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Re: starship-design: Re: Perihelion Maneuver

On Monday, December 01, 1997 7:35 AM, Isaac Kuo [SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] 
> Huh?  What?  You're saying that car speeds are governed by highway
> speed limits on race tracks?

IMSA and NASCAR have required governors on race vehicles for years...

> The size of the engines are smaller, but not much lighter.

Hmm, you should try to lift the four cylinder engine in my old Willy's 

> >Theres no reason to since the military personel of today can't point
> >significantly more acurately then those of 40-50 years ago.
> Actually, there is every reason to increase the performance of small
> arms in terms of reducing ammo size/weight, which has a dramatic
> impact on logistics.  (It also allows carrying more ammunition and
> weight).  Also, if ammunition size/weight can be dramatically reduced,
> it allows firing much larger bursts, which _does_ increase hit
> probability.

Actually, when the US Army went looking for a new weapon to replace their 
WWII vintage rifles their was quite a bit of heated debate. It seems that 
of all the ammunition expended in WWII only one round in a million actually 
hit someone. One faction wanted to purchase a more accurate semi-automatic 
weapon and force the troops to learn to AIM them.

The other faction claimed that the lives of our soldiers were more 
important than hitting a target and that this would be best achieved with a 
fully automatic weapon that would at least (hopefully) force the enemy to 
keep their heads down whether we hit anything or not. As you can see, the 
M14 lost and the M16 won. Guess which weapon is preferred by special forces 
snipers and civilian competition shooters?

I think the prevalence of alternative arms (mostly illegal)in Vietnam may 
have finally changed the minds of the powers that be. Evidence the Squad 
Automatic Weapon competition. The Army has since decided that only a few 
troops actually need fully automatic weapons and has changed their 
strategy. Meanwhile, we are stuck with all of those M16s..

> However, the physics of aerodynamics and chemistry of explosives has
> prevented us from making any dramatic advances in small arms.
> Logistics concerns _have_ prompted reducing ammo size/weight, but
> at the expense of performance.

There have in fact been a plethora of advancements in both weapon and 
ammunition size, weight, and performance. These in turn have necessitated 
improvements in armor and tactics as well. Even so, modern body armor is no 
match for the weapons that are now freely available on the market - weapons 
that have been developed in the last few years. Just ask your local 

Now to try and put this back on topic...

Scientific and technological advancements tend to run in cycles, short 
spurts followed by a period of consolidation and incremental improvement. 
Most theorist think that we are nearing the end of a slow period and should 
begin seeing new breakthroughs in the next twenty years. If for no other 
reason than the sheer amount of new information that we are acquiring.

Looking back at the past fifty years, only a few of the advancements we 
have made were even dreamed of, most were simply so far beyond the bounds 
of what was then known as to be inconceivable. I remember when the laser 
was invented. There were all sorts of predictions of the things it would do 
for us, a lot of which never happened. There have been many other things it 
has done though, things that we never even dreamed of then, simply because 
there were too many layers of technology missing.

Today's innocuous idea may become tomorrow's wonder invention, there simply 
isn't any way to tell in advance. The only thing that is certain is that 
things will have changed enormously fifty years from now, and other than 
perhaps the broadest of outlines, we cannot really predict what will 


                                                          (o o)

He who thro' vast immensity can pierce,
See worlds on worlds compose one universe,
Observe how system into system runs,
What other planets circle other suns,
What varied being peoples every star,
May tell why Heav'n has made us as we are.
					- Alexander Pope