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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

A worldbuilding experiment: Zero Gravity Fantasy

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PostPosted: 2012-02-14 02:14pm 

Sith Acolyte

Joined: 2004-06-08 03:37am
Posts: 5373
Lets say you have a hollow sphere in space orbiting a star at the same distance as earth orbits the sun. Its about the same volume as the earth. It is made of a super durable material. Inside of which is a breathable atmosphere, plenty of water and asteriods held in place by a network of superstrong massive cables, as well as life. Most of it non sapient, but some of it is. Whoever made this object has long gone and has left this construct to its own devices. The object does not spin and everything in it is in Zero gravity. If this construct requires magic to work, that is present.

A (very) rough illustration of what i mean.


How could a civilization develop in such a construct?

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PostPosted: 2012-02-14 03:12pm 

Jedi Council Member

Joined: 2002-09-20 11:15am
Posts: 2399
Why zero gravity and not just microgravity? All of those massive boulders would have their own microgravity and depending on the density of the shell that would have a gravity as well.
Regardless of any spin.

Is it possible to move on/in those cables?
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PostPosted: 2012-02-14 03:51pm 

Emperor's Hand

Joined: 2009-05-23 07:29pm
Posts: 24402
The star has gravity. So does the air- a sphere of air 2 AU in diameter adds up to a lot of mass, I'm a bit too rushed to calculate it right now. Hell, the sphere of air might even outweigh the star for all I know.

What keeps the rocks from falling in? The tensile strength of the cables?

Remember that you need air all through the sphere, because there's no gravity pushing it to the outer edge- at most there's the solar wind, and I doubt that's adequate against so much thickness of air.

Come to think of it, another problem. A belt of air a hundred million kilometers thick might be damn near opaque. Think about how dimmed-down the sun looks when it nears the horizon and the light is passing through several dozen kilometers of the Earth's atmosphere to reach you, compared to how bright it looks when it's straight overhead and passes through a much smaller thickness of air.

So that's the first place you may need magic- some way to artificially restrict the atmosphere to a zone near the outer surface of the great balloon.
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Grandmaster Jogurt
PostPosted: 2012-02-14 04:06pm 

Jedi Council Member

Joined: 2004-12-16 05:01am
Posts: 1725
It's not a dyson shell; the sphere is the size of Earth itself, not our orbit. As for gravity, all the air and other masses in the shell are going to cause gravitation effects on things inside the sphere, but the outer shell itself will not; anything inside the shell will have equal pull in every direction for a zero net force.
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Eleventh Century Remnant
PostPosted: 2012-02-14 04:24pm 

Jedi Council Member

Joined: 2006-11-20 07:52am
Posts: 2358
Location: Scotland
On the other hand,, and the sequel

why have magic and superscience that simply aren't needed to set up the situation?

Mass of the sphere of air, incidentally, assuming sea level density, 1.72E33 kg; the mass of the sun being 2E30, hell yes, it's much, much heavier- about eight hundred and sixty solar masses. Why it doesn't collapse and undergo fusion may be the question.

No magic sufficient; you would need a demented god with vastly more power than sense.

----wait a minute. OP reading failure here.
a hollow sphere in space orbiting a star at the same distance as earth orbits the sun. Its about the same volume as the earth.
Right, that makes a lot more sense than some highly peculiar variation on the dyson sphere. Ignore the above.

"islands" are the best suggestion off the top of my head, with the caveat that it is a transparent world in more ways than one- lines of sight will be long and zones of awareness will be large, one the science of strapping things to your arms and legs so you can flap has been mastered communities will be wide open to each other, hopefully in a good but possibly in the bad (defenceless) sense.

Hold it. Is this some kind of convoluted attempt to relive and justify Flash Gordon here? "On, my brave Hawkmen!"
Mongo probably did look something like this, now I think about it.
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Ford Prefect
PostPosted: 2012-02-14 05:11pm 

Emperor's Hand

Joined: 2005-05-16 04:08am
Posts: 8254
Location: The real number domain
Karl Schroeder's Virga series, beginning with Sun of Suns, is set in this sort of bag floating in space. It's an extremely well realised vision of what this sort of environment could be like, from the strapped together wooden centrifuge towns, to the locations which are so far away from any heat and light sources that they have become masses of 'winter' (where one might build a town from paper inside a gigantic drop of water).
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PostPosted: 2012-02-14 07:59pm 

Emperor's Hand

Joined: 2002-07-09 04:51am
Posts: 14170
Location: In Denial
[qote]you would need a demented god with vastly more power than sense. [/quote]
Isn't having vastly more power than sense pretty much the default state of being for the vast majority of deities anyway? :P

And I very much suspect this construct will require magic to be habitable. Okay, so there's plenty of water, but in which form? Without gravity I don't see any of the traditional aquatic environments (seas, lakes, creeks, rivers etc) forming, so where would their aquatic lifeforms live? I also doubt that there's going to be much in the way of rain.
Airborne lifeforms should thrive, no more need to burn prodigous amounts of energy to defeat gravity, but how would land-dwellers cope?
Crops should be okay given those things have roots, assuming the asteroids have topsoil for them to grow in (and it actually stays on in zero g).
But what about, say, cattle? Those people have to eat.
Also, what would the weather be like in a setup like this? The thing doesn't spin, so no nice even distribution of sunlight across the entire sphere.
Lastly, how are the locals fixed for resources? A planet's worth of minerals is a lot. A handful of asteroids-not so much. Granted, we're probably not talking 7 billion people here either but I still think it's a concern. Are there any fossil fuels or fissionables on the asteroids?
Just how many asteroids are there, and how big are they?
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Lord of the Abyss
PostPosted: 2012-02-15 01:38am 

Village Idiot

Joined: 2005-06-15 12:21am
Posts: 4032
Location: The Abyss
Reminds me somewhat of Michael-Reaves' The Shattered World and its sequel The Burning Realm. It's set in a fantasy world that long ago was as the name implies was magically shattered into fragments. Other magic kept everyone from being killed, and ensures that they don't crash into each other, that each shard has its own gravity and so forth. The shards still orbit the sun in an envelope of air.
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PostPosted: 2012-02-15 02:07am 

Sith Marauder

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 4241
Hmmm, given that all of the cables will have a different amount of stretch depending on their length, and fun things with resonance and impact loads, I wonder if we'll see the web vibrate under normal conditions?

The wrapping is transparent, so light will get to all of it (no atmosphere freezing out) but will presumably warm nearer parts far more then further parts. Without gravity you won't get convection, but maybe steady breezes might get set up to redistribute the air pressure?
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