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Thread: Help in reducing BA

  1. #1
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    I am a wanabe author(who cannot spell) who writes science fiction/fantasy. I feel the need to ground my "out there" ideas into some sort of reality and I want to avoid as many logic errors and science errors as possible.(never really works for me though)

    I am currently working on a work of fiction that takes place in the dieing day of the universe. This presents severeal problems.
    First, the obvious, how do is the universe destroyed exactly (The current working idea is some sort of collapsing) and how can you tell?
    The second problem is more what I am worried about. Right now, I stated that the characters know because of the past fifty years the stars went from innumerable to something that is easily counted in the night sky. This is BA. A star over a hundred light years away would take over a hundred years to notice it missing. However is the foundation of my story (stupid me) Is there any way I can explain this universal destuction and turn it into not so BA?

  2. #2
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    The only way I can think of is similar to one of the creationists' apologetics. Some small number of fundamentalists assert that the light from distant stars and galaxies was created "on its way" to earth, so that it appears to us to be ancient. This might be termed the "deceptive god" theory, as the creator must have been trying to make the universe look older than it is.

    You could reverse the process, and have the light being destroyed on its way to us.

    Note that either of these scenarios is geocentric; the effect would look different elsewhere in the cosmos.

    The current empirical evidence points to an open-ended universe (one that expands and cools forever). So there's no "end", really; things just get colder, darker, and farther apart. Over billions of years, stars burn out and their cores freeze. No new stars form once all the available hydrogen is used up. The end comes in ice, not in fire. The Big Whimper!

    The current standard models of Physics work best for a "flat" universe: one that continues to expand forever, but with the rate of expansion tending toward zero, so that at t = infinity, the universe has come to a stop.

    Unfortunately, there's a considerable shortfall in the observable mass of the universe, so for now, it seems to be "open" rather than "flat".

    Either way, it's pretty challenging to reconcile this with your "last days of the cosmos" story. Our current understanding of the nature of the universe would have to be far, far wrong for this to happen. So I guess you're stuck with "Bad Astronomy".

    But don't let that stop you. Even some of the great hard-SF writers have ignored Physics when it was inconvenient to their story idea. Look up a short story called "The Nine Billion Names of God", by Arthur C. Clarke, for a perfect example.

  3. #3
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    I am currently working on a work of fiction that takes place in the dieing day of the universe. This presents severeal problems.
    First, the obvious, how do is the universe destroyed exactly (The current working idea is some sort of collapsing) and how can you tell?
    If every object has a blue-shift, then everything is getting closer, ala reverse of the Big Bang theory. But then again if you could "easily count the number of stars" then the Universe is probably so relatively small that it has heated back up to where life could not exist and/or has become opaque again so that you could not see it getting smaller. Given what we beleive the Big Bang was like we know that we would never be able to witness the Big Collapse.


    The second problem is more what I am worried about. Right now, I stated that the characters know because of the past fifty years the stars went from innumerable to something that is easily counted in the night sky. This is BA. A star over a hundred light years away would take over a hundred years to notice it missing. However is the foundation of my story (stupid me) Is there any way I can explain this universal destuction and turn it into not so BA?
    Sounds like pollution to me. Same thing is hapepning on Earth now because we have somany night time lights and pollutants in our atmosphere to make it *appear* ot aground observer that there are less stars in the sky. But in actually they are still there, we just can not see them anymore. You could write about a society that is ignorant of this and misinterprets the disappearing stars as some godly act.

  4. #4
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    I am currently working on a work of fiction that takes place in the dieing day of the universe.
    I'll try to help you but you are correct, there are HUGE flaws in you premis. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_redface.gif[/img] Here is problem #1 with your story. There is NOTHING in the universe that happens in a day except here on Earth. Instead of "...dieing day of the universe." you need to think in terms of "dieing millions of eons." When talking about time scales of the universe you must think in...well...astronomical time scales. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img]

    This presents severeal problems.
    First, the obvious, how do is the universe destroyed exactly (The current working idea is some sort of collapsing) and how can you tell?
    If your means of destruction is "The Big Crunch" then you may have a logical hope of pulling this off.[img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif[/img] Your characters could tell by everything in the universe being "blue shifted" or having a spectral shift toward the blue end of the electromagnetic spectrum.

    The second problem is more what I am worried about. Right now, I stated that the characters know because of the past fifty years the stars went from innumerable to something that is easily counted in the night sky. This is BA.
    You are correct this is BA. Per my comments above, this type of thing would not happen in
    a 100 human lifetimes.

    A star over a hundred light years away would take over a hundred years to notice it missing.
    Actually, we would not see the even until 100 years after it actually happened, but if the "event" was that the star "winked out" then we would see it wink out.

