At The Ending Was The Word

Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination, the (n.): A memetic mystery cult designed for the Imperial Exploratory Service by the Word of Command, ICC, the Thirty-Six Paths are designed as a means of handling severe cases of exodeism (q.v.).

In many cases, when primitive species conclude that it is necessary and proper to worship the “Shining Ones”, the “Great Star Gods”, or other such epithets, creative theology leads them to conclude that denials of divinity are merely a test for them, or indicative of avatar incarnation, or some such. In such cases, extreme denials or proof of non-divinity tend to cause severe backlash, societal disruption, and cultural implosion is not unknown, leaving aside the consequences for the unwilling gods.

Thus, the Thirty-Six Paths of Illumination are intended as a pathway to slowly and carefully wean exodeists and their societies from their faith in a manner designed to minimize the resulting personal alathkháln and societal consequences; a thirty-sixth level adept of the Paths is fully aware of the reality of the situation and equipped to join in enlightening those below.

Other visitors to worlds in which exodeism is prevalent and the Thirty-Sixth Paths are in effect are requested to cooperate by non-contradiction with the program, and warned that memetic safeties and countermeasures are woven into the memeplex.

– A Star Traveler’s Dictionary

 

The Risk Buffet

“All I’m asking,” the younger one said, “is whether you think it’s a good idea.”

“And all I’m saying is that I shouldn’t – can’t – tell you that.”

“Why not?”

“I’m a first-in scout.”

“What’s that got to do with it?”

“Because I’m a first-in scout. Hear my meaning. I’m in a profession defined by hurling ourselves into the deep unknown with almost no idea of who or what we might find, then when we do find it, poking it repeatedly to see if it does something interesting. If I had a normal soph’s risk appetite, I’d have gone into Survey work, or the family trade, or become an accountant. I became a first-in scout because I’m chronically insensitive to caution. We all are.”

She took a deep breath.

“And that is why you should never ask me for advice on what’s appropriate for you.”

 

Trope-a-Day: Bold Explorer

Bold Explorer: While I shall leave specific examples to individual fics and so forth, they have a lot of these in the Imperial Exploratory Service, and especially in the first-in scouts and volunteers to crew (as infomorphs) far horizon probes. You have to be a little bit crazy to go boldly where no soph has gone before, and all that.

Sung Wherever The Imperial Exploratory Service Buys Liquor

(Very lightly filkificated for somewhat-inebriated Eldraeverse purposes from “Space Shanty“, by The Senate. The vast majority of the words remain theirs.)

Oh, the whiskey is floatin’, won’t stay in me glass –
I’m weightless and spinning and drunk off me ass.
Oh, the whiskey is floatin’ in a sphere o’er me head –
If we don’t hit this window we’ll surely be dead.

So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the stars!
They won’t stop us drinking on old Talentar1
So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the sky!
Ere the vacuum of space sucks the bottles all dry.

Oh, infinite profit awaits us in space –
We’ll seek out and contact with fervor and grace.
New worlds and new sophonts we simply adore –
Let’s party where no-one has partied before.

So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the stars!
They won’t stop us drinking on old Talentar –
So reach for the whiskey, sophs, reach for the sky!
Ere the vacuum of space sucks the bottles all dry.


1. As mentioned before, Talentar produces a lot of grain for the rest of the system. And what else is there where there’s grain and engineers?

Yep.

 

Zoom

2016_Z(Alternative words: zettahertz.)

Today’s question for Dr. Science is, “What’s the biggest optical telescope in the Empire? How far can it see?”

Over the years, a great many different telescopes have held that particular title: from the Great Eye at the Starspike (Eliéra’s oldest observatory, dating to the pre-Imperial era), through the first orbital telescopes, the large refractor at Farside Observatory, Seléné, and the Deep Orbit Oculus in far Súnáris orbit.

