Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

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Re: SECOND STAGE LENSMAN (PART 3)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-06 04:16pm

Teleros wrote:Universe - page 203 & 204
Nadreck at work on Onlo. Unfortunately, he practically fails, as we'll see later.
...Practically? I question your use of the term.
The Lens - page 216
He had learned long since that the prime minister could not detect a Lensed thought, particularly when the Lensman was wearing a thought-screen, as he did practically constantly; wherefore the strategists of the Patrol were as well informed as was Kinnison himself of every move made by the Boskonians.
Gharlane would also of course have been prevented from reading say Haynes' mind by the Arisians who were always out watching for Eddorians interfering in Civilisation.
Back in First Lensman, the Arisians made it clear that they would block Eddorians from acting directly against adherents of Civilization, and that it was well within their power to do so. Reading Haynes' mind would presumably qualify as such.
Technology - page 221
Looks like at least some of the Bergenholm's critical systems run through the bridge controls. That or there's some kind of cut-off in case of damage, but I think the former more likely, given that you'd be safer if you remained free after all.
If we assume that there were two human operators massing about 85kg (just under the average US body weight, a few kilos over the German one, according to Wikipedia), and that it takes ~3MJ to vaporise 1kg of water, then to vaporise both of them at once would require 510GJ as a bare minimum. I say vaporise because of the description above. This figure does not include the possibility of more than two operators, nor the damage done to the control panels. However, in "Galactic Patrol" we saw firepower in the low GJ range for DeLameters, and this is after all aboard a star-ship, so the final figure may be both higher and not at full power, due to the shot taking place inside a metal balloon in the vaccuum of space.
Ah... 510 MJ, surely? If 3 MJ can vaporize a kilogram, even 3 GJ would be enough to vaporize a ton.
Universe - page 221 - 223
Kinnison, secretly aided by at least one Arisian, kills Gharlane of Eddore in mental battle. A side-effect of the mental blasts is that everyone nearby is paralysed and then killed, whilst Gharlane's Eddorian form does indeed cause madness in everyone present. Kinnison perhaps used his sense of perception or something instead, or just closed his eyes and focused on battering down the shield before him etc. The Arisian (possibly Mentor) aiding him however makes Gharlane appear as an Arisian, in order to fool Kinnison into thinking it was an insane Arisian who left Arisia some millions of years ago. The body is then incinerated (see below).
It is also possible that Kinnison could at least look upon an Eddorian without going insane, though obviously Arisians are interfering with his mind so extensively that there's no reason to assume he did so.

In fact, arguably this entire fight amounts to a couple of Arisians grabbing Gharlane, pummeling him psychically, and then giving Kinnison the hallucination of a victory. Kind of an anticlimax when you think about it.
Universe - page 229
It was determined then that he was an aberrant - insane - and since only an unusually capable mind can predict truly the illogical workings of a diseased and disordered mind for even one year in advance, it is not surprising that in my visualization that unbalanced youth perished long ago.
Amidst Mentor's not-quite-lies to Kinnison over the duel with Gharlane, we get this tidbit. Probably it was intended to be followed up, if at all, in a sequal to "Children of the Lens", unless of course Mentor deliberately had the relevant memory altered, such that he believed it to be true even though it wasn't. At any rate, possibly there's an insane Arisian out there somewhere. Scary thought.
Or, of course, Mentor is outright lying, which I still think is very much possible, because I'm still sore at him over his manipulation of Virgilia Samms...
Universe - page 232
But not all of the Patrol's armada was in that formation. It would have been very poor technique indeed to have had Boskonia's Grand Fleet come back to home ether forty percent larger than it had set out.
Source for the size difference between the two fleets.
Note that this is after a major battle of attrition in which a large number of Patrol ships were destroyed engaging Boskonian ships in single combat. Depending on the scale of their losses during the dogfight, the original size of Grand Fleet must have been considerably larger- at a bare minimum 50% larger and possibly as much as double the size of the Boskonian fleet thrown against them.
Universe - page 241 & 242
The plan was to make all Onlonians destroy themselves. In theory it was sound and simple, but my execution was pitifully imperfect. My work was so poorly done that the commander officer in each one of three of the domes remained alive, making it necessary for me to slay those three commanders personally, by the use of crude force. I regret exceedingly the lack of finish of this undertaking, and I apologize profoundly for it... and the apologetic, mentally sweating, really humiliated Palainian broke the connection...
It is the poorest piece of work of which I have been guilty since cubhood...
...but if you insist upon discussing my fiasco, I shall forthwith go home. I will not discuss it. The record of it will remain permanently under Lensman's Seal.
Nadreck's "failure". Three guys left alive on the planet, and he then kills them, and he's really embarrassed over it. What Special Circumstances would pay to get their hands on him...
Meanwhile, Onlo is colonised by those species of the Patrol that like its environment, including Palainians.
He's so embarrassed that he never, ever allows anyone to find out the details. Poor liquid-helium bastard, you really feel sorry for the guy after something like this...

I mean, he goes out and singlehandedly (singletentacledly?) takes on a planetary fortress full of (presumably) millions of fierce, cruel, ruthless telepathic aliens, manages to wipe out all but three of them- essentially destroying an entire species comparable to the Eich all by himself. Everyone in the civilized universe is going "Yay Nadreck..." but he keeps beating himself up regardless.
Universe - page 251
He had been afraid that some of them would think he was throwing his weight around when he violated precedent by making her a Lensman. He had been afraid of animosity and ill-will. He had been afraid that outraged masculine pride would set up a sex antagonism. But if any of these things existed, the keenest use of his every penetrant sense could not discover them.
Instead, the human Lensmen literally mobbed her as they took her to their collective bosom. No party, wherever or for whatever reason held, was complete without her.
Self-explanatory. A tradition hundreds of years old is violated, and nobody seems to bat an eyelid.
A few points this implies, in the light of seventy years of campaigns for civil rights since the time Smith wrote this...

Lensmen are selected to be truly exceptional, and it may well be that they collectively possess the objectivity and greatness of spirit it takes to crack their own prejudices when faced with actual evidence (such as a woman manifestly fit to wear a Lens).

Civilization may not be quite as sexist as the strict "no Lenswomen" rule implies, with more equality being the norm outside the Patrol. This hypothesis is supported when we get a better look at the function of Civilization outside the Patrol in The Vortex Masters. In which case the lack of Lenswomen is mostly a consequence of a deliberate Arisian effort to avoid giving the Lens to females, and less a consequence of innate sexism among the people of Civilization.

The Arisians would probably explain (very condescendingly) that it was necessary to make sure that the female ancestors of the L3's not get into harm's way, and not wind up getting too close to their male counterparts before the selective breeding program got round to producing the "penultimates" (the L2's, who are the direct ancestors of the L3's).
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-06 04:38pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Isn't Dauntless a teardrop herself?
No, I'm pretty sure she's described as cigar-shaped somewhere (need to check more thoroughly later). Off-hand, I do recall her having a needle-pointed prow, jet-studded stern, and her the practice of landing on her belly, not the point (eg at Medon).
Yeah. I still can't figure out where "red" comes from in this context, though...
Her hair. Can't think of any other sensible reason.
We also note that Smith uses "psychologist" and "therapist" more or less synonymously with "telepath."
I think it's more the fact that Doc Smith's telepaths would make naturally good therapists. Why have an ordinary human who can at best only guess what you're thinking, when you can have a telepath who can find out for certain?
Maulers aren't so much bigger than battleships that they should require months to build when battleships only take hours or days.
Aren't they? The Dauntless, true, is more massive than a mauler, but then it's a pretty unusual ship by most standards. When maulers were first built by the Patrol, remember, they were something really quite new.
What's really impressive is that they managed to kill themselves off so thoroughly before the discovery of nuclear power.
Possibly their scientific development focused more on biology than physics - ie a total war emerges, and everyone reaches for the bio-weapons rather than the nukes.
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.
Not really. This is a Secret Service operation - to me it sounds like regular spies, perhaps with Lensman backup to deal with those guards who saw odd things.
...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?
Well yes, but my point was that it's quite likely that a lot of Patrolmen are unusually proficient with a wide variety of weapons. You're right, Thorndyke may have flunked his weapons training classes, but it's quite possible that other regular Patrolmen didn't. Raises interesting possibilities for crossovers at least. "I mean, he's just an engineer. Of course I can tie him up in combat"...
...Practically? I question your use of the term.
Sorry, just my sense of humour.
Ah... 510 MJ, surely? If 3 MJ can vaporize a kilogram, even 3 GJ would be enough to vaporize a ton.
Yes, 510GJ (!) was a typo.
Note that this is after a major battle of attrition in which a large number of Patrol ships were destroyed engaging Boskonian ships in single combat.
That... depends. Doc Smith goes on to say that the Patrol didn't go nuts to anywhere near the same extent as the Boskonians did: "many" Patrol ships yielded to the Boskonian challenge, "most" did not, and generally when the Patrol ships did close for boarding actions, they won. At any rate, it's a lower limit for the differences in fleet sizes.
Civilization may not be quite as sexist as the strict "no Lenswomen" rule implies, with more equality being the norm outside the Patrol. This hypothesis is supported when we get a better look at the function of Civilization outside the Patrol in The Vortex Masters. In which case the lack of Lenswomen is mostly a consequence of a deliberate Arisian effort to avoid giving the Lens to females, and less a consequence of innate sexism among the people of Civilization.
Quite likely IMHO. Also, the fact that women cannot be Lensmen, and that Lensmen can hold practically any job in the Patrol (from Cloud's boss in MotV to Lensman-chemists developing Kinnison's indetectable speedster, all the way up to Haynes), it's quite possible that they get fewer female recruits than they otherwise would, and as we see things in 6 of the books mostly from a Patrol point of view, that'd skew our perceptions as well (never mind, say, the fact that no women seem to serve on regular warships either).


