Article Ideas

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A list of articles to be written for Galactic Library.


(Article) Fermi Paradox

List proposed solutions
Apes vs. angels
Discuss Drake Equation, and ranges of its values

(Article) First-Contact

Discuss possible scenarios: signals, probes, generation ship, FTL ship, wormhole, weapon strike, ...
Discuss possible intentions:
trade (crosslink): culture, history, tech, tourism
attack: first-strike (crosslink dark forest), extermination
exploitation: colonization, mining rights, resources
neutral vs. friendly vs. hostile, and which might be likely for which scenarios
(the gray areas in-between; e.g. resources can be traded, colonies can be exchanged, first-strikes can be misunderstandings)
Note: split?

(Article) Dark-Forest Hypothesis

Society / Culture / Economics

(Article) Alien Societies

Discuss the types of societies that can form, including those opened via non-human intelligence (e.g. hive minds, telepathy, nomadic belters, etc.
Discuss the way biology shapes, but does not dictate, society. Sociology-for-SF-Writers (much of current Intelligent Aliens article goes here)
Discuss development of societies.
Discuss the impact of technologies.
Tool Use, Socialization & Communications
Margaret Meade's "The first sign of civilization is a healed broken leg" quote

(Article) Three-Generation Rule

(Article) Interstellar Governments

What Does An Interstellar Government Do?
Unified Foreign Policy
Protection of Trade
Military Monopoly
Impartial Court System
Guarantee of Sophont Rights
Governments Have Interests, But Not Friends
Interstellar Empires
Justification: Communication Speed vs. Delegated Local Decision-Making (Traditional SF argument)
Failure Mode: Corruption, Hereditary Political Power Has Problems.
Failure Mode: Uncaring Imperial Bureaucracy.
Rising Empire vs Declining Empire vs The Long Night
Literary Benefit: Makes it much easier to lump authority in with a small group of protagonists!
Interstellar Representative Governments
Justification: People who make it to Interstellar Space are going to be 'reasonable' about respecting differences.
Failure Mode: Constantly running for elections results in schisms.
Failure Mode: Vulnerable to extremists.
Failure Mode: Uncaring Federation Bureaucracy
Rising New Government vs Mature Government vs Agglomerating Multiple Governments Into A Single State
Literary Benefit: Makes it (somewhat) easier to say one side comes from a morally superior society

(Article) Piracy

Piracy is a Cost/Benefit Analysis for Both Sides
Requirements: Confined trade route with valuable goods
Requirements: Place to Sell Your Stuff
Success Is Self Limiting: If you get good at this, you invite competition. If you're *very* successful, the Navy shows up.
Literary Benefit: Charlie Stross's Take on Pirates
Literary Benefit: Pirates are a stand-in for Honorable Barbarians/Honorable Individualists/Plucky Resistance Fighters

(Article) Kardashev Scale

(Category) Intelligence, Transhumanism, and Posthumanism

(Article) The nature of intelligence

(Article) Pattern Identity Theory

(Article) Consciousness and Philosophy of Mind

sentience vs. sapience
biological definition of life

(Article) Uploading

(Article) Biological / Computer Interface

(Article) Machine Intelligence and AI


(Article) Vingian Technological Singularity

(Article) Biological requirements for intelligence

General Intelligence, how you get it and what it's good for

(Category) (Exo-)Biology

(Article) Exotic biochemistry

Amino Acid Chirality, the 3:1 Right to Left handed ratio in Molecular Gas Clouds
Left-handed DNA, other information-carrying molecules
Arsenic, Silicon, etc. -based life
Non-water life
[@KuroKitten is working on this]

(Article) Alien Bodies

Body plans (symmetric, radial, distributed)
Abilities (healing, flying, walking, etc.)
Intelligence (crosslink)

(Article) Natural Selection

(or better, link to Wikipedia)
(or just incorporate into Evolution & Ecology)

