GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

The Firefly/Serenity Solar System

POSTED BY: FRASERBW
UPDATED: Tuesday, March 7, 2006 00:55
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Thursday, December 29, 2005 2:27 PM

FRASERBW


Quote:

Originally posted by StarPilotGrainger:
My big problem with 'one star system' is Out of Gas. Specifically, the notion that they were out of communications range.

What exactly is communications range? Radio signals travel at the speed of light (if they're not using something faster - nobody seems to have communications lag time in Serenity or Firefly). You'd almost have to assume that all the planets were conveniently on the other side of the sun from Serenity for them to not be able to contact someone in a reasonable amount of time for rescue.

However, if you assume slow FTL travel but still STL communications (at least for the most part - core planets might have an Ansible for the Cortex, that ships access with STL radio), you can be way out in the black at a point where it might take months for a signal to reach somebody.

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Well I think we have to assume that faster than light communications do not exsist in the Joss-verse, so yes the beacon that Wash sent out would travel at the speed of light, but that could be hours to reach another ship. And that ship would take much longer to reach them than the radio waves took and Mal would be out of oxygen long before then. Radio signals from Pluto would take 8 hours to reach the Earth in the closer arc of its orbit. If Serenity were going the long way around the solar system based on the planets positions, it could be hours out of the way of any space traffic. If most of the planets were on one side of the solar system, that's where most of the space traffic would be. The ship routes basically have to follow the planet orbits.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005 2:49 PM

STARPILOTGRAINGER


Quote:

Originally posted by FraserBW:

Well I think we have to assume that faster than light communications do not exsist in the Joss-verse, so yes the beacon that Wash sent out would travel at the speed of light, but that could be hours to reach another ship. And that ship would take much longer to reach them than the radio waves took and Mal would be out of oxygen long before then. Radio signals from Pluto would take 8 hours to reach the Earth in the closer arc of its orbit. If Serenity were going the long way around the solar system based on the planets positions, it could be hours out of the way of any space traffic. If most of the planets were on one side of the solar system, that's where most of the space traffic would be. The ship routes basically have to follow the planet orbits.



Ah, but if they couldn't get help by radio, then they couldn't get help at all, and so much of the rest of the episode makes no sense. The shuttles would be more likely to get help by staying put than they would by going out. It's not like they could possibly get in range to be found by a ship if they're not already in range to be rescued by someone hearing the radio beacon - they're much more likely to be found if they stay by Serenity... at least that way they're a bigger profile, there's more chance (even if it's exceedingly slim) of being able to jury-rig a temporary solution, etc.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005 4:07 PM

CITIZEN


Radio signals decay. They never said the signal would take to long to reach anyone, they said the signal couldn't reach anyone. Diverting the signal to the navsats would boost it, giving them more of a chance to be heard. It's nothing to do with the length of time it takes the signal to reach anyone.

Now it's true that we can communicate with probes out as far as Jupiter, but they're signals are VERY weak. They also have those HUGE antenna arrays to pick up these signals, which neither Serenity nor most other ships we see, have. It's not unreasonable to assume that the signal would be too weak for anyone to pickup given how far away from the main shipping lanes they were supposed to be.



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Thursday, December 29, 2005 5:02 PM

CHRISTHECYNIC


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Now it's true that we can communicate with probes out as far as Jupiter, but they're signals are VERY weak. They also have those HUGE antenna arrays to pick up these signals, which neither Serenity nor most other ships we see, have.


Damn you and you logic, you aren't allowed to use logic, logic sucks.

Everyone on the board knows that signals decay and you need an obnoxious dish to receive a signal from somewhere as close as an orbiting TV satellite, but no one wants to admit that in the future it might be possible that a signal could decay.

I mean this is the future man.

Every signal sent in Firefly comes in 5x5 no matter how far away the sender is or how cheap their transmitter. The only possible way for someone to be out of range is if their signal couldn't get to someone in time, signal decay is impossible.

At least that's what I've heard. I call it bullshit but since Out of Gas first came out people have been convinced that there is no such thing as signal decay and the only possible explanation was that they used FTL travel to get so far away a radio signal could not get anywhere in time.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005 5:10 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by christhecynic:
Damn you and you logic, you aren't allowed to use logic, logic sucks.


I... I, I was weak.



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Thursday, December 29, 2005 6:08 PM

STARPILOTGRAINGER


Quote:

Originally posted by christhecynic:
Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Now it's true that we can communicate with probes out as far as Jupiter, but they're signals are VERY weak. They also have those HUGE antenna arrays to pick up these signals, which neither Serenity nor most other ships we see, have.


Damn you and you logic, you aren't allowed to use logic, logic sucks.

Everyone on the board knows that signals decay and you need an obnoxious dish to receive a signal from somewhere as close as an orbiting TV satellite, but no one wants to admit that in the future it might be possible that a signal could decay.

I mean this is the future man.

Every signal sent in Firefly comes in 5x5 no matter how far away the sender is or how cheap their transmitter. The only possible way for someone to be out of range is if their signal couldn't get to someone in time, signal decay is impossible.

At least that's what I've heard. I call it bullshit but since Out of Gas first came out people have been convinced that there is no such thing as signal decay and the only possible explanation was that they used FTL travel to get so far away a radio signal could not get anywhere in time.



I admit that while I know signals decay, my impression was that within a planetary system it wouldn't decay enough to be relevant, and that yes, when space travel is so widespread and, presumably, communications so standard that Serenity never seems to have trouble getting ahold of anybody at any other time, that in the future they have really powerful transmitters just in case that should get around that problem, except perhaps in the extremely unlikely coincidence that it happened at a time that they were at the other side of the sun from everyone else.

