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posted Mar 19, 2013 00:11:58 by horacius.moreau
A few questions about the colonies.

1/ Approximately how many colonies, under the USFP? Are we looking at the 10s or the 1000s?
2/ How many of these are human colonies? (if not all, as per my initial understanding)
3/ Is there a communication system among all colonies? A galactic network of sorts?
4/ How well supported at the colonies? Are they funded, resupplied, supervised by the USFP (or another authority) or are they all independant?
5/ Does terraforming exist?
6/ Is there a universal language among the colonies?

In my head, I have an idea of how things work, but I want to know what the official take on this is.

A Journey Onwards - A fiction blog set in the Artemis universe. The story of a young man joining the TSN.

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24 replies
TreChipman said Mar 21, 2013 02:51:36
Personally, I've always hated the term ansible-- it sounds like something your great-grandfather would use to get better reception on his old RCA Radiola. Honestly, I like the idea of artificially created Quantum Entangled crystals. However, that presents another set of problems, as each set of entangled crystals have to be present on each potential origin and destination point, so while it's unlikely a ship will carry up-to-date crystals for every ship in the fleet, it is far more likely that stations/colonies would keep sets of other stations/colonies, thereby creating an FTL communications network from system to system and cementing their overall importance as strategic assets within the USFP.
[Last edited Mar 21, 2013 02:54:25]
I'm not a mad scientist. I'm an angry one. You'd be wise to fear the latter.

Visit Artemis Command!
Mike_Substelny said Mar 21, 2013 02:56:49
That's a great idea, Tre. From a storytelling point of view it's a useful game mechanic.

It leads to some interesting possible scenarios. A remote colony might have better communication with HQ than a nearby military fortress, if the fortresses QECs have been destroyed. Fascinating possibilities.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
TreChipman said Mar 21, 2013 15:29:37
The other fly in the ointment with QECs (nice term, BTW) is that they have to be created simultaneously in very close proximity (<1 meter). Normally, if you're setting up a network between Point A and Point C, you create their QECs at Point B and ship them off, but if something happens to the crystal (or the ship carrying it) on the way to Point A, the entire process has to be repeated again-- you can't just whip one up at Point A. Instead, you've got to recall the one in transit to Point C and start building a new set from scratch. Naturally, this makes the proposition of setting up a new network node a potentially costly proposition as well as a natural target for bad guys. Destroy one crystal, and the other is useless.

It is possible to create QECs for more than two origin/destinations at a time-- Core Worlds probably use one crystal to talk to 5-8 of it's 'siblings' at a time, but this is also a little risky. If something happens to one of the crystals at one of the stations, it's out of the network for good until you a) establish a QEC with one of the stations in the network and have that station relay information to everyone else or b) replace the entire set of crystals. Option A is cheaper, but much less efficient, and Option B (depending on the number of nodes involved) is potentially prohibitively expensive.

Moral of the story: don't drop the ball when you ship out your QECs.
I'm not a mad scientist. I'm an angry one. You'd be wise to fear the latter.

Visit Artemis Command!
Eric said Mar 21, 2013 23:45:19
+1 for the QEC idea. Love quantum entangling!
Captain said Mar 22, 2013 00:28:34
Sounds good by me. Adds some strategy to the game with protecting your comms lines. Will use this in the campaign I am developing. Cool idea tre.
To Mankind
And the hope that the war against folly may someday be won, after all

Isaac Asimov
horacius.moreau said Mar 22, 2013 12:47:20
At first, I wasn't to excited by the idea, but now the more I think about it.. The more the QEC show potential for great plots and missions.

It also makes for a good excuse for some of the more remote colonies to be out of the loop.
A Journey Onwards - A fiction blog set in the Artemis universe. The story of a young man joining the TSN.

ericksoninmotion said May 01, 2013 03:56:35
QEC being a cost factor. I can see Military and Governments using them, or even larger worlds. But there is a bottle neck in how much you can send and the mail must go through...

If you want a frontier feel, use the pony express / stage coach idea. Ships that haul messages from sector to sector. They could pop in send and receive message packets, then jump to the next system and repeat.

Ships could be on a mail haul, or need to bust through the lines to get word out sooner then later. Messages might be sent to a number of ships or sectors in an attempt to get to there target system, this redundancy could help if a single ship or sector relay was lost, but means a message could come to late. If the target was a ship the message might need to fan out even more. This would mean a lot of message data crossing it self, thus giving rise to dedicated message ships the pony express of the space age.

