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Old 01-26-2020, 05:37 PM   #41
Icelander
 
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Default What Kind of Physicist (in the real world) Would Investigate the Occult?

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Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
On the physics front, I was thinking a high energy physicist or particle physicist, who might have theories to test about the nature of reality on the island. Your tellurgist, though, would probably cover the same ground.

As well as measuring gravity and EM propagation, he might try to observe radioactive decay samples. Bubble chambers, cloud chambers or spark chambers might still work effectively when electronics fail.

And he might be dreaming about getting a portable synchrotron onto the island to test CP-parity of kaons, although I don't think we can do that on a desktop device today, let alone in the 90s.

There are also secondary cosmic rays which can be observed at ground level, but I'm not sure how much he could calculate about them on the spot.
Right.

In your opinion, is it likely that a physicist who could carry out some or all of these experiments might have been employed by Kessler before, in the period 1987-1995, researching something related to the paranormal?

By which I mean, if you knew for a fact that the supernatural existed and had spent years trying to learn more about it and gather evidence that there existed a paranormal threat to humanity, would one of the scholars and academics you consulted be some variety of physicist?

And if so, which variety would be most plausible?
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:38 PM   #42
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

Depends on how much of that activity presents as dimensional phenomena, such as errant landmasses.

But like I said, your tellurgist might have gained some experimental physics practice.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:52 PM   #43
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Default Physics

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Depends on how much of that activity presents as dimensional phenomena, such as errant landmasses.
Prior this this event at the end of August 1995, none at all.

However, supernatural phenomena appeared to cause interference with a wide range of electronics and even other technological devices, correlating somewhat with the evident intensity of unnatural influences. And vice versa, in that paranormal phenomena almost never seemed to occur anywhere with a heavy concentration of modern technology, nor indeed anywhere populated mostly with technologically savvy, industrialized, mostly secular people, where belief in the supernatural was rare.

At its simplest, humans or animals that seemed to show physical alterations from presumed magical effects were notoriously difficult to photograph well and if captured or found deceased, were generally found no longer to show whatever alarming physical oddity witnesses reported by the time they were transported into an examination or autopsy room filled with modern technology.

The pattern most commonly observed by Kessler and his people in the years 1987-1995 is that nothing interesting (for their purposes) ever happened in well-lit areas filled with cameras, scientific instruments and reliable, credible witnesses. However, reports about voodoo curses in rural areas of Caribbean islands or hauntings at night in lonely old houses in New Orleans sometimes did turn out to be apparently true, but generally caused instrument malfunctions which rendered any evidence open to discreditation.
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Old 01-26-2020, 07:03 PM   #44
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Default Re: Physics

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However, supernatural phenomena appeared to cause interference with a wide range of electronics and even other technological devices, correlating somewhat with the evident intensity of unnatural influences. And vice versa, in that paranormal phenomena almost never seemed to occur anywhere with a heavy concentration of modern technology, nor indeed anywhere populated mostly with technologically savvy, industrialized, mostly secular people, where belief in the supernatural was rare.
In that case, yeah, you'd probably get physicists with theories (or "theories," perhaps).

Interference with electronics wouldn't just happen, according to their worldview. There'd be a mechanism to it, and that would be open to exploration by experiment. You'd have to decide, for example, if a bubble chamber was a technological device and how it reacts in the presence of the supernatural, and further experiments would flow on from those results.

8 years is a good amount of time to throw experiments at something, but that would be limited by how frequent the phenomena are.
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Old 01-26-2020, 07:05 PM   #45
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Default Re: Physics

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Originally Posted by Daigoro View Post
In that case, yeah, you'd probably get physicists with theories (or "theories," perhaps).

Interference with electronics wouldn't just happen, according to their worldview. There'd be a mechanism to it, and that would be open to exploration by experiment. You'd have to decide, for example, if a bubble chamber was a technological device and how it reacts in the presence of the supernatural, and further experiments would flow on from those results.

8 years is a good amount of time to throw experiments at something, but that would be limited by how frequent the phenomena are.
Right.

If Kessler wanted to know more about the mechanics behind such interference, what kind of physicists would he look to cultivate and recruit?
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Old 01-26-2020, 07:34 PM   #46
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

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As things unfold over the few days that the island is visible, there probably wouldn't be time for journalists to become involved. Commercial flights in the Caribbean and surrounding area are heavily disrupted by the four tropical storms active simultaneously at the end of August and beginning of September. Even in areas where the storms haven't yet hit, there are weather warnings, as at least two of the storms are moving erratically and their paths are hard to predict.

