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Old 02-11-2019, 01:51 PM   #201
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 2

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Varnish
You need a waterproofing varnish for primers. The usual TL6 choice was shellac, but that is not going to be available to the ASN: it comes from insects that live in India and Thailand. Indeed, the only decent varnish they have available is going to be based on pine resin, dissolved in alcohol.
Depends on how kind I (or more likely the dice, if there is no research-based reason to prefer one over the other) feel like being to them. Jötunheim has a biome entirely unfamiliar to most Antarctic Space Nazis. The places where they have most of their gates tend to be significantly warmer and more humid in climate than any Northern European area of today, but the first gates they found actually led to Arctic areas.

The evidence is that Jötunheim used to be a lot warmer and more humid than is now that the ASNs have discovered it, but that areas analogous to the poles are freezing rapidly (well, on a geological scale) and that many types of local flora and fauna are dying if they fail to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

And, oh, it's not an Earth-analogue, even if the underlying terrain where the settlement gates are could be said to be analogous to the area in Europe where the ASNs come from, if hotter. The best way to tell it's not an Earth analogue is that it's not a planet and the sun seems to be a magical energy source, not a star.

In any case, Jötunheim doesn't have very many Earth plants and, for example, a lot of grasses or grains were unknown there. And with the high level of volcanism, it's not exactly a garden world anyway. Ironically, the area where the ASNs are settling was probably not a very salubrious place in the last couple of millennia (or millions of years, even), but has become somewhat of a wildlife refuge with the climatic changes.

There's plenty of hostile flora and fauna, thus, even if there is evidence that up to 95% of the local biomass are in the process of dying out and the oceans, for example, have huge hypoxic dead zones (and some areas may have had such dead zones with unclear causes alternate with localized spurts of life that last thousands of years, for millions of years). Theories include natural shifts of mana levels, which affect the local lifeforms, as many of them are at least partly manavores.

In any case, the local insect life is pretty big and robust compared to familiar Earth insects. Let's say that it resembles fantastical versions of Jurassic and Cretaceous insects, with many strange adaptations to the local mana.

Could such giant insects yield anything useful as a shellac substitute?
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Old 02-11-2019, 01:59 PM   #202
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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Picric acid would be their go-to military explosive for the first generation or two, I expect. What would they need to have sorted out to be able to change over to the relatively safer and more convenient TNT?
Toluene is found in crude oil, but can also be made from coal. Production is otherwise similar to nitroglycerine.

The modern explosive of choice for large-scale mining and demolitions is ammonium nitrate-fuel oil - same stuff used in cruder form by terrorists for car bombs. It's available today in vast quantities because it's the nitrogenous fertilizer of choice. Without large-scale use of this for farming, cheap explosives in large scale probably means black powder, unless a dynamite plant is set up - which it might be if double-base propellants are used for guns.

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And if both were available, what would be the relative costs, assuming that they were generally on the cusp of TL5/TL6 in terms of infrastructure and economic strength, that their technology with military applications would tend to be more advanced, and they obviously still had the theoretical knowledge of early TL7?
TNT seems harder to make, but is more stable and less interested in turning into exotic metal salts when in contact with metals. It's also harder to detonate, so it requires more complicated fusing. This is one reason TNT wasn't used much for civilian purposes - dynamite is reasonably safe, and much easier to use.
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:11 PM   #203
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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That was my initial thought, but some research reveals that the British, for example, initially adopted the .303 as a black powder cartridge, three years later upgraded it to a double-base smokeless powder and then used that double-base powder alongside single-base powder and triple-base powder in the two World Wars.
The advantages of smokeless were obvious, and a double-base powder gave more wriggle room for avoiding existing patents.

Single-base powders were used in US-supplied ammunition during the World Wars; the US manufacturers of small-arms powder preferred to stick to single-base, since that was what the US Army wanted. Accepting that was expedient to get production running faster. Yes, the US made lots of .303 for British and Commonwealth use.

