Pagerunner

The Conundrum of Conjoiners: an Analysis of Navani's Airship

85 posts in this topic

2 hours ago, Gilphon said:

My assumption was that the purpose of the Aluminium was to stop the counterweights from affecting each other. So you don't have to worry about accidentally launching the Chull team at the Shattered Plains into the sky. I don't know exactly how that would work, mind you, but it seems like an important possibility to cover for. 

I laughed harder at the mental image of this than I ought to have done... :D

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6 hours ago, Argent said:

We didn't know you could use aluminum to mess with conjoined rubies until today, so I am gonna go with a no on this one :P

Azure had tested that in Oathbringer. Where we needed to speculate is in what happens if you partially enclose them in aluminium. Navani has now answered that. You change vectors. How exactly this works is still an open question. The most straightforward answer I can come up with is a directional diminishing of the vector, resulting in a vector changed in direction, albeit weaker after that.

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I don't know if Azure's thing is exactly the same, but I concede that I hadn't thought of it.

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Seems to me that the discussion really hangs on this line:

Quote

The real advancement had come as they’d learned to use aluminum to isolate motion along a plane, and even change the vectors of force.

The plane/vector isolation trick makes sense and would certainly be helpful. While you can make something similar to the Fourth Bridge without this trick, it IS a very helpful one for several reasons. The last bit about changing vectors of force is another animal altogether though. I'm curious if someone has a third interpretation... The only ones I see are that either:

  1. This means they could do nothing like that before. Spanreed boards would have to be set up along cardinal directions is one implication.
  2. They previously had some other means to do this that, for some reason, doesn't work for the airship.

The first is fairly straightforward. It requires a minor pseudo-retcon for how spanreeds work.

The second... I don't like this because it implies reverser fabrials are largely useless. More than that, it implies you can make two conjoined gems go in ANY two directions. Why would reversers be notable at all if they're practically just a very specific case of a bigger, flexible concept? This seems like a bigger retcon than "spanreeds use cardinal directions" for me. Furthermore, we need an explanation for why the technology doesn't work on the airship. I'm curious to hear ideas about why, because I don't think I've seen one that I particularly like yet.

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Just thinking about the chull lattice as it relates to the motion of the ship, I'm pretty certain there has to be some degree of reorientation (either automatically or with aluminum or whatever) to address that the ship's position and orientation relative to the planet is changing in a significant way compared to that of the chulls.

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1 hour ago, Jofwu said:

Seems to me that the discussion really hangs on this line:

The plane/vector isolation trick makes sense and would certainly be helpful. While you can make something similar to the Fourth Bridge without this trick, it IS a very helpful one for several reasons. The last bit about changing vectors of force is another animal altogether though. I'm curious if someone has a third interpretation... The only ones I see are that either:

Upon further thought I think that both fabrials are in aluminium tubes, so that sidewards drift of the ship is not transmitted to the chulls.

1 hour ago, Jofwu said:
  1. This means they could do nothing like that before. Spanreed boards would have to be set up along cardinal directions is one implication.
  2. They previously had some other means to do this that, for some reason, doesn't work for the airship.

The first is fairly straightforward. It requires a minor pseudo-retcon for how spanreeds work.

I am afraid this will need more complexity. We have to face that to a cojoined fabrial up and down are special. That the spanreeds need to be leveled is impossible to explain away. I am afraid there is a hybrid system and the difference in orientation of the spanreeds will show in a tiny bit of "coriolis" force but it really does not matter in practice. External and the orientation of the cut are competing. If Roshar were a quickly rotating neutron star you probably would have to align your spanreed due north and south.

Secondly this discussion hinges a lot on the exact meaning of "turn around". Are they physically rotating the fabrial or does it have thills in front and back and they are just hitching chulls to the other end and switch to the reversers?

 

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7 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Secondly this discussion hinges a lot on the exact meaning of "turn around". Are they physically rotating the fabrial or does it have thills in front and back and they are just hitching chulls to the other end and switch to the reversers?

Well the precise quote is:

Quote

The end result was chulls that could pull for a while, then be turned around—the gemstones temporarily disjoined—to march back the other direction, as all the while the airship continued in a straight line.

So the chulls are being turned around and the gemstones temporarily disjoined.

