Idea Parking Lot


Got a story idea that isn't working for you? Don't let it die -- maybe someone else can make something out of it!

Objects in Orbit

Submitted by camidon on Thu, 12/02/2004 - 11:57am

Two things:

1) Could we add a new topic to the "Craft" section for questions about character, plot, science, etc of a story? Not just a sounding board for story ideas, but for questions about a particular story. That's what this post is.

2) Does anyone know if their are standard orbits for space junk/objects? I do know there are certain orbits for the space station, satelites, and things like that, but what about the jettisoned debris that does not burn up in the atmosphere, instead finding a permanent orbit around a planet? Are their certain distances from the planet that are more prone to attracting "debris bands" Or is it completely random?

I haven't found out anything significant through my own searches, though my research has been minimal.

Thoughts on Generation E

Submitted by EmptyKube on Fri, 06/11/2004 - 2:17am

Camidon says in his email:

3) So far in this world: A) No FTL travel. B) Nanotech. Yes, but must
confrom to present extrapolations of science. No mini-machines that can do anything and everything. C) The jury is still out about AI, more discussion to come.


[quote]Lastly, Below is a list of Technology related questions to think about for
the next chat.

Technology: (** = Decision reached)
1) *FTL?*
2) AI's? If yes, how do we keep them from becoming too powerful?
3) Power systems? (see Dave's black hole idea).
4) Genetic engineering? How much can human's accelerate evolution on a
5) Artificial gravity? Is it allowed? Physics of this? Do we need
6) *Nanotech?*
7) Raw materials for mission? Where do they get them? Mined in space, or
unlimited power?
8) Intelligent animals? If Human's are affecting their own evolution, why
not other animals?
9) How do they insure advancing technology doesn't pass them by? Is this
just a risk? Is this risk just to big?
10) Current medicine? Doctor Tech?


Thoughts on nanotech first:
"yes but must confirm to present extrapolation of the science. no minimachines that can do anything."
Since I couldn't make it to the chat, I'm not sure how the discussion went.
My understanding of the present technology is that no body knows exactly what to define as nanotech. :wink:
I assume that what you mean is that nanotech can't be a type of magic.
That works for me, but I do feel the need to point several things out.
1) technology levels will not remain flat onboard the ship, or at home on earth. If a form of nanotech is used onboard, unless all technological innovation stops, minimachines that can do anything [i]will[/i]
become possible. That's the promise of full fledged nanotech. Despite current scientific conservative estimates of its future (and scientists have to be conservative) being able to manipulate individual molecules will eventually lead to magic like abilities to create and reassemble almost anything. My thought is, that if there is a form of nanotech being used by the society at large when the ship launches, we need to ensure that sensible uses of it are incorporated into the ship, but no experts in the field are included. the technology should be something the crew takes for granted but doesn't understand. As an aside, nanotech can make a great tool for controlling an evolutionary direction. What better way to manipulate genetic material? Genetic engineering without some use of nanotech in the next 100 years will likely be obsolete. IMHO

2) Artificial gravity should be a no. Same reason as FTL. Easy way out, and does not allow for adaptation. If the crew has access to Earth standard gravity all the time, where is the biological need for adaptation? Of course with AG you could change the gravity to match the new world. Six of one half dozen of another. I think spinning the main living areas and having sections that are gravity free except during accelerations would make for some interesting developments. I envision some folks choosing to live in the gravity free zones and adapting in ways that would make them unwilling to "land" at destination. Could lead to a kind of civil war, et.

3) Raw materials. As I've said, I'm partial to the idea of using asteroids.
I think it makes the best sense and evokes the image of early humanity living in caves.

4) are intelligent animals necessary or is that just a need to be inclusive? I think that unless they feed the plot, what purpose do they serve? This question to me is a variation on the AI question. Intelligent animals would be creations of humans that would be A) either more intelligent then us, and leading to the same situation as AI's B) equal in intelligence and possibly leading to prejudiced attitudes. While this is always great fodder for fiction as a topic, I think humanity's own foibles offer just as much room for exploration of prejudice. C) inferior to humans and exist merely as slave labor or for human entertainment. Again, while this can lead to interesting fiction, human personalties the way they are, I'm sure slavery can be discussed in a purely human context.
This is not to say that I don't think animals should be brought along, but the topic of animals brings up one of the real cracks in the idea that we need to address. That is the knowledge of where the ship is going. I know I harp on this, but it bothers me and always has. My original comments for CM's story included a long discussion of this. What animals do you bring along depends on where you are going. Do you engineer new creatures to fit the new world? What sort of species already exist and will you be adding deadly invasive species to a fragile ecosystem? what good is it to adapt to a world only to have your choice of animals (and plants) ruin the environment? Putting aside the question of how you know what to make your descendants, how do you learn enough about the planet to decide what needs to be added? Bringing species from Earth only makes sense in the content of trying to terraform the planet, not create new inhabitants. The crew will need food and stores won't last for the length of the trip as envisioned, so bringing animals and plants will be important, but do we make them intelligent? Only if it makes a good plot line....IMHO

