Monday, January 18, 2016

Sci-Fi Sins Part II

So!  Here's some more problems I have with Sci-Fi design.

No Fuel Rockets:  I have a big issue with all the robots and armored suits that have rockets but apparently no sign of fuel.  Iron Man is the worst.  I get that Tony Stark is brilliant and all but intelligence can't break the simple rule that rockets need fuel. 

The heart of the Iron Man suit is the arc reactor which apparently can generate a nearly limitless amount of power.  Now there's an issue with that.  Reactors, fission and now fusion, don't actually produce direct electricity.  Reactors produce energy in the form of heat that's used to power electrical generating turbines.  So we'll have to assume the arc reactor instead produces electricity directly somehow.  This could be done by triggering some sort of reaction that causes electrical current, like a modern battery but on a much more energetic level.  Unlike a modern battery that must be recharged by another power source, the arc reactor must also have a secondary reaction (or reactions) that 'self-charge' the system.  This 'arc' of reactions could use a small amount of self-repairing fuel to make a steady flow of electrical energy.  Since no system is perfect there would be a need to 're-fuel' at some point. 

Alright.  The arc reactor can make lots of electrical energy but it's still just electricity.  I don't know about you but I haven't seen any electrically powered rockets.  Sure there's that new thing they're working on that seems to defy the laws of physics but that's only useful in the vacuum of space.  To generate the lift needed to make a man and metal suit fly you'd need some sort of propellant.  At the extreme you could make an argument that the suit can compress water vapor from the atmosphere and split the elemental components to produce fuel.  Performance would decrease significantly with an increase in altitude and completely useless in space.  Even if we assume that the suit constantly creates fuel while in non-flight modes it would have to be stored.  If we go by that route then the suit would require huge fuel storage tanks which it clearly doesn't have.  So then the solution would be that the intake, compression and separation required to create the fuel would have to be done in an 'on-demand' manner.  I know we're talking about a super hero here but even I think this is a bit of a stretch. 

Things got a little off track there...more later

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