To me that reads that the gemstones are then rejoined.

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Posted (edited)

Spanreed fabrials are supposed to account for those types of differences, or at least brandon has stated they account for things such as the curvature of the planet so I assume it accounts for orientation.  Even if it doesn't, it's just a pen so as long as it starts in the center of a page you could write in any direction and it would come out fine.

Maybe the airship, being larger (and possibly more primitive) cannot act the same way yet.

Edited by Kuram
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29 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

I am afraid this will need more complexity. We have to face that to a cojoined fabrial up and down are special. That the spanreeds need to be leveled is impossible to explain away.

I don't think it has to be THAT complex. My instinct would be to assume that it's based on the collective cognitive perception of Roshar. Up and down are relative to the planet, because spiritual/cognitive mumbo jumbo. I've worked through a few different ideas of how the frame of reference might work. There's the possibility of some weird things happening, but only in weird cases. Like how do they interact near the poles? But it seems to me that there's at least two or three ways to do it where weird stuff is minimized.

I agree with @Master_Moridin's interpretation of how the chulls are working. I don't think there's any indication that the chull lattice has reversers on it. Either they move the chulls to the other side and rotate whatever auminum mechanism defines "forward" OR they just turn have the chulls do a U-turn. The latter sounds a heck of a lot easier to me though.

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Posted (edited)

39 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Either they move the chulls to the other side and rotate whatever auminum mechanism defines "forward" OR they just turn have the chulls do a U-turn. The latter sounds a heck of a lot easier to me though.

My impression was they did a U-turn "disjoining" during it so the ship doesn't register the turn. Seemed like they were addressing the issue of running out of real estate for the chulls. They want the ship to go all over Roshar, but have the chull team stay in an area that can be guarded. 

Edited by Child of Hodor
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37 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

I don't think it has to be THAT complex. My instinct would be to assume that it's based on the collective cognitive perception of Roshar. Up and down are relative to the planet, because spiritual/cognitive mumbo jumbo. I've worked through a few different ideas of how the frame of reference might work. There's the possibility of some weird things happening, but only in weird cases. Like how do they interact near the poles?

Well, you have to make up your mind. Why would the direction spanreeds orient themselves relative to be the rotational axis of the planet. For all we know they work with respect towards the next perpendicularity or the center of Roshar's map in Shadesmar. Gravity is a physical effect.

Oh and are we sure Roshar has a normal magnetic field? I do not rememer anybody using a compass.

37 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

But it seems to me that there's at least two or three ways to do it where weird stuff is minimized.

I agree with @Master_Moridin's interpretation of how the chulls are working. I don't think there's any indication that the chull lattice has reversers on it. Either they move the chulls to the other side and rotate whatever auminum mechanism defines "forward" OR they just turn have the chulls do a U-turn. The latter sounds a heck of a lot easier to me though.

Not really. Using two thills you can rest your chulls periodically. And you need to switch off during the turn anyway if you want to let the airship coast.

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3 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Well, you have to make up your mind.

The whole conclusion of Pagerunner's post involved pointing out the (arguably) apparent reliance on cardinal directions as a frame of reference... There is no mind changing going on.

Option #2 is the idea that conjoined gems follow arbitrary frames of reference. Maybe for some cognitive/spiritual reason it's up to the user's perception. Maybe spanreed boards have a fabrial built in that reorients the spanreed. Just a few ideas.

Option #1 is the idea that a fixed frame of reference exists (which can only be modified with aluminum). Maybe the cosmere has a preferred reference frame. Maybe it's relative to the planet in one way or another, as I described above. Why? Cognitive/spiritual reasons.

What these frames of reference ARE exactly (for both options), and the REASON they are what they are, is a spinoff conversation that we haven't really gotten into, I think. You pointed out that "it's more complicated than that"... Sure. Both options are more complicated than the dilemma I boiled it down to.

20 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Not really. Using two thills you can rest your chulls periodically. And you need to switch off during the turn anyway if you want to let the airship coast.