Oh, and spotted this for ship crew sizes:
SSL, p98 wrote:And only about half of the twenty one hundred or so other guys aboard this heap...
Kinnison talking to Henderson about the crew of the Dauntless after it had just saved Illona (and Lyrane). So I'd say a skeleton crew is ~400 or so (based on the trip into the Delgonian hyper-spatial tube), but a full crew is nearer 2100 men, probably including vanBuskirk's marines, the scientists, and so on. The Dauntless also out-masses a Patrol mauler, so ~2000 crew max for a mauler seems about right. Based on the number of planets in Civilisation in CotL, and Tellus' warship production (80 superdreadnoughts), you're probably looking at a few tens of quadrillions of Patrolmen (Patrolentities?) in Grand Fleet... which in my mind is remarkably low given the scale of Civilisation. I mean, taking a mid-20th Century population of Earth as average (3 billion), and assuming each superdreadnought needs 2000 crewmen, that means Earth only needs to contribute 160,000 Patrolmen for Grand Fleet. You wouldn't even have to lower recruiting standards by all that much to get the numbers up either, if you consider that Wentworth Hall takes in 10,000 a year.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-06 07:52pm

Teleros wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:Isn't Dauntless a teardrop herself?
No, I'm pretty sure she's described as cigar-shaped somewhere (need to check more thoroughly later). Off-hand, I do recall her having a needle-pointed prow, jet-studded stern, and her the practice of landing on her belly, not the point (eg at Medon).
You're right. Which also explains why Kinnison was so confident of being able to engage a Boskonian warship of comparable length, as you note.
Maulers aren't so much bigger than battleships that they should require months to build when battleships only take hours or days.
Aren't they? The Dauntless, true, is more massive than a mauler, but then it's a pretty unusual ship by most standards. When maulers were first built by the Patrol, remember, they were something really quite new.
A distinct point. For me, it's... a feeling, call it. Maybe I'm just wrong.
What's really impressive is that they managed to kill themselves off so thoroughly before the discovery of nuclear power.
Possibly their scientific development focused more on biology than physics - ie a total war emerges, and everyone reaches for the bio-weapons rather than the nukes.
Oof. That would do it. Though I have a hard time picturing an intelligent species dumb enough to think mass biowar is a good idea.
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.
Not really. This is a Secret Service operation - to me it sounds like regular spies, perhaps with Lensman backup to deal with those guards who saw odd things.
That works. Conventional spies could infiltrate Thrale, if anyone could.
...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?
Well yes, but my point was that it's quite likely that a lot of Patrolmen are unusually proficient with a wide variety of weapons. You're right, Thorndyke may have flunked his weapons training classes, but it's quite possible that other regular Patrolmen didn't. Raises interesting possibilities for crossovers at least. "I mean, he's just an engineer. Of course I can tie him up in combat"...
Duly noted.
[makes note]
Note that this is after a major battle of attrition in which a large number of Patrol ships were destroyed engaging Boskonian ships in single combat.
That... depends. Doc Smith goes on to say that the Patrol didn't go nuts to anywhere near the same extent as the Boskonians did: "many" Patrol ships yielded to the Boskonian challenge, "most" did not, and generally when the Patrol ships did close for boarding actions, they won. At any rate, it's a lower limit for the differences in fleet sizes.
True. Though "many" implies, say, a third of the fleet (rough estimate), with two thirds staying aloof. Of those ships, figure that a quarter lost the boarding action or were sufficiently damaged in the process of beating the enemy that they could not keep formation. I don't think those are ungenerous figures... but they still add up to close to 10% casualties among Grand Fleet, which is enough to kick them up to three-to-two superiority over the Boskonian fleet.
Civilization may not be quite as sexist as the strict "no Lenswomen" rule implies, with more equality being the norm outside the Patrol. This hypothesis is supported when we get a better look at the function of Civilization outside the Patrol in The Vortex Masters. In which case the lack of Lenswomen is mostly a consequence of a deliberate Arisian effort to avoid giving the Lens to females, and less a consequence of innate sexism among the people of Civilization.
Quite likely IMHO. Also, the fact that women cannot be Lensmen, and that Lensmen can hold practically any job in the Patrol (from Cloud's boss in MotV to Lensman-chemists developing Kinnison's indetectable speedster, all the way up to Haynes), it's quite possible that they get fewer female recruits than they otherwise would, and as we see things in 6 of the books mostly from a Patrol point of view, that'd skew our perceptions as well (never mind, say, the fact that no women seem to serve on regular warships either).
Certainly not Tellurian warships. I do tend to wonder about other species, though; there must be species adherent to Civilization that really do hold to the tenet that the female of the species is more deadly than the male. It's not as if that isn't common in the animal kingdom. So while that squadron of Tellurian battlecruisers you're looking has all-male crews, it's quite possible for all we know that the next formation over is manned by the Killer Space Amazons from Eta Carinae V or something.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-07 06:06am

Oof. That would do it. Though I have a hard time picturing an intelligent species dumb enough to think mass biowar is a good idea.
Mass nuclear war isn't either, which is why we haven't had one. But picture a WW1-era Cold War that gets hot, and where everyone has bio-weapons instead of nukes.
Certainly not Tellurian warships. I do tend to wonder about other species, though; there must be species adherent to Civilization that really do hold to the tenet that the female of the species is more deadly than the male. It's not as if that isn't common in the animal kingdom. So while that squadron of Tellurian battlecruisers you're looking has all-male crews, it's quite possible for all we know that the next formation over is manned by the Killer Space Amazons from Eta Carinae V or something.
True, although that may just lead to the opposite kind of sexism we're used to. And I've no clue how it works with say Palainians (which, as per Kit Kinnison's comments to Arisia, seem not to use two sexes).

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-08 01:36pm

Teleros wrote:
Certainly not Tellurian warships. I do tend to wonder about other species, though; there must be species adherent to Civilization that really do hold to the tenet that the female of the species is more deadly than the male. It's not as if that isn't common in the animal kingdom. So while that squadron of Tellurian battlecruisers you're looking has all-male crews, it's quite possible for all we know that the next formation over is manned by the Killer Space Amazons from Eta Carinae V or something.
True, although that may just lead to the opposite kind of sexism we're used to. And I've no clue how it works with say Palainians (which, as per Kit Kinnison's comments to Arisia, seem not to use two sexes).
Another point is that there are probably cultures in Civilization where the intelligent species goes into heat (like practically all animals) rather than being sexually active at all times. That scenario would lend itself relatively well to mixed-sex crews on warships, as long as you have some ability to keep half the crew from going into pon-farr or its equivalent...

Also, my look at Children of the Lens is coming up...
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Re: CHILDREN OF THE LENS (PART 1)

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-08 02:35pm

Teleros wrote:Universe - page 17
"Almost any kind of insidious deviltry you care to name. Disaffections, psychoses, mass hysterias, hallucinations; pointing toward a Civilization-wide epidemic of revolutions and uprisings for which there seems to be no basis or justification whatever."..."It hasn't got around. Each solar system thinks it's a purely local condition, but it isn't. As galactic coordinator, with a broad view of the entire picture, my office would of course see such a thing before anyone else could. We saw it, and set out to nip it in the bud... but..." He shrugged his shoulders...
The idea of a political body as dependent on internal trade as Civilisation seems to be not noticing this seems odd, but I suppose it depends on just how widespread this is. By now there are 60-odd billion worlds in the First Galaxy alone - even a million or so worlds is a drop in the ocean by comparison.
It may also depend on the extent to which individual worlds leave interstellar affairs to the Patrol. For example, in the US, there's no reason to expect citizens to be well aware of crime statistics in other states, even though that information is a matter of public record. The question of whether crime has happened to you and those you know is of far more import than the statistical crime rate in the nation overall.
The Lens - page 20 & 21
[The Kinnison sisters spontaneously create Lenses]
No idea if this involves teleportation from Arisia or some sort of psychic energy-to-matter trick. If the latter I dread to think how many kWh their brains must hold :lol: ...
Or, more likely, must be able to channel. I don't think the Lens itself is matter in the normal sense. Attempts to analyze it using materialistic science generally fail; the only beings other than the Arisians and L3's who ever figured out how to duplicate it are the Eddorians (masters of mental science, or at least journeymen).

So I imagine the Lens as being, well, the technological equivalent of an "energy being:" an interlocking structure of some kind of force field that only interacts with the universe in terms of mental effects. It occupies space and has a tangible surface, but it's hard to say what (or if) it weighs and whether creating it is the product of simply pumping energy through some kind of conversion trick.

