really want to look at is the section focusing on the speed it can reach:...
[math]
Hmm. I'd like to come back to this, but frankly I'm a bit burned out on doing calculations for this reason today.
Well, the first thing I noticed after pulling out my slipstick is that you used the drag coefficient for a sphere (0.47), then plugged in 0.57 for the coefficient... when it isn't a sphere. However, teardrops are tougher to model, so free pass on that.

You also have one hydrogen atom per cubic meter, not per ten cubic centimeters; I adjust for that in your equation. One cubic meter should contain 100000 hydrogen atoms, upping the density by five orders of magnitude from what you used. Therefore, you underestimated the drag force by about five orders of magnitude.

Continuing through with the calculation, I found that for a 10000 square meter frontal area, we get a drag of 2.34*10^14 newtons. Balancing that against the strength of the drive, we find that in inert maneuver that thrust would yield a 10g acceleration (98 m/s^2) if the ship weighs... 2.38 billion metric tons. Which is just huge, ridiculously so for a vessel that has a frontal cross section of only ten thousand square meters.

The catch is that Dauntless is streamlined, much more so than a sphere (which has pretty lousy aerodynamics). here we see a drag coefficient of 0.04 for a streamlined teardrop shape, which would allow us to get the same amount of velocity free with only one tenth the drag, and thus one tenth the thrust. Which brings the thrust down to ~2*10^13 newtons, and the mass down to just about 200 million tonnes.

Which is still huge, much larger than my mass estimates for the Chicago, but is at least broadly compatible with a steel object less than a cubic kilometer in volume. And it is stated to be "vastly larger even than the superdreadnoughts of the Patrol..." And we may have underestimated its frontal area, too, if it's that heavy. Dunno; would have to do a more detailed analysis.

As you note, it is also possible that Dauntless has drives that could push it harder than this in inert maneuver, but that such strains cannot be sustained, restricting them to 10g drive in inert flight. In which case you could have that same ~2*10^13 N drive power, but on a ship that weighed less than 200 million tonnes inert.
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.
I'll work on it. Eventually...
So I did. Basically, you missed a few orders of magnitude in your calculation of the density of the interstellar medium; there are still a few questions and you might want to check the rest of your math, but that's the heart of the matter right there.
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Re: GALACTIC PATROL (PART 2)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-15 11:25pm

Teleros wrote:Technology - p73
Beams, no matter how powerful, did not reach them at all, but spent themselves in cracklingly incandescent fury, inches from their marks... Utterly careless of the service-life of the pitifully weak Delgonian projectors, they were using them at maximum drain and at extreme aperture - and in the resultant beams the Delgonian soldier-slaves fell in scorched and smoking heaps.
"Ridiculously inferior" Delgonian beam weapons against Kinnison & vanBuskirk's shields. In return, the unshielded Delgonians are incinerated. If we take Connor's cauterisation figures, then you'll need at least 571kJ per kg for 200°C cauterisation. If we assume that a Delgonian is a 30ft reptile weighing a quarter of a tonne (compare this to say a Nigersaurus, a sauropod that at 30ft long weighed in at ~2 tonnes), then you'd need 123.8 MJ per Delgonian.
However, it is quite possible to reduce someone to a charred corpse without actually burning them down to the bone. The Delgonian projectors may have been only a fraction that powerful- a beam in the tens of megawatts on wide dispersion would kill or maim them in very short order, causing them to "fall in scorched and smoking heaps."

Good job estimating Worsel's mass, though. I've always been a bit unsure how to visualize him. Also note that Kinnison says that "one of those beams would fry you to a crisp in ten seconds!" to Worsel, which gives us more data to work with, again suggesting ~10 to 20 MW power output.
Technology - p73 & 74
...the beleaguered pair brought their own DeLameters... into play.
And what a difference! In those beams the attacking reptiles did not smoke or burn. They simply vanished in a blaze of flaming light, as did also the nearby walls and a good share of the building beyond!
Assuming the previous figures for a Delgonian, you'd need 750MJ to vaporise just one. This does however fit in fairly closely with the single-digit GJ firepower needed to kill the catlats (when one considers that it was not just the Delgonians who are being vaporised here).
True. Though we may well be looking at considerable sustained fire, as the pair blasted not only the Delgonians directly in front of them, but any that might be hiding behind the walls, in an attempt to drive them back so they could grab Worsel and go.
Technology - p78
...beside the practically incinerated corpse of the lookout
A Delgonian lookout is incinerated by Kinnison's DeLameter. See earlier figures.
The fact that a recognizable corpse remains suggests fire sufficient to scorch much of the body, but not completely obliterate it or reduce it to a pile of ash. Looking at your earlier figures, this suggests something in the mid-to-high tens of megawatts. Which... Hm.

Remember that passage about the DeLameters absorbing "myriawatt-hour after myriawatt-hour from the busbars of the Delgonians?" One myriawatt-hour is 36 MJ, which is a good estimate for a (very thoroughly) fatal energy weapon shot, one that would pretty much wreck an unprotected human body- not completely destroy, but cause so much damage that there's no real possibility of their continuing to fight. As in "vaporize a man's head" damage.

36 MJ may be a reasonable figure for a low-power Delameter shot: a full-power beam for a tiny fraction of a second, or a low-power beam for a significant fraction of a second. Using much more power than that under normal conditions against unarmored humans (or even unarmored Delgonians) would just lead to overpenetration, because there's no part of the body you can pump that much power into at a reasonable beam diameter without getting massive burnthrough.
Technology - p78
A last wave of Delgonian slaves hurled themselves forward... only to disappear in the DeLameters' fans of force.
The use of "disappear" like that sounds like disintegration, so either we're looking at some sort of "magic disintegration" setting or its another case of rapid vaporisation. The use of the word "fans" shows the DeLameters' wide-aperture option.
Or, hell, they're just blown apart; having steam explosions going off in your torso will do that to you.
Technology - p90
... Kinnison and Worsel scanned space in search of more prey. Soon they found it, more distant than the first one had been - two solar systems away... Tracers and tractors and interference and domes of force again became the order of the day.
Evidence of tractor beams working over interstellar ranges.

Technology - p92
As ordered, they began to spy-ray survey at extreme range; but even at that range Kinnison's tracers were effective and those pirates also ceased communicating in a blaze of interference. Then recent history repeated itself.
Evidently spy-rays can also work at interstellar ranges. Although the Boskonian ships' spy-rays had a shorter range than Kinnison's tractor beams, this may simply have been due to the scale of the tractor beams and the extra power Kinnison could draw upon.
Not sure that's true... not sure how to interpret these passages, o tell the truth.
Universe - p116
It had only one creed - "The end justifies the means." Anything - literally anything at all that produced the desired result was commendable; to fail was the only crime. The successful named their own rewards; those who failed were disciplined with an impersonal, rigid severity exactly proportional to the magnitude of their failures.
A nice summary of how the Boskonians work.
In theory, anyway...
Universe - p116 & 117
Indeed, only his general, all-pervasive aura of blueness bore witness to the fact that he was not a native of Tellus. His eyes were blue, his hair was blue, and even his skin was faintly blue beneath his coat of ultra-violet tan.
Description of Helmuth, a Kalonian. Reminds me of Grand Admiral Thrawn (minus the red eyes).
Indeed. Eleventh Century Remnant and I have both remarked on the resemblance, and it may work the other way too; it's quite possible Zahn was thinking of "Helmuth, speaking for Boskone," one of the classic villains of science fiction.
Universe - p121 & 122
The free-flying ship struck that frail barrier and stopped. In the instant of contact a wave of mental force flooded the mind of the captain, who, gibbering with sheer, start, panic terror, flashed his vessel away from that horror-impregnated wall and hurled call after frantic call along his beam, back to headquarters.
A mental shield of some sort surrounds Arisia - although it's there merely to act as a warning and not kill. It is "solid" enough to halt an inertialess vessel though (scroll up for an idea of the thrust required for FTL speeds).
If the shield is coupled to the planet itself, this is not surprising; a free ship that strikes a planet (or something rigidly connected to it) is going to come to a screeching halt. Also, the ship was probably not traveling at full thrust the first time it struck the barrier; as a general rule ships that do not intend to intrude upon Arisia do not do so. As for ships that do intrude upon Arisia... well.
Destruction of a Boskonian base on Neptune's moon. No idea which one it means, given that Neptune has several in reality. I'm not going to try and work out the firepower employed, given we have no idea of which moon was the target, never mind the strength of the shields and the size and composition of the Boskonian base. The use of the word "planet" is confusing though: did the maulers' beams continue on towards Neptune itself, or does "planet" in this case mean the moon that the base was on? If it's the planet then a figure for the energy required to penetrate atmosphere and mantle (to its rocky core) should be possible, but I wouldn't know where to begin given the densities and such involved. More, did the beams penetrate the moon itself in order to reach the planet?
I'd bet on "planet" and "moon" being used interchangeably in this case.
Universe - p151 & 152
He was now a free agent, responsible to no one and to nothing save his own conscience...
You report if, as, when, where, how, and to whom you please - or not, as you please. You don't even get a salary any more. You help yourself to that, too, wherever you may be; as much as you want, whenever you want it.
Some of the power invested in Kinnison when he's made an Unattached (or "Grey") Lensman by the "Court" (a body that Haynes is on). He can also requisition just about anything in the Galactic Patrol that he might need for a mission, and still with no (or at least next to no) oversight.
And what does he do with this power? Military R&D. Kinnison is weird.
Technology - p161
The big problem with inertialess travel, at least in the Lensman universe. That said, such a course would be perfect for precisely deploying relativistic missiles: accelerate a missile to a significant fraction of lightspeed, go free, and position it such that when it goes inert, it slams into the target at its previous relativistic velocity.
Oh, they have much, much better than relativistic missile to do this with... 8)
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-06-16 07:43am

This contradicts my earlier speculation to the effect that Lensmen might automatically outrank normal Patrol officers... though Kinnison certainly gives orders to officers on his ship, and they are followed vigorously.
True, but Haynes selects Kinnison & other volunteers for the special mission, and specifically didn't want a veteran captain because the Britannia was such an unusual ship. Hence you get a Lt as the mission commander.
In this era, "ether" was a synonym for "space" for poetic purposes ("blown out of the ether"), or for the underlying structure of space. It does not, strictly speaking, require that the Lensman setting have an ether-based cosmology, though I suppose it might.
It would however fit in better with all the talk of weapons being "vibratory" and such. It's not like Doc Smith was afraid to throw out science when he wanted to after all :) .
Presumably, the helix can be, heck (is) used the same way that the "polycyclic drill" was used by Rodebush and Cleveland to breach Roger's shields
Makes sense, perhaps it's even where the helix tech came from, given everything else has lost the "polycyclic" bits by Kinnison's day.
The ultrawave equivalent of radiation pressure would be incredibly feeble for a given amount of energy transfer.
Have fun figuring out primary beams vs secondaries then :D .
Well, melting a few dozen tonnes of metal out of the way is a job for high gigajoule-range energies, and this probably only took a few seconds; I'd feel cautiously confident about rating semi-portables in the GW range. But I should sit down and give that some careful thought tonight.
Probably, and given DeLameters seem to be triple-digit MJ weapons at least, this would make sense from that perspective as well.
The latter seems more likely. We know that personal shields can block Delameter fire; it stands to reason that portable shield generators (implied to be heavy enough to be only somewhat man-portable) can too.
The shield must've been covering the wall they were trying to get through though, otherwise a bunch of men with DeLameters should have gotten through quickly as well. Perhaps it was a "thick" shield, ie 3D rather than 2D like most shields (like that speedster in FL that stops all weapons being used in an area).
Hate to break this to you, but data-encoded metal wires are 1930s technology too.
Oh well. Main thing was just pointing it out. I wonder if rolled-up CDs would be any use... :P
-It is not credible that cosmic energy screens operate purely by absorbing power emitted by stars, even if we include hard radiation in that total.
The main problem with them drawing power from stars is that they'd have to have a HUGE range, else massive fleet battles would be hard, because the local star(s) would be being tapped for juice by a hell of a lot of warships. Possibly they can draw power from the radiation emitted by stars that's already in space (ie, if Sol emits 3.84e26J every second, then from the surface of the sun to 10 lightseconds out there's 3.84e27J waiting to be hoovered up). Still doesn't explain why dimming suns is never mentioned prior to the sunbeam though, so yes, I think it's probably "stars + unknown", be it zero point energy or something else.
Hmm. Another thing to look at this evening, I guess.
I avoided it because as I see it, it'd be just a big list of numbers pulled out of my arse. X mass at Y velocity gives such-and-such KE and momentum, and I'm sure everyone here knows how to do "KE=0.5mv^2" and so on :P . I mean hell, even I know that much...
I think expecting short, sub-second bursts to destroy a hundred catlats at once is a bit excessive, and for myself I'd set the upper bound on DeLameters below a gigawatt
Yeah, just depends on how rapid you want it to be. Doc Smith has loved monstrously powerful hand weapons ever since X-plosive bullets after all...
However, teardrops are tougher to model, so free pass on that.
I had a look on Wikipedia, and a "streamlined body" (see pic on the right in the link, looks like a teardrop), has a drag coefficient of 0.04 (!). So I tried to be much more conservative, hence the sphere figure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_coefficient
So I did. Basically, you missed a few orders of magnitude in your calculation of the density of the interstellar medium; there are still a few questions and you might want to check the rest of your math, but that's the heart of the matter right there.
*Big sigh of relief*
Not going to comment on me being wrong saving me a headache, but thanks :) .
And we may have underestimated its frontal area, too, if it's that heavy. Dunno; would have to do a more detailed analysis.
One thing that occurs to me is the design for the accumulator cells: we know the Patrol liked to build big in most things (these ships probably have quite thick armour, for example), but depending on the mass & number of accumulator cells, and the fact that ships tend to have few crewmen for their apparent size (Dauntless having ~400 plus or minus a few hundred), a LOT of the interior volume could be big lumps of machinery.

The fact that a recognizable corpse remains suggests fire sufficient to scorch much of the body, but not completely obliterate it or reduce it to a pile of ash. Looking at your earlier figures, this suggests something in the mid-to-high tens of megawatts. Which... Hm.

I wonder if in the battle in the Delgonian city Kinnison & vanBuskirk used them on full power and just wasted everything, but switched to conserving energy later, eg for the lookout. Being a sentry and all, a 1.5GJ blast or something would probably kill the sentry, make a hell of a bang, and give the Overlords a new doorway to their cavern. More, in the city fight you're up against many times your own number of Delgonians, and you want to make damn sure they go down & stay down.

Indeed. Eleventh Century Remnant and I have both remarked on the resemblance, and it may work the other way too; it's quite possible Zahn was thinking of "Helmuth, speaking for Boskone," one of the classic villains of science fiction.

Now THAT is a fight I'd pay to see :D .

And what does he do with this power? Military R&D. Kinnison is weird.

I decline to comment :D .

Oh, they have much, much better than relativistic missile to do this with...

I'm reading Storm from the Shadows ATM, and, well... Royal Manticoran Navy + this... :twisted:

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-16 10:03am

Teleros wrote:
This contradicts my earlier speculation to the effect that Lensmen might automatically outrank normal Patrol officers... though Kinnison certainly gives orders to officers on his ship, and they are followed vigorously.
True, but Haynes selects Kinnison & other volunteers for the special mission, and specifically didn't want a veteran captain because the Britannia was such an unusual ship. Hence you get a Lt as the mission commander.
That wasn't so much my point; the real issue is that all those veterans defer quite naturally to Kinnison, trusting that he's the best man among them even though he's literally fresh out of the Academy. That suggests a society in which Lensmen are commonly empowered to give orders to people much superior to them in experience. Fortunately for Civilization, it seems to work...
In this era, "ether" was a synonym for "space" for poetic purposes ("blown out of the ether"), or for the underlying structure of space. It does not, strictly speaking, require that the Lensman setting have an ether-based cosmology, though I suppose it might.
It would however fit in better with all the talk of weapons being "vibratory" and such. It's not like Doc Smith was afraid to throw out science when he wanted to after all :) .
On the other hand, describing EM and ultrawave weapons as "vibratory" really isn't that unreasonable, certainly not as a translation convention. It's unphysical in real life, in the sense that nothing is vibrating as such. But as short-hand for physical phenomena that take the form of electromagnetic fields (or their ultrawave counterparts) propagating through space almost precisely as sound waves propagate through media...

