This book should be appearing in the bookstores by now, so this will be the last snippet. Eric


There was a reason it had taken so long for the laser head to replace the contact nuclear warhead as the deep-space long-ranged weapon of choice. The basic concept for a laser head was actually quite simple, dating back to pre-Diaspora days on Old Terra. In its most basic terms, a cylindrical rod of some suitable material (the Royal Manticoran Navy used a Tantalum/Lithium medium) was subjected to the x-ray pulse of a nuclear detonation, causing it to lase in Gamma-rays until the thermal pulse of the detonation’s core expansion reached the rod and destroyed it. The problem had always been that the process was inherently extraordinarily inefficient. Under normal conditions, only a few percent of the billions of megajoules released by a megaton-range nuclear warhead would actually end up in any single x-ray laser beam, mostly because — under normal conditions — a nuclear detonation propagated in a sphere, and each rod represented only a ridiculously tiny portion of the total spherical area of the explosion and so could be subjected to only a tiny percentage of the total pulse of any detonation. Which meant the overwhelming majority of the destructive effect was completely lost.

Given the toughness of warship armor, even two or three T-centuries ago, that was simply too little to have any appreciable effect, especially since the resultant laser still had to blast its way through not just a warship’s sidewalls, but also its anti-radiation shielding, just to reach the armor in question. So even though the odds of achieving what was effectively a direct hit with a contact nuke were not exactly good, most navies had opted to go with a weapon which could at least hope to inflict some damage if it actually managed to hit the target. Indeed, pre-laser head missiles had been most destructive when they achieved skin-to-skin contact as purely kinetic projectiles. That, unfortunately, had been all but impossible to achieve, even with the best sidewall penetrators, so the proximity-fused nuclear missile had become primarily a sidewall-killer. It’s function was less to inflict actual hull damage than to burn out sidewall generators.
Unfortunately from the missile-firer’s perspective, active missile defenses had improved to such a degree that “not exactly good” odds of scoring a direct hit had turned into “not a chance in hell,” which was the real reason capital ships had gone to such massive energy batteries. Missiles might still be effective against lighter combatants, but they’d been for all intents and purposes completely ineffective against the active and passive defenses of a capital ship, so the only way to fight a battle out had been to close to the sort of eyeball-to-eyeball range at which shipboard energy mounts could get the job done.
But then, little more than a century ago, things had begun to change when some clever individual had figured out how to create what was in effect a shaped nuclear charge. The possibility had been discussed in several of the galaxy’s naval journals considerably longer than that, but the technology to make it work hadn’t been available. Not until improvements in the gravitic pinch effect used in modern fusion plants had been shoehorned down into something that could be fitted into the nose of a capital missile.
A ring of gravity generators, arranged in a collar behind the warhead, had been designed. When the weapon fired, the generators spun up a few milliseconds before the warhead actually detonated, which was just long enough for the layered focal points of a gravitic lens to stabilize and reshape the blast from spherical to Gaussian, directing the radiological and thermal effects forward along the warhead’s axis. The result was to capture far more of the blast’s total effect and focus it into the area occupied by the lasing rods. By modern standards, the original laser heads had been fairly anemic, despite their vast improvement over anything which had been possible previously, and capital ship designers had responded by further thickening the already massive armor dreadnoughts and superdreadnoughts carried. But the ancient race between armor and the gun had resumed, and by fifty or sixty T-years ago, the laser head had become a genuine danger to even the most stoutly armored vessel.
