Question: Dark Stuff

In recent questions:

What’s the status of dark matter/energy in the setting?

Munson sez: ‘There ain’t no such thing. Somebody just needs to correct their math, is all.’

The honest answer is “I haven’t established that yet”…

…but here’s some bullshit I just made up that should not be considered official canon:

If the in-‘verse theory of information physics (and its non-local hidden variable implications) is true, then the universe has a lot of metadata to keep track of. (Traditionally described as kept “Elsewhere”.) The more interesting interactions happen in any given location, the more metadata is generated.

Let us now handwave some sort of information-energy equivalence, or at least that information has its own effect on the space-time metric. (In honor of the original author who came up with this one, we can call it Pratchett’s L-Space Hypothesis.)

Conclusion: dark matter is actually all the universe’s metadata distorting space-time from its secret lair. It tends to halo around galaxies because that’s where all the interesting stuff happens.

(Let the weeping of the physicists now commence.)

((For those who don’t mind a particularly silly universe – and this one is definitely not canon – we could also postulate that dark energy, which has the opposite – universe-expanding – effect, is produced by ignorance; or, I suppose, technically, computational operations which could have happened but didn’t produce it as a byproduct. So study hard, folks, and keep thinking — or the universe will explode!))

Lumenna-Súnáris System (12): Andrár

So, having completed all ten planets of Lumenna in this series, we now move to its companion star’s nine, once again, beginning with the innermost:

I/1. Andrár

Class: Eurymic
Orbit (period): 0.08 au (6.198 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.06
Radius: 2,850 miles
Mass: 2.51 * 1024 kg
Density: 4.88 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.81 g

Axial tilt: 1.2°
Rotation period: 6.198 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 687 K
Surface temperature (avg., sunside):  824 K
Surface temperature (avg., nightside):  69 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Satellites: 2 moonlets.

The innermost planet of Súnáris, tide-locked Andrár was a twin of Eurymir in all but name; a tide-locked rockball of brightest day and blackest night; if anything, even more sun-scraping than Eurymir.

Its colonization, however, followed a markedly different pattern. Rather than an experimental or resource world, Andrár came under serious consideration in the era in which laser sails and early fusion drives were competing as possible propulsion systems for the first interstellar starships. Andrár, thus, was developed as a power plant and interstellar laser system.

Much of the surface of Andrár, in the modern era, is oddly smoothed by years of autoindustrialism – on sunside, the planet is practically plated pole to pole with layers of solar panels and thermal generators, whose cold radiators likewise cover much of the nightside, broken only by the rectennas beaming power to the planetary ring statite (and other nearby habitats), and the huge laser arrays dangling upwell therefrom.

While not used for the colonization ships the designers had in mind (Kasjan Lyris’s fusion drive having won the battle to power the Deep Star vessels), Andrár’s lasers did sterling work propelling starwisp probes to nearby systems in preparation for the colonization efforts, and served as interstellar communication lasers during the days of the Thirteen Colonies. While the renaissance promised by the Laserider Network never came about, due to the discovery of a workable FTL system, the Andrár Beam Station continues to power starwisps on their way through the Thirteen Colonies, and supply various other initiatives in the home system, such as comet melting and zone refining, that need all the laser.

(Computation of exactly how much energy you can extract from the sunlight falling on half the surface of a world 0.06 au from a K2V, plus the above temperature difference, is left as an exercise for the calculation-loving reader. For everyone else, trust me, it’s a fuckjoule.)

Lumenna-Súnáris System (11): Raziké

I/10. Raziké

Class: Alessán
Orbit (period): 32.4 au (184.424 T-years/67,362.71 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.06
Radius: 37,668 miles
Mass: 1.01 x 1027 kg
Density: 1.08 g/cm3
Cloud-top gravity: 1.86 g

Axial tilt: 4.1°
Rotation period: 12.1 T-days

Black-body temperature: 46 K

Satellites: 4 close moonlets (including Hyníne). 2 major moons (doublet). 6 eccentric moons.

Lumenna’s outer ice giant, a brooding dark blue-green, is a backwater in an otherwise busy system. Very few sophs travel as far out into the system as Raziké and its moons, beyond even the three stargates in the Lumenna sub-system (orbiting in a stable rosette at 24 au), trans-solar transit traffic excepted. There’s not much reason to, the options for doing so are limited, and the light-lag is extraordinarily inconvenient.