Well. In any case, to me, it's poetry; to you it may be part of the technical analysis. Sort of like all those references to "coruscating" this, that, and the other thing (when we all know energy weapons in vacuum don't glow to speak of). Or "no material substance could withstand" when we both know perfectly well that even at megatons a second it takes some time to drill through a large solid object.
The ultrawave equivalent of radiation pressure would be incredibly feeble for a given amount of energy transfer.
Have fun figuring out primary beams vs secondaries then :D .
Oh, I plan to... I'll get there, eventually.
-It is not credible that cosmic energy screens operate purely by absorbing power emitted by stars, even if we include hard radiation in that total.
The main problem with them drawing power from stars is that they'd have to have a HUGE range, else massive fleet battles would be hard, because the local star(s) would be being tapped for juice by a hell of a lot of warships. Possibly they can draw power from the radiation emitted by stars that's already in space (ie, if Sol emits 3.84e26J every second, then from the surface of the sun to 10 lightseconds out there's 3.84e27J waiting to be hoovered up). Still doesn't explain why dimming suns is never mentioned prior to the sunbeam though, so yes, I think it's probably "stars + unknown", be it zero point energy or something else.
Hah! The hypothetical idea of drawing power from a volume of space like that is quite clever; the problem is energy density and the volume required to make it work. Remember Olber's Paradox. In effect they're trying to run solar cells off of starlight, and that's a losing game. I'd feel more comfortable with an outright technomagic source.
Hmm. Another thing to look at this evening, I guess.
I avoided it because as I see it, it'd be just a big list of numbers pulled out of my arse. X mass at Y velocity gives such-and-such KE and momentum, and I'm sure everyone here knows how to do "KE=0.5mv^2" and so on :P . I mean hell, even I know that much...
Nah, what you really want to do is come up with a reasonable estimate of Britannia's mass. Figure out how much energy it would take to "fuse" (temporarily melt surfaces so that you end up with blobs of metal instead of solid, shaped pieces) a majority of the ship and vaporize a respectable fraction of the remnant. That gives you a rough estimate, or the beginning of one, for the energy of the detonating torpedoes.
Yeah, just depends on how rapid you want it to be. Doc Smith has loved monstrously powerful hand weapons ever since X-plosive bullets after all...
I love how in Skylark of Space, the first nuclear test is performed with a shell fired from a handgun...
However, teardrops are tougher to model, so free pass on that.
I had a look on Wikipedia, and a "streamlined body" (see pic on the right in the link, looks like a teardrop), has a drag coefficient of 0.04 (!). So I tried to be much more conservative, hence the sphere figure.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_coefficient
The problem with doing it your way is that your conservatism increased the required thrust by an order of magnitude. Which would not have been such a problem compared to underestimating the density of the interstellar medium, but it didn't help.
One thing that occurs to me is the design for the accumulator cells: we know the Patrol liked to build big in most things (these ships probably have quite thick armour, for example), but depending on the mass & number of accumulator cells, and the fact that ships tend to have few crewmen for their apparent size (Dauntless having ~400 plus or minus a few hundred), a LOT of the interior volume could be big lumps of machinery.
True. Of course, at the voltages they sling around (and Smith, to his credit, is semi-honest about what it takes to handle such insane amounts of electricity, at least for now... :wink: ), they also need considerable separation distances between things like busbars and main battery energy weapons and the 'grounded' hull of the ship. Air gaps are among the best insulation of all; vacuum is better, and requiring personnel to wear GP armor while doing maintenance is arguably a good thing given how hazardous shipboard operations are. So even in the machinery spaces there's going to be a fair amount of open volume.

Also, how did you get that crew figure? Not that I disagree, mind.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-16 11:16am

Oh, a thought on Triplanetary-era energy technology. In Triplanetary, we've got pistol batteries (well, maybe rifle) that carry "thousands upon thousands of kilowatt-hours:" mid-gigajoule energy; I'd figure on 10 to 100 GJ. Figure 30 GJ, in the middle of that range (on a logarithmic scale). The flagship of the Triplanetary fleet in the battle with Roger's planetoid carries eighteen thousand such batteries; fully charged we wind up with about 54 TJ worth on board: thirteen kilotons of small arms ammunition. That's roughly equivalent to the Hiroshima bomb, and we're not counting charged batteries for Standishes or other heavy weapons.

That's getting close to the short-timescale energy delivered by the ship's main battery. Recall my estimate, based on it taking three pounds of iron for the Nevians to resist and defeat them, that the combined firepower of the surviving Triplanetary and pirate ships after the Nevians come in to mop them up is close to one megaton per second. That suggests that typical capital ship beam firepower is rather lower- down around ten kilotons per second even for the relatively heavy units, with a few large dreadnoughts that might push up towards 50 kt/s; 100 kt/s is unlikely because it would put an unreasonable share of the fleet's firepower on a single platform.

This may help to explain the extensive use of accumulators in Triplanetary. Power generation technology is (relatively) limited; even dreadnoughts of the period cannot generate enough sustained power to put out power to the tune of more than a few dozen kilotons per second. Meanwhile, the ship's arms locker stores a dozen kilotons just for the pistol magazines, and those magazines are considered secure enoguh that people use them routinely, without fear that they will detonate unless someone destroys them with a comparable-power ray gun.

Clearly, battery technology in Triplanetary is well in advance of power generation technology. It's quite reasonable to power your ship's beams from an accumulator bank that's essentially a big cube of Lewiston magazines, because you can realistically store enough energy in a room comparable to the output of your own ship's power plant for a period of minutes. This may help to explain why small ships "drain their accumulators" and why the Hyperion is so screwed when it takes a hit "to the battery room."
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2010-06-21 02:56pm

Connor MacLeod wrote:I think a lot of it is just that Doc Smith was happy to throw out real physics if needed, eg with his use of forcefields that behave a lot like physical matter, inertialessness, and the ether & subether. But regardless of that, it'll be good to see your stuff :) .
Most authors throw out physics if it suits them, so it wouldnt be any different if Doc Smith did. That doesn't mean much to analysis of course.

I'll probably just send you my stuff,a nd if you want to add it to your Tech analysis thats your choice. I don't have time to go cutting and pasting quotes now (40K is consming all that available time, and if it didnt I still have Renegade Legion) but its also just sitting on my HD useful to noone else.

I havne't really touched Vortex Masters/Blasters (or whatever) yet either.
Worsel's magic death ray used, as near as I understand it, a beam of mental energy to denature the protein responsible for thought in all organic beings. A more modern one would probably have it denaturing neurone receptors or something; basically, it's a very efficient means of achieving instant brain death.
It didn't specify it was a protein of any kind.. jsut an organic molecule of such and such vague qualities. I dont think we have enough data to speculate. Besides, if it were just a protein, I'd suspect they'd know about it or have some way to detect it (or its absnece).. and it was supposed to be undetectable.

That alone isn't the only thing that bugged me about that seen. Worsel flat out said tht a "millionth" of the power of a Delameter could kill by that means, and then also said that the magic death ray used a "fraction of a watt". Which suggests a Delameter output of a megawatt or so (I'll touch on this again in a moment.) You know we've both hashed over the idea that Lensman hand weapons were technobabble with the effects before, and it still remains a viable possibility. I do think its in fact neccessary in some cases (its not impossible, but very difficult, to rationalize a human being in any close proximity to the sorts of energies needed to vaporize or cremate the entire human body, and even low MJ outputs can be problematic. Space armor will of course help in some cases, but space armor isn't always used either.) Overall, its just simpler to allow for the "technobabble" effect to cover potential gaps or inconsistencies (and they will crop up) since there's no getting away from it in any case (lots of weapons are described as working by "vibration" too. Nevermind the "volatilze" bit.) Technobabble effects do not neccesarily mean thermal or other effects are insignificant or nonexistent as a damage mechanism, iether (or even mechanical ones.) It could be lensman weapons just work by multiple damage mechanisms (melting may be a secondary effect of whatever the beams do to the matter, for example.)

There is also the point that the descirptive stuff doesnt neccesarily treat "cauterization", melting, charring or other related "temp oriented" calcs as a lower limit. looking over flash burning with nukes and stuff, as little as 50-100 J/cm^2 can cause severe (third degree burning) on the body - or half a megajoule to a megajoule applied over the entire form. That is also possible as a calc in the Delameters (and woudl fit better with SSL.) Mutli GW also gets problematic from a recoil perspective (assuming a massless beam at least. I dont know if Delameters actually use a FTL beam though or not) and that has to be borne in mind as well.

Revising estimates downwards does not neccesarily mean that you have to give u pthe higher yield examples or ignore them either. Depending on how they go (I dont remembe all the detials exactly) some could be treated as simply different settings (it would make sense that they have higher power settings for used by armored troops, for example. Lower yields.. (eg kilowatt or single digit MW outputs for the delameter) could be used when unarmored.

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Re: GRAY LENSMAN (PART 1)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-23 04:27pm

Yes, guys, I'm still in the game! In particular:
-I've got some speculation on the status quo of Lensman-setting physics, based on Kinnison's comments at the ball.
-I managed to resolve some problematic results in Teleros's calculations of the relative speed of Lundmark's Nebula and the Milky Way.
-I did a calculation of primary beam firepower from Teleros's results on energy generation and his analysis of the Battle of Medon, coming to the conclusion that Patrol primaries deliver roughly 1.4 teratons per shot, and that the Dauntless has a broadside firepower of 16 teratons/second, at least under the conditions of that battle with some power diverted to shields. I'd appreciate it if someone could check my math, since that one's relatively important.
Teleros wrote:Technology - p19
Kinnison's specially-built suit of armour survives the semi-portable beam weapons in Helmuth's control room, and in fact has weapons practically as powerful as well. The part about his screens being "almost as those of a battleship" is interesting...
I'm going to go with hyperbole. We see similar super-suits elsewhere; one in Children of the Lens and I may recall one in Second Stage Lensman. In both cases, Kinnison expresses concern that he might be threatened by heavy man-portable weapons, which would be ludicrous if his shields really were the equal of a battleship's.
Technology - p23
All this happens too fast for the human eye, but scanners and the like allow Kinnison & Haynes to reconstruct what happened aboard the flagship. The description of duodec makes it sound almost like some sort of radiation bomb, except one made almost purely from nitrogen (see elsewhere). Radiation is never mentioned with regard to duodec bombs however, so either it dissipates very rapidly or it works as a kind of "heat-ray bomb", with little gamma radiation and whatnot. I don't want to think of what would be required for a chemical explosive's detonation to propagate at lightspeed without it being some sort of radiation bomb...
S' impossible; chemical bonds don't carry that kind of energy. I think we're looking at, as you say, some kind of 'heat ray' or disintegration bomb, one that accelerates whatever fraction of the bomb's mass left over to high relativistic speeds.

Might be interesting to compare duodec to baradium, the active material in Star Wars thermal detonators...
Technology - p24
More on the duodec.
Smith's comparison of duodec charges to matter from Sirius-B (a white dwarf star composed of electron-degenerate matter) is also interesting.
Technology - p24 & 25
The effects of the duodec bombs on the planet. Not as bad as the Death Star, but I'd say within a few orders of magnitude of the minimum energy required to blow up an Earth-like planet, assuming Helmuth's planet was Earth-like.
Sounds fair. We might compare the effects to simulations of the Chicxulub impact, which hit the crust with about 100 teratons. I don't know how far disturbances in the crust would crack it from the point of impact, but it's at least a starting point if we're interested in planet-rattling events.
Technology - p27
Overcharged beam projectors destroy 3 inertialess Patrol heavy cruisers, ships designed with little offensive armament but able to take anything the Boskonians would normally be able to throw at them. The point about "no object free in space..." refers to the fact that, until this battle, no inertialess ship could be damaged unless held in place - any beam or missile impact would simply shove the ship away.
Thinking about this...

Assume for the sake of argument that normal offensive beams (both standard 'macro' beams and primaries) are ultrawave-laser weapons of some sort. Momentum transfer due to ultrawave pressure is liable to be extremely low; I can take a crack at proving that by assuming that ultrawaves are analogous to EM waves, but would prefer not to at the moment.

Now, a free ship can't be accelerated to the speed of ultrawaves, not even by much greater momentum transfer than any reasonable ultrawave beam could deliver (such as Dauntless's engines). So it's not a question of the ship being pushed away at the speed of the beam, though this would certainly be feasible if we fired a solid projectile, particle beam, or laser at a free ship. So while it's obvious that Smith-style inertialessness would protect a ship from subluminal weapons (and light), how does it protect against superluminal ultra-beams?

Here's my guess. We've seen that high-intensity beams can drill through a shield that would otherwise be able to withstand them- localized burnthrough is possible. We've also seen that normally this is not the damage mechanism for typical (non-primary) beams. Instead, the firing ship attempts to overload the shields of the defender by a brute force attack, putting more kilotons on target than the defender has enough power to screen against.

But against a ship that is free, this may be impossible. Ultrawave beam weapons must have a maximum effective range, after all. If the head of the beam (and the first few megatons of energy striking the ship's screens) accelerate the target away from the firing ship, then it may be kicked out of range before the attacker has time to batter down the defender's shields.

Whereas a primary doesn't interact with shields simply by beating them down; it's intense enough to achieve localized burnthrough against even high-grade wall screens. Therefore, it can drill through the shields and deliver a blow to the interior of the target (rendering it inert and destroying it, in that order), even as the ship begins to accelerate away under inertialessness.

Analogies and more detailed analysis can wait until later, I think.
Technology - p32 & 33
And our ultra-wave communicators, working below the level of the ether, in the sub-ether..."
"Whatever that is," she interrupted.
"That's as a definition of it as any," he grinned at her. "We don't know what even the ether is, or whether or not it exists as an objective reality; to say nothing of what we so nonchalantly call the sub-ether. We can't understand gravity, even though we make it to order. Nobody yet has been able to say how it is propagated, or even whether or not it is propagated - no one has been able to devise any kind of an apparatus or meter or method by which its nature, period, or velocity can be determined. Neither do we know anything about time or space. In fact, fundamentally, we don't really know much of anything at all," he concluded.
Kinnison explaining to a businesswoman he meets at a dance about various things in space. His comments on various common-place (in-universe!) things is interesting, in that he seems to have developed something of an Arisian philosophy with regards to knowledge (ie, that we don't really know very much at all). The way he separates the "ether" and "time and space" is another indication that the Lensverse uses something akin to the luminiferous aether, whilst what he says about gravity are very different to what we know today.
I interpret this somewhat differently, being a filially-pious son of twentieth century physics...

1) "We don't know what even the ether is, or whether or not it exists as an objective reality;
Here, it's important to realize that "ether" was often used poetically in the nineteenth century (and Smith is heir to the tail end of that tradition, even as a mid-twentieth century novelist). The ether was the mechanical structure by which what we now call EM radiation propagated. To give an idea of what I mean, Maxwell's Laws originated when Maxwell was doing some study into the question of how such a mechanical structure might be modeled. He settled on a massive 3D grid of springs, but that was just a model. He did not insist that such springs physically existed; whatever the underlying reality of the "ether" might be, it obviously wasn't just springs.

So when Kinnison says this, he's saying (in the vernacular of Smith's time) "We don't know what the mechanism of propagation of EM radiation is, or whether or not there "really" is one in a concrete sense." They know Maxwell's Laws (obvious from their use of radio and alternating current), but they don't know what the deep-level structure of the universe that permits electromagnetism to work is.

Which is arguably the status quo today. You can make a case that, thanks to quantum electrodynamics, we do know what the underlying structure that allows EM waves to propagate is... but that's due to research that was still in the early stages of correspondence among high-end theoretical physicists while Smith was writing all this. And even it can't necessarily be viewed as the absolute last Word of God on how electromagnetism "really" works.

If "ether" is understood as a poetic term for "the thing that makes EM radiation work," as Smith and his generation would likely have used it... then Kinnison's statement makes perfect sense. The real error is Smith's implied prediction that the poetic term would survive, rather than getting inextricably welded to the outmoded idea of an "ether" as a material substance that light propagates through like sound propagates through air.

2) ...To say nothing of what we so nonchalantly call the sub-ether.
Or: "Everything I just said about EM radiation goes double for ultrawaves, which are understood even less well from a theoretical-physics standpoint."

3) We can't understand gravity, even though we make it to order. Nobody yet has been able to say how it is propagated, or even whether or not it is propagated - no one has been able to devise any kind of an apparatus or meter or method by which its nature, period, or velocity can be determined.
This suggests that they're barking up the wrong tree, trying to regard gravity as a wave strictly analogous to EM, which it definitely isn't in real life. Furthermore, I wonder how they could build a gravity generator without understanding gravity better. This may be another case of Arisian interference in the progress of Civilization's physics and engineering, like the "invention" of the Bergenholm.

