Strange and Interesting Power Sources

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Darmalus
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Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Darmalus » 2012-01-14 12:41am

What interesting, odd or unusual power sources have you seen is Sci fi or fantasy? Any you thought up?

One that sticks out in my memory was from a Stainless Steel Rat book, where the local cops used some sort of peat burning engine in their vehicles. Apparently it was a plentiful local resource and they lacked the infrastructure for anything better on that planet. I always kinda liked the idea of unusual power sources based on what was available, rather than what was most powerful.

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Dave » 2012-01-14 09:39am

Well, it's a power storage unit rather than a power producer, but I enjoyed the concepts of "niling d-sinks" from Hamilton's Commonwealth series. It would create its own "pocket universe" in which you could stuff theoretically infinite amounts of energy (though I think in practice you could only store "a couple of grams worth" of energy -- remember E=mc2 ?)

Presumably the safety feature was that you would just detach the pocket universe from this one and it would become its own Big Bang in that universe. If it failed catastrophically, well, you got a big bang in this universe. :wink:

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by lordofchange13 » 2012-01-15 05:45pm

Anti-ice from the book of the same name was interesting. My favorite has to be the cosmic amplifier device from EE Smith's Lensman series. it could give off more energy then perfect energy conversion of the used up fuel.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Lord of the Abyss » 2012-01-15 06:23pm

Darmalus wrote:One that sticks out in my memory was from a Stainless Steel Rat book, where the local cops used some sort of peat burning engine in their vehicles. Apparently it was a plentiful local resource and they lacked the infrastructure for anything better on that planet. I always kinda liked the idea of unusual power sources based on what was available, rather than what was most powerful.
Also in the Stainless Steel Rat novels (the first in fact) was a self-stoking coal powered robot ("Stoke, you idiot! Stoke!!") It was the result of a technological aid policy of dropping off vital "seed" components like robot brains & actuators and letting the locals build the bulk of the machines with local technology.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Lord of the Abyss » 2012-01-21 06:37am

Oh, and I can't believe I forgot this one: Various people have pointed out that the Portals from the Portal games let you create a perpetual motion device/power plant. A simple version is to take a pool; you put a Portal on the roof, another on the floor and you have a perpetual waterfall as water drains out the bottom and appears out of the roof Portal. Stick in a waterwheel and there you have it; perpetual power.

There's also the classic idea of using Wolverine's perpetually regenerating flesh as a power source; on another forum I (not exactly seriously) suggested installing him inside a fusion powered Bolo tank and cracking the hydrogen in his perpetually-regenerating blood for unlimited fuel.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Rabid » 2012-01-21 11:40am

A psy-generator fed by insecurities and mental trauma.

Just think of the glorious campaigns of Social Engineering it would give us !


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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by lordofchange13 » 2012-01-21 11:44am

Rabid wrote:A psy-generator fed by insecurities and mental trauma.

Just think of the glorious campaigns of Social Engineering it would give us !


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40K in a nutshell
I seem to remeber there being a secondary plot line in Hellboy where humans were using a Abomination as a giant battery
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Lord of the Abyss » 2012-01-21 06:52pm

Rabid wrote:A psy-generator fed by insecurities and mental trauma.
I think it was Ian Watson who wrote a short story where they had an FTL drive powered like that; they used rape as the power source.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Panzersharkcat » 2012-01-21 08:21pm

Lord of the Abyss wrote: There's also the classic idea of using Wolverine's perpetually regenerating flesh as a power source; on another forum I (not exactly seriously) suggested installing him inside a fusion powered Bolo tank and cracking the hydrogen in his perpetually-regenerating blood for unlimited fuel.
There was also making the Flash run on a treadmill in DK2.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Duckie » 2012-01-21 08:42pm

There was this not particularly serious one short story I once read where the vast power needs of FTL were filled by a psionic power generator that operated off of the female orgasm, the most powerful force known to mankind. Pretty amusing really.

I forget if they needed just one or like, banks of girls on racks or something.

Spelljammer, this really old setting for D&D in the bad old days, apparently had ships powered by giant space hampsters on wheels.

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Ahriman238 » 2012-01-21 09:29pm

The Dark Eldar from 40K have refined the extraction of soul-stuff through torture to the point of building robot tanks that snatch up people to use as a fuel source.

In mutineer's moon and sequels, the Fourth (and Fifth) Imperium has a trick they call a core tap, where they use the power of dozens of fusion reactors to rip a hole into hyperspace, maintain and siphon energy from it. Containment can get tricky over protracted period though, and fusion is already common and reliable, so they really only use core taps when they need ridiculuos power levels, like for FTL or planetary shields or so on.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Grumman » 2012-01-22 05:22am

It's less strange than most being mentioned, but I quite like the one from the short story, The Clockwork Atom Bomb: Spoiler
spinning black holes effectively being used as flywheels.
Lord of the Abyss wrote:I think it was Ian Watson who wrote a short story where they had an FTL drive powered like that; they used rape as the power source.
Seriously?

