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Modding, Mission Design, and Coding => Help Wanted/Offering Help => Topic started by: Banedon on December 13, 2017, 05:10:15 pm

Title: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 13, 2017, 05:10:15 pm
I've been slowly playing my way through the various user-made campaigns, and my impressions so far has been strongly positive - the amount of work that has gone into them is evident, and the campaigns are fun. Thanks for making them.

One major thing that irked me while playing is that the physics & astronomy that went into the campaigns are pretty bad. Yes, Freespace itself suspends physics; a real-life subspace drive would mean faster-than-light travel and bring to fore all manner of paradoxes. But we don't have to suspend everything, and some semi-arbitrary choices can be made believable. I have some expertise at physics & astronomy, so if anyone wants to check if their campaigns are plausible, feel free to ask. I can't guarantee everything I say will be completely accurate, but it should still be an improvement.

Examples of things I've noticed:

1) Capella supernova: this is not plausible (unfortunately it's also canon). That's because stars are way way way more massive than anything we can realistically affect. For example the Sun is 2x10^30 kg, while the Earth is only 6x10^24. We would need a million Earths to make something as big as the Sun, and there simply isn't enough material. A giant fleet of Sathanases probably still won't even reach the mass of the Earth. The Sun also outputs 10^26 J of energy every second. That's 10 billion times greater than the largest nuke ever detonated. There's no plausible way for us to cause the Sun or Capella to go supernova, unless we did something like collide another star with it (which is plausible, given enough time, using gravitational attraction).

Another thing is that Capella is ~2 solar masses, which is well below the threshold necessary to go supernova (~8 solar masses). However Capella is big enough to go nova, which is distinct from a supernova because it leads to the formation of a white dwarf as opposed to a black hole / neutron star. Left to its own devices, the order of magnitude of time taken for a star of Capella's size to go nova is several billion years.

2) Returning to Sol: the distance from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, is 4.3 light years. This means that if Alpha Centauri is colonized, we should be able to send light-speed signals to Earth that arrive in 4.3 years. The return trip takes another 4.3 years, which means that communication is still possible without subspace drives - it just take 8.6 years to hear back from the other party. To actually visit Earth is harder, because real spaceships travel at much slower than light speed. The fastest ships in Freespace seem to move at ~100 m/s, at which point it'd take 12 million years for a ship to get from Alpha Centauri to Earth.

There's no easy way to solve this plot hole unfortunately, because we (2017 humans) have been communicating with light-speed signals for decades, and I imagine one of the first things people would do after the subspace node was destroyed will be to send light-speed signals back and forth. Not ideal but better than nothing.

3) Blue Planet (Wounded Prey): if I remember right, this was the mission in which you chase the Duke while your wingmen warp in to who-knows-where. One of them says he showed up 10 light years away. As with the analysis above, that's not believable. 10 light years is more than the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri. It also means that the wingman would not be able to communicate, since any signals he sends takes 10 years to arrive. A more plausible distance is 1 astronomical unit, i.e. the distance between the Earth and the Sun, but even at this distance light takes 8 minutes to travel. Even more plausible is the distance between the Earth and the Moon - about 360,000 km. Light only takes one second to travel this distance, but for all intents and purposes, the wingman still won't be able to get to the Duke.

4) Ancient-Shivan War: I don't remember the exact mission but at one point a pilot comments that they're looking at ___ galaxy, and somewhere out there is their home. This is problematic because galaxies are big, and they are very far away. The Milky Way (our galaxy) is ~140,000 light years across, and contains some ~200 billion stars. If the Ancients are able to colonize the entire Milky Way, losing a single battle to the Shivans would be practically inconsequential, and they'd have plenty of time to build more ships, develop new technologies, etc. Another problem with this comment is that it implies the Ancient-Shivan War was an intergalactic war (as opposed to interstellar). The order of magnitude distance between galaxies is about 1 megaparsec, which is about 3 million light years. Travelling this distance would be formidably hard.

5) Finally, about technology: life on Earth has existed for over 3 billion years, and it's only in the past several hundred years that we've actually had firearms. If there is sentient life out there, they are not likely to be at a technologically comparable level. In other words, if we do go to war with an alien species, it's overwhelmingly likely that it would be like us vs. ants: one side wipes the other out without even trying. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for a good story but what to do :doubt:

If anyone has anything they want to check, feel free to ask!
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Asteroth on December 14, 2017, 12:40:25 am
1 seems to make the assumption that Terrans are the ones causing the supernova (the repeated use of 'we' which could only imply humanity), and you seem to have forgotten that it wasn't us it was the Shivans that did it. We really haven't the slightest clue as to how they did it, which was part of the point, so it's silly to to attempt to dissect the possibility of the act when we don't know what the methods are. Nobody would argue that isn't well beyond any Terran method. And also Capella is below the threshold to supernova naturally, and I don't think anyone would describe Capella's supernova as "natural".

