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Some questions about portals

"Hell's Gate" and "Hell Hath No Fury", by David, Linda Evans, and Joelle Presby, take the clash of science and magic to a whole new dimension...join us in a friendly discussion of this engrossing series!
Re: Some questions about portals
Post by Wing   » Wed Jul 09, 2014 12:17 am

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There was a tree that got cut in half by a portal appearing. Not conclusive for sure(portal appearance may well be a special case), but it is weak evidence that they can cut stuff.

Even if they aren't zero depth they are still thin enough that depth has never been successfully measured. As fine as the measuring instruments of the two known portal having civilizations ought to be, that would make the edge pretty damn sharp even if it's not actually as supernaturally sharp as zero depth would imply.

Not all that dangerous I would think. Even small portals are pretty big, just stay away from the edge if you aren't using it.
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by Howard T. Map-addict   » Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:16 am

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Build pillars next to each edge,
to prevent casual bumping and slicing.

HTM

Wing wrote:There was a tree that got cut in half by a portal appearing. Not conclusive for sure(portal appearance may well be a special case), but it is weak evidence that they can cut stuff.

Even if they aren't zero depth they are still thin enough that depth has never been successfully measured. As fine as the measuring instruments of the two known portal having civilizations ought to be, that would make the edge pretty damn sharp even if it's not actually as supernaturally sharp as zero depth would imply.

Not all that dangerous I would think. Even small portals are pretty big, just stay away from the edge if you aren't using it.
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by brnicholas   » Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:36 pm

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I can't remember any definitive evidence that you are wrong and absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Still, chan Tesh built is fortifications near the edge of a portal without producing any evidence that the edge of a portal could be used to cut this way. In addition chan Tesh's plotter and flicker were walking around the edge of a portal on a regular schedule without expressing any concern that brushing their arms against the edge of the portal would lead to them being cut off and without producing any evidence of precautions against that. We heard concerns about dragons flying into cliffs but none about the dragons flying into the edge of a portal.

In sum, I'm inclined to think the zero depth quotes refer to the distance between the two universes as you pass through the portal and the edge of the portal is surrounded by forces that make it more like a stone pillar then a molecular wire.

Nicholas

Wing wrote:There was a tree that got cut in half by a portal appearing. Not conclusive for sure(portal appearance may well be a special case), but it is weak evidence that they can cut stuff.

Even if they aren't zero depth they are still thin enough that depth has never been successfully measured. As fine as the measuring instruments of the two known portal having civilizations ought to be, that would make the edge pretty damn sharp even if it's not actually as supernaturally sharp as zero depth would imply.

Not all that dangerous I would think. Even small portals are pretty big, just stay away from the edge if you aren't using it.
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by bkwormlisa   » Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:57 pm

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tinfoil wrote:
bkwormlisa wrote:Another question is, why are portals always half buried in the earth? I mean, we've got wild altitude differentials, so something is making sure they're always touching ground. The only one I can think of that was definitely said was more than half buried sounded like it was mostly buried in one universe and not in the other, given the cliff differential. So what about portal formation is so attracted to the ground?


How can we be sure about that?

A fully buried portal would be rather hard to find.

True, they wouldn't know about any fully buried portal. As the speculations on underwater portals prove. But I didn't find anything about portals hanging in the air, or with only a small portion underground, or curved in a way that proved only the tip was above ground. If you assume the portals are perfectly circular, any portal that isn't almost exactly bisected would be pretty easy to identify. But they always talked about portals as if they were perfect half circles. What makes them so prone to that?

And on the subject of portals closing, neither civilization has really been exploring for that long, so they could well not know it was possible. I agree that it would be difficult to tell a portal had been there if you hadn't seen it, so it could happen. But if it shows up in the books, it would almost have to be people talking about a colony they'd had that now couldn't be reached. And I'm not sure how such a thing would advance the storyline,so I tend to doubt Weber would do it except possibly as such a mention just to fool with our heads.
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by Weird Harold   » Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:41 pm

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bkwormlisa wrote:Another question is, why are portals always half buried in the earth? ... So what about portal formation is so attracted to the ground?


Perhaps Portals are "buoyant" and only form where there is an average "buoyancy" between the two universes that will allow the portal to touch both ground and air on both sides. In most cases, that would place a portal half-buried in both worlds with only minor elevation differences. It would also preclude most of the disastrous pairing suggested because there would be too great a difference in "buoyancy" for an average to resolve an acceptable Portal position in both worlds.
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Answers! I got lots of answers!

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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by bkwormlisa   » Sat Jul 26, 2014 10:55 am

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Weird Harold wrote:
bkwormlisa wrote:Another question is, why are portals always half buried in the earth? ... So what about portal formation is so attracted to the ground?