True, it would be a good way to let them rest I suppose. But there's other ways to swap out chulls. My main objection is to the idea that they have to turn all the fabrials around. I assume there's 100s or 1000s of them. Maybe it's all done mechanically with the flip of a switch. I could be wrong. *shrug* I'm not strongly attached to that interpretation. Just the one that seems more likely to me.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, Oltux72 said:

Not really. Using two thills you can rest your chulls periodically. And you need to switch off during the turn anyway if you want to let the airship coast.

That's a good point. They do need to rest the chulls. Would need a rotation of teams. 

 

Edited by Child of Hodor
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14 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

Option #2 is the idea that conjoined gems follow arbitrary frames of reference. Maybe for some cognitive/spiritual reason it's up to the user's perception. Maybe spanreed boards have a fabrial built in that reorients the spanreed. Just a few ideas.

Option #1 is the idea that a fixed frame of reference exists (which can only be modified with aluminum). Maybe the cosmere has a preferred reference frame. Maybe it's relative to the planet in one way or another, as I described above. Why? Cognitive/spiritual reasons.

Well, as I said, mixing these options is possible. And it is possible that they depend on the attitude of the maker/user

14 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

What these frames of reference ARE exactly (for both options), and the REASON they are what they are, is a spinoff conversation that we haven't really gotten into, I think.

I am afraid not. If you need to align the fabrials correctly then as spanreeds are usable, Rosharans must be quite easily able to determine the correct alignment.

14 minutes ago, Jofwu said:

True, it would be a good way to let them rest I suppose. But there's other ways to swap out chulls. My main objection is to the idea that they have to turn all the fabrials around. I assume there's 100s or 1000s of them. Maybe it's all done mechanically with the flip of a switch. I could be wrong. *shrug* I'm not strongly attached to that interpretation. Just the one that seems more likely to me.

Not really. You just switch over to the reverser fabrials in whatever way you switch the fabrials off. Such a switch must exist or they could not disjoint them sensibly whenever they turn. In fact such an arrangement allows you to put the fabrial on rails. Or indeed to use two sets of fabrials.

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My assumption with how spanreeds work is that you are "recalling" the spiritual ideal of both of them as one gemstone.  Once this is recalled their "bond" is through the spiritual realm which we know because it is FTL.  However apparently the transition of information somehow happens through the cognitive?  Some reasons exists that states that spanreeds can't get information past aluminum walls..

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2 hours ago, Jofwu said:

Why would reversers be notable at all if they're practically just a very specific case of a bigger, flexible concept?

I actually don't have much of an issue with making reversers obsolete. If they've discovered new technology that makes this very specific thing irrelevant, that's just the nature of progress. Plus, you can still have reversers for basic applications. Like... the aluminum trick in the ship is a Swiss army knife, but sometimes you don't need a Swiss army knife, you need just a screwdriver. 

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39 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Well, as I said, mixing these options is possible. And it is possible that they depend on the attitude of the maker/user

I feel like "arbitrary" vs "fixed" are rather mutually exclusive, but I guess I see your point? You can certainly say that they follow SOME kind of reference frame, so it's just a question of how that frame gets defined.

Let me put it this way then:

  1. Option 1 -- aluminum is required to make adjustments to the reference frames of separate gems
  2. Option 2 -- aluminum is not required to make adjustments to the reference frames of separate gems (but it's ONE method, which is useful under some cirucmstances)

I'm just trying to get to the heart of the argument here, without all the frills.

51 minutes ago, Oltux72 said:

Not really. You just switch over to the reverser fabrials in whatever way you switch the fabrials off. Such a switch must exist or they could not disjoint them sensibly whenever they turn. In fact such an arrangement allows you to put the fabrial on rails. Or indeed to use two sets of fabrials.

Sure. I don't read it that way because "temporarily disjoined" implies to me that they conjoin them again as soon as they "turn around". Meaning the same gems. And I think the context of her bringing up aluminum as a way to redirect force vectors would be irrelevant if that's not what's going on?

You're welcome to have make a final argument in favor of the idea, but I'm not sure I care to keep arguing about it. I've lost track of why it matters in this topic.

18 minutes ago, Argent said:

I actually don't have much of an issue with making reversers obsolete. If they've discovered new technology that makes this very specific thing irrelevant, that's just the nature of progress. Plus, you can still have reversers for basic applications. Like... the aluminum trick in the ship is a Swiss army knife, but sometimes you don't need a Swiss army knife, you need just a screwdriver.

