Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
steve98052
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby steve98052 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:13 pm

Self-driving cars are in the final stages of trials. Those that rely on lidar are probably already safer than average human drivers, though I'm not sure they surpass good human drivers yet. A bigger issue for them than the technology is legal and market acceptance.

Radar and stereo vision cars are farther from market, and I think they'll never make it, because economies of scale on lidar will make them the winner before non-lidar cars are workable.

I think the fastest route to a supersonic business jet would have been to design the B-1B in military and civilian versions. Delivering bombs without getting shot down and delivering rich people without significant worry about getting shot down are not quite like same missions, but there's enough in common that both would have been less impractical with the benefit of splitting development cost between more units, and manufacturing economy of scale.

Now, the same strategy might be applied to the 2037 bomber project, which is meant to build aircraft to replace the B-1B and B-52.

Also, I don't see any plausible explanation of how anti-gravity could be compatible with understood physics.

Probably the biggest basic science that could have been used long before it was accepted (other than possibly the scientific method itself) is the germ theory of disease. If some famous philosopher had asserted that, "Diseases are caused by living things that are too small for us to see," without evidence other than the appearance that it reduces disease (as spheres and epicycles appeared to explain planetary motion), infectious diseases could have been greatly diminished as a cause of misery and death as early as civilization had developed enough to make it possible for a philosopher to become famous.
Last edited by steve98052 on Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby Condottiere » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:17 pm

As I recall, the Boner Bee was optimized for subsonic low level penetration, and had a stealthed airframe.

You could replace it with normal aluminium and composites, but the engines would still be gas guzzlers.
steve98052
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby steve98052 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:39 pm

I think the larger problem for civilian supersonic aircraft is the sonic boom. If executives could fly New York to Los Angeles in 2½ hours instead of 5½ hours, they would make a market for the planes. But being able to fly Los Angeles to Sydney in 6 hours or New York to London in 3 hours isn't going to support enough planes to make a market for them.

To really bring civilian supersonic travel to market will require reusable ballistic space planes. One hour from anywhere to anywhere on Earth would be a service that every sufficiently rich person in the world could use.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:46 pm

If this works it will be a game changer, the SABRE engine:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-47585433
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby AndrewW » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:13 pm

steve98052 wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:39 pm
I think the larger problem for civilian supersonic aircraft is the sonic boom
Being worked on:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/new-supers ... onic-booms
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby rust2 » Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:15 am

steve98052 wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:13 pm
Probably the biggest basic science that could have been used long before it was accepted (other than possibly the scientific method itself) is the germ theory of disease. If some famous philosopher had asserted that, "Diseases are caused by living things that are too small for us to see," ...
Well, the Roman scholar Varro warned in his Rerum rusticarum of "certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases". Unfortunately he was not believed.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby steve98052 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:26 pm

rust2 wrote:
Sun Mar 17, 2019 10:15 am
steve98052 wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:13 pm
. . . "Diseases are caused by living things that are too small for us to see," . . .
Well, the Roman scholar Varro warned in his Rerum rusticarum of "certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases". Unfortunately he was not believed.
Fair point. Even if he was "the most learned of the Romans", he didn't have the influence of Aristotle. And putting his statement into a book about farming might not have been the best way to promote the idea to philosophers of medicine. Too bad it took another 15 centuries for someone to advocate the idea again, and three more for it to catch on.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby Moppy » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:59 am

steve98052 wrote:
Sat Mar 16, 2019 8:13 pm
Self-driving cars are in the final stages of trials. Those that rely on lidar are probably already safer than average human drivers, though I'm not sure they surpass good human drivers yet. A bigger issue for them than the technology is legal and market acceptance.

I think the fastest route to a supersonic business jet would have been to design the B-1B in military and civilian versions.

Also, I don't see any plausible explanation of how anti-gravity could be compatible with understood physics.

Probably the biggest basic science that could have been used long before it was accepted (other than possibly the scientific method itself) is the germ theory of disease.
Good catch on disease. Microscope was 1600 CE. Could have discovered germs much earlier than they did.

