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The Beginning of Science Fact

Discussion in 'Techno-Magic' started by Biffle Chump, Jul 30, 2005.

  1. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    @meatdog - Oh sure, until it gets hit with missile fire or a RAC 2 and falls over. Reality is much different from BattleTech, etc. In the games I refer to, the pilots wear neural helms to help guide/control the 'mech. The 'mechs have gyros, yes, but it's the abilities and reflexes of the pilot that keep it 'alive'. Programming can only do so much. There's more to 'mechs than just walking around - they're built for fighting and recon. I have yet to see a 'mech that didn't have space for weaponry. Anyway, I'm not much up on the science part of the game. I just like to hop in an Atlas and shoot people. :p
     
  2. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Well, anyone who has played the Battletech boardgame will attest to the fact that those 'Mechs are not easy to handle. In fact, even when using perfect pilots, it's still easy to take a fall while running over rough terrain and taking fire. For the average pilot, that roll is nearly impossible.

    @Kuemper: 'Mechs use Fusion Engines, which, unlike in the MechWarrior games, would not go critical. There would be no explosion at all, since fusion always wants to cool down. All that would happen, is that the Reactor would go cold, and not produce a fusion reaction.

    While we still don't have the technology for fusion engines (Let alone being able to put them in 'Mechs.), by 2795 (I believe the first 'Mech, the Mackie, was designed then.) we would surely be capable of it. Which is good, since a fusion engine would be perfect for running something like a 'Mech.

    @Meatdog: A six-legger would be useful, but also a little too complicated. Imagine the extra weight and extra maintenance that come with them.

    Earlier AgroMechs did use input commands and still do. Only BattleMechs and the like have these fancy balance systems and the like.

    And, while on the topic of fancy balance systems, BattleMechs use a Gyro and Neural system. The neural system takes the pilot's sense of balance and uses that to control the gyro for the 'Mechs balance.
     
  3. Yulaw9460 Gems: 9/31
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    Yeah yeah yeah, it looks pretty neat. But I don´t see any Gatling-guns...
     
  4. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    It has airsoft guns.
     
  5. Meatdog Gems: 15/31
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    @kuemper
    Seeing alot of mechs don't have real arms, just rocketlaunchers and stuff, I actually think an automised system might be better at keeping balance, even in the circumstances described, than a human brain. The human would have human reflexes, which is actually BAD at that point, as he will try to balance the mech with unpresent or unsuited members.

    @biffle chump
    Actually, the extra complication is worth it. First, because of the extra legs, you actually have less weight per leg, despite the added weight of the leg systems, as the weapons system are much heavier than the weapon systems. Lightweight motion is much closer reality than lightweight ammo or lasers ;) . Besides, it's not that more complex, the algorithms to steer a six legged robot/mech already exist. Of course, such a mech would be semi-autonomous, as it has to detect itself how much it has to lift its legs, but even there, algoritms already exist for semi-autonomous systems with an operator.
     
  6. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Yeah, but at that point it's not really you piloting the thing. I mean, I'll agree with you that it probably would be better in combat. But, personally, I'd rather steer and balance the thing myself.

    Good points, by the way.
     
  7. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    Y'all do realize I'm talking about a *game* here? How it works in this reality has no bearing on how it works in mecha reality. :hmm:

    As for the arms, no, there aren't many with moveable arms save for a choice few - Mauler, Hatchetman, Black Knight, Shadow Hawk, Phoenix Hawk, BattleMaster...oh, that's a bit more than a few. :p

    The point of the pilot-needed-for-balance is part of the game. Don't like it? Talk to the geekoids who created the game's rules. If you don't want to jump in a 100T Kodiak and rip the holy sh*t out of some Steiner hotshots, then you might consider running the arty guns. Not everybody's made for the frontlines. :D
     
  8. jaded empath Gems: 20/31
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    @biffle... ehhhhhh, kinda. A fusion reactor is notoriously hot (that's why Fredricks & Pohns got so much ink over 'cold fusion')

    What Messrs Weisman, Babcock & Bills rationalized was that while a 'Mech with a damaged powerplant would be fairly easy to create an uncontrolled reaction, the whole setting of 'a new dark age with wars being fought with priceless weapons we no longer know how to make' wouldn't really work with that possibility. (Scavenging the fallen foe for parts to repair your 'Mech isn't very easy when there's a 30m crater as the only sign your opponent was even there :mad: ) So all the fail-safes and redundant components for a fusion engine were 'written in' and a 'safe' engine was born.