4) Neither do we know anything about time or space.
This, combined with the profound misunderstanding of the nature of gravity suggests that the general theory of relativity, specifically, is not understood in Civilization. Or is considered extremely abstruse and theoretical, beyond even what a Lensman is expected to know and beyond the bounds of what can truly be called firm knowledge.

Later, we see Cardynge doing work on the hyperspatial tube that strongly implies at least some awareness of general relativity (or its equivalent in the Lensmanverse), but other than Arisians and theoretical physicists, awareness of spacetime and related phenomena doesn't seem widespread. Which may help to explain why Kinnison messes up his description of gravity earlier.

5) In fact, fundamentally, we don't really know much of anything at all,"
This is arguably the most important bit, from my point of view. Remember his audience- a charming, lovely, reasonably intelligent heiress... whose knowledge of physics rivals Kinnison's knowledge of needlepoint.* He may very well be overstating the ignorance of the scientific community to put her at ease.

*Scratch that; Kinnison is a superman and would probably be quite good at needlepoint if he turned his mind to it. Her knowledge of physics rivals my knowledge of needlepoint, which pretty much begins and ends with "there are needles involved and they are pointy."
Technology - p33
"Ultra-waves are faster than ordinary radio waves, which of course travel through the ether with the velocity of light, in just about the same ratio as that of the speed of our ships to the speed of slow automobiles - that is, the ratio of a parsec to a mile. Roughly nineteen billion to one. Range, of course, is proportional to the square of the speed."
The slow automobile used in Kinnison's example was cruising at 60mph and had a top speed of 90mph - so, roughly 60-90 parsecs per hour for starships. The speed of ultrawaves will give us some trouble later on however.
I will address this later on, as troubles arise.
Universe - p32-46
The density of matter in space, which had been lessening steadily, was now approximately constant at one atom per four hundred cubic centimetres. Their speed was therefore about a hundred thousand parsecs per hour; and, even allowing for the slowing up at both ends due to the density of the medium, the trip should not take over ten days.
Wikipedia meanwhile gives an estimate of 1 atom per cubic metre for the average density of the universe, but adds the obvious qualifier that the universe isn't that uniform. However, as the two galaxies passed through one another, it's likely that there's still some matter left over from the "collision".
Whereas Kinnison reports a figure of ~1 per 400 cm^3... Hmm.

Recalling our earlier calculations for intragalactic travel in Galactic Patrol, the top speed should scale linearly with density. However, much depends on the size and geometry of the ship and on engine thrust; the new intergalactic Dauntless is most likely not built exactly the same as the old pirate-catcher Dauntless. It is extremely likely that Dauntless-II (my name for the new one) has thrusters powerful enough to generate accelerations the crew could not survive in inert flight, because she was designed to cover an immense distance in a relatively short time. I'll have to work on this one; I'll come back to it later.
With the figure Kinnison later gives for how fast it's receding and when the two galaxies met (3116km/s and 2 billion years ago), we get a distance of 6,373,400 parsecs, for the distance to Lundmarks' Nebula, which ties in well with the 30 second communications delay experienced between Klovia and Tellus (later in the series).
Calculating based on the 30 seconds communication delay gets us either 5,500 or 5,500,000 parsecs, depending on the definition of "billion" one uses. The long billion definition does however fit in nicely with the above distance.
We can also calculate the distance by using the standard high speed for a ship (90 parsecs per hour). Over 10 days, a ship will travel 21,600 parsecs (70,451 lightyears).
On the other hand if we assume 100,000 parsecs per hour for the whole 10 day trip we get an upper limit of 24 million parsecs (over 78 million lightyears). Using this figure, we either have the galaxies colliding over 7.5 billion years ago and retreating from one another at 3116km/s, or we have them collide 2 billion years ago and retreat from one another at 11.7 million km/s. The problem with the second figure (39 times the speed of light) should be obvious...
Those figures don't square with each other, Teleros. To avoid ambiguity between the American and British "billion" (Smith would almost certainly have used the American one, but I can't prove that), I will use the prefixes "giga" and "tera" wherever possible:

As you say, at 3116 km/s, over 7.5 gigayears, the two galaxies would cover a distance of 7.37*10^20 kilometers, 78 million light-years, or 24 million parsecs. Which is consistent with covering 100 kiloparsecs an hour for a ten day journey.

But if we use the same distance figure (24 megaparsecs) but place the Coalescence 2 gigayears ago*... we get 11700 km/s for the speed at which Lundmark's Nebula is receding, not 11700000. Thus, the 'obvious' problem with the speed you calculated (that it is much greater than the speed of light) is removed, and replaced with a speed of roughly 0.04c. Which is still significant, but not physically impossible.

So I think you slipped an extra three orders of magnitude in there, probably due to Smith's intractable refusal to speak the King's English...

*To avoid ambiguity in the use of American versus British "billions," and remembering that our own solar system was supposed to be formed during the Coalescence, in an era when no one would consider a terayear-scale age of the Earth, as well they should not.
Technology - p46
Each cosmic energy intake screen can usually furnish a ship with the energy equivalent to 1,814,369.5kg of matter per hour - or 1.63e24J per hour assuming 100% efficient atomic motors (which seems to be close to what the Patrol ships have, based on "Triplanetary"). This works out at 4.54e20W per intake screen. These figures incidentally are for galactic space - for intergalactic space, multiply the figure by 10.
ALSO: As a good general note, observe that total conversion of one pound of matter yields ~10 megatons of energy. This can be used as an approximate guideline for future reference.
It should also be noted that Dauntless, instead of having 2 or 3 intake screens like most ships, had 200 (see below).
One final (and very important) note: whilst the energy per second for the ship is 4.54e20W if you use the 400lb and 100,000:1 ratio in the calculations, it is off by an order of magnitude if you use the 4,000,000lb figure mentioned in the same quote (ie, 4.54e19W). Obviously Doc Smith made a mistake with one of the figures, so one should be careful when using them. Personally I'm inclined to think he got the calculation right and the outcome wrong given the way the passage is written.
Hmm. Do you mean that the 'four million pounds/hour' figure for the intake screen is correct? Or that the 'four hundred pounds/hour' figure for the atomic exciter motor, combined with the 100000:1 output from the intake screen is correct? The latter, yes, gives us 4.5E20 W; the former, 4.5E19 W.
Technology - p50
As has been intimated, the Dauntless was an unusual ship. She was enormous. She was bigger even than a mauler in actual bulk and mass; and from needle-beaked prow to jet-studded stern she was literally packed with power - power for any emergency conceivable to the fertile minds of Port Admiral Haynes and his staff of designers and engineers. Instead of two, or at most three intake-screen exciters, she had two hundred. Her bus-bars, instead of being the traditional rectangular coppers, were laminated members built up of co-axial tubing of pure silver to a diameter of well over a yard...
Some description of the construction of the Dauntless.
Note that silver is the best conductor known today at room temperature; for normal applications the qualitative improvement doesn't justify the increased cost over copper, or the increased weight and inferior structural properties. But since Dauntless-II is a unique "when you care enough to use the very best," it seems reasonable that they would use silver over copper to increase the ability to carry power.

The laminated coaxial layout is likewise a known technique from electrical engineering to increase the carrying capacity of a busbar- since electric current passing along a wire runs along the outside, the interior material is wasted and it is more efficient to build the cable up from a series of concentric tubes.
Technology - p51
"We are equipped to energize simultaneously eight of the new, replaceable-unit primary projectors," the CFO stated, crisply. "There are twenty-one vessels englobing us, and no others within detection. With a discharge period of point six zero and a switching interval of point zero nine, the entire action should occupy one point nine eight seconds."
The Chief Firing Officer making a verbal report on the primaries - based on the "super-needle-rays" the Boskonians jury-rigged at the start of the book. They're replaceable because the originals, when overloaded, killed their crews due to the radiation, and burnt themselves out. With the crews now properly protected and a system to switch out used projectors, the "primary beams" became the main weapon of the Patrol's warships.
You used your own calculations of power to get a power estimate for Patrol primaries in a PM to me. Let me try and replicate the calculation.

Assume that the high estimate of cosmic energy intake screen output (4.54E20 W from a screen running at 100000:1 efficiency from a 4.54E15 W atomic power plant). Further assume that Dauntless, carrying 200 intake screens, can devote 75% of its total power to the task of engaging the Boskonian task force. It keeps the other 25% (fifty intake screens!) in reserve to shield against the combined firepower of those 21 enemy ships (each of which carries "two or three" intake screens), plus minor power output for sensors, tractors to keep any Boskonians from fleeing after the first salvo of primaries is fired, and so on.

The combined output of 150 high-end intake screens gives us 6.81*10^22 W to play with. A single cycle from the primary emitters (fire beam, switch to next emitter) takes 0.69 seconds; maximum energy the ship can generate in this time using 150 intake screens is 4.70*10^22 J, or 1.1*10^10 kilotons of TNT. Divided among eight primaries, that gives each primary beam projector a per-shot output of 1.41 teratons.

The Dauntless's broadside firepower is 11.2 teratons/salvo or 16.2 teratons/second, which puts it up within shouting distance of light to medium ships from Star Wars, though well below ISD-weight, as I recall the figures.

The ideal peak output might be above this if they ran the full output of the ship into the primaries, since that gives them more power to play with, to the tune of 21.7 teratons/second. However, it's unrealistic that they could divert all power to weapons under any plausible combat conditions, so the theoretical max is very much theoretical.

*Assume that even one part in a hundred million of this energy is dumped into the projector, and the energy release is comparable to the Hiroshima bomb... no wonder it explodes.
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Andras
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Andras » 2010-06-23 07:05pm

Quick note about the power devoted to Primary beams. You are neglecting the ability to use accumulators to charge up power for the 30 seconds between volleys.


I used the GURPS Lensmen sourcebook to estimate a 4.4TT beam strength (3e22W) for each primary, devoting 28% of the ships canon power to beam weapons.

According to the sourcebook (authorized by Doc's daughter Verna) typical shells weigh 1 ton, and can have a firepower rating of up to 100. Duodec has a yield of 1 megaton/pound. The Duodec bomb in GP weighed 20 metric tons. Math gives up a yield of 44.1 GT for the bomb. Divide that by 20, and then 100, gives each firepower unit a rating of 22.05megatons.

Dauntless has 15 needlers, rated 200 each, or 4.4gt a pop (assume 1 shot / 3 seconds)
20 Macrobeams, rated 5,000 ea, or 110.25GT/second
24 Primary beams, rated 200,000ea, or 4.41TT/beam (once/30 seconds each)
Each intake screen provides about 100GT/second of power.

The time averaged firepower is 5.755TT/second, out of a total power available of just over 20TT/second. Macros and needlers accounting for 2.227TT/s, and the primaries charging up at 3.528TT/s for 30 seconds, before unleashing 105TT of energy.

The book Mauler has 4 Macros, 2 heavy needlers, and 4 light needlers; and total power of about 303gt/second with 3 intake screens.

4 Macros @ 1000 firepower= 22.05gt/sec
2 Heavy needlers @ 750fp= 16.54GT
4 Light Needlers @ 200fp= 4.41Gt each
Total beam power averages 108GT/second, or 35% total power available.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-24 12:15am

Andras wrote:Quick note about the power devoted to Primary beams. You are neglecting the ability to use accumulators to charge up power for the 30 seconds between volleys.
Since they did not use this ability in the Battle of Medon so far as I can tell, I didn't have the opportunity not to neglect it. :wink:
According to the sourcebook (authorized by Doc's daughter Verna) typical shells weigh 1 ton, and can have a firepower rating of up to 100. Duodec has a yield of 1 megaton/pound. The Duodec bomb in GP weighed 20 metric tons. Math gives up a yield of 44.1 GT for the bomb. Divide that by 20, and then 100, gives each firepower unit a rating of 22.05megatons.

Dauntless has 15 needlers, rated 200 each, or 4.4gt a pop (assume 1 shot / 3 seconds)
20 Macrobeams, rated 5,000 ea, or 110.25GT/second
24 Primary beams, rated 200,000ea, or 4.41TT/beam (once/30 seconds each)
Each intake screen provides about 100GT/second of power.
Those figures are reasonable (a 44-gigaton duodec bomb could reasonably overwhelm the shields of a Boskonian cosmic energy-powered ship in Galactic Patrol). But I question the four-teraton figure for primaries, because they've got a proven ability to salvo 21 primaries in two seconds. They may only have a total of 24 projectors, then have to swap out projectors in a thirty-second process.

But I'm going to have to ask for a citation of the claim that they can store thirty seconds' power output in the accumulators and throw it all out the primaries at once.

You know, I'm beginning to get the feeling from the high overall consistency of the power figures that the Doctor himself actually did these calculations... Wow.
The book Mauler has 4 Macros, 2 heavy needlers, and 4 light needlers; and total power of about 303gt/second with 3 intake screens.

4 Macros @ 1000 firepower= 22.05gt/sec
2 Heavy needlers @ 750fp= 16.54GT
4 Light Needlers @ 200fp= 4.41Gt each
Total beam power averages 108GT/second, or 35% total power available.
This is, I assume a mauler of the type that might have been employed in the attack on Helmuth's Grand Base?

Teleros wrote:Technology - p53 & 54
Superbly and effortlessly the big boat seeped downward into teh designated corner; but when she touched the pavement she did not stop. Still easily and without jar or jolt she settled - a full twenty feet into the concrete, re-enforcing steel, and hard-packed earth of the field before she came to a halt.
The Dauntless has to land on the outskirts of a spaceport because the cradles for the regular ships aren't large enough for her. It might be interesting to work out the pressures and stresses involved to see how strong the Dauntless' hull must be etc - any takers?
I'll give it a crack, though I'm a physicist and not an engineer. But that's part of a general issue of Dauntless's geometry, which also ties into the speed question; I'll address it later.
Technology - p56
"This is more down your alley than mine. That motor's about the size of my foot, and if it isn't eating a thousand pounds an hour I'm Klono's maiden aunt. And the whole output is going out on two wires no bigger than number four, jacketed together like ordinary parallel pair. Perfect insulator? If so, how about switching?"
"That must be it, a substance of practically infinite resistance," the Rigellian replied, absently, studying intently the peculiar mechanisms. "Must have a better conductor than silver, too, unless they can handle voltages of ten to the fifteenth or so...
Kinnison & Tregonsee discuss some of the Medonian technology they find. At any rate, it soon finds itself incorporated into the Patrol's warships and whatnot. I haven't been able to find anything related to Tregonsee's comment on the limits of what silver can handle in terms of voltages though.
Here's what they're talking about.

For normal conductors, the amount of current that can be delivered is determined by Ohm's Law; power dissipated along the conductor is P=IV, I=V/R (look up terms if need be). Dump too much power into the conductor, and it melts. As long as you use normal conductors, there's a limit to how low you can make the resistance, and it's better to use high voltage and low current than the other way around. So, Tregonsee reasons, unless the Medonians can handle 10^15 volt potentials (which they can't, not with any conceivable switch made out of atoms, as far as I can imagine), they must be using superconductors to avoid having the resistance of the wires melt them down.

Kinnison, of course, knew that this power room was running at three megatons a second and expected to see superconductors: "super-colossal engines; bus-bars ten feet thick, perhaps cooled in liquid helium..." But he expected metallic superconductors that require liquid helium cooling- a well known phenomenon for even before Smith's writing. Instead, the Medonians have room temperature (or higher!) superconductors, along with some sort of perfect insulator. That's what impresses them, because it's completely outside their frame of reference.
Universe - p60
It is edge on to us, with a receding velocity of thirty one hundred and sixteen kilometres per second - the exact velocity which, corrected for gravitational decrement, will put Lundmark's Nebula right here at the time when, according to our best geophysicists and geochemics, old Earth was being born.
It seems the Lensverse Earth is either less than half the age of the real Earth (2 v 4.5 billion years), or it's a lot older (~7.5 billion years) and somebody made a screw-up (Kinnison perhaps?). At any rate, it's generally held to be true in the series that it was the passage of Lundmark's Nebula through our own galaxy that caused both galaxies to be crawling with solar systems (as opposed to half a dozen at most each if they hadn't collided).
This may be the result of the Arisians mucking about with the sciences, with the intent of focusing attention on Lundmark's Nebula, but no worries about that. Today we know that planetary systems do not require galactic collisions to form.

