In the near future humanity discovers a spatial anomaly at a point located somewhere between the orbits of mars and earth. This anomaly quickly induces delirium in anybody who approaches it and even seems to have mild (though sometimes severe) reality warping effects on its environs. Notwithstanding all this, (being the curious naive idiots that we are) humans attempt to study what is dubbed "The Strangeness", at first via probe, but eventually with full blown manned-missions. Naturally, these all end terribly (lots of dead/insane astronauts).

The good thing that came out from the horrors of the latter, is lots of data! Using what the various astronaut teams were able to collect and transmit before their demise, scientists on Earth manage to invent "meta-memetics containment fields", which can be used to isolate/contain the madness leaking out from The Strangeness. Rudimentary versions of such - which shield from some, but not all of the anomaly's corruption - can be implemented into small systems such as spacesuits. This considerably improves the research progress speed by subsequent teams and soon an entire space station is build around The Strangeness and extensive experimentation begins.

The space station is a rotating torus with the anomaly located in the donut hole in the center. It generates two very large advanced MC Fields - these ones perfected: they block all the effects of The Strangeness from escaping, or atleast in theory... - in the form of two transparent force spheres, one inside the other. One seperates the donut hole along with the spatial anomaly from the space station, the other is located outside the space station and thus seperates the anomaly and the space station from the rest of space.

Now my question is why would these containment systems be arranged in this way?

It makes sense to have two containment units, of course, redundancy is imperative in any engineering project (especially those related to eldritch abominations), but why would one sphere be outside the space station? Why not setup both spheres to be between the anomaly and the space station?

Now in my story there are very good (read evil) secret reasons why this needs to be the case, but are there any proper engineering explanations for why a redundant containment system would essentially "trap" people on the inside of what you're trying to contain, in the event of a primary failure?

This question is a follow up to this one.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what an MC field is? $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    Jan 2, 2018 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ @bendl Sure, it's essentially a force field which stops the effects of the anomaly (inducement of insanity + reality warping) of transpiring through it. By surrounding the anomaly with an Mc Field, it's corrupting effects are stuck inside the field as long as its maintained by a constant supply of energy. I can't explain the physics of the MC Field, because, well.. there aren't any, it's made up. Suffice it to say that in order for an MC Field to exist, it must be emmited by MC Field generators with a steady supply of electricy. In this case the generators are located on the space station. $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Jan 2, 2018 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ That disease is called Pickman's Syndrome and was first diagnosed in the mining station Beltlogger 9. Good Ol' PS1 gaming.... #nostalgia. $\endgroup$ Jan 3, 2018 at 12:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ T͕̋͆̊ͦ̓̚h̝̗̥͉̄̈́̈́̌̚͘e͖ ̲̪ͅK̛̎ͥͤ̆͑͛̿i͈͂ͣͦ̓ͫ̂̚n̜̝̮͖͇̟̓g̣͍̲̳ ̡̣̲͎̫̱̮ͩ̓̓̀i̩̮̼̥̼ͤ̒̎́͜n̯̂ͩ́̐̿ͮͅ ̞͍̙̩̥̊Y̖̼̝̺̼̬͚̎̓ͬ̓̑͌̾ë̬̞̹̰̥́͋l̹̤̗̣̰͉̇͛̍l̶̲̬͖͖͈̺̖̎̐̃̋͋ͨ̐o͙̜̟̹̦̳̅̌w̲̞̟̲̮̙̤ͫ ̦̥̻̀̈͑c̲͎̰̈͑o͂̃͌͂͋҉̥̹̳̜̼̜ͅm̸͆͊̐e͔̤̺̥͒ͨͦs͈̮ͪ͝,̢͕͎̟̫ͫ̒͒͊̄̒ ̪̗̜h̲͗̐ȅ̩̟͕̜̦̣̳̍͡ ̷̜͍̰c̡̹̳̻̞̊̊͒̍a̟͖ͦͣn̢̑̇̚n҉o̟̠̠̼̤͙̭͋͗̑t̤̤̑̒̄ ̯̥̯͊̀̊ͬb̩̰͍̺̫̑͌͛̆̎͟e̫̮͍̣ͮ̚ ͔̾̀͗͛͢c͋̏̈̓̓̉o̺͔͎̮ͤͅn̹̙̱ͭͤͭ̑́̚t̘̞̞̾̂̃ͬͩ̋̚a̗̫͓͙͚ͧͨͫ̽i̯̒ͩ̓ñ́̕e̼̗ͥ̾ͪ̽̚d̘̭̑̏̀.͔̯ $\endgroup$
    – Anoplexian
    Jan 3, 2018 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Jimmy wants to play frisbee!! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Jan 4, 2018 at 15:49

8 Answers 8


The station is not there primarily to contain the evil, it is there to study it. In order to study the anomaly it is necessary to sometimes manipulate the inner field allowing some of the reality warping through in order to try and understand it's effects on experiments set up on the station.

The outer field protects other ships in the area (or even Earth itself, depending on the strength and distance of the anomalies effects) from any evil strangeness being studied from leaking out.

Nuclear reactors have similar levels of containment, the reactor vessel itself contains the nuclear materials, while the entire area is enclosed inside a concrete containment building. This will trap any radiation leaking inside the building with the workers, but protects the surrounding environment from contamination.


The two fields interfere with each other

I'm not certain what an MC field is, but it's not a stretch to say that the two fields could negatively interfere with each other. Placing them sufficiently far away from each other negates this effect.

It has to be projected from the outside-in.