Perhaps Portals are "buoyant" and only form where there is an average "buoyancy" between the two universes that will allow the portal to touch both ground and air on both sides. In most cases, that would place a portal half-buried in both worlds with only minor elevation differences. It would also preclude most of the disastrous pairing suggested because there would be too great a difference in "buoyancy" for an average to resolve an acceptable Portal position in both worlds.

Hmm. That sounds like a good answer, actually. On the other hand, as far as we know all portals are on solid ground, be it continents or islands. Never half in the water and half the air. Not enough difference in density?

There's been some speculation about underwater portals. I suppose those could also be half buried in the ground, but few sea creatures can actually reach the ocean floor even in shallow areas. Plus the bottom of the sea is even higher in density compared to the earth than the earth is compared to the air. Perhaps that leads to only shallow-water portals, and much smaller ones so they don't stick up above the water surface? I don't think portal size and portal altitude have any connection, but if it's absolute density instead of relative density that leads to smaller (on average) portals, that could be a change the water has that air doesn't. As I recall, every 30 feet of water is one extra atmosphere of pressure. So go down 150 or so feet and have portals 30 or 60 feet in diameter (instead of 3-40 miles), and you'd have underwater portals with significant pressure differences.

I know we have no answers to any of this, but I love to speculate and try to find logical answers even when I know the authors themselves might have no reason other than "because we said so!" :D
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by Weird Harold   » Sat Jul 26, 2014 3:14 pm

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bkwormlisa wrote:
Weird Harold wrote:Perhaps Portals are "buoyant" and only form where there is an average "buoyancy" between the two universes that will allow the portal to touch both ground and air on both sides.



Hmm. That sounds like a good answer, actually. On the other hand, as far as we know all portals are on solid ground, be it continents or islands. Never half in the water and half the air. Not enough difference in density?


I think you're misunderstanding "Buoyancy" as opposed to Buoyancy -- note the quotation marks.

What I meant was that portals treat possible locations as if they were all liquid and portals as if they possessed the relative density that would make them "float" half submerged in bedrock.

I haven't tabulated all known portals, and I haven't read the series in years, but IIRC all known portals are associated with immovable bedrock on both sides of the portal. Also, IIRC all known portals touch both air and bedrock. That would seem to preclude underwater, completely underground, or aerial portals; although such portals would tend to be "unknown portals" if they did exist because they wouldn't be where they could be discovered.
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Answers! I got lots of answers!

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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by bkwormlisa   » Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:57 am

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Weird Harold wrote:I think you're misunderstanding "Buoyancy" as opposed to Buoyancy -- note the quotation marks.

What I meant was that portals treat possible locations as if they were all liquid and portals as if they possessed the relative density that would make them "float" half submerged in bedrock.

I haven't tabulated all known portals, and I haven't read the series in years, but IIRC all known portals are associated with immovable bedrock on both sides of the portal. Also, IIRC all known portals touch both air and bedrock. That would seem to preclude underwater, completely underground, or aerial portals; although such portals would tend to be "unknown portals" if they did exist because they wouldn't be where they could be discovered.

Yes, all portals so far have been anchored in ground, usually half ground and half air. No water portals that we've seen. But there was speculation earlier in this thread about how the whales and dolphins would be able to help, and the possibility that there were portals that were totally underwater. At this point it's pure speculation.
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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by Weird Harold   » Sat Aug 16, 2014 9:28 am

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bkwormlisa wrote:Yes, all portals so far have been anchored in ground, usually half ground and half air. ... At this point it's pure speculation.


A theory formulated to fit observed phenomena is hardly "pure speculation." :geek: speculation about other, unobserved, phenomena is just speculation without facts. A "buoyancy theory" explains observed phenomena without speculating about phenomena that hasn't been observed.

I might be wrong, but I haven't indulged in "pure speculation."
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Answers! I got lots of answers!

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Re: Some questions about portals
Post by bkwormlisa   » Sun Aug 17, 2014 9:18 am

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Weird Harold wrote:
bkwormlisa wrote:Yes, all portals so far have been anchored in ground, usually half ground and half air. ... At this point it's pure speculation.


A theory formulated to fit observed phenomena is hardly "pure speculation." :geek: speculation about other, unobserved, phenomena is just speculation without facts. A "buoyancy theory" explains observed phenomena without speculating about phenomena that hasn't been observed.

I might be wrong, but I haven't indulged in "pure speculation."

I didn't say you had indulged in pure speculation. I agree, the "buoyancy theory" fits the observed facts. It's the entirely underwater portals that are speculative.
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