The age of the Earth is messed up in the series because of real scientists' errors, in my opinion. The age of the Earth was held to be 20-100 million years by most reputable scientists until after the discovery of radioactivity, because that was the maximum life expectancy of the sun before we knew about nuclear fusion as a power source for it. After 1900, estimates revised upward, but it took until the 1950s or later for the consensus figure to settle on 4.5 billion years. So Smith was writing at a time when "two billion years" was a reasonable figure for the age of the Earth.
Technology - p98
...even with Medonian power we haven't been able to develop a screen that will stop them.
Haynes talking about the primary beams. Presumably they've also been improved by Medonian technology as well, but at any rate, the point is that for the moment the Patrol hasn't got a shield able to stop those beams.
Based on my earlier speculations, the problem may be preventing localized burnthrough. The power supply to soak up hits from primaries exists, but no existing screen can stop 100% of the power of an incoming primary shot, because it's so concentrated. And if even 1% of a beam that powerful gets through, it wrecks the ship to the point where it is incapable of offering further resistance.
Universe - p100
"Here on Tellus alone we have an expendible reserve of over ten thousand million credits. With the restriction of government to its proper sphere and its concentration into our organisation...
"Now the tax rate is the lowest in history. The total income tax, for instance, in the highest bracket, is only three point five nine two percent. At that, however, if it had not been for the recent slump, due to Boskonian interference with intersystemic commerce, we would have had to reduce the tax rate again to avoid serious financial difficulty due to the fact that too much of the galactic total of circulating credit would have been concentrated in the expendable funds of the Galactic Patrol.
Haynes talking about the financial resources of the Patrol. I've cut out most of the preaching, but Galactic Civilisation has definitely bought into the whole "lower taxes = more tax revenues" thing. More, talk of taxes rising is never mentioned - it's possible that the entire Boskone War is fought by the Patrol with a top income tax rate of less than 3.6%...
I doubt it. Economics wasn't a popular subject in pulp SF, after all.

Here's my version of the narrative:

The Patrol is pretty much purely an interstellar military force. We see in The Vortex Blaster that they aren't directly involved in planetary governance, even in terms of guaranteeing the stability of the government. As such, a 3% tax rate on Civilization's overall GDP is probably enough to support them; that's not unreasonable for the peacetime military budget of a prosperous nation.

As of Galactic Patrol and earlier, the Patrol's mission is mostly exploration and piracy suppression. So they're more or less a peacetime military, hence a low budget. No need for massively expensive fleet buildups, and they can afford the very selective recruitment standards we see at Wentworth Hall. During the time of Galactic Patrol, though, it becomes clear that they are fighting an organized group of pirates, one that has a strong overall fleet. After the fall of Helmuth's Grand Base they realize they're fighting Galaxy War One here, against an opponent that is greater than or equal to them in military power (since they control all of one galaxy and have influence in another). So we see a massive military buildup, especially after the arrival of Medon confirms that the Boskonians do in fact rule the entire Second Galaxy.

At that point, they do need to increase taxes, and churn out more ships (the eighty superdreadnoughts we see Tellus produce by the end of the novel). Recruitment standards probably decline too.
Technology - p112
...developed a new mathematics to handle the positron and the negative energy levels...
Discussing what one of the Patrols scientists did. This is related to the development of the negasphere, a sort of weird anti-matter bomb. I'm including it because the negasphere is definitely not ordinary anti-matter as far as modern science can tell - the "negative energy levels" part of the quote thus hints at something far more exotic.
Well, antimatter was very new at the time. I think what happened is that Smith was trying for antimatter, but he screwed up. His references to "positrons" and "Dirac" this and "negative energy level" that suggest it. His main error was (incorrectly) assuming that antimatter would have negative mass... But yes, today we'd have to rationalize negaspheres as something completely different from antimatter.
Technology - p114, 116 & 117
The construction and "look" of the negasphere. There are descriptions of it in action later on, but suffice to say it acted like ordinary anti-matter when faced with ordinary matter, including any weaponry thrown at it (or at least, energy beams didn't harm it), and treated pressors and tractors like their opposites (ie a push is a pull, and vice versa).
Well. Antimatter is definitely affected by energy beams, and hitting it with normal matter causes explosions that will tend to blow it apart, just as they would blow apart normal matter. So... not really. The negasphere is arguably more like some kind of weird mutant black hole than it is like antimatter, in terms of what it actually does. Except for the annihilation reactions... aargh.

Bleh. Negaspheres make baby Einstein cry.
Technology - p147 & 148
In addition to everything else, the Dauntless also has a hangar for smaller starships. It's not mentioned whether this was installed before or after its upgrade with Medonian technology.
Would be logical to have it before the upgrade. Medonian technology would mostly save space on board, though this space could reasonably be used to expand the power generating apparatus.
Technology - p162
But how about the thought screens, he thought in a semi-daze, then reason resumed accustomed sway. He was no longer in space - at least, not in the space he knew.
Ordinary thought screens don't work in the Delgonian hyper-spatial tube, although they're seen to work later on in other hyper-spatial tubes. In addition, Kinnison's mind is able to create its own perfectly effective barrier as normal.
Hmm. The effects of thought-screens may be disrupted by the 'phase shift' effect of the tube. In which case it's possible that you can design around it... but only if you need to.
Technology - p174
"All secondaries fire at will!" Kinnison barked into his microphone... "All of you who can reach twenty-seven three-oh-eight, hit it - hard. The rest of you do as you please."
"Every beam which could be brought to bear upon the powerhouse, and there were plenty of them, flamed out practically as one. The building stood for an instant, starkly outlined in a raging inferno of incandescence, then slumped down flabbily; its upper, nearer parts flaring away in clouds of sparklingly luminous vapour even as its lower members flowered sluggishly together in streams of molten metal. Deeper and deeper bore the frightful beams; foundations, sub-cellars, structural members and gargantuan mechanisms uniting with the obsidian of the crater's floor to form a lake of bubbling, frothing lava.
A pretty poor showing for the secondaries if they're hitting it "hard". It's not said how large the power plant is, nor if it's separately shielded or not, but that would be my guess given how easily the Dauntless' secondaries were seen mopping up the remains of the 21 Boskonian ships it fought earlier - before being upgraded with Medonian conductors & insulators in fact.
The power plant would have its own shields on any good design- it's the greatest weakness of any base in the Lensman setting.

The secondaries... well, Andras's stats are about right in terms of magnitude, so I'll use them; Dauntless's secondaries should have total output of maybe a teraton/second or so, tops, before Medonian technology. The limiting factor on the secondaries is blowouts in the beam emitters themselves; Medonian tech probably didn't help this very much, or they wouldn't still be using primaries that do blow out their own projectors.

So yes, not a very good showing. By comparison, that should be enough to vaporize many cubic kilometers of iron. So two possibilities:
-GURPS Lensman vastly overrates the power of Dauntless's secondaries.
-The secondaries are not being used at full power to avoid giving away the secret of Medonian technology, just as the primaries are not being used at all (less likely)
-The base shield generator is extremely well shielded, probably with multiple layers of what would be wall shields on capital ships, to the point where even these extremely powerful secondaries take a great deal of time to achieve burnthrough, and must gradually destroy the plant piece by piece because of the internal cofferdamming provided by the shields.

This last is most reasonable, I think. The base defenses would be designed to stand off attacks by large fleets of hostile ships. Even if no individual ship can match Dauntless in power, it wouldn't take that big a fleet to direct a truly serious bombardment on the base. We often see this with fixed defenses in Lensman: no mobile platform can come close to matching the firepower and shields of a large, well established base.
Universe - p239
The zero hour came and the Tellurian armada of eighty-one sleek space-ships - eighty super-dreadnoughts and the Directrix...
If we again assume just 2 million fleets in total, and that each one is the size of the one based at Earth, then we're talking about close to 160 million warships.
I remain convinced that Earth, being a major planet of Civilization, contributes an unusually large fleet contingent. On the other hand, other worlds may simply contribute ships of lesser tonnage but equal numbers, so this general scale of engagement is reasonable.
Technology - p239 - 241
Through the galaxy the formation swept and out of it, towards a star cluster. It slowed its mad pace, the centre hanging back, the edges advancing and folding in.
"Surround the cluster and close in," the admiral directed; and, under the guidance now of two hundred Rigellians, Civilisation's vast Grand Fleet closed smoothly in and went inert. Drivers flared white as they fought to match the intrinsic velocity of the cluster.
Another indication that the weapons are FTL / ultra-wave-based, as it seems to suggest that the Boskonian fortresses, despite being set fairly close to the planet (if the speed of the negasphere means anything at least - the thing was inert and so should not have had a velocity beyond that of light), are engaged by inert Patrol warships surrounding the star cluster. It may have been closing in around a particular star / planet, but then why the order to surround the entire star cluster? Why not "surround the target system and close in"?
I disagree. They inerted around the cluster, matched intrinsic velocity, then closed in towards the target. The outwork fortresses would have been close in to the planet, yes, but they weren't necessarily engaged at light-year ranges. The reason for surrounding the entire cluster, I presume, was to make sure that no forces posted in systems near Jalte's would be able to escape in the opening stages; also to make sure that the ships weren't in easy striking range of Jalte's position while doing heavy inert maneuvers (and therefore vulnerable, because the crews are being slammed into their seats at several gravities).
Technology - p242
Normally matter-antimatter reactions would yield electromagnetic radiation, but given the distance the Patrol's warships seem to be at, plus the peculiarities of the negative matter, ultra-wave radiation may be given off instead - otherwise it'd take so long for the radiation to leave the star cluster that the Patrol ships could pack up and leave without any problems.
The alternative is that the Patrol ships moved into Jalte's system and that the battle was fought there - but that does not square easily with the "deep-space engagement" mentioned above, or the order to surround the star cluster.
A distinct point. I'm still not convinced that the ranges were all that long, myself, but that's me.

The "cosmics" referenced in the scene are electromagnetic radiation- now we'd call them X-rays and gamma rays, which is exactly what you get from matter-antimatter reactions. However, this being the Lensman universe, ultrawaves are certainly quite plausible.
Technology
The planet Jarnevon is crushed between two other planets manoeuvred into place inertialessly and then allowed simply to collide whilst inert with Jarnevon between them - the end result is a miniature star.
Well, sort of. Not really, I'd say; what you have is a mass the size of three planets that has a LOT of potential energy to shed before it collapses into a spherical mass like it ought to be in. The resulting mass of matter heated by the released energy of its own gravitational collapse is only a "star" in poetic terms. However, it's worth noting that this is exactly what 19th century physicists thought the Sun was, though they didn't know about nuclear fusion and thus couldn't get the real answer.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Andras » 2010-06-27 11:03am

But I'm going to have to ask for a citation of the claim that they can store thirty seconds' power output in the accumulators and throw it all out the primaries at once.
My notes are almost 8 years old, It may take a while to find any references in the books.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-06-30 08:43am

Sorry for the long time replying, but it's been very busy in the real world recently. Anyway, back to this...
Simon_Jester wrote:That wasn't so much my point; the real issue is that all those veterans defer quite naturally to Kinnison, trusting that he's the best man among them even though he's literally fresh out of the Academy. That suggests a society in which Lensmen are commonly empowered to give orders to people much superior to them in experience. Fortunately for Civilization, it seems to work...
Point. Doc Smith also glossed over much of the maiden voyage stuff for the Britannia, which is no doubt when you'd've seen any doubts amongst the crew aired and erased.
On the other hand, describing EM and ultrawave weapons as "vibratory" really isn't that unreasonable, certainly not as a translation convention.
I suppose. Meh, I don't think I'll be jumping off the fence quite yet though.
Nah, what you really want to do is come up with a reasonable estimate of Britannia's mass. Figure out how much energy it would take to "fuse" (temporarily melt surfaces so that you end up with blobs of metal instead of solid, shaped pieces) a majority of the ship and vaporize a respectable fraction of the remnant. That gives you a rough estimate, or the beginning of one, for the energy of the detonating torpedoes.
Ah, for the torpedoes - yes that might work. I was thinking more of the KE & momentum of the pieces that strike the Boskonian ship. The torpedoes though are, I believe, more of the type that Kinnison fired at the Boskonian ship to break its wall shields, ie 20 metric tonnes of duodec.
Also, how did you get that crew figure? Not that I disagree, mind.
It's when Kinnison & Cardynge are arguing over the dangers of going after that Delgonian ship that uses a hyper-spatial tube to prey on ships. Cardynge basically says "I don't care if it takes 400 or 40,000 deaths, including my own; we need that data". 40,000 seems excessive, esp when there are only 100 space marines under vanBuskirk onboard; it read to me like he was saying "I don't care if it takes the Dauntless or 100 of them".
Clearly, battery technology in Triplanetary is well in advance of power generation technology.
Yeah. I figure that the Triplanetary Patrol was flying around with fairly realistic fission / fusion reactors (or even just having the reactors at shipyards or something) and magitech efficiencies & batteries. The latter two can be explained by Arisian meddling as well if needed.


Connor MacLeod wrote:It didn't specify it was a protein of any kind.. jsut an organic molecule of such and such vague qualities. I dont think we have enough data to speculate. Besides, if it were just a protein, I'd suspect they'd know about it or have some way to detect it (or its absnece).. and it was supposed to be undetectable.
Good point. Well, "denature the organic molecule" then.
Worsel flat out said tht a "millionth" of the power of a Delameter could kill by that means, and then also said that the magic death ray used a "fraction of a watt". Which suggests a Delameter output of a megawatt or so
The other possibility of course is that he's just being vague in his description.
do think its in fact neccessary in some cases (its not impossible, but very difficult, to rationalize a human being in any close proximity to the sorts of energies needed to vaporize or cremate the entire human body, and even low MJ outputs can be problematic. Space armor will of course help in some cases, but space armor isn't always used either.) Overall, its just simpler to allow for the "technobabble" effect to cover potential gaps or inconsistencies (and they will crop up) since there's no getting away from it in any case (lots of weapons are described as working by "vibration" too. Nevermind the "volatilze" bit.)
Uhm... the only scenario that comes to mind is when Costigan rescues Cleo from Roger's Planetoid. That was with a Lewiston, not a DeLameter, so maybe the former has a magic phaser setting. "Volatilize" just means to turn something into a gas or vapour, so that's fine.
Mutli GW also gets problematic from a recoil perspective (assuming a massless beam at least. I dont know if Delameters actually use a FTL beam though or not) and that has to be borne in mind as well.
I don't recall recoil ever being mentioned for beam weapons, but we know both the Patrol and Boskone have very good control over inertia (including inertial dampening, but not neutralisation, thanks to the Nevians), so that might explain why it's never an issue.
Revising estimates downwards does not neccesarily mean that you have to give u pthe higher yield examples or ignore them either. Depending on how they go (I dont remembe all the detials exactly) some could be treated as simply different settings (it would make sense that they have higher power settings for used by armored troops, for example. Lower yields.. (eg kilowatt or single digit MW outputs for the delameter) could be used when unarmored.
Yeah - I'm sure Kinnison must've dialed his DeLameter down when he shot that Delgonian sentry outside the Overlords' cavern on Delgon. Or rather, if DeLameters are work on brute force then he dialled it down, if they have technobabble he changed the setting.


Simon_Jester wrote:I'm going to go with hyperbole.
I agree, but I think it had to be mentioned nonetheless.
Smith's comparison of duodec charges to matter from Sirius-B (a white dwarf star composed of electron-degenerate matter) is also interesting.
Did they know much about degenerate matter states in his day? Just saying, be careful of reading too much into any particular description (like with the battleship shields on his suit).
But against a ship that is free, this may be impossible. Ultrawave beam weapons must have a maximum effective range, after all. If the head of the beam (and the first few megatons of energy striking the ship's screens) accelerate the target away from the firing ship, then it may be kicked out of range before the attacker has time to batter down the defender's shields.
Looks good, my only concern is just how fast the ship is accelerated here vs the energy of the beam. The Dauntless' primary beams lasted 0.6 seconds each at Medon, and the 3 Patrol cruisers in question were it seems confident of being able to handle the fortress' firepower, so that's a possible starting point.
Here, it's important to realize that "ether" was often used poetically in the nineteenth century (and Smith is heir to the tail end of that tradition, even as a mid-twentieth century novelist). The ether was the mechanical structure by which what we now call EM radiation propagated. To give an idea of what I mean, Maxwell's Laws originated when Maxwell was doing some study into the question of how such a mechanical structure might be modeled. He settled on a massive 3D grid of springs, but that was just a model. He did not insist that such springs physically existed; whatever the underlying reality of the "ether" might be, it obviously wasn't just springs.

So when Kinnison says this, he's saying (in the vernacular of Smith's time) "We don't know what the mechanism of propagation of EM radiation is, or whether or not there "really" is one in a concrete sense." They know Maxwell's Laws (obvious from their use of radio and alternating current), but they don't know what the deep-level structure of the universe that permits electromagnetism to work is.