Any sufficiently capable psychic can generate Lenses, if that's true, because you're literally building it out of your own thoughts.
As for the ship's crew... not sure quite how representative it is of regular ships, given how, if nothing else, Velantians are a hell of a lot bigger than humans. Back when they were investigating the first hyper-spatial tube, Kimball & Sir Austin Cardynge had a heated discussion in which the number "400" was thrown around for the crew of the Dauntless. On the other hand, it's been 20 years, and these aren't humans, so that must be factored in too.
It's also possible that the ships can fly with widely variable crews. For a dangerous recon mission, Dauntless might fly with a skeleton crew, whereas Velan (whose normal mission is to go land naval infantry in front of a cavern of Overlords or other Boskonian installation) might carry a large crew of combat veterans for its size.
Oh, and Velantians have no fewer than 8 eye-stalks. No upper figure is ever actually specified though.
I think eight is a reasonable figure.
Universe - page 38
The tube can be detected while it's in place, and anyone coming through it can be shot as soon as he can be seen. What you need is a couple of Rigellian Lensmen, or Ordoviks.
Sounds like anyone with a sense of perception basically.
Indeed, though the need to communicate with normal humans is an issue. Apparently, Ordoviks possess the faculty of speech; Rigellians do not and rely on telepathy, which means that only their Lensmen can communicate with humans.
Kinnison as Sybly Whyte - page 41
"Qadgop the Mercotan slithered flatly around the after-bulge of the tranship. One claw dug into the meters-thick armor of pure neutronium, then another. Its terrible xmex-like snout locked on. Its zymolosely polydactile tongue crunched out, crashed down, rasped across. Slurp! Slurp! At each abrasive stroke the groove in the tranship's plating deepened and Qadgop leered more fiercely. Fools! Did they think that the airlessness of absolute space, the heatlessness of absolute zero, the yieldlessness of absolute neutronium, could stop QADGOP THE MERCOTAN? And the stowaway, that human wench Cynthia, cowering in helpless terror just beyond this thin and fragile wall..."
A bit of Doc Smith's sense of humour :lol: ...
Ah, yes, self-parody.
Universe - page 41
A yellow "attention" light gleamed upon his visiphone panel, a subdued chime gave notice that a message of importance was about to be broadcast to the world. Kinnison-Whyte flipped his switch and the stern face of the provost-marshal appeared upon the screen.
"Attention please," the image spoke. "Every citizen of Radelix is urged to be on the lookout for the source of certain inflammatory and subversive literature which is beginning to appear in various cities of this planet. Our officers cannot be everywhere at once; you citizens are. It is hoped that by the aid of your vigilance this threat to our planetary peace and security can be removed before it becomes really serious; that we can avoid the imposition of martial law."
This message, while not of extreme or urgent import to most Radeligians...
Got to love the last line... Anyway, it indicates that perhaps the Radeligian authorities had some idea of what was happening on other worlds, because otherwise it does rather jar with the whole "liberty-loving Civilisation" if you can't be subversive :P . Also, widespread use of videophones or something like them.
Yeah, it does jar. Mostly values dissonance- this was the late forties and fifties, after all. That said, consider the kind of psychological effects traced to the "subversion" campaign: mass hysteria, riots, mass murders. Under those conditions, it starts to make a bit more sense to restrict freedom of dissent.
Universe - page 44
Kandron, formerly head psychologist of Onlo, is behind the Civilisation-wide psychoses and whatnot, and has been re-organising what remains of Boskone (probably mostly in the Second Galaxy). Nadreck, meanwhile, is ignoring Kandron (except insofar as he interferes with his other missions and so on) until specifically tasked to find & kill him.
Yeah. Not good at multitasking, is he?
Universe - page 45
For if his hellishly able race had possessed the characteristically human abilities, in addition to their own, Civilization would of necessity have been basically Palainian instead of basically human, as it is now.
Probably mostly things like bravery and willpower.
Personally, I still find the idea of what the Palainian L3s would have looked like to be very, very alarming...
Kinnison as Sybly Whyte - page 50
He sympathized particularly withe a fat woman writer of whodunits, whose extremely unrealistic yet amazingly popular Gray Lensman hero had lived through ten full-length novels and twenty million copies.
Or perhaps not so unrealistic? :P
Heh. Though given the typical attrition rate among the Patrol, the mere fact of surviving for ten books is pretty unrealistic... Or, for example, the Gray Lensman in question could be written with actual ego- a self-indulgent streak, perhaps? It depends on whether we mean unrealistic in real life or in-setting.
Universe - page 62 & 63
... no lesser mind could penetrate her screens or, having failed to do so, could recognise the fact of failure...
Hence, when the invading intelligence blanketed the assemblage lightly, only to be withdrawn instantly upon detecting the emanations of a mind of real power, Cam had a bare moment of time in which to act. She sychronized with the intruding thought( began to analyze it and to trace it back to its source. She did not have time enough to succeed fully in either endeavour, but she did get a line.
The "mind of real power" was Tregonsee's incidentally, not Cam's. Anyway, more on the abilities of the Children.
Though it also suggests a measure of equality between the Ploorans and the L2's: A Plooran considers an L2 to be a "mind of real power;" an L3 is so far above their level that they can't even perceive how outclassed they are unless it comes down to an overt contest of will.
Universe - page 65 & 66
Herself, a womanly, feminine woman, she had fought with every resource at her command to make her girl babies grow up into replicas of herself. She had failed.
They simply would not play with dolls, nor play house with other little girls. Instead, they insisted upon 'intruding', as she considered it, upon Lensmen; preferably upon Second-Stage Lensmen, if any one of the four chanced to be anywhere within reach. Instead of with toys, they played with atomic engines and flitters; and, later, speedsters and space-ships. One of them might be at home, as now, or all of, them; or none. She never did know what to expect.
...
No. The only thing basically wrong with them was the fact, made abundantly clear since they first toddled, that they should not be and could not be subjected to any jot or tittle or any form of control, however applied.
Clarissa & the upbringing of the Kinnison children. God knows what their neighbours must've thought if they were playing on the lawn, given most atomics in the Lensman series are of the total-conversion variety...
That said, the small scale atomic power sources are used for so many applications that they almost have to be stable and reliable enough not to alarm the neighbors... also, I suspect that the Kinnison children never lacked for access to laboratories.

But sheesh does Clarissa have an inferiority complex that would choke a whale.
Universe - page 70
And, fortunately, these Boskonians, here in their quarters, didn't have axes. They were heavy, clumsy, and for emergency use only; they were not a part of the regular uniform, as with Valerians.
Dunno how this applies to the Patrol (do non-Valerians Patrol marines have it as a part of their regular uniform?), but worth noting.
Non-Valerian Patrol marines would probably use lighter melee weapons than the Valerians do...
Universe - page 70 & 71
Dunno what his exercise regime is, but he's between about 45 and 50 now. Can always chalk it up to the Arisian breeding program I suppose.
In this case, the exercise regime can be chalked up to Kinnison's willpower, which is what he was really bred for. Also, given his mental abilities, he can do a lot of his work from the gym, giving him a bit more flexibility in that department.
Universe - page 71
They each had dreamed of a man who would be her own equal, physically and mentally, but it had not yet occurred to any of them that one such man already existed.
Talking about the female Children of the Lens here, and almost certainly implying Christopher Kinnison as the man. Of course, actually writing that genetically perfect superhumans would create a new race through incest was... well, it wasn't going to get published back in 1954, put it like that.
Yup.

Heinlein (who of course managed to break every sexual taboo in the book and get away with it during his Dirty Old Man phase, some ten to fifteen years later...) mentions this in an article included in Expanded Universe. I have it at home, and may reproduce the relevant passages later.
Technology - page 73 & 74
Although the composition of the steel in the wall is unknown it does seem a fairly poor showing compared to what we've seen elsewhere. Although it is a bit odd given the special mission the ship was sent on, it is possible that the Boskonian semi-portables in use were not fully charged or something along those lines.
It seems likely that the walls are made of the same energy weapon resistant materials as the armor and weapons; if not dureum then possibly some other material treated with some of the same techniques. Frankly, if I were a Lensman-setting naval engineer I'd get pretty damn tired of infantry small arms being able to whiff through my ships' bulkheads like they weren't even there. If the technology existed to make materials durable enough to handle that, I'd use it, not least because it lets my own troops worry less about collateral damage while trying to repel boarders.
Universe - page 82 - 84
Mentor & Kathryn talk in between L3 training sessions. Given the inability to knowingly lie in a telepathic conversation (and why would Mentor anyway?), you really, really don't want to piss them off :D .
As I've said before, I am convinced that Mentor can lie (and did, to Jill), but he may not be able to lie to the L3's (who have minds comparable to his own), and certainly has no reason to lie here. After all, what Mentor is telling Kat squares precisely with all the evidence we have of Arisian activity in Triplanetary and First Lensman.
Technology - page 87
Burnouts and shorts are apt to happen at any time, you know.
Kathryn talking to the sole crewman of an alien ship, who went into space without adequate tools & replacement parts.
The alien replies that it is unprecedented (or nearly so) for ships of his race to fail that way, because of an extremely high standard of maintenance... motivated by the fact that maintenance is done by slaves who are killed horribly if this kind of thing happens.

So on the one hand, in Kat's experience, burnouts and shorts are apt to happen at any time. In a Plooran's experience, technological perfection is possible or nearly so- motivate sufficiently competent minions and they will build you a ship that never fails. Well, hardly ever.
Technology - page 98
At first this action was in ultra-slow motion. One millimeter per hour his drill advanced. Drill was synchronized precisely with screen, and so guarded as to give an alarm at a level of interference far below that necessary to energize any probable detector at the generators of the screen being attacked.
Nadreck at work. Incredibly slow, incredibly cautious. As noted a few pages back, it's a good job Nadreck has no concept of "loneliness"...
There's a Darwinian evolutionary psych issue here, I submit: if Palainians were truly social creatures (and thus capable of being lonely), they would have developed a social code that promoted the survival of social groups... which would require them to evolve human-style concepts of bravery and such.
Universe - page 99 & 100
This is a small base, manned by some of the psychologically weaker escapees from Onlo. Still though, under two minutes to get them to wipe each other out when they're all also fairly powerful telepaths and all that is pretty good going.
Ayup. And that's a Palainian L2 doing the work. The best description I can come up with for a Palainian L3 based on that would be... say, an entity capable of driving everyone on a planet to homicidal insanity in a matter of seconds? In other words, Cthulhu. And the Arisians seriously considered creating such beings, which is the really frightening part.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-08 04:03pm