Specifically, I have a bit of trouble believing that a ship could get anywhere in a reasonable length of time that a signal could not. Maybe my perceptions of the physics of the thing are wrong, though, I admit I'm no expert - but then Joss admits to throwing science and logic out the window and people seem to bend over backwards to explain how he's really right after all. ;)

Star Pilot Grainger
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Friday, December 30, 2005 2:42 AM

CITIZEN


StarPilotGrainger:
That's kind of the point, signals decay very quickly. I can't pick up radio one from my car if I drive too far away from London.

We need huge banks of transmitters/receivers larger than Serenity herself to pick up signals coming from probes, and the receivers/transmitters on those probes are far larger than anything we see on Serenity. And the size of the dish does matter, it's not just a question of more powerful futur-terrific communications tech.

It's not unreasonable to assume that the space-lanes have booster 'ComSats' that act as relay stations, for the similar reasons there's NavSats (which I assume are navigational buoys).

The Alliance military vessels likely have powerful communications array's which don't require a booster to send a signal anywhere in the system, the same way they probably have advanced navigational equipment that doesn't need NavSats, but Serenity, being a cheap civilian utilitarian vessel doesn't. She's not designed to travel outside of space lanes away from comsats/navsats, so has cheaper simpler less powerful communications equipment.

Think about the difference between a modern ocean going military vessel and a small fishing boat. The military vessel can communicate with home port even when it's thousands of miles away. The small fishing vessel will be out of communications range fairly quickly since it isn't designed to travel far from the shore.

Throwing science and logic out of the window doesn't necessarily mean one is going to be wrong. Star Trek tries hard to keep things scientific and fails spectacularly in every episode. FireFly, by comparison (although admittedly 14 episodes pales in comparison to ST's run) is far more internally and externally consistent, despite not giving a damn about the science.

Links that may interest:
http://dmoz.org/Science/Astronomy/Solar_System/
http://www.spaceref.com/
A page about the likelihood of Earth-like planets.
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=13178



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Friday, December 30, 2005 5:05 PM

ROCKETJOCK


Quote:

Originally posted by FraserBW:

Well I think we have to assume that faster than light communications do not exsist in the Joss-verse...



Sorry, but demonstratably FTL comm does exist in the 'Verse. Following the slaughter on Haven, the Operative talks to Mal in real time, without a noticable time lag and without knowing his location. If they were communicating along the EM band, the Operative would have to be damn close to Mal. The exact time lag would give him distance, and simple triangulation would nail down position. QED.

(Incidentally, there's no contradiction between STL drive systems and FTL communications; we can communicate at the speed of light right now, and have for more than a century, but we still can't teleport matter.)

We can assume that FTL comm requires a working high-output power source, so with ship's power knocked out in Out of Gas they would have been off-line. Being used to relying on FTL comm, any radio or laser-based comm gear on Serenity would probably be strictly short-range.

Poor planning and design, I admit, but so is running all your ship's major systems through a single power source with inadequate back-up. As stupid as driving without insurance--which is something tens of thousands of people do every day because they don't have enough money for insurance. Sometimes you just can't afford to be smart.

Oh, and by the by, while the RPG is admittedly not cannon, the drive system(s) described there do fit the observed technology and travel times of the TV show and movie, so until something better (or at least more cannonical) comes along, I'm sticking with it.

(Of course, the RPG also says communications in the 'Verse are limited to lightspeed. Sigh. Guess nothin's perfect...)

"To me, Faster Than Light makes about as much sense as Slower Than Dark!" -- John Byrne

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Friday, December 30, 2005 5:18 PM

ROCKETJOCK


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:

It should be 'relatively' easy to find the Verse... as we live on Earth That Was. Pick a maximum number of light years they could have travelled- that's the center of a sphere centered on us. Even assuming 200 light years, there just aren't that many stars nearby.



The problem with this solution is that we don't have either the top range or top speed of the ships involved. Specifically, we don't know how close the fleet was to "C" during the voyage. Joss says they traveled for a generation--call that fifty years; at relativistic speeds, fifty years of ship time could easily equal millennia for an outside observer. That could place the 'Verse thousands of light-years beyond Sol System.

(Granted, the show and movie both use Christian Era calender dates that imply we're no more than 500 years in the future, but on a one-way voyage I imagine the emmigrants didn't care what year it was back on Earth-That-Was, and only counted their own experienced time as "real".)

"She's tore up plenty. But she'll fly true." -- Zoë Washburn

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Friday, December 30, 2005 6:34 PM

STARPILOTGRAINGER


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
StarPilotGrainger:
That's kind of the point, signals decay very quickly. I can't pick up radio one from my car if I drive too far away from London.

We need huge banks of transmitters/receivers larger than Serenity herself to pick up signals coming from probes, and the receivers/transmitters on those probes are far larger than anything we see on Serenity. And the size of the dish does matter, it's not just a question of more powerful futur-terrific communications tech.



Okay, perhaps I was wrong about that - as I said, I'm no expert. I thought Earthbound radio ranges tended to have more to do with the curvature of the Earth and atmospheric conditions you obviously wouldn't find in space, I had no idea that, in space, they dropped off so quickly, but I'll take your word for it.

Though I still think on the whole a multi-star system verse with slow FTL works much better than a single solar system based on what we've been presented.



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Friday, December 30, 2005 6:52 PM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Again, inverse square law. The power of a signal is spread over the wave front which propagates in all directions. This means that doubling the distance from the transmitter reduces the intensity to a quarter. Line of sight and atmospheric attenuation also reduce or restrict propagation or intensity, but even in space radio signals will decay.