There were other factors involved in the design of a successful laser head, of course. The length and diameter of a lasing rod determined its beam divergence, with obvious implications for the percentage of energy the laser delivered at any given range. Ship-mounted energy weapons, with their powerful grav lenses, could squeeze beam divergence in a way no laser head possibly could. There was simply no way to design those lenses into something as small as a laser head which, despite many refinements in design, remained essentially a simple, expendable rod which would have been easily recognizable by any pre-Diaspora physicist.
In the current Mark 23 warhead, the rods were roughly three meters in length and forty centimeters in diameter. They were carried in bays on either side of the weapons bus, which ejected them once the missile had steadied down on its final attack bearing. Each of the laser heads mounted its own thrust-vectoring reaction control system, which acquired the target on its own sensors, thrust to align itself with the target’s bearing, and quickly maneuvered to a position a hundred and fifty meters ahead of the missile. At which point the gravity lens came up, the warhead detonated, and the target found itself out of luck.
The critical factors were laser head rod dimensions, the yield of the detonation, and — in many ways the most critical of all — the grav lens amplification available. Which was the main reason capital missiles were so much more destructive than the smaller missiles carried aboard cruisers and destroyers. There was still a minimum mass/volume constraint on the grav lens assembly itself, and a bigger missile could simply carry both a more powerful lens and the longer — and therefore more powerful — lasing rods which gave it a longer effective standoff range from its target. That was also the reason it had been such a challenge to squeeze a laser head capable of dealing even with LACs into the new Viper anti-LAC missile. The bay for the single lasing rod was almost two thirds the length of the entire missile body, and finding a place where it could be crammed in had presented all sorts of problems.
The general Manticoran technical advantage over the Republic of Haven had made itself felt in laser head design, as well. Manticoran missile gravity generators had always been more powerful on a volume-for-volume basis, and Manticoran sensors and targeting systems had been better, as well. The Star Kingdom had been able to rely upon smaller warheads and greater lens amplification to create laser heads powerful enough for its purposes, especially since it could count on scoring more hits because of its superior fire control and seeking systems. The Republic had been forced to adopt a more brute force approach, using substantially larger warheads and heavier lasing rods, which was one of the factors that explained why Havenite missiles had always been outsized compared to their Manticoran counterparts.
But now, thanks primarily to fallout from the Star Kingdom’s ongoing emphasis on improving its grav-pulse FTL communications capability, BuWeaps had completed field testing and begun production of a new generation of substantially more powerful gravity generators for the cruiser-weight Mark 16. In fact, they’d almost doubled the grav lens amplification factor, and while they were at it, they’d increased the yield of the missile warhead, as well. With its fifteen megaton warhead, the Mark 16 had been capable of dealing with heavy cruiser or battlecruiser armor, although punching through to the interior of a battlecruiser had pushed it almost to the limit. Now, with the new Mod G’s forty megaton warhead and improved grav lensing, the Mark 16 had very nearly as much punch as an all-up capital missile from as recently as five or six T-years ago.
Producing the Mod G had required what amounted to a complete redesign of the older Mark 16 weapons buses, and BuWeaps had decided that it neither wanted to discard all of the existing weapons nor forgo the improvements, so Admiral Hemphill’s minions had come up with a kit to convert the previous Mod E to the Mod E-1. (Exactly what had become of the Mod F designation was more than Helen was prepared to guess. It was well known to every tactical officer that BuWeaps nomenclature worked in mysterious ways.) The Mod E-1 was basically the existing Mod E with its original gravity generators replaced by the new, improved model. Which meant that its effectiveness was “only” doubled, while the Mod G laser heads’ throughput had increased by a factor of over five.
And, she thought, if they apply the same approach to the Mark 23 — assuming the new grav lens scales — and then couple it with whatever it was Duchess Harrington’s fire control used at Lovat . . . .
