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The Xenium Problem


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#1 larsiusprime

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 01:55 AM

EDIT: PLEASE NOTE THE XENOCIDE NAMES HAVE NOT BEEN DETERMINED YET FOR EVERY ITEM OR UNIT IN THE GAME, REFERENCES TO NAMES WHICH ARE THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY OF ATARI OR OTHER COMPANIES BY INDIVIDUAL PROJECT MEMBERS IS NOT CONDONED BY THE PROJECT AND THE PROJECT DOES NOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCH ACTIONS. INDIVIDUALS SHOULD REFER TO ENTRY NAMES AGREED TO BY THE PROJECT, AND IF SUCH A NAME DOES NOT YET EXIST THEY SHOULD USE A SUBSTITUTE IN [BRACKETS]. THANKS!

X-Com: UFO defense said in the UFOpaedia that Elerium was a rare element with a nucleus of 115 protons, the source of alien power that worked at 99% efficiency and also that it was the so-called "Island of stability" that elemental scientists have been trying to find- all the other super-heavy elements are unstable and don't last very long at all.

Element 115, however, has not yet been discovered. We've discovered elements of a higher atomic number, but we haven't found 115 itself.

I'm no expert on atomic theory, but it's fairly certain that Xcom's treatment of elerium was pretty anachronistic. Not only did Elerium NOT occur ANYWHERE on earth, it was surprisingly available in ABUNDANCE on Mars of all places. Kinda weird. This was very important in game terms because even if you had killed the alien bases and were doing pretty good, you couldn't ignore UFO's because you had to 'harvest' them for Elirium to power your stolen alien technology to fight back.

So, I offer a few alternatives, the usual recourse of science fiction writers:

1. Keep the name "Elerium" it's cool. But, instead of making it an element, make it a hard-to-synthesize, energy-rich compound found specifically on mars for reasons unknown that can be harvested as a source of power(well, the aliens can harvest it...). (Parallel: Oil, Coal, Diamonds- the latter just as an example of difficult to sythesize).

2. Be strategically vague on areas we don't know a lot about.

3. To quote the computer Joshua from 'War Games,' : "The only way to win is not to play." In other words, take Elerium outside of the realm of science. Magic? Maybe, but don't call it that. You could just say it involves otherworldly nature/influence (spiritual overtones maybe?)
...problem with this is that it denies the traditional approach to being true to XCOM.

4. Or, we could embrace the anachronism, and since Element 115 has not been found yet, one could remain true to the letter of the original XCOM and not have a GLARING scientific contradiction. I.e., science doesn't BLATANTLY disagree... there are no examples of Element 115 that they can then say, "This doesn't have any of Elerium's properties". An example would be The movie Alien 3, where the inmates on the prison planet all suffered from the "XYY" genetic defect of having an extra Y chromosome, and were thus "the most violent, aggressive criminal offenders" (this is a common pseudoscientific belief that has no basis in fact).

That's all.

Edited by Breunor, 24 February 2004 - 09:12 AM.


#2 Devatar

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 05:44 AM

Well, I wouldn't recommend alternative number 4. It's quite doubtful that an element 115 would behave much differently from the unun- series of elements. There is totally no scientific basis that it would be a miracle element and capable of doing the mumbo jumbo x-com attributes to it.

Hmm... how about this:

1. If it is cosmic foam, which exists inside black holes. (chaos) Cosmic foam isn't bound by rules of our universe, so it can do all craps of stuff. (hey, this isn't sci-fi!) Faster than light space travel would probably utilize wormholes anyway, so black holes would probably be in the picture if aliens travelled long distances. We can just find a way to relate it to that. Say something like the aliens used a wormhole to get to mars, but then it collapsed and puked elerium all over the planet.

2. We can make it a compound, like what larsiusprime said. Compounds can have much more diverse properties than their constituent elements. The only problem would be how to make up a story that would makes mars unique and able produce this thing. (well, we could follow the whole spice-comes-from-the-worms-idea of dune, making elerium a by-product of the alien biology.)

Hmm... We could probably think up a storm of ideas, but I think the simplest ones are the best. Also, this idea was discussed a long time ago, and after hundreds of postings of different theories, we arrived at the conclusion that it isn't of too much importance.

