Excaliba Program Overview
In the year 2005 A.D., the Scientific Research Foundation began formal operations and signaled a whole new era in technological progress. The first two years yielded many innovative products and processes. Cancer was "cured" using krysotyping - a method of developing a bio-image of any cell structure. The bio-image is then inversed to create an absolute negative representation of the original structure, which when introduced to the original, causes the two structure pairs to neutralize each others effects. Thus, cancer cells become benign tissue. But that's all beside the point of this overview.
Another development was ion-based power generation technology (IPG). This breakthrough spawned dozens of other subsequent programs: the Multi-Environment Transport, closed-loop power supplies, nucleostatic field applications, the M-1000 supercomputer, and the ultimate Foundation offspring - Excaliba.
Excaliba is a name for a whole group of internal project divisions concerned with universal space exploration. The grandest of the projects is the transport starship Excaliba - a vehicle designed for extended closed environment transportation and exploration of space. This vehicle houses the results of the most complex of the Foundation projects including the M-2000 multi-processor, neodynum laser technology, closed-system environmental simulations, focused ion beam deflectors, and inertial/gravity compensation systems.
Manned by a crew of twenty men and women (the exact ratio of which I have yet to figure out), the Excaliba can travel at extended hyper-light speeds indefinitely after initial power-up. The theoretical warping of time caused by such high speed travel mandates that the Foundation be reorganized before departure to establish a new administration (half of the old one would be on-board the Excaliba). The Foundation personnel can then spend their time developing the next step in medical technology - the extension of the human life span while the Excaliba is away. When the Excaliba returns to Earth one thousand or so years later, the Foundation personnel would still be around to greet the returning Excaliba crew.
The Excaliba will be facing many different environments through which it must carry its human crew unscathed. By preparing it for the many varied environments found on the Earth, we can hope to meet the demands of most others encountered during the voyage. Preparations will be made for deep sea, high altitude, space, and high-speed ground travel. The Excaliba must be made impervious to all forms of radiation and matter, either by material design or radiated defense. The primary goal of Excaliba is to simply search for and index mass information, wherever it may lie, throughout the universe. Some have spoken of space exploration in the light of some kind of colonization attempt; this is far from the initial purposes of Excaliba. Just as the Foundation serves as an information source to the Earth, likewise Excaliba can serve as a source to the universe (or some part thereof that hasn't gotten around to seeing the rest of the place). Excaliba will be one of the potential developers of the "Encyclopedia Galactica."
In the vast reaches of the humanly unexplored universe there have been postulates concerning the probability of discovering other intelligent life among the stars. This would be nice to prove true. As in many sci-fi epics, Excaliba is a representative from Earth and in turn becomes a representative of each new world observed to each new encounter. Hopefully, there aren't many other beings which have the same hangups about "invaders from outer space." In that situation, comes the explanation of why the Excaliba is armed with collimator neodynum lasers. But we aren't coming to "take over" by any means. We're just observers
Omnipsychologists if you will.
I often wonder about landing gear systems on the Excaliba. It would seem sensible to allow for land, sea, and whatever else we might find ourselves sitting on, or in for that matter. But anti-gravity suspension could be equally plausible, and obviate the need for heavy-duty landing struts and the like. Then there's the method of getting people from inside the ship to whatever is outside of the ship, without breaching the closed- system environment. Since I haven't spent a lot of time looking into entry systems, I'll probably leave that design section to another expert.
Interfacing with the M-2000 on board is in a similar qualitative analysis stage. I'm fond of novel ideas like direct-thought I/O transfer, but am also keen on voice-command processing and other more conventional forms of I/O (including keyboards!). The output part of the scheme is slowly coming together; my thoughts center on some kind of feminine voice command acknowledgement with real-time screen graphic monitoring. Graphic printers and other hard copy devices are still necessary. Some things are best kept simple I suppose.
The applications of the M-2000 are better defined. It will: 1) control environmental systems (breathing mixtures, waste management, lighting, sound, inertial/gravitational compensation, food systems, temperature, etc.), 2) provide all navigation/propulsion system control and monitoring (including engine, power, defense, and deflection systems), 3) be the main concept storage manager with some auxiliary systems for I/O support, 4) allow informed analysis of whatever we think of doing before we do it, 5) act as intelligence interface with whatever we contact. In the graphic layouts, I show the various configurations of I/O terminals I would like on the M-2000, which are well suited for specific tasks (e.g. cosmology terminal: 3 big screens (25"+), trak-ball scan controls, special keyboard layout (more keys), emphasis on graphical output). Some pet projects I will develop are the M-2000s "entertainment" functions such as: 3-D sound synthesis, holographic projections, environmental simulations, graphics "art" (?), et. al.
Certain Foundation technologies are easily adapted to the rigors of Excaliba application. Neodynum laser technology is useful, as I see it, for flying the ship through asteroid fields and disintegrating anything that might get in the way of the ship. I visualize a patterned vector array of five or six laser turrets directed selectively towards a focal point at which the beams will converge and form a single unified beam of excited particles. The target of the beam could be manipulated by varying power input to any of the colloidal turrets. Something like the "DeathStar" from the sci-fi films of Star Wars.