All, however, were rapidly outclassed by the discovery of very-long-baseline interferometry, which uses a technique referred to as aperture synthesis to correlate signals from a set of telescopes to produce images having the same angular resolution as an instrument the diameter of the entire set. Some limited use was made of these techniques with ground-based and orbital instruments, restricted by the difficulty in accurately quantifying optical-range photons for software processing, but once these difficulties were solved, construction began on much larger interferometric telescopes. Three particular examples of these held the title of largest optical telescope in turn, and while the others have been upgraded and remain in use, it is the last of these retains it today.

The first of these, the Barrascán Array, was constructed in the Meryn System, consisting of an array of millions of statites (produced by self-replicating, autoindustrial techniques) 48 light hours in diameter. Intended for general observation, the array possesses an angular resolution of 1.12 x 10-20 radians, enabling it to resolve objects 20 cm across at 2,250 light-years (i.e., the current fringe of the Associated Worlds, which was then unknown space).

The second, intended to carry out both exploration surveys and long-range observations of the galactic core, was the Very Long Baseline Observer, which made use of smaller arrays of deep-orbit telescopes located in systems across the width of the Empire, each reporting via the interstellar dataweave to the Exploratory Service’s headquarters in Almeä System. This gave it an effective diameter of 164 light-years, and thus an angular resolution of 3.74 x 10-25 radians, giving it the capability of resolving with micrometer resolution objects throughout the Starfall Arc, should its view be unobstructed. Indeed, if not for intervening objects, planetary rotation, local weather, and other such obstructions, it would be capable of reading a book over the shoulder of a sophont on any world in the galaxy — were one to pass within its view, since as you can imagine, an array of array of telescopes 164 light-years across is somewhat unwieldy to maneuver.

The apex of this technology is the Super-Size Synthetic Aperture, intended for in-depth studies of the deep universe. The SSSA takes the general concept of the VLBO even further by extending the array – by means of various treaty arrangements and leases – across much of the width of the Associated Worlds, reporting data back over tangle channels. Its effective diameter is no less than 1,825 light-years, giving it a theoretical angular resolution of 3.36 x 10-26 radians – which is to say, it can resolve a 33 m object at the rim of the observable universe.

The SSSA, however, is limited by the larger gaps between its elements, which are themselves limited to a single mobile telescope per system, and thus in turn by the amount of light collectable by each of these individual telescopes. It is also, unfortunately, constrained by the difficulty of maneuvering and recalibrating such a massive device, and by the political difficulties of passing through many different polities during reorientation, which tends to cause lengthy delays, increased costs, and where no permission can be obtained, gaps in array coverage. For most practical purposes, therefore, the VLBO can be considered the largest general-purpose optical telescope available to the Empire.

Dr. Science

– from Children’s Science Corner magazine

 

Trope-a-Day: Aliens Steal Cable

Aliens Steal Cable: Sort of true – despite the various technical problems mentioned in the trope, it is a very popular way to acquire a linguistic and cultural corpus from worldbound civilizations before making contact. But it involves both (a) studying their technology to figure out the signal encoding, and then (b) parking a probe somewhere close in to their system and/or placing a tap on their Internet-equivalent to gather uncorrupted signals. You can’t just do it easily over interstellar distances, especially if you don’t know that it’s there.

Hornéd Moon-class starfighter

(Note: for the avoidance of confusion, this is not the same starfighter class as Raymond McVay has been posting over on the G+ fan community; so don’t be confused by the differences…)

“It looks like a blueberry croissant.”

“Blueberry croissant… of DEATH!”

– overheard at Golden Groves (Principalities) starport

HORNÉD MOON-CLASS STARFIGHTER

Operated by: Empire of the Star (Imperial Navy, Imperial State Security, & Imperial Exploratory Service; reliable UARC-sponsored mercenaries)
Type: Starfighter, Orbital and Near-Space Operations
Construction: Ashen Planitia Fleet Yards

Length: 24.8 m
Beam: 60.4 m

Gravity-well capable: Yes
Atmosphere capable: Yes (depending on loadout)

Personnel: 2 nominal, as follows:

Flight Commander / Sailing Master
Flight Engineer

AI expert system support.