(Article) Evolution and Ecology

crosslink life inception
the one crazy trick that let life go multicellular
crosslink to natural selection (or make Natural Selection go here)
Explain in particular how biospheres "shape" what the creatures look like over time
Natural selection leaves a lot of undocumented patch notes / why human birth canals and sinuses are kludgy hacks, other human biology kludgy hacks.
What kludgy hacks do your alien species have? (List possible ones to spark thought/discussion)

(Article) Life Inception

Panspermia and other dubious but common concepts
how to get an infestation of life

(Category) Habitability

(Article) Terraforming

Note: BizzaroLand has requested to be allocated this topic
crosslink shell world

(Article) Locations

Kracc is working on this
universe (constants, etc.), planets, moons, artificial habitats
crosslinks to astronomy and worldbuilding

Astronomy and Cosmology

(Category) Planets and Moons

(Article) Our Solar System

orbital elements of *everything* in one easy-to-copy-table
crosslink orbital mechanics / orbital elements

(Article) Planets and Dwarf / Minor Planets

crosslink to SF examples

(Article) Moons and Asteroids

(Article) Comets

(Article) Habitability

Habitable zone
Tidal locking
The Debatable Importance of Plate Tectonics
Habitable Worlds Are Only Habitable For Limited Periods of (Geological) Time

(Article) Stars

stellar evolution
white dwarf / Chandrasekhar limit, black dwarf
HR Diagram, sizes, colors
Metallicity, population I, II, III
binary (P type, S type)
crosslink to blackbody spectrum
crosslink to Stefan–Boltzmann Law

(Article) Galaxies

Galaxies are Inconveniently Large (so are spiral arms!)
types of galaxies, the types of their stars, and the implications for civilizations
crosslink to black holes / quasars

(Article) Black Holes (Astronomy)

quasars, accretion disks, x-ray emitters
crosslink: physics / black hole physics

(Article) Interplanetary / Interstellar Medium (ISM)

ions, atoms, molecules
local bubble

(Article) Other Objects

neutron stars / Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit,
brown dwarf, pulsars, nebulae
crosslink to black holes

(Article) Dark Matter and Dark energy

(Article) Elemental Abundance and Nucleosynthesis

Where Do Radioactive Elements Come From

Physics and Engineering

(Article) Blackbody Spectrum

(Article) Stefan–Boltzmann Law

explanation, implications, and calculator

(Article) Diffraction

written by lwcamp
crosslink lasers

(Article) Crash Course in Special Relativity

analogy of apparent size being a function of distance

(Article) Crash Course in Quantum Mechanics

Demystifying the bankrupt term "wave-particle duality"
Schrödinger's cat
zero-point energy

(Article) Gravity

The Gravity/General Relativity/Quantum Mechanics "known unknowns" -- the lack of a unified theory of both. (Goes somewhere else?)

(Article) Thermodynamics


(Article) Black Holes (Physics)

types of spacetime solutions (rotation, charge)
calculator of properties
crosslink: black holes in astronomy

(Article) Nanotechnology

crosslink trans-/post-humanism

(Category) Speculative, Handwavium, and Fictional

(Category Article) Metric Engineering

gravity engineering: direct or gravitoelectromagnetic
artificial black holes, kugelblitz
crosslink wormholes
crosslink antigravity

(Article) Wormholes

Types of wormhole
Causality attacks
Note: split?

