Gravity Lens

Utility

What use is a gravity lens for a vehicle?   Lenses can be used to both focus and unfocus. Gravity lenses used in vehicles can unfocus gravity between the vehicle and the earth, making the vehicle weigh just a fraction of what it would without it. Such lensing makes hover vehicles a real and viable practical possibility because it brings the power requirements to achieve hover well within reasonable levels. Of course, such lensing increases the pull of gravity in a ring around the vehicle, making cargo transfer or just getting in and out of the vehicle something of a challenge.   Can gravity lenses be used in other ways?   Yes. Gravity lenses can be used to focus all the forces of gravity within an area into a pinpoint location. This can be used to immobilize objects and even people. It can be used in all manner of manufacturing processes and even for military use.   The greatest limitation of gravity lenses is their short range. As a rule of thumb, the area of effect of a gravity lens is about ten times the size of the lens core. So a lens core that is about 10 cm across has an effective range of about a meter from it. This is the typical hoverbike lens, for example.   Gravity lenses can not be employed by vehicles used over deep water. As one would expect, the waves created by the ring of increased gravity around the vehicle and the decreased gravity directly under the vehicle create a geyser-like effect. Only the very fastest vehicles can hope to overcome this dangerous phenomenon and only while they maintain their speed.

Manufacturing

The manufacturing process for gravity lenses is very power intensive.   Depending on the ultimate use, a number of different processes can be used to create the final form. One thing all these processes have in common, however, is the molecular smashing of millions of hydrogen atoms into supermassive semi-stable isotopes. These isotopes consist of a prime number of hydrogen nucleii and are given the name Gravitonium. Gravitonium 7879 is one of the most common. Their arrangement determines the lensing effect, which occurs when they are induced to vibrate.   If you have ever seen videos of people arranging sand on a table into patterns based upon the vibrations they make in the tabletop, then you have an idea how it works. The correct vibration will start distributing the sand but it takes time and considerable vibrational amplitude to complete the pattern. Once complete, however, no more effort needs to be made to keep the pattern, except to fix it when it suffers from outside influences. So it is with a gravity lens.   The initial lensing effect, achieving the desired vibrational frequency, requires quite a bit of forcing and is the reason it takes so much power to initialize a gravity lens. However, once initialized, the vibration can be maintained with only a minimal amount of energy to cover for entropy and friction losses.  
Access & Availability
Gravity lenses for use in hover vehicles are commonly available in technologically advanced nation-states such as Northern Gun, the Manistique Imperium, The Coalition States and Bandito Arms.  
Complexity
A gravity lens requires an enormous amount of power to initialize; but once initialized, only a small trickle of power is required to maintain it. For this reason, gravity lenses are typically powered up before installation, in a specially designated initialization facility, or with a special-purpose lens initiator which is similar to an emergency jump-start device.  
Discovery
It all started when astrophysicists used the curvature of light past massive objects in space to get a magnified view of even more distant objects beyond them. They called this a gravity lens, because it was an optical lens in every meaning of the word, but the medium of refraction was gravity itself.   Near the end of the 21st century the continued use and study of gravitational lensing eventually resulted in the ability to create a lens that focuses gravity rather than light. In a few short years, such lenses evolved from enormous mega-structures that could only be used for long distance stargazing to portable units suitable for vehicles.  
Gravity lens initiation: A portable Emergency Gravity Lens Initiator requires the equivalent of an e-clip worth of power for every 10 square centimeter of a lens core. So a typical hoverbike lens core, being 10cm across (78square cm) would require power the equivalent of 8 e-clips. The Manistique Emperium has created (and Bandito Arms has duplicated) e-clip converters that use actual standard e-clips to power them. They are popular with mercenary companies and frontier-based construction and supply-oriented industries. They come in three standard sizes:
  • 8 e-clip for charging 2-meter diameter coverage gravity lenses common to most hoverbikes and pallet conveyors (list price=25,000 credits)
  • 32 e-clip for charging 4-meter diameter coverage gravity lenses common for most economical 2-person transportation and cargo handlers (list price=50,000 credits)
  • 70 e-clip for charging 6-meter diameter coverage gravity lenses used for personnel transports and industrial applications. (list price=75,000 credits)
Bandito Arms list prices are about 80% of above listed prices.
Single-use Emergency Initiators come in the same three sizes and ar manufactured by Northern Gun, The Coalition States, Manistique Imperium and Bandito Arms. They are smaller, heavier and cost about the same as the multi-use converters listed above, but they are self contained and do not require the expenditure of e-clips.
How to include this technology into your game:
As far as including this technology into the game, it is more for flavor than anything else. It is meant to give a plausible reason for why and how hover vehicles exist in Rifts Earth. It is possible that it can add too much complexity to your gaming session. Don't let it. For example, if a character on a hoverbike extends her arm to fire a gun, technically, she will probably be putting her arm into the area of high gravity and that would ruin her aim, pull the gun right out of her hand or maybe even break a finger or two. Let the rule of cool preside and forget all that.   On the other hand, it would be appropriate to rule that it would be impossible for a character to use a two-meter long alien sniping lance from a hoverbike due to the increased gravity preventing the character from being able to hold the barrel level (strength check, perhaps?). So be reasonable.   The best way to introduce gravity lenses into the game is to talk about how heavy the character feels just before hopping onto his hover vehicle or when dismounting. You could even have a hovertrain and make it so that passengers getting onto and off a hovertrain have their bags sent across the gap with a conveyor instead of being carried, and special hover chairs are provided for the infirm and elderly for crossing the threshold.   It is natural to think that just rotating a gravity lens would be all that is required to stop and restart the lens effect upon a vehicle. And while it may be true that rotating a lens would reduce or eliminate the lens effect, returning the lens to its orthogonal orientation would actually not result in a resumption of its effects. The reason for this goes back to the energy it takes to initialize a gravity lens. Consider the previous example of a table covered in sand. If one were to tilt the table whether the maintaining frequency on the table was active or not, the sand would leave the pattern. Returning the table to its normal level state will not result in the sand returning to its induced pattern without time and effort to re-establish it again. So it is with gravity lenses. They can adjust their power consumption to handle minor perterbations and misalignments, but anyting more would require an enormous amount of energy to re-initialize it in the orthogonal vector field.   You can also include Focused gravity lenses at security checkpoints. In such cases, it would make sense to have a point-focus lens established off to one side. Slide the lens under the people or vehicles that need to be stopped. Now picture it as a self-contained platform that can be transported to wherever a checkpoint is needed. Vehicle-sized facilities can also be constructed in place.


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