    (So in short, it's Greenpeace's fault that about a third of your 'Mech's weight is taken up by that massively padded engine! ;) )


    Heck, lemme just rip a coupla paragraphs out of Maximum Tech (FASA #1700), page 19:
    The book then goes on to the guts of this rule - lotsa engine damage quickly, and if you roll a 12 on 2d6, BOOM. EVERY unit in the same hex is *gone*, adjacent hexes get a large hit, and units two and even *three* hexes (90m) away still take damage.

    Note that Maximum Tech is not a core rulebook, it is expansion rules, but the novels written in the BattleTech mellieu (particularly those written by Michael Stackpole) took some literary license and had an awful lot of sudden, massive center torso damage going on... :rolleyes:

    BTW, interesting trivia - since Mikey himself was so fond of a big bang, a term for a reactor going crit was coined: 'Stackpoling'

    And when Micro$oft and FASA Studios sat down to make Mechwarrior 4 they liked the idea of exploding engines (think Hollywood for all the fireball car crashes) and wrote it into the computer game. I still find amusing that my targets blow in a huge conflagration, leaving only a blackened skeleton...despite the only damage I did to them was in their legs... :rolleyes:


    Well, we *do* have fusion reactors, but they're pretty difficult to operate and somewhat unstable, not overly productive (yet), not to mention EXTREMELY un-portable! :(

    Yes, we've only got 700-odd years if we're supposed to meet the BattleTech timeline (yes, the MSK-6S Mackie was the first BattleMech, fielded by the Terran Hegemony) but I'd have said we would come up with portable fusion powerplants before that point - they're useful in more than just 'Mechs.

    But again, all this is based on a science fiction game invented by Jordan, Ross & Randall - as much as I love the game, I also find amusement in their compromises with reality vs. playability: a Medium Laser projects a damaging beam of coherent light, but only out to 270m, whereupon it magically dissapates... :rolleyes:
     
  9. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Whoa, hail before Battletech-Man.

    But, I still don't understand the whole 'Written In' part. Do you mean that it doesn't exist? Well, for the life of me, I know that fusion engines cannot, will not, and is impossible for them to explode. It's just the way that a Fusion Reaction needs a constant source of power, and unlike a Fission Reaction, is not a chained and self-propelling reaction.
     
  10. jaded empath Gems: 20/31
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    :rolleyes: Yeesh, get off yer knees; I'm just a fan & player who never sold off/threw out his old books :)

    :confused: Um, the quote I made from MaxTech is a BattleTech expansion rulebook (happened to have it next to the kybd since it lists almost every 'Mech ever published by FASA :D

    ISBN# 1-55560-295-9, you can find it here

    That's what I quoted the 'Engine Explosion' rules from.

    And I think we need to clear up possible differences of perspective here: when you say 'fusion engine,' are you referring to the motive powerplant of a BattleMech - a fictional weapon of war created by Randall N. Bills, L. Ross Babcock III, and Jordan K. Weisman? Or are you simply referring to any sort of fusion reactor?

    (I tend to assume the former, since an engine is "a machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion" per Merriam-Webster)

    If in fact you mean the latter OKAY; misunderstanding cleared. :heh:

    If the former - well, a) if a BattleMech was real, it wouldn't exist for another 760 years b) it's a fictional setting (and to be honest, a rather hastily thrown-together one to give a backstory to a 'beer-and-pretzels' board wargame), and c) there's plenty of instances in the published materials of BattleTech that refer to engine explosions - not the least of which is the expansion ruleset that I quoted previously.

