Friday, 29 May 2015

Drifters, Wormholes and General Relativity

You may be wondering why I think understanding the hard Physics behind worm holes is important.

Well, the first reason is that I love dissecting the universe around me.

The second reason are these guys:

Drifters. You may have seen them wandering around scanning things. I want to look at them in more detail, but for now I'll focus on this part of the battleship.

Notice they don't have traditional engines.

Looking closely at them we can see light bending in odd ways around these spikes, which occasionally twitch as the Drifters move.

What does this mean?

Well, it's a phenomena we see quite a lot around wormholes.

Look at that beauty of a shot! The nebula on the right side is almost entirely bent around the wormhole, so we can see it on the other side.

Now, we know this is not refraction, or reflection. There is nothing for the light to reflect off there, and if it were diffracting through some medium (which we don't observe anyway) we would expect to see some differences in wavelength, or some splitting of the light. We don't see this... the observed colour stays the same.

So what's going on here?

The light is being bent by gravity.

Which doesn't make much sense! Gravity is a force of attraxction between objects of mass. Light, has no mass. So how is it being bent around?

Well it's to do with the principle of equivalence.

In my last post I talked about the acceleration on an object caused by gravity, and I did some maths to support the theory using planets in a low-sec system. So, you should be happy with the idea that a object subject to gravity experiences an acceleration pulling it towards another object of mass.

Put simply: Big planet pulls you down.

But acceleration doesn't just happen due to gravity. The more commonly observed version of acceleration is seen in space ships going quickly!

So, imagine these two situations: capsuleer on a planet (in a gravitational field), and capsuleer in a Rifter accelerating away.

(Apologies for the picture of the Rifter. I still need to plug in the Advanced Photoshop skill book...)

If the pods camera drones weren't working properly, there'd be no way for the capsuleer to know if they were on the planet, or in the Rifter. Both are experiencing the same force pulling them down. In effect, we can see that these two situations are entirely equivalent to each other. Principle of equivalency.

This helps us to visualize what would happen to a beam of light moving across the Rifter when it's accelerating. So, let's have a Punisher get a wrecking shot on the Rifter.

As the beam moves across, the Rifter moves a little further forward. For the poor capsuleer about to eat hard vacuum, it looks like the beam is curving into the direction of the force pulling the capsuleer down.

The accelerating Rifter and the capsuleer on the planet are in equivalent situations. Therefore, light is curved into the direction of the pull of gravity.

Going back to our Drifter: since we can see the distortion of light here, with no apparent medium, we can say that the Drifters use some kind of manipulation of gravity as a method of propulsion.

See the way the Concord battleship bends to the rear of the Drifter? The direction of gravity is being pulled towards the rear of the vessel. Kind of weird, but this detail can be examined later.

For now, it's fairly obvious that Drifter propulsion is based from gravity.

Further study

Would Gallente gravimetric sensors be better at detecting these Battleships?
Do Drifter weapon systems operate on the same principle?
This is true for sub-light speeds. What do Drifters do the achieve warp?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Wormholes: Basic Gravity

... or just making sure the laws of Physics are consistent in the cluster before going forward.

I had to do maths today, so to make up for it, here's a picture of the ISV Rhys Tai, my current ship.

Beautiful shot of Caroline's Star in the background.

I started with the assumption that gravity as we know it still applies to New Eden. If I were thinking meta-game, I doubt the developers would create a whole new set of Physics to create their universe. However, a lot of Physics does come down to constants, and once the equations are set, it's relatively easy to sneak some curve balls in in there.

So. Basic gravity.

The force of attraction due to masses of objects is ancient science.

These laws were laid down before even the Amarr and Khanid got off our planet. How they weren't lost under a deluge of religious dogma, I don't know. I can only hope reverence for the EVE Gate made such advances possible. But I digress.

The equation is relatively simple:

This is where m1 and m2 refer t the objects being attracted to each other, and r is the distance between them. G is a universal constant, used to equate mass, distance and force. And that's what we just need to test now. 