Teleros wrote:The Lens - page 120 & 121
Clarissa's Lens grows magically as / after she gets her Second Stage Lensman treatment from Kit, who then shows her his Lens.
And this is one of my reasons for thinking that the Lens is a purely psychic construct- it doesn't need to get more atoms from somewhere in order to become larger.
Universe - page124
Everywhere upon Klovia, Tellus, and Thrale, and in many localities of many other planets, the words 'Gray Lensman', without surname, had only one meaning.
I love how Kinnison still manages to go undercover though despite this level of fame :D ...
A bit of plastic surgery would see to that, I think. Not mentioned, but reasonably inferred under the circumstances.
Universe - page 132
More Valerian physical attributes. The 14ft jump bit makes it sound like the armour isn't powered when they do that, but that seems a little odd compared to writings elsewhere. Perhaps the armour just supports its own weight, or most of its own weight?
Valerians may not rely on power assists as much as humans do- their strength relative to the weight of GP armor is much greater. Most of the powered systems on a GP suit (discounting unusual, super-heavily armored models like Kinnison's suits in Galactic Patrol and Children of the Lens) involve things other than motorized power assist: energy shielding, flight, and weapon power.
Technology - page 145 - 148
The state of Lyranian AA weaponry. This is first in relation to a WW1 / WW2 - era aircraft though, not a speedster. In the other lines, Clarissa is rescuing Helen and does not appear to have (or at least use) shields on the speedster, either of which may be why she's worried about AA fire from the Lyranians.
Also note that these are solid projectiles, not beam weapons- and we've already seen repeated evidence that shields which work well against beam weapons may work poorly against shrapnel...
Technology - page 150 & 151
...We also get an approximate mass for a speedster + Palainian - which, given that Nadreck is not that big, is probably a useful rough figure for human speedster masses as well (although humans probably have quite a bit of additional life support equipment, seeing how cold Nadreck likes it).
Not necessarily. Heating is easier than cooling, and in order to operate near planets, Nadreck needs really extensive cryogenics to keep the cockpit of his speeder liveable, on account of sunlight. However, we've already learned in Second Stage Lensman that Nadreck's speedster is effectively identical to Kinnison's except for life support issues and such, so apparently it balances out to within a few percent of total mass.
By way of comparison, Wikipedia gives the mass of the Space Shuttle as ~2 tonnes, with a maximum payload of about 3.8 tonnes.
I think you badly misread the Wiki article. In any case, looking here, we find that the shuttle orbiter (the part that goes into space, independent of the contents of the strap-on rocket boosters and external fuel tank) has a mass on launch of 2040 metric tonnes and a dry mass (on landing) of roughly 104 tonnes. Note that the vast majority of that mass is fuel, as is always the case in chemical rocketry. Hence the extremely low dry weight relative to "wet" weight.
Universe - page 161
... a mental bolt of such vicious intensity that it would have gone through Tregonsee's hardest-held block as though no barrier had been there.
Evidence that at least one Plooran mind is in strength superior to Tregonsee's.
True, though earlier we see a Plooran at least take Tregonsee seriously. We may be looking at a remarkable level of variance here, or possibly a Plooran Black Lensman?
Technology - page 161 & 162
Info on the super-atomic bomb. "Detonation" time is 6.9e-8 seconds... I assume that "the earlier type" refers to vaguely realistic nuclear bombs, rather than the ridiculously efficient bombs we've seen elsewhere in the series, but if not then it might be best view super-atomic bombs as liberating the total mass-energy of itself, regular Patrol nuclear bombs as leaving some mass-energy around afterwards, and so on down to modern nuclear weapons. I assume though given other statements in the books that the difference is actually rather small, and thus the reference is to realistic nukes.
True, though if we restrict ourselves to atomic bombs in the series, what other examples do we have?
Universe - page 172
Dad can handle this Melasnikov easily enough, if none of the higher-ups step in, but they probably will. Their Lensmen are probably important enough to rate protection. Check?"
"Check."
The Children of the Lens discussing Kinnison going up against a Black Lensman, with the possibility of intervention (likely from a Plooran, very possibly an Eddorian). Also indicates that there may not be that many Black Lensmen if they can rate protection like this. In the event, it's a Plooran who tries to intervene, and promptly gets its arse kicked by the Children acting in concert as the "Unit" for the first time. Kinnison meanwhile beats the Kalonian, Melasnikov, without of course ever realising that the kids intervened.
This suggests that Melasnikov, the Kalonian Black Lensman, is "merely" L1-equivalent, possibly near the high end of that range. It wouldn't be surprising if Eddorian Lenses concentrated on mental control and being able to operate on other beings' minds (something no Kalonian would be able to do unaided).

The same Lens technology might well be more effective in the hands or hand-equivalents of a more powerfully psychic species, such as a Delgonian, an Eich, or at the extreme high end, a Plooran.
Technology - page 188
An outer screen, he knew, surrounded the whole cluster.
Eddore's outermost defences - a shield that surrounds the entire star cluster the planet's hidden in, designed primarily to warn of approach more than anything else.
Possibly one closely similar to the screen around Arisia: it cannot physically stop passage, but interference with it will set off alarms. Think of it as being like a giant laser trip-wire grid and you'd be fairly close.

Also note, of course, that there is no evidence that anyone but the Eddorians can do this; they're ahead of everything else in known space, Arisians included, when it comes to mechanical technology.
Universe - page 199
"But, Masters," a Plooran argued, "now that we have taken over, we are winning steadily. Civilization is rapidly going to pieces. In a few more years we will have smashed it flat."
"That is precisely what they wish you to think. They have been and are playing for time.
A Plooran argues with an Eddorian after Kit's raid. Interesting point of view, but I'm inclined to think it probably wrong unless significant numbers of worlds are now suffering from those mass psychoses and rebellions, and we're just not being told. So far, remember, most worlds think it purely a local matter, which means it likely hasn't had much effect on things like trade yet.
Yes, but the rate of the incidents may be escalating very quickly, as long-term developments come to a head on many planets. The fact that the matter concerned Kinnison so greatly at the beginning of the novel (and that no real progress was made until recently in preventing it from spreading) suggests that the roots of this problem may be extremely broad.

So I'm not sure the Ploorans are wrong, though they're surely being optimistic. Possibly projecting the inherent stability of Civilization from the (poor) inherent stability of the Boskonian system? Boskone could not long survive this kind of highly capable psychological warfare, because the entire system depends so heavily on individuals hating their superiors and being held in check by fear. Remove the fear or enhance the hatred and (as we've seen) entire planets of Boskonians can go berserk and tear each other apart over trivial matters.

Civilization is a bit more durable against that kind of attack, I'd think.
Universe - page 205
"I have explored Lyrane IX thoroughly." Nadreck made the statement and paused. When he used such a thought at all, it meant much. When he emphasized it, which no one there had ever before known him to do, it meant that he had examined the planet practically atom by atom.
Talk about forensic technique...
Remember in Second Stage Lensman when Clarissa MacDougal gave a presentation on the situation on Lyrane II... and Nadreck said that he found it "quite informative" or some such?

Cris may never have known just how high a compliment she was paid...
Universe - page 213 & 214
A lot, but gives the idea of the scale of the battle of Arisia. Seems a hell of a lot bigger than past battles, but it's been 20 years so improvements in accuracy etc may have been made. The fleets in the last section may also just be Kinnison's ones, given how the positions started out.
What do you mean by "bigger?" I don't disagree, but could you expand on that a bit?
Universe - page 214
Not sure why the Children are so slow, but anyway, the early stage of the battle. You have to love the fact that, after 20-ish years of being mostly at peace, the Patrol can just whip up over 200,000 planets and planet-killing negaspheres for this operation.
True. Of course, once you've got them there's no reason to scrap them (and, in the case of the negaspheres, excellent reason not to). And again recall the sheer scale of civilization- one mobile militarized planet per several hundred thousand normal planets isn't all that impressive when you think about it.
Universe - page 216 & 217
Boskone curbstomped. Also, super-atomics have similar power to primary beams - more total energy, but spread out over a spherical area of effect. It doesn't help though that we don't know the mass of a super-atomic bomb, but 20 years previously you could expect a superdreadnought like the Dauntless to generate 4.54e20J from one second of cosmic energy intake screen use, which works out as 108.5 gigatons. 8.9e16J = 1kg of matter, so you're looking at ~5 metric tonnes of matter converted into useable energy to equal the output of one cosmic energy screen, which should give an idea as to the likely size of a super-atomic bomb. For the sake of comparison, the real-life "daisy cutter" BLU-82 bomb weighs in at 6.8 tonnes.
Hell, it might be something speedster-sized, or even ship-sized, with the whole mass of the craft being the "warhead" of a total conversion device. A similar principle might be at work in that world-cracker torpedo the Eich were planning to use on Arisia...[/quote]
Universe - page 226
There seemed to be a theoretical possibility, since the mass would instantaneously become some higher order of infinity, that all the matter in normal space would coalesce with it in zero time; but Mentor had assured Kit that operators would come into effect to prevent such an occurrence, and that untoward effects would be limited to a radius of ten or fifteen parsecs. Mentor could solve the problem in detail; but since the solution would require some two hundred Klovian years and the event was due to occur in two weeks...
"How about the big computer at Ultra Prime?" Kinnison had asked, innocently. "You know how fast that works."
"Roughly two thousand years - if it could take that kind of math, which it can't," Kit had replied, and the subject had been dropped.
Warning: Using planets as missiles travelling at 15c in normal space whilst inert can seriously damage your health. In the event no mention is made of "untoward effects" beyond one hell of an explosion, so make of that what you will. Extra-good Arisian super-science, or a theoretical possibility that turned out to be wrong, it's kinda hard to say.
Hmm. I can think of a semi-decent explanation for how this event could blow up the universe; more on the subject when we do the Vortex Blaster analysis.
In other news, the Patrol has computers which have roughly 10% of the computational ability of four Arisian minds working in fusion - roughly, because the "big computer" couldn't handle the mathematics involved of course.
Now that is impressive... the mathematics in question may involve, say, massively parallel computing. Or (as you suggested) closed timelike curves, which would certainly explain Arisian foresight; even if they aren't cheating and peeking at future events to find out what happens, they have nigh-unlimited processor time to contemplate events. Or some kind of bizarre "unthinkable thought" that only 4+ dimensional beings (like Palainians) can process, but that mere humans and their computers cannot.
Universe - page 227 & 228
Since ordinary novae can be produced at will by the collision of a planet with a sun, the scientists of the Patrol had long since completed their studies of all the phenomena involved.
The mechanisms of super-novae, however, remained obscure. No adequate instrumentation had been developed to study conclusively the occasional super-nova which occurred naturally. No super-nova had ever been produced artificially... Civilization could neither assemble nor concentrate enough power.
One of the 15c planets hits Ploor's highly-variable star. Assuming a star like Sol, it's radiating 2.112e35W (were Earth in orbit, it'd be hit by ~7.5e11W per square metre). However, it could be much higher[/quote]Would you mind explaining your math/reference?

Also, note that today the mechanisms of supernovae are quite well understood, at least in simulation... :wink:
Universe - page 236
Their slaves would duplicate the weapon in approximately three weeks.
The Arisians & Children reckon the Eddorians could duplicate the 15c mobile planets in this little time.
Well, the Eddorians already have the ability to move planets via hyperspace tubes, or they wouldn't be here to make this trouble. Once they realize where such ridiculous hyperkinetic projectiles came from, it's just a matter of scouting random universes until they find one. Which they have already proven the ability to do or, again, they wouldn't be here.
The Lens - page 237 & 238
Katherine was sitting, stiffly still, manufacturing Lenses which, starting at her wrists, raced up bot bare arms to her shoulders and disappeared.
Not sure I want to know what the energy cost of THIS trick is, unless "manufacturing" in this case involves the Lens being built on Arisia & teleported to her or something.
The energy cost is colossal if Lenses are gram or kilogram-scale massive objects. If they are massless "force field" constructs? The cost could be negligible, something she's doing by pure power of mind.
Universe - page 240
Countless? Yes. Only Mentor ever knew how many minds contributed to that stupendous flood of force. Bear in mind that in the First Galaxy alone there are over one hundred thousand million suns: that each sun, has, on the average, something over one and thirty seven hundredths planets inhabited by intelligent life: that about one-half of these planets then adhered to Civilization; and that Tellus, and average planet, graduates approximately one hundred Lensmen every year.
Every available Lensman, anywhere, contributes as much mental force as they can to the defeat of the "evil effluvium" left behind after Ploor (ie, Eddore).