Have you a citation for triple-base powder in British small arms? I've only ever read of it being used in artillery, to reduce muzzle flash, which was especially important in naval combat at night.
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The British today issue rounds with double-base powder (e.g. 9x19mm Parabellum, new enhanced-effectiveness 7.62mm loads), single-base powder (e.g. the typical issue 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x51mm NATO) and triple-base powder (e.g. artillery ammunition).
Nowadays they take what they can afford. The British Army is a shadow of its former self.
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:22 PM   #204
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 2

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[Jötunheim is] not an Earth-analogue, even if the underlying terrain where the settlement gates are could be said to be analogous to the area in Europe where the ASNs come from, if hotter. The best way to tell it's not an Earth analogue is that it's not a planet and the sun seems to be a magical energy source, not a star.
That prompts other questions: are the other world Earth-analogues? If so, what are their night skies and stars like? Somebody will need to do some basic star mapping, in preparation for long-distance navigation.
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Could such giant insects yield anything useful as a shellac substitute?
Quite possibly, but it depends on their life cycle. The Lac insects are bizarre, and seem to produce the resin as part of their feeding on tree sap.
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Old 02-11-2019, 02:32 PM   #205
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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The advantages of smokeless were obvious, and a double-base powder gave more wriggle room for avoiding existing patents.

Single-base powders were used in US-supplied ammunition during the World Wars; the US manufacturers of small-arms powder preferred to stick to single-base, since that was what the US Army wanted. Accepting that was expedient to get production running faster. Yes, the US made lots of .303 for British and Commonwealth use.

Have you a citation for triple-base powder in British small arms? I've only ever read of it being used in artillery, to reduce muzzle flash, which was especially important in naval combat at night.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply the British used triple-base powder in small arms, merely that they issued it for military purposes. They use it for everything larger than personal weaponry nowadays, however, and someone might use it for specialized small arm ammunition for all I know (though I don't know if they do).

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Nowadays they take what they can afford. The British Army is a shadow of its former self.
Fair enough, but I note that even during modern times of military austerity and standardization, there is no apparent institutional inertia which prevents the adoption of specialized double-based ammunition for one type of 7.62x51mm ammunition, even as most military rifle ammunition is single-base.

Basically, militaries seem to have always been prepared to select single-, double- or triple-based powders for different rounds and to mix-and-match these smokeless powders pretty freely within their supply chains, even to the point of having different types of rounds for the same chambering use different powders.
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Old 02-11-2019, 03:23 PM   #206
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Default Earth analogues or not

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That prompts other questions: are the other world Earth-analogues? If so, what are their night skies and stars like? Somebody will need to do some basic star mapping, in preparation for long-distance navigation.
Only Germania Hyperborea, out of all worlds ASNs have found, resembles Earth in any meaningful fashion. That is, the physical geography of Eurasia, at least those parts they've visited, seems pretty close. There are even astrological similarities, but annoyingly, those are broad and superficial and seem to fall apart upon closer analysis.

The few ASNs who know some astronomy want to classify Germania Hyperborea as some kind of magical land which has no connection to Earth except in so far as there are some cultures that show similarities. The night skies might be close enough to find some of the same astrological symbols, but the actual astronomy is not even close enough to be able to determine any particular era of on an 'alternate Earth'.

It's just wrong. It seems to be a planet, they guess, but even if it is broadly similar to planet Earth and the conditions which affect it are mostly similar, the stars are just wrong.

Geologists among the ASNs, ironically, tend not to have this problem. They have no problem declaring Germania Hyperborea an Earth with a somewhat altered history, perhaps, but a refreshingly sound geology. I don't know how precisely geologists at early TL7 can date things, but I expect that they are no more precise than a few thousand years here or there, if they don't have reliable archaeological touchstones to help.

ASN historians and archaeologists are divided when it comes to their views on whether Germania Hyperborea is some version of Earth or not. If it is, they can't agree on any one change point. There are camps arguing for a local year of anywhere from -22,500 BCE to 500 CE, though if you ignore the more colorful amateurs from the fringes of the völkisch movements, you can maybe narrow it down to -1,000 BCE to 0 CE.

