At least we’ve got that straight.
I predict growing a replacement for the decay inhibitor gel.
If that were possible, he would have brought it up.
Not necessarily. He does seem to have a very “follow the manual” approach to engineering, which can narrow one’s perspectives when faced with unforeseen circumstances. To wit: it can make sense for the manual to say that the options for “fixing an A unit” are only “replace with spare”, because spares are normally plenty or can at least be delivered much faster than a typical engineering department would need to build one, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only physical possibility. The main Galaxion crew on the other hand seems to rejoice in finding nonstandard solutions to technical problems.
However, Aria’s insight was rather timed to the part about the engineering department being shorthanded.
That is possible but keep in mind that manuals and written guideline/procedures exist for a reason. That you can improvise a fix doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a GOOD fix. That you make a non-standard replacement may mean that it works in the short-term but serious consequences in the long-term. A machine might work for a while but might thrash the whole thing due to unintended vibrations or other side-effects that the original part accounted for.
Also keep in that that unless these guys have Star Trek make-almost-anything-but-exotic-matter replicator, they don’t have the materials and tools (and expertise) to make any kind of replacement parts. Or the very least, highly limited. Again, if they had that kind of option, the Chief would have brought it up (“To make a series of replacement parts we will need to cannibalize XY items and equipment”).
Actual modern ships today often have workshops (especially big military ships like carriers), but still rely on drydocks for heavy-duty maintenance and repairs.
Also, what gives Owen Smith the idea the gel can be grown at all?
Another thing to account for: LOADABLE STRESS. Say you have a metal part that you need made with 0.001.mm precision (that is not as nidicolous as it seems). The metal is some exotic, specially-made steel that you need special, vacuum-forges to make and special diamond-filament tools to cut into shape.
Now, they might have a 3D printer that can do that to the required precision but only in some kind of plastic. They make it out of the best plastic they can. The part fits and the machine works… until the machine is under higher stress and producing lots of heat. The original steel part can take the abuse. Thee plastic just.. can’t. It brakes, causing a cascade effect with the high forces in the machine that trashes the whole thing.
So the machine can now only work 1/10th of its full capacity. Which can kind of suck if its something important like a pump for oxygen-recycler system.
Do you see the problem?
If we can make synthetic oil from single cell organisms, then we can make gels from single cell organisms. Are gels not petroleum based products? Just tell a whole lot of bacteria to make several specific compounds, mix, and voila! You have decay inhibitor gel!
Besides, fiction needs conclusions regardless of reality based science.
@adam 10:31: I’m aware of the problem that not every part is meaningful to try to make yourself, but my point was about how much effort Chief Anderson would be willing to spend looking for alternative solutions. For some parts, those that must fit exactly right for the engine to work, there might indeed not be any simple alternatives, but there also tends to be components that are not so tightly integrated and which could be replaced by a generic substitute. Anderson merely states that he is short on parts; even if this is the Executive Summary of the situation, this suggests that he has not evaluated each of these systems in detail and found the parts to be critical. (We could have an Apollo 13 situation where the problem is that although there are enough CO2 scrubbers, the sockets are cylindrical whereas most of those you have are cube-shaped.) The issue he does mention explicitly is that of the gel, which is not a part but (presumably) more like motor oil or something.
Whether the gel issue can be worked around is at this point completely up to Tara. I wouldn’t be too hopeful, but there could in principle be tricks such as using the brand name gel only in the most critical systems, and switching to home-brewn substitute in lower load systems. Unless the gel is very expensive, it would make sense to use just one type of gel throughout, even if many of the systems would be fine with lower performance products. This of course assumes the gel is used in a great number of systems, but there is no reason it couldn’t be (as we have no idea what it is).
In reality, a mission could fail and the crew could all die. But in typical story space, for the protagonists, every pot has a lid. If getting a gel (or its effective equivalent) is necessary, then a way will be found to fulfill that need.
I had the same impression and thought maybe she’s leaving because she has some idea about how to solve that problem, for example possibly to grow a replacement gel. (That said, they may fulfill the need in another way, such as by trading for it at their new destination.)
You are right, of course. Another possibility however is that they last long enough to get to Myrad and ask the locals for anything equivalent. This page might be setting up issues that will become very important then.
Decay inhibitor gel … needed to keep an engine running.
Motor oil? A particularly cold motor oil?
Looks like Expositor-in-Chief Anderson has a bit of a problem being touched…His expression in panel three looks like Fusella just placed a tarantula on his shoulder instead of her hand!
Or just so surprised. Or maybe from a culture where touching is more reserved. Or just used to more military mannerisms where this kind of touching is frowned upon.
HardWearJunkie: First, that’s kind of like saying that since everything is made out of carbon, why don’t they regrow a lost leg? After all, you have calcium powder for the bones and you can get carbon from waste, right?
Second: again, if that were an option, the Chief would have mentioned it or asked about it. The way he is stating the problem indicates that he is pretty certain that these two barriers are quite real and he knows what he is doing. The whole point of this scene is to show that Fusella has serious problems that are not easy to fix and that she HAS to go to Myrad for the sake of her crew. She has to make hard decisions and face serious consequences. For example, she might end up with a ship with a broken engine in alien space.