-------------
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Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:28 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by StarPilotGrainger:
Okay, perhaps I was wrong about that - as I said, I'm no expert. I thought Earthbound radio ranges tended to have more to do with the curvature of the Earth and atmospheric conditions you obviously wouldn't find in space, I had no idea that, in space, they dropped off so quickly, but I'll take your word for it.


Your right it is somewhat to do with the Earths curvature but there's also signal decay, Atmospheric effects also enhance this signal decay. Hell during winter I can't get a signal on my Wireless network in the adjacent room. In summer it's fine.

As Finn said it's the Inverse Square Law in space, which crops up a lot...

There's also a lot of EM interference within a solar system, that would degrade the signal.

Quote:

Originally posted by RocketJock:
Sorry, but demonstratably FTL comm does exist in the 'Verse. Following the slaughter on Haven, the Operative talks to Mal in real time, without a noticable time lag and without knowing his location. If they were communicating along the EM band, the Operative would have to be damn close to Mal. The exact time lag would give him distance, and simple triangulation would nail down position. QED.


That doesn't necessarrilly follow. You and I could have a realtime conversation right now without either of us knowing where the other was. I'd always assumed most communication was done over the Cortex, which would mean Mal would send a signal to the nearest repeater station, and then pass that along the line to the Operative. You can be 100,000 miles away from each other without noticing a real lag in communications. Assuming some wiggle room to allow the fact that Joss couldn't show a delay in that conversation and keep the audience interest, the Operative could of been well out of 'sensor' range.



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Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:47 AM

AAHHAAA


On the comm tech, again with artificial gravity you can create gravity waves- which would propagate instantly, no C involved.

A inertialess drive would be about the only way to move those city shaped Alliance cruisers too. No way to evenly apply thrust to those.

Factoid- it took the fans a decade to get Spock & Kirk & all back on the screen.
The 1966-9 series was nominated for 4 Emmys, with another 5 wins & 6 nominations. (Fans at the time also felt the show was suppressed.)
The 1979 movie was nominated for 3 Oscars and got another 2 wins & 15 nominations.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:51 AM

CITIZEN


Actually there's some belief that Gravity propogates at c. We can't test this because we have no way of changing local gravity.

We can discount an inertialess drive for the Alliance Cruiser too, since we plainly see thoes huge Newtonian engines sticking out the backend.



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Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:07 AM

AAHHAAA


Cit- Actually Niven covered all this in Protector in some detail. And gravity doesn't propagate, its a change in spacetime curvature. As far as the inertialess drive, having no inertia (lowering the apparent mass) doesn't provide any thrust by itself. You still need to push somehow. The shear stress involved in turning such a structure in any reasonable time would be impossible without antigrav, which we know they have.
Occam's Razor- one simple answer for all the observetd phenomena...

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:37 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Actually Niven covered all this in Protector in some detail.


Do you mean Larry Niven's Protector book? I haven't read it but as far as I know it's not a 'hard science' book. I was referring to current Theoretical Physics discussions, the topic of the speed of Gravity is far from dead.

Yes Gravity under Relativity is a warping of spacetime. The contention is what causes this warping, now there's now limit on how fast a warp in spacetime can travel, because it never breaks the local limit of c, thus never breaking Special Relativity (General Relativity allows objects to move between two points at a velocity greater than c). However we don't know what causes this warping, it could very well be a special particle or wave, which would be limited to c within the local frame, in order to not break Special Relativity.

The only way to know for sure, experimentally, would be to create a gravity well and measure the time it takes for distant objects within the effect radius to react. Whether the reaction is instantaneous or occurs with a delay consistent with c.

My understanding of the Inertialess drive was that you meant drives such as Gravity Drives, or to a lesser extent the alcubierre warp. Gravity Drives function by extending a gravity field beyond the ship in it's direction of travel. the Alcubierre warp functions by warping spacetime to form a bubble that moves, leaving the craft and it's local spacetime standing still, while conceptually the universe moves around the craft.

Beyond that, yeah, all the ships of the verse have at least some sort of inertial dampening technology, possibly in the form of manipulatable gravity fields, otherwise River and the rest of the crew really would have 'melted' into Serenity when Wash executed that crazy Ivan.



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Saturday, December 31, 2005 11:38 AM

AAHHAAA


Cit- Niven was considered THE hard SF guy for a while... PROTECTOR started with the premise that humans are an immature form of an advanced creature.
The story continued in the RINGWORLD series, you might enjoy it!:]
Later, he & Jerry Pournelle wrote 'The Mote in God's Eye', considered by many to contain the best developed alien race ever written.

anyway... gedankenexperiment:

If you can easily manipulate gravity, you can make miniature black holes (they don't last, but you can make'em). By banging mass into them, you could make gravity waves. Modulating the bangs, you get a gravity signal-carrier.

Would appreciate a link to what you've been reading- as I understood it last I looked, the change in curvature doesn't propagate, it just is, as a property of of the distant spacetime.

Then again, there's all that chaos underlying string theory...:]

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 12:38 PM

CHRISTHECYNIC


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Occam's Razor- one simple answer for all the observetd phenomena...


It was all a dream.

-

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the incorrect one.

For example I was once on a Robotics team, and there we made a robot (go figure) like any good robot it could go forward and back, turn, stack boxes, operate without an operator for short periods provided a preprogrammed function was selected, push several times its weight, and attach itself to a surface with industrial strength suction cups so nothing could move it. Such is the life of a robot.

Anyone observing this robot who believed in Occam’s Razor would immediately be forced to assume that it was a thinking being. All of the things it did could be perfectly explained by the Robot thinking, and (by the same argument that rules out an immaterial soul) one would reject (via the Razor) the absurd idea that somewhere, unknown and unseen, was a human operator.