Self-drive is close but will likely need designated zones until the next breakthrough. There was recently a report on self-drive disengagements (the computer asked for a human, or the human intervened).

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsma ... a-is-awol/

The best one was Waymo (Google) with 1 disengagement every 11,000 miles (17,700 km). That's not a crash, but I still think a human should be able to drive more than that miles without an "oops" moment. This was also on US roads in California weather and super-strict laws on jaywalking. Try this in northern Europe with fog, narrow, windy roads and people all over the road, and you've got a whole different problem.

(imagine this in poor visibility, it's some random UK town I got from google image search) https://i.imgur.com/EAPjuso.jpg

There's 6 years between the B1-B and Concorde's year in service. Assuming those planes would be economical today (which they aren't) why wouldn't you just redo the Concordes from their plans instead of converting the B-1? It probably wants a new plane to bring the price down.
phavoc wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:25 pm

It really depends on the user. Most people spending $60 million on a plane value the ability to fly whenever and wherever they want more than taxes (though they like money, too, so some accountant somewhere is looking to minimize their tax liability someway). Those people don't want to wait on a charter, or worse, the possibility they have to (gasp!) plan ahead.

Taxes and such are going to depend upon what country the plane is legally owned in. Offshore registration of your plane works like it does for ships. So places like the Isle of Man do a big business in being the legal home base for aircraft that may never touch down there. I'm sure if you dig deep enough there are other issues lurking in that sort of thing.

I'm sure the majority of large private yachts are company owned including financial instruments and shell corps (the majority are in fact leased). I would assume planes are the same but I haven't the data for planes. The thing with planes where there may be a diference is that private yachts usually have an off-season where they aren't used much, and planes probably don't.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat Mar 23, 2019 11:31 am

Moppy wrote: Self-drive is close but will likely need designated zones until the next breakthrough. There was recently a report on self-drive disengagements (the computer asked for a human, or the human intervened).
...
This was also on US roads in California weather and super-strict laws on jaywalking. Try this in northern Europe with fog, narrow, windy roads and people all over the road, and you've got a whole different problem.

(imagine this in poor visibility, it's some random UK town I got from google image search) https://i.imgur.com/EAPjuso.jpg
When can I trust a self-driving car car to navigate this safely?
Image
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby Linwood » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:10 pm

Likely you already trust a limited bit of autonomous systems in terms of traction control, ABS, and possibly driving modes - all making decisions as to how to best improve the driver’s ability to keep control of the vehicle in difficult circumstances.

If I remember correctly there are already autonomous agricultural and mining vehicles. But the environments they work in are substantially different from streets and highways.
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Re: Future TLs, or different types of "impossible" in scifi

Postby steve98052 » Tue Mar 26, 2019 6:10 pm

Moppy wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:59 am
Self-drive is close but will likely need designated zones until the next breakthrough. There was recently a report on self-drive disengagements (the computer asked for a human, or the human intervened).
. . .
The best one was Waymo (Google) with 1 disengagement every 11,000 miles (17,700 km). That's not a crash, but I still think a human should be able to drive more than that miles without an "oops" moment. This was also on US roads in California weather and super-strict laws on jaywalking. Try this in northern Europe with fog, narrow, windy roads and people all over the road, and you've got a whole different problem.
The reason Waymo is in the lead is that it uses a combination of lidar for 3D rangefinding and cameras for 2D details. With good frequency choice, lidar can see through fog. The street crowded with pedestrians would require both a robot and a human driver to creep through.

Waymo is a lot more conservative about its handover to human drivers than other companies. They keep two people in each test car, one to monitor the computers, the other just sitting there to take over when the robot asks for help. Monitoring the computers is probably an active job, but waiting for the every 11k miles handover must be one of the most tedious jobs in the technology industry.
There's 6 years between the B1-B and Concorde's year in service. Assuming those planes would be economical today (which they aren't) why wouldn't you just redo the Concordes from their plans instead of converting the B-1? It probably wants a new plane to bring the price down.
Fair points. Both are old technology, but military economics are different. I suppose the sweet spot for a business jet would be smaller anyway, though not so small that a civilian version of a fighter with supercruise would work.

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