And 3 seems to completely forget that everyone has instantaneous FTL communication in Freespace. It's clearly used in nearly every mission so I'm not sure how you missed that one.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: AdmiralRalwood on December 14, 2017, 01:23:56 am
Regarding point 2, Blue Planet actually references lightspeed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Aesaar on December 14, 2017, 01:35:15 am
1) Capella supernova: this is not plausible (unfortunately it's also canon). That's because stars are way way way more massive than anything we can realistically affect. For example the Sun is 2x10^30 kg, while the Earth is only 6x10^24. We would need a million Earths to make something as big as the Sun, and there simply isn't enough material. A giant fleet of Sathanases probably still won't even reach the mass of the Earth. The Sun also outputs 10^26 J of energy every second. That's 10 billion times greater than the largest nuke ever detonated. There's no plausible way for us to cause the Sun or Capella to go supernova, unless we did something like collide another star with it (which is plausible, given enough time, using gravitational attraction).

Another thing is that Capella is ~2 solar masses, which is well below the threshold necessary to go supernova (~8 solar masses). However Capella is big enough to go nova, which is distinct from a supernova because it leads to the formation of a white dwarf as opposed to a black hole / neutron star. Left to its own devices, the order of magnitude of time taken for a star of Capella's size to go nova is several billion years.
Like Ralwood said, the Shivans did it, and the Shivans technologically outclass humanity by a considerable degree.


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5) Finally, about technology: life on Earth has existed for over 3 billion years, and it's only in the past several hundred years that we've actually had firearms. If there is sentient life out there, they are not likely to be at a technologically comparable level. In other words, if we do go to war with an alien species, it's overwhelmingly likely that it would be like us vs. ants: one side wipes the other out without even trying. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for a good story but what to do :doubt:
IDK, Freespace 2 and Blue Planet managed it.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 14, 2017, 01:56:03 am
There is no conceivable way the Shivans can cause a supernova either. It is just not believable. Just count how many Sathanas juggernauts will be needed to come to 1% of the mass of the Sun, or how much energy they must emit to come to 1% of the energy the Sun produces every second. To actually cause the Sun to go nova requires way way way more resources than the Shivans could conceivably field. To put in some numbers, assuming each Sathanas were a billion kilograms, it would still take ten billion billion billion Sathanas juggernauts to come to 1% of the Sun's mass. A fleet that size would have literally no trouble annihilating the GTVA (how many systems does the GTVA control anyway - less than 50?). At one Sathanas per second, it would also take billions upon billions of years to get all those Sathanases into the Capella system.

Also for comparison the Lucifer bombarding Vasuda Prime wiped out the surface, but did not blow the planet to pieces (something that would still have taken less energy than causing the Sun to go nova).

As for FTL communication - I'm under the impression that in the FS world, aside from intersystem jumps, communication occurs at light speed. Communication within a system at light speed is plausible. It takes several hours for light to reach Neptune, the outermost Solar System planet, which is short enough to make coordinating a fleet plausible.

Quote from: Aesaar
IDK, Freespace 2 and Blue Planet managed it.
They also assumed three (four in Blue Planet's case) spacefaring races that were actually pretty close in technological capabilities. GTVA vs Shivans was nowhere near as imbalanced as humans vs. ants. Unfortunately in the humans vs. ants scenario there's just no story to tell, because everything would either be utterly futile or stupidly easy.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: General Battuta on December 14, 2017, 02:08:30 am
Humans have significantly lower odds against BP's Shivans than ants do versus humans. By like...a mind-boggling order of magnitude. Ants might have a good run at wiping out humans, I expect; at the very least the odds are non-zero.

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3) Blue Planet (Wounded Prey): if I remember right, this was the mission in which you chase the Duke while your wingmen warp in to who-knows-where. One of them says he showed up 10 light years away. As with the analysis above, that's not believable. 10 light years is more than the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri. It also means that the wingman would not be able to communicate, since any signals he sends takes 10 years to arrive. A more plausible distance is 1 astronomical unit, i.e. the distance between the Earth and the Sun, but even at this distance light takes 8 minutes to travel. Even more plausible is the distance between the Earth and the Moon - about 360,000 km. Light only takes one second to travel this distance, but for all intents and purposes, the wingman still won't be able to get to the Duke.

The point is not that Corey is 10 light years away but that his navigational systems are ****ed.