Nucleostatic field science could be applied towards "deflector beams" of sorts. By concentrating and focusing the output of the emitters, the destabilized ion path could be swept in any direction needed and repel objects and radiation away from the flight path of the Excaliba. There's also a valid need for a epidermal version of the field for hull protection. Inertial compensation is a matter of accelerating and decelerating an internal objects mass along with the outer mass. Thus the ICS will when needed, invoke attraction/repulsion fields in the proper direction within the ship to stabilize the objects inside. In the same manner, artificial gravity may be achieved. The fields operate in the same method used in nucleostatic field generation
the destabilization of ions which creates a tendency for the ions to move outwards, repelling other molecules.
IPG could be used on a small scale for equipment transportation dollies which would be equipped with small IPG jet emitters to "float" the platform and lift things off the ground. Attach a strong handle with lift controls and you have one very useful hand truck.
Communications on-board is always important. Thus in addition to fairly conventional voice intercoms, I propose an electronic version of the manuscript memorandum. Electronic mail systems are fine for formal communiques, but for the times when you might want to simply send a quick hand-drawn picture (No. Mouse-driven graphics don't work.) or a note to someone at another terminal, I foresee a digitizing pad transmission system dedicated to the purpose. A small self-powered digitizing pad and stylus with a small memory for multiple pages that could be plugged into a local transmission port and send the digitized image to any number of other pads plugged into other ports. Maybe the entire setup could be even wireless. The units are small enough to carry around and use as paperless clipboards for checklists and such.
Field analysis equipment will include a "laptop M-100" information gathering device (a "Tricorder" if you will) which will have non-volatile resident software for molecular analysis, storage of data, and remote terminal operation of the ship's M-2000. It could also have little storage compartments for field samples.
Some of the "funkier" things that I want on the ship are: 1) the music composition lab (10 keyboard digital sampling synthesizer, 150 band parametric equalization, digital special effects boxes, auxiliary instrument amplifiers (for strings, guitar/bass, brass, reeds), 25 pad percussion synthesis system, 36-track digital recorder, prerecorded-music integration system), 2) personal holographic projection booths (1 or more), 3) an artificial ecosystem "life lab" (synthetic seaquarium, micro rain forest, big sand box for desert creatures, arctic system simulation), 4) a lab dedicated to synthetic intelligence interaction (a room to talk with AIME one-on-one).
In the more sensible range of sections on board are: 1) an agricultural hydrosystems lab (produces most plant protein material for consumption and some aesthetic plants), 2) an engineering technical lab (makes the neat black boxes and devices which do everything), 3) a medical (human, that is) research center (broken bones, colds, sniffles, anorexia, bimedial carcinoma, etc.), 4) the "bridge" (every ship just has to have one somewhere...), 5) the direct access floor to the M-2000 plasma banks and fluidic systems (I don't foresee a 2001 Odyssey happening, but just in case...), 6) an a lab for everything else I haven't mentioned (or thought of) yet.
Some simple strategic goals during Excaliba development: 1) Must pass a benchmark of Sol-III to Beta Centauri in real-time minutes, of three or less (figuring a 67 light-year trip to M-31 taking about four days or so), 2) must withstand travel through the bottom of the Marianas Trench with a 24 hour burn-in at the 27,600 foot level (best on-Earth pressure test, I think), 3) capable of boring a clear flight path through a mountain at sub- light speed (any mountain, I'm not picky), 4) reach orbital altitude in four seconds or less (sub-light) without blasting a big hole in the ground beneath, 5) change speed from 1 light to 0 motion in 10 seconds or less without throwing everything inside against the front viewports (tests of inertial compensators and gravity simulators), 6) navigational scanning to exceed 10 AUs at light, 1 AU at sub-light, 200 AUs at max speed, 7) deflection ability to move the Earth's natural satellite at 1/2 apogee, 8) closed-system environment must operate without breach for a minimum of 10 years real-time.
Among the problems associated with the Excaliba having long-term (real-time) credibility, are the associated conflicts of living with the same nineteen other people for the rest of their lives. Excaliba is designed as a unilateral venture; it's not supposed to return to Sol-III unless every question has been answered. I also wonder about the ability of the extended requisite to not produce offspring ever again (unless you're okay with leaving the kids in the care of some intelligent life we find somewhere). I have this intuitive feeling that the ship's complement will change over time with the introduction of people from other worlds and the deposition of some of ours upon theirs. But then again, who knows?
I find fault with the traditional solution to such dilemmas
military-style operation, although I happen to have a fondness for the rank titles (Commander Lui at your service, maam). But since experience has shown the individuals don't get along all of the time, especially in close quarters, I wonder if the time spent alone in the environmental simulators, holographic projection booths, and individual living quarters will be enough to ease the stress of life in a closed-system. Maybe if I come up with a way to relieve the mind of stress by exposure to artificial encephalographic energy segments, a thought/emotion simulator so to speak. Not mind control, but emotional exercise. Hmmmm.
So, how much knowledge is there to be learned in the entire universe? That compadre' is why the Excaliba is my greatest goal; we will answer that question and many more to come with the completion of her mission. And provide the end to the mindless "theorists" of contemporary science and pave the way for inductive developmental observationists of the future.
The Foundation >