It does not change the fact that there was a human operator. It is just that a human operator need not be introduced into the picture to explain the phenomenon, but one does need to be introduced to create the phenomenon.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 1:26 PM

CITIZEN


I haven't really come across Niven's work, I'll try and give it a look thanks.

But the reason I say gravity travels at the speed of light is because General Relativity actually suggests it.

I have however found this which maybe of interest. It describes an experiment to measure the speed of Gravity, and seems to rule out it being instantaneous. They actually calculate it based on Gravity lensing:
http://www.csa2.com/discoveryguides/gravity/overview.php



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Saturday, December 31, 2005 1:35 PM

AAHHAAA


Chris- don't quite get your point here... agreeing or disagreeing?:]

They clearly have artificial gravity tech- feet stay on the floor when the drive is off, they walk normally on Alliance cruisers, etc. Apparently little planetoids & moons can hold an atmo, too.

We're talking about a movie justification, like beaming up- not reality, just want the willing suspension of disbelief.

All I'm saying is one easy explanation could cover it all and simplify the storyline!

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 2:34 PM

FLETCH2


Niven isn't a "hard science" guy but he does pay more attention than most to the consequences of his writen environment. There was a short rider in the 2nd Ringworld book that explained some conceptual errors made in the first book that invalidated the Ringworld idea. Fixing those problems actually gave him a reason to write the second book.

The single solar system model doesn't work, because no matter how much you mess with the atmosphere of a moon you can't do anything if it doesnt receive enough solar energy. All exotic gas atmspheres can do is tinker with things like the greenhouse effect they can't manufacture energy that isn't there. A planet in Pluto's orbit will be dark and cold no matter what you do short of importing your own mini star.


Fact is that Joss doesn't write SciFi he writes people stories. We have scripts he authored with 1 solar system, we have others with multiple systems, we have instantaneous coms and we have delayed coms and the thing that makes the difference is what is needed for the story. If Joss needs the ship to run on exotic antimater one week and the next he tanks her up on water that's just the nature of the story he's telling. Reality is mutable to that tale not the other way around.

Only fanboys worry about making sense of this stuff. Relax.

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Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:05 PM

CITIZEN


AAHHAAA:
My explination of gravity in the 'verse (as well as a few other scientific technical problems) can be found here:
http://www.fireflyfans.net/thread.asp?b=2&t=16026#224033

Fletch2:
I believe a member by the name of KayleeRulesAll has done math that proves that the system in Firefly *could* exist. In other words 70+ planets and moons could exist within the habitable zone of our own system. Now assuming that the firefly star is larger and hotter, and that terraforming has extended the habitable zone further, there's actually a fair bit of room to play with.



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Sunday, January 1, 2006 4:56 AM

AAHHAAA


new year's greets, guys!

Fletch- I totally agree the storyline is the thing; and consistency is only important so the audience doesn't drop out of the story.
That just happened to me while viewing an excellent Dr.Who episode set during the London Blitz- they were using a reel-to-reel tape machine, which didn't exist then. Not a biggie, but suddenly I was thinking about wire recorders, not the story being told.

Disagree with your solar energy argument tho... Way back in the '50s 'Commando Cody' (TV series- flew a ship much like Flash Gordons) came up with a lo-tech answer- orbit mirrors in close to the star and 'aim' the super-intense light at your planet of choice. The inverse square law doesn't apply to a focused beam; the torch/flashlight is a good example. This of course would introduce its own complications- I still prefer the gravity lens, which we even know exists in nature.

cit- thanks for the links- as ol' Spock might say, fascinating!:]


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Sunday, January 1, 2006 6:04 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by Fletch2:
The single solar system model doesn't work, because no matter how much you mess with the atmosphere of a moon you can't do anything if it doesnt receive enough solar energy. All exotic gas atmspheres can do is tinker with things like the greenhouse effect they can't manufacture energy that isn't there. A planet in Pluto's orbit will be dark and cold no matter what you do short of importing your own mini star.

I actually share your skepticism, but it should be pointed out that planets can and do generate their own heat. This is particularly true of the moons of very dense gas giants. The Galilean moons of Jupiter all generate their won heat. One of them, Io, generates so much heat that its surface remains a scared by constant volcanism.

The Firefly universe assumes that there exists a single A, F or G type star with 20 or so gas giants orbiting relatively closely within the habitable zone and that there are some 70 earth sized moons, all of which are relatively stable.

Possible? Maybe. We must assume that gas giants can even form that close to a star, and that many gas giants could form that close together, and that the gravitation pressures caused by that many gas giants in relatively close orbit would be stable. . . . It is not just a matter of figuring out the orbits. I personally question the possibility and necessity.

Likely? Well, assuming the above, I’ll say this: it is possible that I could drop a box of scrabble and the blocks could fall in such a way as to form Hamlet's Soliloquy (“To be or not be…all my sins remmeber’d”) assuming enough bocks. What is the likelihood of that happening? I don’t know, probably pretty small, but it is really just a matter of how many times I do it, and there are a lot of stars out there. So the likelihood of Joss’ ‘verse is just dependent on the number of stars sampled, assuming it is possible to begin with (i.e. the volume of space in question, or the radius of maximum flight from the earth). We can assume that this is probably not large, relatively speaking. There probably is not enough single A, F, or G type stars within relatively close proximity to earth to make it very probable.

I do agree that the storyline is what is important, but I think plausibility is still very important. If your story is based on laughable premises, the storyline will get lost. There are movies out there that are comedic purely because of the seriousness with which the story intends to evoke purely implausible scenarios, particularly sci-fi and fantasy. Particularly when dealing with fantasy and science fiction, more so then with other types of fiction, the plausibility of the setting is also important to the story. I think Firefly works, and I don’t think people will be that upset about the number of moons, but no story is completely independent of the setting.