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Lord of the Abyss » 2012-01-22 05:44am

Grumman wrote:Seriously?
Yes, it was written from the viewpoint of one of the victims and was quite depressing.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Omeganian » 2012-01-23 02:18pm

The Electronic Pump and the Cosmeg Pump.
Q: How are children made in the TNG era Federation?

A: With power couplings. To explain, you shut down the power to the lights, and then, in the darkness, you have the usual TOS era coupling.

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Rabid » 2012-01-23 02:49pm

Could you elaborate ?

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Purple » 2012-01-23 03:32pm

Lord of the Abyss wrote:
Grumman wrote:Seriously?
Yes, it was written from the viewpoint of one of the victims and was quite depressing.
What's the name of that story?
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Solauren » 2012-01-23 06:18pm

I've always like the idea of using a gravity well and transporter tech to accelerate something to near the speed of light.

Say - pour lots of water down a long tube towards a large gravity well. AT the end is a Portal (ala Portal Video Games)
The water accelerates to the portal, and then comes out back where it started.
Rinse and repeat.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Batman » 2012-01-23 07:36pm

Rabid wrote:Could you elaborate ?
If Omeganian is talking about what I think he/she/it is, that'd be the Electron/Cosmeg pump from Asimov's 'The Gods Themselves' see here which technically,like the Stargate ZPM, isn't a way to generate power so much as a way to siphon it from another universe.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Lord of the Abyss » 2012-01-24 09:50am

Here's one I recall from a short story in I think Analog. They'd invented some kind of field that could perfectly reflect radiation. When used to completely encase an object, the fact that almost everything has a little radioactivity caused a chain reaction; the radiated particles can't escape, so they bounce around until they hit something. That causes a nuclear reaction, which releases more particles which can't escape either and bounce around until they react with something, releasing more particles and so on in an escalating cycle until they had enough nuclear reactions going on to produce enough energy for a power source. So they had a nuclear reactor that could use almost any material as fuel (wouldn't work with iron I presume, that can't be fissioned or fused for energy).
Purple wrote:
Lord of the Abyss wrote:
Grumman wrote:Seriously?
Yes, it was written from the viewpoint of one of the victims and was quite depressing.
What's the name of that story?
Sorry; I read it a long, long time ago and don't recall the title.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Ahriman238 » 2012-01-24 11:21pm

There was an online card game circulating around the net a while ago, Hidden Dimensions was the name. I don't think they wrote much backstory, but each of the 8 races/factions utilized a different sort of power generating tech. So you had solar power, antimatter, "nebular," fusion, "entropic" from a very much HP Lovecraft inspired race, gravity, dimensional, and "rift" energies. The aliens who used 'nebular' energy, the Xyloxi, were big floating space crystals, and all the power generating cards showed crystal spires in blue clouds. The entropic aliens were just weird. Technomancers use dimensional energy gathered with dimensional gates. The 'rift' energy is for Rift Demons, sort of energy/cloud beings from another place, and is some sort of power from their home.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Omeganian » 2012-01-24 11:27pm

Asimov also has the story Billiard Ball, where the inventor of an antigravity device is killed during a test... turns out it's useless for transport, but perfect as a first type Perpetuum Mobile.
Q: How are children made in the TNG era Federation?

A: With power couplings. To explain, you shut down the power to the lights, and then, in the darkness, you have the usual TOS era coupling.

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2012-01-25 08:28pm

Well, it probably doesn't count as sci-fi, but Monsters, Inc. had a massive city powered by children's screams.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Batman » 2012-01-25 09:01pm

Wasn't it powered by their fear, which was only expressed through their screams?
'Next time I let Superman take charge, just hit me. Real hard.'
'You're a princess from a society of immortal warriors. I'm a rich kid with issues. Lots of issues.'
'No. No dating for the Batman. It might cut into your brooding time.'
'Tactically we have multiple objectives. So we need to split into teams.'-'Dibs on the Amazon!'
'Hey, we both have a Martian's phone number on our speed dial. I think I deserve the benefit of the doubt.'
'You know, for a guy with like 50 different kinds of vision, you sure are blind.'

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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by Ahriman238 » 2012-01-25 09:23pm

No, it was definitly their screams. Volume based power levels. There was even a scene of the little one trying and failing to get a kid to scream for him.

In the end, of course, they convert to a laughter-based power system.
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Re: Strange and Interesting Power Sources

Post by SpaceMarine93 » 2012-01-25 11:14pm

A strangelet powered reality rewriting Vacuum collapse device from Stephan Baxter's Manifold: Time?
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