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#3 GreatGold

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 12:15 PM

Hey -

The only alternative that I can see working, with the rest orf the story-lines that everyone has worked and wil most likely be accepted, is a varient of number 1.

1. Keep the name "Elerium" it's cool. But, instead of making it an element, make it a hard-to-synthesize, energy-rich compound found specifically on mars for reasons unknown that can be harvested as a source of power(well, the aliens can harvest it...). (Parallel: Oil, Coal, Diamonds- the latter just as an example of difficult to sythesize).


More specifically, we could simply say that humans do not possess the technology to mine Elerium. Forget about the synthesizing it, that goes against to much. However, its easy to explain why humans cant. Fisrtly, its not present naturally on Earth. Secondly, humans have never captured Elerium mining equipment (or even known that it was minable) because the aliens only have it on their home-world and off-Earth bases such as Cydonia. We could tie this information into a new research topic, "Elerium Origins", so that the player eventually discovers this fact. It could be gotten from a navigator alien of lets say the etherial race. This keeps the idea simple, believable, and expandable.

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#4 Breunor

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 12:58 PM

I agree with making it a compound from the alien homeworld. Maybe the aliens have a way of synthesizing it from common matter. Say that there are moons in the alien systems that have lots of the compound like we have iron here. The aliens brought along enough to last them for thousands of years. That's the beauty of alien science-we have no clue how it's made, but we have learned how to use it.

I don't suggest keeping any part of the original name, since that's IP of the original license holders. Once the creative writing deptartment gets some names together for the home systems of the aliens, maybe the name could be based around that. So if were from our solar system, it could be Solium or something like that.

#5 Anglachel

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Posted 30 May 2003 - 01:02 PM

I don't think this is official but it looks good, also has a little something about element 118.

Element 115

#6 Moriarty

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 02:50 PM

here's something I posted on another thread, might be interesting in this one, too... just skip the first part.

In short: I propose that [Elerium] or whatever it will be called is something more exotic than a normal element, while still being (kind of) possible. I don't think magic should have any part in it. There's already too much of that in the whole mind control thing... although, come to think of it, you did need Elerium to construct Psi-Amps. Hmmm. Well, I still don't want magic in xcom :devillaugh:


http://www.xcomufo.c...opic=1857&st=35

do you think my explanation for [Elerium] would work? Or will it go down in the history of technobabble? :Blush:

#7 Kamikazee

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 03:09 PM

as i recall from my chemistry lessons stable elements atomic no. goes up in a certain pattern, while those further away from this no. are reactive as they steal protons (or was it electrons) from othe molecules. we could say that elerium is strange in that it weakens the fabric of the universe, this doesn't mean anything really in its natural form but when a certain thing is done to it it steals protons rapidly from any high atomic particals nearby, if it cannot get any, due to the weak fabric of space around the 115 (or whatever) it can create a 'white hole', energy pours out of a white hole. this creates a black hole in an alternate dimension. this explains how an element can 'create' such an abundance of energy, it is infact not being used up at all it is drawing immense energy from another dimension's black hole which is pulling matter in.

a crappy and confusing explanation but i think it is quite good. it also explains how aliens found our dimension, considering they are from an alternate one.

and to avoid breaking the laws of physics we could say that upon this reaction occurring another black hole - white hole link opens and equalises the universe by bringing the same amount of matter/energy in both dimensions.

#8 Kamikazee

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 03:13 PM

or we could use it as a reason for the alien attacks in our dimension.
they have used elerium for millenei (sp.) and therefore have seriously destabilised the fabric of their dimension and are now facing self destruction. so they come to our dimension in an attempt to equalise the inbalance some how.

maybe they go to 'war' with us so we can get elerium technology so we equalise the universe for them so they can go back home and not worry about using elerium. then we start using it in xcom 3 to attack them and they turn to a real war.

