Tech Disparities

LOT #7233-9985


Estimate: Ex. 920,000 – Ex. 1,280,000
Lot closes: 0.896 Kp


Lot #7233-9985 is a pair of protective shorts designed for a non-tailed, digitigrade species (the entark) fashioned from red leather taken from an unknown animal, with a lead-impregnated lining of imported pseudosilk. The shorts are trimmed in gilt with metallic gold thread, with ruby embellishments set into the waistline, and carved-ruby buttons along the fly.

A unique item acquired in the liquidation of a private collection, lot #7233-9985 is the sole remaining example of its kind left over from the Ental Throne’s ill-fated war rocket program. Having been contacted in their early industrial period, a number of misconceptions existed in the entark mind of the era concerning the design and operation of starships and, in particular, atomic rocketry. As such, virtually all materials connected to the Throne’s war rockets were destroyed in an attempt at historical erasure. Indeed, it is believed to be the sole item remaining intact.

This item, recovered from the Throne’s personal flagship by person or persons unknown, is a set of leather stoker’s dress shorts impregnated with lead for radiation protection when shoveling radium into the war rocket’s atomic furnaces. (An extremely limited protection, since in accordance with the Throne of the time’s personal proclivities, such shorts comprised the entire uniform for the crew of the flagship.)

Condition Report

The item is fully provenanced and in excellent condition, having been well cared for in its time in various collectors’ hands. The leather remains supple, and all embellishments are intact. A detailed report on gem quality is available on request, but the majority of the value of this item is a product of its unique historical circumstances.

Since the Ental Throne’s war rocket program was never completed, the item was never exposed to significant levels of radiation. Routine checks were nonetheless carried out and show levels not exceeding normal background.

Nope, It’s A Bridge

Many of you, gentle readers, are also devotees of the Atomic Rockets web site. (As well you should be, if you are interested in matters rockety.) And, of course, you may have noted the Atomic Rockets Seal of Approval off in the right-hand column.

But today I’m going to talk about a place where I find myself, and the ‘verse, disagreeing with it. Specifically, with “It is a CIC Not a Bridge“. For convenience, I’m going to quote from it here:

That round room in the Starship Enterprise? The one they call the “Bridge?” Wrong term, that thing is a Combat Information Center (CIC). On a real wet-navy vessel, the bridge is a tiny two-station place used to control the the movement of the ship. It only had stations for the navigation and helm.

In other words, the “bridge” on the Starship Enterprise is that little console that Sulu and Chekov sit at.

The CIC is where all the data from the sensors, scoutships, intelligence agencies, central command, and other ships is gathered and evaluated. The important information is passed to the captain along with tactical suggestions. Exactly the way Uhura, Scotty, and Mr. Spock pass information and tactical suggestions to Captain Kirk.–It_is_a_CIC_not_a_Bridge

So, here’s the thing. It’s actually slightly more complicated than that. There are three places on a wet navy vessel all of which do things that people think of as functions of “the bridge”.

There is the CIC, as described above. It’s the information-gathering and decision-making center.

Then there is the wheelhouse, which is where the ship’s movement is controlled from. This, on ships that had a bridge, was usually buried down inside the hull or beneath the superstructure – for one simple reason. You don’t want it shot off. If you lose the wheelhouse, you can’t command the ship any more, so you don’t want it somewhere vulnerable.

And then there is the bridge, which is the place you conn the ship from. It’s up high at the front of the superstructure with generous wings, etc., because its requirement is that you be able to see what the ship’s doing in order to command it.

(On a merchant ship, you probably don’t need a protected CIC, and since you don’t expect anyone to shoot your bridge off, you may have the engine-room telegraphs and wheel up there in one place. On navy vessels, on the other hand, instead of passing engine orders and steering directly, you have a bridge talker yelling “Port 40! Half ahead both!” down voice tubes to the wheelhouse.

On the other hand, the bridge is also exposed to heavy weather, so merchies that expect to encounter the rough stuff may still have a separate wheelhouse. This was actually where they first came from.)

In a historical digression, incidentally, the original bridge is an evolution of what was originally the quarter deck, the raised deck at the stern, on sailing ships. When it became more important to avoid your own smoke than see what your sails were doing, which is to say, as we moved from sail to steam, the raised area moved for’ard and became the bridge as we know it today.

