Friday, September 17, 2010

Science: About That Future I Was Promised

Is the future here yet? I'm not talking about mundane things like flying cars either. For decades we've been promised flying cars. For years people have been asking where their jetpacks or flying cars are and I have to say I don't understand the appeal.

After all people are idiotic enough driving around a few thousand pounds of metal on the roads. Do you want the average half asleep commuter to be flying over your house?

I'm not talking little things like flying cars. No. I'm talking the bigger and better future. Where are the spaceships? What about the power sources? What about the weapons? Big powerful futuristic weapons!

Now in case you think this is silly and unimportant... don't worry. I sort of agree with you. Why sort of? Because thinking about semi-impossible futuristic weapons is a great way to look at science.

After all... how powerful is antimatter? How much damage would the beam of the Death Star do and would it destroy a planet? What parts of many fictional weapons can be explained using science and modern theories? It turns out it's a great way to exercise one's scientific thinking. So off we go on a web wide tour of the science of the future.

Let's start with two articles from Death Star Firepower gives details on what would have gone on with the Star Wars superweapon. (I say would have... because even if it's fiction we should remember that Star Wars isn't the future. It happened "A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."). If that isn't enough about destruction on a vast scale also has Planet Killers.

When you think about it for a minute planet killing can't be easy. Are we talking about just destroying all life on a planet? Are we talking about rendering it uninhabitable? Are we talking about destroying what's on the surface? Or are we going to go all the way? If you want to destroy a planet properly then what you're left with after you're done can't meet the definition of a planet. How to destroy the Earth looks at what it would take to accomplish such a feat and then looks at various ways this might be done. Why do I feel I should warn people not to try any of these techniques at home?

If you want to look at slightly less immense weapons there's the Space War: Weapons-Exotic page from Project Rho's Atomic Rocket Pages. All the science you need to know to build rocket ships, equip them, and then trundle off to battle. Here there is material on propulsion, weapons, tactics, and much more.

In and amongst the outrageous silliness of thinking of these far fetched weapons and ideas there is a lot of real science. You can learn a lot about the world we live in while exploring the world that may be our future.

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