The Shivans destroy Capella with a subspace weapon. In much the same way that an atomic weapon can get a preposterous amount of energy from a small amount of matter, their mastery of subspace lets them disrupt the star until it goes supernova without needing to actuate the ordinary dynamics of a core collapse. The mass of the Sathanas fleet is as irrelevant, since presumably whatever they are doing relies on the dynamics of subspace.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: The E on December 14, 2017, 02:24:40 am
There is no conceivable way the Shivans can cause a supernova either. It is just not believable. Just count how many Sathanas juggernauts will be needed to come to 1% of the mass of the Sun, or how much energy they must emit to come to 1% of the energy the Sun produces every second. To actually cause the Sun to go nova requires way way way more resources than the Shivans could conceivably field. To put in some numbers, assuming each Sathanas were a billion kilograms, it would still take ten billion billion billion Sathanas juggernauts to come to 1% of the Sun's mass. A fleet that size would have literally no trouble annihilating the GTVA (how many systems does the GTVA control anyway - less than 50?). At one Sathanas per second, it would also take billions upon billions of years to get all those Sathanases into the Capella system.

Do you have a degree in advanced shivan science?

The problem here is that you're looking at FS and FS2 through a hard SF lens, when neither game was written to be hard SF. It's like trying to argue that Star Wars is bad because there's no way that the Death Star can generate enough energy to overcome the gravitational binding energy of a planet, or no way to make light sabers that interact with each other like metal sabers would. The Shivans are able to turn Capella into a supernova. That's a fact of the FS universe. How they manage to do that is unknown, and in storytelling terms, doesn't matter; It's not an inconsistency or flaw that needs correction.

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As for FTL communication - I'm under the impression that in the FS world, aside from intersystem jumps, communication occurs at light speed. Communication within a system at light speed is plausible. It takes several hours for light to reach Neptune, the outermost Solar System planet, which is short enough to make coordinating a fleet plausible.

This is wrong. During FS2, Command is always able to communicate with us, even if the ship he is presumably on is in an entirely different system.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: AdmiralRalwood on December 14, 2017, 02:40:38 am
Like Ralwood said, the Shivans did it, and the Shivans technologically outclass humanity by a considerable degree.
That was Asteroth (not that I disagree).
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: karajorma on December 14, 2017, 02:50:02 am
To be honest, I don't consider sending a 100km iron asteroid into the core of the sun to be beyond anything we could expect from 80 Sathanases. Nor would removing a similar volume from the core seem to be beyond them. I'm not familiar with astrophysics enough to know if either would actually cause a supernova but I can't imagine either of them being good for the star.

And that's without them having some kind of subspace weapon we haven't seen before.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 14, 2017, 03:00:35 am
Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

The atomic weapons idea doesn't work either (for reference stars by definition undergo atomic processes at their core, which is why they output so much energy). I'm nonetheless talking in terms of mass because the plausible power output of a weapon is capped by its mass. Seriously, run some numbers: the Sun produces 10^26 joules per second. By E = mc^2, the total amount of mass needed is 1.1 billion kg, assuming you are able to convert ALL of that into energy (real nuclear weapons reach yields significantly less than this). An iron cube of that mass would be ~138 km long, which is way longer than the Colossus. Simply sending an asteroid into the Sun will not work; asteroids already fall into the Sun with regularity and our Sun hasn't gone nova. You could send the entire Earth into the Sun and nothing would happen. Further note that a supernova can outshine an entire galaxy for a brief instant.

The "easiest" way to get the Sun to go nova is to dump mass on it. The more massive the Sun gets, the higher pressure its core comes under, and the more luminous it needs to be to balance gravity. Eventually it reaches a tipping point and goes nova. You need to dump a lot of mass however, on the order of magnitude of the Sun's mass itself. That's why I mentioned that the most realistic way to do it is to collide another star with it. This can conceivably be done over thousands upon millions of years: in our case for example, we put a big mass in between us and Alpha Centauri, and gradually (g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y, since Alpha Centauri is more massive than the biggest mass we can conceivably use, which is the mass of Earth) pull Alpha Centauri into the Sun.

FS2 is set up in a world that's already not realistic since it has subspace portals. But like I wrote in the OP - one can pick more realistic values. Corey could've been 300k km away instead of 10 light years. It's up to the designer. If you're designing and don't care, that's fine. If you care, then feel free to ask whatever you want.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: The E on December 14, 2017, 03:07:09 am
Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

A single ant vs a single human is not a fight.

Ants vs humans would be.

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If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

There's something you missed here. Corey says that his instruments put him 10 ly away, not that he actually is 10 ly away. The implication here is that his instruments are malfunctioning, not that he travelled that far.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: karajorma on December 14, 2017, 03:16:51 am
This is wrong. During FS2, Command is always able to communicate with us, even if the ship he is presumably on is in an entirely different system.

That's not quite true. In Into The Lion's Den command isn't able to communicate with you. That suggests that either a Terran comm system couldn't be fitted in the Mara or that some sort of relay is required and that the Aquitaine or Psamtic usually served in that role.

But yes, I agree that except for that occasion, Terran Command is always able to communicate with you, even in missions like Mystery of the Trinity where the Aquitaine is the only capital ship in the nebula. And the idea that Terran Command are somehow moving around from capship to capship so that they are always in a position to communicate with the player tends to stretch credulity.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 14, 2017, 03:27:50 am
Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

A single ant vs a single human is not a fight.