Which is arguably the status quo today. You can make a case that, thanks to quantum electrodynamics, we do know what the underlying structure that allows EM waves to propagate is... but that's due to research that was still in the early stages of correspondence among high-end theoretical physicists while Smith was writing all this. And even it can't necessarily be viewed as the absolute last Word of God on how electromagnetism "really" works.

If "ether" is understood as a poetic term for "the thing that makes EM radiation work," as Smith and his generation would likely have used it... then Kinnison's statement makes perfect sense. The real error is Smith's implied prediction that the poetic term would survive, rather than getting inextricably welded to the outmoded idea of an "ether" as a material substance that light propagates through like sound propagates through air.
Sounds good. The other thing of course is that Arisian philosophy bit - he may just be saying "yes we have a good theory on how EM waves propagate, but we don't know it for certain."
Later, we see Cardynge doing work on the hyperspatial tube that strongly implies at least some awareness of general relativity (or its equivalent in the Lensmanverse), but other than Arisians and theoretical physicists, awareness of spacetime and related phenomena doesn't seem widespread. Which may help to explain why Kinnison messes up his description of gravity earlier.
Quite possible. I mean, there must be some limits to how much info they can cram into Kinnison's head during 5 years of Lensman training :P . Or it's like I mentioned above - they haven't been able to definitively prove any theory of gravity, so they "don't know".
So I think you slipped an extra three orders of magnitude in there, probably due to Smith's intractable refusal to speak the King's English...
It made sense in some other calcs I believe, so I probably just kept it in here as well by mistake. What's interesting to me though was the 7.5 gigayear figure for the time of the Coalescence, which would I believe allow for the real-world age of the Earth and such. Also of course, the 24 million parsecs figure is the upper limit on the distance, as some of that journey would've been made in the Milky Way etc.
Hmm. Do you mean that the 'four million pounds/hour' figure for the intake screen is correct?
I mean the "400lb/hr with 100,000:1 ratio" figure is the right one.
You used your own calculations of power to get a power estimate for Patrol primaries in a PM to me. Let me try and replicate the calculation.
Makes sense. Actually, 1.41TT per shot is likely at the very high end for normal warship firepower, because most ships seem to operate on something like a 2:1 defence:offence ratio (I think it was in FL, where it's noted that, if you had 3 equal ships, you usually needed 2 to to defeat 1, hence the way tactics developed). So if you have 3 intake screens (4.54e20W each), you will probably only use the full output of one for weapons at best (108.5GT), and keep the other two for shields, life support, tractors, and what-have-you (maybe a 1.8:1 defence:offence ratio or something like that). The Dauntless here was lucky in that it had more than enough power to take out all 21 ships; most ships would not have all that addition power to spare.


Andras wrote:Quick note about the power devoted to Primary beams. You are neglecting the ability to use accumulators to charge up power for the 30 seconds between volleys.
They didn't / couldn't charge up for that long between shots in this instance, because they had only a couple of seconds in which to destroy all the Boskonian ships. It's possible that they were charged up beforehand however (eg 100 pre-charged accumulator cells, 1 emptied per primary projector fired, then recharged after the battle). We've no way of knowing if this happened though, or how much each accumulator cell had stored, or how much was put into each beam, etc etc etc... and as 1.41TT per shot is more than enough to blow a Boskonian ship out of the ether, it seems a bit superfluous, not to mention highly speculative.
According to the sourcebook (authorized by Doc's daughter Verna)
I know it was authorised by the Smith estate and whatnot, and I even have a copy here, but I haven't used the GURPS book because of the errors in it. It states for example that they use duodec charges to power primary beams... WTF? Then contradicts Gharlane / Grey Roger over the efficiency of the Nevians' mass-to-energy conversion efficiency etc, to give two examples. So yeah, I pointedly kept away from that book whilst writing this :P .


Simon_Jester wrote:This may be the result of the Arisians mucking about with the sciences, with the intent of focusing attention on Lundmark's Nebula, but no worries about that. Today we know that planetary systems do not require galactic collisions to form.
This was actually raised in David Kyle's books - the Arisians deliberately deceived the Patrol over this stuff to ensure the Patrol was focused on stomping the Boskonians... Andromeda et al are teeming with life, and are closer, etc.
Based on my earlier speculations, the problem may be preventing localized burnthrough. The power supply to soak up hits from primaries exists, but no existing screen can stop 100% of the power of an incoming primary shot, because it's so concentrated. And if even 1% of a beam that powerful gets through, it wrecks the ship to the point where it is incapable of offering further resistance.
Agreed.
I think what happened is that Smith was trying for antimatter, but he screwed up.
Yeah, I've been thinking the same.
Bleh. Negaspheres make baby Einstein cry.
QFT. I just view negative matter as "funky anti-matter" and leave it like that; it certainly works the same way when it interacts with normal matter, which is what it's used for.
The base shield generator is extremely well shielded, probably with multiple layers of what would be wall shields on capital ships, to the point where even these extremely powerful secondaries take a great deal of time to achieve burnthrough, and must gradually destroy the plant piece by piece because of the internal cofferdamming provided by the shields.
Seems most reasonable. Also, you may want plenty of redundancy in a power plant because, given the energy levels being casually thrown about, a Patrol-era reactor leak would do Bad Things to the planet it's on. So the plant would've had separate shield generators for each section, designed to protect the base from an accident or sabotage inside the plant... which would also slow down an outside attack.
I disagree. They inerted around the cluster, matched intrinsic velocity, then closed in towards the target. The outwork fortresses would have been close in to the planet, yes, but they weren't necessarily engaged at light-year ranges. The reason for surrounding the entire cluster, I presume, was to make sure that no forces posted in systems near Jalte's would be able to escape in the opening stages; also to make sure that the ships weren't in easy striking range of Jalte's position while doing heavy inert maneuvers (and therefore vulnerable, because the crews are being slammed into their seats at several gravities).
Fair enough.
But I'm going to have to ask for a citation of the claim that they can store thirty seconds' power output in the accumulators and throw it all out the primaries at once.
Here we go...
GURPS Lensman, p72 wrote:A single projector may fire once every 30 seconds. The Thorndyke heavy-duty switches... capable as they are, can only handle one projector's firing current at a time. Using THDS, multiple projectors in a single turret cannot salvo faster than 0.69 seconds (0.60 seconds beam duration, plus 0.09 seconds switching interval). Thus a Dauntless-clsas turret can fire all three projectors in less than two seconds, but would then need 30 seconds to reload. If Medonian switch-gear is used, all projectors can fire simultaneously.
That's all I could find after a look over the bits in the book on accumulator cells & primary beams. Nothing about storing accumulator energy over 30 secs, although it may be elsewhere in the book.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-06-30 02:51pm

I'll start in on Second Stage Lensman some time soon; I expect I may be loaning out my entire series of Lensman books in two weeks' time for an indefinite timespan, so I hope to get the last two novels out of the way before then.
Teleros wrote:
Smith's comparison of duodec charges to matter from Sirius-B (a white dwarf star composed of electron-degenerate matter) is also interesting.
Did they know much about degenerate matter states in his day? Just saying, be careful of reading too much into any particular description (like with the battleship shields on his suit).
I didn't intend to read much into it; it's interesting, not reliably informative.

But to answer your question, yes, they did know enough about electron-degenerate matter state for Smith, in principle, to be able to talk about them intelligently. For instance, the famous Chandrasekhar limit on the mass of a white dwarf (which Sirius B was known to be) was derived using fairly straightforward statistical mechanics techniques* to examine the case of a noninteracting electron gas... in 1931. Landau in the USSR did the same thing in 1932, though he did not apply the result to white dwarfs.

Dr. Smith would have had to be quite on top of the status quo in astrophysics, and smart enough not to automatically ignore Chandrasekhar's work after Eddington** denounced it for silly reasons. Which is, by the accounts I've heard of Smith, not to be ruled out... but not guaranteed.

However, there was (in principle) nothing preventing Dr. Smith from knowing that the extremely dense, unstable state of matter that we call "degenerate matter" existed. Or that it made up the core of Sirius B. Or that it would tend to explode with extreme force when removed from the extraordinary gravitational pressure at the core of a white dwarf- which pressure I'm sure he could have estimated for back of the envelope purposes.

*Being walked through the derivation was a homework problem in my 300-level undergraduate course on stat mech; it was a very interesting way to spend two or three hours.
**The senile old fool...
But against a ship that is free, this may be impossible. Ultrawave beam weapons must have a maximum effective range, after all. If the head of the beam (and the first few megatons of energy striking the ship's screens) accelerate the target away from the firing ship, then it may be kicked out of range before the attacker has time to batter down the defender's shields.
Looks good, my only concern is just how fast the ship is accelerated here vs the energy of the beam. The Dauntless' primary beams lasted 0.6 seconds each at Medon, and the 3 Patrol cruisers in question were it seems confident of being able to handle the fortress' firepower, so that's a possible starting point.
Could you expand on your reasoning? We may well have something here- though I suspect that primaries are unusually focused (and therefore long ranged) compared to secondaries, in addition to having greater total power output. Hence the description as "super needle-rays."
Sounds good. The other thing of course is that Arisian philosophy bit - he may just be saying "yes we have a good theory on how EM waves propagate, but we don't know it for certain."
Distinctly possible.
Later, we see Cardynge doing work on the hyperspatial tube that strongly implies at least some awareness of general relativity (or its equivalent in the Lensmanverse), but other than Arisians and theoretical physicists, awareness of spacetime and related phenomena doesn't seem widespread. Which may help to explain why Kinnison messes up his description of gravity earlier.
Quite possible. I mean, there must be some limits to how much info they can cram into Kinnison's head during 5 years of Lensman training :P . Or it's like I mentioned above - they haven't been able to definitively prove any theory of gravity, so they "don't know".
Indeed.
So I think you slipped an extra three orders of magnitude in there, probably due to Smith's intractable refusal to speak the King's English...
It made sense in some other calcs I believe, so I probably just kept it in here as well by mistake. What's interesting to me though was the 7.5 gigayear figure for the time of the Coalescence, which would I believe allow for the real-world age of the Earth and such. Also of course, the 24 million parsecs figure is the upper limit on the distance, as some of that journey would've been made in the Milky Way etc.
You're right, it would. We can go with that, and assume that the "two billion years" figure is simply a flat mistake wherever it appears. It would be more consistent with the results of modern science... though still not ideal, because modern science makes it plain that you do not need close passes between stars or galaxies to generate planets.
Hmm. Do you mean that the 'four million pounds/hour' figure for the intake screen is correct?
I mean the "400lb/hr with 100,000:1 ratio" figure is the right one.
Excellent. In that case, all my calculations of primary beam power are still applicable.
You used your own calculations of power to get a power estimate for Patrol primaries in a PM to me. Let me try and replicate the calculation...
Makes sense. Actually, 1.41TT per shot is likely at the very high end for normal warship firepower, because most ships seem to operate on something like a 2:1 defence:offence ratio (I think it was in FL, where it's noted that, if you had 3 equal ships, you usually needed 2 to to defeat 1, hence the way tactics developed).
Questionable. For instance, ships might be designed able to devote full power to whatever they need. Two ships with a 50/50 offense/defense balance would be needed to bring down the defenses of a ship that concentrated all power on defense, which is theoretically possible. One ship could bring down another ship, but only after a very extended duel that would rely heavily on luck. Two could reliably bring down another ship, but it might well take time and bad luck could still throw the match by having one ship knocked out by accident or by low-power enemy beams. Three, on the other hand, would be able to destroy a single target with extreme reliability, making it the ideal goal for all space warfare tactics.
So if you have 3 intake screens (4.54e20W each), you will probably only use the full output of one for weapons at best (108.5GT), and keep the other two for shields, life support, tractors, and what-have-you (maybe a 1.8:1 defence:offence ratio or something like that). The Dauntless here was lucky in that it had more than enough power to take out all 21 ships; most ships would not have all that addition power to spare.
Certainly reasonable.

However, Dauntless is extremely massive and has the great advantage of primaries. Without primaries it could not have done as it did; a normal ship obviously could not have done, even with primaries.
Andras wrote:Quick note about the power devoted to Primary beams. You are neglecting the ability to use accumulators to charge up power for the 30 seconds between volleys.
They didn't / couldn't charge up for that long between shots in this instance, because they had only a couple of seconds in which to destroy all the Boskonian ships. It's possible that they were charged up beforehand however (eg 100 pre-charged accumulator cells, 1 emptied per primary projector fired, then recharged after the battle). We've no way of knowing if this happened though, or how much each accumulator cell had stored, or how much was put into each beam, etc etc etc... and as 1.41TT per shot is more than enough to blow a Boskonian ship out of the ether, it seems a bit superfluous, not to mention highly speculative.
Well, at least this generation of ship. This being the Lensman setting, just you wait six months...

Incidentally, I speculate that the reason primaries stop being a God weapon in later battles has a lot to do with advances in making shields burnthrough-resistant: primaries can't be drawing more power than the ship has to supply, so the reason that one ship's primaries can so easily one-shot another ship of the same class must involve locally overloading the target's shields so that some small fraction of that teraton-range punch gets through.
According to the sourcebook (authorized by Doc's daughter Verna)
I know it was authorised by the Smith estate and whatnot, and I even have a copy here, but I haven't used the GURPS book because of the errors in it. It states for example that they use duodec charges to power primary beams... WTF? Then contradicts Gharlane / Grey Roger over the efficiency of the Nevians' mass-to-energy conversion efficiency etc, to give two examples. So yeah, I pointedly kept away from that book whilst writing this :P .
Me, I've never even seen a copy, so I'll do without for now.
Simon_Jester wrote:This may be the result of the Arisians mucking about with the sciences, with the intent of focusing attention on Lundmark's Nebula, but no worries about that. Today we know that planetary systems do not require galactic collisions to form.
This was actually raised in David Kyle's books - the Arisians deliberately deceived the Patrol over this stuff to ensure the Patrol was focused on stomping the Boskonians... Andromeda et al are teeming with life, and are closer, etc.
Well, extra points to Kyle then. Have to remember to look at his stuff some time.
The base shield generator is extremely well shielded, probably with multiple layers of what would be wall shields on capital ships, to the point where even these extremely powerful secondaries take a great deal of time to achieve burnthrough, and must gradually destroy the plant piece by piece because of the internal cofferdamming provided by the shields.
Seems most reasonable. Also, you may want plenty of redundancy in a power plant because, given the energy levels being casually thrown about, a Patrol-era reactor leak would do Bad Things to the planet it's on. So the plant would've had separate shield generators for each section, designed to protect the base from an accident or sabotage inside the plant... which would also slow down an outside attack.
Works.
But I'm going to have to ask for a citation of the claim that they can store thirty seconds' power output in the accumulators and throw it all out the primaries at once.
Here we go...
GURPS Lensman, p72 wrote:A single projector may fire once every 30 seconds. The Thorndyke heavy-duty switches... capable as they are, can only handle one projector's firing current at a time. Using THDS, multiple projectors in a single turret cannot salvo faster than 0.69 seconds (0.60 seconds beam duration, plus 0.09 seconds switching interval). Thus a Dauntless-clsas turret can fire all three projectors in less than two seconds, but would then need 30 seconds to reload. If Medonian switch-gear is used, all projectors can fire simultaneously.
That's all I could find after a look over the bits in the book on accumulator cells & primary beams. Nothing about storing accumulator energy over 30 secs, although it may be elsewhere in the book.
Right. About what I'd figured on. Well, in lieu of any other evidence (and this makes Dauntless's victory at Medon a VERY lucky break, since it meant they only had 24 primaries to shoot off followed by a 30-second lull in firing, and 21 targets)... I can go with the 30 second reload interval; that's very reasonable. However, I see no reason to assume that they can store full reactor output power for those 30 seconds and route it all through the primaries. It might be possible; I don't know.

However, that remark about "turrets" is stark nonsense; it would be insane to use turrets (except possibly retractable 'disappearing' turrets) on a Lensman-setting ship, because you'd spoil the astrodynamics.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Andras » 2010-07-01 12:15am

Teleros-
for example that they use duodec charges to power primary beams... WTF? Then contradicts Gharlane / Grey Roger over the efficiency of the Nevians' mass-to-energy conversion efficiency etc, to give two examples. So yeah, I pointedly kept away from that book whilst writing this .

I pretty much threw out the use of duodec charges also and went with straight overpowered macro beams. The sourcebook says each of the primary beam projectors consumes only 10lb/hr. That's just ridiculous on the face of it, so I went with the novels since there is a direct contradiction. There's no way 62.5kt worth of duodec is going to result in a 4.4TT shot.

Taking the firepower calculations based on the sourcebook at face value, the only way to provide 105.6TT output on 12TT power [(20*.6) Actually less since you are powering secondaries and shields from that] is storing it during downtime, which just happens to work out @ 28% of full power.