(Article) Warp Drives

crosslink metric engineering

(Article) Minkowski Cones, Causality Violations & How To Work Around Them

(Article) Computation On Closed Timelike Curves (Minsky paper)

(Article) Teleportation


(Article) Stable Superheavy Elements

(Article) Magnetic Monopoles


(Article) Antigravity

(Article) Psionics

(Article) Cognitohazards

(Article) Winterblaster

(Category) Rocketry and Aerospace Physics

(Article) Delta-v (Δv)

(Article) Specific Impulse

(Article) Tsiolkovsky Rocket Equation

optimal solutions for energy budget
tyranny of

(Article) Supersonic / Hypersonic Aerodynamics

(Article) How A (Thermal) Rocket Engine Works

action / reaction
convergent / divergent nozzle accelerates choked flow

(Article) Staging

SSTOs and spaceplanes
calculator for mission profile delta-v optimization

(Article) Launching

Verne gun
crosslink various trans-orbital structures

(Category) Orbital Mechanics

[crosslink to navigation / astrogation]

(Article) Literary Taxonomy

Sails, low thrust, high thrust, planetary takeoff -- general overview meant for SF writers. Links to stuff below.

(Article) Orbits and Keplerian Orbital Elements

Kepler's equation

(Article) N-body Problem

(Article) Lagrange Points

(Article) Maneuvering

patched conics
change-of-plane maneuver
continuous thrust maneuvers vs. impulsive maneuvers
constant-thrust vs. constant-acceleration
crosslink various orbital maneuvers

(Article) Hohmann Transfer

(Article) Spiral Trajectories

(Article) Bielliptic Transfer

(Article) Brachistochrone Maneuver

(Article) Orbital Rendezvous

orbit phasing
Clohessy–Wiltshire equations

(Article) Special Orbits

horseshoe, geostationary, geosynchronous, LEO, GEO, Molniya orbit, etc.
black hole orbits, ISCO, photon sphere, etc.
escape velocity, hyperbolic, parabolic orbits

(Article) Gravity Assists and Oberth Effect

(Article) Advanced Topics

Perturbations, relativistic corrections, precession
dynamic instability and low-energy transfers
crosslink orbital rings and dyson spheres
crosslink special orbits

(Category) Nuclear Physics

(Article) Radiation

Basics of radiation physics
Radiation safety/shielding
Radiation detection

(Article) Fission

Basics of fission physics
Fission fuels
Basic reactor design

(Article) Fusion

Basics of fusion/plasma physics
Fusion fuels
Basic reactor design

(Article) Antimatter

Basics of antimatter physics
Reactor vs bomb
Secondary reactions with antimatter

(Article) Reactors and Power

Types of fission reactors and trade space
Types of fusion reactors and trade space
Potential types of antimatter reactors
Mixed reactor technologies (i.e. ADSR, fission/fusion hybrid, etc)


(Article) Military Science

basics—enlisted vs. officers, organization, specialization, mission, sociology, etc.

(Article) Logistics

(Article) Infantry Tactics

(Article) Armor

Winged_One is interested in writing this
sloped, layered

(Article) Sidearms

(Article) Operating Environments Shape Vehicles (overview, links to more detailed articles)

Winged_One is interested in working on this
Power Plant Requirements & Logistical Complexity (Why we have nuclear submarines, but not nuclear destroyers or tanks)
tanks, submarines, airplanes
Note: should probably split

(Article) Stealth in Space

Limitations of the naval model and cut-and-dry proclamations
Contrast detection, localization, identification
Detection of waste heat
crosslink to Hydrogen Steamer (worked concept)
crosslink to Stefan–Boltzmann Law
(Article) Information Warfare
FTL - uncharted systems or civilized ones that share data?
If you are on your own in an empty system, you need to act very differently than a charted, populated one
What data is shared with you if any is, for that matter? Navigational? General purpose? Where’s the military? They might be hiding!
crosslink to stealth

(Article) Space Warships

(Article) Space Fighters

(Article) Missiles

payloads - crosslink to nukes, possibly kinetics
crosslink to rocketry
economics of (how expendable is the drive? implications of? how much should a missile cost as a fraction of its target? -etc)

(Article) Nukes

casaba howitzer, SNAKs
Types of nukes
Damage mechanisms of nukes

(Category) Kinetics

(Article?) (General Ballistics?)

homing vs dumb kinetics (crosslink to missiles/guidance)
damage mechanisms

(Article) Railguns

(Article) Coilguns

(Article) Traditional (Explosive-Powered)

