Author Topic: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?  (Read 2561 times)

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How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
I'm building a mod & campaign related to the Blue Planet story, told from the Shivans' perspective. As expected, all the tech room entries are written from the Shivan perspective. The tech room addresses the clever ways that the Shivans & their enemies generate energy.

Rather suddenly I realized: I have no idea how the GTVA's meson reactors work! For that matter, how does a meson bomb work?

Obviously there is some method the GTVA uses, which can yield enormous amounts of energy. If the name is any indication, it involves mesons. In Freespace 2 retail, the application was limited to really big bombs, but in Blue Planet, meson-related technology has developed even further. TEI warships use meson reactors and meson torpedoes, and the Triton-delivered meson bombs (as seen in 'The Blade Itself') are even more powerful, treading dangerously close to anti-planetary superweapons.

I did some research, and apparently in real life, the US used the 'meson bomb' as a disinformation & deception device, to lead Soviet scientists on a wild & fruitlessly expensive weapon technology goose chase. The only information I can find about any meson bomb is that it would release energy by having mesons 'interact with' fissile materials, like uranium. Which is uselessly non-specific.

Research into the properties of mesons, as understood by science today, does not seem to yield any practically useful application (in comparison to things like nuclear fusion, antimatter, and quantum vacuum energy).

Other sci-fi intellectual properties have played with the idea of meson weaponry, but usually in the form of beams that can ghost right through ordinary matter, and decay into gamma rays. That quality strikes me as inherently non-useful in the context of a reactor, where containment is a priority, and only marginally useful in the context of a bomb.

Both the GTVA and UEF seem to have limited access to antimatter, and the GTVA's continued use of Helios bombs in Blue Planet seems to infer that antimatter bombs have a higher yield per mass than meson bombs. The energy yield heirarchy appears to be: Antimatter > Meson > Fusion.

Is there any information about how meson technology works in Freespace 2 or Blue Planet?

If none exists already, can I request some from the writers of BP?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 07:36:17 pm by Erebus Alpha »
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
They work very well, thanks!

 
Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Yes, but do they work better than antimatter? Does the GTVA not have enough antimatter laying around to build antimatter-powered TEI ships? Or are they just pussies about catastrophic containment failure?

My best guess so far is that the GTVA has some sort of fairly inert fuel that releases mesons, and the mesons decay into gamma radiation & release energy.

To make the meson bomb easier to build than the meson reactor, it makes sense that said fuel would produce the mesons when bombarded with gamma radiation. Which would tend to produce an exponential chain reaction. This somewhat fits with the general theme of meson reactors being a new & somewhat cantankerous technology. Obviously TEI ships don't explode like meson bombs when shot at, but there is some degree of unwanted volatility; the meson reactors in the GTC Hyperion are apparently prone to a "bad quench" in the event of catastrophic damage.

Alternatively, the GTVA might have discovered a more effective method of muon-catalyzed fusion, which uses mesons to arbitrarily make fusion easier or increase the yield of a fusion reactor.

More exotically, the GTVA might have discovered how to produce mesonic molecules, which are currently speculative, but might be possible. Exactly what those things do is anyone's guess, but it might be useful in building bombs or reactors? Some sort of quasi-stable explodium?

Or is there a cat named "Meson" inside each meson reactor, with a piece of buttered toast on its back, stuck in a state of trying to land on its feet vs. land buttered-side down, spinning at 0.9999 C?
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline yomi

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Dude, it's sci-fi, you are overthinking  it. Just write In tech entry that use of technolog is clasified :D

 

Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Or is there a cat named "Meson" inside each meson reactor, with a piece of buttered toast on its back, stuck in a state of trying to land on its feet vs. land buttered-side down, spinning at 0.9999 C?
"Excuse me, we're with GTVI. We need to know who's been leaking Rho-level secrets in violation of the GTVA Security Act..."
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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
"Obviously the meson bomb is an earlier form of cat-toast-device, with the toast inverted, so that the cat and toast fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. With artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and the kinetic energy they contain is unimaginably devastating."

 - Wikileaks 2383
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Or is there a cat named "Meson" inside each meson reactor, with a piece of buttered toast on its back, stuck in a state of trying to land on its feet vs. land buttered-side down, spinning at 0.9999 C?
"Excuse me, we're with GTVI. We need to know who's been leaking Rho-level secrets in violation of the GTVA Security Act..."
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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Another passing curiosity: The UEF seems to have more antimatter at its disposal than the GTVA. How much antimatter does the UEF have access to? How large is the stockpile, and how much are they able to make every year?

I could do some math-y science-y stuff and try to figure out how much antimatter is in each apocalypse torpedo, and then try to calculate how many apocalypse torpedoes the UEF is using (...the horror :shaking:), but I have no clue if the UEF can sustain that rate of antimatter manufacturing forever, or if they are just lucky that they have accumulated a massive stockpile of it.