The problem with dating things according to history is that there is no single date of which the ASNs are aware at which the historical conditions match the observed evidence. First of all, there are quite sophisticated versions of some Iron Age tribes of pre-Roman contact in the terrain analogous to Central and Northern Europe, which would ordinarily narrow things down to no earlier than -800 BCE or so. But while the local Germanic tribes might not be that different from what archaeologists might expect before Roman influence, the Celt analogues range from being not very different from their Germanic neighbors to far more advanced material civilizations.

Some of the pseudo-Celtic civilizations and their neighbors have examples of technology, art, animal husbandry and other things that we use to classify TL in GURPS terms that would put them at TL3, which makes them at least equal to late La Téne cultures and in some ways superior. What they lack to be clearly post-Roman medieval peoples is that they seem to be rather decentralized politically and their religions are much more wild and pagan than the ASNs would expect from medieval people.

If we were to accept that TL3 is not only medieval, but actually applies to the Hellenic and Roman world before a 'fall' that broke down the widespread Mediterranean trade and effective infrastructure that linked much of the known world, and that the Hellenic and later Roman world was actually much more advanced than the Iron Age cultures of the Hittites, Assyrians, early Thraco-Dacians, early Aegeans, early Italics, early Hallstatt culture or wild tribal Germanics, that could fix a lot of our dating problems.

We could say that Germania Hyperborea was a version of Earth at a point after the Hellenic era began and before the Western Roman Empire fell. Obviously before there were Romans in Westphalia or even in in Gallia Transalpina, so before Caesar's time. Doing that could put our best guess for a local year at anywhere from -700 BCE to -60 BCE, going by the cultures nearest the ASNs, but the problem with that is that there is a distinct lack of empires and cultures elsewhere in the world which ought to be there if that were the actual date.

For example, there is no apparent Mycenaean Greece, not even as a fallen land of ruins and legends, and there is certainly no flowering of Ancient Greece, whether that would be Archaic Greece or Classical Greece.

There are people speaking Hellenic languages and cultures of various ethnicities clearly heavily influenced by the speakers of something linguistically related to something vaguely proto-Grecian, but it's not anything remotely close to Ancient Greek. There seems to have been a colonizing power of merchants and educated elites who might have spoken proto-Hellenic languages and spread widely around the Mediterranean analogue and even around the Black Sea, but they did not worship Olympian deities or espouse any recognizable version of the culture of Homer's Greeks.

Instead, the elite among these colonizers and traders were possibly Minoan and,there are several cultures still around that are dominated by religious beliefs and an elite class of priestesses and magic-users that may derive from Crete and/or from pre-Hellenic cultures in similar locations. Crete itself, however, is no longer any kind of important polity, but it seems to be held in some regard by cultures around it as a sacred place, destroyed by a great catastrophe.

So, the closest thing to a unified 'Aegean' culture are Minoan-influenced colonies, but many 'Minoan'-influenced cultures do not speak Hellenic languages, but languages that are probably Thraco-Dacian, Illyrian, Celtic and several languages that the ASNs have not classified yet. Indeed, some ASN philologists insist that the substrate of common influence is Pelasgian, not Minoan at all.

There's no Assyrian Empire, no Achaemenid Empire and, well, no Roman Kingdom or Republic emerging into any kind of world power. There are peoples who speak languages similar or related to all of these language groups, but they control a few city-states at most, no great empires.

The Romans don't seem to exist at all. Where Rome should be is a polity ruled by powerful magical overlords, where the elite isn't speaking any kind of Italic language at all, but some of the slaves and lower classes do speak a number of related languages, which seem to be mostly Italic (but include some Celtic languages among the slaves and a few disputed ones that may be pidgins or Creoles).

This possibly pseudo-Tyrrhenian polity might be a threat to the ASNs in the future, but its lack of expansionist fervor and distance from any gates that the ASNs use heavily has so far made it more sensible to trade with them in a limited fashion and otherwise ignore them.

There was a Semitic-speaking culture with a lot of ocean-going trade going on around the Mediterranean analogue, but they weren't recognizably Carthaginians and probably not Punic, either. And, in any case, they only had city-states and mostly just traded peacefully in lands claimed by other cultures. They were not a unified polity, just a widespread trading culture that shared similar languages or dialects, beliefs and values, but each city seems to have been independent of the others.