Ants vs humans would be.

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If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

There's something you missed here. Corey says that his instruments put him 10 ly away, not that he actually is 10 ly away. The implication here is that his instruments are malfunctioning, not that he travelled that far.

How many ants does it take to kill a human in an F-16? How many F-16s can humanity field? I rest my case.

Quote from: karajorma
But yes, I agree that except for that occasion, Terran Command is always able to communicate with you, even in missions like Mystery of the Trinity where the Aquitaine is the only capital ship in the nebula. And the idea that Terran Command are somehow moving around from capship to capship so that they are always in a position to communicate with the player tends to stretch credulity.

It's also conceivable Terran command (at least within the nebula) isn't on a capital ship. Military history is not within my expertise, but it's plausible that command would prefer a ship with advanced communication abilities, not a heavily armored, heavy-firepower capital ship that would be in the thick of fighting and so can be destroyed.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: karajorma on December 14, 2017, 03:33:37 am
Are you really claiming that Terran Command are on a different ship in Mystery of the Trinity? Cause if they are, where the hell is it? Why is it never mentioned? And why aren't they scared that the Shivans will blow it up given that it's definitely nowhere near the Aquitaine, the only ship that can send help if it is attacked?

I'm sorry but there comes a point where it's only sensible to assume that the GTVA do have FTL comms.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: DefCynodont119 on December 14, 2017, 03:58:22 am
In regards to 4,
Hidden Text: Show

4) Ancient-Shivan War: I don't remember the exact mission but at one point a pilot comments that they're looking at ___ galaxy, and somewhere out there is their home. This is problematic because galaxies are big, and they are very far away. The Milky Way (our galaxy) is ~140,000 light years across, and contains some ~200 billion stars. If the Ancients are able to colonize the entire Milky Way, losing a single battle to the Shivans would be practically inconsequential, and they'd have plenty of time to build more ships, develop new technologies, etc. Another problem with this comment is that it implies the Ancient-Shivan War was an intergalactic war (as opposed to interstellar). The order of magnitude distance between galaxies is about 1 megaparsec, which is about 3 million light years. Travelling this distance would be formidably hard.

It's heavily implied that the Ancients are super arrogant and don't really control the entire galaxy, furthermore, It's specifically stated that that system (Verbeck I think) is in a star cluster just barely outside the Milky Way's plane.

Think of how the Galactic Terran Alliance only claims like, 20 or so stars, but they still call themselves Galactic! I think it's the same with the Ancients.

In the mission, the Ancients specifically call themselves intergalactic because they visited one star cluster.  This is like me saying humanity is an interstellar civilization right now only because Voyager is outside the heliopause boundary- or that I'm an expert chef because I made cereal one time-

It's Ridiculous Exaggeration, but based on the Ancients behavior in other briefings and in missions, I don't think it's beyond their personalty to exaggerate about other stuff. And if that's the degree to which they do so, it safe to assume that they don't actually control more then a few hundred stars- if not only a dozen or so.  :rolleyes:

I don't mean to tear you apart on this, I agree that HLP could really benefit from an Astronomy lesson or two.  ;7  the no Alpha Centauri - Sol contact thing drives me nuts. Freespace isn't very consistent in how hard/soft of sci-fi it is. *shurg*


It's not bad or wrong to call out soft sci-fi for being soft sci-fi, it's a good way to educate people about get them excited about science and space! (so long as you are not a jerk about it)
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: DefCynodont119 on December 14, 2017, 04:05:56 am
Oh and the GTVA does have FTL Comms, but that just makes the entire "No Sol communication" thing worse, (why are FTL comms down?) (do they need subspace?) (If so, why can't they still just use radio and wait 4-8 years?)
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: The E on December 14, 2017, 04:52:50 am
And that's not so much an inconsistency as it is a storytelling opportunity. Obviously something happened in sol or alpha centauri, so why not try to tell that story?
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 14, 2017, 05:20:58 am
Are you really claiming that Terran Command are on a different ship in Mystery of the Trinity? Cause if they are, where the hell is it? Why is it never mentioned? And why aren't they scared that the Shivans will blow it up given that it's definitely nowhere near the Aquitaine, the only ship that can send help if it is attacked?

I'm sorry but there comes a point where it's only sensible to assume that the GTVA do have FTL comms.

But it's plausible (much more plausible than causing Capella to go supernova in fact). Clearly one cannot make completely realistic FS2 campaigns since subspace drives are already unrealistic, but if one's going to take creative liberties, areas like this one are the best places for it.

@DefCynodont119 that's one way to interpret it I guess. Ancients have a few hundred worlds, while Shivans are the current dominant species in the Milky Way. Shivans have a few billion systems vs. few hundred for Ancients, no wonder the Shivans win. ez.