“And what else did the Commodore discuss with you about them, Ensign Zilwicki?” Lynch’s question recalled her from her thoughts, and she gave herself a mental shake.
“Sir, it’s all on the chips there,” she said respectfully, indicating the folio she’d just delivered.
“I’m sure it is,” Lynch agreed. “On the other hand, I’ve come to know the Commodore at least a little better since he came aboard, and I’m inclined to doubt that he ‘just happened’ to discuss this with you before he sent you off to deliver his memo to me. He doesn’t strike me as the sort who ‘just happens’ to do much of anything without a specific purpose in mind. So why don’t we just consider this an opportunity for a little hands-on tactical brainstorming session for just you and me?”
Helen felt a distinct sinking sensation and suppressed a powerful urge to swallow hard. Then, as Lynch tipped his chair further back, she saw the amusement in his eyes. Not the amusement at having put her on the spot she might have seen in some superior officers’ eyes, but the amusement of watching her work through his reasoning and discover he was almost certainly right about what the Commodore had had in mind.
“All right, Sir,” she replied with a smile, settling herself more comfortably in her own chair. “Where were you thinking we should begin?”
Her tone was respectful, but almost challenging, and he smiled back at her as he heard it.
“That’s the spirit, Ensign Zilwicki! Let’s see . . . .”
He swung his chair gently back and forth for a few moments, then nodded to himself.
“You’ve already mentioned what happened at Monica,” he said. “I’ve read the tac reports from the battle, and I know you were on the bridge during the engagement. In fact, you were acting as missile defense officer, correct?”
“Yes, Sir.” Helen’s eyes darkened slightly at the memories his question brought back. Memories of her, sitting at Abigail Hearns’ side, managing the entire squadron’s missile defenses while the Monican-crewed battlecruisers stormed steadily closer.
“In that case, why don’t we start with your evaluation of how the availability of the Mod G — or, for that matter, the E-1 — would have affected Commodore Terekhov’s choice of tactics?”
Helen frowned thoughtfully, the darkness of memory fading as she concentrated on his question. She considered it carefully for several seconds, then gave her head a little toss.
“I think the main change in his tactics might have been that he’d have gone for early kills.”
“Meaning what, exactly?” Lynch’s tone was an invitation to explain her thinking, and she leaned slightly forward.
“The thing was, Sir, that I think we all knew the only way we could realistically hope to stop those battlecruisers was with massed missile fire at relatively short range. Oh, we got one of them at extreme range, but that had to have been a Golden BB. No way did we manage to get deep enough to hit anything that should have blown her up that way!”
She shook her head again, her expression grim as she recalled the spectacular destruction of MNS Typhoon and her entire crew. Then she shook herself mentally and refocused on the present.
“Anyway, we knew we sure couldn’t afford to let them into energy range of us, and because our laser heads were so much lighter, we knew we were going to have to concentrate a lot of hits, both in terms of location and time, if we were going to get through their armor. The Kitty — I mean, Hexapuma — was the only ship we had that was Mark 16-capable, and that meant we couldn’t achieve that kind of concentration outside standard missile range. So what the Captain was actually using our long-range fire for was to get the best possible feel for the Monicans’ active defenses and EW capabilities. He was using the Mark 16s to force them to defend themselves so we could get a read on their defenses and pass it to the rest of the squadron to maximize our fire’s effectiveness once they came into the range of the rest of our ships.
“But if we’d had Mod Gs, instead of the old Mod Es, we would have been able to get through battlecruiser armor even at extreme range and without the kind of concentration we had at the end of the battle. So, in that case, I think he still would have been probing for information, but at the same time –”
Helen Zilwicki leaned further forward in her chair, hands beginning to gesture enthusiastically as she forgot all about her qualms over her junior rank and lack of experience, and never even noticed the amused approval in Horace Lynch’s eyes as she gave herself up to the discussion.