#9 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 07 February 2004 - 05:28 PM

Kamikazee, your story seems...fantastical. We should avoid interdimensional anything (imo) because it isn't really believable or generally understood.
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#10 nixnihil

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 05:56 AM

I have a very simple idea. Remember, the aliens didn't come FROM mars, they're just using it as a staging area/massing point. So who really gives a shizen about semantics involving Elerium, or the role of Mars together with Elerium? We can easily say it's imported from a distant galaxy we know nothing about, and is incredibly powerful. Leave the rest in a shroud of mystery. Fairly simple, yet sound if you ask me. The UFOpadea can always say something like:

"The strange substance known as "Elerium" is used by the encroaching aliens for a variety of purposes. Ammunition components, power sources, and shield generators are examples of this mysterious substance's many uses. It is highly sought after for its incredibly efficient energy generating capabilities. The origins and repercussions of the use of Elerium baffle X-Corps scientists around the globe, but it is speculated that it has been brought here by the aliens from a distant galaxy and is therefore unattainable and cannot be produced by human means."

P.S.- I mentioned in one of the other threads that I wanted to be a writer for the UFOpaedia. I produced that snippet off the top of my head. If you liked that, imagine what I could do given ample time and insider information. I hope that got the attention of someone important!

#11 Tuoppi

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Posted 15 February 2004 - 08:42 AM

About Elerium/Xenium/Whateverium...

I thought it is a substance which has a kind of anti-grav. When anti-materia is mixed in it, the virtual particle stream/anti grav field of singe atoms of Xenium keeps the anti-matter from reaching materia in nuclei level. Gives a nice anti-materia storage (Way better than penning loop) Doesn´t require external power to work, is small and useful in every way. Just propelling some particle radiation (alpha perhaps) would alter Xenium, thus collapsing the exotic grav function and so we have a anti-matter energy released. Thus alien power source is a device which emits alpha radiation into Xenium and converts resulting Gamma Ray (Good band it is BTW) into useful energy form (interior covered in advanced solar panel). :blink:

Both, Xenium and Anti-Matter could be made in huge particle accelerators "In a galaxy far, far away..." Might be that is calculated to require accelerator with a radius of Jupiter orbit around Sun. Or something. Or just say "We don´t know how exactly they make it".

Might be a part of Ufopaedia text when edited a bit...

NASA is actually researching gravity controlling... Seriously.

#12 Breunor

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 03:02 PM

I'm moving this from the lab forum into the X-Net forum, since we did end up changing the name and where it comes from.

#13 Cartesian

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Posted 21 February 2004 - 11:24 PM

The latest CTD version from the http://www.xcomufo.c...opic=1510&st=35 thread

Xenium 122

What powers the alien technology we’ve seen, and how does that power source relate to the apparent ability of alien craft to generate anti-gravity fields? This question has often plagued the scientists here in the research department. After the study of captured UFO materials, we are finally able to answer that question even if complete understanding remains elusive.

Research into the UFO power supply has revealed a synthetic material unlike anything ever before seen on Earth. Given the name Xenium 122, (as it was our 122nd experiment which rendered understanding of the material’s basic functions), this compound both supplies power and allows the creation of anti-gravity waves so essential to the alien propulsion systems.

Xenium is best described as a fold in space-time. When folded in this manner, space-time apparently becomes solid allowing it to be seen and touched. As the Xenium is utilized it shrinks. Once the Xenium is completely used up the fold in space-time “falls flat”, reverting space-time to its normal state and leaving no trace of Xenium’s existence behind. Despite constant research, we are unable to grasp even the basic concepts on how one would synthesize this substance. Unfortunately this places the control of Xenium firmly in the aliens’ hands for now. This monopoly must be broken if we are to win this war.

In its most basic, unrefined state Xenium 122 seems to clump together in a crystalline structure, similar to quartz crystals. These crystals emanate a strange orange glow, an iridescence that is completely unexplainable, and might be a result of the creation process used by the extraterrestrials.

When Xenium 122 is placed in a rotating magnetic field, it creates a field unlike anything humanity has seen. This field exhibits many properties, but its foremost ability seems to be that it can warp, and even nullify gravity. The rotating magnetic field acts as a “control field” manipulating the Xenium’s field like a steering wheel. Using a set of such fields, one can warp space and travel in the non-linear fashion required for practical space travel. While creating solely Xenium 122 based drive systems is unlikely at this time, the Xenocide science department heavily suggests research into the creation of system to manipulate this property of Xenium.

