atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3163: OMG the fatigue

I've been playing that game (Katawa Shoujo) ALL FREAKIN' DAY.

I finally gave up halfway (?) through Act 2, Shizune path, because I was finding myself increasingly having trouble understanding the words on the screen. Saved my progress, looked at the "Extras" menu a bit, and then called it a night. Shit.

It took me too damned long to get onto the Shizune path.

Fortunately, I discovered that the "auto" function works pretty decently. The slider in the Options menu adjusts the duration of this delay but it also auto-adjusts the delay to the length of text being displayed, so a single word is shown for a shorter time than a huge f-in' paragraph. So: except for making choices, pausing playback for bathroom breaks and saving the game, and such, I didn't have to touch the mouse or keyboard once I turned "auto" on. And a single click of the mouse will turn it off, so it's really convenient.

I'll tell you this: for the price tag, it cannot be beat. It's a bit rough around the edges in spots but it's an honest effort and the writing is first-rate. (At least the writing for the Emi and Rin paths were. I'll let you know about the others as I complete them.)

But it is a major time suck.

I managed to pry myself away from it this evening long enough to shower, to clear a week's worth of dishes from the kitchen sink, and get the dishwasher started. Sheer necessity forced me to cook lunch--tacos--and leftovers from that ended up being dinner. Otherwise I spent my entire day playing this game.

("Game" being a slight misnomer. "Visual novel" is much more accurate, but it sounds odd to say "playing this visual novel". Oh well.)

I wanted to check the game's web site to see if I could download the music, but it's swamped. I guess the thing's a success.

* * *

Ace reviews the Kindle Touch.

He's got the 3G version, where mine (which is scheduled to arrive Friday) is plain-jane WiFi. I wouldn't use 3G anyway; 99.997% of the reading I do on the thing will be at home.

* * *

Saw a bit somewhere about tides, and was reminded of something.

The first time I read The Hunt for Red October it was my brother's copy; and on one of the first pages of the book there was a mention that the Red October was leaving port on a "spring tide". My brother scrawled something in the margin about the time of year--"in winter?" or something similar--and to this day I remember that bit of ignorance.

When I was a kid, I never really understood why tides behaved the way they did, but I understood what was meant by "spring tide" well enough that--after I became an adult--I still understood that a "spring tide" does not refer to the season.

When the Moon is either at conjunction (new moon) or opposition (full moon), both the moon and the sun are pulling on the Earth in the same direction. There's more tidal force being exerted, so the ocean tides run particularly high (at high tide) and lower (at low tide) than at other times of the month. This is a spring tide.

When the Moon is at first quarter or last quarter, the lunar and solar tidal forces are at 90° to each other, and so the tides aren't as extreme. This is what is known as a neap tide.

It wasn't until I was out of college that tides were finally explained to me in a way that I could grasp how they worked. It's a question of orbital velocity: if you have an object in orbit around a planet, obviously the object's center of mass is what traces out the orbital trajectory; but points elsewhere on that object are moving at the same speed.

The problem is that a point on the object nearest the planet is too low for its velocity, so it wants to fall towards the planet. Similarly, point on the object farthest from the planet is too high for its velocity, so it wants to be flung away from the planet.

Some satellites are deliberately designed to take advantage of this: once they're on orbit, they extend cables, and tidal forces keep the cables taut and hold the satellite in the desired orientation.

I should have understood all this after reading Larry Niven's Neutron Star when I was in my early teens, but it just didn't get through my thick skull.

Oh well.

So I was thinking about a story setting where Venus had been moved into Earth's orbit, 60° ahead of Earth (this would be one of the Earth-Sun trojan points, L4 to be exact). I was wondering what sort of tidal stresses might be involved? Would we wreck the Earth?

Then I realized: the straight-line distance from Earth to L4 is one astronomical unit, the same distance as from the Earth to the Sun. The tidal force from Venus at L4 would be negligible compared to the lunar and solar tides. There would be some tide from it, but it would not be bad enough to cause tectonic disruption etc etc.

The setting involves terraforming Venus. This is something that's knocked around the back of my brain for several years; by now I've concluded that we don't actually have to remove any of Venus' atmosphere. All we have to do is move it to Earth's orbit and block it off from sunlight for a decade or two.

Venus' atmosphere is very hot and dense because it's too close to the Sun. For whatever reason it underwent real runaway global warming; it's too hot on the surface for liquid water to exist. I imagine that if Earth got that hot, the atmospheric pressure at Earth's surface would be about as high as it is on Venus. So, in 5 billion years when the Sun enters helium fusion and swells up like a cheerleader that got too friendly with the quarterback, a day will come when Earth will be like Venus is now.

Cool Venus down, though, and it'll rain. The rain will be sulfuric acid for quite a while, but it'll be rain nonetheless...and the more the atmosphere cools, the more stuff will rain out, and the cooler and more transparent it will become.

For a long time this rain will vaporize the instant it hits the ground, of course, because the surface temperature is something like 750°C, which is probably hot enough that the rocks would glow a dull red. After rain began falling, the rocks would chip and spall from thermal shock.

So you'll have sulfuric acid rain and steam and fog, and exploding rocks, and a whole bunch of no fun. Expect the weather to be cataclysmic at best, too, because there's so much heat energy to be dissipated.

But once everything settles down, you'll have a planet with a clear (carbon dioxide) atmosphere and...well, toxic waste oceans. I don't know what you get when you dissolve rock with sulfuric acid; water is one thing that'll come out but it won't be the only thing. Hydrogen and sulfur compounds, certainly--but the right strains of algae and lichen will eat that crap up and make plenty of oxygen for you. Bioremediation FTW.

I stalled at the problem of heat soak. Okay, Venus has been like this for a long time; how far down is the rock at that temperature? All the way to the mantle? Ten miles? How far? You could land on the surface once the storms subsided, but would you risk cooking your feet if you took a stroll?

Maybe it wouldn't be a bad thing to let the atmosphere freeze, or at least get close to freezing; that way you'd know the planet's surface was cold enough that you didn't need asbestos socks. Then just remove the sunshade and let her warm up again.

My only other problem was trying to decide how long it would take. Look: here in the temperate zone of North America, it takes about three months for our climate to go from summer to winter. That's only due to a moderate change in the duration and angle of sunlight, too. If you cut off sunlight entirely--

At first I was thinking it'd be decades before the rain began to fall; then I realized that if it took as much as five years it'd be slow. The upper layers of atmosphere would clear first but as they did it would make radiating the IR that much faster for the succeeding layers. You'd have two or three years of nothing much going on, and then whammo all at once it would start raining hard enough to require Noah's Ark. (If there were any animals on Venus, which seems unlikely.)

There is only one minor problem with all this.

...I realized some time ago that Venus is actually the perfect environment for silicon-based lifeforms. The extremely hot surface temperature is what they'd need. The chemistry of the atmosphere is pretty nasty, but if you think about it oxygen chemistry is pretty nasty in its own way if you're an anaerobic lifeform--it's just possible that there could be some kind of life that like sulfur compounds the way we like water. Or something.

You've got to be very careful about this kind of thing. See Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

* * *

And on that point, I've had it. I'm tired and can no longer see straight. Well, I've been up since 9 AM, so I guess I'm due for bed anyway.

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