I don't suppose I have a MAJOR issue with it. It just seems like an equivalent or lesser issue than saying spanreed boards have to be aligned based on cardinal directions.

The Ars Arcanum and text both set up conjoiners as a tool for moving things together and reversers as a separate method for moving things opposite one another. Two separate tools with two separate names. And there's never ANY mention of tricks to make "conjoined" gems that move at alternative angles, despite the fact that would be really useful. For example, consider the archer's platform. They had to build a tower for the counterweight and pull that down to lift the archer platform up. Why do that if you can just have chulls pull a lattice sideways to lift the archers up? The ability to do this is a significant technology with zero mentions in the text.

It's not a HUGE oversight, and we can certainly make up reasons to explain it away. (it doesn't work with heavy weights... it needs some helper fabrial... spanreed technology is a lot more complicated than the platform thing...)

But the same could be said of spanreed boards needing to be aligned a certain way.

Neither option seems perfect to me, and neither seems terrible. It's just a question of which one seems like the smaller retcon, I guess.

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Posted (edited)

So there is a line in the Ars Arcanum, regarding there being limitations with paired fabrials.

Maybe they each have a partially fixed reference frame?

Like, maybe they both have a fixed reference for vertical and how they're angled relative to it?

So that when they sync themselves they do so relative to their angle to down?

I'm not sure if the math works on that atm, but the partial fixed frame has been bouncing around in my head.

Edit:

Just had a thought.

Spanreeds have a metal housing the gem is rotated in to turn it on and set settings.

What if the metal housing is how the gems coordinate their orientation?

Edited by Master_Moridin
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Forgive me I'm super dumb.

They have a conjoiner they are dragging on a flat surface on the plains to dictate "forward / backward" movement and separately the Urithiru reverser lattice was going down a cliff to give "Up / Down" movement. In broad strokes that's consistent with ars arcanum. 

And the two lattices are "joined" to different sets of corresponding half-gems on the ship, right? So they can stay "up" and go "forward" at the same time otherwise it won't work at all.  I know Navani says "alternating" between the lattices, but I didn't think that meant they had to completely turn off the gems giving them upward force to go forward. They'd immediately start to fall because gravity is always acting on them. 

Then they are using aluminum *somehow* to make sure the shattered plains team can only transmit "forward backward" movement and the Urithiru team can only transmit "up down" movement. 

In addition, the Shattered Plains lattice uses aluminum to make it so that they don't have to worry about what precise direction they are going in. Either aluminum helps indicate that when one side of it is pulled that always means "forward" regardless of which actual direction it's being pulled in. So long as they disjoin the gems when the chulls are making a U-turn then rejoin them to go "forward" again.

OR when the are going a different direction they change the arrangement of the aluminum so that going back the way they came still transmits as "going forward" to the ship.

^ This right here is what everyone is bothered by, right? 

I don't know why. This official illustration of it clearly shows the aluminum reflecting the natural force vector into the direction they want it to transmit as. Which is a thing aluminum can do now, alright. CASE CLOSED! (I warned you I was super dumb)

Lattice.png.dc0f7d19890534bf9bcc0c8649a1fcb9.png

 

On the idea of the Shattered plains crew getting launched in the air. I see the concern, but we know spanreeds can be switched between "modes" for sending and receiving input. We don't know all the details of how spanreeds are made, but if they can have spanreeds set to "send" mode wouldn't they want the lattices in Urithiru and the Shattered Plains always sending input and never receiving? Vice-versa with the Fourth Bridge. It's half-gems should never be sending input, only receiving. I know spanreeds are conjoiners not reversers, but the same principal of send/receive could be applied. 

Quote

"The setting of the ruby is able to be rotated to switch between different "modes." ... The third and fourth notches sync the movements of the two pens, each notch makes one pen the transmitter and the other the receiver.

 https://coppermind.net/wiki/Spanreed

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Man, you've all been busy. Let me try and catch up. I won't bother quoting and tagging people, since I'm sure you're all still reading this thread anyways.

 

Partial Inhibition

First, there are a lot of suggestions that the aluminum lets both sets of fabrial lattices be active at the same time. Under this model, the Shattered Plains set has been unhooked from vertical motion, and the Urithiru set has been unhooked from horizontal motion, and that unmooring is accomplished through aluminum interactions.