There are three principal qualities that bring sophs here: cold, ice, and privacy. Combine as you will, and you see a region whose inhabitants – if we discount the Distant Early Warning stations operated by the IN – are a few batch-mode computronium nodes, deep time data vaults, comet herders and ice miners, and the scattered communities and hermitages of those wanting to get a long way away from it all. Total population is below a quarter-million sophs.

I/10/a. Múrazór and I/10/b. Múrnamár

Class: Gelidian
Barycenter orbit (period): 1.356 million miles (10.17 T-days)
Barycenter orbit (ecc.): 0.04
Total Mass: 1.42 x 1022 kg
Density: 1.71 g/cm3

Black-body temperature: 46 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 42 K

Atmospheres: Trace. Primarily carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

Raziké’s major moons are a doublet; a pair of ice bodies orbiting around their common barycenter, which in turn orbits Raziké proper. The statistics given above are for the Múrazór-Múrnamár pair as a whole; the mass of the doublet is split two-thirds/one-third in Múrazór’s favor.

Múrazór houses much of the local population, in the form of an IN base for the outer-system picket, a scientific research station, and the Comet-Herder’s Gather, a meeting place and floating market for the population of the sub-system and nearby Senna’s Belt.

Múrnamár, by contrast, is almost untouched.

The Order of Defenders

A reader pointed out on this Discord that this

(go read it there)

has a vaguely eldraeic flavor.

Which it does. Not something a direct analog to which would exist *there* , mind you, inasmuch as defending yourself and civilization is something written right into the Imperial Charter, Section III, Article V: “Responsibilities of the Citizen-Shareholder”1. But the underlying sentiment, that certainly does.

(And the technarchs have their equivalent of the Ritual of the Iron Ring, too, as do many others. One of these days, I should trot out, for example, the plutarch version.

No-one has forgotten or denigrated the memetic power of ceremony in this ‘verse. What else, indeed, is the Logarchy of Protocol, Ritual, and Symbology for, or the entire profession of symposiarchs?)

And if you were wondering if the lay orders of Barrascán have appropriate ceremonial along these lines, well yes, they do.


  1. Well, that, and you aren’t going to find anyone prepared to tolerate being described as “the weak”.

Lumenna-Súnáris System (10): Iälessá

(I’d been meaning to get back to this series for quite some time, but never quite managed it. Until now, seeing as a generous reader on the Discord offered to make me a delta-v map for the System, which rather spurred me on to resume the project.)


I/9. Iälessá

Class: Alessán
Orbit (period): 23.17 au (40,737 T-days/111.529 T-years)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.01 (however, orbital inclination is 22° from the ecliptic)
Radius: 16,833 miles
Mass: 1.194 x 1026 kg
Density: 1.44 g/cm3
Cloud-top gravity: 1.11 g

Axial tilt: 27.1°
Rotation period: 2.13 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K

Satellites: 7 close moonlets, ring. 5 major moons. 4 eccentric moons.

A swirled marble of blues pale and dark, Iälessá is the inner of Lumenna’s twin ice giants. Its somewhat unusual coloration is believed to be the result of a combination of factors: its ammonia-rich atmosphere, the unusually high quantity of silicate dust in that same atmosphere (believed to be a product of whatever primordial event was responsible for the unusual inclination of its orbit), the primitive microbial life dwelling in its upper layers, and the unusual states of matter found near its core.

A small number of aerostats dwell in the upper atmosphere of Iälessá, primarily concerning themselves with research into the history and lifeforms of the planet, and its small gas-mining industry. The civilian population outside the major moons primarily dwells here, and across its various moonlets. Outside the Iälessá sub-system itself, though, its libration points with Lumenna contain a large number of polises and other processing facilities, taking advantage of the low-temperature environment.

Meanwhile, the sub-system itself, inasmuch as it consists of a relatively small ice giant with a system of large moons, presents the unusual sight of an astronomical arrangement firmly in gravity’s grip, as everything is tide-locked to everything else!