Another powerful property of Xenium 122 is its ability to give off a charge. This charge gathers at the magnetic poles of the field and can be drawn off to create a constant supply of electricity. The charge given off by Xenium is sufficient to keep the control field in place as well as power other systems.

Unfortunately waste particles, radioactive and otherwise, are given off during this process. In addition to the beta radiation, other nuclear particles are given off during this process. Protons are present but neutrinos in particular are emitted in large quantities. These particles must be caught, or vented, creating a dilemma when considering its use as a power source. With the proper system, Xenium creates a large power output, which is then used to power ship systems with the excess being stored in a battery. Waste particles are then captured in a containment system or vented into the air. It should be noted that the charge produced in this manner is tremendous, and we are unable as yet to create a battery that successfully stores the all the power output of Xenium. This proves to be more and more important, as Xenium itself is used up during the aforementioned processes. The use of Xenium must therefore be carefully monitored lest we completely use up this precious material on trivial matters.

One other property of Xenium 122 was discovered while researching particle bombardment testing. Certain catalysts used for bombardment destabilized the Xenium samples. This mixture of Xenium and catalyst particles would lead to the creation of energized plasma and may be the basis for the plasma weapons seen wielded by aliens in the field. Further research into this area of Xenium 122 usage is recommended.

re: plasma weapon thread, I think we should check that this is "understandable" by Joe Bloggs. It might be a good idea to make a very short 5 sentence version of this.

Edited by Cartesian, 21 February 2004 - 11:26 PM.


#14 dipstick

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 02:58 AM

Reading that last post, it made me think, are we going to have Xenium as a prequisite for plasma tech? Just a thought. That would certainly slow things down, as well as making laser stuff more useful.
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#15 Cartesian

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 03:54 AM

ummmm, i guess we could make it that you can use plasma without being able to manufacture the ammo for it after researching plasma. after researching elerium, we could make ammo...?

#16 dipstick

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 04:02 AM

Or, maybe you cannot research the ammo, therefore you are pretty stuffed :D
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#17 mikker

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 07:51 AM

i just had this crazy though. Maybe if you have it in large numbers, the electrons will change shape turning them into other qvants elements. Those merge together and form a proton. This "home-made proton" is then put into the reast of the protons and neutrons, and this resulting in a far higher positive bungle of atoms, because all of the - elektrons are gone and turned into + protons. With a few magnetic forces, it is possible to "fling" this energy out in a very high temparature.

Because no other elements can do this, is that because it has the EXACT number of elektrons per atoms (or molecule, whatever) to create a new proton without any elektrons staying behind drawing the elektrons back.

Heh, i know i'm crazy.

EDIT: the effect could also generate anti-gravity, as it is positive. But elektron-less atoms are very hard to control, and generates heat very fast, resulting in a pretty good weapon.

Edited by mikker, 22 February 2004 - 07:53 AM.

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#18 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 08:53 AM

Theoretically, you can transmute elements today. You just need a cheap way to add/remove protons from an atom. So you could actually produce gold from lead if you removed some atoms.
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#19 Robo Dojo 58

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 09:14 AM

So you could actually produce gold from lead if you removed some atoms.

The only way that'll work, is if there's some gold under that lead. :rolleyes:

I'll assume you meant "protons", because you'd have to get rid of those to make some gold. :D
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#20 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 11:04 AM

You are right. I wasn't quite awake when I posted that.
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#21 mikker

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 11:32 AM

the bad thing with it, is that after doing the thing with adding/supstracting a proton is that it becomes radioactive :(

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#22 Kamikazee

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 11:42 AM

okay i just reread my idea and it makes no sense at all, must have been asleep.
I vote that we dont understand elerium at all, we just know when you bombard it with something it goes crazy. I dont really think the player is going to want to be having sleepless nights because we drove them insane with scifi mumbo jumbo.
treat it like uranium or other nuclear materials, everyone knows they can 'produce' energy when something is done to them but most people dont understand why even if you tell them, (including me probably).

#23 MagicAndy

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Posted 22 February 2004 - 08:53 PM

have i missed somthing? I remember reading in the CRT that xenium was a fold in space time and it was called 114 because it took 144 experiments to figure out

#24 Cartesian

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 04:06 AM

yeah, but maybe ppl have gone off that idea now. committees are all good, but we also need executive decisions so we can claim ground and move forward.