If that G constant is different then we essentially need to start all over again understanding New Eden Physics. Happily, testing it really isn't that hard for a capsuleer! 

The part of the equation we need to test is this bit in red:

This bit describes our surface acceleration on a planet.You might have seen this as a 'g' back in school (usually as a very human friendly 9.8m/s^2).

As capsuleers, our pod and ship sensors give us access to a whole bucket load of information we'll never need. Fly out to a planet, and check its information, and you can get its mass, radius, and even its surface gravity. Which means we can safely check our equations work, without too much hassle.

So that's what I did. 

These are some planets in the Shamahi system. Low-sec in case you were wondering. There's also Shamahi 9 up in the first picture of this post. Well done to Angry Gamers Incorporated for securing some POCOs in this system!

I checked the data, did the maths, and good news! Our basic equations for gravity, and the constants used hold up in the cluster... at least for this system. To be sure, we still need to check if this holds up in more exotic spaces (wormholes and Thera in particular).

But for now, I'm satisfied that my basic understanding of gravity can be applied in New Eden. I wasn't really expecting to find anything different, but it's always a good idea to check the basics before running off into black holes.

Now for General Relativity, and seeing which parts match up to our wormholes.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Wormholes: Basic function

'Basic' in this case being a relative term. But not a specific relativistic term... Or a special relativity term.

Wow, I managed to get confusing in the first paragraph. Let's start again?

Low-sec wormhole, captured from the deck of a Svipul scout destroyer

Wormholes are areas in space which allow you to travel from one point in space-time to a very distant one.

In practical terms, you go in one end, and pop out somewhere else, which could be theoretically on the other side of the universe. And in New Eden, that's exactly what it does. Scan it down, pass through, and you've found a short cut between Jita and Dodixie.

If all you're looking for is how to use a wormhole, then that's pretty much it. Nothing special, just a glorified jump gate.

According to the maths, it's not quite that simple. And I'll avoid maths as much as I can, and stick to description and analogy.

What's really important to remember is that this is all analogy. To really understand it, you need to know the equations. Language and human perception is simply not robust enough to comprehend what's happening. That's not to say you're dumb for not being able to, it's just that our imagination is more developed than our ability to perceive... one of the little quirks of the brain being primarily a predictor rather than a reactor.

You've probably seen this?

Makes it easier to understand.

Two things to remember:
  • The green grid represents 3D space-time.
  • Look at the yellow line. It does not jump off the green sheet. It follows it down the pipe.
You may have seen various sci-fi shows where you'll see ships zipping down tunnels. That's not really happening. You're not going to see a tunnel, and any wormhole resident will tell you that doesn't happen in New Eden.

You literally go in and come out... barring a few seconds where even the capsule can't process what's happening around it. No tunnel effects like you get from a jump gate, or acceleration lines you'd see from a intra-system warp.

Wormholes in New Eden aren't like acceleration tubes. They are literal short cuts. The best analogy is just a tunnel through a mountain. You still go at walking pace. It's just that the distance is shorter.

Here's a nice piece of evidence to show this:

Light passes through from the other side off the whole. We can see the system on the other side... I believe this one is a C4? You can identify them from the colour.

However, and I'm going to say this a lot... it's not that simple.

This, in fact, is kind of weird.

Light isn't acting as expected, or at least as far as my limited knowledge at this stage goes. I need more information. Time to hit the books, and do more research to understand what I'm seeing here.

But for now, that's a basic overview of what a wormhole does.

Just as an aside, if I start talking about things that you don't understand, please let me know. I teach Physics now, and there are certain things I just assume people know. If you could comment on bits and pieces that confuse you, or you simply weren't taught, it's actually going to help me outside of the pod, and help me deliver better lessons to students.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Understanding wormholes

Whilst looking through exotic matter hypotheses to solve our antikythera conundrum, I re-visited my old literary stomping grounds of wormhole theory.

