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Joined: Wed 29 Jul 2020, 11:01

California Loop

Thu 06 Aug 2020, 23:07

Hi folks,

I am in the process of preparing a homebrew TFTL campaign set in California. To this effect, I am working on a slightly-different, and more detailed, world timeline. This is what I have so far. I would appreciate if you folks could take a look and let me know what you think .

TFTL timeline (California version)

• 1931: Ernest Lawrence invents the first electrostatic particle accelerator in his laboratory at U. C. Berkeley. It is 9 inches in diameter. Based on the success of this device, the university founds the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory to build larger models.
• 1941: As the USA is entering the war effort, the government increases its investment in high-energy physics research tremendously. It also acquires multiple sites around the San Francisco Bay area to create military bases, including Alameda, Treasure Island, Hunter’s Point, Mare Island, and Camp Parks.
• 1943: Soviet scientists at the Leningrad Institute of high-Energy Physics first notice and describe the Magnetrine effect. With their efforts focused on the development of atomic technology, however, they considered it to be merely a curiosity.
• 1947: With the success of the Manhattan Project and the pivotal role the atomic bomb plays in ending the war, the US government forms the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to organize high-energy research.
• 1951: Scientists at the Fermilab in Chicago discover the high-temperature superconducting properties of Yttrium-barium-copper oxide, which comes to be known as “Yttrine.” This innovation allows particle accelerators to reach previously undreamt-of levels of energy.
• 1952: The University of California Radiation Laboratory at Livermore is founded as an offshoot of the existing UC Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley. It was intended to spur innovation and provide competition to the nuclear weapon design laboratory at Los Alamos in New Mexico, home of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic weapons. Edward Teller and Ernest Lawrence, director of the Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, are regarded as the co-founders of the Livermore facility. After his death in 1958, the facility is renamed the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
• 1957: Egyptian engineer Mohamed Atalla, working at Bell Labs in New Jersey announces a breakthrough in silicon semiconductor technology. He discovered that the formation of a thermally grown silicon dioxide layer greatly reduces the concentration of electronic states at the silicon surface, and that silicon oxide layers could be used to electrically stabilize silicon surfaces. Additionally, doping the silicon with germanium greatly enhances the Magnetrine effect (by several orders of magnitude). Devices built using semiconductors are able to transition energy between states easily, and come to be known as “transistors.”
• 1962: Scientists at Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Laboratory build the NOVA research reactor, combining transistor-based Magnetrine technology with Yttrine-based superconductors. Within three years they have achieved self-sustaining fusion reactions that produce huge amounts of energy with very little input.
• Mid-1960’s: the first commercially available products using the new technologies become available to the public.
• Late 1960’s: Innovations in Magnetrine technology kick off an economic boom as hundreds of companies are founded to create products that exploit the technology.
• 1968: The first fusion-powered, Magnetrine-enabled particle accelerator is activated outside of Boulder City, Nevada. Almost immediately, odd effects are reported in the area, including levitation of magnets.
• 1970: The largest particle accelerator in the world is activated in Sweden. It comes to be known as The Loop. In subsequent years, all large particle accelerators are referred to colloquially as “Loops.”
• 1973: The Oil Crisis: In October 1973 the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) proclaim an oil embargo. The embargo was targeted at nations perceived as supporting Israel during the Yom Kippur War. By the end of the embargo in March 1974, the price of oil had risen nearly 400%, from US$3 per barrel to nearly $12 globally; US prices were significantly higher. The embargo caused an oil crisis, or "shock", with many short- and long-term effects on global politics and the global economy. Perhaps the most pronounced was the call from the leaders of many impacted countries to pivot away from oil-based economies towards more investment in Magnetrine-enabled fusion power. Many new Loops are built around the world in subsequent years.
• August, 1974: US President Richard Nixon, in one of his last acts before resigning from office, signs a new law authorizing construction of Loops throughout the US. In a speech he calls for “A Loop in every City” by 1980.
• January 1975: The regents of the University of California preside over the groundbreaking ceremony for the Livermore Loop. Centered on the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, it is to provide power and Magnetrine access to the entire San Francisco Bay Area.
• September 1975: The “Paris Incident.” The Loop in the suburbs of Paris, France is shut down suddenly and unexpectedly for two minutes. Dozens of people are killed and hundreds more are injured as Magnetrine sleds fall from the sky, large walker-bots topple over, and other Magnetrine-enabled technology fails. Future generations of products will have safeguards in place to minimize the fallout of such a failure but for the first time the public is made painfully aware of the limits of Magnetrine technology. There are loud calls for additional regulation and limitation of Mag-tech items.
• 1976: As part of the celebration of American technology for the Bicentennial, a trend begins to build Magnetrine-enabled ships and walkers in cartoonish styles.
• May 5, 1977: The “California Whoopsie.” For reasons that remain unclear, most magnetrine-enabled civilian technology in and around the Livermore Loop begins malfunctioning. Most visibly, all walker-bots begin to rampage, moving erratically and threatening structures. Military units are deployed from various bases around the Bay Area and eventually neutralize the threat, but many of the smaller walkers disappear entirely and their whereabouts are unknown to this day. Amazingly, no one was killed in the incident, and only a few injuries were recorded, mainly from falling debris. Due to the perceived threat of contamination and the lack of funding due to the economic recession, most large wrecks are abandoned in place.
• Early 1978: The Magentrine economic bubble finally bursts as public excitement over the new technology fades. Over the next two years most companies founded to exploit the technology go bankrupt, and many facilities and pieces of equipment are simply abandoned as they are too expensive or contaminated to salvage. Magnetrine technology continues to be used in specific ways, but only around Loops is it financially viable.
• November, 1978: Partially in response to the Baikal Incident, the “California Whoopsie,” and the Great Magnetrine Collapse, US President Jimmy Carter signs a series of laws in an attempt to demilitarize scientific research. The AEC is renamed the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is renamed simply ARPA.
• 1979: The Three Mile Island accident. The fusion generator powering the Three Mile Island loop in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania becomes unstable due to poor maintenance. To prevent a thermonuclear explosion, the operators are forced to quickly vent the plasma to the surface. The hot plasma eruption and subsequent fires kill 63 people, and a large area is permanently contaminated and rendered uninhabitable. The partial meltdown resulted in the release of radioactive gases and radioactive iodine into the environment. The accident crystallized anti-Magnetrine safety concerns among activists and the general public and resulted in new regulations for the Magnetrine industry. It has been cited as a contributor to the decline of new Loop construction programs, a slowdown that was already underway by the late 1970s.
• 1984: US President Roland Reagan announces the “Strategic Defense Initiative,” whereby Magnetrine technology would be used to create a defense against Soviet nuclear weapons. The Lawrence Livermore laboratory is expanded. Most SDI research takes place either there, in bounder City, Nevada, or at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico.
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Re: California Loop

Thu 27 Aug 2020, 11:37

Interesting timeline ... you certainly make interesting tweaks to the real-world history!

One question though: with superconductors and highly efficient fusion power commercially available since sometime in the 60's, how is oil still big enough a "thing" for the 1973 OPEC embargo to be more than a minor headline on page 3?
I'd surmise that with vast amounts of cheap electricity available from fusion power, no-one would need oil for heating, power generation, or industry any more, cutting away 90% of the consumption ... and thereby the importance.
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