@The E - good idea, you want to write a campaign for that? :D Offhand I can't think of a plausible way to disrupt light-speed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri however. It is possible that dust shields light - we can't see the other side of the Milky Way for similar reasons, there's too much dust in the galactic plane - but with the distance between the two systems at only 4.3 light years, sufficient dust to block communication appearing out of nowhere is hard to believe. This kind of blockage would also block the star's light, and Alpha Centauri has always been visible from the Earth. A signal does get weaker at large distances, but they should still be detectable, and 2017 humans are already searching the sky for these signals. Some kind of radio jamming device between the two systems would work, but there's no one to operate such a device.

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/39571/how-far-away-would-an-alien-civilization-need-to-be-for-us-to-not-notice-them
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Luis Dias on December 14, 2017, 05:53:24 am
I have lots of "hard sci fi" obvious issues with FreeSpace, but funnily enough, I wouldn't count one single of your own issues as being on that list.

1 is easily explained away with unobtanium shivan technology, they just know way more physics than you can possibly even imagine mustering yourself here. Picture someone from the 15th century telling you that there is no way someone can instantly communicate with someone else to the other side of the world with "written words", because it would be against the "laws of nature", and that's basically you here.

2 is actually referenced in BP and irrelevant in FS2. The point in FS2 is not that we have not communicated with Sol, but that we haven't been able to get there.

3 was already mentioned, it's a misreading on your part of the dialogue. It's also irrelevant, given how FTL communication is a given both in FS canon and almost all mods/campaigns.

4... I haven't played that campaign so I have no idea.

If you had picked on how ships apparently have a speed cap of a couple hundreds of meters per second, or how much sound there is on space, etc., you'd be on oh so much better footing.

You could even have had picked on the sheer lack of realistic scale on FS2's final cutscene, where Capella is apparently just a few kilometers in size - if you compare it with the sathanases surrounding it - although that is quite common in sci fi shows and games' cutscenes to totally lack that sense of scale (cue Voyager intro, for instance, or the entirety of the latest Star Trek Beyond).

But your points, ahhhhh, no. Sorry. Dead ends.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: The E on December 14, 2017, 07:01:32 am
Offhand I can't think of a plausible way to disrupt light-speed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri however. It is possible that dust shields light - we can't see the other side of the Milky Way for similar reasons, there's too much dust in the galactic plane - but with the distance between the two systems at only 4.3 light years, sufficient dust to block communication appearing out of nowhere is hard to believe. This kind of blockage would also block the star's light, and Alpha Centauri has always been visible from the Earth. A signal does get weaker at large distances, but they should still be detectable, and 2017 humans are already searching the sky for these signals. Some kind of radio jamming device between the two systems would work, but there's no one to operate such a device.

That's because, sorry, you're looking at it from the wrong end. You're looking at physics when you should be looking at politics.

Point 1: Alpha Centauri is a vasudan system.
Point 2: Receiver arrays capable of picking up interstellar radio are large investments.
Point 3: As per 2, they are almost certainly state-level investments
Point 4: As per 1, assuming the GTVA has the means and willingness to build a lightspeed communication system, what makes you think that the results would be communicated to the populace at large, especially if those results would be corrosive to the GTVAs political unity?

Your answer to the ants vs human thing shows a similarly limited point of view. You're asking "How many soldier ants does it take to fire a rifle", when the question you should be asking is "Can we eradicate ants without radically altering our ecosystem in the process".

What I'm trying to get at here is that hard science has its place in storytelling. But it should never override storytelling if the two conflict; it doesn't matter whether Corey really is 10 light years away or whether his instruments are just malfunctioning. The point is that something unexpected happened that separated Bei from his wingmen.

Your desire to educate us all on real physics is admirable. That you want a bit more realism in your spacefighter shooty game is understandable, even though I don't share that want. But what you are doing here is needless nitpicking of things that, sorry, do not matter to the question of how to tell an engaging story in FS.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Novachen on December 14, 2017, 08:10:52 am
Well... Capella in the Freespace universe is a system with only one Class G star, so very similar to Sol... in Reality Capella would be a system with four stars and that would mean that it is unlikely that this one could be the home of 200 million.

Interestingly, the real Capella A and Capella B are Giant Stars that have enough mass to end their life cycle into Supernovae.

Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: karajorma on December 14, 2017, 08:20:09 am
Are you really claiming that Terran Command are on a different ship in Mystery of the Trinity? Cause if they are, where the hell is it? Why is it never mentioned? And why aren't they scared that the Shivans will blow it up given that it's definitely nowhere near the Aquitaine, the only ship that can send help if it is attacked?

I'm sorry but there comes a point where it's only sensible to assume that the GTVA do have FTL comms.

But it's plausible (much more plausible than causing Capella to go supernova in fact). Clearly one cannot make completely realistic FS2 campaigns since subspace drives are already unrealistic, but if one's going to take creative liberties, areas like this one are the best places for it.