    However is the foundation of my story (stupid me) Is there any way I can explain this universal destuction and turn it into not so BA?
    Welllllll. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_redface.gif[/img] If the destruction method will be a "big crunch" several things would happen. Everything in the univers would get closer together until there would no longer be such thing as night. The galaxies would all pull each other into a single, universal and homoganous galaxy. Stars would become hugely crowded and start colliding to form superstars that would fling about their neighbors until they collided into superstars that collided with other superstars that would form black holes that might be the source of the "winking out" event. Keep in mind that this would happen over hundreds of millions, if not billions of years. So you are talking about something that its' very end, most rapid evolution phase, MAY BE just perceptable in a human lifetime.

    Another thought, the universe would become unlivable for human type beings millions of years before any of the really neat CGI stuff began.

    I know these replies are incomplete and leave out a HUGE amount of detail. But I hope they help.

  5. #5
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    I am a wanabe author(who cannot spell) who writes science fiction/fantasy...
    I am currently working on a work of fiction that takes place in the dieing day of the universe. This presents severeal problems.
    First, the obvious, how do is the universe destroyed exactly (The current working idea is some sort of collapsing) and how can you tell?
    As Donnie notes, current theory says that the Universe doesn't really end a la "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe". If there is some great cosmological entity winking out the stars and galaxies, who's to say how it will look?
    But if you want to keep it within the realm of hard science, there are still plenty of scenarios that could spell the end of life on Earth.

    1. In around 10 billion years, the sun exhausts enough of its fuel that it turns first orange then red. If it loses sufficient mass during this phase, the planets will slowly spiral away. The sun may have insufficient mass to retain its compact state and also starts to swell, the outer reaches of its plasma atmosphere extending beyond the current orbit of Venus, possibly as far as the current orbit of Earth. The sun will essentially become a Red Giant. If the Earth is too close to the new outer reaches of the sun's atmosphere, all life on the surface could cook. If it spiralled out far enough, it may still be in a temperate zone, but all plant life would have to evolve in radical new directions to accommodate the new EM spectrum it would then receive from the sun. Eventually enough of this solar atmosphere gets blown away and all that is left is a tiny dwarf star. The Earth, if there is anything left of it by this point, cools and freezes solid. The frozen oceans weigh down the tectonic plates and eventually stop almost all geologic activity (except for a few hot-spots like Hawaii).

    2. The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, if I am not mistaken, are slowly moving toward each other as they hurtle toward some common Great Attractor. In a few hundred billion years when they collide, the interstellar gases of both galaxies will merge and compress spawning the birth of billions of new stars, many of which would be blue giants. If the Earth was still around and in that region of space where the two galaxies intersect, residents would observe over the course of millions of years the night sky fill with thousands of stars like Sirius (sp?). They are very beautiful, but from what I understand they can also be quite dangerous. They put out a great deal more radiation and have a nasty tendency to go supernova. What would it be like then for our solar system, with its then burned out red dwarf star, passing through such a cosmic microwave, supernovi popping off a mere lightyear away? Is that even a plausible scenario?

  6. #6
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    On 2001-11-05 04:24, Ducost wrote:

    The second problem is more what I am worried about. Right now, I stated that the characters know because of the past fifty years the stars went from innumerable to something that is easily counted in the night sky. This is BA. A star over a hundred light years away would take over a hundred years to notice it missing. However is the foundation of my story (stupid me) Is there any way I can explain this universal destuction and turn it into not so BA?
    Author William Hazelitt Upson, writer of the Alexander Botts stories (that you are doubtless much too young to know about) gave a very clear recipe for avoiding this problem.

    The "schtick" in the Botts stories was always that someone was in deep trouble and Botts got them out of it with the help of his product, Earthworm Tractors.

    When asked how he avoided painting himself into corners, Upson explained that he first figured out how to get someone out of trouble and only then got them into it.



    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Simmons on 2001-11-05 17:16 ]</font>

  7. #7
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    The stopping the light midstream by some greater force is the most appealing solution to the contex of the story. However, the scientist at the time this story takes place would probably not immediately accept this solution and try to provide another one.
    This is the way things are happening to best suit the story.
    Astronomers noticed stars missing in the sky. This was confirmed multiple times. This is after interstellar space travel has been achieved and they noted the phenominia from several different locations. All ships sent to locations of missing stars never returned. There seems to a point where there is just nothing.
    This is the way I envisioned the story.
    There are several things that have to remain to make the story work.
    The universe must be dieing.
    People must still be alive.
    People must be aware that the universe is fading.
    People must be able to traverse large distances.

    Therefor the best option thus far is to place the destruction into the hands of a greater power, but I still would like to tell my audience what the people make of what is going on.

  8. #8
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    <<...I am currently working on a work of fiction that takes place in the dieing [sic] day of the universe...>>

    The universe is not going to die, but all sentients within it will.

