Wednesday, June 06, 2012

If I Only Could Organize A Kickstarter #1

I'm an aspiring (i.e. I need to write more) science fiction writer and one of the biggest issues for me is simple.

Math.

Or, more accurately, how do I calculate how long it takes things from getting to point A to point B without pulling numbers out of my ass.  And, I don't want to pull numbers out of my ass and have the hordes of sci-fi fans that do know math to crew my ass about how I got it wrong.  I understand why getting it right is so important-some movies and shows that otherwise would be good start to piss me off because they get something wrong that I know is some other way.

This is the tool I want to relieve me of the fear of math, and if I could figure out how to budget it and get a staff, I would have the Kickstarter page up so fast heads would swim.  This program would let me do something like this-

"Okay, I'm sitting is Ceres on October 22, 2311. I can do 0.01 G continuously, but I have only three days worth of life support. WHERE can I get to?"

Or, something like this-

"The day before Challenger blows up, I've got the Space Shuttle, a NERVA rocket that fills up the cargo bay with engine, fuel, and a very small crew module with 75% efficient air and water recycling and three people. Total mass is 24,000 kilos, half fuel (water). From a Cape Canaveral launch, where can I go and still have enough food and fuel to come back? And, can I do better if I have a Titan IV-B launch at Cape Canaveral lift the engine and fuel tank, and have the Shuttle carry the crew and passenger module?"

Better yet, something like this-

"I've got a ship sitting at SFO that has AG lift that basically makes my ship neutrally buoyant, a 1 G continuous thrust drive, and a hyperdrive that I need to get at least 100 diameters away from any planetary body larger than Ceres and can do a light year a day. How long from Earth to the (theoretically) habitable planet of Tau Ceti if I leave tomorrow?"

Even better!  Here's an idea I'd love to simulate out-

"How would the mission of 'Time For The Stars' work out if the ship could accelerate at 3Gs once it got outside of the equivalent of the orbit of Neptune for Sol?  Or just 1G the entire trip?  What would be the time dilation difference between a person on Earth and a person on the ship?"

Note, this is all menu-driven, you build everything from ships to star systems via the menu system.  The program would have a "near star" map of all the stars in fifty light years, and let you create your own stellar system.  And, yes, I know there's AstroSynthesis out there-it isn't quite what I need...but it's pretty close.  And close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades, or tactical nuclear weapons.

I can even see the marketing...free if you just want to simulate "historical" missions, full features unlocked if you buy an access code.

So, would you want to see this particular piece of programming work?  Pay $50 for it?

2 comments:

Charles said...

So, for question #1:
http://www.cthreepo.com/lab/math1.shtml
plugging in your #s gets 2,046,971 and change miles away, doing about 158 miles/second.

For question #3:
First, plot your course:
step 1: lift from SFO and fly to the further of:(a) 100 diameters out from Earth or (b) 100 diameters from the sun. Earth's diameter is 12,756.32; 100 diameters is thus 1,275,632 miles, and that would be the distance required. The sun's diameter is 1.4 million km; 100 diameters is thus 140 million km. Earth is (on average) 150 million km from the sun, so just outside the 100 diameter line. So, given your 1G constant acceleration drive, we need to travel to 100 earth diameters (since we're already at 100 solar diameters). How long does it take to get there? Answer? 8.6 minutes. So, after ~10 minutes from launch, you're ready to go into hyperdrive. Tau Ceti is ~12 light years away. Thus, your total mission time to arrival is basically 12 days.

Seriously. All this stuff? Break it down into chunks, and solve the math. Ask your friends who are math-enabled. Remember John and the grav gun with the frigate-sized projectile? Right.

zakueins said...

True...but, my issue is that I have a short attention span-I have to solve the problem NOW.

But, I'll start having to ask math-enabled friends at this rate. Still...I LIKE the idea and might refine it a bit more.