Even in a world of more advanced Gate Travel (that would send burst comm traffic on the opening of a worm hole), or droned mail ships that just travel to and from systems, messages could be back logged. Thus creating RP of communication issues, like cease fires that don't reach the outer regions keeping the battle going for weeks or months, maybe even restarting the war?
cdm014 said Jul 03, 2013 21:33:01
Just riffing on the fiction/story as well as technical capabilities of QECs:

I like the QEC idea. Abbreviation also works for (Quantum Entangled Communicator) so QEC can either be the crystal itself or the device. Based on the little actual science I've read on quantum entanglement, it does seem like it's a paired effect (no broadcasts). This would require both redundant channels (i.e. 2 sets of QECs which go from A to B) and mesh topology for the communication network. Real-time communication is only possible if you're lucky enough to have a direct QEC channel between the points and high enough priority on the network.

There would be huge amounts of necessary bureaucracy to the management and dissemination of QECs. Ships will likely use more conventional communication to reach stations/planets which serve as the "local" QEC point, and it's possible that even below a certain threshold of distance "pony express" is used to get messages to the QEC point.

It's also likely that some QEC endpoints are actually top secret ships whose purpose is to stay unknown and make sure some level of network survives any attempt at disruption. Each other end from the ship thinks it's getting a direct connection. Because these ships are top secret their design is not in any conventional database so even other TSN ships might not know what they are or what side they're on. The Comm ship's orders to stay unknown might even require it to attack it's own side if ships get too close.

QEC delivery couriers must make their way through the universe at top speed and not slow for anything which makes clearing the path a priority for whatever military forces are in the area.

If you want more fun from the idea, the grade (and therefore cost) of the crystal affects its maximum range. Most civilian ships, and even the vast majority of military ships, will have to exchange crystals at way points along their journey if they carry QECs at all. QEC exchange stations will be obvious military targets as well as have the busiest docking traffic. It's even possible that a QEC exchange might consist of multiple stations with some of the ship traffic being moving QECs from one station to another to load-balance traffic. While FTL travel in a ship might not damage a QEC, teleportation via transporter probably would.

For civilian ships if they carry a QEC it's primary use is likely to be as an emergency channel, and carrying a QEC could easily become it's own service industry. Many shipping companies form a convoy together so they can share the cost of maintaining the appropriate QEC in case they run into trouble.

Take the service industry another step and make it a black box, it's not just an industry but a guild with secrets and political views, or it's a service civilians can hire from the government/military. Either way only those hired actually understand it and controlling communication makes it easy to control large separated groups.
JanxJelantru said Jul 17, 2013 17:53:23
The QECs are interesting. If they actually existed, here's how I forsee their deployment:

A central communications station would be setup in a safe place (ex. Earth, AT&T). For each QEC resonating pair, one of the QECs would be housed at AT&T. The other is installed on a ship or at a planet's local AT&T office.

The QECs are connected to computers. At the colony, if you want to send an email or file off-world, you set the TO address to somebody "off-world" and hit send on your PC. Your PC sees the address is not "local" and routes it to the local AT&T office.

the colonial AT&T gets it, and sends it to the central AT&T router (back on Earth). Earth AT&T recieves it, sees it is for the Artemis and sends it out through their Artemis QEC counterpart. Artemis's computer recieves it, and routes it to the Communications Officer who opens it and annouunces that ColonyX is under attack.

The Artemis most definitely will not be carrying a QEC for ColonyX or even DS1 (barring initial transport for installation). That would create an unmanageable mess of routing and dependencies.

AT&T may not literally house all the QECs in one building. But they will have their halves interconnected so messages from pair 123 can be passed through to their destination on pair 456.

Some constraints to put on this:
odds are good, QECs are made by atom smashing rigs like the Large Hadron Collider, and they get one pair once in every X attempts. So the design model I outline will work whether there's 15 total QECs in the universe or if there's one for every ship, planet and space station. the networking problem is no more complicated or less extensible than what we do in our homes to get online or at our large corporations to network every user. If you want the TSN to have some "dead spots" where they have to wait for a ship to deliver news, then make the creation of QECs both expensive and limited.

you can also constrain how much information is passed through the QEC. basically how big of a message or data can be sent. So even though the transmission is "automatic", that doesn't mean the connected computer can send or recieve data at light speeds. In real electronics, you have to detect the change in signal on the line. If that's too fast or fuzzy, you fail to recognize a 101 as being 101 and instead get 111 or 11. Additionally, only so much state info can be transmitted at once. Quantum state might let us get 32 states (which is like 4 bits of information if I guessed 2^4 right).

So you can fluff some fiction that this QEC can't be giving super-duper internet access to earth's porn library all the way on ColonyX. In fact, it could be so restrictive, that we can use it to send short text messages, or bursts of computer data so commanders can make decisions, but not remotely micro manage and control a ship or colony from Earth. This would further justify why the Artemis game only gives short text messages to the Comms officer.

[Last edited Jul 18, 2013 19:12:50]
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