Saturday, June 11, 2016

A look at some of the best Science Fiction Webcomics

This time let's follow-up with a selection of yet-more truly creative online comics, some serious space dramas, others satires or comedies. Many offer humorous insights as they delve into science, space, the future… and human nature. You'll find star-spanning voyages, vividly portrayed aliens, frequent use of faster-than-light travel (FTL), but …. no superheroes here!

(And yes, I have hereby destroyed your productivity for the next two months!)

Many of these talented webcartoonists are dedicated to updating their works daily or weekly, offering their stories and artwork for free online. You can support your favorites by subscribing to their websites, pledging on Patreon (many provide exclusive bonus materials to donors), or buying their collected works.  

In no particular order, this is just a selection of the marvelous stuff out there...

Brewster Rockit: Space Guy, created by Tim Rickard, is a ‘satirical, retro-futuristic comic’ which often parodies popular culture and science fiction films, books and TV shows. The comic follows the humorous misadventures of the crew of the R.U. Sirius space station, led by the brave but not-too intelligent Captain Brewster Rockit and second in command Lieutenant Pamela Mae Snap. In their journeys through space and time, they encounter hazards from aliens, killbots, monsters and mind probes ... along with with a multitude of puns. Example: After our many missions to the Red Planet, "Mars has hit us with a restraining order." 

Outsider, by Jim Francis, is a full-color, beautifully illustrated “starship combat space opera.” Set in the 2100s, humanity has ventured out to the stars, only to encounter alien refugees fleeing war between the galactic superpowers Loroi and Umiak. With little information at hand to base their decision upon, humanity must decide: which side should earth ally with? When the starship Bellarmine finds itself caught in enemy crossfire, a hull breach sends Ensign Alexander Jardin drifting in space -- where he is picked up by a Loroi ship. As the outsider aboard the alien ship, he slowly begins to understand this telepathic, formidable, all-female crew -- and gain insight into earth's place in the cosmos. Then he finds himself in a unique position to save humanity....

Quantum Vibe, by Scott Bieser. This sequential science fiction webcomic offers some real substance. The story begins five hundred plus years into the Space Age on the orbiting city, L-5. After a doomed relationship falls apart, our fierce heroine, Nicole Oresme, becomes technical assistant and pilot to Dr. Seamus O’Murchadha, inventor of electro-gravity, who needs help with his plan to delve into “quantum vibremonics.” Their adventures through the solar system include escaping assassins, diving into the sun’s corona, visits to Luna, Venus (terraforming underway), Mars, Europa and Titan. Earth is ruled by large corporations and genetically divided into rigid social castes –  and even branched into genetic subspecies, multi-armed Spyders and Belt-apes. Libertarian references abound but not inapropos for the setting and future.  I’m impressed with the spec-science in the series, as well as tongue-in-cheek references to SF stories, including… Sundiver and Heinlein.  

Freefall, by Mark Stanley, a science fictional comedy which incorporates a fair amount of hard science; it has been running since 1998. The serialized strips follow the comic antics of the crew of the salvaged and somewhat-repaired starship Savage Chicken, with its not-too-responsible squid-like alien captain Sam Starfall, a not-too-intelligent robot named Helix, along with a genetically uplifted wolf for an engineer -- Florence Ambrose. Their adventures begin on a planet aswarm with terraforming robots and incoming comets. The light-hearted comic touches on deeper issues of ethics and morals, sapience and philosophy, orbital mechanics and artificial intelligence.

Drive, by Dave Kellett, is a weekly humorous sci fic comic set a few hundred years in the future. At war with aliens, Earth and much of the galaxy lives under the rule of “La Familia,” a second Spanish Empire (based in Madrid). Humans were able to achieve FTL travel after they 'found' an alien engine – the Ring Drive – but the Continuum of Makers will stop at nothing to retrieve their invention. Of course, La Familia keeps the Drive's secrets closely guarded. The blue-inked strip follows the voyages of the scout ship Machito -- its Drive piloted by an alien with amnesia -- as they set off on a mission to save humanity, even while serving a distant Emperor they despise.