I/9/a. Saeríändrá

Class: Thiorastan (high-silicate)
Orbit (period): 134,664 miles (0.921 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.01
Radius: 786 miles
Mass: 4.055 x 1022 kg
Density: 4.798 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.17 g

Axial tilt: 4.2°
Rotation period: 0.921 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 65 K

Atmosphere: Thin (0.1 atm), primarily sulphurous, with heavy ash clouds.
Hydrographic coverage: 0% (other than short-lived cooling glass lakes)

Saeríändrá, the innermost major moon of Iälessá, is an anomalous thiorastan-class moon in many ways, primarily because of the high percentage of silicon and silicate compounds in its makeup, similar to that of its parent planet. It is also anomalously warm, due to the high degree of tidal flexing caused by its proximity to Iälessá, along with frequent close passed by the moonlets with which it is in resonance and its peripatetic moonmoons.

This tidal flexing also drives a highly active geology, including many large volcanoes. It is primarily this volcanic activity that provides Saeríändrá with its thin atmosphere and the thick high-altitude ash clouds which retain the moon’s heat, although the moon’s mass is entirely insufficient to retain its atmosphere, leaving a long pseudo-cometary tail trailing it in its orbit.

CAUTION: Travelers to or near Saeríändrá should be advised that near-Saeríändrá space to trailing of the moon is rich in particulate manner which may score hulls and damage delicate equipment. Avoidance of this zone is recommended.

Saeríändrá’s volcanoes are rare examples of vitreovolcanism, due to its silicon-rich crust; the lava they spew onto the moon’s surface takes the form of a variety of silicate glasses. Ongoing volcanic activity over millennia has resculpted the majority of Saeríändrá’s surface into layers of sculpted glass, from the milky mountains, ancient frozen eruptions etched by wind-driven ash, to the lowland glasslakes, swirled in many colors from impurities within, where glass lava has settled to its natural level before freezing in place.

Saeríändrá is a provider of fissionables to Cinquané and other parts of the outer system, via the Empire Nucleonics, ICC mining station in the north extracting thorium and uranium salts from the brown-green glasslakes of the area. Habitation is concentrated in the southern hemisphere, which houses a large number of thriving galari colonies, along with the famed Crystal Lake Dome resort.

I/9/b. Cinquané Avincta

Class: Eugalínic
Orbit (period): 185,163 miles (1.49 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.12
Radius: 1,227 miles
Mass: 1.123 x 1023 kg
Density: 3.47 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.2 g

Axial tilt: 3.1°
Rotation period: 1.49 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 37 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

A moon trapped in the quiescent phase of the galínic cycle by its lower mass and lack of atmospheric retention, Cinquané Avincta is a frozen world, its surfaces dominated by ice, carbon dunes, hydrocarbon tars, and tholins. As its slightly higher density indicates, pockets of heavier elements are present within its mass, and as such, it serves principally as a mining colony of the Cinquané Commonwealth, of which it is a territorial annex.

However, its surface is also heavily and repeatedly cracked by the high tidal forces to which it is subjected, and thus riven with mazes of chasms and other similar formations. As such, it has a thriving secondary tourist industry in extreme sports, including vacuum spelunking, bridge diving, and high-velocity flight in and among the narrows.

(Let us skip discretely past the tertiary industry of scavenging the remains of extreme sportssophs from the bottom of said chasms.)

I/9/c. Cinquané

Class: Galínilacustric
Orbit (period): 235,662 miles (2.13 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.09
Radius: 2,850 miles
Mass: 1.248 x 1024 kg
Density: 3.09 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.4 g

Axial tilt: 5.4°
Rotation period: 2.13 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 58 K

Atmosphere: 2.16 atm; primarily nitrogen-methane.
Hydrographic coverage: 70% (primarily ethane, with misc. hydrocarbon admixture)

Galíné may be the archetypal example of the galínic planetary classes, but Cinquané was the first. A world of ice, carbon dunes, and ethane oceans lapping at tholin beaches, all beneath a smoggy red-orange methane sky, Cinquané began as a roughneck industrial colony producing hydrocarbon-based products for the ecopoesis of Talentar and space industry elsewhere in the system, and grew from those roots into the homeworld of the modern Cinquané Commonwealth, the largest and most prosperous polity of the outer system, however Inlétanós’s Ring Imperium might contest the claim. Over three billion cold-loving sophs dwell in the domes scattered across Cinquané’s dusty plains and shores, along with the open ciseflish settlements, the largest being the planetary capital, Yíhanad, and the jack city of Newfalls.

