Tag Archive for future

Taurs and Spaceflight

Chakat Swiftwind testing a new small craft design

A while back, I decided I wanted to get a picture of Swiftwind actually doing hir job, rather than just the scattered pin-ups most of hir image history has amounted to thus far. Now, I could have simply gotten a picture of hir in front of a Star Trek style helm, but shi likes flying things that go way too fast, so it had to be something that shi could fly manually.  Which then led to the thought of just what would be a fitting cockpit design for a taur!

My first thought was a simple taur couch, with a backpad that swung into position for upper back support.  While it seemed like it could work, I realized it also didn’t solve the problem why we use chairs as bipeds on our fighter craft and zoomy things – the back provides cushioning against the thrust.  Supply enough thrust on a craft with a taur in that position, and they’ll quite possibly strain their midjoint, or possibly slide completely out of position.

My next thought was of the Starfury from Babylon 5.Rather than the typical seat, they looked at what would make a good craft for -space- and came up with using a standing cockpit.  Thrust form behind would be evenly distributed, and thrust on any other direction would go evenly across the body rather than unevenly like a seat might from certain directions.  Only problem is that a taur sitting on their butt to “stand” in this fashion would be rather awkward.  It’s not out of the realm of possibility but that led to my next idea, pictured int he image above.

Much like in Zoids Genesis, the cockpit seat works like that of a motorcycle. This keeps the spine fairly level and provides most of the advantages of the Starfury-style cockpit, but in a much less awkward position for a taur to get into and out of easily.  The rearward thrust might still be a slight issue in that it will send their blood towards their butt, but taurs have a lot more body for the blood to move through and given we’re dealing with Star Trek level technology, I don’t think that would be enough of a problem to write it off. In this case also the spine would only compress a bit, rather than stress the midjoint with the spine experiencing thrust differently in two different directions.

Of course, I don’t think that position would be super comfortable for long trips, so ideally the couch would slide into the floor to allow the taur pilot to operate the controls sitting or laying normally when in what I termed “cruise” mode.  The full couch would only be necessary in “high maneuver” mode, where you might run into instances of inertial overbleed from the dampers. You know, those moments when the bridge crew gets thrown around because people in the future forgot seatbelts!

As a side benefit, since chakats can use their forepaws as hands, you could have extra controls for handpaw use when the couch is deployed, though it’d have to be something that doesn’t require fine control like a throttle, or a few big, important toggles that could still be reached by hand in an emergency.

Ultimately, it depends on the physics in question. In a Star Trek situation, which is what I was using as my design constraints, I feel it would come down to either a basic taurcouch for larger craft like your cruisers, or something like the above for smaller craft more likely to go into extreme maneuvers that could cause overbleed.

Something more like Babylon 5’s setup where they fully play fair with Newton, I don’t think there’d be any real options other than to go completely vertical, despite it being much more awkward and time-consuming to get in place and strap in. The cockpits would probably have to have entryways on the floor rather than the wall, and the taur would have to lower themselves into it and climb out after.  Not ideal for larger craft, but those would presumably not be dealing with heavy acceleration in the same fashion.

The other main case that doesn’t completely ignore intertia would be something like the drive systems in the Honor Harrington books. The ships there use a gravity wedge to propel the ships at 600-700Gs, and as the wedges involve gravity control they also act as a sump pump for intertia, so the occupants don’t deal with that level of acceleration.  (Of course, if that system breaks, everyone in it shortly becomes pink mist.) Apart from that cheat, they still have to play fair with Newton, so course changes, while sudden, still have to deal with the inertia of the ship itself. In that sort of piloting environment I would imagine the taurs would just strap into something like my initial thought, and the straps would help absorb the shock of any impacts from weapons fire, as the compensators are not designed to catch the momentary burst of energy from that hitting. (Not to mention explosions inside the ship if any laser warheads penetrate the armor and set something off.)

And space fantasy like Star Wars?  Well, whatever looks coolest and seems to make sense visually! (aka don’t think too hard about it – MST3K mantra applies here!)

Future Imperfect – Cyberpunk is Now

Cyberdragon

So wow, been a while.  I meant to write this almost 6 months ago, but things came up and stuff was done, and I got distracted by other things site-related that I was considering doing first to the point I kept pushing this off.

Anyways, this was the other subject I referenced previously.  Shadowrun, Cyberpunk 20202, Neuromancer, and so on all painted a picture of a world wrapped up in cybernetics and wires, where man had enhanced himself with computers.  Nations still exist, but are much less important to the common man than the corporations they serve.  A lot of people think it’s still in the future, or that it’s a future that will never happen, but if you tilt your head just slightly, it’s pretty plain that we’re there already in many ways, and damn close on others.

