From: Capt. Isvieve Kalyn, Procurement, Resplendent Exponential Vector
To: Adm. Gilad Tsurilen, Bureau of Innovation
Subject: FAT NINJA progress report

Development on project FAT NINJA itself is essentially complete. Our research contractor has successfully demonstrated a prototype design capable of using intense paragravitational fields to distort the fabric of space-time in such a manner as to place the prototype within an enclosed polypoid volume of distortion, connected to the original location of the prototype by a narrow “neck”. They have further demonstrated limited communication capacity through this “neck”, suggesting that it would be theoretically possible to monitor events outside the distortion using a small drone vehicle, rendering FAT NINJA a non-double-blind device.

Unfortunately, no progress has been made on the fundamental problem of sustaining the distortion in the light of fundamental thermodynamics: necessarily, an enclosed polypoid volume suitable for preventing detection retains all radiation, including waste heat, emitted by the objects within it. Were the distortion to be handwaved into existence, this would be merely an irritating limitation; however, given the extremely high energies required to create the distortion, even with the most efficient power generation and paragravity equipment available, FAT NINJA is able at best to sustain a cloaked state for a matter of milliseconds before undergoing a catastrophic thermal excursion leading to complete vaporization of the prototype and immediate reversion of the cloaked volume.

While the experiment was worth doing, I must conclude that this is a physical limitation of all FAT NINJA type devices, and in the absence of some new fundamental breakthrough with regard to the thermodynamics of the case, FAT NINJA is a dead-end – at least as a cloaking device.

It does, however, make a rather splendid, if outré, bomb.

In service and glory,

Isvieve Kalyn (Capt.)


Trope-a-Day: Overheating

Overheating: A problem everywhere.  The logistics of a post-scarcity society may have eliminated most material-supply problems; advanced ergtech may have made energy not a meaningful practical constraint; computer power may be an absolute bargain everywhere; but even with every fancy high-tech possibility up to and including neutrino-catalyzed cooling in play, the requirement for heat dissipation still enforces speed constraints on nanotechnology, density limits on computronium, causes problems for guns firing on full-auto, prevents stealth in space, and requires most heavy industry to be kept at least in orbit even if its customers are downwell.  Damn you, thermodynamics!

Trope-a-Day: No Conservation of Energy

No Conservation of Energy: Averted, dammit, despite the best efforts of generations of mad scientists to rip physics a new one on this point.  (That, and the rest of the laws of thermodynamics.  Well, mostly those, as the Empire has a lot of people running around who take the second, and to a lesser extent the third, laws of thermodynamics as something of a personal affront.)

Side Note: Ontotechnology and Entropy

I should also perhaps take a moment to note that, given their philosophical views, the Laws of Thermodynamics in general and the Second in particular would seem to be right up there on the list of Problems Which Ontotechnologists Should Urgently Address, inasmuch as knocking that one off (and maybe stopping to take a swing or two at Godel’s Incompleteness Theorems along the way) would be a paradigmatic ethical accomplishment comparable to, say, reversing the Fall, un-eating the Apple,  and preempting the War in Heaven, sort of thing.

Well, yes, they are.

And I am absolutely sure that there are any number of people and their masses of grafted-on computronium, especially in places like Resplendent Exponential Vector, working away on the problem. (And hopefully not exploding too much in the process.)

Thermodynamics is deeply enough embedded at the core of How Reality Works, though, that I wouldn’t be expecting usable results any time soon, for cosmological values of soon.

After all, the impossible always takes a little bit longer.


Trope-a-Day: Global Warming

Global Warming: Yes, it happens.  The usual result, at least in the civilized worlds, is massive technofixes, from the brute force (say, giant orbiting sunshades with solar panels on the back) to the subtle and ecological; usually coupled with an extensive program to move industries off-world, into orbit at the very least.

These tend to be the preferred methods because people are perfectly aware that anything you do to atmospheric composition is the relatively easy version of this problem to solve.  But at least visible from that point on most tracks of technological development is the second heat crisis which is about literal waste heat being discharged into your atmohydrosphere, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics says there’s bugger all you can do about that, short of moving the work being done elsewhere, or giving up on this whole technological-civilization thing altogether.

And competent societies can at least try to think more than a decade or two ahead.

Trope-a-Day: Instant Cooldown

Instant Cooldown: No, no, no.  Thermodynamics does not work that way, and even with thermal superconductors, neutrino pumps, and black holes, thermodynamics still doesn’t work that way.  Stay out of the red zone.

(Also, bearing in mind the proclivities of the manufacturers of much of this equipment, the red line on the dial is where it will explode, not 10% before where it will explode on the assumption that many of the operators will be gung-ho idiots.  Yes, there’s a safety margin to cover manufacturing variances, and suchlike.  There is not one to protect you from yourself, as lying to you for your own good is not in their paradigm, belike.)