Galaxion, by Tara Tallan, is an episodic space drama, following the Nautilus-shaped Galaxion, an interstellar survey starship operated by the Terran Space Association (TerSA), under captain Fusella Mierter. The crew is to test a new jump engine which will enable them to travel through hyperspace (the last ship, the Hiawatha, to test it disappeared). The drive casts the Galaxion into a parallel universe; a desolate post-apocalyptic Earth is not the one they left behind… The first few chapters are a bit slow, developing the crews’ relationships, but the pace picks up when they discover the wrecked Hiawatha on Earth, a band of humans living underground, afraid of what’s out there…

Terra, a full color, sci fi webcomic by Holly Laing and Drew Daily, set in the year 2309, in the midst of an interstellar war between the United Earth Coalition and the humanoid alien Azatoths. The only survivor of an Azatoth ambush, Gray O’Shea is rescued by Agrippa Varus of the Resistance; he joins the rebels in their desperate crusade to end the war.  Viewed as terrorists by the UEC, they must also avoid the deadly Shadow Cabal, who have enslaved and subdued large swathes of the galaxy. When the resistance shoots down a UEC fighter attacking their base, the downed pilots begin to question if they are on the right side. Good action sequences, complex plotting and character development.

Mare Internum, by Der-shing Helmer, is a recent addition, a full-color science fiction graphic comic, just started in 2015. This near-future drama follows researchers in a scientific habitat on Mars, as they gather data to prepare for the first extensive human colony. Their geologic explorations include delving into the planet’s interior... where they uncover some surprising (and improbable?) secrets of Martian history. Yet, extended isolation has pushed some members of the crew to the limits of sanity, with Dr. Mike Fisher contemplating suicide, as he is notified that he will be sent back to earth. Lavish color illustrations, with a sense of whimsy, and added scientific detail below the panels. 

Electric Sheep: I have often cited the work of Patrick Farley, one of the hugely under-appreciated treasures of paneled storytelling and vivid webcomix art. His Electric Sheep site offers several series that you'd swear could not have come from the same artist, all of them brilliant. "Spiders" takes an alternate reality view of middle east wars in a world of super-transparency. "Don't Look Back" is psychedelic far future space opera. And "Apocamon" will show you what the Book of Revelation is about - in manga style - vividly making clear why we should ensure that no one who prays for that raving prophecy to come true should ever get their hands on nuclear weapons.

Always Human, by walkingnorth, is a webtoon (set to music). In this future most people regularly use body-modification technology to alter their skin, hair or eyes, to cure illness or enhance focus or memory. A reflection on genetic engineering, body image, beauty, and gender identity, as well as what it means to be human. The comic tells a tender love story between two young women; one a specialist in virtual reality, the other has a highly sensitive immune system, which rejects the widely-used nanotech mods. She gathers confidence to be different and stand outside the norm of her society. And yet... "No matter how technology changes us, we’ll always be human.” 

A Girl and Her Fed, by K.B. Spangler, tells the tale of a young woman, a journalist intern, who converses regularly with the ghost of Benjamin Franklin. When she discovers that she’s been placed on a government watchlist as a possible terrorist threat, she angrily confronts the federal agent assigned to her. That agent - the Fed -- is one of five hundred who were given cybernetic brain implants (the Pocket President program). These implants are now malfunctioning -- and projecting an avatar of George W. Bush; Ben Franklin’s ghost is able to reprogram the implant. It turns out that these agents have been dying under suspicious circumstances. The Girl and her Fed team up to get to the root of this deepening mystery…. and unravel a complicated web of political intrigue and conspiracy.

Storm and Desire, written by Scotto Moore, art by Evelyn Dehais, is a brand new sci fi/ fantasy webcomic following three women whose fates collide, as they seek to uncover “the secret history of the multiverse.” Check back to see how the story unfolds… 

Comics on philosophy, books and ideas:

Unshelved, by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, is a daily comic that simply celebrates reading, books, literacy, and libraries. The characters are mostly librarians and the setting is often… a library. Literary references abound, along with light-hearted humor about book clubs, overdue books, bookmobiles, bureaucracy, research… and the joys and challenges of reading. The Sunday full-color full-page editions became the “Unshelved Book Club,” which highlight recent books and graphic novels. Here's the one that focused on Startide Rising!

Existential Comics, by Corey Mohler, is “a philosophy comic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world.” One of the more intellectual comics around, this one delves into philosophical ideas of Ancient Greeks, from Socrates to Plato and Zeno, as well as more modern thinkers, such as Camus, Descartes, Kierkegaard and Kant. Comics touch upon topics ranging from metaphysics to Marxism, empiricism to Stoicism… plus additional insight if (for some reason) you don’t get the joke! For example, in The Adventures of Fallacy Man, the masked man interrupts arguments with cries of Appeal to authority! Ad hominem!! or Slippery slope!!! 

