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"Interesting things to do with wormholes..." Topic

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481 hits since 18 Mar 2017
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Daricles18 Mar 2017 9:35 p.m. PST

I've been musing about a background setting for a new game. I started out by making a few simple decisions about what I wanted to do and then started thinking about what kinds of technologies and social constructs would lead to the type of setting I wanted. One of the things that came to mind during this exercise was using wormhole technology a little differently.

Let's start with a few arbitrary assumptions about wormholes:

1. Stable wormholes can only form in close proximity to very large gravitational wells like black holes and stellar masses.

2. Physical matter cannot readily pass through a wormhole, but energy can.

3. Extremely small, rapidly moving particles can pass through a wormhole. Think interstellar dust or particles fired from an accelerator.

4. Once formed, a wormhole opening can be magnetically confined and moved away from the gravitational well and remain stable as long as the other end remains near a large gravitational well.

5. Travel through a wormhole is uni-directional from the end that formed near the smaller gravitational well to the end formed near the larger gravitational well.

The scenario I envision is that scientists can form wormholes near the sun that connect to black holes throughout our galaxy. It is theorized that it is possible to form wormholes between two stellar masses, but we haven't been able to do it for some unknown reason. We can capture the opening on our end and move it around, but anything passing through gets dumped into the black hole on the other end. The black hole's gravitational field doesn't propagate through the wormhole and draw stuff in.

I was originally trying to come up with a pseudo scientific way to heat sink torch ship drives and safely dispose of the insane amounts of lethal radiation they would produce.

With the assumptions listed above, I thought it might be possible to use wormholes to do useful things like dump waste heat and radiation into a black hole or use them to protect your ship from dust collisions or particle beam weapons even though ships couldn't travel through them directly.

I am interested in hearing you thoughts about how this might work, or why it wouldn't work.

What other sorts of useful things could be done with such wormholes?

Could these types of wormholes be weaponized in some way?

Can you think of any unintended consequences that would develop from the existence of such wormholes?

Jericho Smith18 Mar 2017 10:19 p.m. PST

Assuming "something" connects each end of the wormhole, and one end is moving around (attached to the ship" what happens if you cross the streams?
Or drag the "stream" through a planet?

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP18 Mar 2017 10:22 p.m. PST

I'm confused by 2 and 5 above, plus your later statements saying travel is uni-directional, but then stating ships can't travel through them.

All can't be true, unless your talking travel by a long-range transporter, better than the Enterprise used in Star Trek.

wminsing19 Mar 2017 6:15 a.m. PST

Interesting concept, though I see some inconsistencies in your description. If high-moving particles can pass through the wormhole, including interstellar dust, this means it should be possible to induce matter to travel through the gate by accelerating the gate to a sufficient velocity, since only relative velocity would matter. I'm not sure what the long-term implications of that are, though I suppose that's the weaponized wormhole angle; shoot a wormhole gate at the target with sufficiently high velocity and horrible stuff happens. More of a strategic terror weapon than a tactical one.

Overall as a way for a ship to manage waste heat and use as a shield it makes some sense, I like the concept as it is offbeat and interesting, though I have no idea on the plausibility of the idea.

One question I'd have is since the wormhole gate is one way, how do the scientists actually KNOW that the target mass is what they are assuming? Is is possible the wormhole 'exit end' is actually somewhere (some when?) else entirely? Possible story implications.


Daricles19 Mar 2017 1:30 p.m. PST

Jericho, with a wormhole 'nothing' connects the two 'ends' of the wormhole. To oversimplify things, the explanation is that two normally nonadjacent places in space become adjacent through a wormhole.

For example: To go from your front yard to your back yard you would normally have to enter your house through the front door, walk through your house and then exit the back door or take an even longer route and walk around your house. If your front door were a wormhole opening and your back door were a wormhole opening on the other end then you could step into your front door and instantly exit your back door without traversing the house in between.

So, there are no streams to cross.

Daricles19 Mar 2017 1:45 p.m. PST

Mako, I'll try to explain better. The wormholes normally only pass energy (light, heat, radiation, etc) and not matter. However, very small highly accelerated particles no larger than say dust particles will also pass through. The wormhole also acts kind of like a one way valve only allowing things (energy and tiny particles that are dust sized or smaller) that can pass through to travel in one direction

Unless your ships are tiny, dust sized ships they can't travel through the wormhole.

Wormholes aren't trek transporters. Wormholes directly connect normally distant points in space. They don't dematerialize things, transmit them through normal space as energy and then rematerialize them at the end of the transmission like a transporter does.

Daricles19 Mar 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

Wminsing, I agree. Relative velocity is all that matters.