(Article) Macron Accelerators (Dustguns)

(Category) Lasers

[crosslinks to diffraction]

(Article) General Laser Stuff

Damage mechanisms
Sensor frying
Thermal shock
Crosslink to sloping

(Article) Traditional Excited-Medium Laser

(Article) Excimer Lasers

(Article) Fiber Lasers

(Article) Diode Laser

(Article) Free-Electron Lasers

(Article) Bomb-Pumped Lasers

(Article) Chemical Lasers

(Category) Particle Beams

=(Article) Ultra-Relativistic Electron Beam (UREB)

[also should discuss neutrons, protons, other subatomic, ions, etc.]

(Article) Neutralized Ion Beam

(Article) Point Defense

(Article) Shields


Spacecraft and Infrastructure

Infrastructure attack on wormholes, Visser collapse

=(Article) Spacecraft Types

Science / exploration ships


Civilian ships


Landers / Shuttles

Tugs / Maintenance Drones

(Category) Megastructures

(Article) Alderson Disk

(Article) Dyson Swarms, Bubbles, and Spheres

Bubble (statites), Swarms (satellites), Spheres (closed shell)
dynamic stability
Also Matrioshka brain (concentric Dyson spheres used for machine intelligence)

(Article) Stellar Engine

moving stars (Shkadov Thruster), extracting energy, starlifting, etc.

(Article) Orbital Ring

Ring around a planet, often with all matter in orbit
dynamically unstable

(Article) Bishop Rings

(also "Halo", "Orbital"—a ring habitat larger than a space station, but not as large as a whole orbit)
crosslink to rings, ringworlds

(Category Article) Ringworlds

Bishop Rings

Banks Orbitals


(Article) Niven Ring:

dynamic instability
crosslink to Bishop rings, ring habitats

(Article) Topopolis

(Category) Habitats

(Article) Freefall Stations

basic space stations, like the ISS, where stuff is in freefall

(Article) Ring Stations

Stanford Torus (particular design)
crosslink to Bishop Rings, Ringworlds for larger scale

(Article) O'Neill and McKendree Cylinder Stations

O'Neill and McKendree were particular designs
crosslink to Niven Ring / Topopolis
citation: Rendezvous With Rama

(Article) Hollowed-Out Asteroids

Why the trope of hollowing out and spinning up an asteroid for a quick-and-dirty-just-add-water habitat probably wouldn’t work IRL (but remember, we're trying to let authors have their way, just as realistically as possible)
crosslink terraforming / shellworld

(Article) Bernal Spheres and Shell Worlds

Shell World (putting a bubble around an airless rock and filling with atmosphere)

Gravity Balloons

crosslink hollowed-out asteroids


Planetary Carousels

Spin Gravity on Worlds

Rotating tapered conical habitats anchored to the surface of low-gravity worlds to provide artificially higher gravity.

(Category) Trans-Orbital Structures

(Article) Skyhooks and Rotovators

smaller-scale demonstrations in atmosphere
momentum-exchange tether

(Article) Space Elevator

(Article) Space Fountain

(Article) Launch Loop (Lofstrom Loop)

(Tshhmon) is working on this

(Category) Spacecraft Design

(Article) Sensors

Radar / LIDAR / microwave
XRay, Gamma
Exotic / handwavium (tachyon, psychic, etc.)
What ship types need which sensors? What do you look for, and why?
Other ships navigating with nuclear drives - neutrons, gammas
Rocks that would ruin your day - radar
Other ships coasting along - radar, IR
Your destination - radar
Stars used for navigation - vis, IR
Enforced safety distances so you don’t repeat the Kzinti lesson (or eat EBs and nuclear warheads)
What can you rely on others to provide for you?
E.g. a civilian ship doesn't need neutron detectors, and can rely on orbital control to plot safe FTL jump points.
Tech level
crosslink to stealth
Note: can split