I'll get the connection out of the way, so that others can begin wild speculation: traversable wormholes, in order to satisfy general relativity, need some exotic matter of negative density to keep them open. I won't even pretend to know the details or the maths behind it, but I may come back to it at some point.

The tinfoil bait? Antikythera could be an exotic material used to keep wormholes open.

Not really so far-fetched an idea. Our jump gates rely on similar technology. However, since its being used to make Entosis links, it does look unlikely.

Either way, I started looking at wormholes again.

Like any true nerd, I grew up thinking I knew more about the universe than I actually did, and delusions of my academic prowess led me towards reading Physics journals far above my level. Needless to say, I did not understand half of what was there.

And I still don't.

This is a problem.

Especially since I just used a wormhole to get from Molden Heath to Genesis yesterday.

And I get the feeling that wormholes are going to play an even more significant part of New Eden's development from this point on.

And I think looking a little more closely at this theory would help us to understand just what the EVE Gate is.

And to keep things at least a little interesting, I'll get some pretty pictures of wormholes to go with it!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Evidence: Distribution of Jove Observatories

So I was curious about this, since I read someone talk about the Observatories being more concentrated in Curse. So what is the actual concentration of observatories across New Eden?

I started off by recording my own findings in Derelik, simply listing the observatories I found. Realizing this would take me months, I instead did some research to see if someone had done the work already.

Thanks to these guys who did the grunt work. Saved us all a lot of time!

So, from there it was a simple analysis: divide the number of observatories found in regions by the total number of systems in each region.

Here's the results for Empire space (rounded figures of course).

And null sec.

Pretty evenly distributed. The outliers aren't really that that compelling, and Curse actually has less observatories per system than others.

That doesn't mean we can't learn anything though.

The spread across space is even, both in Null, Empire and Pirate space. From this we can say that the Jove were watching everyone. And with equal interest. That's not to say the density of information collected is evenly distributed too, but they were quite thorough in casting a net over the whole cluster.

Which is curious: What would be the point in having such a massive station to observe a fairly minor flow of traffic? Smaller stations or even scout ships would have been much more efficient.

Two possibilities to consider:

1) The Jove installed these stations in advance just in case humans moved into it at some point. I can only assume their resources must be massive to build in such a redundancy.

2) The observatories have another function beyond observing humans.

With the assumption that antikythera is used to observe cosmological events, I put forward the hypothesis that this is in fact part of a large observatory network, to look for a cosmological, but elusive feature. Having a net this large, with faster-than-light communications between them would make a telescope of phenomenal resolution.

So this would lead us to look at just what information these stations collected.


  • What does antikythera actually do?
  • What information did these observatories collect?
  • Would this additional information have been extracted by the Drifters already?

Evidence: Scope video

Scope video

Well, here's a little evidence as to why the Jove observatories all had consistent damage marks. They were dismantled in the same parts by Drifters and Circadian Sleepers.

So one question answered. My conclusion before was wrong about the internal explosion, and instead was a careful extraction by another force.

The video states that Antikythera was being harvested by the Drifters and Sleepers. What this does and why they want it is unclear.

We can speculate its purpose form its name; it refers to a startling find of an ancient cosmology 'computer'. Don't be mistaken... it was a hand powered gear calculator, not a fully electronic piece of equipment. It predicted movements of observed stars. Nearly accurately too!

Again, whoever gave it this name in New Eden apparently knows more than we do, and is disinclined to share. I'd rather not draw serious conclusions from interpretation of a name, but if this substance is needed to observe some cosmological phenomena, it could give us a reason for the observatories.

Hypothesis: The observatories are only incidentally used to spy on the Empires and capsuleers. I suggest it was actually used to search for a cosmological event throughout the New Eden cluster.

The Jove were looking for something in space. Not to gather more information on the inhabitants of New Eden. This would explain the name observatory, as opposed to listening station, and why so many stations were needed as opposed to cloaked ships.