Lunar Baboon, by Christopher Grady, features “a half man/half moon monkey trying to make sense of it all,” chronicling the trials of a middle-aged father struggling with depression and anxiety and parenthood – with references to Star Wars, Harry Potter, supervillains, modern politics and the ordinary problems of daily life.

Drewford, by Damon Xanthopoulos, is a humorous comic that features talking (uplifted?) waterfowl. Drewford Duck, fired after an illustrious career making infomercials, becomes head copywriter in the advertising world (Mad Duck?). In a take on the Odd Couple, the fastidious Drewford shares his apartment with his disorganized brother Ormlu Duck, as they struggle in a modern world with complications from technology, apps, flashmobs, social media, gay ducks, duckpics... and more.

Some ended comics worth reading: 

Crimson Darkby David C. Simon, a serialized science fiction drama that ran from 2006 to 2012. Gorgeously illustrated with 3D graphics rendering detailed starships (capable of FTL jumps) and space battles (with lots of vivid explosions). Set in the 27th century, it follows a tough but troubled Commander Kari Tyrell. Sent on a reconnaissance mission, Kari’s Republic fighter is attacked; she is left drifting in space and rescued by privateers of the antiquated Niobe spaceship. When they return to base, Kari is taken into custody, accused of treason, as her past returns to haunt her… Officially declared dead, she casts her lot with the crew of the Niobe (led by Captain Vaegyr Ward), heading out to seek salvage and survive -- while avoiding pirates and hostile ships amid the treachery of a brutal war.

Digger, by Ursula Vernon, was a fantasy adventure comic, which won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story. This black and white comic has the tagline: “A wombat. A dead god. A very peculiar epic.” Our heroine, Digger, a talking wombat, got very lost when digging an “unnecessarily convoluted” tunnel, and surfaced at the feet of a talking statue of Ganesh the elephant god. Digger finds herself in a land far far away… a strange world with only her pickaxe by her side, and predators closing in. “Man don’t you know not to mess with a sleeping wombat? We swing pickaxes for twelve hours a day. We’re like biceps with feet.” Along her quest to find home, there are nods to mythology and religion and existential crises of good and evil.

Starslip, by Kris Straub, a science fiction comedy that ran from 2005 to 2012, sketched in black and white. The serial is set in the future world of the 3440s, aboard the IDS Fuseli, a decommissioned luxury battle cruiser, now a starship museum, archiving cultural treasures, alien and human. They travel via a Starslip drive, which allows them to slip between parallel universes, which seems to involve swapping with a duplicate version of themselves. The crew, headed by a drunken ex-pirate, must deal with orbital celebrities, time travelers, replitons, and aliens… as well as rival museums, bureaucracy and paperwork. Pop cultural references and puns abound (they are attacked by Infra-Redbeard.) 

SpaceTrawler, by Christopher Baldwins, was a sci fi comedy that ran from 2010 to 2013, set in a galaxy governed by the collective Galactic Organizational Body (GOB). GOB has enslaved an alien race, the telekinetic Eebs, forcing them to continue to create “all consequential technology in the known universe.” Meanwhile, earth is still a ‘dark planet,’ not having achieved notable space travel, or attained a seat on GOB. A group of six humans is abducted, shanghaied into aiding Interplanetary Amity, an activist group aboard the SpaceTrawler, in a struggle to free the Eebs.

There! Did I just decrease your work productivity by at least 10%? Remember to allocate your comix reading time away from video games!  And not from doing good work, citizenship or spending time with loved ones!

Oh, and it this is not enough stuff, then go find some diversion (or enlightenment) by checking out some other webcomcis.... 

Return to Part 1: my review of science-oriented online comics.

or continue to Part 3, More Science Fiction webcomics


Brian Olson said...

Best scifi webcomic I've read in years: O Human Star
Man invents android AI, learns to live in society that grew up after that where robots are everywhere and have rights.
Start here:

Madd said...

Trying Human is good too.

Robert said...

I tip my hat to you, Dr. Brin. That was extensive and well-thought-out! And even better, included some comics I've not read! :)

Rob H.

brian t said...

I'm enjoying Questionable Content, which isn't a "science" comic as such, but it is set in a world that looks like ours except that AI is not just common but comes in diverse flavours. There's a small robot named "pintsize" with a permanently filthy mind, but one current storyline involves a large cage-fighting android trying to get out from under the influence of a domineering "mother" robot. Imagine Stephen King's "Carrie" as an eight-foot-tall armoured android that can fold, spindle and mutilate just about anything. The author has a second strip, Alice Grove, which is a more linear SF/Fantasy story strip.