I don't think it's the slightest bit plausible that the GTVA are limited to STL comms. You'd have to contradict practically all of the interactions with Terran Command in order to make that work. Look at it this way, Earth and Mars are pretty close together in planetary terms yet it takes 6 minutes to send a signal and get a reply when they are at their closest points. Have we ever seen Command have that sort of delay ever? And yet we see missions where planets are present in one mission and dots of light in another. So unless you're going to posit that every time Alpha wing jump somewhere Terran Command is following them, staying out of range and yet never get attacked by the Shivans there is no way you can get away with claiming that the GTVA doesn't have FTL comms.

Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: General Battuta on December 14, 2017, 08:48:46 am
Oh dear.

Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

...ants can't damage humans? Have you, er, ever been bitten by an ant? Never mind the problem of ecologies: without ants crop yields would collapse, so all they need to do to harm us is stop working. What would happen to ants without humans? Nothing.

As a species ants have a much better chance of defeating humans than humans have of defeating BP's Shivans.

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If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

Friend, there is no point talking unless you read what is said to you. Let me repeat: the point is not that Corey is 10 light years away, but that his navigational systems are ****ed. He cannot accurately determine his position. This is why Corey says "This is not right." when describing his readings.

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The atomic weapons idea doesn't work either (for reference stars by definition undergo atomic processes at their core, which is why they output so much energy). I'm nonetheless talking in terms of mass because the plausible power output of a weapon is capped by its mzzz blah blah blah

The atomic weapon idea is a perfect analogy because an atomic weapon cannot be explained by the chemical properties of its warhead. The supernova of Capella cannot be explained without understanding the dynamics of subspace. You don't know how subspace works, so your insistence that the supernova is impossible is as pointless as insisting an atomic bomb can't burn hot enough to produce all that energy. Atomic bombs don't burn.

Now if you'd started by complaining about the space friction that slows your fighter down when you turn your engines off... ;7
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: MitoPL on December 14, 2017, 09:45:28 am
If you want to get something realistic, go play Kerbal Space Program.

Let me throw in some stuff too:

1: Given Shivan expertise in subspace technology, this is plausible. While Shivans can definitely do subspace things that have impact on gameplay (precise jumps, possibly disabling subspace drives/comms), there are some other things. Like Blue Planet's description of Sathanas claiming that it removes the unimaginable amounts of heat generated by these large beams in front by radiating all that energy into subspace. Or using completely unstable jump nodes.
I think a simple way to force Capella to go nova (wait, wasn't that a multiple star system?) would be to just open a huge subspace portal inside it, directed to somewhere, and either suck out matter from its core or force more matter to flow through that portal into Capella (just have the other end of that portal inside a denser star). This method to throw a star off balance is rather simple. By the way, ever watched Stargate SG-1?

2: While there was a mention of whether any light-speed communication with Sol would be disclosed or not or if that investment in post-war GTA (with Shivans, HoL, GTI defectors and completely wrecked economy) would be even possible, in Freespace we do not have a magical immediate FTL communication anywhere we want.

Look at that (http://wiki.hard-light.net/index.php/Subspace). From this you can see that a vessel's subspace drive needs to be in a gravitational field (of a solar system) in order to even work properly and trying to make a jump to a location far into outer parts of a system seems to require a) a lot of power to stabilise a subspace corridor, b) computational abilities to predict an optimal path of some sort in an unstable subspace field.
My guess is that subspace normally is very, very energetic and unstable, but gravitational fields close to their source are able to fairly well stabilise local parts of subspace, and vessels using a jump drive as we see in FS are able to only move in such subspace environment, probably because in a more violent areas a ship travelling in FTL would have been just vaporised or forced to use excessive amounts of energy to prevent that from happening. (Note: Jump nodes seem to be temporary natural "corridors" of stabilised subspace between "bubbles" that are solar systems) So if we imagine FTL comms being basically a tiny subspace corridor between comm systems of two vessels into which radio waves are sent and received on the other side (again: Stargate), even if you would somehow manage to open a corridor between Sol and Alpha Centauri (energy requirements!), any objects sent would probably be vaporised and any message sent would be either too corrupt to be even registered as a message or completely indistinguishable from the subspace background noise.
Also note that tightly packed star clusters could have really complex subspace mechanics like dozens of jump nodes or most of the space inside that cluster being accessable with a basic in-system jump drive.

Freespace ship speeds seem to be relative. I think it was mentioned in some campaign that your speed is measured relatively to a close notable revelant object, like a space station, huge warship or an asteroid. I suppose that would also mean these objects are the center of mass for a gravitational system like, in example, planetoid-you or capship-you-others.

3: Either nav systems of Bei's wingmen malfunctioned... Or 10ly isn't actually that much off the scale in this case. See, in reality N362 is a star cluster, not a single neutron star. As I mentioned earlier, star clusters could have really complex subspace dynamics and the presence of a massive neutron star probably isn't helping too. I guess that in such a system 10ly is a realistically achieveable distance of an in-system subspace jump with that huge navigational error being caused by multiple interactions of that cluster.

