Tuesday, December 27, 2016

World Building: Red Dwarf Mercator

I have placed the planet of Mercator around a main sequence red giant, which in order to be in the habitable zone it must be very far away from the sun, and the orbit I choose gave it an orbital period of about 40 years. At 20.6 AU distant, the sun is not prominent in the sky.

Recently, I thought about using a red dwarf instead, and while this approach gives a nice large sun in the sky, there are other disadvantages. Since Mercator is the size of Venus, it is likely to be tidally locked to the sun. With the planet orbiting a red giant, its rotation can be arbitrary. Tidally locked, its rotation will be slower over the course of days.

With that in mind, I considered making it a habitable moon around a Neptune sized gas giant. This imposes some restrictions as well.

The star for this solar system is 0.153 solar masses, and 0.044 solar radii. The Neptune is at 0.037 AU, and has an period of 6.65 days. As I am using Neptune's planetary characteristics, this gas giant's Hill radius sphere of gravitational influence isn't very large compared to our Neptune due to masses of the star and planet and its small semi-major axis, so a Venus sized moon needs to orbit close, otherwise it will be pulled into its own orbit around the sun. The moon Mercator's semi-major axis is just inside the Hill Radius at about 235,150 km, giving it a period of three and a half days. Whether or not Mercator would be tidally locked to the Neptune, I'm not certain. I gave it a 3:2 orbital resonance (like Mercury), which gives it a period of about 2.4 days. The original red giant version I gave it 20 hours.

Thus I did the spreadsheet math, and made files to render in Celestia.

Trial system is tiny with respects to our solar system.

The "Neptune", tidally locked to the star.

Looking down at the Neptune's north pole. Mercator's orbit is very close. The Roche limit happens to be inside the Neptune for the density of moon, so no threat of breakup and ring formation.

Cloudy Mercator.

Clouds removes for clarity. Red curve is orbital path.

The Neptune looms large in the sky, and will fill it, making for quite a remarkable view.

The sun is also seen larger than our own, and larger than the red giant version.

Mercator casts its shadow.

Rising Neptune and sun.

While orbiting around a red dwarf gives an impressive sky, it would require reworking clock and calendar time and keeping up with planet shine and eclipses. As I have all of that worked out and in my head for the original red giant orbiting, I don't want to redo all that work. Maybe this can be used for another world that I do have orbiting a red dwarf, so the research bears fruit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Thrust test in Blender

This is a test run of creating a plasma type thrust for the executive yacht below using Blender's particle emitter and post processing blurring.  More on this coming soon.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Kim Stanley Robinson's 2312

The book is advertised as:

The year is 2312. Scientific and technological advances have opened gateways to an extraordinary future. Earth is no longer humanity's only home; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and in between. But in this year, 2312, a sequence of events will force humanity to confront its past, its present, and its future.

The first event takes place on Mercury, on the city of Terminator, itself a miracle of engineering on an unprecedented scale. It is an unexpected death, but one that might have been foreseen. For Swan Er Hong, it is an event that will change her life. Swan was once a woman who designed worlds. Now she will be led into a plot to destroy them.

Except Swan isn't lead into a plot to destroy them. I kept reading through this horror, skipping large passages of character soul searching, waiting for such an event to happen, because what is advertised sounds pretty exciting. What I read was not.

It was boring. The characters were uninteresting, and I never cared about them, what they were doing, or what happened to them. 2312 is a short story stretched into a novel, and focuses on the wrong characters to tell that story. The two main characters, Swan and Wahram, were too distant from the plot, which essentially is--and trust me, this is no spoiler--terraforming factions on Venus have two different ideas about how to keep the planet cool--keep the orbital sunscreen (immediate and quick) or impact with asteroids to induce greater spin (slow, over the course of a hundred years), so, the give-it-some-spin-ers instructed their AI quantum computers to solve the issue, and the stupid smart computers decided that attacking the sunscreen and destroying it would force the terraformers to adopt the bombardment plan, and to test this clever method of shooting down a sunscreen without being caught (through the nudging of millions of small pebble asteroids so that they converge at the target) they destroy an asteroid habitat, and a city on Mercury. And all that sounds pretty damn exciting . . . if only the execution of the story had been better.

This novel won a Nebula Award for Best SF Story of the Year, (2012) which is like giving President Barrack Obama a Nobel Peace Prize. But of course it won an award because it touched on all the liberal talking points: Anthropogenic Global Warming, normalizing of non-heterosexual gender identity, socialist/Keynesian AI controlled economies (except Earth--I think; it's rather vague), sexual utopian liberation (sexliners (in space), hand-wringing about poverty on Earth, and hand-wringing about wealth on Earth. What this had to do with how the Chinese wanted to terraform Venus, I don't know.