Speakers of one of the Semitic languages* were growing into a regional power in the western Med analogue, but during a war with the local population of some islands, the ASNs intervened on the side of the non-Semitic, racially 'Mediterranean' natives (who speak a language, or even languages, that the ASNs can't classify.**

The ASNs 'destroyed' the Semitic polity on the islands and shattered the Semitic trading culture. At least the ASNs caused their trading network so much damage, by attacking shipping and burning their ports on the northern shores of the Mediterranean analogue, that the Semitic-speaking culture are temporarily knocked out as as any kind of global or supra-regional contender, anyway.

*As far as the ASN philologists can tell, it is probably West Semitic, but it is not Akkadian, Aramaic, Assyrian, Hebrew, Phoenician or Punic. It may be a close relative of extinct Amorite languages, perhaps even a descendant of Ugaritic, but if so, it's not as if the ASNs could confirm that, not having any Ugaritic speakers. Hell, most of their amateur philologists and even some of their professionals could believe in H.S. Chamberlain's and Rosenberg's theory that the Amorites were fierce and proud Aryan warriors!
**As, indeed, a lot of natives seem to do. Some of it reflects the difference between our late TL8 historical linguistics, archaeology and related disciplines and the politically influenced early TL7 philology and prehistory of 1940s Germans, especially considering that this branch of ASN 'science' was dominated by the Anhnenerbe. Some of it, though, is the fact that plenty of archaeological cultures in pre-Hellenic and pre-Roman Europe spoke languages that we can't classify very well either and may not be closely related to any languages that survived in written sources that we have access to.
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:00 PM   #207
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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It's just wrong. It seems to be a planet, they guess, but even if it is broadly similar to planet Earth and the conditions which affect it are mostly similar, the stars are just wrong.
There are some easy checks for it being a planet. Star altitudes from two locations with a few hundred miles of north-south separation will give you its approximate radius, and a Foucault Pendulum will tell you if it's rotating.
Quote:
Geologists among the ASNs, ironically, tend not to have this problem. They have no problem declaring Germania Hyperborea an Earth with a somewhat altered history, perhaps, but a refreshingly sound geology. I don't know how precisely geologists at early TL7 can date things, but I expect that they are no more precise than a few thousand years here or there, if they don't have reliable archaeological touchstones to help.
I believe you're right there.
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Old 02-11-2019, 04:12 PM   #208
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Default Re: Earth analogues or not

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There are some easy checks for it being a planet. Star altitudes from two locations with a few hundred miles of north-south separation will give you its approximate radius, and a Foucault Pendulum will tell you if it's rotating.
Well, this is why they believe it's a planet. All the tests they can do give results consistent with it being a planet of general Earth-like structure and size.

It's the fact that all the other worlds they've visited tend not to be which makes them skeptical, especially as some of these other worlds have magical effects that produce apparent stars without having the decency to have the kind of space that would be normal; or show evidence of having seasons, tides and even continental drift without orbiting a sun, having a moon or actually having any kind of physical structure that makes sense.

Germania Hyperborea seems to be none of these things, thankfully, but before anyone has managed to circumnavigate it and take careful measurements, none of the physicists, astronomers and other experts in fields which are shockingly hard done by in most of the worlds the ASNs visit, are prepared to assert anything positively.

As one of them no doubt said, there is no test that he can perform which will tell them whether any part of Germania Hyperborea that is not under their direct observation might not be simply the invention of a bored imp of vast power, who has dedicated its capricious existence to falsifying experimental results and convincing them that they are in fact finally on a planet, when they are simply exploring yet another non-Euclidean dimension that is simply more cleverly disguised as a planet.

The stars are not just wrong in the sense that they don't match any known year on Earth. They are wrong in the sense that whatever exists out in that space might not even be real or if it is, it might not be in any way similar to the conditions in the space around our Earth.