-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 6:12 AM

CITIZEN


The universe is infinite, so anything that is possible is probable



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Sunday, January 1, 2006 6:20 AM

FINN MAC CUMHAL


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
The universe is infinite, so anything that is possible is probable

There is an axiom of physics that says that anything not expressly forbidden by the laws of physics will eventually happen (unless the universe ends first.)

That however does not mean that it will happen during the breif blink of human existence.

-------------
Qui desiderat pacem praeparet bellum.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 6:41 AM

CHRISTHECYNIC


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Chris- don't quite get your point here...


I didn't actually have a point.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 8:56 AM

FLETCH2


Tape recorders were invented before WW2, though the one you are talking about looks like a Vortexion WVA studio model. If so it's probably ten years too early since the Ferrograph company didn't start making the tape deck used in the Vortexion until 1948.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 9:55 AM

FLETCH2


I think the 'Verse works because you are not encouraged to look at it too closely. Joss doesn't write SciFi, he doesn't know what's "right" or what's "wrong" he's just makes things up to satisfy the needs of his story. So some things, like what the ship uses for fuel and how they work are just glossed over. Other things like all the planets having a sun the same size, the same weather are due to the need to do stories with a "western" feel and about the kinds of locations they have. Other things, like gravity working when the main power is off is a filming constraint.

Had we been 2 series in with 50 episodes or so filmed I'm thinking this would have become a problem with those of us geeky enough to care. Joss did the Buffyverse where everything is done with "magic" and consequently everything is allowed. Writing SciFi requires more discipline, something I'm not sure Joss has, I'm pretty certain that if he had a great plot that only worked if Serenity can run on chopped liver he would use it and not worry if it contradicted everything else previously established.

A final thought. Twenty years ago Asimov leveled similar criticism on Space:1999 which like Firefly is really a fantasy series set in space. The science just doesn't work in either show but that shouldn't stop us from enjoying it.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 10:29 AM

RODWY


So we get from the movie 20 planets, but in the series they said there's 70 or so "earths." on these planets and moons. And ass you can see in some episodes you can see a planet in the sky above a moon with another moon in close orbit. So the alliance has all of the planets closer to the center while the rest get the outer planets. Which makes more sense because it takes days or weeks to get from moon to moon. But the firefly moves slower than the speed of light lets say 3,000 km/s it would still take like months to get from an inner planet to an outer planet.

---
Mal: Define Interesting
Wash: Oh god, We're all gonna die?

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 2:16 PM

CITIZEN


There's twenty planets, which means 50 or more moons of Gas giants and possibly the Earth-like planets.

In the DVD extras it's mentioned that Serenity uses a variation of a fusion rocket engine, so it seems reasonable that you can use data for those types of engines. They produce speeds of roughly 5 Million to 10 Million m/s (50,000 to 100,000 Km/s).

50,000km/s is about 0.16c (1/6th of the speed of light).



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Remember, the ice caps aren't melting, the water is being liberated.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 2:26 PM

AAHHAAA


Quote:

Originally posted by Fletch2:

if he had a great plot that only worked if Serenity can run on chopped liver he would use it
(snip... that shouldn't stop us from enjoying it.



Fletch-- totally agree; he'd just borrow Mr. Fusion from Back2Future and get on with it!:]

personally, I'd like to see this cast/set of personas together in anything Joss cared to do... (boy, am I in trouble) I could see them (in a Vancouver production) as a team of X-file2 investigators or as Sliders or (my favorite) a team of WWII secret agents operating in France- they'd work.

rather Serenity 2, tho

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 2:45 PM

CITIZEN


I find Firefly is far more consitent with real science on the whole than Star Trek.



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Sunday, January 1, 2006 3:46 PM

RODWY


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
There's twenty planets, which means 50 or more moons of Gas giants and possibly the Earth-like planets.

In the DVD extras it's mentioned that Serenity uses a variation of a fusion rocket engine, so it seems reasonable that you can use data for those types of engines. They produce speeds of roughly 5 Million to 10 Million m/s (500,000 to 100,000 Km/s).

50,000km/s is about 0.16c (1/6th of the speed of light).



More insane ramblings by the people who brought you beeeer milkshakes!
Remember, the ice caps aren't melting, the water is being liberated.


Oh I was just runnin off 1/10th the speed of light and it takes 3 and a half weeks roughly to get from jupiter to pluto at that speed. But 50,000 - 100,00 km/s makes perfect sense in the time it takes them to get from place to place.

---
Mal: Define Interesting
Wash: Oh god, Oh god, We're all gonna die?

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 3:57 PM

TENTHCREWMEMBER

Could you please just make it stranger? Stranger. Odder. Could be weirder. More bizarre. How about uncanny?


Quote:

Originally posted by christhecynic:
Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Occam's Razor- one simple answer for all the observetd phenomena...


It was all a dream.

-

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the incorrect one.

For example I was once on a Robotics team, and there we made a robot (go figure) like any good robot it could go forward and back, turn, stack boxes, operate without an operator for short periods provided a preprogrammed function was selected, push several times its weight, and attach itself to a surface with industrial strength suction cups so nothing could move it. Such is the life of a robot.

Anyone observing this robot who believed in Occam’s Razor would immediately be forced to assume that it was a thinking being. All of the things it did could be perfectly explained by the Robot thinking, and (by the same argument that rules out an immaterial soul) one would reject (via the Razor) the absurd idea that somewhere, unknown and unseen, was a human operator.

It does not change the fact that there was a human operator. It is just that a human operator need not be introduced into the picture to explain the phenomenon, but one does need to be introduced to create the phenomenon.



Best. Explaination. Ever.