4: That war is intergalactic (in more detail: between our galaxy and a stray star cluster outside it IIRC), so the distance isn't that ridiculous, but it doesn't matter either way since the only way to get to another solar system is via a jump node and the same seems to be true between galaxies/star clusters. And I think it's settled that travel through a jump node is really fast.
The other issue is a sense of scale: if the Ancients are that arrogant and have similarities with humans in that domain... Well, our definition of "colonised" is "some people live there", not "we are fully utilising the resources of a whole planet". If you ever watched certain videos of Isaac Arthur on Youtube, you would probably know that our whole solar system is able to provide us with stuff to build a civilisation with a fleet exceeding most things seen in science fiction by several orders of magnitude. Even better, Jupiter and its moon system are also able to do it. For example, look at UEF in Blue Planet: Sol has got a similarily sized population and economy to whole GTVA. Or Mass Effect - the known civilisation spans the entire galaxy, but only a fraction of a percent of stars and systems are accesible to travelers. In ME the effective range of travel is: mass relay systems + very limited FTL range. In FS it is: wherever a stable jump node decides to form and only the insides of that solar system. So it's very probable that Ancients had only a couple dozens of systems colonised and Shivans could even originate from that single system and build an enormous fleet only with resources available there. Heck, you can hide fleets as huge as moons or planets in such a single solar system. Noone's looking there anyway.
So that battle is important in two ways: in a way Ancients think it is - honour, pride ("we've never lost a system") and in a way a little bit more serious - to hold them off in that place because otherwise they will break into your territory and slaughter everything (just like GTVA's defence of Gamma Draconis and later Capella).

5: The story is about races noticing each other when they have similar tech levels, because if that isn't the case... there's no story. Just an immediate slaughter or subordination. Also, what will a single high-tech weapon do for you when your enemy has got millions of more primitive guns?
Not to mention that multiple races with similar technology advancement arising in a short period of time is a quite possible situation when there is something like the Reapers.
The thing making this situation (humanity vs Shivans) a lot different than a simple comparison of military forces is intelligence: since we're intelligent we know how to use stuff like viral weapons in order to even take control over enemy assets. This isn't actually a case against Shivans, but I think you get it. In Blue Planet's case the problem is whether Shivans want to kill humanity off or if they need that not to happen at all.
Yes, humans can kill Shivans, but infinity minus one is still infinity.


Also I've always thought that Command is actually stationary somewhere in fleet HQ and all the info and orders are sent through a system of subspace transmitters and relays through jump nodes to the desired system where Allied units are located. That would need a device sitting near a jump node in the nebula and transmitting stuff, and I really doubt GTVA would attempt to expand into that nebula without basic comm infrastructure.

Also,
Quote
How many ants does it take to kill a human in an F-16? How many F-16s can humanity field? I rest my case.
If we assume that an ant has no weapons like a Shivan and also no realistic way of damaging F-16's hull, in order to kill that man they should... a) fly en masse into fighter's engines until they're completely clogged up, fail and the whole fighter crashes. Yes, flying ants exist. Or walk into the engine when that fighter is stationary on the ground. Or hide in the cockpit instead and just eat the pilot after lift-off.
And repeat.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 14, 2017, 01:47:28 pm

Your desire to educate us all on real physics is admirable. That you want a bit more realism in your spacefighter shooty game is understandable, even though I don't share that want. But what you are doing here is needless nitpicking of things that, sorry, do not matter to the question of how to tell an engaging story in FS.

Okay, then I don't care either.

Consider this offer to help withdrawn. You can close the thread.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: General Battuta on December 14, 2017, 01:52:56 pm
Wait, I thought this was a request for help, not an offer! You wanted things explained! ;)
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Mongoose on December 14, 2017, 04:30:11 pm
Oh and the GTVA does have FTL Comms, but that just makes the entire "No Sol communication" thing worse, (why are FTL comms down?) (do they need subspace?) (If so, why can't they still just use radio and wait 4-8 years?)
It's almost a certainty that intersystem comms require an active subspace node between the two systems, with the aid of relays (like the Faustus in FS1's A Failure to Communicate) to send and receive the signals.  As was previously mentioned, the Aquitaine itself presumably served as the comm relay during the nebula campaign, and Command was incommunicado during Into the Lion's Den because there was no relay ship on that side of the node.  Take away the node entirely, as in Sol, and there's nothing to transmit through.  As for Alpha Centauri, is it that no one is able to send a signal...or does the GTVA not want anyone to know what was said?  ;7
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Nyctaeus on December 15, 2017, 02:11:45 pm
5) Finally, about technology: life on Earth has existed for over 3 billion years, and it's only in the past several hundred years that we've actually had firearms. If there is sentient life out there, they are not likely to be at a technologically comparable level. In other words, if we do go to war with an alien species, it's overwhelmingly likely that it would be like us vs. ants: one side wipes the other out without even trying. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for a good story but what to do :doubt:
Heeeh... What about no?