(Article) Food, Water, and Other Vitals

hydroponics, etc., crosslink to farming
element balance
cold sleep/low passage
market forces may make passenger transport an entirely different class of ship from cargo transport (trains, airplanes, semi-trucks)

(Article) Life Support

Breathing mix types (normal air, low pressure O2, liquid breathing etc) and atmosphere recycling.
food and water, crosslink to para-terraforming

(Category) Propulsion

[Insert rocketguy's taxonomy here too]

(Category) Faster Than Light (FTL) Travel

(Article) Warp Drive

(Article) Jump Drive

Tunnel drive
crosslink teleportation

(Article) Stargates and Wormholes

crosslink to wormholes

(Article) Torchships

(Article) Radiators and Heat Sinks: Heat Management

(Article) Power Generation

solar, nuclear, rtg
crossref nuclear physics
maybe split this

(Article) Gravity

thrust gravity, spin gravity, handwavium

(Article) Miscellaneous Systems

Control, Engineering, Astrogation, Sensor, Communication, Sickbay, Emergency, etc.
crosslink to misc. military systems

(Article) Whipple Shields

Article) Reaction Control System (RCS)

Should mention why they outcompeted flywheels/gyros/reaction wheels, which show up in old SF
Use case for high ISP drives in the real world that classic SF didn't anticipate!

(Article) Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design

Living and Working in Space

crosslink to Three Generation Rule

(Article) Odd Things About Living In Zero G

(eyesight, spine straightening, muscle degradation, astronauts lose fingernails, going to the bathroom, exertion to stand still)

(Article) Cities and Colonies


(Article) Spaceports

crosslink launch

(Article) Spacesuits and EVA

(Article) Producing Food

Packed rations
hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, etc.
matter fabricators

(Article) Timekeeping

imallett is working on this one
crosslink to wormhole topics

(Article) Mining and In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)

Interplanetary / Interstellar Travel

(Article) Generation Ships

(Article) Lighthuggers

(Article) Starwisps

(Article) Navigation / Astrogation

delta-v maps / calculators

Worldbuilding and Writing

(Article) Universebuilding

(Article) The Physical World

TL;DR for realistic stars and planets (lots of crosslinks to astronomy)

(Article) Planetbuilding

Climates & Biomes

(Article) MacGuffinite

(Article) Writing a Compelling Plot

(Article) Writing Compelling Characters

(Article) Writing Techniques

show; don't tell, treknobabble foreshadowing, chekhov's gun, red herring see also Wikipedia "list of narrative techniques" revision, copy-editing, editing, proofreading TV tropes: embrace for ideas or subvert for interest

(Article) Overcoming Writer's Block

sit down and write already asimov: every day, revise and publish something you drafted last year tools: deletes text if you leave idle too long

(Article) Future History

trends/extrapolation, modeling

(Category) Lazy and Bad Tropes

(Article) Reactionless Drives


(Article) Naval Metaphor

(Article) Implications of Time Travel

(Article) Intelligent Aliens (Biology & Sociology Intersect To Make Interesting Blind Spots)

Note: Article exists

(Article) Thinking Through Implications in Worldbuilding

Examples, Resources, and Commentary

(Article) Oddball Planets In Old SF

(Article) The Golden Age of Sci-Fi

(Article) History of Rocketry

(Article) Worked Example: Hard-SF Torchship

(Article) Hard Science-Fiction on the Internet

Social: ToughSF Discord, Atomic Rockets

Blogs: ToughSF

Games: KSP, CoaDE, ΔV: Rings of Saturn,

Tabletop Games:

Attack Vector: Tactical,

Squadron Strike,

assorted RPGs

TV: Planetes, The Expanse

Film: Gravity, The Martian

(Category) Authors

[articles for the typical suspects, redirect pages to anyone who's also a user here]

(Link) Nanofiction Subsite ->