    Note that the MechWarrior PC games (1-4; 1 & 2 with Activision, 3 & 4 thru Micro$oft) were all co-developed by FASA or WizKids (the company that purchased the BattleTech rights after FASA ceased operations - fun fact: Jordan Weisman (co-creator of BattleTech in the first place) founded WizKids :) )) And technically speaking, they're 'canon,' or official material for the millieu.

    The destruction of 'Mechs in MW2, 3 & 4 is different than their predecessor (the original Mechwarrior game was so old that PC's didn't yet have the video 'chops' to simulate explosions) or the strict 'failsafe' rule in the core boardgame. The rationale of course is: you've just spent ten sweaty minutes struggling to defeat that enemy Awesome - you wanna see that sucker BURN :lol:

    Anyways, I hope this helps clear up confusion over this subject.
     
  11. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    I'm referring to an engine, as in it changes and adds to the amount of energy put in to it, as well as that it is what drives the 'Mech. Not as in an 'Engine of War'.

    And, now just for one last thing. When you say 'Failsafe Rule' I assume that you think that there are too much safety protocols for the reactor to go critical. In fact, it is a physical impossibility. Fussion reactions that no longer have the ideal environ for their existence simply die out. That's it. No explosion, no nothing. Just dead.

    But, I have to admit, I do like to see them go up in flames.

    Also, I don't think the game is all thrown together. In fact, I think the universe is bettter thought out than an entire host of game worlds. At least, that's with Classic Battletech. Personally, I hate Dark Age.
     
  12. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    @biffle chump - You're confusing the heck outta me. It seems you're talking about one thing and apathetic is talking about something else. I think (sorry if I put words in your mouth, AE :) ) what AE is talking about is the engine that drives the 'mech, while you're talking about a reactor which is completely different. Fission reactors have nothing to do with fission engines in 'mechs afaik. One is reality and the other is not. Also, it's a bit hard to tote around a reactor - they aren't portable. :D

    The 'fail safe' rule looks to me (based on AE's post and the book refered to) to be just put there to give players more in the way of salvage. It's one of the funnest parts for me to scrounge through the decimated enemy and happily discover I've got Clan tech. Yay, a Streak 2 pack! Heh, it's not much, but you've got to get your kicks where you can. :happy:

    As for the game being 'thrown together', depends on the viewpoint. When did you start playing BT? A couple years ago, like me? Or from the get-go? People have had, what, ten years or so to add depth to the BT universe? Of course, with time, it's going to feel fleshed out. I'm sure D&D wasn't so rich and complex thirty years ago either. ;)
     
  13. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Okay, where we are confused, is the fact that the 'Engine' of the 'mech is a 'Fusion Reactor'. That is, fusing two small elements together to make a larger element, resulting in a massive output of energy. This energy is harnessed and is used to power the 'mech. So, in short, it's engine is a miniaturized sun. Same type of reaction.

    Ach, it is a physicall impossibility for such an engine to explode! That is, the laws of Physics do not allow it to happen.

    Streak 2's are freaking handy on Owenses and Jenners.

    Well, I can in to Battletech when MechWarrior 2 (Best Game Ever) came out for PC. So, around 8 years ago. Shortly after, I began to play the Battletech table-top game, and purchased a few Sourcebooks and Field Manuals. To me, it was well done from the moment I started.

    BTW: Did anyone here have a subscription to the Battletech Magazine?
     