This argument is invalid because you have no idea what aliens are like. In fact, nobody do. While evolutionary rules are quite specified and they are likely to be identical in whole universe, potential alien races may develop much slower or much faster than humans. Numerous conditions may contribute to speed of their technological development, or opposite. They are also likely to go with completely different technology, mostly exotic compared to technology of humans.

Second issue is tempo of evolution. On Earth life is existing for 3 billion years as you mentioned and we are the first intelligent, sentient speces of Earth, well... Evolution is probably not likely to give birth to species with higher intelligence frequently. Space is not full of ancient, hyperadvanced species dwarfing humans in every aspect. The most possible result is varied age of individual species and their civilisations respectively. Some of them are older than us by millenia, some are analogical to humans in stone age. We have no idea what shall we encounter first.

Vasudan civilisation is probably older than terrans, but similar technological level may be explained by various conditions. The easiest one to figure out was harsh, hot climate of Vasuda Prime or more tradition-focused mentality. Shivans are likely to be much older than both terrans and vasudans, but their history is remaning ever mysterious.

I have no idea where did you get your theory. I guess it's derived from some science publications. Well... Your publishers lack imagination and in case of science, imagination is extremely important as Einstein used to say :P. Potential aliens are nothing like humans, so we should not think about them like we think about us. I mean, some percent of them are similar, but current species of homo sapiens is a result of millions of years of veeery complicated history. Similar chains of events + similar environmental conditions are unlikely to exist in close proximity to Earth, but somewhere in distant galaxies... Well, who knows.

And yeah... FS is about science too, but it's mostly about entertainment :P
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Banedon on December 20, 2017, 12:51:12 am
I have no idea where did you get your theory. I guess it's derived from some science publications.

I'm an astrophysicist by training. You'd think I know what I'm saying. If you cared I could point you towards references on this, but do you?

I won't be reading this thread anymore. If anyone still wants to talk, send me an email, but no promises.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: General Battuta on December 20, 2017, 12:06:30 pm
If you're an astrophysicist by training, why did you come into a forum full of smart people who've been thinking about this stuff for nearly twenty years and try to 101 it? No personal offense intended, it's just a weird choice.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: xenocartographer on December 20, 2017, 01:11:19 pm
I'd like to posit that the scientific method can be applied to speculative fiction. Obviously, we can't run experiments on Shivans or jump drives, but we can test hypotheses against the data we do have, namely canon. Under this model, you've proposed five hypotheses. Each of them has has been responded to with canon or something that can be easily derived from canon. I'm sure you'd agree that refusing to reconsider your hypothesis when faced with new information isn't very scientific, being an astrophysicist and all. So, rather than this little tantrum, why not do the scientific thing and defend your hypothesis - taking into account the new data you've been given - or gracefully concede the point? There's still a discussion to be had here, if you want, but you've got to consider the game's canon as a valid source. As you say, real life doesn't have jump drives; therefore, to speculate about how they work without considering what the game tells us about them isn't a productive exercise. I think you've already seen how frustrating it gets.
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: Nyctaeus on December 20, 2017, 07:42:53 pm
I have no idea where did you get your theory. I guess it's derived from some science publications.

I'm an astrophysicist by training. You'd think I know what I'm saying. If you cared I could point you towards references on this, but do you?

I won't be reading this thread anymore. If anyone still wants to talk, send me an email, but no promises.
I actually care, but your references will be just a bunch of thesis. Mostly because that's only thing we can do now in case of hypothetical alien life - make thesis. To make something more than thesis, you need to have representative sample and repeatable results according to modern scientific methods... Which you won't have unless we make contact with multiple alien species. What I don't understand is the fact that you defend your obviously not-confirmed thesis with incredible stubbornness. It's not that hard to admit: "Okay, it's just a thesis. One of many. We have no proof that this one will ever be confirmed".

If you're an astrophysicist by training, why did you come into a forum full of smart people who've been thinking about this stuff for nearly twenty years and try to 101 it? No personal offense intended, it's just a weird choice.
Common trait of all hard-science enthusiasts. They're all trying to show everyone else how smart they are [and how others aren't :P]. This is also nothing personal, but this is not the first time I see something like that and it's quite common behaviour among devoted science enthusiasts. No offense Banedon. Don't do typical ragequit but instead calm down your ego. Your knowledge may be very useful here for plot and lore designing, but try to use your knowledge for expanding FS lore instead of negating it because it is not fully scientifically accurate.

I guess there is no point in continuing this discussion any further. May I kindly request any moderator to close it to avoid further pointless, unproductive discussion?
Title: Re: Astronomy
Post by: MitoPL on December 21, 2017, 12:11:03 pm
I just want to point out that there are some interesting fan fiction texts on HLP that are astronomically... quite correct (or at least logical). Like Shetland/Ephesus.