5) They can't ensure technology at home won't pass them by. It likely will.
This is another aspect of this concept that is exciting because if the ship people evolve to a different variant of humans, and the stay at homes maintain some semblance to what would be considered truly human, and the two faction catch up with each other will either consider the other human? Will war ensue? This is an element to the idea I've thought about for a long time, prior to this project. CM when I mentioned I had an idea for a Generation Ship idea that I'd never had the reason to write, this conflict between technology passing the ship by and who is human who isn't is at the germ of that idea. I even have a title: Generations Apart.
Or something similar. This is an area that I will likely work on as my contribution, although anyone else is also welcome to take up the idea
as well.

6) Medicine. Well ... this will have to be fluid, won't it? I mean if the only type of health system available is based on traditional humans then eventually you'll have a whole lot of later folks without any way of treating themselves. The medical system would need to be highly adaptable, contain large data sources, be able to react to any sudden negative trends in evolution (miscarriages, deformities, et.) The medical system would likely work closely as part of the "guided" evolution. Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but it seems to me, given the requirements, and the need for someway to retain a basic idea of where the development should go, and of being able to adapt to trends in biology, and in being able to remain a constant secure source for health care throughout the long trip, the Medical System should be under the auspices of an AI :D

7) last but not least, power....
Fusion should be part of it. So should antimatter. Dave's black hole idea is great, but unless we can come up with a scientifically sound way of getting one, I don't see where they would come from. This is like the reason for not having magical nanotech. The miniblack hole power source would be convenient but modern scientific extrapolation doesn't bode well for either creating them, or finding them lying around the solar system.
Unless we introduce a whole new technology which makes them viable.
Of course the new technology could also be a reason for the trip to be planned. Once a technology for creating mini black holes cheaply were developed and the confinement requirements were easily achieved why not go to the stars?
The reason I mention fusion and antimatter is because modern research makes the use of both much more viable. Fusion as always is an "any day now" technology. And as for antimatter, places like CERN have begun to be able to collect large quantities of the stuff and are developing ways to store it. Of course by large quantities I mean milligrams or less...still the pure extrapolation makes the use of antimatter more likely then mini black holes.

Okay...there's my two sense worth.
Have fun.

Have fun.

Generatoin E

Submitted by camidon on Wed, 03/17/2004 - 11:42am

TO READ FURTHER, PLEAsE FIRST READ: TIME ENOUGH, NEVER ENOUGH TIME, submitted for 3/15/04 (yes, I know I'm stumping for my own submission!)

Generation E (evolution)

So here's an idea. I wrote this introductory "chapter--Time Enough, Never Enough Time" to begin my idea about a generation ship taking hundreds of thousands of years to cross the stellar voids, and in the process evolve to fit into their new world. This is what humanity started out doing as they traveled from Africa, to Europe, to Asia, to America. In th process, we formed our physical appearanes which are all vastly different. What if this is why it takes so long to cross the stars. What if we're suppose to use that time to adjust to a new, less hospitable world? Adjust to gravity, adjust to temperature, gas concentration, who knows what else? The starship would systematically adjust living conditions, one minute step at a time, over hundreds, even millions of years, all this time, still a blink in geologic/cosmic time.

Sine this story takes so much time, the book would only focus on a handful of generations, each chapter, really a series pf short stories progressing to the colonized.

Therefore, any number of people could collaborate on this idea. In fact, I think it would make the story even stronger by using different voices for each "chapter". All that would have to be done is to know the beginning and end product, and everything in between would be a slow, evolutionary change. Anyone want to try and write a short story in this context, or in other words, collaborate?