#25 MagicAndy

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Posted 23 February 2004 - 07:52 PM

I thought that the idea was pretty good. the problem with Xenium and this has probably been mentioned, is that som many theories have to be based off it.

I think the best way to make an executive decision is every submit the idea they like best, then we vote.

#26 Mad

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Posted 14 July 2006 - 01:04 AM

Now, we already hava a solution for the Xenim problem (we chose it to be not an element, but folded space-time, nicely explaining all the anti-grav stuff (just for those who are not willing to re-read the whole thread) but nevertheless, I don't want to keep you from a very nice solution Brick-to-face has sent me. This is after all a fascinating idea - though I'm not quite sure if this would work, since I think the antimtter nucleus wouldn't "capture" the electrons, but read for yourself... :)

Okay everybody, I just had a eureka moment, only instead of a bath I was taking a shower. I have a quasi-simple solution for our problem. Just a short review of how things work around here:

.		.
				  .	  .
					  Electron   .
			 .   .	.   Cloud		  .
						   .   .	 .

			  .	  .	o()	 .
		   .	 .	  o()O0o		.	 .
						()oo0o	  .
			.	   .	Oo() <-----------------Nucleus
					   .			.
			   .			 .   .	   .			
					 .
								 .
				   .	 .
							.	   .
					   .
And that's an atom. Now if we remember they are made of Protons and Neutrons in the nucleus, and (duh) electrons in the electron cloud. An atom made out of antimatter would consist of Anti protons and Anti neutrons in the nucleus, and positrons (previously called anti electrons) as a surrounding cloud. Now, lets say you have an antimatter nucleus, but with a normal electron cloud! This would be very difficult to make, and I don't believe it's realistically possible with current technology, but these are aliens are nearly omnipotent! Now, since nobody is going to get even close to making an anti nucleus with anywhere, near 100 anti protons, we can safely say that this "anti element" is stable, meaning that unlike other heavy elements it does not decay. The electron shell is not made of positrons so you can safely place this "Xenium" next to regular matter without fear of... death. To expose the antimatter nucleus, all you have to do is turn the Xenium to plasma (ionize it). Then introduce some normal ionized matter, and BOOM! Or rather CONTROLLED BOOM! Since the nuclei would be of opposite charges.

So why do the Aliens have all the Liquid Xenium?
Well, they did come from elsewhere in the universe. Since Xenium would require an immense amount of resources to create, they could have "factories" collecting energy from something like a star, and creating Xenium, since it is a very concentrated, and somewhat safe form of energy. Remember that a battleship weighs many many tonnes. If the overmind was doing some long distance travel into unsettled territory it could bring along a few tonnes of the stuff.

Just how concentrated is this stuff?
1 Hiroshima was 10^14 Joules, almost the exact equal of turning 1 gram of pure matter into pure energy. This means that 1/2 gram of antimatter combined with 1/2 gram of matter would give off THAT much energy!

How is this better than regular antimatter for fuel?
Well, regular antimatter must never come in contact with any regular matter, not even air, or electric sparks. This type of antimatter is enclosed in an electron cloud, which is makes it act just like a regular element, and you would never know it's antimatter, since the electron cloud determines everything from appearance to chemical properties. You can toss the Xenium around; as long as you don't squeeze it to the point that there are 400 million tonnes / cm^3 you're ok. However Ionization does happen naturally, though it's not likely that 115 electrons will be stripped without being replaced by pure chance.

Why then do power sources blow up?
An ionization chamber will have high pressure within, lots of heat and melty stuff, if it breaks then the reaction may get out of control, and if too much Xenium and matter is ionized the chamber will be overloaded. Unlike a nuclear reactor, there is no chance for a chain reaction, so the remaining Xenium would be scattered about after the short explosion.

Anything else?
Yeah, an ionization chamber can be quite small compared to an antimatter reactor, so power suits, and other stuff like that is possible. Also Plasma weapons would not need any power outside of the clip, since plasma is made via ionization.

References:
http://www.astronomy..._5/notes21.html
http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Antimatter
http://physics.syr.e...ICY/tables.html
http://www.b5tech.co...s/reactors.html


Edited by Mad, 14 July 2006 - 01:14 AM.

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