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Beyond Saga Blog / News

The Cool Tech of BC9: Gravgel

Posted by author on 10/8/2014 7:27:00 PM

The Cool Tech of Beyond Cloud Nine: Gravgel Hello, my loyal minions...I mean, fans. This post begins a series of articles I plan to write about a variety of topics, including the writing and publication processes, my motivation and influences, content specific to one of my stories, and a bunch of other interesting anecdotes.

First up, I thought I'd talk about some of the cool technology I invented in Beyond Cloud Nine. One of the things I love about smart science fiction is tech that's realistically attainable in the future. I've tried my best to create things in BC9 that could really happen because real possibilities are more exciting to me than pure wishful thinking.

In BC9, our heroine, Brooke Davis, is a star fighter pilot who engages in orbital combat. As a member of UN Aerospace Defense, she gets into plenty of dogfights. The star fighter craft of our hypothetical twenty-third century setting are capable of much greater speeds and acceleration than 21st century fighter planes. Greater acceleration means a pilot is subjected to greater g-force on the order of hundreds of gees. Such extreme force would crush a human being without some type of advanced protection that hasn't yet been invented.

The solution I came up with is gravity gel, referred to as gravgel for short. Gravgel is based on the real, experimentally-verified notion that liquids provide cushioning against acceleration. I got the idea from the SyFy Channel show Sci-Fi Science a few years ago (I've looked everywhere for clips but I can't find one). In the show, physicist Michio Kaku, the host, visits a lab where scientists place a piece of fruit in a spinning chamber to impart g-force. In air, without any protection, the fruit explodes when subjected to a handful of gees. When placed in a container filled with water, however, the fruit can withstand an order of magnitude more acceleration force.

In the book, gravgel is a clear, viscous, lightweight, and non-stick substance that protects future fighter pilots from the force of extreme acceleration. In the 20th and 21st centuries, filling aircraft or spacecraft with water proved impractical because of weight/mass limitations. In the late 22nd century, however, a scientist invented a gelatinous substance that provided more than ten times the protection of water but with a fraction of the mass. This substance became known as gravgel. Cool, huh?

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