About Eric Flint

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26 Responses to STORM FROM THE SHADOWS — snippet 110

  1. Thirdbase says:

    Flag Lt. or Advanced Midshipmanship?

    So when do the Torch of Freedom snippets start?

  2. Bryan says:

    Zilwicki has the -rank- of Ensign and is serving in the -position- of Flag Lt.

  3. Paul says:


    I’m still waiting for the By Heresies Distressed snippets to start. Of course, Torch of Freedom will be good as well.

  4. Thirdbase says:

    @2 Yes she has those official ranks and positions, but it sure looks like she is serving in an advanced Midshipman’s course.

  5. JN says:

    Indeed. A very advanced course. But as this snippet shows, she has the gift for analysis.


  6. Alsadius says:

    Finally, an acknowledgment that “contact” doesn’t actually mean “the missile moving at relativistic velocities rams the ship, and then detonates a nuclear warhead”. I’ve always wondered about that rather sloppy phrasing. That said, I am curious about how anything gets 150m ahead of a missile.

    Oh well, frustration is the price one pays for being a nitpicking sci-fi reader…

  7. MadMcAl says:

    With gravo-generators, tracktor- and presser-beams and other such nice little toys.

  8. Bryan says:

    I think that I’ve seen two possibilities discussed. Either
    A. Everything within the volumn of the wedge is moving together as a single pocket. Or
    B. The missile drops its wedge when it settles down on its final attack run and deploys the lasing rods.

  9. Mike says:

    Or it could just be magic. After all, the whole set of gravity technologies is essentially magic invented so that Weber can have his “ships of the line” Napoleonic naval battles in space.

  10. D says:

    Thanks Eric :)

  11. MadMcAl says:

    Possibility A is not good. If that was the case there would be no need for inertia compensators as every single particle would get the same acceleration.
    It is of course variant B. But I thought that was obvious as there allready where a few scenes where DW described the final attack run, where the wedge is shut down and then the laser-heads deploy.

  12. Alsadius says:

    Well yeah, obviously. Thing about sci-fi is, we prefer the magic be internally consistent. Make whatever rules for the universe you like, down to giving Horatio Hornblower a soprano and a spaceship, but abide by them. And to be fair, Weber does so quite consistently – I don’t think I’ve ever caught any screw-ups of significance, at least not now that “contact” has been fixed to mean “fairly close”. It’s a little silly, but the hand-waving is light enough I don’t really mind it now.

    That said, what fun is life if you don’t over-analyze the crap out of it all the time? :P

    Were there? I don’t remember those. That would explain it, though.

  13. MadMcAl says:

    I can’t point to them from the top of my head but I remember this order mentioned in a few final attack runs. At least I think I remember it.

  14. Bryan says:

    @13 I don’t remember any scenes where it explicitly states that the wedge cuts when the missile goes on the final attack run. The language I remember always being used is “The missiles settled down on their final attack run/bearing/vector.”

    Also, I may be a little shaky on the science, but how would everything inside the wedge being under the same acceleration eliminate the need for a compensator in manned spacecraft?

  15. Thirdbase says:

    @ 14, only if your body can handle 400+ g’s.

    A semi-SPOILER:

    After 11 Honor Books, 4 Anthologies, COS, and SoS, this book has more on how the real governments of both Mesa and the League than all the other books combined.

  16. Bryan says:

    I never suggested that manned spacecraft didn’t need a compensator. I suggested that lasing rods can deploy because they would still be inside the wedge and under the same base acceleration as the rest of the missile.
    MadMcAl shot down that potential explanation and said that if the wedge worked that way there wouldn’t be any need for a compensator. I’m asking for clarification.

  17. MadMcAl says:

    Sorry for the long wait. As the snippets stopped I stopped visiting here.

    The reason why there would be no need for an inertia compensator if everything in the wedge was accelerated evenly is that inertia as such does no damage, regardless of the acceleration.
    The damage done by the comp-failures is done by smashing the soft flesh and bone into the seats, walls or whatever with the force generated by the wedge.
    Or in other words, a force is only damaging if there is another force going against it.
    If you want real proof than, jump out of the window (ground floor only is advisable, even if you won’t get the full effect there) or better drop a raw egg. The force behind the acceleration that then happens is still a force and is potentially able to damage the egg but as this force is evenly applied on every single molecule of the egg and the other forces there are negligible in the gross view. Only if the egg lands on the ground there is a force that is NOT negligible contrary to the force of the falling egg. This force is NOT evenly applied, but first on the shell, then the interior. In this case the damaging effect of inertia is that it moves the egg still down while the ground just doesn’t move away.
    The same principle is what would make compensators unneccessary if the impeller would provide the force evenly. Damage can only occur if there are 2 forces applied on the same object on different vectors.
    Or, every cell in the body is pressed forward into the cell directly in front of it, until there are no cells anymore, then there it goes to a gase, or metal or something else.
    That would be very bad for the cells in question if the cells or objects they are crashed into wouldn’t move in exactly the same speed away.
    So a compensator would only be neccessary if the force of the impeller is directly applied onto the emitters and nothing else. In this case the emitter will be accellerated, and generate a force on the material they are accelerated into (call it the housing). Asuming that the ship can withstand this kind of force the force will be transferred onto the structural skelleton of the ship, then the body of the ship and from there to every equipment or part of the ship. Then it gets transferred onto the meat/whater-thingies (also reffered to as crew) pressed into the seats or onto the walls. When the force reach a point where this meat/whater-thingies can’t withstand it anymore something gives.
    If there is enough force you end with a gelee instead of recognicable meat/whater-thingies. If you reach a point where the equipment can’t withstand the force anymore you end with a heap of scrap. If you reach a point where the structures of the ship can’t withstand it anymore, you end with a big heap of scrap. If you reach a point where the housings can’t stand it anymore you end with some free-floating emitters. And as the force is actually generated in the emitters you can’t overstress THEM. But with the energy source and the aligning structure gone I don’t think the impeller will work anymore.
    So what does the compensator do? Well obviously I don’t know what it does, but what I would think it does is that it spreads the generated force evenly throughout the whole ship, thus negating this force-transfers and the slight uncomfortable side-effects.
    So if the impeller would actually generate the force everywhere then there would be a need for it.

