Friday, 24 February 2012

Goodbye, Mr Blofeld

Many of us know space debris exists. There's a lot of it, and even flakes of paint do damage at high speeds. But is this the optimal solution?

Sending up a disposable satellite, with all the cost launching objects involves, to catch it up, grab hold of it and bring it down to burn up? Could there be more efficient options?

I'd bet we could think of a few more to look at. Even if ground-based lasers might have nefarious uses and send pieces further out, why not nudge the junk say, or set it on a downward course using gravity, or attach tiny thrusters, or repel it with the hunter's thrusters and even use the reaction to help the hunter transfer to the next piece?

This gets me tinkering more with micro-G rules, like the Derelict set. Why do so few games use set-ups like this or have even basic rules for playing in these conditions?

And who'll be funding CleanSpaceOne? Taxpayers? If it is poor value for money, would anyone be surprised? If they do, and it does go ahead - and works on that one piece of junk - it could trigger more spending of public money elsewhere on similar solutions.

The thousands of bigger pieces could move a lot of money from many pockets to a few.

But the taxpayers wouldn't just sit around watching this happen, right? They'd be up in arms. Forget traditional world domination - here's a driving force for sci-fi gaming plots.

But what if you don't need money? There could be other motivations, harm to rivals, for example, or depopulation, feeling the world belongs more to the financially successful, a global elite. Could that be easily disguised? Well, Bill Gates and others are known to support research into geoengineering so any supervillians could likely also do it openly.

And there's always incompetence. Do we trust the scientists, engineers and managers to get it right, make it reversible, not say trigger an ice-age, starvation and extinction?

Fallibility? A major news site titles a piece: "... Cloud level has fallen by 1% a year over last decade 'in response to global warming'" Note the phrase "in response to". Do we have facts supporting this? If anything goes, why not 'influencing' or even 'causing'..?

We find out 1% means: "... by around 100 to 130 feet." But then: "Most of the reduction was due to fewer clouds occurring at very high altitudes." At least it gets said. Gamers might know what an average can hide, but others not. How much could we miss?

Here's an explanation: "'We don't know exactly what causes the cloud heights to lower,' says Davies. 'But it must be due to a change in the circulation patterns that give rise to cloud formation at high altitude.'" We don't know, but it must be. Why use that form?

When did 'must' become part of science? It may be unintentional, but it feels almost dystopian. Again, you could use thinking like this in gaming, with one or more trusted experts in the game world actually setting out to make facts fit forecasts or prophecies.


Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Sir Porky,

Your tagged questions await you on my latest post @ The DM's Screen.

I look forward to reading your answers - remember, these are supposed to be fun, so enjoy :)

Porky said...

I'll finish up here then be right across, with just a little trepidation...