Main Lensman Arms Race Discussion

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09:08:21 PM Oct 9th 2010
I could be wrong, but this section from Stargate doesn't look like an arms race as such. It looks like the writers realising the heros are too tough now for the regular villains so they slot in some new tougher villains.

At about this time, the Goa'uld start to look pretty lame with their highly inaccurate staff weapons and complete ignorance of camouflage. The writers decided to have the replicators wipe out most of the Goa'uld and throw in a new opposition, the Ori. Unlike the Goa'uld, who were in fact just parasites that controlled humanoid bodies, the Ori basically are gods. They're incorporeal, immortal beings that gain power from people worshiping them. Their followers have super stargates that can transport huge fleets across intergalactic space, and their ships and weapons are capable of curb stomping anything seen in the previous seasons of SG-1. Fortunately the forces of Earth have a solution: they create weapons that can kill immortal incorporeal beings.
  • Of course, defeating the Goa'uld was more than a simple case of Villain Decay. It was thought that the show wouldn't be picked up for a ninth season. When they did get picked up, they realized they needed a new enemy, and created the Ori.
07:17:10 PM Oct 8th 2010
Cut the Reall Life section entirely. When it's longer than any other single section, we've lost track of the purpose of the wiki: to catalogue the use of tropes in fictionand media.not in Real Life.