  18. With all respect, MacMcAl, your physics is in part incorrect. And, yes, I do have a doctorate in Physics.

    There is no “force of the falling egg”. Rather, the egg has a velocity with respect to the ground. If the egg were stationary in outer space, and it were to be rammed by a wall traveling at the same speed, the egg would suffer precisely as much damage. You do not need two opposing forces to do damage; one is quite enough. Incidentally, your discussion of the Weber starships is completely fine in this regard.

    The gravitational force does not damage the falling egg because each part of the egg is subject to a force in direct proportion to its inertial mass, so all part of the egg try to have the same acceleration.

  19. Corp says:

    Sorry Philles George but in your space egg scenario there are still multiple opposig forces that smash the egg the wall attmpting to accelerate the egg on a new trajectory and the inertial mass of the egg attempting to keep it stationary, without which the egg would simply depart on the new vector the wall has imparted.

  20. MadMcAl says:

    @Phillies George

    Well, I have no doctorate, and maybe I explained it wrong, but what I learned in physics (as part of a computer science study so “propably” not on the same level as your physics ;) ) was that:
    1. Gravitation generates a force on any and every object depending on its mass. As the mass is the same as the accellerated mass the resulting acceleration is mostly resulting on the gravitation.
    2. Any and every object standing, laying or landing on a hard surface is subject to a force resulting of either the kinetic or gravitational energy of said object (depending on the movement of said object) directly opposite in direction to the movement or the gravitational pull, or the force neccessary to break through said surface. This force attacks at the very moment the object touches the surface.
    3. EVERY acceleration is the result of at least one force applied to an object.
    4. Every object resists to a change of its vector with a opposite force (opposite to the vector changing force) equal to the force of its kinetic or gravitational energy, wich is called inertia.
    5. The Work (mechanical) is a result of the applied force. As such it is irrelevant in this.

    The conclusions of this are:
    1. The falling egg has a force applied to it from the gravitational pull of earth.
    2. The moment the egg lands on the floor the kinetic energy is released into an force, and the surface resists this with either an equally strong force (from the perspective of the egg of course) or (if the surface is for example wet tissue) the force it can withstand. The combining forces will deform the egg and/or the surface until the energy from it has been totally absorbed, or they will cause the egg to bounce.
    3. The energy is only important in regard that it sets the bracket how long the forces are applied to the egg.
    4. Inertia PROVIDES the second force if it is not negated by using the force on every part of the egg evenly, as inertia resists to the vector-change, and if the vector-changing force is applied to only one part of the object (the egg) there will be generated stress in the object.

    Or in other words, if you have a 1km long thin cable, floating without movement in space (and yes I know that floating without movement is relative to a refference point, but lets keep things a bit simple here, ok?), and now provide a force onto one end of the cable this end will begin to accelerate along the vector the force goes. The other end doesn’t recive this force, and inertia in this end resists a vector-change so the cable bends.

    The whole thing about this is that when you provide a force smaller than the force needed to deform the cable (and with an 1km long cable that would need to be a pretty small force) the cable as a whole will begin to accelerate without deformation.
    So to be able to attain a maximum of acceleration you have to highten the cables resistance to deformation. Or apply the force evenly on every part of the cable.

    I hope I was able to explain my POV sufficiently but this is a case where english not being my primary language has me fighting for the right words to bring the concept along.