Robert said...

By the way, a surprising addition to this is Questionable Content, a comic about ordinary life in Boston, but with a small twist - there's AI and robots in this world as well. And while the initial robots are small and amusing, we eventually find there are quite a few robots including those that appear quite human. And there's other technologies as well that we're given glimpses of over time.

This has taken some interesting philosophical turns of late, as Faye has started helping repair robots involved in an underground fighting ring (non-lethal, robot-vs-robot) and we also watch a military humanoid robot that is with Faye's help slowly starting to acclimate into society.


The chap who did Spacetrawler is currently doing a scifi comic Anna Galactic concerning an alien world and humans stuck on the world for some unknown reason. While the aliens are sentient, the humans aren't quite sure how to communicate with them (though one of the aliens did manage to make a lasting psychic contact with the titular character). It's surreal and odd and quite interesting in its own way. :)


Sunset Grill is set in a futuristic Earth that seems to be part Bladerunner, part Fifth Element, and maybe part Warhammer 40K. We've not seen any actual aliens (though they exist), but various offshoots of humanity, discrimination against cyborgs, corrupt cops, and even people trying to get out of the slums and get a proper education, while dealing with street criminals and the like. It's interesting, though the update schedule got kind of iffy for a bit.


And there's Wandering Ones, a post-apocalyptic comic that is part sci-fi, and part mysticism concerning a scout from one of the native tribes that survived the synthetic plague that wiped out 99% of humanity, and is trying to prevent a fascist group from the American Midwest from conquering their high-tech allies, who are a democratic society in what was California.

The comic includes a lot of stuff on tracking and survivalism, and of course a dose of mysticism, but also includes fusion-powered vehicles, high-tech weapons, and more, so I figure it still qualifies as Sci-Fi. I mean, if Star Wars is, why not this? :D

Rob H.

Laurent Weppe said...

From previous, non-webcomic-related posts:

* "given attempts to compare Trump and the current Republican movement to Fascism opens up a rather interesting door. Given that this is just another page from the Confederacy... does that mean the Confederacy was in fact the first example of a Fascist government seizing control? ;)"

I'd say that the first fascist government was the Qin dynasty: its emperor was a disciple of the proto-fascist (and number two beneath Socrates on my personal "Smother the bastard in the cradle as soon as I get a time machine" kill list) Shang Yang, and his minister Zhao Gao pulled what may be the first recorded Orwellian decree.


* "The very few who want all OUTCOMES equalized are monsters. Fortunately they are very rare. Most liberals want more equality of OPPORTUNITY"

Most liberals and left-wingers may not want to downright abolish differences in outcomes, but we certainly do want to massively reduce them. If no control toward outcomes is exerted, you end up with a situation where a tiny minority own most of the available wealth and resources.

It's not the case, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend that we live in a purely meritocratic world where all of the 1% wealthiest (who currently own more than half of the world's wealth) earned and deserved their position on top of the food chain: human nature would then drive many to rig the system and insure that competition was fixed to ensure that their own children -even the mediocre, the inept and the mad- continue to enjoy the level of material comfort they were raised in. A ruthless meritocracy will be sabotaged before its second generation of rulers come of age.

And of course, in reality, that's not the case: the upper-class is already riddled with inept heirs as it is: not controlling outcomes simply means allowing the ratio of inbred, slothful, entitled, arrogant morons with distinguished family names among the upper-class to keep increasing.


* "he's not saying the others are incapable of judging him because of their innate racial (or gender) characteristics. He's saying they're incapable of impartially judging him because he himself has already poisoned the well by insulting them."

And? He's basically openly stating a belief that's been an untold part of the privileged classes' identity for millennia "We mistreat, insult and injure those who aren't like us, therefore the smart thing is to assume that the others are untrustworthy, that they must want to retaliate and hurt us back"


* "I think a non-insignificant group of Americans thinks that racial tribalism is just the way things are, and that "political correctness" tries but fails to mitigate that fact.
For them, the idea isn't to avoid judging the races, but to make sure that their own race maintains its position as top dog

In other words, racists.
Racism is often depicted as a set of beliefs which boil down to "Race X which I am a member of is intrinsically superior to Race Y which I don't belong to".
It's not: racism is an intent: racism is being willing to deliberately harm people from a different ethnic background in order to preserve (or conquer) one's own group's dominant position, as well as the material spoils that come with it.
It doesn't matter if that intent stems from misplaced faith in one's own ethnicity/culture/religion/whatever's intrinsic superiority, from a cynical malthusian calculus, or simply from petty jealousy because the new Arab neighbor got a fancier degree, prettier car, larger home and sexier wife: the end result is the same: racists end up supporting the demagogues who promise to use the power of the state to enforce the supremacy of their own group.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin, I loved the librarians' reaction to Startide Rising. It made me wonder if anyone has seriously proposed making it into a graphic novel.