In order to get the expedition members to Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands, it is necessary to use private planes or boats, with pilots and crew willing to risk the weather. That is practical for Kessler, because he is literally a bilionaire and already has several boats and planes based in Florida, the Bahamas and several of the Leeward and Windward Islands, with crew used to catering to his eccentric desires, but it is not as easy for journalists.

Also, there aren't all that many people who would want to leak this. There is a private pilot who saw the island, by accident, but while he did tell several people, it isn't as if any reputable news source can print it without some form of confirmation that there is something out there. Absent that, the news would be 'Local pilot misreads instruments, thinks he is at a different location and tells a wild story'.

Any others who know ahout it are either Kessler's staff, chosen for loyalty and tight-lippedness, expedition members who'd be risking their spots and salaries by talking, not to mention tanking their own credibility by talking to press before they really know anything, and then possibly someone from the US Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard.

Even if some journalist hears unconfirmed reports about something interesting being spotted in the Atlantic a couple of hundred miles north of Puerto Rico and/or about several academics congregating on one of the Virgin Islands, flying or sailing there in private transport despite bad weather, I don't think any journalist could make it there before the expedition leaves. It's not like news organizations have private transport crewed by ex-military types kept ready at all times to be ready to chase down paranormal occurances.

If a local journalist comes around asking questions, there would be a PR person and a number of attorneys who'd cite confidentiality concerns (everyone involved is obviously heavily NDA'ed) and give prepared and boring answers related to meteorological and oceanographic surveys and valuable research instruments that need to be removed from the path of Hurricane Luis.

They'd be covered under two or three different entities, one of them a company involved in offshore mining (where CDR Shackleford, the expedition leader, genuinely works) and maybe one or two private scientific research institutions where others involved work.


This is actually backstory. The campaign is set in 2018/2019.

Teddy Smith (PC) was one of the security on this expedition and along with fifteen other expedition members, as well as several boat crew, a private pilot and a mechanic, he disappeared when the expedition was caught in Hurricane Luis.

Twenty three years later, at the start of play, he washed ashore on the island of Dominica, a good six hundred miles away from where he disappeared (the twenty three years lost at sea were rather more remarkable, of course). With him were two other members of the security team, one catatonic and one incoherent, as well as Professor Harlan P. Wehmeyer.

I'm establishing the names, background and connections of the other members of the expedition for backstory purposes and because their families, friends and connections might affect Mr. Smith in play.
That's very cool. I imagine that Kessler has been keeping it covered up for a while now. Hmmm. What else could happen? Lots of good threads here.

Another question: Is the island active with ley lines? Those supposedly can do wonky things to instrumentation. If so you could have the island be a bit of a vortex and be covered with planes, trains, and automobiles from all over.

Is it inhabited?
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Old 01-26-2020, 08:37 PM   #47
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

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That's very cool. I imagine that Kessler has been keeping it covered up for a while now. Hmmm. What else could happen? Lots of good threads here.
Well, Kessler couldn't cover up the disappearance of twenty two people, almost half of whom were respected academics or scientists. However, their boat was literally and evidently caught in the path of Hurricane Luis and so their disappearance was more tragic than truly mysterious.

The offshore oil company registered as their contractual employer as freelance consultants (or salaried employers in a few cases) went bankrupt as a consequence of law suits resulting from the presumed deaths, but the holding company through which Kessler's ownership share was handled elected to compensate the families anyway, with fairly generous settlements, which, however, were contingent on the terms of the NDAs signed by the decedents being honored by their families.

The return of Professor Hehmeyer, Mr. Smith, Mr. van der Berg and Mr. Tembo Banda in 2018 required far more effort to prevent inconvenient attention, but fortunately they drifted ashore on Dominica, where Kessler has been a citizen for decades, where the local economy depends heavily on business he brings in and where his influence is considerably more than that of any elected official.

Of the four, only Professor Hehmeyer is in any sense known in the world, and he is not available for comment, being confined to a mental institution, as indeed Mr. van der Berg and Mr. Tembo Banda are. Mr. Smith, also a citizen of Dominica, was technically never declared dead and, indeed, never actually confirmed as having been on board the boat which sank in Hurricane Luis.

Mr. Smith's reappearance is therefore not a matter of official concern for anyone, especially as he continued to draw a salary for all the years he was missing and a firm of accountants duly paid all necessary fees and taxes. It is true that no one knows where he's been the last twenty three years, but he's not actually obliged to discuss that subject with anyone. It would be different if he'd been listed on any documents as present at the accident, but he wasn't. As far as anyone is legally concerned, Mr. Smith has spent the last two decades or so living on Dominica.