The first field is created by the station, projected inside and around the anomaly. The outer field is made by a ring on satellites around the station.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I like this one. One field is negative and one is positive and they could interfere with each other. If too close together they risk arcing across and cancelling out. Spaced out it is like two polarized lenses at right angles: you get complete coverage. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Jan 2, 2018 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ I assume it stands for Magnetic Containment, but not sure. $\endgroup$
    – user41674
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ @AytAyt I was assuming it just meant "Madness Containment"... :) $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 9:17


The first thing that comes to my mind is Event Horizon. With distortions in reality being a real threat, the personnel on the station can't be trusted to be making decisions based on true reality. So, as a security failsafe, there is an exterior shield that can only be opened from the outside. If there is some sort of incident on the station, the powers that be, have the option to "erase" the station and its occupants to prevent anything more widespread.


Looking at the description of the anomaly and the research station, I would suggest the reaction of the funding agencies on seeing the plan would be a raised eyebrow, followed by the director asking:

"Are you nuts!!!"

Based on the description of what has happened to devices and astronauts, and the clear lack of understanding what exactly is going on, I'd suggest an alternative arrangement:

  1. The anomaly is encased in a protective field
  2. Remote control probes and other devices can orbit the anomaly at various distances
  3. The outer ring of orbiting sensors also marks the boundary of the secondary containment field
  4. Depending on how the field works, individual orbiting probes, recording devices etc. should also be encased in a protective field
  5. The control station is at a safe distance away in a leading orbit, say perhaps a light second, which is slightly less than the distance from the Earth to the Moon, and also minimizes the light speed lag (farther away and you have a significant delay between receiving signals and sending return signals based on the observations you are receiving).
  6. Maybe a gigawatt laser weapon should be at the station covering the anomaly, just in case
  7. The control station is also covered in the protective field.
  8. If the budget allows for it, a secondary or backup station in a trailing orbit is also stationed a light second away from the anomaly. It also has a laser battery and a protective shield.

The key issue here is that because you are dealing with a very dangerous unknown phenomena or event, you don't just have 2 layers of protection, you have as many different layers and spacing as you can reasonably afford.

  • $\begingroup$ Huh... This actually makes a lot of sense. Maybe I should have instead asked how I could get any of this past a design approval committee. Problem is, I really do need the space station to encircle the anomaly... Regardless of all that, here's a few (minor) problems with your answer. Firstly, as implied in the question, there's no way to perfectly shield a structure that wasn't specifically designed to generate an advanced MC field. So even equiped with rudimentary MC fields, those probes would eventually stop working/start transmitting the eldritch truth. (1/2) $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Jan 3, 2018 at 1:05
  • $\begingroup$ Secondly your point about the gigawatt laser... Haha, I'm not sure a spacetime anomaly can be blown up like that. Would probably just make things worst. Finally I just want to make it clear that they're past the stage of just wanting to take readings of The Strangeness (using probes for example), they now want to manipulate it/control it. Hence the need for a staffed space station around it. But yes I do see how the latter is very much unrealistic and a rash activity for a government (or in this case the international community) to engage in. (2/2) $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Jan 3, 2018 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ Since you are the author, you can handwave the idea that "perfect" containment can only be generated by a torus surrounding the anomaly, but no competent person or committee will allow it to be staffed. Multiple layers of remotes surrounding the anomaly will still be wanted, a distant control station will still be desired, and someone will want lasers, missiles, gigaton warheads etc. to ensure things don't ever get out. And if they don't really understand it, they can't hope to manipulate or control it. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Jan 3, 2018 at 3:59
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You could use this design and later, when the experiments aren't going anywhere, the funding stops coming in and they have to improvise. The outside barrier is maintained by the government or whoever is benefiting from its presence, but out of the two inside forcefields, one stops working and they don't have the money to repair it, so they decide to move the space station in a position where its own containment field can strengthen the remaining one. Maybe the station itself is no longer government founded, because it is leased out to a private company. $\endgroup$ Jan 3, 2018 at 10:36


Whenever trying to study something scientifically you have to eliminate as much noise and variables as possible. Similar to microphones being in sound-proofed rooms and neutrino detectors being in deep ex mines.

The instruments studying the anomoly are extremely sensitive and pick up noise from CMB, Near-by stars, satellites, the new telepathy lab that just opened up near cassini trying to commercialise the existing research.

In order to study the anomoly they have to silence all of that and prove the readings they are getting aren't errors in the detectors.

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    – Secespitus
    Jan 3, 2018 at 12:38

You're not isolating the hole from the station, you're isolating the station from the hole.

The reality warping effects of The Strangeness are fairly potent over long exposure. In essence, the shields can protect against the memetic effects forever but struggle against the reality warping effects, which means the station would fail in a short number of years.

Some bright scientist worked out however that with sufficiently powerful Mc fields, you can create an area of space that's detached from the rest of the space. As such, by layering the shields around the station, the station is able to operate without worry of reality warping.


Instead of making the space station a simple torus, complete the sphere by having rings set at the 90 and 180 points around the torus, enclosing a sphere in a frame. This framework forms the basis for the generation of the polarized spherical force fields.

Now, assume the field is polarized. Sort of like a magnet, it has a north and a south pole. Only the poles are complete spheres, inside each other.

So the field is generated in the space station ring framework.

One polarization is on the outside of the ring, the other polarization is on the inside. Like on a large flat magnet, one side is negative, the other side is positive. Shape the flat magnet into a sphere, and the inside would be negative, the outside would be positive.

The space station generator framework is in the middle of the two polarized layers, generating each polarized field on either side of the framework (which becomes inside the sphere and outside the sphere).


How the "force lines" of an MC field look like I don't know but if there is a field up there is reasonably generated by something in the station. So it makes sense that it emanates from the station and somehow closed both at the interior ring of the the donut and outside. Analogy with electrical field of a torus prompt me to ask how the shied will close in two spheres but perhaps you can arrange it.


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