  • The advances in airplane technology in World War I and the advances in airplane and tank technology in World War II are incredible. To put it succinctly: 1914, the Bristol Scout. Top speed 94 miles an hour, 16,000 foot ceiling, and one .303 machine gun. A single generation later in 1944; Me-262, jet powered, top speed 541 miles an hour, 48,000 foot ceiling, four 30mm cannons. Or looking at it another way, a pilot could have started off his career armed with a pistol to shoot at other aircraft and manually tossing bombs out of the cockpit. His son, at the end of his career, would be flying an aircraft going faster than the speed of sound armed with missiles and remote-guided smart-bombs.
    • And theoretically, his son could have landed on the moon. From canvas-and-wire biplanes in the 1910's to spacecraft capable of moon landings in 1969! That's, frankly, astonishing.
    • Early WWI planes often carried no mounted weapons at all, forcing the pilots to improvise. This resulted in an Allied scout complaining to his wingmates that a German pilot had thrown a brick at him.
    • In fairness, there was a whole lot of advancement in peacetime too, with planes in the 20s and 30s lasting for only a few years before being obsolete. Compare the B-2 Condor with the B-17 Flying Fortress, which was actually in service before the war began.
      • China might be able to protest that last part.
  • The Cold War. Starts off in 1948 with only one side having nukes at all (and not even h-bombs!), ends up by 1989 with one side with over 40,000 nukes, mostly H-bombs, and the other with a bit fewer nukes but better delivery systems.
    • Also curiously averted in some respects. The B-52 and Tu-95 bombers are designs from the 1950s, the RAF flies 40 year old planes for maritime reconnaissance and a mid-1960s aircraft (the MiG-21) is still around in a few air forces. Aircraft top speeds leveled out at about Mach 2.5 in the late 1960s after it was discovered that you needed pretty expensive materials to go beyond that and it wasn't much use in combat anyway.
      • Case in point: the SR-71A Blackbird Reconnaissance plane - Mach 3.5, made out of titanium and uses special fuel. See here
  • How about the Space Race? Started up with the Soviets putting up an orbiting ball that went 'beep'; just over ten years later — Saturn 5 rockets and men on the Moon. A couple of years later, we have Pioneer and Voyager, deep-space probes. And then it ended with the collapse of the USSR, and things have slowed down massively - mind you, we still haven't gone to Mars.
    • The private sector, on the other hand, has progressed very fast.
    • There were a lot of deep-space probes pre-Voyager. Sputnik was October of 1957. The USSR did a lunar flyby less than 18 months later. The US did a Venus flyby at the end of 1962 and Mars in 1965.
      • This is forgetting that some difficult aspects of spaceflights, the calculation of orbits and the testing of rocket design, are the same for both launching a small satellite and a lunar flyby. The problem is mainly to improve said rockets to carry the heavier payload.. From 1930 onwards, the development of rockets and calculations had already begun. Still impressive, of course!
  • The "war" on software piracy is rapidly becoming this- 3 legal installs on the same machine before you have to contact customer service, anyone?
    • That still remains the extreme. The popular method is to use Steam or similar program. Yeah, it ain't perfect, and people are still gonna crack it, but it still gets the game out there to people who will legitimately buy it.
  • In case you haven't noticed the trend: the late 19th and all of the 20th century in general. It took humanity approximately 200,000 years to go from stone-tool use and hunter-gatherer behavior to farming and crude metal tools; it took a still-impressive ~10,000 years to go from basic metal tools to the very first, very simple powered motors. The time from the first major railroad in the world to right this moment, with widespread use of atomic power and advanced microelectronics? Less than two centuries. At this point, the majority of major human invention and innovation has occurred in the past two centuries, with no sign of slowing down.
  • Suspiciously averted in firearms as well: personnel firearms have progressed very slowly and change relatively little. Despite centuries of development. It took two centuries to go from matchlocks to flintlock, and another two hundred plus years before flintlocks went out of style. The revolver and manual repeater rifles are still in use in certain capacities, many with minimal changes a century after introduction. Once automatic and semi-automatic weapons became efficient to mass produce they've gone largely unchanged. Weapons dating to WWII and beyond can be only fractionally less capable then more modern weapons. All of these still use the same principle of a confined powdered explosive to propel a piece of metal at high speed. For that matter physics and chemistry largely ensure guns will never advance much more then they are right now, or become obsolete.
    • "Engines of war have long since reached their limits, and I see no further hope of any improvement in the art.", Frontinus, 90 AD
    • Not exactly...firearms technology advanced at a blistering pace in the latter half of the 19th century, continuing to the mid-20th century in a few specific areas. It's only since then that things haven't changed much. To be fair, there's some good arguments that it's because they've pretty much gotten as good as they're gonna get until someone makes some MAJOR advancements in materials technology. Most of the advancements that have happened have pretty much either been more like refinements than advancements (replacing non-strength-critical parts with plastic versions to save weight) or ended up flopping due to fundamental problems with the concept.
      • Two cases in point: The Personal Defense Weapon, the best-known being the P90 and the MP-7. The idea was to make a submachinegun that fired specialized rounds with the armor-piercing capability of rifle rounds and the controllability of SMG rounds. The problem is that armor-piercing capacity, without an increase in overall power, necessarily has to sacrifice base effectiveness against flesh. 5.7x28 and 4.6x30 rounds penetrate armor alright but once they get through they don't have much of an effect.
      • You are aware that P90 ammuntion is actually bigger than the 5.56 NATO round, aren't you? There's a little thing called "muzzle velocity" that can make a big difference regarding damage.
      • Just because the actual bullet it slightly thicker does not mean that it the overall round is bigger, more powerful, or more capable than the 5.56x45 in any way, shape, or form. And, speaking of muzzle velocity, the 5.7x28 reaches around 766 m/s from a 16" barrel (depending on the ammunition used), while the 5.56 reaches from 860-900 m/s (again depending), and is more likely to fragment within the target (particularly from a barrel above 14.5"), creating a larger permanent wound cavity. Among other things.
      • Caseless ammunition is the other big flop. It's a great idea, fundamentally, but the problem is that brass cartridge cases perform a VERY important function of absorbing a lot of the heat of combustion and then being ejected from the rifle. Until someone can figure out the heat problem, caseless ammunition isn't coming back.
    • Case in point: the AK-47. The Kalashnikov rifle dates back to 1947 and is still pretty much the most popular gun ever with anyone who isn't America a first-world country. You probably can't even recognize its updates like the AK-74 without being told.
    • Target firearms have advanced considerably based on fine tuning of lots of minor factors. It's simply impractical to over-engineer a weapon that will be used in an actual war because of the stresses that get put on it. Meanwhile progress is being made in magnetic guns (which will require really awesome batteries for field use) and electrothermal-chemicals as a replacement for gunpowder.
  • Music instruments averts this hard. Most electric guitars today are based on designs of the 50's or 60's. The classics like the Fender Telecaster (1952), Stratocaster (1954), Gibson Les Paul (1952) and the Gibson S G (1961) have remained more or less unchanged since then. Even more "modern" guitars like Ibanez R G were made during the 80's, based on a Strat. The electrics may have modernised, but it's common to reissue models that are made to the specifications of an older year. The basics are exactly the same, with the rest being small tweaks. The instruments professionals use are in most cases vintage instruments. And if you move into classical instruments? The most famous of all violins are Stradivariuses, which were made 200 years ago.
    • Parker guitars make guitars that deviate significantly from the Gibson and Fender designs, but they've also started introducing traditional models.
      • the body design is still derivative of a classic Strat, and they still have magnetic pickups. There are advancements being made (light-based pickups, for example, and Steinberger-style headless/bodyless designs), but the industry is somewhat stagnated, not due to lack of creativity but rather due to Leo Fender and his design team being savants.
    • Sort of true, but the sound processing and editing software and hardware has basically been on steroids ever since you could jack a keyboard into a PC. Just ask any audio geek or DJ you might know - there's always a new cutting edge toy out there.
  • Supposedly happened in evolution several times. Animals growing a tougher skin to survive attacks from predators which in turn develop bigger claws, teeth, etc. At the end, the prey can barely move to the next water hole and the predator gets serious neck problems from carrying around teeth twice as long as its head. Both die out and thus starts the next cycle.
    • Cheetahs are suffering the backlash of such specialization now, although partly because the process has been interrupted by human development. The gazelles that are their primary prey are exceptionally fast and agile, so the predator also became faster and more agile in order to catch them. But the prey's population has been reduced by encroaching developers for decades, if not a century or more. Cheetah population declined as a result and inbreeding became a more serious problem. Both predator and prey and severely endangered now.
05:45:46 AM Apr 12th 2014
edited by
Shouldn't we just try to add more examples to the fictional part?
05:00:55 PM Apr 11th 2010
Why is this called a Lensman Arms Race? Is there some way this trope descibes something different from any other regular arms race?
05:30:54 PM Apr 11th 2010
edited by SomeGuy
Lensman is the name of a very old science fiction series. It was given this title due to Fan Myopia, as non-Sci-Fi likely have no idea what it means. I would gladly dispose of it right now but unfortunately this ancient crowner says no. See if we can get enough support in this newer crowner and then we can come back to it.
02:45:22 PM Jul 2nd 2010
edited by Kizor
Whoa there, partner... accusing those with the opposite opinion of being blinded by their fanboyism seems like an unnecessary way to make enemies. There are plenty of reasons to prefer this name without having read the novels. I do and I haven't, for instance: I think that "Lensman" is short, pithy, and actually easier to remember than its oversized alternative.

It helps that the series is not just a historical footnote. For better or for worse, it created much of science fiction as we know it. Knowing it by name is not all that rare in circles as geeky as ours, nor is referencing it all that unreasonable. I can say, without fearing elitism, that it's something that those with even a passing interest in science fiction should know or should be glad to find out, which fits, since this article is overwhelmingly about sci-fi.

Memorability's not a problem, either. All the talk in the article about Lensman having faster-than-light antimatter planet missiles and guns that use stars as power sources oughta make it pretty frikkin' memorable, prior experience or not...
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