This is, in fact, inconsistent with the text. We're told, expressly, that the ship flies through alternating uses of the horizontal and vertical lattices. They are not both active at the same time.

It seems the largest source for this idea is the phrase "isolate motion along a plane," which has been elevated to the single most important phrase in the entire passage. But I see it being interpreted in a vacuum. "What could 'isolate motion along a plane' mean? Ah, it must be that a conjoiner only responds along one axis." But the phrase is actually part of some classic technobabble: "they’d learned to use aluminum to isolate motion along a plane, and even change the vectors of force." How are you supposed to know what that means? By looking at the very next sentence, which is what I think is the most important phrase in the passage. "The end result was chulls that could pull for a while, then be turned around." That's the only place that aluminum is brought up, that it lets them pull this trick with the chulls. The mechanisms for vertical and horizontal motion had already been established prior, with no mention of aluminum.

So, when we interpret the technobabble phrase (isolate motion along a plane and change the vectors of force), what does it mean when viewed through the lens of the practical application in the sentence that follows it? You can turn the chulls without turning the ship (isolating the chull's motion across the plane of the planet's surface) and have the force exerted by the chulls act in the opposite cardinal direction (changing the vectors of force). The technobabble phrase is describing the disjoining and rejoining phenomenon, not some partial inhibition of combined motion.

Now, this isn't to say that partial inhibition is impossible. It would certainly be a very useful advancement. But we can achieve a complete explanation of how this particular airship functions, and we can do it without utilizing this phenomenon, so I don't think it's been accomplished yet by Navani and her team.

 

Potential Dissimilarities to Spanreeds

There have been some suggestions that the larger conjoiner/reverser fabrials maybe can't be turned off, and that's why they need aluminum. But this isn't the first time they've been used; they're the exact same fabrials Navani used for her archery towers that they brought with them onto the Shattered Plains during WoR. If they couldn't be turned off, you wouldn't be able to bring both halves with you; when you a platform east onto the Shattered Plains, the counterweight would have to go west.

I've seen some references to Azure's aluminum room in Oathbringer and how spanreeds didn't work. This looks to be the exact same phenomenon as what I'm saying is used for disjointing, so I'm not quite sure why it appears to be brought up as a counterpoint.

Side note, I'm seeing some terminology used inconsistently within the thread. (I probably contributed without realizing it, but I'm not gonna reread my OP right now with an eye towards it. Have you seen how long that thing is?) Disjoining is what Navani says they can do with aluminum, and that lets you misalign your force vectors. Just regular turning off a spanreed isn't disjoining; I guess that would be deactivating? I'll keep an eye out next time I'm rummaging through the relevant passages to see if we have something more specific. But let's make sure that we all mean the same thing when we say "disjoin."

 

Curvature of the Planet

Conjoiners and reversers do, obviously, work when moved notable distance across Roshar, where they're going to at different angles with respect to the planet. We can hand-wave it away as some Spiritual alignment with the planet; but I think we can do some more substantial hand-waving. I think a conjoiner fabrial moving tangentially through a gravitational field can have its "dice" (or baby bowl, or gyroscope, or what-have-you) independently affected. It's going to be a property of how this exact fabrials interacts with gravitational fields. So, at the end of the day, Roshar's gravity is what will align the dice in each fabrial down so that the perspectives of both spanreeds make sense.

This is similar to what I've suggested with iron Feruchemy, where you can get infinite energy by putting two Feruchemists on opposite ends of a Ferris Wheel and having them alternately store. (Alternating, you guys. One's on, then the other's on.) Where does this infinite energy come from? I suggest that iron metalminds lose/gain Investiture when they move vertically through a gravitational field; that loss of Investiture is what's powering the "perpetual motion," so you won't wind up with as much Investiture stored in your metalmind. When gravity starts to screw with your math, you just need to find some way to make gravity work for your purposes.

This would have the added benefit of letting Rosharan spaceships, once they're out of a gravity well, potentially use Lashings to create artificial gravity fields and change the direction their fabrial is acting in.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that this can also solve the mysterious inefficiencies. The interaction with the planet's gravitational field is where the inefficiencies come from; your conjoined motion is dragging on the planet itself. That's gonna give us the equal and opposite of our inefficiency terms, so all's right with the universe. It also gives an easy out for space travel with no gravitational fields.

