Time Travel in the Iron Empires [Majory Geekery]

I hope this turns into a Quicksilver-calculus-dispute-style argument about time-travel!

The relativistic problems in FTL are enough to melt Stephen Hawking’s mind, but essentially in special or general relativity, FTL travel is time travel (and in fact impossible in special relativity). Events just get crazier the more things that move at FTL speeds.

Actually the Michaelson-Morley experiments were way cooler than that.

By the end, they had a sort of turret-boat made of solid marble (!) floating (!) in a pool of mercury. It was spinning slowly and they were measuring the speed of light relative to the angle of the beam. Turns out it didn’t change, which overturned the idea of a luminiferous aether.

Solid marble turret spinning in pool of quicksilver > Quicksilver-style calculus debate.

Haha! No, my Science-fu isn’t up to par for that. Not even close.

I’m pretty sure I know more about the arguments between 20th-century scientists than the actual theories themselves. And given that knowledge, I’d say extrapolation into the sci-fi future has a pretty wide range it can go in.

Just because pure math has predicted plenty of discoveries up to this point doesn’t mean you can just apply particle physics to dudes in spaceships and tell me I’m wrong to criticize it! When scientists actually send people back in time, well, okay… until then, I’m going to maintain that time moving slower for somebody doesn’t equal time moving backwards.

Also, I was not assuming the existence of ether in space. I was assuming that something which defies those crazy speed-of-light physics isn’t going to be beholden to them like everything we study right now is. I could have worded that better. Oh well. Carry on!

Huh? I assumed that the distortion created by these FTL drives was that it increased your travel time [experienced by the ship]. The distortion around the ship is that the flow of time is altered so that the ship can travel slower than C yet appear to everyone else [in the ‘standard’ frame of reference] to have been going faster than C. That’s why you need cryogenics for people to make this trip. To have travelled 1 light year they have aged much more than 1 year, even though to the people on the planet they are from and the planet they are going to less than 1 year has passed. EDIT2: This means this is all forward time-travel, there is no backwards stuff.

EDIT: It does lead to questioning what builds up at that leading edge of the bubble (with or without a ‘hard’ edge), although perhaps they could vary course to vary where the leading edge of the distortion is to avoid that?

The problem isn’t traveling faster than light, that is not forbidden [by special relativity]. The problem is in avoiding traveling at the speed of light during the process of acceleration. EDIT: Although what happens to matter that is travelling faster than C is … unknown. So even if you did figure out how to have your body make a quatum leap in acceleration to skip over C it remains a question as to what exactly would happen to your matter/body.

Hi luke.

Automation (as described in BE) of the Artillery skill so a missile could fly itself into something is probably fairly expensive given the IE suggests that that sort of artificial system is fairly rare (I got the distinct impression that the most common Automation is an Iron suit’s Avatar, and that is assuming a pretty relative definition of “common”).

Whoops! I was still in ship-to-ship thinking sorry. Assuming that the collapsing HEx field does have some horrible cataclysmic effect I guess it would be pretty good at glassing a planet. I suppose that the economic costs of using HEx drives as one-shot weapons and the social and economic costs of rendering planets uninhabitable would be barriers. I can’t imagine what mechanically would prevent a HEx-based WMD though.

I always assumed that there is some way of detecting incoming vessels, but maybe this was just poor thinking on my part?

Maybe the inestimable Forged Lord will write something about this in his new book and answer everything!? :slight_smile:

Michaelson-Morley is weirdly nostalgic for me, I remember my dear old man telling about it to illustrate some point when I was a wee chap…

But anyway!

It certainly is! I think actual weirdness beats fictional weirdness any day of the week - I just don’t know how it’d be easily done on the forums… although I guess we have youtube now? I propose that all the participants begin constructing complicated experiments with peculiar fluids to prove their points.

OT: yeah i remember something like that in our campaigns - i dont know why, but theres always some camps/shelters for civilians, which were builded by clever vaylen bastard in order to hull/capture some meat :wink:

But few words about my point - BE gives you tech burner, which can be used to creating really, really bad superweapon. Moreover - while you are GM you can buy it at world burning stage for low price - and use this in game - “hey, and now Ill give you small HEx warhead detonation in my building scene!", say something like "Oh my god, its full of stars!” or other trauma-quotes and … kill all PCs? Then you must only create new world and characters… if you still want to play this game. But… what about not being dick, what about fair rivalry and all this stuff from last chapter? Is BE a game about full-f…g art of destruction? So why Chris had created hammers or rifles if you can kill all life in a system by one special or ancient weapon?

You know, i smell here expanded universe from Star Wars - Sun Crusher and Co. But I`ve got another game(s) for that! :wink:

Don’t quote me, because I could be way off base, but I think that this could prevent any kind of time-travel scenarios. You’d essentially travel back to an alternate universe and blow up the planet in that universe. In your own universe, the planet still gets overtaken by the Vaylen. Same problem for the Vaylen going back in time to blow up the planet before you left.

Sure, but I already posited that in this instance there’s no alternate universes. If there were AUs, then we’d be spawning one every time a ship engaged its drives.