  14. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    So, you're just injecting the word 'reactor' when the rest of us nitwits :) say 'engine'. It may be the same type of reaction, but the words aren't interchangeable. I did a bit of online research and found the following:

    From Columbia Encyclopedia:
    ============================
    Fusion reactors are being studied as an alternative to fission reactors. The design of nuclear fusion reactors, which are still in the experimental stage, differs considerably from that of fission reactors. In a fusion reactor, the principal problem is the containment of the plasma fuel, which must be at a temperature of millions of degrees in order to initiate the reaction. Magnetic fields have been used in several ways to hold the plasmas in a “magnetic bottle.” If development should reach a practical stage of application, it is expected that fusion reactors would have many advantages over fission reactors. Fusion reactors, for instance, would produce less hazardous radioactive waste. Because their fuel,
    deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen readily separated from water), is far less expensive to obtain than enriched uranium, fusion reactors also would be far more economical to operate.
    =============================

    From Merriam-Webster:
    =============================
    Engine
    4 : a machine for converting any of various forms of energy into mechanical force and motion; also : a mechanism or object that serves as an energy source <black holes may be the engines for quasars>
    =============================

    From Merriam-Webster:
    =============================
    Reactor
    3 a : a vat for an industrial chemical reaction b: a device for the controlled release of nuclear energy (as for producing heat)
    =============================

    From Wikipedia:
    =============================
    Fusion power is the extraction of energy in some useful form from a nuclear fusion reaction, that is, by combining two light atomic nuclei into a heavier one with the release of energy. While experiments continue, no actual fusion power generators exist yet that would generate more energy over extended periods of time than needed to drive the experiment. In June 2005, it was announced that the first experimental reactor supposed to do this, ITER, will be built in Cadarache in Southern France.
    ==============================

    From other sources <books :) >, the 'mechs are powered by a fusion reactor. (Apologies for any toe-stepping; remember, I'm fairly new to the game.) Yet, a 'simple' reaction cannot power something without another device to control the output of energy, right? Your previous statements about fusion reactions not overheating seemed to me as though you were citing fact, but I've found instances which say fusion power/reactors are things of the future or not yet stable enough outside of the lab.

    You also mentioned cold fusion as something that doesn't overheat. Then what causes the cold fusion to happen? I read a bit about liquids to gases (the example used was water) and wonder if this is what you mean by cold fusion? If so, what helps 'melt' the coldness? The weapons being used repeatedly?

    Now it's getting into actual *science* :shudder:, something I wasn't ever good at in school.
     
  15. Meatdog Gems: 15/31
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    Actually, fusion reactors are neither unstable nor things of the future. The only reason they are not yet useable for energy production is that it you need to put more energy in the reactor to keep it running than you can produce electricity with it.

    Actually, a fusion reaction can be self-sustaining, kind of, but only above a critical mass, where the elements are drawn together by the pull of gravital forces. Like in the sun. A scale that will never be reached on the earth's surface.
     
  16. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Ach! The ENGINE IS A FUSSION REACTOR! The two are interchangable in this case because they are one and the same. Ie: The Fussion Reactor is the Engine of the 'Mech; The Engine of the 'Mech is a Fussion Reactor.

    As for the Cold Fussion, I have this to say. No one knows if Cold Fussion is possible. There.

    Anyway, I suspect that a 'Mech's reactor uses turbines or whatnot to convert the heat from a Fussion reaction. But that would be very blocky and cumbersome (XL Engine anyone?).

    Either way, the specifics of how a 'Mech works was never revealed. So, we can argue the night away, or agree that Battletech is great and we don't need a full explanation. Though, it would be nice.
     
  17. Felinoid

    Felinoid Who did the what now? ★ SPS Account Holder

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    If they really could provide a 'full explanation', they could provide a prototype.
     
  18. jaded empath Gems: 20/31
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    Okay, okay - what I gather is we're still getting confused:

    1) a BattleMech is a fictional plaything of a game set in the far future, powered (and please pay attention here) by a 'fusion engine' that has little, if anything to do with reality: the creators of BattleTech are not scientists, and further - they created this game OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO, when information about this branch of high-energy physics was a LOT rarer and harder to come by.
    In short:

    THE BATTLEMECH MOTIVE POWERPLANT IS FICTIONAL AND AS SUCH CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO HOLD UP TO THE KNOWLEDGE WE NOW HAVE ABOUT FUSION REACTIONS.