I also loved how Fallacy Man got caught by the fallacy fallacy. Funny stuff. Thanks for pointing out so many interesting materials to add to my infinitely-expanding reading list. The nice thing about graphic narrative is that, while you might spend hours ogling the beautiful artwork, you can read the dialogue and absorb the plot elements relatively quickly. I think a graphic novelization of the second Uplift Trilogy might not work out so well, though. Some things are just better spun in words than conveyed through hybrid of words and pictures. Some of your other novels could be done well, though.

Laurent, it's been a long time since my years as a student of history, but I remember some impressions from the Fertile Crescent hinting at fascism long before the Qin Dynasty on the other side of the continent. Though the word only comes from the 20th Century, fascist tendencies are probably all over state-level social systems going back to the beginning. It's likely just that communication technology facilitated the questioning (and labeling) of state-level organization in ways that were truly unprecedented before.

LarryHart said...

@Laurent Weppe,

I don't think we're really disagreeing or arguing about Trump. I wasn't denying that Trump is running a racist campaign. I was just pointing out that racism was the least of his sins in this regard, and that making the story about his racism actually lets him off lightly.

He's basically openly stating a belief that's been an untold part of the privileged classes' identity for millennia "We mistreat, insult and injure those who aren't like us, therefore the smart thing is to assume that the others are untrustworthy, that they must want to retaliate and hurt us back

And the corollary to that is that only his supportive base (old white men) are "unbiased" enough to judge him, conveniently forgetting that that cohort is just as biased as anyone, just in the opposite direction. That's the meme I'm afraid will stick if we let it--that Trump supporters are unbiased, and only his detractors are biased.

LarryHart said...

From today's

In 2012, David Koch gave $1 million to help pay for the Republican National Convention. This year, he and his brother Charles are giving nothing and aren't even going to attend. Charles said this week that Donald Trump would have to change his stance on a variety of issues before he could support the Republican nominee. He specifically said that Trump's racist comments about Judge Gonzalo Curiel are unacceptable. The Koch brothers were planning to spend $900 million on this year's elections, but Trump's nomination definitely throws a monkey wrench into the works.

So again, the Koch's don't want Trump as president. What does it gain them to financially support the Green Party and peel votes away from Hillary? There's a logical step somewhere that I'm missing.

Stefan Jones said...

Oh, man. So many I haven't been aware of, much led not have had the time to pursue!

Thunderpaw: Strange, enjoyable fantasy comic, about talking animals dealing with the sudden disappearance of humanity:

One of my favorite eSheep comics is Farley's story about genetically engineered turkeys:

Duncan Cairncross said...

Dr Brin is just EVIL!

My car is in bits -
I haven't finished my new shed -
I haven't finished my attic workshop -
The garden is a building site

And he introduces me to lots and lots of new (to me) comics

EVIL - just EVIL

LarryHart said...

I was really into "Quantum Vibe" several years ago when it's first storyline was ongoing. Somewhere toward the end of that story, the author had to take time off for personal issues, and I lost track.

I just might have to get reacquainted.

Paul SB said...

Duncan, would "Temporal Saboteur" work, or is that too Dr. Who?

MDW said...

Another fine entry for the completed list is A Miracle of Science, a webcomic of mad scientists and those who try to save them set in a widely colonized future solar system.

donzelion said...

@Larry - "The Koch brothers were planning to spend $900 million on this year's elections, but Trump's nomination definitely throws a monkey wrench into the works."

Oil at $50 or less threw a monkey wrench into the works. The main point of pouring money into elections is to ensure down-ticket races are filled with candidates who favor 'job creation' by securing preferable arrangements for extraction in one form or another. That gambit has run its course for now, but I also am skeptical they'd actually shift to the Greens (except to the extent that the Greens can peel off from Dems in those races - and thus are helpful for certain borderline districts, as Nader was).

@Laurent - I'd look to Egypt for the origins of fascism (perhaps the Fertile Crescent as well) - there's just something about putting the image of the Pharaoh in stone and projecting him as a living deity. That said, there's probably some precedent in many different cultures.