    Long before the universe could possibly end the life-sustaining circumstances within it will become impossibly, satisically unlikely.

    You needn't worry about how the universe will ultimately end, only how life within it will ultimately run out of ecological niches.


  9. #9
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    The backing philosophy behind the story is when something ends, it is the beginning of something else. I want to take this philosophy and expand it to the entire universe. Destroy the entire thing then rebuild with one sentient being witnessing both. Towards the end of the story, when the universe reached the end of one cycle and begins again, a more mythical approach will be taken, but I want to keep that from the reader untill near the end. Untill I reach that point, however, I am going to offer some kind of explination that will satisfy some of the readers curiosity and at the same time, not give away too much about the end.


  10. #10
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    Ducost, if you're gonna keep put most(if not all) of the BA, I'd suggest doing the book over several time periods. Like this: Someone notices a star is missing and makes a note of it in a notebook of some kind. Sometime down the road, the book is discovered in some ruins and is confirmed as having been ahead of its time, so to speak. In this way, you'd be able to still have human life spans, but still have the book go through the end of the universe. Also, you could have the entity at the end be a sort-of outside observer, kinda swearing that s/he would do better the next time around.

    Just an idea, is all. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  11. #11
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    On 2001-11-05 21:10, James wrote:
    Ducost, if you're gonna keep put most(if not all) of the BA, I'd suggest doing the book over several time periods. Like this: Someone notices a star is missing and makes a note of it in a notebook of some kind. Sometime down the road, the book is discovered in some ruins and is confirmed as having been ahead of its time, so to speak. In this way, you'd be able to still have human life spans, but still have the book go through the end of the universe. Also, you could have the entity at the end be a sort-of outside observer, kinda swearing that s/he would do better the next time around.

    Just an idea, is all. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]
    Ah, that James is one clever cookie. An adaptation of James' idea would be to have an astronomer who is interested in history start looking at the records of old sky surveys and notice that some of the stars in the old ones are missing when he looks at recent ones. This would allow the story to occur in one lifetime.

    James and I will split our share of the profits if you use this [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif[/img].

  12. #12
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    James and I will split our share of the profits if you use this
    As far as this story goes, I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be written as I see it and not come under fire by people more educated than I. This leads me to believe that this story might not be written at all, or at least without using a purely fantasy explination for the circumstances I want to put my characters in.

    Spanning multiple lifetimes makes sense, and could possibly work for a different story, but then how would I end it. In this version we would know the universe is eventually going to end, but what is the astronomer going to do. This version would leave our hero the astronomer(as well as everybody else) dead long before anything really happened. This leaves me to ask "Where am I going with this"

    Ultimately, I am left with this desision, give up, or point out the bad astronomy to the reader (i.e. This mannor of destruction defies all known physics. It is as if a black wall is collapsing in on the universe at faster than light speeds.) I would systematicly tear holes in the situation and then state simply that it is so.

    Stubborn, silly, foolish... pick one

  13. #13
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    On 2001-11-05 22:38, Ducost wrote:

    As far as this story goes, I have come to the conclusion that it cannot be written as I see it and not come under fire by people more educated than I.
    Don't give up. There will always be critics. You should hear me sound off about the factual deficiencies of the movie Saving Private Ryan the story of which I think starts out OK but rapidly falls to the pot-boiler category.

  14. #14
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    What if I encapsulated my fictional universe in some kind of bubble that when matter and energy encountered it, they were instantly destroyed. At some point in the distant past, the bubble began to collapse. The rate of collapse would, over time, accelerate, allowing the illusion of stars winking out over a short period of time. In actuallity the universe would be destroyed over a great period of time, but the illusion would last only a short time. Since the matter and energy are simply being removed, as opposed to being compressed, that should prevent the heat problem, right?



    Maybe it's just late.
    Maybe I'm just desperate.

  15. #15
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    1st: David, thank you. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    2nd: Ducost, don't give up yet. Try this:

    Have your story tell that a ship was sent out, say in a hundred millenia. Have them go out far enough to where the stars are about the same, but far enough where they'd be out of harm's way when the sun goes to red giant mode in a few billion years. Anyway, I have a feeling that the end of the universe is gonna happen way after that, so just have someone start discovering the stars missing after the sun goes to red giant. That's so far in the future that you could make stuff up and no one could tell you otherwise. We don't know what we're gonna be capable of by that time. Heck, we don't even know what we're gonna be capable of in a hundred years. Just remember this: The person in charge of the Patent office at the beginning of the 20th century tried to close it because he thought there was nothing left to invent. Just think about how that will help your story.