I know science fiction isn't specifically meant to predict the future, or even seriously attempt to imagine how life in the future will be; it's meant to talk about now. And in doing so, the author must take his or her darling issue of the day and extrapolate it into the future with no regard to how other issues, consequences, or events will alter their issue. Robinson is aware of what he is doing, and what he set up, so what he does to Earth is pure conceit. His story has terraforming. Mars is terraformed. Asteroids are internally terraformed cylinders that are habitats and spacecraft. Small moons are broken and used for terraforming purposes. Nitrogen is mined from Titan for Mars. Pluto's tiny moon Nix is transformed into a interstellar spacecraft. Science is so advanced in successfully taking lifeless worlds and breathing life into them, that they fuck up trying to fix the Earth. They created a mini Ice Age with a sunscreen, and gave up, and somehow the Earth got hot again by 2312 that the Mississippi river valley was becoming subtropical and they were growing wheat in the normally tundra latitudes. I don't accept the premise. If you can terraform another planet, you can adjust the Earth climate to taste. It can be the perpetual 1970s.

If you can terraform another planet. I don't think we can in the sense of what is normally meant by terraforming. Sure we can nudge asteroids and comets into collision orbits with target planets, and yes the results of the events are predictable and knowable--we can kick up megatons of dust into an atmosphere, or introduce water into an arid land, but we can't control the entropy of what happens next. Mother Nature has a mind of her own and she doesn't have to play our game. Terraforming has the risk of making a planet worse. Attempts at terraforming will lead to some unwanted consequences.

Robinson also has Swam lament  about the 11 billion people on Earth and the large unemployment. And I honestly don't know if he is being clever or stupid to then describe self replicating hanger like machines that build homes in Africa, and robot harvesters. I imagine a lot of robots are the work forces (except in China), and instead of living in a work-free artisan Utopia, they are all in abject poverty. Except the rich. When a self replicating domicile building machine the size of a hanger runs amok in Africa and is destroying things in a rather slow manner as it defecated homes, Swan jumps aboard and with the assistance of the implanted AI (called qubes) takes control of the machine, instead of shutting it down immediately, she drives into the wealthy neighbor:

Swan . . . turned the hanger in a tight half circle (meaning it took a few hundred meters) back up the hill, but now crunching over streets lined with prosperous villas. "I wish this thing worked backwards," she said furiously. "I wish we could give these rich bastards here the hovels they deserve."

"Possibly it would be better just to stop," Pauline [the qube] noted.

"Shut up!" Swan let the hanger crunch over the neighborhood for a while long before bringing it to a halt. "So this thing was sabotaged," she said.

She is arrested, and of course is released. Robinson fails to mention how many people were killed when their homes (probably built by a machine) where chewed up. No mention of why they deserved hovels. I guess because some people didn't have prosperous villas. But, I don't know, maybe the unemployment issue could be resolved by scraping the robots that are doing all the work? Might that give people jobs? But I guess when capitalism is pushed off to the margins of society, people don't work for profit, they work to have something to do, hence all the poverty and unemployment. No doubt within this novel it is the rich using robots to make their wealth.

And isn't Swan wealthy of a sort? She 137, used to design the landscape interiors of asteroid habitats, had done some animal genetic engineering, and travels across the solar system from Mercury to Titan, to Io, to Earth, to Venus, to Mercury, to Earth, to asteroids in between and round and round. Robinson leaves out how she paid, or if she paid or how anyone is remunerated for trading the value of the products of their minds. If robots do it all, and people have no need for money, and you can go where you please and get the things you want--oh that one guy did volunteer work in a restaurant in an asteroid for passage, which implies washing dishes is a cheap ticket--then poverty is pretty much moot.

And apparently everyone has both a penis and testicles, and a vagina to various degrees; Wahram, who is described as toadish, is called a wombman, and though a man with a small vagina, had birthed at least a child. And yes he does have a penis. Robinson's rational is that embryos and fetuses are female first, so everyone has in their DNA, coding for both sexual equipment. And society said, lets tinker with our genes so everyone can have everything, or nothing, or whatever they choose! The consequences of this to people, society, and the species would cover a whole other blog post I don't want to write. They should be obvious. And yet, people still get married in the story. It ends in a marriage I skipped over. Deep down I suppose Robinson understands the necessity of parents for raising children. Wahram the toad from Titan has a couple of wives and husbands and a few children, but without religion what is the point or benefit of Marriage? Are there tax breaks in a AI controlled socialism? Do they get a bigger income tax refund check?

There were too many scattershot ideas that didn't sit well on the foundation of this fictional universe. When you read something you don't believe in and think is wrong, you read lies, and that has a negative affect on the story as a whole. I don't believe this is a future that could happen.

