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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 114: Kondor 80
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The popgun was everything claimed. It fired a low-power kinetic pulse which was being used to knock over cardboard targets, and each shot made a rather large popping noise. Kondor thought it would make a wonderful toy for children, not more dangerous than a dart gun and useful for a wide range of tricks–except of course that to release such a toy would alert the rest of the world that you had solved the kinetic energy problem, and given samples of how it was done.
Asked about the noise, Kondor said it was probably part of the basic concept. The Mark V had made a very loud noise when fired, and although this Mark VII was smaller and lighter than that weapon, its chief improvement from the user viewpoint was that it was considerably quieter, and he guessed that this was something that came with improvements in the application.
Attention now turned to applying what they had learned from the blaster to creating a gravity system. It was not so easy as Kondor had expected. He began to understand the difference between the kinetic energy of the gun and the gravitic energy they sought. For one thing, they had learned to generate a very focused pulse of force which struck its target as if from the outside. They needed to create a force that would not hit the target but rather permeate it, drawing each molecule of the target equally. There was a sense in which the power had to be much greater in a gravity system, and yet another sense in which it had to be much less, more evenly dispersed such that it was not so great in any one place. As winter brightened into spring, it threw no more light on the problem.
"It's the projector," Kondor suggested. "We need a better understanding of which part of the system creates the energy and which part focuses it. Without a projector of some sort we get no energy released, but the projector we have is–well, it's not exactly all wrong, but it's wrong in most ways. It is backwards, pushing when we need it to pull. It focuses what we need diffused. We need to remove whatever part of the system is focusing the energy so tightly, or perhaps redefine it to focus considerably less. We need to identify how the projector creates the energy at all, and work out how to reverse that so it draws toward itself instead of pushing away."
"Has anyone tried reversing the current flow?" one of the students asked.
"While that idea is not entirely without merit," Dr. Breyer said, "it is a lot more complicated than that. Although it is true that reversing the flow through an electromagnet reverses the poles, and that some direct current motors will run backwards if the power is reversed, most electronics either work on alternating current and so cannot tell the difference in the direction of the power flow, or do not work at all if the power flow is reversed."
"Still," Kondor continued the thought, "it is possible that we achieve part of the effect by altering the harmonic currents in the system. I don't know if this helps–actually, it probably is very important, but I have not yet figured how. The gravity system on the spaceship from which the blaster came had a regular pulsing, stronger and weaker like the rocking of a ship. It may be that in order to generate this energy artificially it is necessary to constantly change the power flow, thus creating a constantly changing force."
"That is worth knowing," Dr. Breyer said. "We'll need to explore the effects of changing the harmonics in the power supply, and try fluctuating the input, to see what we get."
The work continued, each contributing to it as they were able. Kondor realized that he had become one of this world's leading authorities on artificial kinetic and gravitic energy systems. That probably didn't amount to much in the multiverse at large; there were certainly worlds in which everything he knew amounted to a high school physics class–but it changed his perspective on the accident which threw him into the verse. He was today on the frontiers of a knowledge which probably did not yet exist in his own universe, and had become one of the authorities in the field. He was learning things no one knew, no one could learn, in his own world–not merely things which only scientists knew and soldiers heard about in rumors, but things that were not known. What he had oft regarded his misfortune now appeared in a new light to be his greater fortune, his opportunity to learn, to learn more than he had ever imagined there was to know. Already he knew medicine at least a bit beyond that of the doctors who once cared for him. Now he knew physics in a field unexplored by the greatest minds of his peers. There was much to learn, but he now had the time and the opportunities to learn much, perhaps eventually to truly know all.
It was an exciting prospect for the future.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #119: Character Projects. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: