ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem came out of the September 6, 2016 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired and sponsored by Anthony Barrette. It also fills Row 1 in my 9-2-16 Culturebuilding card for the Worldbuilding 4x4x4 Festival. This poem belongs to the Antimatter & Stalwart Stan thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

WARNING: This poem contains material that may be disturbing to readers. Highlight to read the spoilery warnings. It features drag racing, high risk to innocent bystanders, police pursuit of supervillains during an active crime, use of a tracking device to tag illegal zoomwagons, graphic description of car crash, messy medical details, light sensitivity, impromptu coordination between police and a superhera, and other angst. People who have recently been involved in a bad wreck, or know someone who was, may find this poem stressful. The overall approach focuses on good problem-solving, though. If these are touchy topics for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.


"Off the Street"


Hefty and Fiddlesticks were cruising
leisurely through Omaha when the call
came through about an impromptu drag race.

Those were the most dangerous kind,
not a gathering of fool kids on a quiet road,
but two hotshots gunning it up at a stoplight,
right in the middle of everyday traffic.

It was department policy to intercept them
en route instead of giving chase from behind,
in hopes of keeping the casualty rate lower,
so Hefty turned on the lights and siren
while Fiddlesticks stepped on the gas.

Super-Speed came with enhanced reflexes
that helped Fiddlesticks move safely between
the other cars on the road, but they only had
an ordinary squadcar instead of a zoomwagon,
so that limited what he could actually do.

Fiddlesticks angled their approach
to intersect the most likely course of
the race, as Hefty sent in their plans
so Dispatch could cover the most area
with the available personnel.

Soon they came across the culprits.
"There they are," Fiddlesticks said.

A sleek orange vehicle held the lead,
huge vents along its sides huffing and
growling so loudly that Hefty could
hear the engine even over the sirens.

Just behind it, a curvaceous yellow car
dipped and darted across the lanes as
nimbly as a wasp in flight. Even as they
watched, it overtook the orange one.

"Looks like the orange one is built for
maximum speed on the straightaway,
and the yellow for agility," Hefty said.

"Paint 'em if you got 'em," Fiddlesticks said.

"Oh, I got 'em," Hefty said, taking aim
with the squadcar's targeting system.
Two quiet whaps later, he said,
"Tracers are live on contact."

"Good job," Fiddlesticks said as
they watched the two cars come
cameling through traffic toward them.
"We can pick them up later if we lose them."

A young man with blue hair had one arm
out the window of the orange car, the light
flashing on his mirrored sunglasses.

A girl with fluffy white hair stuck up her hand
from the yellow car, flipping him the bird as
she swerved to take advantage of an opening.

"She's using strategy to get ahead of him,"
Hefty said. "His car is faster, but she's
smarter than he is and knows it."

"Strategize this," Fiddlesticks said
as he sprung the trap on them.

Ahead and to the sides, other squadcars
suddenly turned on their lights and sirens,
deftly hemming in the offenders while
shunting civilian vehicles aside.

The yellow car jinked out of the way,
barely avoiding a pincer move
between two squadcars.

The orange car jumped ahead
like a branded calf, its frantic driver
clearly banking on speed for escape --

only to smash into the pier of an overpass.

"Oh shit!" Hefty exclaimed as parts
rained all over the road around them.

Up ahead, the yellow zoomwagon
suddenly shimmered and disappeared.

"We lost the trace," Hefty said.

"Never mind that, we have bigger problems
to deal with now," Fiddlesticks said grimly.
"There is already an ambulance tailing
the chase, but they're at least four minutes
out in this traffic. You're on first aid."

"Got it," Hefty said. "Get me as close
to the car as you safely can."

Other officers were already taking over
traffic control, and thank God nobody else
had crashed and started a chain reaction --
the other drivers had sensibly been giving
the racers a wide berth on the road.

Pulling alongside the zoomwagon,
they could see that its long elegant nose
had crumpled into a distinct V shape.

As soon as the squadcar stopped, Hefty
grabbed the small first aid kit from the front and
ran to check the driver trapped in the wreck.

The driver looked younger than Hefty had
thought earlier, no more than twenty-one,
his face wild with fright as his blue hair
began to turn purple with his blood,
silently begging for reassurance.

"It's okay, kid," said Hefty as he started
assessing the victim. "I'm here, and
there's an ambulance on the way.
Can you tell me how you feel?"

"Chest hurts," the driver wheezed.
"Can't breathe. Legs hurt."

He'd hit the steering wheel, which
meant probable chest fractures,
possible facial fractures, and
who knew what else.

"Scene is secure," Fiddlesticks said,
appearing behind Hefty's shoulder.

"Good," Hefty said. "Get me
the oxygen and the trauma kit
out of the trunk." Then he turned
back to the driver. "Hang in there,
and we'll get you some air."

The driver coughed and nodded.

"Try not to move," Hefty said, bracing
the boy's head. The cervical collar was
in the big kit and definitely needed now.
"What can you tell me about your rig?
Is it safe for you to sit tight, or do we
need to get you out if it's likely to blow?"

"Tanks're shielded," the boy mumbled.
"Speed's inna frame'n engine."

"Oh, good," Hefty said. He didn't think
he could have pried the driver out
without his battlesuit, but he would've
tried if necessary. He reached down
to the oxygen kit that Fiddlesticks put
beside him and swiftly set up the mask.
"Here you go. Just focus on breathing."

He got the collar on, so that whatever
whiplash the driver already had wouldn't
get any worse now. Then Hefty started up
the ABC assessment again, this time using
the better equipment from the trauma kit.

"Hefty, look down," Fiddlesticks said.
"He's making puddles on the street."

Hefty obeyed and found his feet
surrounded by a spreading pool of red.

"Keep an ear on his breathing for me,"
he told his partner while he started
patting over the driver's body again.

He saw a number of cuts, probably
from the shattered windshield and
windows, but they seemed superficial.
The safety glass had done its job,
breaking down into tiny cubes
instead of knife-like shards.

"Still breathing," Fiddlesticks said.
"Medics should get here any second."

Something moved wrong under Hefty's hand.

"Oh, Christ, I found the leak," he said.
Pieces of the seat's interior had shattered,
driving into the boy's thighs and groin from
underneath. "I can't get to the wounds,
though, we need that ambulance."

The sound of sirens in the distance
gave truth to his partner's promise.

When Hefty tried to check pupil response,
the driver whimpered and struggled weakly.

"Light hurts your eyes?" Hefty asked.

"Always," the boy said. "Soup thing.
Need my shades, where're they?"

His sunglasses were in splinters
all over the inside of the car, which
left his peacock-colored eyes exposed.

"I have spares in the kit," Hefty said.
"These are cheap wraparounds,
meant for folks with migraines or
temporary light sensitivity."

He fished out a pair and
carefully slid them into place.

"Helps," the driver said.

Just then Hefty felt the double-tap
on his shoulder announcing the arrival
of the real paramedics on the scene.

"I'm gonna hand you over to the experts,"
he told the driver, then got out of the way.

Fiddlesticks packed up the scattered gear
in an instant, passing Hefty a package
of wet wipes to clean up the blood.
It was clotted under his fingernails,
though -- he'd need a bath and
a scrub brush to get it all off.

Just then a tiny electric car
tootled up the side of the road
and parked beside their squadcar.

"Hey! You can't be here,"
Hefty barked as the driver
got out. "This is a crime scene."

"I know," said the girl, flipping open
a wallet to show them a SPOON card.
"Do you know where my nemesis went?
Dvorak's driving a yellow zoomwagon --"

"She went thataway," Fiddlesticks said,
and pointed down the street.

Hefty looked at the dumpy white car
with its green stripes. "You are not
going to catch her in that," he said.
"Hell, we couldn't catch her even in
our squadcar. I managed to paint her,
but she killed the signal somehow."

"Oh yay!" Qwerty said. "Can I
piggyback your equipment, please?
I think that I can break through
her stealth ... um, eventually."

"Knock yourself out, kid," said Hefty.
"If you do get through, do us a favor
and bounce the signal back to Dispatch."

"Sure, it's your gear," she said.
"Give me a vddress or something."

"I'll get you a sticker, too," Hefty said.

"I already have one," Qwerty said.
She pointed her car, which displayed
a cute caped symbol and read Superhera.

"Riiiight," Hefty said slowly. He took out one
of the blue-and-silver Police Volunteer stickers,
wrote his badge number and then the case number
on it, put the Dispatch number on his business card,
and gave both to Qwerty. "Put that in your window
so the other cops know you're working with us."

"Thanks," Qwerty said. "Dvorak may always
get ahead of me, but she can never shake me.
I always catch up to her sooner or later."

"That's good to know," Hefty said.
"Thanks for the assist on this."

"Any time," Qwerty said as she
watched the medics scrape the driver
from the sad ruin of his zoomwagon.
"So what happened to that guy?"

"He and Dvorak were drag racing
when he lost control of his car and
hit the pier," Hefty explained. "We let
Dvorak go and stopped to render aid."

"Well, I guess that's one way
to get supervillains off the street,"
Qwerty said. "With a spatula."

* * *

Notes:

Dvorak (Imogen Kron) -- She has fair skin, dark blue eyes, and short wild white hair like milkweed fluff. Her hair used to be a slighter darker platinum blonde, a little thicker and more manageable. When she developed superpowers, it moulted over the course of a few weeks and came in much finer, a pure silver-white. Imogen has a heart-shaped face and a tall slender body, but generous cleavage for her size. She is an only child.
Imogen lives in Rain City. She has a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree in nanotechnology from North Seattle College. For a foreign language, she took Esperanto. She loves movies, especially science fiction ones, and collects movie posters. One of her favorites is The Little Ninja. Dvorak wants to be rich and powerful. Also she just kind of loves playing with people. Beautiful and sexy, she doesn't hesitate to use seduction to get what she wants. However, she can just as well take it by subterfuge or force. Her nemesis is Qwerty, and Dvorak usually runs rings around her.
Origin: Her powers developed after using a metagenic vaccine base called Aegis. It causes about 1 in 100,000 people to develop Super-Immunity, and about 1 in 1,000,000 to develop additional superpowers.
Uniform: On-duty she wears a hip-length cape of white capery, a utility belt, and a catsuit of platinum dexflan with a round boob window. A glowing blue ring around the rim of the boob window makes the "Power" symbol: Her white boots have heels high enough to look sexy, but low enough to run and fight in effectively. Off-duty she enjoys wearing fashionable clothes, and her favorite pair of earrings resemble paperclips. However, she dresses for locale, so often that means business chic. In the workshop she changes to a slim jumpsuit with many pockets and a tool belt.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Computer Wizard, Expert (+4) Corporate Espionage, Expert (+4) Sexy, Good (+2) City Girl, Good (+2) Concentration, Good (+2) Geek, Good (+2) Logical, Good (+2) Movie Fan, Good (+2) Ninjutsu
Poor (-2) Dealing with Nature
Powers: Average (0) Super-Gizmology, Average (0) Super-Immunity, Average (0) Super-Intellect
Motivation: Money and power.

Expert (+4) Zoomwagon, Expert (+4) AI System, Good (+2) Gyroscopic Agility, Good (+2) Stealth Mode
Poor (-2) Asshole Magnet
See the front view, full view, interior, and closeup of driver's side. Watch a video of it in motion.


Bangshift (Nash Hudson) -- He has fair skin and peacock eyes. His short curly hair was dark originally but is now changing to indigo with faint streaks of lighter blue and purple. He has abundant body hair. Tattoos include a long-legged alien spider down his right arm, a bust of his mother on his left, and a hawk on his right collarbone. He is 21 years old. Bangshift works for various supervillains stealing, modifying, and selling cars or car parts. He is good enough at what he does that he can drive and maintain zoomwagons, although he can't build them.
Origin: Bangshift was visiting a college in hopes of charming his way into some girl's panties, when a zetetic accident happened. Despite getting caught in the blast and hearing the public service announcements recommending that victims seek help, he fled the city instead and never reported his involvement.
Uniform: Usually blue-collar men's wear: boots, jeans, and either a muscle shirt or a band t-shirt. In colder weather he switches to denim or flannel shirts and adds a leather jacket.
Qualities: Master (+6) Car Hustler (Signature Stunt: Zoomwagon Maintenance), Good (+2) Charmer, Good (+2) Tattoo Fan, Good (+2) Tough Guy
Poor (-2) Overconfidence
Powers: Average (0) Super-Speed, Average (0) Teleportation, Poor (-2) Enhanced Vision
Vulnerability: Although he can see ultraviolet and polarized light, his eyes were damaged by the blast. Because he never sought treatment, the damage has become permanent, which leaves him hypersensitive to light. He wears sunglasses all the time to compensate.
Motivation: To impress girls.

Bang Shift: To quickly shift a standard transmission.
-- Hot Rod Slang

Expert (+4) Zoomwagon, Expert (+4) Acceleration, Good (+2) Chick Magnet, Good (+2) Traction
Poor (-2) Maneuverability
View the exterior and interior. See a video of it on the road.


Qwerty (Nora Hale) -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and long straight brown hair perpetually escaping attempts to contain it. She wears glasses with heavy lenses and thick rims to correct her terrible vision. She has three older brothers. Growing up in rural territory near the Hoh Rainforest has given her an understanding of nature, but she finds cities overwhelming and confusing. One of her favorite movies is The Aikido Kid. Nora has a two-year Associate of Science in Engineering degree from North Seattle University. For a foreign language she took Spanish. She sings filk songs and plays 12-string guitar. Her nemesis is Dvorak, and Qwerty has a hard time trying to keep up with her.
Origin: Her powers developed after using a metagenic vaccine base called Aegis. It causes about 1 in 100,000 people to develop Super-Immunity, and about 1 in 1,000,000 to develop additional superpowers.
Uniform: On-duty, Qwerty wears hyperlight trail shoes, a utility belt, and an ankle-length cape of gray capery that's big enough to roof a lean-to in an emergency. (She knows it is. She's done that, more than once.) A jumpsuit of navy blue dexflan hugs her body, the knees and elbows thickened with leathery krevel armor. It's not pretty, but it's practical. Off-duty she favors denim and flannel and other practical wear, although she can dress up if she has to. She loves hats, though, and enjoys collecting ones to suit different occasions.
Qualities: Master (+6) Determination, Master (+6) Smart, Expert (+4) Gizmology, Good (+2) Aikido, Good (+2) Country Girl, Good (+2) Geek, Good (+2) Filker
Poor (-2) Awkward
Powers: Average (0) Super-Immunity
Motivation: "Always practice, even when I fail."

Qwerty drives a dumpy little electric car. See the exterior and interior. The video is just as dorky as the car. There are sophisticated electrics, especially in Terramagne, such as the Tesla; Qwerty just doesn't drive one.

* * *

(Some of these links are graphic.)
Drag racing, also known as street racing, spans various types of illegal and dangerous driving. Terramagne-America uses multiple techniques to discourage such risky practices which include public awareness, law enforcement, and the providence of safe off-street racing facilities. But tracks have rules, and supervillains don't like rules, so drag racing remains a serious problem. Generally T-America discourages police from chasing supervillains, but drag racing zoomwagons through traffic is a crime which puts innocent bystanders at lethal risk, so immediate intervention is required. Watch videos of graphic crashes, straight drag racing on streets, and cameling in traffic.

Like many crimes, it is difficult to find reliable statistics for drag racing. I have used some from drag racing proper, and extrapolated others from high-speed police chases. In T-America, drag racing causes 275 fatalities per year, roughly twice the L-American rate. That includes approximately 30 deaths, 62 injuries, and 590 prosecutions per metroplex each year, about twice the L-San Diego rate. Plus of course people drag race in rural areas, where it's often harder to find them. In both T-America and L-America, nationwide statistics indicate that 49 people are injured for every 1,000 involved in drag racing. In T-America, innocent third parties who just happened to be in the way make up between 20-25% of fatalities and over 75% of minor injuries caused by drag racing. Many of the minor injuries come from fender-benders on the side, bystanders hit by flying debris, or pedestrians hurt while trying to get out of the way. Further, 1 out of every 52 illegal races results in a fatality. That's worse than L-American statistics from high-speed police chases, because supervillains and especially illegal zoomwagons run up the number of casualties.

In T-America, location is treated as intimate information and heavily protected by privacy standards, because it can be used to hurt people. L-American police have early, clumsy technology for tagging vehicles. T-American technology is considerably better, firing a tiny tracker in a blob of clear sticky goo. Their police are allowed to use this type of tracking only during an active crime, or when they have probable cause to suspect a crime and believe that the suspect would not stop on command. They have to report it and uses are reviewed, but for the most part people are pretty responsible about it. (Outside those situations, tracking citizens requires a warrant.) This greatly reduces the need for risky high-speed chases, and makes it easier to set up traps ahead of a speeding vehicle. There are questions and techniques for protecting your location.

Cameling means weaving through traffic at high speed, usually in a zoomwagon and often during a drag race or pursuit. The term comes from the phrase "fit a camel through the eye of a needle."

(Some of these links are graphic.)
Overpasses allow traffic to cross without interacting. This can create hazards if a vehicle impacts part of the support for an overpass, particularly large trucks. Here is a detailed analysis of crash risks for trucks. Short overpasses may not need piers in the middle; longer ones do need central support, which creates an opportunity for collisions. Various pier designs exist. L-American overpasses are often supported by columns, which minimizes the cost of materials and the weight of the overpass on its substrate. T-American overpasses use solid oblong walls for piers in locations with a high risk of collisions, which is costlier and heavier, but much safer. Zoomwagons raise the effective risk due to traveling at high speeds; this applies to official, licensed civilian, and illegal vehicles. Discoveries made in areas with significant zoomwagon traffic have led to improvements in the safety of infrastructure design which can then be replicated elsewhere. Colliding with a comparatively narrow object such as a pier can cause a distinctive V-shaped crush pattern on the vehicle.

Hefty and Fiddlesticks carry a good basic first aid kit under the front seat of their squadcar. See the exterior and interior of the kit. T-American kits are customarily labeled by type on the outside, and police officers on duty often favor kits in a blue container. Their police all have at least basic first aid training and carry supplies to match their skill level; some have more than that. T-American police are obligated to render aid to citizens in distress, although for medical emergencies the protocol is to call an ambulance for backup.

ABC is a fundamental part of first aid, standing for Airway, Breathing, Circulation. It gives the first steps to do on reaching a victim, and you need to recheck periodically during care because conditions can deteriorate. There are also instructions for sizing up and managing the scene of an emergency. Here are simple instructions for first aid in case of a car accident, because you never know when you might need that.

Hefty has more first aid training, not quite EMT level, so he carries a major trauma kit in the trunk. See the exterior, interior divisions, and contents. He also stocks an oxygen kit similar to this one, which is useful for treating a wide variety of problems. This is also why Hefty's battlesuit is optimized for search-and-rescue, with combat as a secondary function. For a major pileup, they can have him suit up and assist with victim extraction. T-American police departments customarily have at least a few officers cross-trained in intermediate to advanced first aid, and Hefty is one of Omaha's. The partnership with Fiddlesticks means that Hefty doesn't have to waste time getting his big bags out of the trunk; he can grab the small one in immediate reach, and Fiddlesticks will fetch the rest instantly if needed.

Whiplash happens most often in rear-end collisions but can happen with head-on collisions too. Rapid, violent movement of the head and neck can cause injuries ranging from minor jarring to torn ligaments and fractured vertebrae. In a serious car crash, it is advisable to assume whiplash and immobilize the neck until expert care is available. An advantage of the cervical collar is that you can often protect someone's neck even if they're in a position where you can't get them on a backboard yet. There are steps for treating whiplash at various stages.

Safety glass has gone through many iterations. One option is tempering, which causes glass to shatter into tiny cubes instead of large knifelike shards. You can still cut yourself on it, but not very badly. Lamination offers a way of holding broken glass together so the bits don't scatter. The choices all have their own pros and cons.

This is one style of wraparound sunglasses for people with migraines. Automotive first aid kits in T-America often include a pair because it's also good for glare-induced eyestrain. Wraparound sunglasses can be cheaply made from a few precast pieces snapped together; prescription models are much more elegant and secure.

People in T-America often carry a flip wallet that contains only couple spaces for ID and/or emergency information plus cash and/or a cash card. The idea is that you can quickly flick it open in a crisis, and if you lose the thing it's not a big deal like losing a full-sized wallet with all of your credit cards and photos. Among the advantages for superheroes registering with SPOON is the official ID card and contact info where SPOON can vouch for you. This makes it much easier to interact with soup-friendly authorities. The superhera symbol appears on this sign.

T-American police departments customarily include some citizen volunteers. Here is some general information and a sample program from L-America. Notable differences in T-America include provisions for junior volunteers with a parent or guardian, and a very active effort to recruit reformed criminals. Volunteering for law enforcement activities such as staffing fundraisers or roleplaying at a police academy often plays a part in community service or other reparations. One reason their cops are better trained is simply a generous supply of real live (former) criminals to practice with, who can coach trainees on how criminals actually think and behave. There is a growing trend among some police departments to interface with superheroes as citizen volunteers.

T-America is serious about identifying people who are serving in an official capacity, including volunteers. The police badge sticker is printed with "Police Volunteer" in silver across the blue bar. Top banner lists the state, second banner has the department number, third banner is blank and usually used for the badge number of the officer giving out the sticker, and bottom banner is blank usually for a project or case number. Similarly, officers carry vests marked for police volunteers. That makes it easy to mobilize citizen responders at the scene of an emergency, and tells other officials not to shoo them away or try to give them other jobs. Anyone wearing a Volunteer vest already has a job, and knows to check in with a supervisor if they finish that job to see if they can get a new assignment.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-11 11:24 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Qwerty. Dvorak. I see what you did there!!

A Smart Four-Two is *not* dumpy, it's CUTE! it's a *gutless bloody wonder* when it's got a gas engine and an automatic in it, but I'll bet you a case of Krispy Kremes it's sierra hotel when it's got an electric motor and a fat wad of LiFePO4's under there instead... and will also have a better CG, and thus be more maneuverable.

Kinda want one. They park like a dream...

(Although what I really want is an electric bike.)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-12 03:32 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Over in the Houston Heights area (fairly near where we live), there are a couple of people who both own SmartCars and routinely park them in the same parallel parking space in front of their complex. This gives their Authoritarian neighbors fits, but there's nothing they can do; it's not a metered space, so there's nothing illegal about it.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-12 04:57 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
That makes me happy.

The number of times I've seen badly designed lots with single motorcycles in whole car spaces, trucks shoehorned in small-car spaces, SmartCars all on their lonesome, and someone parked across two spaces... And no bike rack, of course. Worse in Kansas City, but decent mixed-use parking design is surprisingly uncommon even here in Portland with all the bike lanes and public transit. You'd think a Park'n'Ride would be easy to enter, park at, and leave... *shudders* I'm an offender too, though, because I haven't removed the rear bike rack on my car.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 12:56 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Ha.. never mind batteries, this is T-America, it's probably got a cold fusion cell!

Ok, it doesn't go any faster, but my god, the range !

Re: Well...

Date: 2016-09-12 01:24 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Okayy... sounds like you have a bit of confusion over what cold fusion is.

Traditional hot fusion, sun-in-bottle. If you loose containment, depending on plasma density is either kiss goodbye to the city, or, 'oh bugger I'll need to replace the magnetic winding because it melted the innermost couple of millimetres of the torus'. Most reactors that are smaller than a bus tend towards the latter. [fundamental laws of physics, it's very, very hot, but there's only a tiny amount of energy in it really..red hot needle as opposed to a steam boiler.]

Cold fusion, it has all the explosive potential of a pressure cooker. Because that's more or less what it is.

Sonoluminescent fusion, aka micro-cavitation fusion.. you have a fluid media filled with bubbles, each one of which is a tiny sun, for about 0.01 milliseconds. If you loose containment it stops working. No more bubbles, no boom [despite the Tom Cruse film]. It's physically impossible for one to explode.

Muon catalysed fusion.. requires super-cooling to work, as it only takes place at or below 85oK and probably isn't ever got to be a power source.

Fleischmann and Pons fusion.. in theory you could get enough excess heat to cause the water to disassociate into hydrogen and oxygen, which in the presence of red-hot pallidium catalyst would explode. With about as much force as a gas tank...

As an aside.. I have either built or operated three of the above types of reactors. Nuclear fusion is not hard to do, getting it to produce more energy than it requires to run, that's the hard part. The coupling/unity problem is the tough nut to crack.

Re: Well...

Date: 2016-09-12 05:04 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
>> But any time you get enough energy out of anything to do serious work, it necessarily has hazards that can be activated by releasing that energy. (You can more-or-less make a cocked catapult explode if you hit it right, just from the sudden release of tension.) Enough energy to drive a car will typically make a car-sized explosion if mishandled. <<

Enough energy to do work is enough energy to do damage. A dose that can be effective is a dose that can have notable effects. Very important, very simple, I wish people kept it in mind. But! Safety technology is in part the craft of channeling effects to make the ones we want likely and the ones we don't want unlikely. Knife plus handle is more useful that just knife, because of improved leverage and safety. The trick is not to mistake the improved safety factor for license to do pointless unsafe crap with it... People need to take manageable risks regularly and from a young age, so they can tell the bloody difference between small risks, medium risks, and big ones.

...I need to replace my rice cooker. It's dented as of yesterday and I DO NOT want an explosion. *mutter mutter*

Re: Well...

Date: 2016-09-12 10:13 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
MCF [Micro-cavitation fusion] is easy to do, theory. In practice, you have to get the chamber just right so as promote even resonance pattens, because you have to hit the bubbles with a pressure wave from all sides, and force collapse them.

However, it's where hot-plasma fusion meets cold fusion. the reaction itself is taking place in the super-hot plasma that forms when the cavity implodes... but the way you're forming the plasma is not traditional, nor is the way it's [briefly] contained by the inertia of the water around it.

That said.. the whales could do. They've been observed in the wild producing the characteristic blue glow of sonoluminescence. [yes, and now we know what produces that blue glow, it's Cherenkov radiation from the alpha particles produced by the reaction.]

Given that cavitation has been known to melt pits and holes in boat propellers, the whales could probably use it to turn a ships hull into Swiss cheese. Or cook a shark or orca with the localised heat produced.

And yeah, I'm going to be writing about cold fusion tech at some point I think. The Exeter and T-Britannia have fusion reactors, but as I stated, they are huge things using hot plasma tech.

Re: Well...

Date: 2016-09-15 11:12 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
The whales almost certainly would be better at it..and it occurs to em that a couple of them working in concert could not only create cavitation but one of them could generate it, while the other used sound to create a pressure 'wall' to contain the reaction.

Or to put it another way... they could probably touch off a baby nuke under a ship or a fleet. [aka a nuclear fusion generated steam explosion in the sub-kiloton range]

It would probably not be a good idea to suggest this.

Blue blaze would probably be helpless with laughter should Steel call Ilyana Bubble Girl.

In the wild, in reality, sperm whales in particular use sonoluminescence to create point source lights in order to attract squid.

Re: Well...

Date: 2016-09-16 11:00 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Nuclear option indeed... although you're right about it being a two-key system, those keys have a bias. [and gods help the next whaling fleet].

Sonoluminescence is lot easier to do at depth, for obvious reasons, [which is why it was only observed not that long ago] but I'm sure Steel is skilful enough to set it off near the surface as well.

Aquariana had best keep some distance from the pretty lights though, it is a nuclear reaction and while water makes for good shielding, it produces gamma and neutron radiation. [4-5ft would be safe enough]. The whales wouldn't have a problem though, firstly because their sonar loses focus at about 3ft away [physics, they're sort of short 'sighted' as a species due to the 'optics' part of their echolocation and the way it focuses] and secondly 2-3ft of blubber makes for a pretty good shield.

Actually...

Date: 2016-09-16 04:16 am (UTC)
johnpalmer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] johnpalmer
The truth to tell, getting a fusion reaction to give off more energy than you put in is already within reach current technology... but it's hard to harness an H-bomb to generate electricity!

(And I *am* just teasing here - you were talking about fusion in a controlled state for power generation.)

Re: Actually...

Date: 2016-09-16 10:44 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Harnessing a H-bomb for electricity is hard yes. Thrust however...

You have to figure that the Daedalus project and the Orion nuclear pulse drive started as a joke...

Re: Actually...

Date: 2016-09-16 04:27 pm (UTC)
johnpalmer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] johnpalmer
Yes, indeed.

Hm. This does mean that one could use fusion as a blaster-weapon... though I'm not sure precisely what the effects would be, especially radiation-wise. In fact, it's not 100% certain that the fusion reaction provides the majority of the power of an H-bomb. There's a possibility (and I have no idea how good/bad it is) that the neutrons flying from the fusion trigger far more of the fissile material.

(You probably know this - but, for anyone else: a fission chain reaction blows itself apart before too much of the fission-able material breaks down. With the fission reaction causing fusion, we could see a lot of fusion, causing a lot of energy OR we could see the neutrons triggering more fission so incredibly fast that we cause a far bigger fission reaction than would normally be possible before critical density is lost.

(I'm not sure if "critical density" is actually a thing. But it's not really "critical MASS" because if you store enough fissile material close enough together, it does start interacting. I'd heard a physicist say that there was a national lab that didn't have an engineer design their storage space and were storing fissile material close enough to greatly increase the radiation hazard (decay from adjacent containers were mutually triggering additional decay), and closing in on the point that a low-grade chain reaction could occur.))

Re: Actually...

Date: 2016-09-16 07:22 pm (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Actually, IIRC the inside of the blast-shield on the nuclear fusion pulse drive was coated with iron, which does not undergo fusion or fission. However, it does absorb the storm of neutron radiation, which is converted to heat, vaporising the top few microns of the blast plate. Which, given the thing is half a mile wide, produces a shit-load of thrust. [and some variants spray a few hundred tons of water into the thrust bell first before detonating the 'bomb', producing more thrust.

A conventional fission weapon only converts about 1-10% of the fissile material into energy, the rest of which essentially acts as tamper/reflector for the reaction. Plus, since the reaction is a statistical probability thing, you have to have a certain amount to be certain of a sustained reaction.

And yeah, I've heard of unsafe storage, before they got good at calculating neutron flux cross density.

Hmm... I remember reading somewhere about a 'Moon gun' fusion canon which was basically a converted crater, lined with lithium hydride salted with helium-3. The physics worked out...

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 01:06 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Kinda feel sorry for BangShift, the kid didn't stand a chance of resisting Dvorak leading him around by the gonads... and now she's gone and he's left holding the bag, staring down weeks of time in ICU and the possibility of permanent injury. Ok, he's an idiot... but what young man isn't when it comes to members of the preferred sex.

Hmm... wonder if he might team up with Qwerty once he gets out hospital or jail [it's a toss up over which would be the longer stretch.] After all, he's got himself a reason to see Dvorak behind bars, and the enemy of my enemy etc..

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-12 10:27 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
Well, BangShift is primarily a wrench monkey isn't he, and if Qwerty gets the idea that she wants something speedier [and still green] who is she going to go to? Most of those that make zoom-wagons wouldn't listen to her, they're petrol-heads and zoom-wagons are uniformly fossil fuel beasts. I'd imagine a lot of them would tell her it couldn't be done. [most green fuels don;t have the kind of energy density you'd need for zoom-wagon, extrapolating from top-end dragsters.]

So... if he decided to make restitution by helping Qwerty and approached her with the same idea. He wouldn't even need to be all that mobile at first. Planning could be done from a hospital bed, and the first step would be working out what she wanted from the hypothetical lean green racing machine.

Which, come to think of it, might be where cold fusion tech is introduced... BangShift might know a guy who knows a guy. The Motor-part-guy network at work again.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-16 11:08 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
I was thinking more along the lines of BangShift knew who Qwerty should be talking to for an upgrade, yes.

I'll try to remember to prod you again for this next fishbowl...

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-20 08:34 am (UTC)
callibr8: East Tennessee, circa 2004 (RoadAhead)
From: [personal profile] callibr8
<< Once someone regrets his poor decisions, the trend in T-America is to support that.>>

Oh, how I wish this were true in L-America! So many lives, of both victims and those who have wronged them, would be infinitely better if it were.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 03:15 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Hmmm? This is T-America. BangShift hurt a *bridge*. He'll do community service. A LOT of it...

That could be interesting, though, giving him *real* Class Z training and maybe some other first responder stuff... And, yeah, I'd want Dvorak BAD....

I want cold fusion. Or a molecular reformer. Or both. I want my damn flying DeLorean!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 03:42 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
«BangShift hurt a *bridge*.»

Did he now?
«T-American overpasses use solid oblong walls for piers in locations with a high risk of collisions, which is costlier and heavier, but much safer. ... Discoveries made in areas with significant zoomwagon traffic have led to improvements in the safety of infrastructure design...»
Not necessarily serious damage to that piece of infrastructure.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 03:49 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Well, he didn't hurt it *much*, but that much crumple on a zoomwagon's gonna leave a MARK. If it left a vee shape rather than a rounded shape in the 'wagon I'm going to want to check the matching corner for little bits that have come off.... once you knock the seal off a piece of concrete water can start doing bad things... he may not have necessitated a full safety inspection, but I'm gonna wanna have an eyeball on that just in case.

Says the paranoid BOFH who used to be an electrician's apprentice who worked with concrete to make fixture pads...

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-12 04:24 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
And then I imagine people like Bangshift in 3D navigation and think, nah, flying cars are more trouble than they're worth.

Yabbut, when you have vertical capability, you can have vertical *separation*. Like *a thousand feet* of it. Minimum.

Which of course a bunch of renegades could *exploit*... but still. The odds of them actually *hitting* something with that much space around them get pretty darn small.

Now, there are two huge problems here... one is, integration into the current airspace system even in good weather is going to be... interesting.... two is, getting people from point a to point b in weather that people insist on driving in but wouldn't currently dream of flying in. Precision, augmented GPS will help lots... and I'm guessing a certain amount of automation not possible here but possible in Terramange will help a lot. But designing ways to get people up and down from the relatively-to-us high-altitude airways.... that's gonna get *interesting*.

At the same time, that same tech will make getting places like Tenzing-Hillary Airport a LOT safer... that's the one on the approach to Everest, that has a .. less than stellar... safety record because once you turn in, there's no way out, and if a cloud gets in the way, you're gonna hit something... but if you have GPS-guided synthetic vision, it's easy. (Relatively.)

(They *already* have radar-transponder-based traffic avoidance on a global basis. (In some airspace it's *required* already, notably the crowded transatlantic and transpacific tracks that don't have terrestrial radar coverage.) This will help keep Bangshift out of trouble in his aircar...)

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-12 10:34 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
I want my self-driving flying car... we've had planes that can fly and land themselves for a while, plus computer controlled flight systems... apply a little A.I and flocking logic, and you have an auto-pilot that's safer than any human could be. Then you make it so you can't take off unless it's turned on.

Re: Thoughts

Date: 2016-09-13 09:52 am (UTC)
siliconshaman: black cat against the moon (Default)
From: [personal profile] siliconshaman
There are methods of shielding that'll protect electronics from biomagnetic fields, or whatever else. Most are variations of Faraday cages but with a little extra 'something' thrown in. You might get odd looks from mechanics, but believe me, it's not unusual actually. [roughly 5% of the population has the same sort of problems.]

and a software/hardware lock on taking off without autopilot isn't meant to stop the geeks, it just filters out the dumb ones. Hopefully the smarter ones know what they're doing.
Edited Date: 2016-09-13 09:53 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 03:40 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Ok, he's an idiot... but what young man isn't when it comes to members of the preferred sex.

Some, however, are emphatically more so than others. I've known guys BangShift's age and younger who would take one look at Dvorak and immediately think, "More trouble than she's worth." They might admire from afar, they might fantasize about her as wank-fodder, but they would absolutely keep a safe distance in reality.

Oddly enough, a lot of those guys are geeks. This doesn't mean that they're immune to making fools of themselves over a different girl -- but they tend not to be impressed by hot-dogs.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-12 04:25 am (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
Yeah, that would be me. She's tooooo hot to handle.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-16 04:57 pm (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
How did I miss this? I enjoyed it.

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