At least I bought it as an eBook.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Old Concepts from way back Part 2

PART 2 Miscellaneous

Gothic "cathedral" ships. It was something different to do.


A character for another story that went no where as fast as it could. Pallas.

The story was called Gravity: the Dark City, about the fate of a generation ship, perhaps lost in space and careening through the void. The ship was a small moon with a partitioned torus carved out of it so that it had a subterranean "world" about the size of a coast to coast swath of the U.S. Each pole had a single tower that reached up to the sky and connected to the upper surface installations. The generation ship passes by a neutron star and the resultant tidal forces sends the north tower and the elements for the artificial sky crashing to the ground, leaving the north hemisphere in darkness. Palla was a young girl when this happened and lost her arm in the catastrophe. Their civilization collapses and Pallas grows to be a formidable warrior. This gets her tasked by the leader to venture to the southern hemisphere for assistance. But once Pallas arrived in the south and sees the paradise before her, she has no plans to leave. I had the idea the north had regressed through the centuries and treated science as some kind of arcane magic, while the south technically progressed. I can't recall if I had a good reason why they had become secluded from one another. Maybe war. I don't know.

In the 2000s I was beginning to feel that my art was getting trapped in the same design box. I re-invented myself as Opacity for a month or two and did a few unCargile like things. This is one of them that Ive been able to find. I wanted to strike out more into art than schematics.

While the Necronomicon is a work of fiction, Marduk may have been a real Sumerian. This played into that whole Ancient Aliens thing which I DO NOT believe.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Old concepts from way back, Part 1

Back in the late 90s, the internet was in its infancy, a place of forums and personal websites when users had to know a little bit about writing HTML. No Facebook, Photobucket, Twitter, or Blogs.  At that time I was heavy into Star Trek as TNG ran its course and DP9 was soon to end. 3D modeling had come onto the scene and there was the art of the Wolfpack, and Sci-Fi Arts was one of the first forums to showcase 3D art, mostly Trek related.

But I wasn't a modeler, and honestly had a jaundiced eye toward it as I felt it "cheated" conventional art methods. I was, however, a pencil and pen conceptualizer, but there was no place to post my art at SFA other than the general discussion or 3D art subforums. So I asked Tachy to make a place for me and he added the 2D art section, which is now a default part of many science fiction art forums--my little contribution to their history.

I posted designs, and had a website of my own, which back in those days of FTP uploading adding new material was a lengthy process when you had to write the coding yourself. Thus the website didn't grow as fast as my drawing did, and drinking beer certainly got in way. I did manage to get a few things up on the web. However, moving and needing new computers meant the old scanned drawings didn't always get transferred to the new computers. And as time wore on, the websites got neglected, and eventually died in in the beginning of the 2000s. I'd say the old design website never really took off.

It had its fans though.

I truly don't know what to feel about having fans. Undeserving perhaps, because I always feel the final product isn't quite good enough, that it can always be a little bit better, a little less sloppy, a little more thought out, and on and on.

Sometimes out of the blue, I'll get a mention on a forum I don't visit, or visit often, or an email about some old concepts and the old website. And the conversation usually starts with "Do you still have. . ."

Yes. Yes I do, yellowing in boxes.

So I went looking through my collection, going down memory lane, and I've bored you enough so on to the concepts if you haven't skipped all this.

PART 1 The "Beyond Now" Series

Most of my work, or at least my series work, had an epic sci-fi tale with it that never got anywhere. "Beyond Now" was a place holder name for when I came up with a better one, which I never did.

 Of course there is some obvious Aliens inspiration, but the real secret to this design is to take a regular cargo ship and turn it upside down. I was also thinking that if the Space Shuttle orbited with its back to the Earth, then followed suit that he cargo bays on these ships would be on the "bottom" as far as the side view orientation went. They also thrusted for gravity so "down" pointed toward the engines.

This looks like one of the earliest concepts, before the upside ship began to influence me.

I began to play with different engine types. I believe this used magnetic fields to direct plasma thrust, inspired by the natural forces of the sun. And I always hated the requirement of turning around to slow down. I saw it as a combat weakness. So I added retro-engines.

The letter codes for this combat ship are:
a) Sensors, comm, radar, and telescopes, plus special sensor booms, and a fwd antigravity unit.
b) armory and hydraulic gun.
c) payload bay
d) auxiliary solar panel array (stowed)
e) Upper defensive laser
f) star trackers and nav sensors
g) offensive laser
h) superstructure w/ bridge and docking tubes
i) aft sensor boom and arrays
j) FTL comm
k) aft hydraulic guns and antigrav
l) power reactor and negative energy generator
m) main engines and fuel tankage

This oddity was when I first started thinking about wormhole travel. The caveat here was that the process killed the pilot, so he or she had to be revived.
These designs are 15 years old, but they look timeless. Odd that when I did get into 3D modeling, I never thought to look back over these and model them. I guess I figured they run their course.