Both Biolith Chemical Produces, ICC, and Industrial Liquids, ICC, maintain large extraction and bactry facilities here, clustered around the industrial cities along the shore of the southern polar ocean.

Other notable planetographic features include the Hump, the permanent 330′ high tide beneath the noon pole (here defined as the planetward synchronous pole, rather than the sunward one).

I/9/d. Cinquané Tevinté

Class: Eugalínic
Orbit (period): 370,326 miles (4.10 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.07
Radius: 1,663 miles
Mass: 2.126 x 1023 kg
Density: 2.65 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.2 g

Axial tilt: 1.3°
Rotation period: 4.10 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 35 K

Atmosphere: None.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Similar in most ways to Cinquané Avincta, but lacking the heavier elements, Cinquané Tevinté is also a territorial annex of the Cinquané Commonwealth, serving as a de facto suburb colony for those preferring greater privacy.

One pseudo-island (i.e., area of raised ground within a tar lake) on Cinquané Tevinté holds a mothballed manufacturing facility, that in which Ring Dynamics, ICC produced the first stargate hulls before the construction of the modern standardized weylforge, and another holds a naval depot for the IN’s outer-system picket.

I/9/e. Alétel

Class:
Orbit (period): 420,825 miles (5.07 T-days)
Orbit (ecc.): 0.13
Radius: 2,336 miles
Mass: 5.154 x 103 kg
Density: 2.32 g/cm3
Surface gravity: 0.24 g

Axial tilt: 4.6°
Rotation period: 5.07 T-days (tide-locked)

Black-body temperature: 54 K
Surface temperature (avg.): 52 K

Atmosphere: 0.16 atm; nitrogen-methane.
Hydrographic coverage: 0%

Another otherwise undistinguished iceball, the moon is perhaps most famous for housing Uncertainty Dome, Bright Shadow, ICC’s chief domestic tanglebit manufacturing facility, and, historically, for the Alétel Equatorial Collider.

Ringing the moon’s equator, the Equatorial Collider, at 14,675 miles in circumference, was the largest particle accelerator ever constructed until the much later advent of the Déirae Collider, and enabled new and profound discoveries in high-energy physics.

What’s That Soph?

So, I hear you like demographics. Or, at least, the comments on the last post tell me you like demographics.

Describing the constituent species of the Empire can be a mite tricky, depending on exactly how you define things – leaving aside any nasty outworlder prejudices about the status of neogens or uplifts, some species – relevantly, the mezuar and chiril-{n,m}, don’t have identities which lend themselves to headcount, and thus various approximations must be used.

And complicating things further, of course, is that the Empire’s immigration procedures don’t give a lump of species-appropriate excretions what species you happen to be, which leads to, oh, just over 8% of the population being “other”.

But given that, here’s the rough breakdown in a nice, user-friendly pie chart:

And here is the same data in a table, giving you what those percentages translate to in terms of approximate population numbers out of the Empire’s roughly 2.57 trillion sophonts:

eldrae12.54%322,278,000,000
arthálneogen0.31%7,967,000,000
chfsssc2.48%63,736,000,000
chiril-{n,m}unconventional identity0.36%9,252,000,000
ciseflish9.14%234,898,000,000
dar-bandaluplift7.65%196,605,000,000
dar-célmekuplift1.10%28,270,000,000
dar-cúlnóuplift2.26%58,082,000,000
dar-e’sevdrauplift1.83%47,031,000,000
dar-íícheuplift3.36%86,352,000,000
dar-voracuplift2.15%55,255,000,000
digisapience14.56%374,192,000,000
esseli3.31%85,067,000,000
galari7.28%187,096,000,000
kaeth6.74%173,218,000,000
mezuarunconventional identity1.39%35,723,000,000
myneni4.91%126,187,000,000
selyéva2.78%71,446,000,000
sssc!haaaouú3.92%100,744,000,000
temísineogen0.49%12,593,000,000
verviani2.69%69,133,000,000
zal!enneogen0.43%11,051,000,000
other8.32%213,824,000,000

You may note that even the arthál, with the smallest demographic footprint due to their relatively recent creation and source population of fandom enthusiastic enough to change species, still manage to outpopulate Earth.

And that with 173 billion kaeth around… well, let’s just say the Legions don’t have any trouble recruiting.

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.

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/misconceptions.php#id–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.