From a post to DAVIDWEBER.NET forums on 7/2/2011

A grab-bag of gravitics questions

Belial666 wrote:

    Some gravitics questions I've been considering;

    1) You got a ship that is accelerating at, say, 150-180 gravities without benefit of a compensator and your ship's gravity plates reduce that to only 5 gravities (as happened in Cerberus with some fairly old SS ships). 5 gravities is rather uncomfortable so you put most of your people in pinnaces in the boat bay and activate their own, separate gravity plates. Would this second set of gravity plates working inside the AoE of the first set of gravity plates alleviate whatever gravity passes through the first set?  (I.e. can you use gravity plates inside the effect of other gravity plates to stack their effects?)

    2) You got a compensator that can handle 700 gravities. Can you accelerate at 705 gravities and have the compensator handle 700 of them, while letting the remaining 5 affect the crew and ship? For that matter, can you accelerate at 700, have the compensator handle 695, and have the remaining 5 affect the crew and ship?  (i.e. can you intentionally have a compensator handle only part of a ship's acceleration?)

    3) You got a compensator that can handle 700 gravities but for some reason you want more acceleration. Can you accelerate at 850 gravities and have the compensator handle the first 700 while letting the gravity plates handle the remaining 150?  (I.e. can you stack the compensator effect and gravity plate effect for acceleration handling?)

    4) Can a sidewall be created within another sidewall? I.e. if you had two bubble sidewall generators, could you encase a fortress in two concentric bubble sidewalls? Similarly, if you had two bow sidewall generators, could you generate a normal bow sidewall and the smaller buckle sidewall at the same time?

    5) Can a ship have a double wedge? I.e. one above/below and another one left/right with a very tiny margin between them?

    6) If alpha and beta nodes cannot be armored themselves, can each of them be positioned inside an armored "ring" so the only angle an energy beam can come without hitting armor is from directly above them?

    7) There has already been noted that the gravity beams of a spider drive are powerful enough to be usable as short-range energy weapons. What is their interaction with sidewalls and wedges, if any?

    8) Does the range of the gravity beams of a spider drive increase as a ship gets bigger and the beams more individually powerful? Could you make one of the beam generators intentionally alpha-node-sized not to produce acceleration but to produce a longer-ranged energy weapon?

    For that matter, if you upsized a single beam generator to the size of an entire cruiser and also put a similarly upsized power plant on a ship or fortress to power it and then turned that beam onto an enemy ship, what would happen? Meeting a hole all the way to the alpha wall is, presumably, bad for the enemy ship but how bad?


    (1) No. And no.

    (2) No. And no. And, ah, no. <G>

    (3) No.

    (4) No.

    (5) No. (I seem to be sensing a pattern here… <G>)

    (6) No. The emitter head has to be a certain distance (which varies with the size and power of the node) from the hull and any other solid wall, bulkhead, armor, etc. That's why Sirius had to run her nodes out on rams to clear the hull before she could accelerate.

    (7) None. They will severely damage unprotected hulls; they will inflict no damage to something on the other side of an operational sidewall, and they will have zero effect on an operational wedge.

    (8) No. No. Not much (except at suicidally short range against a target unprotected by wedge or sidewall). And a hole is a hole is a hole, whether it's made by a graser or a spider drive.

    I believe this may be one of my most word-efficient replies to date. As a sort of catch-all for the topic raised in (7) and (8), however, think of the spider drive as an even less efficient grav lance. That is, any weaponized version of it is going to have an insanely short range, be largely ineffectual against a ship with intact sidewalls, require a huge amount of shipboard mass, and generally make a lot less sense as a weapon than a graser or a laser. Basically, trying to weaponize the spider drive would be analogous to attempting to design the perfect crossbow with which to take on someone with a Barret .50 rifle. It could be a really nice crossbow and still perform… sub-optimally. <G>