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Another question: Is the island active with ley lines? Those supposedly can do wonky things to instrumentation. If so you could have the island be a bit of a vortex and be covered with planes, trains, and automobiles from all over.
The island was located smack dab within one of the 'Vile Vortices' which Kessler, Commander Shackleford and Professor Wehmeyer believed represented focal areas of supernatural influence and nexus points from which ley lines throughout the world flowed.

This particular 'Vile Vortex' is popularly, if wrongly, known as the 'Bermuda Triangle'.

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Is it inhabited?
Ironically, no.

Although there were some ancient ruins there and some decidedly unusual fauna.

The surrounding waters, however, were very much inhabited, by intelligent acquatic /amphibious beings that Teddy Smith, because of his interests and background, dubbed the 'Nommo'. They were fearsome, savage, ruthless and worshipped some pretty scary things, but they were also decidedly preferable to many other things found in the depths, not to mention other things capable of reaching the island for nefarious purposes.

Teddy Smith only remembers about two years of the twenty three years he was supposedly missing, but whether that's caused by time flowing differently or him having lost most of his memories from that strange sidereal world of eternal twilight is not entirely clear. In any case, the tale he tells is that he heard some similarities in the speech of the inhuman 'Nommo' to the language of the Dogon people of Mali, whose language he happened to know.

So Teddy was able to communicate with the 'Nommo' and eventually learned their language, their ways and their methods of survival. He also learned the magic and alchemy they used in place of technology (they were TL0, but had potent magic that allowed them to do many things that humans would use technology for).

While Teddy is unclear on how he escaped the twilight realm, what is clear that in the time of the actual campaign, Teddy has been altered in important ways by his ordeal. For one thing, he spends hours every day swimming in the ocean and is uneasy at the thought of travelling far from it. For another, in areas of strong supernatural influences, Teddy appears to have gills.
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Old 01-27-2020, 02:03 AM   #48
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

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Right.

If Kessler wanted to know more about the mechanics behind such interference, what kind of physicists would he look to cultivate and recruit?
Either a particle physicist and/or a cosmologist. They're, to an approximation, the experimental/theoretical sides of the "what is stuff made of" coin.
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Old 01-27-2020, 09:18 AM   #49
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Default Re: Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island

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Either a particle physicist and/or a cosmologist. They're, to an approximation, the experimental/theoretical sides of the "what is stuff made of" coin.
Excellent.

Are there any other kinds of physicists, engineers or other academics or scientists whom Kessler's network might have consulted with to find out why supernatural phenomena seemed to disrupt such disparate technological devices as phones, radios, televisions, radar, medical imagining devices (of many kinds), video cameras, microchips of various sorts, LED bulbs, electrical wiring, fuses and a range of other things?
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Old 01-27-2020, 01:25 PM   #50
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Default Conculting Astronomers for Investigating the Occult

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Neither is as important as the interest in the history of positional astronomy, which is what you need to get someone who can make the measurements without having to learn how first.

Possible, but almost any astronomer knows enough positional astronomy for that.
The situations that I can imagine Kessler or someone in his network might have conculted an astronomer would be something like:
  • A historical reference to an occult ritual allegedly performed in the past mentions, in cryptic notation, the need for the stars to be right, complete with various astrological and decanic lore. The reference isn't dated, but there are clues in the text that point to the exact location and the approximate time period. What kind of academic can not only decode which astronomical phenomena the various esoteric names refer to, but also determine the exact date of the ritual from the historical position of the stars mentioned?
  • A rogue magician attempts a ritual, but fails to achieve the nefarious effects he intended, despite having performed a bloody human sacrifice in the appropriate place of power. Ranting and raving, he bemoans that he must have misinterpreted the prophecy, an astrological horoscope drawn up by someone using Chaldean terms, that indicates that the poor murdered child was the correct ritual sacrifice to summon a demon of unspeakable foulness. What academics do you consult to correct the horoscope for actual positions of the stars in question at the birth of the child of prophecy, when correctly converted to modern calendars (in order to be able to protect any children that actually fit the prophecy)?
  • You are wondering whether the geographical and chronological concentration of reported supernatural events and/or the apparent ebb and flow of the power and frequency of paranormal phenomena in any one location has any discernable correlation with the positions or orbits of stars or other celestial objects.

I'm sure there are other possibilities for consulting astronomers when investigating the occult. I wonder, however, what the background and education of anyone Kessler might have approached with such questions in the past might be and whether they would be useful for exploring the unknown island?
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