Thursday, 16 March 2017

Ad Astra: Breaching Pods

Does this count as stealth?
If you're a fan of science fiction and haven't already been watching The Expanse, do yourself a favour and take a look at the trailer to see what you've been missing. The series is great television, with a gripping storyline and good acting, while also being pretty damn scientifically accurate.

The second season's introductory two-parter involved an assault on an unregistered rotating space station, with an ex-Martian gunship and a cobbled-together Belter transport matched up against a single advanced stealth frigate. One character, Detective Miller, decided to join the assault teams, meaning he has to be on one of the breaching pods that will be launched towards the station. Before we see them on-screen, one character describes them as "a beer can taped to a rocket".

As you can see from the gif, he's not wrong.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Ars Mundi: The Gravity Highway

When a working principle of manipulating gravity was discovered, the general populace went mad. "It's just like Star Wars!!" the popsci websites and blogs shouted, rabid with the idea of being able to take to the stars in spaceships that could accelerate so fast as to get to lightspeed in mere days. As usual, the scientists had to destroy their ill-conceived dreams – gravitics still have to obey the conservation of momentum. Just like you can't push your car forwards while sitting inside it, you can't speed a ship up with a gravity generator on board. The reaction force has to go somewhere. Dreams of routine space travel were smashed. All the technology really offered was artificial gravity on-board spaceships, and zero-gravity chambers on Earth. Anything else was impossible, it seemed.

It took about five years for someone to figure out a solution to the problem: the gravity highway.