This works out as ~68.5 billion planets in the First Galaxy that adhere to Civilisation. Assuming Tellus is also average in its shipbuilding (80 superdreadnoughts), that gives us:

-6.85 trillion Lensmen graduating every year.
-5.48 trillion superdreadnoughts as a rough guide to the size of Grand Fleet (because, of course, there are both smaller & larger classes of warship).
I submit that Tellus is probably unusual- reasoning as follows:

-Tellus is on the brink of creating a race of psychic demigods even at the beginning of a series. Logically, humanity (and the other three L2 species) should be overrepresented among the Lensmen, because the genes that code for the L2 and L3-level abilities are washing around. In other words, what about Kimball Kinnison's second cousin?
-Tellus is considered an important enough target that at the start of Second Stage Lensman, Kinnison and Haynes were both very confident that it and no other world would be the target of the Boskonian attack. That implies an unusual level of military capability.

So I suspect that your high-end trillion figures are a bit too high, but I need to give the matter more thought...
The Lens - page 253
The Lens-makers, as you know, are fully automatic, requiring neither maintenance nor attention...
Mentor talking to the Children. No idea if Arisian machinery can continue to create mental illusions or sort out the would-be Lensmen from the infiltrators like the Arisians could, but I'd assume so, given the Arisians are departing this plane of existence, leaving the Five to act as the new Guardians of Civilisation.
It's possible that the Children will take on this responsibility from the Arisians, to some extent, though Arisian automated machinery may well be highly psi-based and therefore capable of generating illusions and such... Dunno.

[collapses from exhaustion]
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-12 07:42am

Yeah. Not good at multitasking, is he?
Actually, Nadreck probably is very good at multitasking by human standards, but his own standards are so ludicrously high (admittedly, they often need to be, but still)...
The best description I can come up with for a Palainian L3 based on that would be... say, an entity capable of driving everyone on a planet to homicidal insanity in a matter of seconds? In other words, Cthulhu. And the Arisians seriously considered creating such beings, which is the really frightening part.
No, a Palainian L3 would be capable of getting said planetary population to go from outwardly fine to wiping itself out in a matter of seconds :P .
I think you badly misread the Wiki article.
No, just mistook the comma for a full stop :lol: . Blame lack of proof-reading - well, up until now. I think between us we've thrashed out a pretty good tech analysis of the six main books.
Also note, of course, that there is no evidence that anyone but the Eddorians can do this; they're ahead of everything else in known space, Arisians included, when it comes to mechanical technology.
The other thing is that Arisia is in the middle of a heavily populated galaxy, and may be not all that far from Sol, so they probably make do with a much smaller "tripwire" screen anyway. So long as it's big enough to warn of incoming planets and the odd hyper-spatial tube it should be fine - and the Patrol has guards in the area too.
Possibly projecting the inherent stability of Civilization from the (poor) inherent stability of the Boskonian system? Boskone could not long survive this kind of highly capable psychological warfare, because the entire system depends so heavily on individuals hating their superiors and being held in check by fear. Remove the fear or enhance the hatred and (as we've seen) entire planets of Boskonians can go berserk and tear each other apart over trivial matters.

Civilization is a bit more durable against that kind of attack, I'd think.
The other possibility is that they're underestimating the resolve you can often get in liberal, democratic societies, by assuming that democratic = weak etc.
What do you mean by "bigger?" I don't disagree, but could you expand on that a bit?
The volume of space covered mostly. Most other battles seem to take place within a solar system - here we have umpteen thousands of cubic parsecs filled with Patrol fleets.
Would you mind explaining your math/reference?
Wikipedia reckons the Earth receives 1.3kW - 1.4kW per square metre. Then just multiply by 550 million.
Also, note that today the mechanisms of supernovae are quite well understood, at least in simulation... ;)
Yeah. Perhaps it's more of that philosophy Kinnison was spouting in an earlier book, if it needs an explanation.
So I suspect that your high-end trillion figures are a bit too high, but I need to give the matter more thought...
On the other hand, what happened to Bennett or Petrino after FL? Did they remain in use as the Patrol's version of forge worlds?

Also, humanity seems to include humans who come from other worlds, so if cross-breeding is possible, some of those Tellurian human genes might be expected to slosh around the rest of the human-populated galaxy. In addition, I believe that Gharlane found Rigel IV, Velantia, Palain VII and Tellus to be the most difficult worlds he had to "govern", so it's possible the Arisians were tweaking things on other planets as well, just nowhere near the same scale as on those 4 worlds (or hell, given the panspermia origins of most intelligent species, maybe it was a deliberate evolutionary trait to breed with smarter people).

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by eyl » 2010-07-12 02:51pm

Simon_Jester wrote:I submit that Tellus is probably unusual- reasoning as follows:

-Tellus is on the brink of creating a race of psychic demigods even at the beginning of a series. Logically, humanity (and the other three L2 species) should be overrepresented among the Lensmen, because the genes that code for the L2 and L3-level abilities are washing around. In other words, what about Kimball Kinnison's second cousin?
-Tellus is considered an important enough target that at the start of Second Stage Lensman, Kinnison and Haynes were both very confident that it and no other world would be the target of the Boskonian attack. That implies an unusual level of military capability.

So I suspect that your high-end trillion figures are a bit too high, but I need to give the matter more thought...
The quote, however, specifically describes Tellus as an "average" world (at least in reference to the number of Lensmen it produces):
Countless? Yes. Only Mentor ever knew how many minds contributed to that stupendous flood of force. Bear in mind that in the First Galaxy alone there are over one hundred thousand million suns: that each sun, has, on the average, something over one and thirty seven hundredths planets inhabited by intelligent life: that about one-half of these planets then adhered to Civilization; and that Tellus, an average planet, graduates approximately one hundred Lensmen every year.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2010-07-13 03:39pm

My impression from the series is that the Arisian breeding program is a distinct yet connected part of the Lensman projects. The lens is sort of a "tool" for developing those traits but you don't really need them, if you are sufficiently "advanced" or genetically predisposed or some other such nonsense. The genetics angle therefore could be considered to affect the "power" or "ability" of a lensman (EG not all Lensman are the same.) But the ability to acquire a lens is not neccesarily tied to genetics, the qualities that seem to justify one becoming a lensman seem to be more of an ethical/moral nature (and thus be more subject to conditioning or programming than actual genetic engineering.)

Thus in terms of lensman quantity, Tellus would be "average" (it is no more or less "morally" better than any other planet) but in terms of quality it could be considered exceptional (being one of the worlds in which a SSL evolved, ad that Kinnison and then the Children of the Lens came from.)

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2010-07-13 05:01pm

forgot about this... I really need to keep u pon this discussion.
Teleros wrote: The other possibility of course is that he's just being vague in his description.
True, but do we have any reason to assume that? It read as being more technically and less hyperbole to me. Hell, some of the accounts of the effects could be considered more hyperbole than that could, if we're gonna push that argument. :P

In any case, accepting that the weapon migh thave lower outputs does not neccesarily invalidate the possibility of higher ones based on cauterization or cremation. It just becomes highly context based and settings dependent, and that's not a really big stretch to make with Delameters.
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.
I don't remember either, but as I said its not a case of suddenly revising firepower figures downwards, it just establishes the range of settings we know they operate on. Being more conservative isn't a bad thing I'm finding out, and multi KJ outputs are not intrinsically bad or worse (depending on your setting.) and that's true regardless of whether or not you accept their "phaser like" properties or not. Make it another setting on the weapon if it's a problem. I can think of a number of examples where it might help possible firepower inconsistnecies (like one of the number of atmospheric engagements between warships like maulers and ground targets, like in GL or SSL - whichever that one with the ground caterpillar attack vehicles happened. That scene always gave me a headache)
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.
Where does the inertia go though? The conservation laws can't be disregarded (one reason I hated the term inertialess, remember?) without bad things happening (to humans if nothing else.) What you're talking about, if its not to violate physics as we know it and use to calculate, is something that acts as an anchor, and if we're going that route, its just easier to say multi GW settings are only used when in space armor.
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.
That works. I'm simply pointing out that there are alternative ideas now that work with as well if not better some of my prior suggestions for calcing, and the more conservative ones will doubtless save you some headache (because someone may bitch about your interpretation.) I've faced plenty of bitching with my 40K calcs, and when I have time to look into things (like lasguns) I've come to change my mind about how the "firepower" aspect is calced, so its not exactly something you should feel is exclusive to Lensman :P

A few other tidbits. I'm probably going to end up jumping all over this thread sooner or later once I start reading it in detail.
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.
Well, how do the secondaries interact with the target? That's always been the issue. You know I've proposed in the past they may be like TLs, that we have a beam of "unknown" particles that decay into known ones (radiation of some kind, like photons) that inflicts the damage on the target. In the context of secondaries against an Inertialess ship the "ultrawave" particles by themselves may be mostly harmless, but decaying into photons may make them dangerous (and account for the visible component of the beam). When they decay into photons, they'll start to interact with the target - which if in a inertialess ship means it will get pushed away and "outrun" the rest of the photons in the beam. In this context, the ship's inertialess velocity is "faster" than the interaction time between photons and matter, and the beams may not be able to penetrate deeply enough or quickly enough (or the UW particles decay quickly enough) to deposit significant amounts of energy inside the ship before it has moved. Even if a ship is moving away from the target (say in pursuit mode, which happens more than once in the Lensman novels) it could still work if the beam penetrates deeply enough before decaying (a certain depth into the hull or interior of the ship, then "colliding" with the rear of the ship as it is moving forward - again it doesnt take much energy to push the ship) thereby accelerating the vessel and leaving the bulk of the decaying photons behind.