TheOneWhoMightBe said...

Madd said...
Trying Human is good too.
Slightly NSFW though.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Temporal Saboteur

Time Bandit

Pied Piper of Timelot

Not really hitting the mark

More "Time Tempter"

Paul SB said...

Would that qualify him as "The Temporal Adversary?" Or is that too grandiose? After all, anyone who creates entertaining diversions fills this roll. Maybe "Duke of Diversion?"

raito said...

From last article


I disagree that germ theory requires higher tech, and is thus a cheat. Drinking upstream from the herd and keeping the latrines away from the residences (and knowing why to do so) hardly requires lasers.

As for the comics, the only ones I've added in the last several years came from suggestions here.

Robert said...

Going onto a slight science tangent here: there is a theory out there that dark matter is in fact comprised of primordial black holes, which got me to think. This could also be the basis behind dark matter. And it may even explain the sudden expansion of the universe soon after its creation.

Consider for a moment: when the Big Bang occurred, it could have created a vast swath of primordial black holes. Well, what is the decay time for a black hole with the mass of a subatomic particle?

Might not these extremely small black holes have decayed within microseconds, releasing a large amount of radiation but also eliminating a large amount of gravitation which in turn led to the massive inflation of the size of the universe?

And thus might not other black holes, those the size of hydrogen atoms, be evaporating next, and thus reducing gravitation in the universe as they become energy as well... and thus allowing for an increasing acceleration of the expansion of the universe?

The entire range of dark matter and dark energy may in fact be explainable through primordial black holes and Hawking radiation as these black holes with event horizons so small they cannot be detected at distance except through their gravitation slowly "pop" and release more and more energy into the universe... and in turn accelerate the expansion of the universe itself.

All these efforts to use exotic physics to find mystery particles like WIMPS and the like may in fact be for naught as we look for giant ferns in a forest comprised only of trees. We seek something with magical thinking (because "ordinary physics" can't explain something so mysterious and magical as dark matter and dark energy!) rather than look for a more mundane solution.

Rob H.

Robert said...

"could also be the basis behind dark energy" - sorry for the typo above in the first paragraph!

Rob H.

Paul SB said...

Robert, I had a similar thought a long time ago, though I also considered that the Universe might have a whole lot more Black Dwarf remnants than previously thought. These would be even more difficult to detect than black holes, having no equivalent of an accretion disk or x-ray emissions to look for. I know I am a rank amateur where astrophysics is concerned, though, so I'll listen to what experts have to say. Even the best have turned down blind alleys before - which is why science always has to be seen as provisional, the proviso being that new data can lead to better models in the future. This is the colossal admission of human fallibility that makes science so much more believable than almost any other human endeavor, regardless of how the media chooses to portray science.

Jumper said...

Thanks for your suggestion, Rob H. Food for thought. I've been trying to visualize the topology of the very early universe when time to transit the entire space was only microseconds before the "reentering" of energy, gravity waves, etc., on the "other side." In this very tight manifold, energy should not in itself cause space to expand. Yet your thought experiment is provocative. If light has mass, and mass turned into light, is the gravity preserved? Or does the mass of light not equal the mass of the hole? Is space (of the inflation) created by the difference?

Every time nowadays a black hole finally evaporates, does a sudden though smaller inflation of space also occur?

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Pied Piper of Timelot

Not really hitting the mark

Wouldn't that be "Pied Piper of Timelein"?

It's more of a pun that way, too.

tomalanbrosz said...

"Star Power" is pretty good, too.

A.F. Rey said...

This seems like a good thread for an apology.

I finally read your story, "Eloquent Elepents Pine Away for the Moon's Crystal Forests." Please forgive me for doubting that you're familiar with Miyazaki, if not being a fan. :o

locumranch said...

If an undetermined number of Black Dwarfs can dance on the head of a pin, then the Universe may also contain a near infinite number of Red Dwarfs ... but that's not the worst of it:

According to the BBC, European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that a UK vote in favour of Brexit "could be the beginning of the destruction of not only the EU but also Western political civilisation in its entirety".

Then again, it sounds an awful lot like Climate Change hyperbole.


Alfred Differ said...

@occam’s comic: (from last thread)
Kessler syndrome is a more pressing issue for LOE. I don’t think it is likely that SBSP will be that low. In higher orbits there is more time to mount a defense against debris and if there is one thing SBSP should have in abundance for that defense is energy for lasers. Small orbit parameter chances turn hits into misses.