My background idea assumes that the scientists are trying to develop wormholes that ships could travel through, but all they have been able to accomplish after decades of research is to create wormholes with the limitations I listed.

Why? The real answer is because I need those specific limitations In order for my background to make sense. I haven't tried to figure out an in-background rationale for the limitations yet. Maybe the energy requirements increase exponentially with the amount of mass entering the wormhole and macroscpic masses cause it to collapse. I can technobabble that part later.

As for how the scientists know where the wormhole openings are, I haven't figured that part out yet either. I'm figuring out how I want the mechanics to work first. I'll figure out the how and why parts later.

Let's assume for now that the scientists came up with a theory that if they were close enough to a large enough gravity well they could (somehow) target a distant enormous gravity well and open a unidirectional wormhole between the two gravity wells.

When they tested their theory they were able to target distant black holes and open a wormhole and send energy through easily. With difficulty, they can send accelerated particles through and, even though they theorize macroscopic matter should be able to pass through they can't get that to work for some yet to be chosen reason. (Perhaps energy requirements).

The scientists also theorize that they should be able to open wormholes between two stellar masses, but for some reason they don't understand yet it only works when they target a black hole. (The real reason is that I want torch drives and not wormholes to be used for travel).

So, the scientists aren't positive they are connecting to a blackhole, but that's what they were trying to do and the results they get fit their theory pretty well. They might be wrong and are instead dumping energy into sub space or another dimension or something, but they don't think so. It wouldn't matter for my background if they were, other than they might give up trying to further develop wormhole technology for travel if they knew they weren't connecting to another point in our universe.

I also don't want weaponized wormholes, but am concerned that I'm overlooking something that would allow them to be used that way given the assumptions I've made.

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 3:02 p.m. PST

What if the "wormholes" don't go all the way through, so are a dead end?

Daricles19 Mar 2017 3:24 p.m. PST

Mako, there really isn't a "through". It's more of a scientifically semi-plausible, possibly permitted by quantum mechanics means of "teleporting" from one place to another instantaneously.

Personal logo piper909 Supporting Member of TMP19 Mar 2017 3:35 p.m. PST

Throw Justin Bieber into it?

Someone had to say it.

Daricles19 Mar 2017 4:02 p.m. PST

Well, obviously, that will be the first thing the scientists do as soon as they figure out how to send macroscopic matter through. Just in case that doesn't pan out another entire team is working on a project to shrink Bieber down to dust particle size so he can be sent through that way.

Mako11 Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2017 4:18 a.m. PST

Okay, well, what if it opens, and then just decides to close up while you are inside?

I suspect things could get rather dire, if that were to happen.

wminsing20 Mar 2017 10:50 a.m. PST

In this case it would probably result in whatever was mid-transit to be bisected neatly in half.


wminsing20 Mar 2017 11:52 a.m. PST

Which on further reflection might split an atom and cause a nuclear explosion?


Daricles20 Mar 2017 11:56 a.m. PST

That would be unfortunate.

Personal logo War Panda Supporting Member of TMP20 Mar 2017 9:05 p.m. PST

Throw Justin Bieber into it?

Piper, Piper, that's not the answer man…can't be sure that he won't come back…

Now if we relook at your idea as a means of removing a body it begins to make sense…

PaddySinclair22 Mar 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

By the description of these wormholes, then they are incredibly easily weaponised.

If insufficiently energetic matter doesn't pass through the event horizon then it should bounce off of it. Simple kinetic damage.

Daricles22 Mar 2017 3:04 p.m. PST

PaddySinclair, okay, I guess you could use them for kinetic damage, but it would probably be more efficient and effective to use a weapon specifically built for that purpose.

Perhaps the wormhole simply doesn't interact with insufficiently energized matter at all.

Another option might be that matter that doesn't pass through is deflected so that it veers away rather than collides.

PaddySinclair22 Mar 2017 3:44 p.m. PST

It would be a very efficient weapon as your target does all the damage to itself as it impacts an immovable object. It would in effect use the kinetic energy of the impacting body (which depends on its mass…) to damage itself.

Of your two options, I'd go with the first.

The second would make it a deflector beam which would cause shearing damage on the object and you could use it to sweep the sky in front of you.

wminsing23 Mar 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

Yes have it completely 'transparent' to anything traveling too slow. This also could have the possible side effect (if you desired) of making only non-relativistic kinetic weapons viable for space combat. Hell, if you can make the wormholes small enough you might be able to create personal anti-energy weapon shields….


Daricles23 Mar 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

I like the idea of using wormholes to defend against particle beam and energy weapons and possibly high speed (relativistic) rail guns, but don't want them to become a wonder tech like transporters did in trek. So, definitely no personal defense wormholes. They will be limited to ship scale (maybe even capitol ship scale) systems only.

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