    And if you really need to, take a couple of days off from the story. You'll find that things just might go better afterwards. [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

  16. #16
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    It is as if a black wall is collapsing in on the universe at faster than light speeds.
    Who's to say what the exact nature of the edge of the universe is? We can only imagine such a wall at the edge of our obversable universe, which apparently is smaller than the actual universe. Maybe the real edge (if there is any and if there was a Big Bang then there must be an edge in at least one dimension) is indeed some "black wall" that gobbles up matter and energy......

    What if I encapsulated my fictional universe in some kind of bubble that when matter and energy encountered it, they were instantly destroyed. At some point in the distant past, the bubble began to collapse. The rate of collapse would, over time, accelerate, allowing the illusion of stars winking out over a short period of time. In actuallity the universe would be destroyed over a great period of time, but the illusion would last only a short time. Since the matter and energy are simply being removed, as opposed to being compressed, that should prevent the heat problem, right?
    Check out the ST:TNG episode where Dr Crusher gets stuck in an unstable, artificial, collapsing universe, much liek the one you just described. She knows things outside of the current universe used to exist, but they have passed beyond that black wall (which in ST is apparently not black, but blue to help the casual viewer see it) and thus "winked out". It may give some pointers on how to construct the story from a human perspective without some omnipresent influence. Be careful not to borrow too much though.

  17. #17
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    The Balloon analogy could work well.
    http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/Balloon.html

    One current "out there" theory is that the universe as we know it was created when two parallel universes collided, the heat created by the collision eventually coalescing into matter and various forms of energy as we understand them and starting the expansion of the universe. (Somebody previously posted a link to an article on that new idea.)

    Here's where the "what if" comes in...
    What if there was a limit to how much the universe could expand? What happens when you fill a balloon too much? It pops. Observed in slow motion, it would appear to begin to split along weakened seams. If the expansion of the universe's "space-time" (a favorite buzzword in Sci Fi that is little understood) reached some theoretical limit, might it too begin to "pop", starting by tearing along points of weakness?

    Where would these weak points be? Regions of sharp creases in the time-space continuum, namely super-massive blackholes at the centers of galaxies and of course the cosmic strings that run like cobwebs throughout the universe.
    These cracks that would at first resemble cosmic string filaments would start to spread at the speed of light through regions of weakened space, namely areas of high matter density such as the spiral arms of the galaxies, branching off to clusters and black holes. Maybe the cracks eventually start to propagate faster than the speed of light (for the sake of your story you could come up with some techno-babble reason why) sucking up entire galaxies and galatic clusters that just seem to wink out of existence. Ships sent to investigate dissappear because subspace or hyperspace or whatever medium that allows them to travel faster than light gets too distorted to allow FTL travel and the crack propagation quickly overtakes the ships. Our solar system is in a less-dense region of the Milky Way, so it won't vanish too quickly as the surrounding spiral arms slowly get sucked in.

    The Big Question would be: as the universe is observed to slowly shatter, where do all the pieces go? Will it all simply cease to exist? Or will it reform as a foam of mini-universes?

    Anyway, that's a little something to chew on.


    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Bob S. on 2001-11-06 10:27 ]</font>

  18. #18
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    I think that before one writes any stories or articles, one needs to research the subjects and to cover all possible questions of fact. Then again, if the writer does not wish to put forth the effort, he/she can make up fictional rules of nature and let the fur fly when knowledgeable readers take him up on that.

    Or, to make it easier, turn it into a farce and break all of the rules. (Make certain that you are aware of what science rules you are breaking!)

    Then again, most of your readers might not know the difference. Many of the devices used in science fiction have been created by writers who did not want to slow the action of the story to billions of years of travel in space.

    If you are writing a serious science article, on the other hand, you had better know your science.

    ljbrs [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

  19. #19
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    On 2001-11-05 04:24, Ducost wrote:
    I am a wanabe author(who cannot spell) who writes science fiction/fantasy. I feel the need to ground my "out there" ideas into some sort of reality and I want to avoid as many logic errors and science errors as possible.
    One method employed in some science fiction is to take a seemingly impossible situation, (such as the stars in our sky rapidly going dark despite the enormous distances,) and then to try an have your characters understand what's going on. (Without abandoning plausible science!)

    Perhaps our solar system has been covered by an unforseen, rapidly moving dark cloud. (Fred Hoyle wrote a sci-fi epic along those lines.) Perhaps aliens are masking the stars and galaxies we can see from Earth because they are covering our solar system withn an energy absorbing field prior to invasion. Or perhaps they are protecting us from something worse.

    Let imagination run wild and then temper it with plausible science.

    (Subplots, such as the romance between "Jack" the two fisted astrophysicist, and "Marsha" the female Astronaut from Alpha Centauri, are also subject to your imagination.) [img]/phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif[/img]

    <font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Chip on 2001-11-29 21:06 ]</font>

  20. #20
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    It is indeed a work of fiction. I do intend to follow ljbrs farce suggestion, pointing out what is wrong as I go along.

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