Third: these are not reality-based science problems, these are general engineer problems. What works in a laboratory setting does not necessarily work in workshop. Being able to get single-cell organism cultures to do stuff you want in a Petr dish is not the same thing as farming them on a scale that they give usable product-harvests in time. Nor is it simple to go from the former to the latter.
Make-do and improvised fixes can work but not without a cost. Whether the author realizes this and decides to include this is another matter, of course.
Fourth: you may be waaay overestimating the crew of the Galaxion. This is a refurbished survey ship ran by an eccentric captain with her pick of crew, not a top-of-the-line science vessel with revolutionary science laboratories and workshops. These people have serious problems growing enough food, never mind gene-engineering new species to produce specialty gels. I’m not putting it above them to not find creative solutions to their current problem, but if they were easy and obvious to do they would have thought of it by now (remember, this page is several days in after the second jump).
I believe that Ari’s idea is to manufacture more decay inhibitor gel by finding the raw materials needed. The Chief’s problem is not that he doesn’t know how to manufacture the gel. His problem is that he does not have the proper raw materials (or enough of it) to manufacture it and does not know how to find it.
Engineers know how to process crude oil into plastics, but geologists are needed to survey and find the crude oil for the process. Since the survey team is the ‘geologist’ equivalent in this space setting, Ari has realized that their expertise can be used to help solve this problem.
A good point but they are in the middle of nowhere. The only place they can get the resources to make the gel is from the ship.
I do concede that the Chief is unlikely to know the full inventory of the ship. Maybe there are enough resources to make a bit more.
By this timeframe, wouldn’t the Earth company PhiloSton™ have made a matter-rearranger to turn unusable waste into the much needed decay inhibitor gel?
The technology level we have seen so far suggests that the crew is still dependent on resupplies at outposts and stations. adam has suggested that replicating substitution materials is at best risky; at worst it is suicide. Puts the crew between a rock and a hard place. Also the Galaxion might have been geared for a short expedition due to the hyperdrive test so their expectation for a long voyage was low; unnecessary equipment would not have made it on-board.
Also, I am sleepy and not completely coherent at this time. I might have had a point but I am not sur
What the hell are you talking about? I’m not talking about matter replication (which the comic has not mentioned to exist, this is not Star Trek). I’m talking about the inherent problems of improvised fixes, not the problems of matter replication.
Replication, as in recreating a product through some other means. I do not recall referring to Star Trek in this conversation.
You are massively misunderstanding my point regardless: the problem isn’t in any sort of replication or creation of spare parts. The problem is simply that there is no simple solution to the problem (again, that is the whole point of this scene)
Again, real ships on the real sea: even military ships that EXPECT to have parts of it blown to hell as a regular feature of a ship’s service, they can only do so much on-board. The engineers on-board are there to keep the ship working under “normal” (when it isn’t being shot at) conditions, prevent any real problems and when things go to hell, to keep the ship together until it can limp back to a friendly port where the real repairs can take place.
Because in a port, there are no little problems like “placing this series of massive machines on a ship that really has to think about what it can and cannot put on it”. No (or at least less) limits on how many engineers you can have, how many spare parts can you store, how many raw materials you can store, what machines and setup you have to repair things that a ship cannot possibly have. There you can do things to a ship that you cannot really do on sea.
The same principle applies: they brought spare parts, they have clever engineers on-board, they must have some level of workshops on-board that they can do quite a lot with enough creativity and sacrifices. But the possibility of it being just not enough is quite real. And without that threat, its hard to have a crisis in the first place.
I would have expected they load up on that sort of supplies after the last jump test was successful, even if only partially. Since their last ship had to limp back five parsecs damaged, supplies for a decently long journey should definitely been carried this time.
They gone far further than they expected to and into the space of a different species, which they probably also didn’t expect. If they planned the jumps, they probably did so planning jumping to a far shorter distance this time, preferably from one station to another.
As for supplies: You can load only so much supplies and spare parts on a ship. Note also that technically they do have enough food until they reach Myrad.
Remember also that they made sure to prevent the technical problems from the last attempt from reoccurring. What they discovered was a whole new kind of technical problems nearly destroying the ship.
Did the comic ever mention matter-rearranger being present?
Also, again: if that was a solution, wouldn’t the Chief (or Fusella) have mentioned it?
Why is everyone assuming that the man is a complete idiot?
I don’t think he’s an idiot. Afterall, there’s no mention of PhiloSton™ in the comic either. ;P
Okay, so Ari looks like she’s got an idea. What could it be?
Ask permission from her boss to temporary move herself from the survey contact team to engineering, who are short-staffed?
In the last panel it looks like Ari is counting with her fingers.
Point. I might be wrong and she could be up to something interesting.
She said she had to go talk to Vessa.
And according to the character bio page, Vessa is a Chemist by training…
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