Simon-

However, that remark about "turrets" is stark nonsense; it would be insane to use turrets (except possibly retractable 'disappearing' turrets) on a Lensman-setting ship, because you'd spoil the astrodynamics.


Wall Shields and Meteor Shields provide the 'astrodynamic' surfaces, the hull is not exposed to the particles in space.

Chapter 5; pg 77 of SSL- atoms in the interstellar vacuum couldn't get out of the way and were 'blasted into nothingness against the Dauntless' wall shields.'

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-01 02:06am

Retractable turrets have advantages- the primary projector explodes on the outside of the core hull, then you haul the turret back in to reload the projector shells. And it doesn't screw with the astrodynamics at all.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-01 07:05am

But against a ship that is free, this may be impossible. Ultrawave beam weapons must have a maximum effective range, after all. If the head of the beam (and the first few megatons of energy striking the ship's screens) accelerate the target away from the firing ship, then it may be kicked out of range before the attacker has time to batter down the defender's shields.
Looks good, my only concern is just how fast the ship is accelerated here vs the energy of the beam. The Dauntless' primary beams lasted 0.6 seconds each at Medon, and the 3 Patrol cruisers in question were it seems confident of being able to handle the fortress' firepower, so that's a possible starting point.
Could you expand on your reasoning? We may well have something here- though I suspect that primaries are unusually focused (and therefore long ranged) compared to secondaries, in addition to having greater total power output. Hence the description as "super needle-rays."
1. Secondaries must accelerate a ship fast enough that only the "head" of the beam makes contact with the (potentially unshielded) free ship. This energy must be low enough to not cause much damage (if any), but still be enough to shove the ship out of the way before the other 99.999...% of the energy can hit. Given the speed of ultrawaves, how fast are we accelerating the ship? As I understand it, the ship must be accelerated at a very high rate in order to avoid the rest of the incoming energy.
2. Primary beams probably have similar firepower to secondaries (there's only so much extra oomph you can get by overloading the projectors after all), but a shorter duration, thus a higher beam intensity. This is enough to damage a free ship, or penetrate the shields of one.
Well, extra points to Kyle then. Have to remember to look at his stuff some time.
I wouldn't recommend them :P .
However, I see no reason to assume that they can store full reactor output power for those 30 seconds and route it all through the primaries. It might be possible; I don't know.
From what I've seen from the appearance of Maulers, Patrol accumulator cells can store and release as much power as cosmic energy intake screens (or at least they can by now), so I'd be inclined to think they can certainly route a lot of power through the primaries. There must be a limit though, otherwise you wouldn't need massive warships - just charge up smaller ships' beams for long enough and they'd punch through super-mauler shields.
Wall Shields and Meteor Shields provide the 'astrodynamic' surfaces, the hull is not exposed to the particles in space.
My idea was more like this:
Image
You could thus maintain a small surface area for shields (so more powerful per square metre), the ship would be streamlined for aerodynamics even without shields (and if shield geometry was all that was needed, Lensman ships wouldn't be built like teardrops etc, because they could be a cube sheathed in aerodynamic shields), and you could get reasonably good coverage with enough such turrets. Turrets on the surface of the ship would be ideal in terms of coverage, but would require a lot more machinery to move the turret into position, brace it, and then replace spent primary projectors (not to mention shield changes etc).

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-01 11:29am

Teleros wrote:1. Secondaries must accelerate a ship fast enough that only the "head" of the beam makes contact with the (potentially unshielded) free ship. This energy must be low enough to not cause much damage (if any), but still be enough to shove the ship out of the way before the other 99.999...% of the energy can hit. Given the speed of ultrawaves, how fast are we accelerating the ship? As I understand it, the ship must be accelerated at a very high rate in order to avoid the rest of the incoming energy.
I was thinking more in terms of the ship being pushed out to a range where the ultra-beam is no longer tightly focused, and thus has no chance of achieving burnthrough. The first second's fire pushes you far enough away that the second second of fire is diffuse and relatively harmless. And it takes many seconds' output from secondaries to burn through a wall shield, between equal combatants.

Whereas a more tightly focused (in time and space) primary delivers its full force to a small area of shielding, even as the ship is being pushed back, before it gets to the range at which the primary can no longer penetrate the shields.
Well, extra points to Kyle then. Have to remember to look at his stuff some time.
I wouldn't recommend them :P .
Ah. Darn.
Wall Shields and Meteor Shields provide the 'astrodynamic' surfaces, the hull is not exposed to the particles in space.
My idea was more like this:
[recessed ball turret covered by sliding panels]
You could thus maintain a small surface area for shields (so more powerful per square metre), the ship would be streamlined for aerodynamics even without shields (and if shield geometry was all that was needed, Lensman ships wouldn't be built like teardrops etc, because they could be a cube sheathed in aerodynamic shields), and you could get reasonably good coverage with enough such turrets. Turrets on the surface of the ship would be ideal in terms of coverage, but would require a lot more machinery to move the turret into position, brace it, and then replace spent primary projectors (not to mention shield changes etc).
I like. That's a good alternative to my proposed retracting turrets.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-05 07:20am

Whereas a more tightly focused (in time and space) primary delivers its full force to a small area of shielding, even as the ship is being pushed back, before it gets to the range at which the primary can no longer penetrate the shields.
The sticking point though has been the fact that even unshielded ships are safe if free:
Grey Lensman, p27 wrote:Theirs the task of immobilizing the opponent; since, as is of course well known, it is under any ordinary conditions impossible to wreak any hurt upon an object which is both inertialess and at liberty to move in space. It simply darts away from the touch of the harmful agent, whether it be immaterial beam or material substance.
...
Through the armour, violating the prime tenet then held and which has just been referred to, that no object free in space can be damaged - in this case, so unthinkably vehement was the trust, the few atoms of substance in the space surrounding the doomed cruisers afforded resistance enough.
I'm off to find a wall to bang my head against for a bit...

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-05 07:36am

Hmm. Problem could be thrust from vaporization of armor plate as the head of the beam strikes. If the first millisecond burns a few tonnes off the surface of the ship, you get the same problem- the ship flees out of range at a high multiple of light speed, and by the time the next millisecond of beam arrives, the ship is already millions of kilometers away.

And two milliseconds' fire from a secondary isn't going to be enough to burn through a properly armored warship.
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Re: SECOND STAGE LENSMAN (PART 1)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-05 09:11pm

Teleros wrote:Universe - page 25
Yeah... they don't get out much. This follows on from Mentor telling Kim Kinnison out of the blue that he screwed up in the last book big time.
Certainly, overt Arisian intervention that others are conscious of is rare. On the other hand, Arisians can do damn near as they please without anyone noticing.
Universe - page 28
If they should blow Tellus out of space it wouldn't kill the Galactic Patrol. It would hurt it, of course, but it wouldn't cripple it seriously. The other planets of Civilization could, and certainly would, go ahead with it.
Haynes on the importance of good old Earth. Probably the equivalent today of taking out the Pentagon, if that.
Possibly more like taking out a valuable city that happens to house the Pentagon- but not Washington for the US. Though... even that may well be on the high end.
Technology - page 34
Now let's factor in the absolute minimum fleet size for Grand Fleet - 2 million ships - as per the last book (bigger fleet sizes to follow). 2 million x 9.08e20 = 1.816e27J. Reduce that by 1/3 on the basis that ships have a 1:2 offence:defence ratio in their power supply, and you get 6.053e26J. Voila, Grand Fleet has more firepower available to it than the sunbeam... before we look at things like beam intensity (ie you can have local failures in shields)...
Planetary shields are apparently dense enough that primaries cannot penetrate them reliably; look what happened at Jarnevon. But yes, you have a very solid point here, and one made all the worse if we assume that Grand Fleet's battleships have firepower more comparable to Dauntless, rather than to the swarm of Boskonians she saw off at Medon.
Result = Grand Fleet didn't need the sunbeam to roast those planets. Also note that the sunbeam apparently struck all seven planets simultaneously, which for a single beam is very inefficient - consider, even with artificial gravity and the like, the distances you would need to maintain between each planet, and the amount of wasted energy.
Indeed, though the minimum separation while the planets are free would be irrelevant, and they could easily be selected for identical intrinsic velocities while inert, making the minimum separation distance comparable to the Roche limit for the planets- tens of thousands of kilometers. So yes, still an enormous amount of wasted power, probably on the order of 90% to 99%.

(If the minimum separation distance is not observed, tidal forces due to planetary gravity are liable to rip the planets apart or crash them into each other on short time scales once the Bergenholms are knocked out).
However, the "power houses" used do mention exciters and intakes - just like a regular starship in fact. If they used the sun as the initial power source for a massive cosmic energy screen, then using the 100,000:1 ratio from Grey Lensman, the resulting beam would be on the order of 3.735e31J. This is roughly 1/10 of the energy required to overcome an Earth-like planet's gravitational binding (see the main site), putting it close to, but not at, minimum Death Star I firepower. With this beam spread out between the seven planets fired at, it would do a hell of a lot less damage to each planet than if it were concentrated against just one. Thus we have no need to dispute the only hard figures for starship power generation in the series, and still have a need for the sunbeam in a setting with millions-strong fleets.
Yes. Especially if we can't focus the sunbeam down to something on the order of a planetary diameter. That makes it possible to achieve the damage results we saw- the crust would be burned away in a grand scale (and very, very rapid) Base Delta Zero, but the mass of the planets would be broadly intact. They'd be utterly uninhabitable rock-balls, of course, but they'd still be there.

And, come to think of it, dangerous for navigation and the long term dynamic stability of Sol system, unless some cleanup crews set up new Bergenholms on their surfaces and tow them away...
My idea does, however, go against the quote with regard to the firepower of the beam - however given who was talking and Haynes' admitted ignorance of the science and technical details, it's possible Kinnison is simplifying things a bit too much for Haynes & the Z9M9Z's captain. Or is just plain wrong of course - they have just come out of a very tense battle, with the fate of Earth (their homeworld) hanging in the balance.
That works.
Technology - page 43 & 44
For warships, being large, cannot be carried around or concealed in a vest pocket - a war-fleet must of necessity be based upon a celestial orbject not smaller than a very large asteroid. Such a base, laying close enough to any one of Civilization's planets to be of any use, could not be hidden successfully from the detectors of the Patrol.
The problem with piracy and the like once the Patrol is dominant in the Milky Way for the Boskonians. Not sure what constitutes a "very large asteroid" though.
Probably 100 kilometers or so in diameter. Maybe 50. It needs to be significantly larger than the largest spacegoing warship, preferably large enough that a base itself significantly larger than the largest spacegoing warship can be placed on the asteroid without occupying a large fraction of the base's surface area. I'd say more than ten kilometers across, at a lower bound, since Lensman ships aren't utterly ridiculous in size.
Technology - page 45 & 46
He was so close that he saw his flare, so close that he could slap onto the fleeing vessel the beam of the CRX tracer which he always carried with him...
Then the Dauntless flashed in; not asking but demanding instant right of way.
"Look around, fellows, if you like, but you won't find a damned thing," Kinnison's uncheering conclusion came back as he sprinted towards the dock into which his battleship had settled. "The lug hasn't left a loose end dangling yet."
By the time the great Patrol ship had cleared the stratosphere Kinnison's CRX, powerful and tenacious as it was, was just barely registering a line...
They were overhauling him mighty slowly; and the Dauntless was supposed to be the fastest thing in space.
[/quote]CRX tracers evidently come in sizes small enough to be carried by people (pocket-sized even?). Kinnison's model is powerful enough to trace a very fast speedster several minutes later (although just barely), indicating a range measured in parsecs, perhaps even the low tens of parsecs (at 90 parsecs per hour, 1 minute's flight means roughly 1.5 parsecs travelled). No idea what the precise ranges or times were though.

Universe - page 46 & 47
... but they did almost leave the galaxy before they could get the fugitive upon their plates. The stars were thinning out fast; but still, hazily before them in the vastness of distance, there stretched a milky band of opalescence...
The Galactic Survey, which has not even yet mapped at all completely the whole of the First Galaxy proper, had of course done no systematic work upon such outlying sections as the spiral arms. Some such regions were well known and well mapped, it is true...
Two possibilities that I can see for this:
1. The Milky Way is a different shape, with much smaller spiral arms out at the edges of a more uniform disc.
2. By spiral arms the narrator means the edges or tips of them; the parts that form the bulk of the disc aren't counted.
My money is on the latter.
Universe - page 50
Break out a 'copter and keep a spy-ray on me. If I give you the signal, go to work with a couple of narrow needle-beams.
Kinnison giving instructions aboard the Dauntless, which (in addition to everything else) apparently carries around helicopter gunships too.
Those would be very logical as an addition to her complement- there are atmospheric conditions where inertialess craft cannot be used (like a stiff breeze, let alone turbulence), and where the 3D maneuverability of a helicopter is desirable.
Technology - page 61
...ground it savegely to bits under his hard and heavy heel...
Still unsatisfied, Kinnison flipped out one of his DeLameters and flamed the remains of the capsule of worse than paralyzing fluid, caring not a whit that his vicious portable, even in that brief instant, seared a hole a foot deep into the floor.
More firepower from a DeLameter. As Kinnison's not in armour, it's likely he stood back a ways to do this. Any vaporised material would also likely have gone straight up, so being to the side would help avoid the blast as well. The fluid in the capsule is the Boskonian memory-wiping drug, taken from within a false tooth.
That said, he is not utterly unprotected: he's in Gray Lensman uniform- heavy leather (possibly some kind of synthetic fabric) and goggles to protect the eyes. That makes him a lot less sensitive to having rock fragments and such pinking him than he would be in civilian clothes, though it doesn't do a damn bit of good against inhaling vaporized rock.
Technology - page 63 & 64
"Ralph? Stick a one-second needle down through the floor here; close enough to make her jump, but far enough away so as not to blister her fanny."
At his word a narrow, but ragingly incandescent pencil of destruction raved downward through ceiling and floor. So inconceivably hot was it that if it had been a fraction larger, it would have have ignited the Elder Sister's very chair. Effortlessly, insatiably it consumed everything in its immediate path, radiating the while the entire spectrum of vibrations. It was unbearable, and the auburn-haired creature did indeed jump, in spite of herself - half-way to the door.
The helicopter mounts a needle-ray with adjustable aperture settings (and likely firepower) settings.
A thought:
"Needle rays" and capital ship secondaries may be somewhat different, with secondaries being less focused. That would help to explain why free ships are immune to secondary beam fire, as explained in my previous post- the head of the beam generates a pulse of thrust that quickly pushes the target to a distance far enough away that the vast majority of the remainder of the beam misses the target.

Conversely, primaries are described as "super needle rays" in their first appearance, and may be more tightly focused, thus being able to ignore the problem.
Universe - page 66
"We have been taught ever since we were born that you Patrolmen always torture people to death...
"But you called me a... a zwilnik, and they always kill them," she protested.
"Not always. In battles and raids, yes. Captured ones are tried in court. If found guilty, they used to go into the lethal chambers. Sometimes they do yet, but not usually. We have mental therapists now who can operate on a mind if there's anything there worth saving."
Illona talking to Kinnison. Seems the Patrol's gotten nicer since Virgil Samms' day. Or more Orwellian.
Ha. True. Then again, consider how screwed up Illona of Lonabar (lovely name, that) is, just from living in a Boskonian society. And she's just a dancing girl and courier (drug mule?). If that's they typical lifestyle, most of the people in Boskone's armed forces are probably very dangerous to have around, even after capture. As I said before:

"In [the Patrol's] defense (and I criticize them on the same basis myself, but someone has to say it):

"The Kinnison-era Patrol-Boskone War started out as a conflict against pirates- very rapacious ones, as a rule, pirates who were the de facto armed forces of a nation with a systematic policy of tyranny and brutality against all targets that present themselves. Under the circumstances, fighting Boskonians is not unlike fighting the Waffen SS. Surely there are individual members of the enemy force who would be willing to surrender with honor and join your ranks, but they are mixed in with such a great number of incorrigible rogues, would-be holdouts of the defeated regime, and criminals of the most disgusting type imaginable that you're not going to accept their surrender until you know damn well that they've been beaten down into giving it. In some cases this is true of entire species; how safe would you feel at home knowing that Delgonians were alive and allowed to move legally on your homeworld? Or that a major corporation could legally hire an Eich CEO?

"Combine that with the death-or-glory attitude that many Boskonian subcultures seem to have towards combat (note that it was a Boskonian ship that invented the primary beam, without a way to control the damage caused by explosive overloading of their own ships' projectors, effectively turning the gun crews into suicide bombers)... you get war to the knife."