  21. In no particular order:

    1) Inertia is not a force.

    2) You can’t convert a kinetic energy into a force.

    3) Work is not a force.

    4) The only thing that matters in the collision between the egg and the ground is that they are not moving at moment of contact with the same velocity.

    However Acceleration is the result of an object being subject to a total force that is not zero is exactly correct.

  22. MadMcAl says:

    1) I never wrote that inertia is a force. Inertia is a principle that PROVIDES a force if another force is applied.
    2) I never wrote that kinetic energy is converteted into a force. I wrote it is released and absorbed. To get a force out of the energy you have to divide the energy through the time said energy needs to be converted to another energy-form. In case of the kinetic energy in this application the time it takes to come to a full stop, while transforming the energy into stress, heat and kinetic energy on a different vector. The longer this conversion takes the smaller the resulting force and proportionally smaller are the lasting effects.
    3) I wrote that work is the result of a force, not a force. Work and energy are different aspect of the same thing. They share the same units. Force on the other hand is work or energy per time. Or, as in the case of the space ship where the force is provided the energy/work is force over time.
    4) One of the most important things of this area of physics is that energy as such has no effect. Only if the energy is transformed into another form of energy (and changing the vector falls in that point) there are any real effects. And this transformation happens through forces as the speed of the transformation is the important fact.

    In case of the egg and the ground that means that the egg has at the moment of the landing a kinetic energy depending of its speed and its mass.
    At the moment of the landing there will be forces generated, depending on many factors but important among them is the kinetic energy of the egg.
    How much of this forces are absorbed by either the ground or the egg, or transformed into a new vector for the egg depends on among others the elasticity of the ground, the ability of the ground to withstand stress, the ability of the egg to withstand stress.
    If the ground is for example a block of jello the jello will more or less absorb all of the resulting forces, and then redirect them so that the egg gets a new vector.
    I allready brought the wet tissue, that will absorb all the forces and deforms.
    In case of nearly every other surface most of the forces will be absorbed by the egg where they deform it, making it splat.
    In every case the kinetic energy of the egg will be transformed.
    Either into a kinetic energy of the egg on a new vector along with vibrations in the jello that slowly dissipate into the surrounding air and of course heat, or heat and sound or any combinations you can up with.

    So, again to formulate it hopefully a bit clearer:

    Work = Energy (essentially only from a different point of view)
    Force = change of energy over a amount of time
    Inertia = resistance to transformation of kinetic energy
    stress = internal processes of an object while transforming energy into another energy-form while different forces are applied to different parts of the object.
    deformation = stress above the structural integrity of the object

    Now, the gust of this is:
    If there is no inertia (because it is compensated) then it will not resist any change of the objects kinetic energy.
    If the force is spread evenly on the object then it will still have inertia but there will be no different forces on different parts of the object.

    In booth cases there is no stress generated in the object so from the point of view of the object everything is fine, regardless of its change of kinetic energy.

    So if a particular drive system like the impeller generates the force evenly on every thing inside its effected area then there will be no stress and there will be no need to compensate for inertia.
    An example of that would be the drive system from “Fury” where the ship generates a black hole and falls toward it. There the stress is generated in the support structures that hold the black hole on distance.
    If a particular drive system generates the force on specific parts of the ship then the force needs to be transferred to the other parts of the ship including its crew making it neccessary to compensate for inertia if forces above the for humans survivable are to be reached (and thus resulting in a higher acceleration).

    So my whole theory was that as the ships in the Honorverse HAVE inertia compensators, they don’t have a drive system that generates the force evenly on everything inside its effect.

  23. John Roth says:

    Hi. I noticed the question and decided not to reply since I didn’t think anyone was still looking at the thread. However, since there seem to be at least five of us, here goes.

    The issue isn’t the force. It’s the gravitational vector. If, after applying the phlebotinium, the generated gravitational vector is the same throughout the effect volume, then everything will be accelerated exactly the same and the various contents of the effect volume will be in free fall relative to each other. That’s almost what you were saying.

    However, if the effect is just generated in the impeller rooms, then the ship had better have awfully strong structural members to keep everything from collapsing from those forces. The fact that people would tend to get squished is almost a minor side effect.

