Glossary for Earthers


The authors have done their best to use the vernacular of Earthers in the event that unredacted editions of this work will be smuggled past the UNE censors. However, some distinctions common to spacers may be unfamiliar and we thus offer this brief glossary.

A very densely populated structure or hyperstructure. Popularized by twentieth-century Earth visionary Paolo Soleri, who coined the term.

Astronomical Unit. One AU is the distance from the Earth to Sol, or about 149-million kilometers. The speed of light is about 0.3 million kilometers per second, so it takes an electromagnetic (EM) signal about eight minutes to travel one AU. That’s a huge distance!

Physicists have not figured out how to send radio and other electromagnetic (EM) signals faster than the speed of light (FTL), so FTL ships consistently outrun their messages. Since information is often more valuable than mass, ships carry messages and news-storage systems that synchronize with beacons near stations. Ships resync on-board memory with these beacons every time they leave a station and enter a new system. Each ship that downloads to a beacon receives some revenue.

Mark IX Cила Грузчик, or Power Loader designed on a Russian colony near Bernard’s Star. They are nicknamed “Cruisers” because in English, the name sounds like “silly cruischick.” Cargo handlers sometimes refer to themselves as Cruisers, but the term is considered an insult if used by anyone else, especially when referring to a woman.

Electromagnetic waves, like radio, TV, light, infrared, ultraviolet, gamma, and X-rays, which travel at the speed of light.

Electromagnetic pulse. A strong EM wave that essentially zaps all nearby electronics.

Earth Time. A useful baseline for coordination in time. Loosely based on Earth Standard Time and the convenient assumption that there is one single time for everything in the universe. ET is useful in all astrophysical calculations and has nothing whatsoever to do with the timekeeping devices on each ship or mass. An exact correlation is very difficult over light-years because everything of interest moves at fractions of the speed of light. Navigation computers only have a useful approximation.

Floor typically refers to the horizontal platform under your feet on a colony, moon, or planet with a stable gravity. Deck refers to the similar structure of a vessel. However, stationers think of their stations as stable and permanent and use floor. Spacers often refer to the deck on a station, which identifies them to stationers.

Voluntary organization of Earth farmers first organized in the United States in the nineteenth century. Earth agriculture became socialized by 2040 under UN regulations and land productivity has declined ever since.

A large mass that distorts space-time like a bowling ball on a trampoline.

Interstellar Sports Association.

In common language these can be stated as (1) all positions are relative (there are no fixed reference points, only conventions); (2) everything is moving all the time; and (3) you can only know for sure where things were, not where they are. (0) Law 0 was included later to keep the math honest. Law 0: the arrow of time is unidirectional.

Archaic technology from early twenty-first century where an array of low-power lasers separated adjoining rooms with a translucent curtain of light. It replaced the modestly priced hanging beads found more commonly in environments with steady gravity. Light curtains were also less likely to become a choking hazard if gravity shifted or was lost.

Navigator, rating-four. This designation refers to the skill level of a navigator as assessed by an independent agency. In this case, John’s post is chief warrant officer of navigation. A nav-five rating would qualify him to be posted to pilot and senior navigator for the Tiger, but Jerri currently held that post. The post is different from rank, such as captain, commander, pilot, chief warrant officer, petty officer, or seaman. Rank and post are also different from skill level.

Officer On Deck. The OOD is the ship’s officer in charge of the bridge during a shift and serves as the direct representative of the captain

Sometimes just known as sphere. When you jump, there is uncertainty in time and space about where you will end up. This is due to your lack of certainty of the positions and masses of everything along your path. This uncertainty is shown by drawing a sphere around a calculated destination. The second law of nav says, “Everything is moving all the time,” so it is difficult to calculate precisely where you will end up, unless you know every mass and where it’s all going. That’s impossible to do without infinite compute resources. So there is always an uncertainty of where you’ll end up, and that uncertainty can be shown as a sphere. It’s actually more like a sphere with a hollow center because there is absolutely no chance you will hit what you aimed at. The sphere grows exponentially with distance, so shorter jumps have smaller spheres.

Warm-suit—emergency gear for an air leak. Warm-suits have a carbon mesh and an inflatable clear hood to allow the wearer to survive in a vacuum for a few hours. A rebreather and temperature control are built in. It will not last more than a few hours in a hard vacuum and is no protection against weapons.
lash or a wink.

The executive officer or first officer is next in command to the captain.

 (c) 2014, 2015 B. R. Strong, Jr.

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