BWAH!
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Sunday, January 1, 2006 5:28 PM

CHRISTHECYNIC


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
I find Firefly is far more consitent with real science on the whole than Star Trek.


As someone who was raised a Star Trek fan, grew up with Star Trek fans, is friends with Star Trek fans, still is a Star Trek fan, and has just been spoken to about creating an entire language in the "Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra" style, I can assure you that you're absolutely right.

In a very real sense Star Trek never was sci-fi, it was a fantasy where they called their magic, "science," but they never let the name limit them. Firefly, though not trying to bombard you with a, "This is science," feel definitely sticks a hell of a lot closer to science.

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 5:54 PM

FLETCH2


Star Trek originally wasn't about "science" it was "wagon train to the stars" or in short another Gosh Darn Space Western... :)

They tried to keep it consistant and what they had originally was at least considered possible within the science framework of the 1960's. Back then matter/antimatter was considered the most powerfull energy producing reaction and space warp MIGHT have been possible --- please Citizen, dont start talking about warp theories from the 1980's when talking about a 1960's show.

There were a few things that they did for filming convenience -- like firefly they have zero energy cost artifical gravity so they don't film people floating around when the juice goes off. The biggest fantasy element they added was the Transporter which on Rodenberry's instructions they never once explained because they realised it couldn't work, it was a way to let a cheap optical effect replace an expensive special effects shot of sending down a shuttle every week. It is the filming Macguffin that the big solar system is to Firefly, a convenience needed to tell stories.

The problem started with TNG because they got this fanboy need to try and explain how things worked all the time. Thus they devised "Heisenberg Compensators" to explain transporters "scientifically" rather than just not saying.

The irony here is that for all it's faults even Space:1999 was a harder SciFi show than Trek -- those big Eagle engines? Supposedly NERVA style nuclear motors and unlike both Trek and Firefly Alpha CAN loose gravity if thye loose power (though for filming reasons they TELL us they lost it rather than show it....)


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Sunday, January 1, 2006 6:48 PM

RODWY


yo fletch if you want warp theories, I'm your man, even though I'm only 15 I have done a lot of studying on the topic.

---
Mal: Define Interesting
Wash: Oh god, Oh god, We're all gonna die?

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Sunday, January 1, 2006 8:20 PM

ROCKETJOCK


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:

We can discount an inertialess drive for the Alliance Cruiser too, since we plainly see thoes huge Newtonian engines sticking out the backend.




The RPG refers to a reduced-inertia drive, not a Doc Smith style inertialess drive; you'd still need some kind of reaction drive to give the ship its initial impetus, and since most of your ineria-reduced velocity vanishes when you shut the drive off, you'd have to burn some fuel to match orbital velocities; no use arriving at Whitefall and turning off the drive only to find you're going 100,000 KPH in the wrong direction...

"Captain, I dinna' think the doubletalk can stand the strain..." -- James Doohan

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Monday, January 2, 2006 3:48 AM

CITIZEN


My understanding of the term inertialess drive was that it describes a drive system that doesn't operate on Newtons 3 laws of conservation. Which is what I was getting at.



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Monday, January 2, 2006 4:22 AM

AAHHAAA


Quote:

Originally posted by TenthCrewMember:
Quote:

Originally posted by christhecynic:
Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Occam's Razor- one simple answer for all the observetd phenomena...


It was all a dream.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the incorrect one.

For example I was once on a Robotics team, and there we made a robot (go figure) like any good robot it could go forward and back, turn, stack boxes, operate without an operator for short periods provided a preprogrammed function was selected, push several times its weight, and attach itself to a surface with industrial strength suction cups so nothing could move it. Such is the life of a robot.

Anyone observing this robot who believed in Occam’s Razor would immediately be forced to assume that it was a thinking being. All of the things it did could be perfectly explained by the Robot thinking, and (by the same argument that rules out an immaterial soul) one would reject (via the Razor) the absurd idea that somewhere, unknown and unseen, was a human operator.

It does not change the fact that there was a human operator. It is just that a human operator need not be introduced into the picture to explain the phenomenon, but one does need to be introduced to create the phenomenon.



Best. Explaination. Ever.



So... both you guys are in the Intelligent Design camp? This is exactly their argument.

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Monday, January 2, 2006 2:33 PM

TENTHCREWMEMBER

Could you please just make it stranger? Stranger. Odder. Could be weirder. More bizarre. How about uncanny?


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
Quote:

Originally posted by TenthCrewMember:

Best. Explaination. Ever.



So... both you guys are in the Intelligent Design camp? This is exactly their argument.



Now don't go putting words into my mouth, I may just spit them out on you. Merely an observation that it was a great explaination for the point of view, is all.

To be honest, I neither agree nor do I disagree with ID, but that is a blackhole of another color.



BWAH!
TCM

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Monday, January 2, 2006 3:45 PM

BROWNCOATER


Fletch2 kind of summed it up for me. I enjoyed the original Star Trek, but I rapidly got tired of TNG. Everything in the ST world to me was way too neat and tidy. Handheld machines that heal broken bones by just holding the device over them.
Crime eliminated, disease eliminated.
Babylon 5 was the first one I remember where man's problems (unemployment, addiction, illness, etc) followed them into space. B5 was much better to me than any of the subsequent ST programs. I'd rate B5 as my 2nd favorite space opera behind Firefly.
I watched the first couple of episodes of ST Voyager and never went back to it. Same with Enterprise, although I thought it was the 2nd best one behind the original.
Firefly also depicts a future where our problems will follow us into space. I don't think our world will ever eliminate these types of problems, no matter how we try.
But I'm digressing from the topic, which is the Firefly universe. I'm guessing if there are more tales, a decent portion of the Reavers will have survived the battle with the Alliance in the film.