Frankly, using psychics to read the minds of Boskonian captives and "save" them with extensive (and possibly invasive) mental therapy is about as good a solution to this problem as I can imagine, given the constraints of fighting total war against a comparable-sized opponent.
Universe - page 67 & 68
"Thought so. Come on; you're going to sleep now."
The girl did not move. "With whom?" she asked, quietly. Her voice did not quiver, but stark terror lay in her mind and her hand unconsciously crept toward the hilt of her dagger...
What can I expect from the Patrol except what I do expect?
Illona and Kinnison again. Not sure if the Boskonians treat women like that (Clarissa's capture indicates they do with their captives at least), or if they told Illona that it's what the Patrol does.
Hmm. I think I'd like to reproduce the full passage, just for the effect. Same page numbers, 66 to 68 in your edition. Starts with Kinnison talking to Illona. All underlining added:
"Well, what are we waiting for? I'm hungry, too- let's go eat."

"Not with you, either, any more than with them [the Lyranians]. I thanked you, Lensman, for saving my life there, and I meant it. I thought then and I still think that I would rather have you kill me than those horrible, monstrous women, but I simply can't eat."

"But I'm not even thinking of killing you- can't you get that through your skull? I don't make war on women; you ought to know that by this time."

"You will have to." The girl's voice was low and level. "You didn't kill any of those Lyranians, no, but you didn't chase them a million parsecs [probably an exaggeration- SJ], either. We have been taught ever since we were born that you Patrolmen always torture people to death. I don't quite believe that personally, since I have had a couple of glimpses into your mind, but you'll kill me before I'll talk. At least, I hope and I believe that I can hold out.

"Listen, girl." Kinnison was in deadly earnest. "You are in no danger whatever. You are just as safe as though you were in Klono's hip pocket. You have some information that I want, yes, and I will get it, but in the process I will neither hurt you nor do you mental or physical harm. The only torture you will undergo will be that which, as now, you give yourself."

"But you called me a... a zwilnik, and they always kill them," she protested.

"Not always. In battles and raids, yes. Captured ones are tried in court. If found guilty, they used to go into the lethal chambers. Sometimes they do yet, but not usually. We have mental therapists now who can operate on a mind if there's anything there worth saving."

"And you think that I will wait to stand trial, in the entirely negligible hope that your bewhiskered, fossilized therapists will find something in me worth saving?"

"You won't have to," Kinnison laughed. "Your case has already been decided- in your favor. I am neither a policeman nor a Narcotics man; but I happen to be qualified as judge, jury, and executioner. I am a therapist to boot. I once saved a worse zwilnik than you are [Dessa Desplaines of Aldebaran II- SJ], even though she wasn't such a knockout. Now do we eat?"

"Really? You aren't just... just giving me the needle?"

The Lensman flipped off her screen and gave her unmistakeable evidence [presumably a Lensed statement- SJ] The girl, hitherto so unmovedly self-reliant, broke down. She recovered quickly, however, and in Kinnison's cabin she ate ravenously...
[five short paragraphs dedicated to the ever-popular after dinner cigarette]
..."Thanks, Kinnison- for everything. I'm glad you kidded me into eating; that was the finest meal I ever ate. But it won't take, really. I've never broken yet, and I won't break now. If I do, I won't be worth a damn, to myself or to anybody else, from then on." She crushed out the [cigarette] butt. "So let's get on with the third degree. Bring on your rubber hose and your lights and your drip-can."

"You're still on the wrong foot, Toots," Kinnison said, pityingly. What a frightful contrast there was between her slimly rounded body, in its fantastically gorgeous costume, and the stark somberness in her eyes! "There'll be no third degree, no hose, no lights, nothing like that. In fact, I'm not even going to talk to you until you've had a good long sleep. You don't look hungry any more, but you're still not in tune, by seven thousand kilocycles. How long has it been since you really slept?"

"A couple of weeks, at a guess. Maybe a month."

"Thought so. Come on; you're going to sleep now."

The girl did not move. "With whom?" she asked, quietly. Her voice did not quiver, but stark terror lay in her mind and her hand crept unconsciously toward the hilt of her dagger.

"Holy Klono's claws!" Kinnison snorted, staring at her in wide-eyed wonder. "Just what kind of a bunch of hyenas do you think you've got into, anyway?"

"Bad," the girl replied, gravely. "Not the worst possible, perhaps, but from my standpoint plenty bad enough. What can I expect from from the Patrol except what I do expect? You don't need to kid me along, Kinnison. I can take it, and I'd a lot rather take it standing up, facing it, than have you sneak up on me with it after giving me your shots in the arm." [Presumably this is a metaphor, assuming what she's talking about, though one never knows... -SJ]

"What somebody has done to you is a sin and a shrieking shame," Kinnison declared, feelingly. "Come on, you poor little devil." He picked up sundry pieces of apparatus, then, taking her arm, he escorted her to another, almost luxuriously furnished cabin.
[/quote]There. That segues into the next section you quoted, and I think it's a good illustration of the sheer cultural disconnect between Boskone, the image of Civilization promoted in Boskone, and Civilization itself- though, admittedly, Kinnison is being unusually nice because he values Illona as a defector, and probably also because he's unwilling to give a woman less than the best treatment available, like a true pulp hero.


Technology - page 68
"That door," he explained carefully, "is solid chrome-tungsten-molybdenum steel. The lock can't be picked. There are only two keys to it in existence, and here they are. There's a bolt, too, that's proof against anything short of a five-hundred-ton hydraulic jack, or an atomic-hydrogen cutting torch.
One of the VIP cabin doors aboard the Dauntless.
Whoo. Impressive. That suggests that the ship's hull armor is at least as tough... which helps to explain why it can survive a few milliseconds' fire from megaton/second beam weapons, even with the shields down.
Universe - page 71
Kinnison assuring Illona that he hasn't played psychic therapist on her to make her change her opinions. There is a workaround though - going back to the very beginning of the memories and changing them from there - and it wouldn't surprise me frankly if the Arisians are good enough to circumvent this problem, but this problem holds true for both regular Boskonian and Patrol "operations" at least.
The Arisians can and do do this.
Universe - page 76 & 77
"The boys," she enthused. "All of them. They're here become they want to be - why, the officers don't even have whips! They like them, actually! ... And they were all putting on guns when I left -why, I never heard of such a thing! - and they're just simply crazy about you. I thought it was awfully funny you took off your guns as soon as the ship left Lyrane and you don't have guards around you all the time because I thought sure somebody would stab you in the back or something...
... you know, don't you, what would happen if this were a Lonabarian ship and I would go running around talking to officers as though I were their equal?"...
"It's inconceivable, of course; it simply couldn't happen. But if it did, I would be punished terribly - perhaps though, at a first offense, I might be given only a twenty-scar whipping." At his lifted eyebrow she explained, "One that leaves twenty scars to show for life.
Illona gushing on about Patrol / Boskonian differences onboard a starship. It may also be a Lonabarian thing - other Boskonian ships may treat their personnel better (or worse).
A close-up look at society on Thrale suggests that Lonabar is not atypical. Speaking of a Thralian infantry captain in the Guards:
He was harsh, he was relentless and inflexible, but he was absolutely fair. He did not punish a given breach of discipline with twenty lashes one time and with a mere reprimand the next; fifteen honest, scarring strokes it became for each and every time, whoever the offender. Whatever punishment a man deserved by the book he got, promptly and mercilessly; whatever reward was earned was bestowed with equal celerity, accompanied by a crisply accurate statement of the facts in each case, at the daily parade-review.
This, by Boskonian standards, is a model junior officer, with "fifteen strokes" being regarded as a fair punishment for (presumably common) disciplinary infractions among the troops in a Guard formation. So no, I don't think Lonabar is unusual.
Universe - page 78
Two ships - big ships, immense space-cruisers - appeared near the airport. Nobody saw them coming, they came so fast. They stopped, and without warning or parley destroyed all the buildings and all the people nearby with beams like Kinnison's needle-beam, except much larger. Then the ships landed and men disembarked. The Lyranians killed ten of them by direct mental impact or by monsters of the mind, but after that everyone who came out of the vessel wore thought-screens and the persons were quite helpless. The enemy had burned down and melted a part of the city, and as a further warning were then making formal plans to execute publicly a hundred leading Lyranians - ten for each man they had killed.
A summary of the Elder Sister's report to Kinnison on an attack on Lyrane. More of that delightful Boskonian diplomacy.
In fairness to Boskone (ha!), the Lyranians did, as is routine practice for them, attack on sight, and given how ferocious they are, they would probably have continued to attack as long as it was physically possible to do so. Massive summary executions would be the only way to make them stop trying to kill you, with firearms if not with mental attacks.
Technology - page 79
In shape they were ultra-fast, very much like the Dauntless herself...
"Are those ships lying on the same field we landed on?" he asked at that point in his cogitations.
"Yes."
"You can give pretty close to an actual measurement of the difference, then," he told her. "We left a hole in that field practically our whole length. How does it compare with theirs?"
... reporting that the Dauntless was the longer, by some twelve times a person's height.
Size difference between the two Boskonian ships and Kinnison's. Probably not much more than 72 feet, assuming the Lyranians are on average 6ft tall (there's nothing that says they're not like humans in that regard).
Helen is later said to be roughly that tall, though she's an unusual specimen in many ways.

This suggests that the Boskonian ships are super-dreadnoughts of the same general class as Dauntless; not sure whether it means such ships are common issue in Boskone. They may be recent construction, or they may be special operations ships that are designed for essentially the same kind of missions as Dauntless.
Technology- page 80 & 81
Within range of one of them, that is' for short as the time had been, the crew of one of the Boskonian vessels had been sufficiently alert to get her away. The other one did not move; then or ever...
Captain Craig barked a word into his microphone and every dreadful primary that could be brought to bear erupted as one weapon... that riddled, slashed, three-quarters fused mass of junk never again would be or could contain aught of menace.
The Dauntless slags down one of the Boskonian ships. It was likely shielded, as the Lyranians had roughly WW1-era technology, and neither Patrol nor Boskonian ships are built out of unobtainium.
Your assessment of the Lyranians' tech is certainly accurate, but why is it relevant here?[/quote]
Technology - page 81 & 82
They got it finally - a globular shell of force, very much like a meteorite screen except double in phase. That is, it was completely impervious to matter moving in either direction, instead of only to that moving inwardly. Even if exact data as to generation, gauging, distance, and control of this weapon were available - which they very definitely are not...
... the pirate stayed free and tried to run. No soap. She merely slid around upon the frictionless inner surface of the zone... Then she went inert and rammed. Still no soap. She struck the zone and bounced; bounced with all of her mass and against all the power of her driving thrust. The impact jarred the Dauntless to her very skin; but the zone's anchorages had... held. And the zone itself held. It yielded a bit, but it did not fail and the shear-planes of the pirates could not cut it.
The tractor zone. Hardly used much in the rest of the series though. Aside from the flexible screens we've seen previously, the most interesting thing is how it is unusual to have a shield "double in phase" - whereas in most science fiction, shields are naturally like that (eg gun ports in Star Wars or Honor Harrington shields and sidewalls).
True. Tractor zones are most likely assumed from here on out, because they replace tractor beams for all practical purposes.
Universe - page 84 - 86
The Valerians from the Dauntless mop up the last 130 or so Boskonians on Lyrane. More blurb on the space-axe, personal armour and weapons, and so on. Not sure really how to calc the figures for the Boskonian weapons - we don't know the thickness of the brick walls, how much power they had left in their weapons, how long they'd been firing, and so on and so forth.
The figures on the Boskonian weapons seem compatible with what we already know. Brick is pretty resistant to high temperatures, and can hold up under pistol fire pretty well, though not superbly.
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Teleros
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-06 06:43am

(If the minimum separation distance is not observed, tidal forces due to planetary gravity are liable to rip the planets apart or crash them into each other on short time scales once the Bergenholms are knocked out).
Even with the Bergenholms active they should be pulled towards one another, I'd've thought.
And, come to think of it, dangerous for navigation and the long term dynamic stability of Sol system, unless some cleanup crews set up new Bergenholms on their surfaces and tow them away...
I can only imagine that that's what happens, unless perhaps the Boskonian hyper-spatial tube was still open and they were dumped back through there.
Two possibilities that I can see for this:
1. The Milky Way is a different shape, with much smaller spiral arms out at the edges of a more uniform disc.
2. By spiral arms the narrator means the edges or tips of them; the parts that form the bulk of the disc aren't counted.
My money is on the latter.
Same, but worth mentioning anyway I thought.
Those would be very logical as an addition to her complement- there are atmospheric conditions where inertialess craft cannot be used (like a stiff breeze, let alone turbulence), and where the 3D maneuverability of a helicopter is desirable.
I should however point out a technical note by EES in GP (GP p18 BTW, it's on the first page of this thread under a "Technical Note" heading), that Patrol cruisers & battleships (and maybe other vessels) can travel around underwater. Almost certainly inert mind you, but the same would apply here as well. That said, helicopter gunships would provide much greater flexibility and so on. Helicopters may also be easier to maintain than "speedster gunships", VTOL jet aircraft or whatever, which for a solo troubleshooter like the Dauntless would be a very good thing.
"Needle rays" and capital ship secondaries may be somewhat different, with secondaries being less focused.
Very likely - my thinking is that needle rays are both less powerful and generally used for precision work (such as cutting apart a warship or taking out key systems - see the Britannia in GP), whereas secondaries are the big guns. Of course, "less powerful" for a starship still means it'll do fine in ground combat - knowing Doc Smith that little helicopter gunship can probably outgun most of the modern US Army :lol: .
This suggests that the Boskonian ships are super-dreadnoughts of the same general class as Dauntless; not sure whether it means such ships are common issue in Boskone. They may be recent construction, or they may be special operations ships that are designed for essentially the same kind of missions as Dauntless.
If they were tear-drops however, they'd have a lot less volume than the Dauntless, which, combined with the Patrol's use of Medonian technology (and primaries), is probably why Kinnison was so confident.
Your assessment of the Lyranians' tech is certainly accurate, but why is it relevant here?
Mostly because I can't imagine any unshielded ship surviving even as a puddle of slowly cooling liquid metal after umpteen primary beam shots. Thus, it was likely shielded... why? To protect against the locals' weaponry. The Dauntless may have pretty tough armour, but I still wouldn't want to submit it to pounding by some of the big WW1 artillery pieces if I could avoid it (especially just by flicking a switch).

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-06 08:27am

Teleros wrote:
(If the minimum separation distance is not observed, tidal forces due to planetary gravity are liable to rip the planets apart or crash them into each other on short time scales once the Bergenholms are knocked out).
Even with the Bergenholms active they should be pulled towards one another, I'd've thought.
No, wait, you're right. So yes, I suspect that the planets observe a minimum separation distance. We know that tractors capable of manipulating planet-sized objects exist; tractor-locked formations around the planet played a key role at Jarnevon, for instance. On an inert planet that would be irrelevant, but it could conceivably be used to keep planets in formation.

There's a limit on how far apart the mobile planets can be and still be engaged by one blast from the sunbeam, without lowering the effect of the sunbeam to the point where it would be more effective to launch a massed barrage of primary beam fire. I think that constrains us to a separation distance of several tens of thousands of kilometers, but I need to think about it more.
This suggests that the Boskonian ships are super-dreadnoughts of the same general class as Dauntless; not sure whether it means such ships are common issue in Boskone. They may be recent construction, or they may be special operations ships that are designed for essentially the same kind of missions as Dauntless.
If they were tear-drops however, they'd have a lot less volume than the Dauntless, which, combined with the Patrol's use of Medonian technology (and primaries), is probably why Kinnison was so confident.
Isn't Dauntless a teardrop herself?
Your assessment of the Lyranians' tech is certainly accurate, but why is it relevant here?
Mostly because I can't imagine any unshielded ship surviving even as a puddle of slowly cooling liquid metal after umpteen primary beam shots. Thus, it was likely shielded... why? To protect against the locals' weaponry. The Dauntless may have pretty tough armour, but I still wouldn't want to submit it to pounding by some of the big WW1 artillery pieces if I could avoid it (especially just by flicking a switch).
Ah. That makes sense.
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Re: SECOND STAGE LENSMAN (PART 2)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-06 03:55pm

Teleros wrote:The Lens - page 90 & 91
It is an intensely disturbing thing to have your mind invaded, knowingly, by another; particularly when that other is the appallingly powerful mind of Gray Lensman Kimball Kinnison. There were lots of things she did not want exposed, and the very effort not to think of them brought them ever and ever more vividly to the fore. She squirmed mentally and physically: her mind was for minutes a practically illegible turmoil. But she soon steadied down and, as she got used to the new sensations, went to work with a will.
Illona undergoing an intensive mental search by Kinnison. How noticeable it is seems to depend on the person doing the search and the intensity of it (Kinnison got some stuff earlier while changing Illona's thought-screen batteries without her knowing, and the Arisians are much better operators).
I think the difference is that Illona knows it's happening and is trying to cooperate, which makes her sensitive to and aware of Kinnison examining her mind, in a way she wouldn't be if she were caught unaware.
Universe - page 92
Unattached Lensmen, as well as being persons of supreme authority, are supremely able mind-readers, Verbum sap.
Pretty self-explanatory, Unattached / Gray Lensmen are the best of the bunch after all, not counting Second Stage (or higher) Lensmen.
Indeed. And the L2's are a subset of unattached Lensmen...
Universe - page 94 & 95
More on Nadreck, a Palainian, and probably one considered insane by the rest of his species for his risk-taking - see "First Lensman". Definitely one of my (and I get the feeling Doc Smith's) favourite characters though.
Oh, very much so. Nadreck is the bravest, most self-confident, and most proficient multi-tasker of his species... and in consequence is no doubt far and away the most deviant and insane member of that species.

