Stellar Navigation Based On Network Analysis

Take a look at this wonderful article on trying to visualize how to travel between the stars. What would a travel network look like?


(2D visualization of a 12 light-year network)

With this spirit of exploration in mind I wondered to myself how, exactly, would one go about navigating the stars. Perhaps due to my being older and wiser (and/or losing my childhood imagination), my fantasies regarding exploring the universe now come attached to limitations and practicalities. Stellar travel is beyond our technical abilities; what with our inability to wield space-time, finite life-spans, and technical inabilities and all. But if we could manage even a relatively modest amount of stellar travel, what would that modest amount have to be to open the network of our stellar neighborhood to us? And what would that 3-dimensional network look like?

So, I imagined our Sun surrounded by its immediate neighborhood and saw a network of pathways one could take given a limit on how far you could travel before having to "refuel" at the next star system--say, perhaps, via mining asteroids or by deploying your solar charger.

Of the many novels I've read, I was reminded of the network of travel stations in Clifford Simak's 1963 classic Way Station:

Ulysses said, "We are a traveling people. We need a travel station here. We want to turn this house into a station and you to keep the station...

"But traveling..."

"From star to star," said Ulysses. "Quicker than the thought of it... It will be no more than a switching and a resting point..."


(Eight Light-year Internal Visualization)

One challenge in accurately visualizing this data is that it has 3 spatial dimensions. Every graph/network visualization I've done before either didn't have spatial dimensions or merely had 2D geo-spatial dimensions. This is a challenge because most graph tools are oriented towards a 2-dimensional layout and visualization. Gephi, a tool I commonly use, does 2-dimensional visualizations. It is aware of 3D coordinates of nodes and can do an okay job of representing it in 2-dimensions. But with no ability to pan, it's hard to get a real feel for what the 3D structure of the network looks like.

After some hunting, I found NAViGaTOR which was created and is actively maintained by the Jurisica Lab of the Ontario Cancer Institute. Although it has the ability to do 3D layouts, none of its layouts support coordinate-based layouts from node data. However, after some experimentation, I discovered that if you disable the option which automatically applies a layout on network load, that the default behavior is actually to lay the network out based on node 3D coordinate data. I contacted a maintainer of NAViGaTOR and they confirmed that that is indeed the expected behavior.

I maintained the node coloring based on star temperature above. However, I made every node have equal size.

Fans of 'Doc' Smith's 1934 novel Triplanetary may be reminded of the 3D Tank Display:

Every space-ship within range of her powerful detectors was represented by two brilliant, slowly moving points of light; one upon a great micrometer screen, the other in the "tank"--the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model of the entire Solar System.

Be sure to read the entire article Stellar Navigation Using Network Analysis.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/8/2014)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.' - Robert Heinlein, 1942.

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.' - Jack Williamson, 1939.

Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
'I shall never forget the sight... when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the star dust.' - Garrett P. Serviss, 1898.

Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.' Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Road Noise Charges Electric Cars With Peugeot Piezoelectric Billboard
''... major cities of Earth have free electrical power conveniently processed from their own noise.'

Unsinkable Metal Latest Gates Obsession
'A metal... light as cork.'

M-Blocks 2.0 Self-Assembling Robots
'Faster the cubes moved...'

NASA 'Broomstick' Recalls SciFi Ideas
'The appearance was enough like a giant witch's broom to justify the nickname.'

Orbital Display's Low Earth Orbit Advertisements
'A vast circle of scarlet stars came up into the greenish desert dusk.'

Neuromorphic Computing Hardare
'He had constructed an organ, a brain, of metal, entirely inorganic and lifeless...'

Vascularized Human Skin 3D Printed
Hey Fishboy!

Trillionaires Still Earth-Bound
'I shall never forget the sight... when the yellow gleam of the precious metal appeared under the star dust.'

Digit V2 Bipedal Robot From Agility Robotics
Oh, and now I suppose someone will develop the robotic porch pirate.

3D Printed Dubai Building Is World's Largest
'This thing will start at one end of ...a house and build it complete to the other end, following drawings only.'

Grow Plants On Moon Or Mars!
'In contrast to the airless desolation outside, the interior of this five-acre greenhouse was the one most desirable place to be.'

California Gets Shockwave Rider-Style Avoidance Zones
'It was cheaper to pay the refugees to go without up-to-the-minute equipment.'

Microbot Interstellar von Neumann Explorers
'Evidently they have never had a planet of their own...'

Hail SmartCan! Your Trash Bin Takes Itself Out
'...a waste can twenty feet away stirred into life.'

Finally! Microsoft Surface Neo And Surface Duo Implement Excellent Courier Idea
'Runcible, whose pages were thicker and more densely packed with computational machinery...'

Tap Strap 2 Now With Air Mouse
'He waved his hand and the circuit switched abruptly.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.