If you want to make a viable plan to harm US dominance in orbit, a debris shield isn’t the best I know. Too passive. A better plan would be to place mines up there using a cover story. THAT would be annoying, but only for a while. We’d beat that by flying more stuff than they have mines and shoot down any replacements they send once the war turns hot.

I’m not trying to be over-optimistic here. It’s just that this stuff has been considered and we’ve been working on beam weapons and ABM tech for some time now. No one is crowing about it yet and you probably won’t see much until it’s needed in a real war, but it is there and improving. There IS publically available info to be had.

As for costs, I’m not overly worried. We get crazy-stupid in surprise attacks on us. The gold will flow like rivers.

Alfred Differ said...

Hyperbole is so easy to offer and so readily consumed. There is nothing unique about it in our politics, climate change discussions, or family squabbles.

The recipe is simple. Confuse a tablespoon of 'impact' for a teaspoon of 'risk'. People do it all the time. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Stand Still, Stay Silent -- Meema Sundberg
Unsounded -- Ashley Cole (not SF, but great fantasy)
The New Adventures of Queen Victoria - Pab Subgenus
Basic Instructions -- Scott Meyer -- the last two prove clip art comics can be a terrific read.

Paul451 said...

"Might not these extremely small black holes have decayed within microseconds, releasing a large amount of radiation but also eliminating a large amount of gravitation which in turn led to the massive inflation of the size of the universe?"

E=MC² baby. Mass-energy equivalence. From gravity's point of view, there's no difference between inertial-matter and energy, except the speed. And light is too slow to have powered the early inflationary period.

As for LR, conventional matter (whether red dwarfs, or brown, or black, or just dust and gas) has been ruled out but surveys of other galaxies. All baryonic matter produces secondary effects that can be measured. We're left with something-weird because all non-weird explanations have been looked for, and ruled out.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H: Baryons doing mundane things have been ruled out as Paul451 said. I think there is still room for them if they do weird things as well, but if you look for those behaviors, you might as well look for weird particles too.

The universe is probably stranger than we imagine.
We've had to face this pretty much every time we get curious about anything.
Get used to it. 8)

The constraint to remember is we think the inflationary period was super-luminal or that the speed of light was 60 orders of magnitude larger. I don't know which is weirder.

locumranch said...

In keeping with current thread, 'Red Dwarf' refers to the graphic novel & the televised series.

And, as conventional matter has been "ruled out" ( but only in a mostly visual, dark, unenlightened & non-empiric sense) from current mass estimates of the Universe, may I suggest a few alternative theories based on Archimedes' Principle ?

(1) Estimated Mass of Universe minus Witnessed Mass equals displacement due to Divine Density plus an infinite number of non-baryonic (as in 'imaginary') particles dancing on the head of pin; OR

(2) Estimates of Universal Mass are erroneous, exaggerated & grossly 'inflated'.


Robert said...

Why would the evaporation of subatomic black holes on a wide scale NOT cause the rapid expansion of the universe? The energy resulting from the loss of those super-condensed sources of mass/gravitation would need to go somewhere. So it inflated the universe.

The debate over whether or not dark matter is primordial black holes has been going on for a while. There are a multitude of claims about dark matter. None have been proven. The more that scientists search for the elusive dark matter, the fewer hiding spots are left... until finally it may become a disproved theory.

Primordial black holes are an effective method of explaining dark matter. Their loss through Hawking Radiation is likewise an effective method of explaining dark energy rather than creating an exotic superparticle or effect that just happens to push everything apart to fit what scientists see.

I used to believe in magic. In time I took a look at those beliefs and realized there is no proof. Instead, it was a desire to create order from chaos, to explain patterns and allow myself to believe the universe could be controlled on a fundamental level.

Dark matter and dark energy is magical thinking. It is taking effects that we see and assigning an imaginary element to it. This is not a bad thing - the Higgs Boson was magical thinking that led scientists to use mathematics to determine what the Boson would be like, and then scientific research to verify it.

But there are plenty of particles that don't exist. It seems increasingly likely that String Theory is a tangled mess of magical thought that may explain the universe, but is not how it actually works. Likewise, dark matter and dark energy are likely imaginary particles and aspects that can be explained by other methods. Instead of WIMPS and mystery energy pushing things apart faster and faster, more mundane explanations will likely be behind the universe and its mysteries.

Rob H.

donzelion said...