This theory could have implications about the beam and velocity as well - we run into some "damage before impact" type scenarios like we do with TLs, which can cause some problems (not irreconcilable, although I can't provide an easy answer since all the examples don't come easily to mind. One could use a modified version of the "ramp up" theory", or maybe that the visible nature of the beams in some cases is just a projection onto viewscreens rather than actually seen in space. Its "visibility" could differ between pursuit modes and more stationary or "locked" combats as well..)

Its a rough theory, and I am sure I've missed some holes, but it probably could be hammered out more (I'm sure that the "decay speed" of the UW particles vs UW velocity isn't going to be perfectly consistent for one thing..)
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.
Depends on what you mean by "overload". If you're pumping more power through the gun components, they may very well burn out simply because you've exceeded the "safety margins" - lets say the capacitor can hold 100 TJ indefinitely, and has a 20% safety margin (or rather, 100 TJ represents 80% of its total capacity). If you pushed it to 100% capacity it would output ~120 TJ for an unknown period of time (But presumably less than the safe.) I dont think the two (power over "safe" margins vs lifespan) is neccesarily linear though, so its pure conjecture beyond that. Duration seems to be shorter for primaries as well, but not noticably so - half a second vs a second or longer is not much difference when it comes to beam weapons (mainly going to be of use with wattage and mechanicla/blast effects.) Intensity is actually the big one here, as primaries seem to be insanely focused onto a smaller area (which could also burn out components as well.. you're basically trying to turn a secondary into a super needle beam IIRC, and needle beams were generally lower damage than secondaries as well were they not? That means that a big gun's output is heavily limited by focus and intensity - to generate more output you need larger "caliber" for lack of a better word - a wider barrel.)
Teleros wrote:
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...
Well, as I said above, the KEY trait in a primary seems to be in the intensity or focus of the beam. Its an insanely, insanely narrow beam (a few atoms? we're probably talking nanometer or narrower beams!) to be channeling all that energy through, and that factor seems to be the real key in how they can damage inertialess ships. The intent seems to be "beam is so narrow it interacts with so little matter that the ship isn't propelled significantly before damage is done", but interpreting HOW this works is another matter. Several possibilities:

1.) Primaries really are meant to poke tiny holes in targets. Who knows? Onboard Lensmanverse ships maybe even nanometer-scale holes can lead to Bad Things happening (disabling/breaching a reactor for example) I dont like this the best, but its certainly possible. Of course, if this were the only case I dont think you'd need much energy at ALL for the Primary to work, so much of that enregy would be wasted.

2.) Concnetrating megatons or gigatons of energy into a nanometer scale beam is giong to be.. explosive to say the least. Pressure waves ought to be immense, which could in theory do alot of damage, even before the ship moves. What's more, explosive effects could, in theory be omindirectional, which might very well "cancel out" the "propel away from the direction of danger" proprety of a free ship (if you have a blast going up as well as down, to both sides, and forward and back at roughly the same time, the ship shouldn't be unduly pushed one way over another) Problem is - its unlikely that the "explosion" a beam weapon would be perfect, hence this is an imperfect solution in and of itself without further speculation.

A possibly more workable variation of this theory may tie into the "decay into photons" bit above.. the same could happen but it would also have the benefit that photons could be released omnidirectionally (although uncontrolled, which is a bit of a problem). The higher potential penetration a "primary" allows could allow the decay to happen inside the target without pushing it as abruptly.

Either way though you'd ideally want the UW particles to simulate a near-simultaenous release of energy like a nuclear reaction of some kind. Alternately, one may postulate with the "decay" theory that a more coherent beam somehow decays faster, which may allow the decay to happen faster than the ship can escape it (EG the photons again "collide" with the bakc of the ship, only there's more of them with a primary)

3.) the extreme concentration of a primary beam (especially with so much energy involved) can somehow trigger some sort of "other" phenoma occuring, like a black hole or singularity or something supposedly like that, or spontaneous matter/energy conversion or whatever. Basically its the "technobabble" damage mechanism, although technobabble as I said does not necesarily mean "no energy involved." After all we know "disintegration" effects are technically canon, and that isnt a thermodynamic term :P

4.) Primaries are like the aformentioned "magic death ray" Worsel devised in some manner, and are designed to target only specific but vital in the ship's composition. If the radiation is tuned to only affect certain matter, the "mass" of matter involved may be far too tiny to generate much recoil in a specific direction. This may be used as an adjunct to other theories (EG help explaining extreme penetration of the primary beam, for example.)


Take your pick.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-07-28 06:26am

Connor MacLeod wrote:My impression from the series is that the Arisian breeding program is a distinct yet connected part of the Lensman projects.
Not quite. It's noted, I think in TP, that in spite of Gharlane's attempts on Tellus et al to knock down each budding civilisation, the quality of peoples' minds was improving steadily (note: this would be unrelated to the L3 breeding program, or at most a happy side-effect). It sounds to me more like the Arisians were breeding on most planets in order to get, by Samms' era, the quality of minds necessary to be able to use a Lens. The four main planets each seem to have a particular specialisation tied to their most well-known Lensman trait too (eg humans are generally strong-willed compared to Rigellians or Velantians).
Thus in terms of lensman quantity, Tellus would be "average" (it is no more or less "morally" better than any other planet) but in terms of quality it could be considered exceptional (being one of the worlds in which a SSL evolved, ad that Kinnison and then the Children of the Lens came from.)
My thinking as well. Average "quality of brain" goes up across the galaxy, but on 4 worlds it goes up an awful lot in certain family lines.
In any case, accepting that the weapon migh thave lower outputs does not neccesarily invalidate the possibility of higher ones based on cauterization or cremation. It just becomes highly context based and settings dependent, and that's not a really big stretch to make with Delameters.
Mmm, I've generally taken it as a given that they've been "dial-a-yield" weapons, given the various effects we see from them.
Where does the inertia go though? The conservation laws can't be disregarded (one reason I hated the term inertialess, remember?) without bad things happening (to humans if nothing else.) What you're talking about, if its not to violate physics as we know it and use to calculate, is something that acts as an anchor, and if we're going that route, its just easier to say multi GW settings are only used when in space armor.
*Shrug* We know inertia can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch in the setting, and that the Nevians can turn inertia only partially on and off through the same method. Wherever it goes, it's certainly possible to do so.
Its a rough theory, and I am sure I've missed some holes, but it probably could be hammered out more (I'm sure that the "decay speed" of the UW particles vs UW velocity isn't going to be perfectly consistent for one thing..)
Certainly possible, although primaries may be a problem. It must also mean that the decay speed of ultrawave particles can be very precisely controlled though, because we get battles occurring over both large and small ranges (Just a few km for the Britannia or that city siege for example).
Depends on what you mean by "overload". If you're pumping more power through the gun components, they may very well burn out simply because you've exceeded the "safety margins" - lets say the capacitor can hold 100 TJ indefinitely, and has a 20% safety margin (or rather, 100 TJ represents 80% of its total capacity). If you pushed it to 100% capacity it would output ~120 TJ for an unknown period of time (But presumably less than the safe.) I dont think the two (power over "safe" margins vs lifespan) is neccesarily linear though, so its pure conjecture beyond that. Duration seems to be shorter for primaries as well, but not noticably so - half a second vs a second or longer is not much difference when it comes to beam weapons (mainly going to be of use with wattage and mechanicla/blast effects.) Intensity is actually the big one here, as primaries seem to be insanely focused onto a smaller area (which could also burn out components as well.. you're basically trying to turn a secondary into a super needle beam IIRC, and needle beams were generally lower damage than secondaries as well were they not? That means that a big gun's output is heavily limited by focus and intensity - to generate more output you need larger "caliber" for lack of a better word - a wider barrel.)
It's a case I think of both pumping more power into the weapon and achieving a much higher intensity, to the point where something breaks (which is why the beam is of a short duration) - the original primaries killed their gun crews remember, and the Patrol needed several feet of radiation shielding to protect their crews.
As for needle beams, they've only been used on a helicopter gunship and on board ships as precision weapons, so yes they're much weaker than secondaries.
2.) Concnetrating megatons or gigatons of energy into a nanometer scale beam is giong to be.. explosive to say the least. Pressure waves ought to be immense, which could in theory do alot of damage, even before the ship moves. What's more, explosive effects could, in theory be omindirectional, which might very well "cancel out" the "propel away from the direction of danger" proprety of a free ship (if you have a blast going up as well as down, to both sides, and forward and back at roughly the same time, the ship shouldn't be unduly pushed one way over another) Problem is - its unlikely that the "explosion" a beam weapon would be perfect, hence this is an imperfect solution in and of itself without further speculation.

A possibly more workable variation of this theory may tie into the "decay into photons" bit above.. the same could happen but it would also have the benefit that photons could be released omnidirectionally (although uncontrolled, which is a bit of a problem). The higher potential penetration a "primary" allows could allow the decay to happen inside the target without pushing it as abruptly.

Either way though you'd ideally want the UW particles to simulate a near-simultaenous release of energy like a nuclear reaction of some kind. Alternately, one may postulate with the "decay" theory that a more coherent beam somehow decays faster, which may allow the decay to happen faster than the ship can escape it (EG the photons again "collide" with the bakc of the ship, only there's more of them with a primary)
Of the four, I think I prefer this the most, although it's iffy (like how you'd get the explosion to happen in all directions at once). It may also be that they can put in so much energy that it's many times more powerful than a secondary (although I don't like this much either).

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-07-28 11:15am

Wow. I didn't notice any of this new stuff since my last post...
Teleros wrote:
Yeah. Not good at multitasking, is he?
Actually, Nadreck probably is very good at multitasking by human standards, but his own standards are so ludicrously high (admittedly, they often need to be, but still)...
"Multitasking" is the wrong word; I'm not sure humanity has a word for what Nadreck lacks because we all have it. Something meaning "ability to bear multiple objectives in mind," and almost every near-sane human being can do that...
Possibly projecting the inherent stability of Civilization from the (poor) inherent stability of the Boskonian system? Boskone could not long survive this kind of highly capable psychological warfare, because the entire system depends so heavily on individuals hating their superiors and being held in check by fear. Remove the fear or enhance the hatred and (as we've seen) entire planets of Boskonians can go berserk and tear each other apart over trivial matters.