Early Human Evolution, Natural Nuclear reactors and thoughts

Submitted by EmptyKube on Sun, 10/12/2003 - 1:50am

Don't know where else to ramble about these things, so I picked here.
I was doing some routine surfing of some of the science sites I try to follow when I saw an article about evidence for an expanding Earth.
Naturally I was curious. It seems plate tectonics isn't the only theory out there to explain how our geology formed. There is a theory that the Earth was smaller as recently as 140 million years ago (smaller Earth= smaller mass= less gravity= larger the math...140 million years ago would be smack dab in the middle of dino-age, but that's a whole nother aside!) The idea is that there is a continual flow from the interior of the earth that pushes old crust outward and drapes it in new crust. I'm still shakey on the details casue I just did a marathon hyperlink crusade and haven't digested everything yet. But I got to thinking what this would mean if it were true. Wouldn't such a situation require a continual generation of matter, and isn't that suppossed to be impossible?
Then I recalled another theory, one that claims there is a nuclear fission reactor at Earth's core. So I went in search of information. How would this effect the expanding earth idea? Turns out that there is a type of reactor called a "breeder reactor" that generates its own fuel until there is no more source of fuel to burn. Again, pardon the sketchy details, still nead time to digest. So, if a fission reactor exits at the core, and if it generates new particles et, what does this eman for the above stated theory. Not sure, because I got side tracked! I discovered that there is 1) a hell of a lot of uranium in Africa (specifically the general area where humans are suspected to have originated ...general area defined as several hundred/thousand mile area) 2) in West Africa a natural fission reactor existed some two billion years ago and ran for some undetermined length of time (possibly sevral thousand years.) BTW The natural reactor was a "breeder", hence the reason it came up in my search at all.
So here is what I throw out for thought :
Does anyone know how long radioactive waste from a nuclear reactor stays "hot?" Is it possible that all the primate variation that existed among human ancestors from several billion years ago to recent millenia was the result of radioactive decay of natural uranium deposits and the waste of the natural fission reactor in West Africa? If so, doesn't that speak volumes for human evolution? And, just in case you thought I forgot my original thought, if the Earth does expand, and its mass and gravity change, did the meteor strike really kill the dinos, or was that just a traumatic moment and what really did them in was a slow and steady increase in the Earth's mass/gravity? And, last but not least, if the earth is expanding, where the hell does the extra mass come from!!
Still researching, but I would love some input from anyone else.
More to follow, one day!

A musical from the non-singer's perspective

Submitted by eddycurrents on Fri, 10/03/2003 - 5:24pm

As per EmptyKube's post, here is a kernel of an idea to build on. If this starts to go somewhere, whoever wants it can write it.

Ever watch a musical and wonder what the Hell people are singing for? Ever groan when you can feel another excuse for a song coming up?

Ever wonder what non-combatants would think if they saw all these fools prancing around and singing?

So we have our POV character, who is a normal dude, but a sidekick to the Big Hero. The Big Hero breaks into song at every opportunity. Occasionally other people get sucked into the song. Once in a while the whole block is spinning and dancing and joining in with the chorus.

Meanwhile the sidekick sits on the sidelines, bored. He was at first impressed with his partner's ability to make up songs on the spot, and he was amazed at how complete strangers can join in and look like they have been practicing the song together for weeks, even though they all just met. And he has never quite figured out where all the orchestra music comes from. But most of all, he wishes it would all just stop.

Thoughts about this board

Submitted by EmptyKube on Fri, 10/03/2003 - 12:28pm

I was thinking about this "Idea Parking Lot" and had a thought.
I can't speak for everyone, but once in a while I need to bounce an idea off of others and flesh it out. I always hesitate, however, because then I feel if I turn around and create a story from that fleshed out idea, is it mine, or the folks who helped me flesh it out. Moral conflict, so on and so forth. That's one of the reasons I haven't posted here before. Plus, I'm greedy about my ideas. I have this unrealistic attitude that I will get to write all of my ideas sometime before I die. (If I stop working, and I cut off all ties to the outside world including my family I might get to do, like, a third!)
So any way I had an idea. How about if we use this board as a fleshing zone where we discuss the validity of ideas, but generally agree that anyone in the group can freely use the ideas discussed as fodder for stories? I mean it might be interesting to see where each of us that participate take the same basic idea. I'm not talking about using the same
characters, settings, et. Just the same gem of idea. Sort of like a shared world antho.
If for instance we bounce around an idea about talking dogs, then anyone inspired to write such a story could do so with out feeling the idea belonged to someone else first. Sort of group ownership of any ideas discussed on this board. What do you think?
Crazy idea, right?

Horror story idea - "Redeye"

Submitted by eddycurrents on Fri, 08/08/2003 - 12:59am

Guy starts dozing off on a red-eye flight on a small plane. He feels everyone looking at him. Wakes up, no one is looking, starts dozing off again. The feeling returns. Slight feeling of panic, can't sleep. Watches the movie. It sucks. Eventually he dozes off and finds hands on his throat, or teeth in his face, or whatever.

He discovers all (or some?) of the other passengers were vampires or ghouls or something. They feed on other passengers on planes, jump out, and crash the plane. The pilots are part of it.

The idea came to me on a plane. (I fly a lot.) I can't write mysteries or horror, so if anyone wants to run with it, feel free.