Edit: Well, actually, now that I consider it, I guess that some enterprising airship commander has probably managed to circumnavigate Germania Hyperborea in a well-supplied zeppelin powered by an Elemental Furnace, at some point between Year 25 to 51. To be certain in his navigation, there would have been not only Hexensoldat rune-casters on board, but also a dowser of some power and a magi learned in many different traditions. They'd have homed in on landmarks using magic and checked all celestial navigation, even by the sun, against divinations and dowsing.

Obviously, the exploration our intrepid ASN explorer could perform in foreign lands was pretty limited, as he had to stay fairly high to avoid potential magical threats from locals, but he'd at least have collected visual impressions and started on mapping. And long before circumnavigation, there would have been expeditions to confirm that topography followed similar outlines as Earth all the way from the analogue of the Atlantic Coast of Eurasia in the west to the Caucasus mountains in the east, from the Arctic circle to the Mediterranean analogue.

And possibly somewhat further south than that, though that starts to get pretty dangerous before ASN zeppelins can reliably cruise the entire trip without ever having to land, as there are powerful sorcerers on the southern shores of the Mediterranean analogue and most of them don't like the ASNs.

It's true that magic on Germania Hyperborea is generally not as dramatic and kinetic as it is on some of the more overtly fantastic worlds and rarely as useful for mayhem as technology, at least not on a combat time-scale, at any rate not outside Places of Power (which tend to surround magical gateways, however).

And certainly no single magician could reach out over thousands of feet and bring down an airship. But there is still a risk that a circle of powerful practitioners might manage to curse the vessel or the crew in some way and cause them bad luck and even accidents. And without the ability to land, any accident might be fatal. Even subtly spoiled water, which could be done at a range, might be rapidly fatal to a crew without the magical might to cleanse it.

Any preference for the exact year or at least an approximate date range the ASNs made their first circumnavigation of Germania Hyperborea?

And which routes he took?

Or if there should have been several expeditions by now, each taking a slightly different route?

I'm personally partial to the first circumnavigation having been recent, only after TL5^ Elemental Furnaces had been adopted and the kinks worked out. Before that, the speeds were too low for anyone to try, as they'd not have been able to avoid any possible native culture which had some flying mounts or something else that threatened airships.

I'd like the zeppelin Parsifal to have done it, maybe in Year 49 or so. They're planning another circumnavigation that will follow another route, but there is a fairly powerful ASN faction arguing that the exploration of other worlds is more important.

There is no arguing that it is generally more profitable, as the ASNs have little material to gain from discovering something valuable located thousands of kilometers of terrain from one of their magical gates or any access to the World Tree. It's just quicker, easier and more practical to find a new world with that resource and set up a settlement around the gate.
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:30 PM   #209
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Default Re: Industrial Chemistry, part 1

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Have you a citation for triple-base powder in British small arms? I've only ever read of it being used in artillery, to reduce muzzle flash, which was especially important in naval combat at night.
Even then, many navies never bothered. The RN did in WWII, the USN didn't (the USN went into WWII apparently assuming that all battles would take place in calm Pacific seas and in broad daylight), for example.
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Old 02-11-2019, 06:50 PM   #210
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Default Shellac

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Quite possibly, but it depends on their life cycle. The Lac insects are bizarre, and seem to produce the resin as part of their feeding on tree sap.
Well, WAG time, forumites. Is it more or less likely than 50% that the sub-tropical areas of Jötunheim where the ASNs have their settlements might have giant insects, magical or otherwise, that produce a useful shellac substitute?

I rolled a 10, so if it's 50% or more likely, the ASNs get to harvest Jötunheim giant insect goo for all their shellac-related needs, but if is it is less likely than that, in y'all's opinion, they are out of luck in that department.

I'm aware that any opinions can't be based on entirely scientific principles, as you lack a lot of knowledge about the place (much of which I haven't even decided on yet) and Jötunheim is explicitly not an Earth-like world and while it does have some species that are analogous to Earth fossils from the Mesozoic, it also has lots of magical variations and some entirely biologically impossible flora and fauna. But, uh, your gut feeling and any analogies you want to draw must guide you.
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