Civilization is a bit more durable against that kind of attack, I'd think.
The other possibility is that they're underestimating the resolve you can often get in liberal, democratic societies, by assuming that democratic = weak etc.
Amounts to the same thing, I imagine.
So I suspect that your high-end trillion figures are a bit too high, but I need to give the matter more thought...
On the other hand, what happened to Bennett or Petrino after FL? Did they remain in use as the Patrol's version of forge worlds?
That would depend heavily on whether they were running at total war production. Bennett was fully mobilized on a scale closely comparable to WWII-era America; that effort could not have been sustained indefinitely. And if it wasn't, then eventually the shipyard infrastructure would get old and have to be scrapped.

I'm not sure about the number of Lensmen, but I really do think that the number of ships may be overestimated by using Tellus as an average planet for shipbuilding figures.
Teleros wrote:
In any case, accepting that the weapon migh thave lower outputs does not neccesarily invalidate the possibility of higher ones based on cauterization or cremation. It just becomes highly context based and settings dependent, and that's not a really big stretch to make with Delameters.
Mmm, I've generally taken it as a given that they've been "dial-a-yield" weapons, given the various effects we see from them.
Since they appear to be continuous-beam weapons, this is extremely easy to do; a millisecond pulse from a Delameter is much less energetic than the result of having the shooter pull the trigger down and hold it there for half a second.
Connor MacLeod wrote:My impression from the series is that the Arisian breeding program is a distinct yet connected part of the Lensman projects. The lens is sort of a "tool" for developing those traits but you don't really need them, if you are sufficiently "advanced" or genetically predisposed or some other such nonsense. The genetics angle therefore could be considered to affect the "power" or "ability" of a lensman (EG not all Lensman are the same.) But the ability to acquire a lens is not neccesarily tied to genetics, the qualities that seem to justify one becoming a lensman seem to be more of an ethical/moral nature (and thus be more subject to conditioning or programming than actual genetic engineering.)

Thus in terms of lensman quantity, Tellus would be "average" (it is no more or less "morally" better than any other planet) but in terms of quality it could be considered exceptional (being one of the worlds in which a SSL evolved, ad that Kinnison and then the Children of the Lens came from.)
Hmm. That works well.
Connor MacLeod wrote:Well, how do the secondaries interact with the target? That's always been the issue. You know I've proposed in the past they may be like TLs, that we have a beam of "unknown" particles that decay into known ones (radiation of some kind, like photons) that inflicts the damage on the target. In the context of secondaries against an Inertialess ship the "ultrawave" particles by themselves may be mostly harmless, but decaying into photons may make them dangerous (and account for the visible component of the beam). When they decay into photons, they'll start to interact with the target - which if in a inertialess ship means it will get pushed away and "outrun" the rest of the photons in the beam...
Well, I still prefer the idea that material vaporized off the target's hull propelling it out of the effective range of the beam on millisecond time scales, before it can burn through... but then, I came up with it, so I would.
Well, as I said above, the KEY trait in a primary seems to be in the intensity or focus of the beam. Its an insanely, insanely narrow beam (a few atoms? we're probably talking nanometer or narrower beams!) to be channeling all that energy through, and that factor seems to be the real key in how they can damage inertialess ships. The intent seems to be "beam is so narrow it interacts with so little matter that the ship isn't propelled significantly before damage is done", but interpreting HOW this works is another matter. Several possibilities:
...What is your reasoning for such a small spot size?

I see no reason to assume nanometer or micrometer diameters for the beam, not least because in that case it should drill harmlessly through the target like a bullet through a shoebox. I would expect a primary's spot size to be more 'normal:' on the scale of millimeters or meters. What makes it impressive is the combination of high short-term power consumption (see our calculations for primaries based on Dauntless's performance at the Battle of Medon) and relatively high focus. Focus on the subatomic level isn't required as far as I can tell.
1.) Primaries really are meant to poke tiny holes in targets. Who knows? Onboard Lensmanverse ships maybe even nanometer-scale holes can lead to Bad Things happening (disabling/breaching a reactor for example) I dont like this the best, but its certainly possible. Of course, if this were the only case I dont think you'd need much energy at ALL for the Primary to work, so much of that enregy would be wasted.
True; this explanation strikes me as being quite unlikely.
Either way though you'd ideally want the UW particles to simulate a near-simultaenous release of energy like a nuclear reaction of some kind. Alternately, one may postulate with the "decay" theory that a more coherent beam somehow decays faster, which may allow the decay to happen faster than the ship can escape it (EG the photons again "collide" with the bakc of the ship, only there's more of them with a primary)
I really don't understand where the decay theory comes from. Assuming ultrawaves can interact with normal matter (and we know they can because you can build antennas and such to use them for communications), it's perfectly logical for the primary to be the ultrawave equivalent of a bomb-pumped laser. The ultrawave beam itself is vastly faster than any possible speed for a starship, even if it's free.

So when the primary hits the shield, you get a sudden surge of energy that stabs through the shield (much as needle rays can be used to punch through a shield that has already been weakened by fire from secondary beams). As with a secondary, it starts vaporizing material off the target and pushing it away (much like laser propulsion)... but unlike a secondary, it does enough damage in the first millisecond or two of impact to forcibly inert the target, allowing the remainder of the beam to do its job before the target is pushed out of range.

In addition, the tight focus increases the effective range, prolonging the period where the free target is still being hit with high enough beam intensity to achieve burnthrough.
3.) the extreme concentration of a primary beam (especially with so much energy involved) can somehow trigger some sort of "other" phenoma occuring, like a black hole or singularity or something supposedly like that, or spontaneous matter/energy conversion or whatever. Basically its the "technobabble" damage mechanism, although technobabble as I said does not necesarily mean "no energy involved." After all we know "disintegration" effects are technically canon, and that isnt a thermodynamic term :P
True. The only way I know to disintegrate material is to break it apart on the subatomic level.
4.) Primaries are like the aformentioned "magic death ray" Worsel devised in some manner, and are designed to target only specific but vital in the ship's composition. If the radiation is tuned to only affect certain matter, the "mass" of matter involved may be far too tiny to generate much recoil in a specific direction. This may be used as an adjunct to other theories (EG help explaining extreme penetration of the primary beam, for example.)
This is militated against by the fact that they are shown as being immensely high energy (as Worsel's death ray is not). And by the fact that secondary mounts can be converted into (crude, extremely hazardous) primary mounts in fairly short order.

I see no reason to assume that primaries are different in kind from secondaries except insofar as they differ in degree- tighter beam focus and higher beam power. Given the known properties of needle beams against weakened shields in the Lensman setting, that seems sufficient to explain their properties to me.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Teleros » 2010-08-01 06:56am

That would depend heavily on whether they were running at total war production. Bennett was fully mobilized on a scale closely comparable to WWII-era America; that effort could not have been sustained indefinitely. And if it wasn't, then eventually the shipyard infrastructure would get old and have to be scrapped.

I'm not sure about the number of Lensmen, but I really do think that the number of ships may be overestimated by using Tellus as an average planet for shipbuilding figures.
On the other hand, you could have places like Bennett acting as Patrol forge worlds (or something like it) if they're getting all the stuff they aren't producing from elsewhere. Most of the money to pay for it all would come from Patrol coffers (unlike WW2 USA - and we also know that the Patrol tended to pay people well on Bennett too), so it'd be more like the equivalent of a town with a big shipbuilding industry - the money it gets from that gets spent on all the other stuff.
As for Tellus... well it may have been able to make even more ships given it had to build the Z9M9Z. Possibly the "80 superdreadnought" figure was for the entire solar system though, given we've also got natives to Venus, Mars, Jupiter (or some of its moons?) etc.
I see no reason to assume nanometer or micrometer diameters for the beam, not least because in that case it should drill harmlessly through the target like a bullet through a shoebox.
The original Boskonian primary beams were also visible to Kinnison & Haynes. For a nanometres-wide beam to be visible, even via a visiplate, implies it's incredibly inefficient to give off that much light (although the Boskonian ones may have been, given they were literally just overloaded regular beams).


I think I'm in agreement with Simon_Jester over the primary beams. I'm not entirely happy with his method for how secondaries cannot hurt a free ship yet primaries can (given FTL velocities involved, I'm not sure it'd be enough), but I think it's the best one we've got ATM for how it could work.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Simon_Jester » 2010-08-01 08:24pm

Teleros wrote:On the other hand, you could have places like Bennett acting as Patrol forge worlds (or something like it) if they're getting all the stuff they aren't producing from elsewhere. Most of the money to pay for it all would come from Patrol coffers (unlike WW2 USA - and we also know that the Patrol tended to pay people well on Bennett too), so it'd be more like the equivalent of a town with a big shipbuilding industry - the money it gets from that gets spent on all the other stuff.
As for Tellus... well it may have been able to make even more ships given it had to build the Z9M9Z. Possibly the "80 superdreadnought" figure was for the entire solar system though, given we've also got natives to Venus, Mars, Jupiter (or some of its moons?) etc.
Hmm. I think the Jovians may come from an outdated version of Jupiter, where the atmosphere's not so deep and the planet actually has a solid surface if you go down to a reasonable depth, a survivable one.
I think I'm in agreement with Simon_Jester over the primary beams. I'm not entirely happy with his method for how secondaries cannot hurt a free ship yet primaries can (given FTL velocities involved, I'm not sure it'd be enough), but I think it's the best one we've got ATM for how it could work.
I'd have to do some math, but remember that having a megaton per second beam weapon hammering on your hull is the functional equivalent of having your own Orion drive. If the hull can take it even briefly, that gives accelerations comparable to the ship's own driving projectors... enough to send you spinning away at light-days per second.

If primaries are instantaneous (or, hell, just pulsed somehow), that would make a huge difference.
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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2010-08-11 02:51pm

Teleros wrote: Mmm, I've generally taken it as a given that they've been "dial-a-yield" weapons, given the various effects we see from them.
Trust me. You want to allow for the possibility of "less than megajoule" energy outputs, simply becaues if you make it seem like the weapons are meant to operate in MW/GW level outputs consistently, you're going to get some twit arguing that people ought to be exploding like TNT from that level of energy. I deal with this on what seems like a weekly basis from lasgun, plasma, and melta gun calcs elswehere. It's far too much hassle to try to argue it.

