(urth) Problematic element in chronology

Jack Smith jack.smith.1946 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 2 11:07:25 PDT 2011

Here are some comments of the speed of the Whorl:


You have to travel very fast to get to any stars because of their great
distance.   To reach even the closest star in 300 years, you

 would need a speed of about 1.5% of light (10,000,000 MPH)


It would take an enormous amount of energy to accelerate as massive an
object as the Whorl to even 1.5% light speed.

 We don't know where this energy would come from.


A travel speed close to the speed of light would explain why only 300 years
have elapsed on the Whorl while 1000 to 2000 years  (a chiliad or 2) have
gone by on Urth

 At 95% of speed of light, Whorl time would be 300 years for 1000 Urth

 At 99% of speed of light, Whorl time would be 300 years for 2000 Urth years


Of course, it's more complicated than that.   You have to accelerate the
ship up to a high speed, and then  decelerate to stop at Blue-Green system.

 The rate of acceleration has to be slow, or the cargo would be pressed
against the back of the ship.

 Acceleration  would have to be very low.    At an acceleration of 1/100 G,
it would take about 97 years to get up to about speed of light.

 You could then coast for 100 years, and then decelerate for 97 years,
making a total time of about 300 years ship time.


I'm not at all sure that Gene Wolfe made any exact calculations.  It seems
to me more likely that he just relied on time slowing down at speeds close
to the speed of light.

On Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 1:38 PM, Sergei SOLOVIEV <soloviev at irit.fr> wrote:

> I made some computations (simplified) and it seems to me that indeed
> GW does not pay too much attention either to physics or to chronology. Very
> roughly,
> with constant acceleration of 1 m/sec^2 it is needed about 50 years to get
> to relativistic speed, and the same to slow down. But for the hollow
> asteroid such as Whorl where inside you have lakes etc, 1 m/sec^2
> is already too much - if its rotation imitates ordinary gravity near Viron,
> the effect will be as if the flatland near the city becomes inclined about
> 10%.
> What will become to all liquids? Buildings? What will happen near the
> poles?
> The point is, I think, that we should be not very critical to technical
> details
> because the "convention" (between the author and the reader) is not
> very rigorous.
> Sergei
> Gerry Quinn wrote:
>> From: "Sergei SOLOVIEV" <soloviev at irit.fr>
>>  Moses made Jews wander 40 years through Sinai. If you take the shortest
>>> way, it is
>>> at most a few hundred kilometres. What makes you think that the Whorl had
>>> taken the shortest path to its destination? It could very well go with
>>> relativistic
>>> speed and make a detour. It seems also that the plan might include that
>>> the Whorl
>>> will come back and repeople Urth (Ushas) after the floods etc. - in the
>>> end
>>> of the Short Sun cycle it is going to be repaired and travel again - to
>>> go where?
>>> Some hints are also in the end of "The Urth of the New Sun".
>> It's not easy to turn a relativistic asteroid!  And it doesn't seem like
>> they stopped anywhere en route, so why waste all that energy?
>> If Typhon wanted to repopulate Urth at a later time (but he says nothing
>> of any such plan when he meets Severian in BotNS) he could have put sleepers
>> on Lune or something.  But anyway he had no reason to make any such plan.
>> My impression is that the Whorl is intended to be repaired and explore
>> further among the stars.  Perhaps that was the original plan, derailed by
>> the death of Pas.
>> - Gerry Quinn
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Best wishes,
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