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Future Imperfect – Virtual Transhumanism

So I was talking with a co-worker during some downtime recently, and the speculation it led to was quite interesting I feel.  It started with discussing how we’re in the future already that was talked about back in the 80s and 90s, but we just don’t recognize it(which is a topic I plan to go into seperately), and ended up with some discussion on how things may look in the near future, if we take current trends and run them out to a possible logical conclusion.

To start off with, let’s take a look at Shadowrun – take away the magic and D&D aspects, and it’s fairly standard cyberpunk.  In the original version, the Matrix was this world in virtual reality – VR and you could look like anything you wanted there.  Think Second Life, but with a full body VR, usually via direct neural interface.

As we worked on that tech in the real world, pure VR fell more to the side, partly due to the challenges of such tech versus the demand for such.  Instead, what grew up was a compromise; augmented reality.  Products like Google Glass and the holodisplay that Microsoft has demonstrated mix the virtual right over top of the real.  There are even games using similar tech now, such as the upcoming Pokemon Go.

As the developers of the Shadowrun system and universe updated it, they had to work in modern developments that were not expected back when it was created, such as AR and wireless, that people today might take for granted or see as near-future, and they had to do it in a way that made sense in-universe.  Thus came the wireless Matrix being available anywhere, after a fashion, and overlaid on the real world via AR to interact with.

Well, jumping off that idea, with AR you can overlay images to change how something looks.  What this means, is that fashion may take a sudden dive to the left, as the clothes no longer matter.

For purposes of this thought experiment, let’s assume that computational power is not an issue – cloud computing, etc tied into your visor/glasses/monocle/implants.  In much the same way that the studio was able to replace Arnold or his double in the later Terminator movie with his younger self, in AR your device could edit out a person’s appearance and modify it in real-time. Want some expensive, fancy clothes, but without risk of damaging or soiling them?  Let AR overwrite them onto your body for anyone tied into the network who looks at you.

The fashion world would be rocked, but adapt, and clothes would lose most of their appearance aspects.  Instead of wearing something to look good, you’d wear(or not wear) what was comfortable and affordable.  Most instances of clothes would become drab and utilitarian, while to the everyday folks they would be surrounded by a cavalcade of color and whimsy, full of outfits that are not physically possible.  In warmer weather, to a person not tied into the AR network, it might even seem as if he or she had walked into a nudist colony!

The capability does not stop there, however.  If clothes can be overlaid, so can full appearances.  While flying may not be possible on a personal level, you might end up with a scene looking like a high-resolution realistic Second Life, as the only limits would be those set by the system.  Furries, otherkin, cosplayers, and many others would be drooling over such a capability to truly become their character, or their true self, depending on perspective.

There would have to be limits of course, as their physical bodies still exist, so likely there would be few taurs or other four-leggers running around, or tinies or macro beings for that matter. That aside, on one level this would appear to be a gateway to transhumanism – to become more than human.  Setting aside any social stigma such as exists now for furries and others of a kindred nature, you could be walking down a street and pass a wolf, a faerie, a sumo wrestler, just to enter McDonalds and be served by a tigress whose outfit barely covers her and a robot with visible gears and pistons. People could effectively be anything humanoid they wanted to be.

On the other hand, it’s all virtual.  Turn off the implant, take off the glasses, and you’ll find the boring, mundane, drab grey world still exists behind the glitzy facade, much like Las Vegas.  For some, that may be enough, and with less push behind it from the semi-human quarter, progress and research in that direction may slow or even halt entirely in some aspects.

With less need to take care of themselves physically, there may be increased health issues as well, though possibly less than some would think, as smell is not included in our little thought experiment.  Sound could be, however, providing voice-changers to all and sundry.

This idea however I could easily see being reachable in our lifetime, given the strides networking, parallel processing, and cloud computing has made in the past decade.  Safely gene-splicing to phsycially modify our bodies is much, much further away, I feel.  But with being able to gain the “perfect” body via AR, whatever your definition of perfect, may dis-incentivize  research into actually gaining that body, which may push the end result out even farther.  Then again, there’s no reason that VR couldn’t take off again, allowing people to move in VR and interact with people in the real world via AR, while in the comfort of their home, or maybe even in a computer if anyone manages to solve the problem of how to upload our minds and souls into our creations.

I guess overall I see it as a blind alley that we could easily head into. There may be a door that leads us to someplace unexpected, or we may end up having to turn around and start from zero once more.  Then again, the rumored singularity may happen and we just hop the alley wall into the unknown.

“You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometime…
You just might find…
That you get what you need~”