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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 117: Kondor 81
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 116: Brown 40
The next breakthrough came from an unexpected source. One of the students had set up a working popgun in a particle accelerator, and so was imaging the effects of the kinetic wave at the subatomic level. He noticed some peculiarities in this, and was able eventually to model the relationship between the circuitry in the projector and the shape of the kinetic wave. This in turn led to a lot of theorizing about how the wave could be altered by adjusting the projector circuitry. This led to the creation of scores of projectors, each tested in the accelerator, each refining their understanding of how the system converted electricity to kinetic force. Kondor thought it would also lead to a large number of doctoral theses, but then, that's why the students were here.
Through this it was discovered that the wave of kinetic force was a combination of push and pull forces carefully aligned to cause a force ball in which these were at odds with each other. A pure push system would produce something on the order of a repulsor beam, a negative gravity field, while a purely pull system would provide gravity. With this bridge crossed, they were ready to experiment with artificial gravity. They had a projector design which would pull matter toward itself, a tractor beam.
The next hurdle was to make the draw continuous. This was not so simple as it seemed. At first, applying power for more than an instant to the projectors burned them out, fusing the circuits. The obvious solution was to make the circuits larger, able to handle the current. However, although this created a more potent pull (and disrupted the lab when first activated), it did not create continuous gravity. As with many electronic devices, it was the influx of power which created the effect; once the power stabilized, the attraction vanished. They tried pulsing the power; this worked to some degree, but it was like turning gravity on and off at a light switch.
Kondor was the first to suggest a solution to this. Rather than build one projector, he said, create an array of projectors. Build in an electronic timing system to fire them in sequence, such that as each pulse decays the next engages. This would cause the source of the force to shift across the floor. At high speeds certainly that would make anyone sick, but if the projectors were carefully spaced and timed the overall effect would be as the rocking of a ship–a sensation to which people have been adapting for millennia, since at least the days of the Pernicans.
Kondor's suggestion was not implemented quite as he imagined. Instead, projectors were redesigned which contained this feature within them, long strips which let the force move through them from one end to the other. The first artificial gravity system was complete.
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: