Tuesday, December 22, 2009

If You Plan on Writing Space Battles . . .

A post this morning on the New York Times Idea of the Day blog linked to a very cool post on Gizmodo written by Joseph Shoer, a Ph.D. candidate in aerospace engineering, on "The Physics of Space Battles."

Among other interesting tidbits, the author writes:

"Explosions are basically a waste of energy in space. On the ground, these are devastating because of the shock wave that goes along with them. But in the vacuum of space, an explosion just creates some tenuous, expanding gases that would be easily dissipated by a hull. No, to damage spacecraft systems. . . the best bets for ranged weapons are kinetic impactors and radiation.

A kinetic impactor is basically just a slug that goes really fast and hits the enemy fighter, tearing through the hull, damaging delicate systems with vibrations, throwing gyroscopes out of alignment so that they spin into their enclosures and explode into shards, puncturing tanks of fuel and other consumables, or directly killing the pilot and crew. You know . . . bullets."

After reading it, I went back and reviewed my own attempt at writing a space battle, in "The Monuments of Phy-lor" (written for -- and not accepted by -- the "Footprints" anthology.) Couple of excerpts:

"Returning to his chamber, Vor-phu knew it wouldn't be long now. He turned on the Holo-dim and saw the three hives spinning toward his own. Most battle cruisers belonged to Ran-phor. Phu-lat controlled the pulse platforms. He almost smiled to think it had never occurred to anyone that placing the cloud's defenses into just two hives would be a problem . . .

Glancing across his shoulder, he watched the Vor-shem cluster make a defensive move as the other clusters drew closer. They were almost in striking range . . .

The Vor-shem had completed their defensive maneuver, but doing so had left their left flank hopelessly unguarded. He watched the first wave of pulses leave the Phu-lat swarm. It would reach them in seconds."

So, it appears I didn't break any of the laws of physics, anyway . . .

and a "pulse" could be anything. (:>)

2 comments:

Natalie L. Sin said...

Note to self: Start using radiation on space ships : )

Brendan P. Myers said...

Hilarious, Natalie.

Think I'll just stick with my trusty 9mm and shoot out the porthole . . .