Once again, I shudder to imagine what the Palainian L3's would have looked like, had Arisia chosen to cultivate them...
Universe - page 97
He knew that Mentor would give him no help whatever in any problem which he could possibly solve alone; he was just beginning to realize that the Arisian would aid him in matters which were absolutely, intrinsically, beyond his reach.
Only applies to Second Stage Lensmen it seems though :P . Sorry all you other millions of Lensmen...
By and large, this is because only the L2's are engaged in operations essential to the well being of Civilization, from the Arisian perspective- and because they are the prospective parents of the L3's, and must therefore be kept alive at all costs.
Universe - page 106
He flew a dead-black ship, ultra-fast, armed and armored like a super-dreadnought, crewed - according to the newscasts - by the hardest-boiled gang of cut-throats in the known universe.
Nothing special except that a (admittedly infamous) solo criminal might be expected to control such a ship.
It helps that he's spectacularly wealthy; he might not be able to buy such a ship, but he could probably buy off its captain.
Technology - page 116 & 117
Kinnison / Cartiff blows up Lonabar's richest jewel mining operation with ten duodec torpedoes. Size isn't known, but given how jewel-encrusted most of Lonabar's people seemed to be, and the fact that the detonation was enough to get the planet "quivering", I'd say it was both enormous, deep, and widespread, especially given previous figures for duodec explosions and the mere pulverising of the rock between the "centers of demolition".
Megatons, easily. Though "quivering" in this context just means seismic activity, which doesn't prove much.
Universe - page 129
The narrator going on about the Onlonians, who live on Thrallis IX (Thrallis II being Thrale), a system in Lundmark's Nebula. Also discussing some of the truly alien perceptions. Feel free to laugh at the Patrol's "sexual equality" given that Clarissa has just become the first and only female Lensman...
[laughs, bitterly]
I think it's worth noting that Smith's idea of "equality" dates back to the days of "separate but equal" [laughs bitterly again]. In his mind, "equality" meant that both sexes treat each other like human beings, rather than subhumans or pieces of property. Contrast to Lyrane, where the females of Lyrane II are sentient and the males (apparently) nonsentient; in consequence their two-sex species consists of "persons" and "males." The Kalonians, detailed further in Children of the Lens, appear to have the same arrangement with the sexes flipped: there are Kalonian "males" and "persons."

Now, the Galactic Patrol and the Civilization it guards may have straitjacket gender roles that make a dutiful little child of Third Wave feminism want to scream... but at a stark minimum, it must be admitted that no one would ever treat Clarissa MacDougal as if she were a subhuman or a piece of chattel.
Technology - page 130
... I trust that those six of the Council who escaped destruction upon Jarnevon by means of their hyper-spatial tube have been dealt with?"
"They have been liquidated," another officer replied.
Smaller hyper-spatial tubes can be opened on planets. Sucks to be one of the surviving Council of Boskone members though :D .
What surviving members of the Council of Boskone? I don't see any? They've all been liquidated. Which, given what Lensman weapons look like and that they're native to a cryogenic planet, may literally mean "turned into a liquid" in this case... ouch.
Universe - page 131
"Expeditions have been sent, but they were dealt with as simply and as effectively as were Lan and Amp of the Eich. Planets have also been sent, but they were detected by the Patrol and were knocked out by far-ranging dirigible planets of the enemy. However, I have concluded that Arisia, of and by itself, is not of prime immediate importance. It is true that the Lens did in all probability originate with the Arisians. It is hence true that the destruction of Arisia and its people would be highly desirable, in that it would insure that no more Lenses would be produced.
Onlonians and the Tyrant of Thrale discussing recent events, and inevitably underestimating the Arisians.
True, though at the very least they correctly conclude that they can't do anything about Arisia. They're underestimating the Arisians, but not as badly as Eichlan and Eichamp, or Helmuth, did.
Universe - page 135
... nor would she - except when defying Kinnison - claim as her right any one of the perquisites or privileges which were so indubitably hers. She was not, never had been, and never would or could be a real Lensman, she insisted. At best, she was only a synthetic - or an imitation - or a sort of amateur - maybe a "Red" Lensman - handy to have around, perhaps, for certain kinds of jobs, but absolutely and definitely not a regular Lensman. And it was this attitude which was to make the Red Lensman not merely tolerated, but loved as she was loved by Lensmen, Patrolmen, and civilians alike throughout the length, breadth, and thickness of Civilization's bounds.
Such a modest thing. Anyway, yes, back to sexual equality as a hallmark of Civilisation...
Yeah. I still can't figure out where "red" comes from in this context, though...
Universe - page 141
She had known exacrly what she had been doing; she had wanted intensely - such was the insidiously devastating power of the Delgonian mind - to do just that and nothing else. The falseness of values, the indefensibility of motivation, simply could not register in her thoroughly suffused, completely blanketed mind. When the screen cut off the Overlord's control, however, thus restoring her own, the shock of realization of what she had done - what she had been forced to do - struck her like a physical blow. Worse than a physical blow, for ordinary physical violence she could understand.
Helen whilst mind controlled / hypnotised by an Overlord of Delgon.
And Helen is no shrinking violet, either; by the standards of ordinary humans she's a deadly offensive telepath in her own right.
Technology - page 143
The Dauntless settled downward; landed in front of the entrance to the cavern. The rocky, broken terrain meant nothing to her; the hardest, jaggedest boulders crumbled instantly to dust as her enormous mass drive the file-hard, inflexible armor of her mid-zone deep into the ground.
File-hard implies something rather like tool steel. Must be easier to work with than all the landing equipment so often seen in sci-fi - just plonk the ship down and if something's in the way, too bad.
:lol: Too right. Though you have to be careful about landing on a slope- do it wrong, and the ship will slide (or worse yet, roll), because the bed it settles into won't be level. Landing on hydraulic jacks at least lets you adjust the angle of the decks relative to the ground a bit.
Universe - page 143 & 144
Velantian and Valerian responses to the Overlords of Delgon on Lyrane II. The latter sounds almost like a cross between 40K space marines and orks...
Yup. Valerians were arguably the original Space Marines- the first power-armored super soldiers. You saw it here first, boys and girls...
Universe - page 144 & 145
And Nadreck's response. Yes, he's a good guy.
Well, much could be said about Smith's 1900-vintage mental model of gender relations, but in his defense... I've never read any book that did a much better job of portraying diverse worldviews and the merits of tolerating them than the Lensman series.
Universe - page 145 & 146
This, it should be said, only came about because the Overlords were resistant enough to purely mental attacks, and it's possible for a mind to commit suicide, so I guess there was an element both of the "ticking bomb" and "last resort" scenarios in play here. I'd wonder what the Patrol would do if put in charge of Gitmo, except that as previously noted they'd just use "therapy" on the inmates and turn them out as good boy scouts, given that they're only normal human inmates :P .
At the very least they'd be able to tell which ones were actually guilty, rather than holding all of them indefinitely regardless of whether they still have any useful information.
Universe - page 147 & 148
"Having trouble with your stitching?"
"I'll say we are!" the surgeon grunted. "Have to bore holes with an electric drill and use lineman's pliers. Just about through now, though, he'll be with you in a couple of minutes," ...
Minor surgery on Worsel after the battle. Pretty much makes it impossible for Worsel to be any kind of very lightly armoured "dragon", what with scales that resistant to damage, which given his 30ft length means he must have one hell of a wingspan, and god only knows what else to keep him airborne.
Or it's possible that his scales are extremely durable- not keratin like earthly reptiles.
Technology - page 152
"Thought-screens interfered so seriously with my methods of procedure," the Palainian explained, "that I was forced to develop a means of puncturing them without upsetting their generators. The device is not generally known, you understand."
One of the vulnerabilities of thought-screens.
Though not one that is in common use. As of this point in the series, only Nadreck has a device to do this- and he's immensely long-lived and has probably devoted centuries to the study of the, ah, "physics of psionics."
The Lens - page 153
... their Arisian-imparted special senses made ethereal, even sub-ethereal, vibrations actually visible or tangible...
Referring to Kinnison, Nadreck and Worsel. It refers I believe to the sense of perception, although this particular part of it may be Arisian, and not otherwise natural, as we've seen natural "perceivers" before - eg the Rigellians.
My impression is that Rigellians are at least aware of light, even if they don't need it; I suspect that the ability to sense EM radiation is common for people who use the sense of perception. Extending that awareness to ultrawaves (the sub-ether) may be unique to the L2's; we later learn that the Children of the Lens can do something similar to thought-screens, even highly advanced ones.
Technology - page 155
... that any extraneous thought will wreak untold harm. For that reason I beg of you to keep your thought-screens up at all times, no matter what happens... To this end I ask you to hold these electrodes,which are connected to a receptor. Do not hesitate to speak freely to each other or to me; but please use only spoken language, as I am averse to Lensed thoughts at this juncture.
Nadreck giving Worsel & Kinnison instructions. Sounds like some kind of funky "universal translator". No idea how common such devices are, but Nadreck giving them instructions on its use could mean either his usual caution, a non-standard design, or indeed a brand new device (although personally I'm tempted to go for options 1 or 2).
Nadreck may be relying on his Lens to translate words spoken in human and Velantian language- that isn't necessarily the same process as receiving a Lensed thought.
Technology - page 155 & 156
Nadreck at work, filed under technology mostly because it shows the Palainian's thought-screen drill in action.
We also note that Smith uses "psychologist" and "therapist" more or less synonymously with "telepath." Of course, in a galaxy full of telepaths, no one who isn't is really qualified to study psychology, but it's an interesting observation nonetheless. Perhaps Smith is basing this on the idea that psychic powers follow naturally from study of the mind (literally "psychology" even if it doesn't mean what we today use the term to mean)?
Universe - page 164
Info on ship building times and the like. Probably the real bottleneck in mauler (and similar) production is the lack of docks large enough to build them in, given that the mauler design has only been around for a few years at most, and was originally a Patrol design as well - it's even possible the Boskonians in Lundmark's Nebula didn't hurry to upgrade their own shipbuilding capabilities on the basis that their Milky Way subordinates would be the ones handling the maulers, so it was up to them.
Another possibility is that all ships take weeks or months to construct, but each nation has a large reserve fleet of planetary defense forces. New ships up to battleship weight can be conscripted from the planetary defense fleets, allowing interstellar powers to replenish their light combatant force, but maulers and larger craft are strategic-level weapons, and are only made at the behest of central authority.
Universe - page 164 & 165
Some tactics on the latest big fleet engagement, plus notes on the new light cruiser design both fleets employed. Don't see the big deal in not just using heavy cruisers, but I suppose it kept costs down, free speeds up, or something.
Relative to the scale of the combat, light cruisers are attritional units- you expect to lose a certain percentage of the ones you commit to battle. There's always a strong tendency to compromise between cost and firepower in things you're sending into a war of attrition.
Universe - page 168
... that if Boskonia could not have mustered a heavier center for her defensive action here, she would be in no position to make any really important attack for months to come.
Gives an idea of how long it takes to build new maulers for the Boskonian Grand Fleet.
Again, it seems likely to me that this is because they'll have to build new maulers, not just pinch them from the existing reserve fleet. Maulers aren't so much bigger than battleships that they should require months to build when battleships only take hours or days.
Universe - page 170
... there came into being upon that formerly almost derelict planet some seventy-odd gigantic defensive establishments...
This on Klovia, a newly-discovered world that had just been through a world war savage enough to leave "just a fraction" of its population alive...
What's really impressive is that they managed to kill themselves off so thoroughly before the discovery of nuclear power. :shock:
Universe - page 172
Upon a certain dark night a certain light-circuit had gone dead, darkening many buildings. Only one or two sentries or guards saw anything amiss, and they never afterward recalled having done so. And any record that has ever been made can be remade to order by the experts of the Secret Service of the Patrol!
Some of the background on Kinnison when he goes undercover on Thrale as Traska Gannel.
The implication being that one of the other L2s infiltrated the facility, recovered the records, and had them doctored to fit Kinnison's new background.
Universe - page 173
Mentor of Arisia, however, knew many things that Kinnison of Tellus did not; he had powers of which Kinnison could never dream. Mentor knew exactly what entity stood behind Tyrant Alcon's throne...
Wherefore every negative of every picture that had ever been taken of Traska Gannel, and every print and reproduction made therefrom, was made to conform; nowhere, throughout the reaches of space or the vistas of time, was there any iota of evidence that the present Traska Gannel had not borne that name since infancy.
Arisian intergalactic telekinesis at work. As this is good enough to fool a very suspicious Eddorian...
Though in principle, all this could have been done by working through mind-controlled operators, who would not know what they were doing at the time. Though covering up the evidence of the coverup itself would be extremely difficult... telekinesis is probably the simpler explanation.
Universe - page 182
He had had five years of intensive training. Quarter-staff, night-stick, club, knife, and dagger; foil, epee, rapier, saber, broad-sword, scimitar, bayonet, what-have-you - with practically any nameable weapon any Lensman had to be as good as he was with fists and feet.
It's not known when Kinnison had all this training. Before Wentworth Hall? During his time there? If the latter, given that all prospective Patrolmen and Lensmen from Earth pass through it, what does that mean for, say, Henderson's or Thorndyke's melee & unarmed combat skills?
...that they didn't pass the unarmed and melee combat classes, and were therefore disqualified for a Lens, much as van Buskirk was disqualified by flunking calculus?

I think what distinguishes Lensmen from normal members of the Patrol is that incredible "will to do-" the ability to keep pushing themselves to the limit in intensive training, day after day. It's not so much what they learn that makes them effective, though that's a factor. It's that having to keep training fourteen hours or so every day and learn so many skills so quickly demonstrates that they have the extreme toughness, heroic determination, and quick wits expected of a Lensman. Van Buskirk, for example, fails because he lacks quick wits. People like Thornedyke and Henderson probably fail the test of toughness and so only become very good at one or two things, instead of being a master-class polymath in several subjects.
Universe - page 185
His men hated him, of course. His non-coms and lieutenants, besides hating him, kept on trying to cut him down. All, however, respected him and obeyed him without delay and without question, which was all that any Boskonian officer could expect and which was far more than most of them ever got.
Kinnison, acting as a scrupulously fair, by-the-book Captain Traska Gannel. Really makes you wonder how in god's name Boskone manages to function sometimes.
Because the higher-ups are selected for inhuman capability, mostly. A lot of the strategies that would work in a third world dictatorship (where government is often like this) don't work in Boskone, because if a junior does something that compromises efficiency, the entire chain of command dumps on them.
Universe - page 188
And Kinnison did built the colonel up. He taught him things about the military business which that staff officer had never even suspected; he sounded depths of strategy theretofore completely unknown to the zwilnik.
In addition to being a melee weapon expert extraordinaire, having the fastest pair of DeLameters in two galaxies, and all the rest, Kinnison knows more about military strategy than a Boskonian colonel in the Tyrand's personal guard.
Since it's likely that the colonel has been promoted to the limits of his competence by office politics rather than by sheer personal merit... I'm not all that surprised.

People who do what Kinnison-as-Gannel does rise very fast in Boskonian society. Remember Helmuth- a very competent, very capable man, who was only undone when he faced capabilities that he didn't understand. Lesser Boskonian luminaries don't make it as far up the ladder, and in the mid-ranks you do get quite a few people who got where they are on office politics without having the merit to attract support from people still higher than their current rank.
This space dedicated to Vasily Arkhipov

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