As for the wheelhouse, that came from sailing ship designs in which the poop deck (the highest deck at the stern, typically forming the roof of the stern cabin) was extended forward to cover the quarter deck and the ship’s wheel, on the entirely reasonable grounds that in a storm, it’s easier to steer without being out in the full blast of wind and wave, and in battle, it’s much easier to steer if you have some protection from being shot.

So let’s bring this back around to starships.

You don’t need a bridge in the above sense. As it says further up that page, Rockets Don’t Got Windows – given space ranges and instrumentation, you are never going to be trying to conn the ship with your Mark I Eyeball, which is essentially what a bridge up high is for. Your best view is going to come from sensors, but they can be read just as easily from the CIC, buried deep in the center of the hull for maximum protection.

(Why did the Enterprise designers perch the bridge right up at the top of the saucer, with about three feet between the back of the fancy digital sensor-feed-showing viewscreen and hard vacuum, right where any Tom, Dick, or Kang could shoot at it conveniently? Were they all Romulan spies?)

Do you need a separate wheelhouse? Well, given that starships are certainly going to have fancy electronic controls rather than the hydraulic/pneumatic/etc., systems that imposed constraints on the position of wet navy wheelhouses vis-a-vis the CIC – usually buried down in the bottom of the ship where the armor is thick – I’m going to say probably not. The CIC’s already in the safest place, per above.

(You may have a maneuvering room, as they call the place on submarines, where the engineers translate your requests into detailed instructions to the engines, and given that a starship ACS is probably also rocket engines of some sort, that may also be handled from there – but that’s a different function.)

You are going to have a CIC, because you still need somewhere to coordinate information, make decisions. In my opinion, it will probably also be the wheelhouse (after all, as in the Enterprise example above, it’s just one console, and since the maneuvering orders are going to come from the officer on watch in the CIC anyway, why make him shout any further than he has to?).

The only question is whether it will be called the CIC. The above (combined CIC/wheelhouse) is essentially the arrangement they use on submarines today (where it is called the control room; the bridge is the place you can stand at the top of the conning tower when the boat’s on the surface).

That may be likely nomenclature for starships, too. (Nothing especially that civilian starships are unlikely to have a Combat Information Center.)

On the other hand, the Imperial Navy, and their merchant tradition, call it the bridge. Why? Well, unlike our submarines, there isn’t another bridge somewhere to clash with it – and you get your best view of what’s around from it – and in the meantime, it’s a name that’s got centuries, indeed millennia, of tradition behind it as The Place From Which Ships Are Commanded. It’s a word, in a nutshell, that’s got weight.

And since you’re combining all the functions back together, as they were in the beginning, that counts plenty.

The quarter deck, on the other hand, that’s somewhere else.

Basic Delta-V Worksheet

So, as those who follow my Google+ account will know, I use PTC Mathcad to do the various calculations behind the scenes to reality-check my work, starship designs, orbital parameters, etc., etc. And being the kind and generous soul that I am, I thought I might clean up and share my tools for the benefit of, well, everyone who wants to do this kind of thing.

Here, then, is the first of those cleaned-up sheets – a basic calculator that does the ground-to-orbit-or-escape delta-v calculation, as illustrated by Atomic Rockets here.

Here’s what it looks like (printed as XPS); and here’s the live version for those of you who have PTC Mathcad (requires only the free-for-life Express version).

Atomic Rockets!

Atomic Rocket: Patrol Level Gamma

I just became a patron, via Patreon, of Winchell Chung’s Atomic Rockets web site.

And I am taking this moment now to tell you two things.

Firstly, whether you write SF – in which case I’m sure you already know about it and don’t need me to tell you – or whether you just read SF and want some insight into how things might work behind the scenes and/or exactly how hard the SF you’re reading is, and you haven’t visited it yet, go. Now. Stop reading this, and go read that. Then come back. (Well, first make sure you’ve got a few hours free. But then.)

Secondly, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve been reading here, this is exactly the extremely valuable resource for, well, people like me that it’s intended to be. And the best part is, there’s lots of new material coming, time and funding to put which up is what this Patreon is intended to raise money for. That prospect certainly inspired me to contribute, but it wouldn’t hurt, gentle readers, if you were to go and do likewise.

(Not that I’d complain if you were overwhelmed by the urge to give me some money too, you understand. Just sayin’.)

After all, as the eldrae would put it themselves: “anything worth doing is worth doing for money; therefore, anything worth having is worth paying for”.