I don't think of myself as a lion....
Does that seem right to you?

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Monday, January 2, 2006 5:23 PM

CHRISTHECYNIC


Quote:

Originally posted by aahhaaa:
So... both you guys are in the Intelligent Design camp? This is exactly their argument.


Hell no, no god as incompetent as the Intelligent Designers claim is worthy of recognition.

I'm not arguing for anything there. I certainly don't side with Intelligent Design, if there is a god I have a feeling he she it (or they) is far more intellegent than that.

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Monday, January 2, 2006 7:20 PM

AAHHAAA


going back to the robot thing, you guys might be interested in the AI here:
http://www.alicebot.org/
(they offer a free download that you can program too)

Playing with it, after a few responses, you start to get a sense and then a certainty you are dealing with something that is programmed. Then you start asking it 'trick' questions to expose its nature.

Something similar with the robot example & Occam's Razor- simplest answer that covers ALL the observed phenomena. Give the observers a little more time, and they will notice repetitive behavior or something that will tip them off. (But then, I had this girlfriend; talk about compulsive behavior...hmmm)

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Saturday, January 7, 2006 10:58 PM

CREVANREAVER


By the way, here is Joss' official description of the Verse's history from The Official Visual Companion.

A Brief History of the Universe
circa 2507 A.D.


by Joss Whedon

"Earth-That-Was couldn't handle the growing population and resource needs of humankind. Amazingly enough, instead of wiping itself out, the human race rose to the challenge of finding a new home for the species. A nearby star was located, home to dozens of planets and hundreds of moons, almost all of which had enough mass and solidity to be templates for new earths. Through giant atmosphere processing plants, terraforming technologies, gravity regulation and the introduction of every known form of Earthlife, each planet became its own little (or in some cases, huge) Earth. Every person willing and able to leave the Earth migrated to the new system. An entire generation never even saw the outside of a spaceship, the journey took so long. But the planets were ready for habitation (despite the odd quirk of nature or miscalculation on a few) and civilization as we knew it began to rebuild. The work started on the two largest, most central planets, SIHNON and LONDINIUM.

"On Earth-That-Was, the two ruling powers were once known as America and China. Though their empires remained separate, the two powers worked together throughout the colonization process, their cultures - as so many had - melding at many levels. Londinium, called so after the Roman name for England's capital (a country long before annexed by America in a somewhat ironic reversal), represented what was once the American Empire. Sinon ('SEE-non,' a bastardization of Sino, our word for 'Chinese') was the new China, basically. These two powers, still working in harmony, grew at once into the most populous and advanced civilizations in the new galaxy.

"'Advanced' meant just that: these were enlightened cultures, with respect for all non-aggressive religious beliefs (though the main religion on both was Buddhism). Literacy levels were at 94%. Average lifespan was 120. Public Service was not law - it was simply an ingrained part of the people's ethos. And pot was totally legal (though I probably won't stress that). (In fact, forget I said it.) The point is, certain social mores had evolved (whether forwards or backwards is a matter of opinion) beyond our modern conceptions. As, for example, sex. Prostitution as we understand it had long since been abolished by the legalization and strict federal regulation of the sex trade. 'Companion' houses were set up throughout the central planets. No house could ever be run by a man. No Companion could ever be coerced into accepting a client. Companions trained in all the arts, extremely well schooled. They lived not unlike Nuns, worked not unlike Geishas, and often rose to political or social prominence when they retired.

"Such was life on the central planets: among them Sihnon, Londinium, and Osiris (where Simon and River Tam grew up). On the outer planets, things were a mite different.

"The thing is, we had enough worlds to go around, but not enough resources. And people didn't exactly stop making babies. The outer planets, the worlds and moons that hadn't been chosen to house the new civilization - they were the destination for the poorer, more extreme, the pioneers. They traveled out to the nearest planet someone hadn't claimed yet and started turning their rockets into roofs. Building off whatever the land had been shaped to provide them with. Some of these people were brought near to savagery by the conditions they encountered. Some were just hard-working, independent folk who didn't want their lives mapped out for them before they'd lived them. Didn't want convenience. Some were orthodox in their beliefs to the point where they were not comfortable among non-believers, and wanted whole worlds where they would not be slowly homogenized into society. And some had reason to avoid the law.

"There were troubles. There were famines, there were wars - the human race didn't get better or smarter just 'cause they had made scientific leaps. Things were definitely more peaceful among the Central Planets, but that peace was bought at a price. Nothing resembling totalitarianism, but a certain regulation of existence that would not sit well with some. And even among these planets, conflicts over resources, trade, and political influence strained the civil relations of sister nations. In an effort to unite and quell this conflict, the Central Planets formed the ALLIANCE, a governing structure that unified them all under one governing body, the PARLIAMENT. The few members represented each planet, and worked in genuine harmony to fulfil each planet's various needs, economically and politically. In harmony, and very often, in secrecy.

"For we are nothing more than humans, however high we reach. The Parliament ruled over people with fairness and intelligence, but also with a strong army and a wary eye toward any insurrection. The MILITARY COUNCIL worked under the Parliament to deliver swift, effective control of any real unrest among them or their neighbors. And even beyond the knowledge of the Military council were other bodies, secret bodies ... human experimentation. Spies. Assassins. Schemes, secret up to the highest level, to get people to behave. To improve.

"The real trouble started when the Alliance started to look beyond its borders to the worlds around them. Partially out of a desire to see life improved there (and it WAS often unnecessarily barbaric), to bring all the planets into the fold of enlightenment, and partially out of a simple imperialistic wish for control and need for resources off-limits to them, the Parliament - and the Allied planets as a whole - decided that EVERY planet should become part of their program. Should be an Alliance planet, whether they wanted to or not.