    Hey, this is a game where people in the 31st century travel dozens of lightyears in a few moments; you wanna discuss real-world relativistic physics versus the BattleTech-millieu *JumpShip* next?

    So if you're going to talk about "fusion reactors" or "fusion engines", please *clarify* whether you mean BattleTech, or Real-Life, since the two are VERY DIFFERENT.

    One is a stable, safe - though not yet productive - means of creating energy by manipulating an atomic reaction of two atoms fusing into a larger atom and releasing extra energy. At present - IIRC - the reaction has to be carried out at a temperature & pressure great enough that it costs MORE energy to start and maintain the reaction, than it produces, or am I mistaken on this?

    The other is a finicky, poorly-maintained motive powerplant of a weapon of war (or 'engine' of war if you wish to confuse the issue even further ;) ) that usually just stops and shuts down if damaged enough, but - if it takes a catastrophic amount of damage in a short timeframe (i.e. a massive amount of energy is thrown at the powerplant and its captive fusion reaction) it can - very rarely - fail in a manner that creates a massive explosion that obliterates everything within a 30m diameter globe around the powerplant, and even significant damage out as far as 120m.

    I will remind you that BattleTech is *FICTION* - and even though not being very versant on high-energy physics, the creators (and maintainers) of BT did attempt to make the game adhere to the laws of real-world physics: I remind you of the beginning of my quote from MaxTech "Though the scientific reality of fusion engines prevents them from exploding,..."

    Despite this reworking of the game (i've been following since its inception in '84) to match the nascent science that grew as the game also developed, there's also the problem of silly things like 'fun' and 'literary license'. :rolleyes:

    Michael Stackpole's Warrior trilogy of novels set in the BattleTech millieu had more 'Mechs suffering from massive explosions than one would think possible - even taking into account the expansion rule from MaxTech. The reason? The author's axiom: "Never let reality get in the way of a good story." :heh:

    Further, as the campaign setting developed from the original 'Dark Ages' of scavenging 'lostec' from the battlefields, to a 'renaissance' of technologies being rediscovered and advanced upon, and industry started keeping up and surpassing the attrition of warfare, the was less need to desperately salvage every possible piece of a fallen 'Mech, and people started craving a more exciting end to a battle than those 30-foot-tall behemoths simply falling like cut timber.

    And so, the 'engine explosion' started to occur as an unofficial 'house rule' with this gaming group, or that one. It grew more common as the groups met at official tournaments and conventions and passed the 'big bang bug' (you might call it) around until popularity of this grew to the point that the *optional* expansion rule was included in the MaxTech 'advanced rulebook'

    You might say "But a fusion reactor could not possibly explode in the manner you describe."

    To which an ardent BT player who uses the optional rule would respond "But where's the fun in that?!?"

    Which merely illustrates my point: BATTLETECH is FICTION and has little, if any, bearing on the real world.

    So my question still stands, Biffle: which one were you talking about all those posts ago, BT engines, or real-world reactors? ;)
     
  19. Biffle Chump Gems: 5/31
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    Real world and how the game is played in official tournaments.

    But, hey, since you brought it up, anyone want to discuss Jumpships? Rotating in the fouth dimension? How could you resist?
     
  20. kuemper Gems: 31/31
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    Okay, bud. Start citing your sources. :toofar: I want the who-what-why-where-when-and-how of a fusion reactor and/or engine. And since you yourself stated:

    how can you say for *fact* that the fusion reactor is the engine of a 'mech? You want more of a BT discussion - check out TeamBanzai's website here.

    EDIT: You also stated energy being 'harnessed'. A reactor does not harness anything. It creates energy. The engine (yes, dammit, an ENGINE!) is capable of harnessing the energy of the reactor and feeding the output into some sort of power.

    [ August 06, 2005, 04:27: Message edited by: kuemper ]
     
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