    So, as you said, the compensators seem to transform the force generated in the impeller rooms into a uniform gravitational field throughout the effect volume. Then the grav plates (they have to be there or the ship would be in free fall whenever it’s in orbit and the impellers are shut off) supply the additional 1 g of internal acceleration.

    What I’m missing is why Weber split the drive system in two pieces: impellers and compensators. I presume the engineers need to know it, but for the rest of us it seems to add complexity to no purpose other than word count.

  24. MadMcAl says:

    Hi back, John.

    A nice one, even if I can’t identify phlebotinium. And I think you misunderstood what I tried to say with the force.
    What I meant was that everything in this little problem generates forces (simply to archive acceleration) and in the end it is the combination of this forces that damage the crew and the ship, if there are strong enough opposite force-vectors are provided.
    Why there are at least 2 forces on different vectors is unimportant for the hapeless crewman who is in this instant squished against the bulwark.

    Why DW used the impeller and the compensator as 2 different pieces of equipment? Well, if I had to guess because they are 2 different pieces with 2 completely different tasks. And without this division there would have been no battle of cerberus for example. I think that you are wrong about the principle of the compensator, but of course that is only speculation on my part.
    My idea is very hard for me to formulate as I lack the english words and expressions for it, so please be a bit gentle if I explain something wrong.
    I think that the compensators build a homogenizised bubble by spreading out a relative strong gravitation field in its vincinity, that forces every part inside of it to behave as single inertial mass, and the impellers actually provide the force from outside the compensator field (otherwise the compensator would compensate EVERY inertia inside its area of effect what would make for example the accident with the missile on the first Fearless impossible). To do that they need a gravitation field as strong as possible as near as possible.

    That would explain why compensator efficiency decreases with the size of the ship (and not the mass) and why the impellers of larger ships generate stronger impeller-bands to compensate that. It would explain why there is a hard upper limit what a inertia compensator can protect in ship size and why the efficiency decreases so much stronger if that limit is reached and breached. It would explain why ships lose compensator-efficiency when they drag the pods outside of the impeller.

    Simply when the field is nearer the compensator doesn’t have to work so hard to provide its effect and has larger reserves.
    When the field is farther away but the field is stronger it can still work but has fewer reserves.
    When an impeller-emitter is cut out the field strenght of the impeller falls down and the reserves of the compensator do so likewhise.
    The pods outside of the impeller-wedge need to be protected from the g-forces as well (even military hardware of this time would be hard pressed to withstand 400g, at least precision-technology like grav-launchers and missiles without an active impeller), so the compensator-field has to be enlarged to encompass the pods and is spread out thinner, while the neccessary grav-field from the impeller is farther away.
    And while the grav-plates provide only a few gravities on field strength they are actually inside the compensator-bubble and the compensator has an incredible efficiency (depending on the grav-field they use a impeller has several 100000 gravities and “only” a few 100 times the compensator-power than the grav plates) but a rather small absolute power.

  25. Mike says:

    One thing that has been clear over the years is that David Weber is not a physicist.

    But let’s look at a space station in orbit. Everything on that space station is subject to almost one G of gravity, but since it is all in freefall it is all “weightless”.

    Now let’s look at Einstein’s elevator in space. If the elevator is accelerating at 1G upward, then the person inside can not tell the difference between that and between an elevator sitting stationary on the ground floor in its shaft on the Earth.

    Why is the person in the elevator not floating around like the person in the space station? Because in the elevator the external acceleration is being applied to the elevator, but not the person. In the space station both the station and the things inside are subject to the exact same external acceleration, so relative to each other they are “weightless”.

    To be honest it never really occured to me, but if this wedge is creating a gravitational field that applies equally to everything inside of it then I think there should be no need for “inertia compensators”. In fact, the people in the ship should be in free-fall relative to the ship (except for these “grav plates”).

    On the other hand, if the wedge is acting only on the nodes, and then the rest of the ship is being yanked along because it is a rigid body, then the forces on the people inside would be more like what Weber describes.

  26. Natural cures? It was interesting. You seem very knowledgeable in ypour field.

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