More to come . . .

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Problem with BSG Aircraft Vipers

Any browsing through a dedicated science fiction art forum, website, or social media page will have concepts of fantastic air- or spacecraft that are obviously designed with "Cool" in mind over any physics adherence. Which isn't a problem if you know you are chucking the science out the window to favor heavily in the fiction. I've done that too. The problem I have is when a body of science fiction mixes the hard with the fantasy. I certainly understand that for movies and television, budget requirements always mean artificial gravity, such as seen on the Battlestar Galactica, but if a production decides to ground a show in fact to present a more realistic and relatable world, then they shouldn't make one element plausible, and another similar element not.

shipschematics.net Used for reference.
The Viper fighter doesn't stretch the imagination too far to be a believable craft. While I don't particularly like the fixed fan blades in the intakes of the engines (what is it ingesting for space operation?) and question the noise and vibration in the cockpit being butted against the engines, its design makes sense for a space fighter--and a space fighter only!

It's not hard to image where most of the mass (weight) of the Viper is, it's aft heavy with the nose shifting the center of gravity to right under the cockpit. That's where you want the CG for a space fighter because that puts the pilot under the least amount of forces during maneuvering. If you ever been on a school yard playground, you might recall that less centripetal force is felt in the center of a merry-go-round, than is felt on the outside. If the cockpit were at the nose, the Viper pilot would experience greater g forces, which in turn would limit the maneuverability the pilot could handle.
The wings themselves, while not meant to generate lift in space, of course, can act as booms for the reaction control thrusters, following the law of levers which means less force is needed to pivot around the lateral axis (wingtip to wingtip) than would be required if the thrusters where closer to the fuselage. But in the show, I don't think they actually do that. They may (and it is something I'll have to look out for) but we usually see thrusters firing from the engine pods. The difference in needed thrust wouldn't be that much anyway as the wingtips aren't that far from the fuselage.

The downward force on the horizontal stabilizer keeps the nose from dropping.
The tail also follows the rule of levers allowing for a smaller wing surface
to produce the force necessary to counteract the weight of the engine.

The Viper makes a poor aircraft because with the CG so close to the engines, the tail will have a tendency to drop causing a pitch up condition and a stall. The nose of the Viper will have to produce a force to keep the nose down, whether it be from airfoils or thrust. Is it feasible for airborne Vipers to continuously fire their nose pitch down thrusters for atmospheric flight? It is something we wouldn't necessarily see in the show, but the absence of airfoils implies it must, although it demands the suspension of disbelief for fuel consumption, even if we are talking about high density tylium. A reasonable people would not design such waste into their machines if a less energy costly solution can be applied. Science fiction seems to violate this rule at every opportunity.

You might ask, "But what if the nose is heavy to balance the Viper?" The problem with that is that while air- and spacecraft are being used, they lose weight/mass through the consumption of fuels, oxidizers, life-support gases, servicing fluids, and ammunition, so the CG will move as the craft is flown. It is easier to use an airfoil that can be trimmed by the pilot to counteract the shifting CG when needed, than to have a complex system system of tanks and pumps to move consumed fluids around. Modern aircraft do this will fuel, and trimming is still needed. (Trimming is slightly deflecting either the whole flight control surface or a smaller tab set into the surface to maintain straight and level flight.)

Typically science fiction conceptual artist ignore the parts that make aircraft fly in attempts to make something seem more futuristic. As if ignoring physics is futuristic. A BSG aircraft should then look like an aircraft. Not like this design seen from Caprica.

I understand why it looks this way. There seems to be an unwritten (or maybe it is written) rule that any fighter or ship in science fiction must have obvious lineage design or the viewers will become confused. As if we are stupid. This is like saying that the F-22 must have some semblance to the P-51.

 A BSG aircraft wouldn't have to look anything like a Viper and fit into the design style of the show for the viewing audience to know that such aircraft were Colonial. After all, we see a vast diversity of spacecraft designs in the Rag Tag Fleet.

As super cool awesome as it looks, the Caprica Viper has the same problem with the spaceborne Viper pretending to be an airplane: there is nothing keeping the nose down.

This Viper also has a natural tendency to point its butt at the ground and stop being an airplane.

Again, what is keeping that nose down? No thrusters on these old Iron Birds. Notice how the Japanese got it right in WW2 with the Shendin?

Note the nose horizontal stabilizer. That small added detail would make all the difference in the world in making the Viper-like aircraft more believable.

Generation 6 fighter doodles, and more

Just kicking around some chined, kite planforms.

More on the BSG atmospheric fighter later.