Have been curling up with some lovely webcomics these last couple days.
Brewster Rockit strikes me as a Futurama conceit, well executed and fun (as that show so often was).
Mare Internum is a bit of a mind-frak so far, quite curious where it's heading, but wonderfully executed.
Outsider, so far, looks fairly standard anime plot so far...tough space elven lassies?
Trying Human also channels that oh-so-anime vibe, but as a rom-com sci fi romp, quite fun.

Meanwhile, a corner of my brain explodes every time some bastard takes an AR-15 and...proves that Republicans are stupid. One of the draft bills Dianne Feinstein tried to bring to the floor in 2005 had provisions banning assault weapon sales to anyone suspected of terrorist connection (a lower standard than probable cause for an arrest) - which the Republicans greeted with crickets in 2005. I screamed quietly at the time, got on a plane and left the country for many years (though my version of escape was to go straight into some of the uglier spots in the world and try to do something...).

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "If you want to make a viable plan to harm US dominance in orbit, a debris shield isn’t the best I know. Too passive. A better plan would be to place mines up there using a cover story."
Not exactly mutually exclusive plans. A 'debris shield' seems to be a plausible outcome of another strategy that gets disrupted, like space mines. Debris need not destroy satellites, merely wreck solar power arrays, and as I understand it, several orbits are getting pretty crowded.

Used to be that battles were reviewed by relative casualty counts - I'd imagine in wars of the future, they'll be reviewed in terms of resource cost. In most warfare, one need not build an insurmountable redoubt that cannot be taken, but merely raise the cost of projecting power into any single spot such that others will hesitate to do so. Unless those others are Mongols or Huns...

donzelion said...

@RobH - "Dark matter and dark energy is magical thinking."

Personally, I'm disappointed that the proponents didn't adopt the term, "ether" to describe these systems. Funny how if you give something you don't understand a name that has already been debunked, a new term for 'mystery' is proposed. At the very least, they could have offered a cool Latin name for the stuff. "Quintessence?" Ack, them durn Greeks (who was it who wanted Socrates and Aristotle to be flogged?).

Duncan Cairncross said...

On the Dark Matter/Dark Energy question

I thought that the gravitational "force" could be not exactly distance squared - maybe distance to the power 1.99999999???

Also that time could be changing - so that a second now was not the same as a second 5 billion years ago

But these are such obvious thoughts that the actual experts in trying to match the observed data to the theories are bound to have eliminated these possibilities before moving onto the weird idea of matter that only reacts with our matter by gravitation

Paul SB said...

Donzel, it looks like we came close to having two loonies commit mass shootings on the same weekend.

The police seem to be walking back their statements. Of course, the one who pulled the trigger first was Muslim, which fits the narrative. Since this guy doesn't seem to have any Islamic ties, he will no doubt be labeled insane rather than religious or political. Still, it's good that the report mentioned the NRA bumper sticker.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Paul SB:
The narrative on both incidents is chaotic. Now it seems the guy in the Santa Monica case was gay himself, and not targeting the gay pride parade, although that doesn't exactly stop begging the question of why he was driving around town with an arsenal.
The Mareen case is even more baffling. Now it turns out he was a club regular, and apparently gay himself. If you combine this with his religious attitudes, and his history of violence and abuse, his record contracting to DHS and apparent diagnosis of bipolar disorder, you find this is a situation that is not going to have any simple answers at all.

One RNC consultant, reacting to Trump's remarks about how Mareen was the son of an immigrant, pointed out that four of Trump's children were born to an immigrant parent--as was Donald himself.

Rob Gonzo said...

Check out Trekker at
Fantastic artwork and great story. A bounty hunter tale, set in a gritty scifi universe. Covers everything from shady underworld characters and mob bosses to interplanetary intrigue.

reynard61 said...

May I recommend "Inhuman" by Icarus? It is, broadly, about a religious war in the 31st Century; but specifically, it's about the efforts of the two sides of the war to find a young man who may (or may not) be a genetically altered super-soldier. The story can be a bit confusing in the beginning (the protagonist, Grey, can be a rather unreliable narrator because he's on the edge of sanity -- as well as blind and horribly scarred. [He may or may not have been tortured while he was being experimented on.] Oh, and he's infected with a space plague that could endanger several species of the Good Guys...), but things start becoming clearer when he's put in the care of an alcoholic young alien charged with keeping him out of the hands of The Bad Guys.

TV Tropes page:

Kyle Connor said...

Thanks for recommending Trekker and Inhuman.