 

Useless Reversers

I don't think there's any problem, inherently, with conjoiners being able to accomplish basically all that reversers are able to do. Looking at Mistborn again, you've got steelpushing and ironpulling, and man is steelpushing a whole lot better in basically every sense. But ironpulling has specialized edge cases where it's useful, both on its own and in concert with steelpushing. It's not worthless just because it's worse.

And there are subtle differences in a reoriented conjoiner, vs a reverser. Like I showed in my original post, a conjoiner will only act in the opposite direction for 2 axes; you can't get all 3 inverted. This is actually going to be what kills the suggestion of a conjoiner/reverser double lattice pulled by chulls. When you flip to the reversers, the weight of the ship is going to push the chulls into the air. (A reoriented conjoiner could work, as long as you know that the ship will turn the opposite way when you're going in reverse. But, from the text, we're told the mechanism they use, and it's done through a single horizontal lattice and turning the chulls. Maybe they'll get there one day.)

My gut says this is also going to have some substantial implications on lattices themselves, and that reoriented conjoiner lattices used as a reversal lattice would be more likely to add super strains and stresses to the internal framework of the airship. (Because 2 of the axes are acting opposite, and 1 is acting with.)

 

The Specific Motion of the Airship

Yes, this thing would be an ungainly beast, moving in fits and starts like a Driver's Ed student in a stick shift. That's going to be the case no matter how you slice up the aluminum applications; the motion of the chulls and the ship are tied together, so when you stop the chulls to turn them around, you stop the ship. We're not applying pure force to the ship; we're tying the ship's motions to the motions of another object. It's not an RC car with an engine; it's that plastic popper pusher thing. (My secondary goal of this thread is to fill everybody's Amazon suggestions with the most bizarre items.)

The speed they went is 5 knots, which is just under 6 miles per hour. That's not very fast. This is actually faster than a horse-drawn carriage, which according to the Internet can pull about 4 miles an hour maybe. So these chulls are pulling at a good clip, and they must not be wasting a lot of time turning the ship around.

Edited by Pagerunner
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Posted (edited)

Newer idea.  Maybe they don't want to just re conjoin the fabrails later?  If they do that(the same thing you do when you turn off and turn back on a spanreed) unless the chull handlers manage to get those dumb animals to move in mathematically precise ways you will get slightly different alignments each time and that is going to interfere with steering.  Perhaps aluminum stops the connection but keeps the same alignment?

Another point is that you don't have to worry about friction with the ground.  If you can get the airship moving at top chull speed it will continue going at that speed in that direction for a considerable time.  You only need to give it an additional push now and then to maintain that speed against air friction.  In fact now that I think about it there is no way that any chull maintains a speed of 5 knots for any length of time considering they are slower then horses.  They must be using some kind of mechanical pulley system to increase speed.

Edited by Karger
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1 hour ago, Pagerunner said:

Partial Inhibition

First, there are a lot of suggestions that the aluminum lets both sets of fabrial lattices be active at the same time. Under this model, the Shattered Plains set has been unhooked from vertical motion, and the Urithiru set has been unhooked from horizontal motion, and that unmooring is accomplished through aluminum interactions.

This is, in fact, inconsistent with the text. We're told, expressly, that the ship flies through alternating uses of the horizontal and vertical lattices. They are not both active at the same time.

As long as the ship is in the air, the vertical lattice has to be active, or the ship will fall. 

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6 minutes ago, Chiberty said:

As long as the ship is in the air, the vertical lattice has to be active, or the ship will fall. 

Ninjad.  I had realized that.

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13 minutes ago, Chiberty said:

As long as the ship is in the air, the vertical lattice has to be active, or the ship will fall. 

One lattice needs to be active. Both are capable of supporting the weight of the airship; the horizontal lattice is sitting on the ground.

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2 minutes ago, Pagerunner said:

One lattice needs to be active. Both are capable of supporting the weight of the airship; the horizontal lattice is sitting on the ground.

That's right. I'm not sure how I forgot about that.

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