*Shrug* We know inertia can be turned on and off at the flick of a switch in the setting, and that the Nevians can turn inertia only partially on and off through the same method. Wherever it goes, it's certainly possible to do so.
I'm pointing out that "inertialessness" and "mass lightening" and all those related (or perceived related) technologies do not automatically have to operate or be interpreted one way - most of that is pure semantics. But what doesn't change is you can't go tossing out the science we're using to do the analysis. It's no worse than calling something a laser rifle even though it doesn't have rifling. Do we go through a convoluted theory to try to MAKE the laser have rifling?
Certainly possible, although primaries may be a problem. It must also mean that the decay speed of ultrawave particles can be very precisely controlled though, because we get battles occurring over both large and small ranges (Just a few km for the Britannia or that city siege for example).
That depends on how you figure on Primaries working. As I note in my discussion with Simon, I'm starting to wonder if Primaries work on different principles than the "heat ray" like secondaries. For a long while now I've fooled myself into thinking that lasers MUST only work on heating/thermal damage only, but they can be quite nasty if you get them to make explosions. And technically as descirbed, primaries (and needle rays in general) are piercing/cutting weapons. you don't need tons of energy to cause destruction that way. Indeed, needle rays as a rule seem to be quite a bit less energetic than their heat ray cousins (like in Second STage Lensman when you can fire a heat ray through a building and floor and not harm someone sitting just nearby.) I've just started trying to work through all the implications that has in my own analysis, I can't even begin to imagine how it would for Lensman (partiularily since when we actually started discussing Lensman I'd been thinking along my old lines. Welcome to amateur sci fi analysis.)
It's a case I think of both pumping more power into the weapon and achieving a much higher intensity, to the point where something breaks (which is why the beam is of a short duration) - the original primaries killed their gun crews remember, and the Patrol needed several feet of radiation shielding to protect their crews.
I'm not saying that they aren't pumping more power through it, but that it doesnt need to be massively more power than what a normal projector already deals with. you're exceeding the parameters of both the projector and what is safely possible for a normal needle ray, and that can be destructive to the weapon in any number of ways. For that matter the fact you pump more energy into it does not neccesarily mean all that energy is usable. The fact that you need the radiation shielding and all the other protective measures tends to suggest the weapon is a whole lot less efficient than normal needle rays or beams (remember its not just sheer mass you need to protect it, but also added protective fields, radiators, etc.)

To be honest, I could see alot of ways that you could have "failure points" occuring in a primary other than sheer energy. It could be due to how fast energy is released or transmitted to the target (or in the manner it does so - so its less a issue of just energy but more of power) as well as intensity. Heck, it could be that there are multiple failure points and more than one possibility is true - the way the primary was decribed in GL suggests that they had to pretty much redesign not just the projectors (as well as rigging up the protection against the radiation effects) but also the power transfer mechanisms and suchnot.

Actually now that we're on that, the primary example tends to suggest there's a curious relationship between forcefield defenses and matter. It could be armor is not important so much by itself is that it serves as some useful purpose in conjunction with fields. I can't begin to speculate at the moment HOW that interaction occurs, but it suggests that fields + armor working togethre is man times better than either would be working independently.
As for needle beams, they've only been used on a helicopter gunship and on board ships as precision weapons, so yes they're much weaker than secondaries.
Less energetic yess, but not less destructive. You're just applying the damage in a different way. Let's try to spare you the same mistakes I've been making in my analysis :D
Of the four, I think I prefer this the most, although it's iffy (like how you'd get the explosion to happen in all directions at once). It may also be that they can put in so much energy that it's many times more powerful than a secondary (although I don't like this much either).
Again, welcome to amateur sci fi analysis. Its kludgy, but its a start, and hopefully with time it could be refined.

Its not so much an issue of getting the explosion to occur ominidirectionally as it is to make sure that the forces "balance out" right. The real iffy bit is how the beam is powerful enough to pierce and slice through the target.. without generating enough force on said target to overcome the resistive medium. The frustrating bit is what we are told hints that it takes VERY little force to actually move a starship (although this seems a bit contradictory to me as well.. argh! That's another story to deal with.) And all this while trying to work out how the Primary might accept megatons/gigatons of weapons energy and NOt push the ship along.

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Re: Tech Analysis: The Lensman Series

Post by Connor MacLeod » 2010-08-11 02:51pm

Simon_Jester wrote:Well, I still prefer the idea that material vaporized off the target's hull propelling it out of the effective range of the beam on millisecond time scales, before it can burn through... but then, I came up with it, so I would.
The problem with that is, however, that once the beam starts receiving energy (absorbing photons, being hit or slowed down by other particles, etc.) the ship is going to start moving due to the momentum of the beam (even from a beam of photons). Given how little force is actually needed to move or push an inertialess craft, you may not even have time to vaporize the target (we don't know the properties of some Lensman materials for that matter either.)
...What is your reasoning for such a small spot size?

I see no reason to assume nanometer or micrometer diameters for the beam, not least because in that case it should drill harmlessly through the target like a bullet through a shoebox. I would expect a primary's spot size to be more 'normal:' on the scale of millimeters or meters. What makes it impressive is the combination of high short-term power consumption (see our calculations for primaries based on Dauntless's performance at the Battle of Medon) and relatively high focus. Focus on the subatomic level isn't required as far as I can tell.
you can impair if not immobilize a starship with a few dynes of force via tractor beam (Galactic Patrol) or can be propelled along at FTL on "kilodynes" of thrust provided by a frigging diesel engine. It's highly doubtful that we're talking gigatons, megatons or even kilotons of energy needed to start nudging the ship away regardless of the mechanism you choose to claim, which is NOT a minor problem. The smaller the surface area means less mass actually vaporized (while not wholly decreasing destructive capabilities)and thus less force imparted to the target (and less likely for it to be moved.) Technically, you don't really NEED alot of energy for a primary to work as advertised - its a cutting weapon (something I neglected to look up last time) and meant to slice the target, and a narrow cut can work as well as a wide one. Hell, once you've started vaporizing part of the hull, the forces from expanding plasma (in truth its going to turn into a plasma at some point) may act o keep the target fixed in place. As the omnidirectional expansion occurs, it will also impart furter thermal and blast effects to the surrounding matter.)

The focal point of the beam is NOT a trivial issue, particularly since we know Lensman ships utilize materials far better than modern ones as well as more familiar ones (What do you do when your hull needs 10x or 100x the energy of iron to melt and/or vaporize, much less convert to a plasma? That energy, regardless of how you deliver it, will have momentum. You can't escape or ignore that.)

If you have a better idea to solve it, I'm all ears.
I really don't understand where the decay theory comes from.
Its a variation on the massless turbolaser operational mechanisms - eg the massless TL particles decay into visible light (explaining the subluminal glow of the bolt as well as the damage mechanism.) Lensman beam weapons have similar problems (being visible in some cases despite clearly being FTL, the thermal/optical effects etc.)
Assuming ultrawaves can interact with normal matter (and we know they can because you can build antennas and such to use them for communications), it's perfectly logical for the primary to be the ultrawave equivalent of a bomb-pumped laser. The ultrawave beam itself is vastly faster than any possible speed for a starship, even if it's free.
And you know how ultrawaves and other FTL "particles" interact with matter any more than I do? We know ultrawaves can carry visual or audio signals, we know that all the exotic beam weapons in the Lensman universe are supposedly "vibratory" in nature, whatever the fuck that means. With RL matter vibration (or molecular motion, to be accurate) can result (among the other things) in the release of photons. In this case, ultrawaves are similar to how tachyonic matter is supposed to work (they carry alot of energy, thus move more slowly than say a comm signal, which can help explain reduced ranges some.)

Again if you have a better mechanism I'm all ears.
So when the primary hits the shield, you get a sudden surge of energy that stabs through the shield (much as needle rays can be used to punch through a shield that has already been weakened by fire from secondary beams). As with a secondary, it starts vaporizing material off the target and pushing it away (much like laser propulsion)... but unlike a secondary, it does enough damage in the first millisecond or two of impact to forcibly inert the target, allowing the remainder of the beam to do its job before the target is pushed out of range.
Timeframes may also be variable. There are lots of ways you can organize a pulse laser (the ideal durations for a weaponzied pulse laser for example seemt o be microsecond to nanosecond.. you want to be trying to create a vapor or plasma cloud for primary destructive effects.) A "half second" beam (from Gray Lensman, for example) may actually be made up of countless individual microsecond/nanosecond pulses, so you're actually getting a series of thousands/millions of tiny explosions occuring along the path of the beam. As I said before, we know the Primaries are cutting weapons, so swinging the beam is more than likely going to necessitate multiple pulses anyhow.

if it helps, I'm starting to think of a Primaries (and needle beams as a rule) as being along the lines of a blaster while many secondaries or macrobeams are mainly heat rays. We know needle beams aren't VASTLY less destructiv e than the heat ray analogues, but the fact they were never (up til primaries) a primary weapon tends to suggest they were not as energetic (given that needle rays are more tightly focused, this stands to reason. The greater output of the heat rays comes at the cost of a wider focus/area of effect. Hell, we know they can be widebeam anyhow, so focus isn't a requirement.) Hell, if they could output "secondary" levels through needle beams already, they'd be consideably more destructive and thus more effective. Thermal damage can be useful, but its not the most effective means of hurting the enemy.
In addition, the tight focus increases the effective range, prolonging the period where the free target is still being hit with high enough beam intensity to achieve burnthrough.
Possibly. It's hard to say how focus fits into all this since we don't have a whole lot of data to go by.
This is militated against by the fact that they are shown as being immensely high energy (as Worsel's death ray is not). And by the fact that secondary mounts can be converted into (crude, extremely hazardous) primary mounts in fairly short order.
According to the laser pistol entry in the atomic rockets sidearms page you can tune lasers to be more effective against certain kinds of matter over others. What Worsel described sounds precisely like that kind of optimization.

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