Hypothetically speaking, suppose the GTVA did win the war against the UEF. Would easier access to the antimatter generators at mercury render meson torpedoes obsolete? Would the GTVA go to a 100% helios-armed bomber corps?

Is antimatter > meson, or meson > antimatter? And how many kilograms of antimatter does Mercury manufacture per year?
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline The E

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
How much antimatter does the UEF have access to?

Enough.

Quote
How large is the stockpile, and how much are they able to make every year?

Large enough, and sufficiently much.

Quote
Hypothetically speaking, suppose the GTVA did win the war against the UEF. Would easier access to the antimatter generators at mercury render meson torpedoes obsolete? Would the GTVA go to a 100% helios-armed bomber corps?

Possibly? The GTVA developed meson warheads in part because they are more economical to produce than M/AM annihilation devices.

Quote
Is antimatter > meson, or meson > antimatter?

Way I see it, antimatter warheads are theoretically more devastating than meson tech, but the difficulty inherent in producing AM and packaging it for maximal yield make meson warheads more desirable for the node denial role.
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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Thanks The E, this info solves the important antimatter vs. meson plot bunnies in my campaign!

Quote
Way I see it, antimatter warheads are theoretically more devastating than meson tech, but the difficulty inherent in producing AM and packaging it for maximal yield make meson warheads more desirable for the node denial role.

You mean the tendency of any colliding mass of matter and antimatter always being perfectly aligned to blast one another apart in precisely opposite directions, and scatter lots of antimatter out into space uselessly? Even the Shivans had some trouble with that.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2016, 03:04:20 pm by Erebus Alpha »
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?

. The energy yield heirarchy appears to be: Antimatter > Meson > Fusion.


Energy yield might not the only factor here ... There might be/are differences in the required safety measures (Antimatter and Fusion-Plasma need to be magnetically suspended to prevent accidents, for example), by-products might be another concern (see nuclear fission) or other elements of tech may require rare minerals, solutions or gas-mixtures (e.g. for coolants)

And there might be further engineering concerns upon implentation: how far must the fusion core (and its magnetic field) be from a sensor device which measures electromagetism without the sensor being rendered useless by the magnetic field? Does a magnetic field inside the ship interfere with magnetic shielding against solar wind? Does the radiation of excess energy make a ship powered by energy source X easier to detect? Makes the use of technology X a ship more vurnable to a weapon using technology Y (e.g a proectile from a magnetic accelerator cannon may be still be magnetized when leaving the gun, and said projectile travelling trough your ship might interfere with equipment susceptible to magnetic fields)?
« Last Edit: November 15, 2016, 07:56:39 am by 0rph3u5 »
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Offline Aesaar

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Do note that even the UEF, even with their large antimatter stockpiles and manufacturing capabilities, don't use antimatter for shipboard power generation.

 
Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
There does seem to be a fairly linear correlation with reactor output and the danger it poses to the ship and crew. Loads of energy concentrated in a small area is, unsurprisingly, kind of hazardous.

In the case of fusion, there is nothing safe about putting million-degree fusing plasma inside your ship. But it's at least marginally possible to vent the reactor of plasma in the event that things begin going wrong. Fusion also tends to produce a lot of gamma radiation, and sometimes neutron radiation too, both of which are very bad for the living things that spaceships usually contain.

If things go wrong with an antimatter power plant, it's almost impossible to conceive of any malfunction other than catastrophic detonation. Antimatter is inherently fail-deadly instead of fail-safe, which is an excellent reason to avoid using it in spaceships.

The Shivans have more exotic, more powerful, and more hazardous methods of energy generation, exceeding even the yield of antimatter. Those reactions are also so toxic to space-time, the only practical applications are bombs and beam cannons.

I imagine that meson reactors and bombs fit somewhere between fusion and antimatter, in terms of yield, danger, and fuel cost/rarity.
"Obviously the meson bomb is a form of cat-toast-device, with the buttered toast inverted, so that the cat and toast both fly in the direction of gravity much faster than expected. By introducing artificial gravity, a pair of cat-toast perpetual motion accelerator units can be made to collide with one another, and they produce an unimaginably devastating explosion. Both cats are named 'Meson'."

 - Wikileaks 2383

 

Offline Rheyah

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Re: How do Meson Reactors & Bombs Work?
Liberation of energy from subspace by means of special meson based thingymagummies.

Soft sci-fi is wonderful.

By the way, fusion reactor quenches would be perfectly safe.  They don't go super critical - the moment reactor containment is breached the reactor just shuts down.  However, since that lacks dramatic tension and Freespace doesn't have support for drifting hulk starships, it's much more fun to just pretend they explode.