atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#4098: Actually it'd be the FOUR planets club.

In Aldrin and Barnes' Encounter With Tiber there is a small informal ceremony when an astronaut who has landed on both the Moon and Phobos (one of Mars' moons) finally lands on Mars itself: another astronaut who has done so pours a single-serving bottle of champagne over his head and says, "Welcome to the Three Worlds Club!" Welcoming him, of course, to the ranks of spacemen who have landed on three different planets. Well, Earth is a planet, too--

Of course I am quibbling, but I have nothing else to talk about today except for how annoying it is to get a loose eyelash in your eye--something that happens to me at least once a week. I have the kind of eyelashes that supermodels desire; they're long and thick, and as I get older they seem to have a penchant for ending up in my eyes rather than falling gracefully out of their follicles to land on the ground.

Encounter With Tiber (EWT) is a book I've talked about here before. It's an old favorite of mine, mainly because it's an SF tour de force. I really want to read the next part of the story, the part they didn't write, which covers the humans catching up with the Tiberians and starting a whole new chapter in the histories of both races.

The second Tiberian ship to Earth uses what they call a "zero point energy laser"--a quantum vacuum energy laser--to provide thrust, and it's powerful enough that they can boost at ten gravities with the thing. (Tiberian gravity, not Earth's, but the two figures are close enough.) The story further implies that the Tiberians have fusion power by that time.

The engine is powerful enough to boost the ship up to about 98% of lightspeed; I end up wondering how much power such an engine requires. How many gigawatts? Because getting one gravity of acceleration from a laser is going to mean emitting a lot of light in a concentrated beam, as is made plain a little later in the story (but it's a major spoiler to explain why). In fact the story explicitly says that the ship could go even faster but that there's no real point to it as the gains would be incremental at best--mainly it would reduce the apparent trip time for the crew (relativity, you know) without actually reducing the real trip time by very much. Really, when the speed limit is lightspeed, one or two percent off that figure isn't going to make much difference--so it takes you a month longer to get there; does that really matter when you're traveling for years?

* * *

Anyway, that's all I've got, really. Yesterday was a mess.

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