"The War for Unification was the most devastating in human history. Outer planets such as Hera (where the battle of Serenity was fought), Persephone, and Shadow mustered forces - more than half volunteers - to stop what they felt to be nothing more than imperialist hegemony. For almost five years the war tore into the planets between the central ones and the rim worlds (fighting never reached such pissant moons as Whitefall or Beaumonde, nor did it touch Sihnon and Londinium, except in the odd protest or terrorist act). The forces of the Alliance had the technology and the weapons to overcome almost any foe. But they never expected the kind of resistance the other planets could provide. They did not expect so many men and women to still consider freedom worth dying for.

"Malcolm Reynolds was on Shadow, living on a cattle ranch his mother ran, when he joined up. He was a smart kid but green. He joined out of belief and nothing more. Five years gone found his homeworld destroyed, his army beaten down, and every shred of belief ripped out of him. He had made Sergeant by then, of the 57th Overlanders. Would have gone higher if he had ever kept a single opinion to himself. But he wasn't in the war to get a title. He was there to fight, and in the Battle of Serenity, waged for seven gruelling weeks on Hera, he fought like nobody else. Some say the valley was the bridge between the worlds, and that when it fell the Independents fell with it. Surely Mal believed it, for he and his held the valley for a good two weeks AFTER the Independent High Command had already surrendered.

"When it was all done, there was some talk of holding the 'Browncoats' such as Mal who had held Serenity Valley as war criminals, since the war had officially ended. They were held in camps for a short time, but the Alliance considered it an important gesture to free them. The stain of criminality never left those few thousand - but in some quieter circles, the legend of their tenacity made them heroes."

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Saturday, January 7, 2006 11:38 PM

CREVANREAVER


Here is my own version of the first two paragraphs (broken into four paragraphs). Scientifically it makes more sense, and gives more detail to the terraforming process.

A Brief History of the Universe
circa 2517 A.D.


After a serious of devastating industrial accidents, the ecologically damaged Earth-That-Was couldn't handle the growing population and resource needs of humankind. Amazingly enough, instead of wiping itself out, the human race rose to the challenge of finding a new home for the species. An astronomic rarity was located: a stable multiple star system. Composed of three G2-class stars, this trinary system included four Earth-like planets orbiting each star and dozens of Mars-like planets along with several gas giants around each star, each with at least three dozen moons. All the Mars-like planets and almost all of the moons had enough mass and solidity to be templates for new Earths. Through giant atmosphere processing plants, terraforming technologies, a network of gravity-regulation satellites and the introduction of every known form of Earth life, each planet and moon could become its own little (or in some cases, huge) Earth.

Every person willing and able to leave the Earth migrated to the new system. An entire generation never even saw the outside of a spaceship, the journey took so long. But these new worlds were ready for habitation (despite the odd quirk of nature or miscalculation on a few) and civilization as we knew it began to rebuild.

Terraforming of the dozens of planets and hundreds of moons in the trinary system involved employing a special greenhouse gas that traps the heat in a planet or moon's atmosphere making the place warm enough to sustain life even at far distances from a star. That was combined with the gravity-regulation satellites, genetically engineered plants and algae, soil, and water, plus the giant atmosphere processing plants along with gigantic orbital mirrors for extra heat and light. The orbital mirrors were used to focus light on each moon or planet, thus little problem with sunlight and distance. While terraforming made those planets and moons outside of the natural habitable zone very similar to Earth, they would never be as lush or comfortable as the so-called "central planets" on account of being so far away from the suns.

The work of terraforming had started on the two largest, most central planets, Sihnon and Londinium. On Earth-That-Was, the two ruling powers were once known as America and China. Though their empires remained separate, the two powers worked together throughout the colonization process, their cultures - as so many had - melding at many levels. Londinium, called so after the Roman name for England's capital (a country long before annexed by America in a somewhat ironic reversal), represented what was once the American Empire. Sinon ('SEE-non,' a bastardization of Sino, our word for 'Chinese') was the new China, basically. These two powers, still working in harmony, grew at once into the most populous and advanced societies in the new civilization.

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Sunday, January 8, 2006 8:03 AM

SKYWALKEN


Quote:

Originally posted by CrevanReaver:
Scientifically it makes more sense, and gives more detail to the terraforming process.



It certainly does. Well done CrevanReaver. As much as I respect Joss, I just wish he had done a little research to explain the Fireflyverse.


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Sunday, March 5, 2006 3:16 PM

GUNTERMARX


In the case of Jupiters inner moons, especially Io and Europa, their heat is largely a product of the proximity to a massive gas giant. Jupiter exerts enormous tidal currents on the surface and core of these moons. In Europas case it causes the seas to surge and ice to break and reform. On Io it bends and buckles the surface and stimulates geothermal activity.

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Monday, March 6, 2006 7:27 AM

KIZYR


Quote:

Originally posted by guntermarx:
In the case of Jupiters inner moons, especially Io and Europa, their heat is largely a product of the proximity to a massive gas giant. Jupiter exerts enormous tidal currents on the surface and core of these moons. In Europas case it causes the seas to surge and ice to break and reform. On Io it bends and buckles the surface and stimulates geothermal activity.



I'm a complete novice when it comes to astronomy, but I find this real interesting.

Is the heat generated that way pretty stable? Or can the temperatures vary widely, maybe due to a variable gravitational pull that Jupiter has on its moons? Just curious. KF



~KF

Lord, I'm walking your way. Let me in, for my feet are sore, my clothes are ragged.
Look in my eyes, Lord, and my sins will play out on them as on a screen. Read them all.
Forgive what you can and send me on my path. I will walk on until you bid me rest.

~Haven Prayer

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