(Can operate with a single pilot.)

Additional life support capacity exists to support four passengers in addition, although this requires hot-bunking in three shifts.

Drive: Nucleodyne Thrust Applications 2×1 “Little Sparky” antimatter-catalyzed fusion torch drive
Propellant: Deuterium slush / metallic antideuterium
Cruising (sustainable) thrust: 10.2 standard gravities (9.6 Earth G)
Peak (unsustainable) thrust: 14.0 standard gravities (13.2 Earth G)
Maximum velocity: 0.3 c (based on particle shielding)

Drones:

4 x hardpoint mountings for AKVs, typically Slasher-class

(Hardpoint mountings can also hold single-legionary drop pods, Piton-class, or covert ops equivalents.)

Sensors:

1 x standard navigational sensor suite, Cilmínar Spaceworks
1 x enhanced passive tactical sensor suite, miniature, Sy Astronautic Engineering Collective
1 x enhanced-resolution planetary surface-scan sensor suite, Imperial Exploratory Service (spec.)

Weapons:

“Flyswatter” point-defense laser grid, Artifice Armaments

Other Systems:

Artifice Armaments cyclic kinetic barrier system
Cilmínar Spaceworks Mark III long-duration canned/semi-regenerative life support
3 x Bright Shadow EC-780 information furnace data systems
Ashen Planitia 1-SF vector-control core and associated technologies
Cilmínar Spaceworks high-capacity thermal sinks and integrated radiator system
Aleph Null Systems tactical communications suite

Small craft:

None.

The Hornéd Moon-class is a small starfighter intended for fast attack and fast insertion missions in planetary orbit and deploying to the surface. As such, it has atmospheric capability, and even the ability to land.

In overall form, it resembles – as the quotation indicates – a croissant or crescent moon of flying-wing conformation, with the thin “inside” edge of the crescent facing forward. The two forward-facing points of the crescent are rounded, and rise to a near-cylinder at the for’ard end, and a rectangular section of the central section is “humped” at the rear; this contains the drives, whose nozzles protrude from this rectangular shroud aft.

Atop the starfighter, paired hardpoints on the dorsal hull to port and starboard hold the AKVs, when mounted. Additional mountings near them permit jettisonable fairings to be used to permit atmospheric entry or departure when non-streamlined AKVs are carried.

In between them, atop and for’ard of the drive shroud, radiative striping mounted directly atop the hull, beneath protective shutters, provides heat dissipation. To provide additional control (to the reaction wheel system) when in atmosphere, a number of multiple-purpose aerodynamic control surfaces are mounted along the leading edge of the hull, and to two small vertical stabilizers at the port and starboard edges of the drive shroud. Deployable rollagon landing gear are fitted ventrally in a multiple tailwheel configuration.

The main body of the ship is entirely devoted to fuel storage, with multiple deuterium tanks wrapping around the small antimatter cryocels for maximum protection. Meanwhile, the starboard near-cylinder provides housing for the ship’s avionics, including (beneath the forward-mounted radome and associated shuttered ports) for the triple sensor suites and tactical communications systems.

The starship’s small habitable area is located in that to port; the forward-facing airlock (whose outermost section is covered by a retractable streamlining fairing and extendable airstair) at far port gives onto a short corridor providing access to, in order, the ship’s bridge (behind an open viewport for close-maneuvering use), a two-pod sleeping area, a small room tripling as galley, fab shop, and rest area, and a single-person ‘fresher at corridor end. Limited avionics and life support access is possible through panels in this area; however, there is no pressurized access to the main avionics bay in the starboard near-cylinder or to engineering systems; such access requires EVA. Likewise, if drop pods are carried, access to those (for pre-deployment boarding, say) is only possible through EVA.