Uhm, not quite. AUs happen every time when there might be a possibility to, not only when an distortion drive is activated.

At least, that is theoretically the case, IIRC.

And just as a remark from my behalf:
It’s soft dark sci-fi, it doesn’t need to be scientifically correct, physics wise.

That’s a very exacting definition. I don’t know if I can measure up to its rigors.

A distortion device is a time travel device. Reread the thread, I’m not going to repeat everything that I’ve already said.

It’s soft dark sci-fi, it doesn’t need to be scientifically correct, physics wise.

While this is 100% true, it’s also boring. I’m just bandying ideas about. Technological problems and their impact on human beings is the grist in the mill of science fiction.

NO TIME TRAVEL! Distortion drive does not speed up or slow down time. It changes its value. The analogy i use is weight vs. mass. Distortion drive changes the weight of “t”, not its mass. The universe treats a distorted moment of time exactly like a normal moment of time.

From my notes:

D-Drives operate by inverting a portion of space into its negative aspect (the idea is that there is a parallel universe (the antiverse), in which all matter is antimatter, time travels backwards and the pressor field is dominant (see Gravity below)). An active D-drive creates a dimensional bubble, the boundary of which displays the characteristics of the antiverse. The extent of the antiverse’s influence on our universe can be exaggerated or diminished by the drive generating the effect. The technobabble for this is “emergence” (an increased influence of the Antiverse in our reality) and “submergence” (suppression of the influence of the Antiverse in our reality).

D-drives operating at subluminal expansions dictate the characteristics of hammer battles in the Iron Empires. Here are their salient points:

Time: Time (t) at the boundary of the distortion effect is influenced by the negative value of time in the anti-verse. In the positive universe, time has a value of 1 (t=1). In the antiverse, time has a value of -1 (t= -1). At the boundary of the distortion effect, the value of positive time changes, depending on the emergence of the effect. Assume time at the distortion boundary equals 0.5 (t=0.5). If the drive creating the distortion effect is moving at 10 meters per second, the result will be a sphere of positive space, centered on the drive, moving along its original vector at 10 meters per half-second. Time “inside” the sphere and time outside the sphere continue at normal, real world values (1). But the sphere as a whole is slipping through space on a different (a distorted) clock. An important note: Our universe “sees” a distorted second as equal to a non-distorted second.

That last bit means no Forever War. You don’t experience time differently inside or outside of a distortion bubble. The thing that makes you sick when you go into or out of HEx is the distortion wave passing through your body as it expands or collapses.


So there aren’t issues with threat detection, other than all ones you’d expect vis-a-vis space is rather big?

(The Fleet Is Coming in our current game and I am wondering if people on our world are going to be able to see lots of “drive signatures” or something ominously approaching ala The Algebraist)

One physical effect of the D-drives, particularly at hyper-expansion,is what happens when radiation enters and exits the distortion field. Photons passing through the field will “bunch up” on the perimeter (there’s a large coriolis “behind” the field and a smaller one in front as the field slips through space). The energy escapes from the field in atypical bursts that can be picked up by sensors. When ships emerge from HEx, there is a distinctively large release of energy.

Well, regardless of the handwavium, this process allows our fictional ship to move faster than the speed of light, which is essentially time travel. Even if we don’t call it “time travel,” the possibility exists for an observer to see a ship arrive before it departs. What is the observer seeing then?

Ha ha! Chris comes in with the official boring unfun answer. You gonna yell at him, too? :smiley:


I’m not sure Chris is aware of it, but the idea he sets forth is a variant on the “special frame of reference” wherein all superluminal travel requires using a special, shared frame of reference in which they can’t violate causality. It sorta kinda breaks relativity, but there you go. This is how most people rationalize warp drives in Trek, too. Witness this old Usenet FAQ:


A paradox … created by mixing soft and hard sci-fi. Stop doing that. :smiley:

Or the observer doesn’t see this happen. They can only see the arrival once their little corner of the universe has been updated with this change in reality, a change which arrives at the speed of light. So for example, to take out the observer, our traveller before stepping on the ship uses a really, really go telescope to look at the planet where he intends to land. Because of the speed of light he’ll be looking into the past, what has already happened. But he’ll see reality as without himself there. He steps on the ship, engages the H-drive (H is for handwavium :slight_smile: ) and travels to the planet. In doing so he has affected reality … really we affect reality every day (or we don’t, depending on your philosophy I suppose). The change he has effected ripples out from the point of change (the landing spot) at C. Eventually the change in reality will reach the initial launch point, but the landing itself will never be seen there. It’ll all just mesh up eventually, including our memories of it [if we lived long enough].

Yes, the interactions of the changes gets even wierder if our spacefarer jumps back on the ship for the return flight. You’ve got to be very plastic in your understanding of what is real. The universe only breaks in predictions of the results of this when you are assuming rigidity of reality.

P.S. This is really just a different way of describing “parallel universes”. EDIT: Only I’m describing it as one universe with parallel realities within it.