So. Questions to answer:

What does antikythera actually do?
What is the actual spread of Jove Observatories across New Eden?
How old are these things?
What information is collected by these observatories?
Why do the sleepers still hang around the observatories after the antikythera has been extracted?

Observation: Jove structure

The difference between a lore hound and a scientist is working solely from observable evidence. That's not a detraction from those who relentlessly sift through the antiquities and ancient texts of New Eden. However, as scientists we can't rely on witness statements. We need some hard evidence.

Here's the start of our data points: The Jove structure themselves.

The description is as follows for the Jove Observatory:

As evidence this is not compelling... we have no source for this particular description. We can't even be sure this is an observation outpost! But we'll call it that until we have a better name.

Here's the structure. It's about 180km in height, and about 300 m in width. Note the dust cloud around the center of the structure. This may have formed part of its cloaking device. However, if this was the case, with the cloud forming a solid barrier around the structure to cloak it, we would expect to see if more evenly distributed around the structure.

It's more likely that this dust was ejected from the structure itself through some internal catastrophic failure. Which brings us to this:

And this:

And finally this:

Note the angle of the girders. These sites of damage are most likely from internal explosions rupturing outwards. We could argue that smaller external impacts breached the hull leading to explosive decompression. However, we are missing other impact sites we'd expect from either combat or meteor showers.

Equally, the internal damage seems to be relatively slight. We'd expect to see some ricochets causing more internal damage from shrapnel bouncing around inside the hull.

Another interesting point; see the the gasses being vented? The lights still on? These stations are still operational. More or less. The cloak is down, but the power sources are still on. So where is the station crew?

Further evidence for internal explosions; these damage sites are common to all stations. This shows a sudden, network-wide catastrophic failure of certain components.

I left a mobile depot going into reinforced mode in the top picture. I was juts curious if that was done by the circadian sleepers or a player.


The observatories all suffered sudden catastrophic failures in at least three systems, one of which must be the stations cloaking device. This may not be linked to power supply, as some of the stations systems still appear to be operational.

Follow on:

Where are these observatories placed?
What are they observing: capsuleers, Empires, or natural phenomena. Are we just looking at a cluster wide radio telescope?
Is the damage consistent across all known observatories?

Treasure hunter and Scientist

You know... I don't really enjoy PvP.

It's a massive hassle. All that preparation for a a few minutes adrenaline seems hardly worth it. And once you're used to the adrenaline, like any good drug, you need to up your dose. Which means increased preparation time. 

I tried. I went to different militias, I dabbled in piracy. I tried different ships, different tactics. But they ceased to be engaging. 

Oddly enough, the most fun I had in Eve in the last year was floating around space taking pictures. Which was nice, but not really fitting for a Khanid cyber-knight, with a head stuffed with military doctrine. 

When the Confessor was released I went back to something I hadn't done seriously in an age. I went belt ratting. I found clone soldiers, I found a Garmur blueprint, and I found those weird Jove ships. In short, I re-discovered New Eden.

I think I'll keep doing that. 

Yes, it's PvE. But you know what? I like it. Treasure hunting. Warping out to a belt to find God knows what, and occasionally hitting pay dirt. A variety of different challenges with each belt. Far more interesting than orbiting a plex, or sitting waiting for a small gang of 10 capsuleers to leave system.

I also want to take more pictures. Even though it's a little late to the party, I want to investigate these new Drifter ships for a while.

Out of the pod, I've recently changed career tracks from Language teacher to full Physics teacher. Even though I have the degree, and the training, I'm not a full scientist by any means. I know the methods, and teach them to the next generation. I sometimes wish I could be in the lab, taking measurements of electrons wizzing through graphene sheets.

I think I would like to try being a scientist for a while. In space if not in reality.

So I'll start really examining the natural world of New Eden. See if I can dig up something interesting. And of course, subject my findings to peer review by my fellow capsuleers. Maybe this could be called PvP of the mind?

Well, we'll see.