4
$\begingroup$

In my story, people communicate through "orbs", which are spheres of a material similar to glass, but much more resistant. Basically people write a message on them with their fingers and the receiver, forgive the redundancy, receives it. The idea seems too far-fetched to me and I can't think how that could be possible without adding a factor like magic or something like that. Does anyone have any idea how to make it work "fairly logically"? And, if not, what could be a rapid communication method in an alternate world less developed than ours?

$\endgroup$
9
  • 30
    $\begingroup$ In my world, when I was young, people communicated through "sheets", which are rectangles of a material similar to fabric, but more uniform and lightweight. Basically people wrote on those sheets with pens and the receivers were able to read the markings made by the senders. I know that this seems far-fetched to younger people and appears to required magic -- how did the pens make permanent marks on the sheets? how did the sheets circulate to the receivers? Strange as it may seem, there was an elaborate sheet-moving infrastrcture spanning cities and continents. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 16 at 7:28
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ @AlexP don't forget that you had to first go to the shop and use either paper or specially shaped metal to receive two more sheets, one particularily small and almost square the other more rectangular, and then stick the message sheet you wrote into the rectangular sheet and stick the smallest sheet on that. Then you throw it into special metal containers with fabric inside which was then collected and distributed to the correct people. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Apr 16 at 7:44
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ @AlexP, Sheets of fabric, Ha, back in my day we wrote on sheets of stretched animal skin using rotted tree cancers mixed with piles of rust. We used sharpened bits of metal stuck on sticks and we liked it! $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 16 at 13:28
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ worth considering how much of a pain carrying around a large sphere all day will be. a flat sheet of glass will well, sit flat, carrying a round a ball all day will be awkward. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 16 at 13:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well, you could roll the glass balls, which might make for an interesting fantasy postal service. Let's say they were hollow, so they'd float. You could roll the orbs to downhill addresses, or float them on a system of locks to uphill addresses... $\endgroup$
    – workerjoe
    Apr 16 at 16:04
12
$\begingroup$

It might be possible even without magic, but I suggest to use glass sheets, almost like pocket mirrors, instead of spheres - it is much easier to produce, easier to carry around and easy to hold in one hand while you write with your other one - or perhaps you can write with a (inkless) pen for better accuracy, or even pick individual letters with your thumbs.

They can even come in three different factors - small ones that you can carry with you, middle sized ones primarily carried around your house, and big, stationary bulky items where you can even use special accessories where you touch the letters by your fingers (most proficient people can do it even without looking at your hands) while the sphere (or a glass sheet) is kept at your eye level, to lessen the strain on your back...

$\endgroup$
11
$\begingroup$

The idea seems too far-fetched to me and I can't think how that could be possible without adding a factor like magic or something like that.

The idea is not far fetched. You are just giving a fancy description of a fancily designed smartphone with a messaging app: the user taps their fingers on the smartphone surface and the other side receives the message, reading it through the equivalent surface.

It just requires the right amount of Shannon theory, electronic and the like, no magic at all.

$\endgroup$
5
$\begingroup$

If you're willing to except a "fairly logical" but exotic explanation, your orbs could be 3-dimensional projections of a 4-dimensional spherical object. This would explain the seemingly invisible interconnection between orbs since they would essentially be the same object. One way to think of the orbs would be as individual slices of the 4-dimensional object in 3D space. Perhaps an interaction with one orb/slice can influence the state of adjacent orbs/slices. Maybe the heat of a finger on one orb bleeds over to affect the other orbs that are also its adjacent slices in a way that is visual.

This would not necessarily involve high technology. The material of the orbs may simply react to changes in heat. They may not be made of matter at all as we know it, but rather be the influence of 4-dimensional displacement into our universe however that may manifest. This might help explain their resilience.

This would require acceptance of the idea that 4-dimensional objects can intersect our 3D space on a scale that people can experience. I'm not aware of any proof that that has actually happened in human experience, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ I dig this. One 4d object would have several orbs but there might be many orbs, each parts of a 4d object. Also - the 4 dimensional topology of the object would determine where the orbs were in our 3d space. You would need to go there to use them. They might be high in the air or deep underground. You would need towers or tunnels. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 17 at 18:57
4
$\begingroup$

If anything is allowed, the glass is some kind of piezoelectric material or a close relative that generates a signal when you touch or press it. This is then transferred to the other bowl which just projects it on the outside.

If you want the hands of the receiver to receive then you basically need a form of electrical braille. The sensation you receive from a particular form will tell you what letters make up the words.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A more fleshed out way to accomplish this would be wireless telegraphy that was created as the earliest precursor to texting in the mid-late 1800's, using radio waves to create telegraphs by sending telegraph signals through each "keyboard" button to craft messages. You could use piezoelectric currents to power such a radio transmitter and a receiver with a translation device to read in whatever language you need. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_telegraphy $\endgroup$
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 16 at 16:27
1
$\begingroup$

Spherical lens

A glass sphere is a perfectly fine lens. They make lenses for cameras that's basically a big glass ball attached to the end of your camera. Unlike a standard lens, these can take a nearly complete 360° image of your entire surroundings (excluding only the camera itself and anything directly behind it. So if you attach a suitably high megapixel camera to a spherical lens, you get a video-phone that captures the entire room.

(Due to limitations in typical camera technology, which are built for taking rectangular images, this ends up being lower quality than a typical panorama involving multiple shots taken from a camera rotated on a tripod, but if you designed the camera specifically optimized for this purpose, you could eliminate that limitation. Also, a regular panoramic camera isn't going to allow you to capture the whole room in real time, since you have to rotate it to get a full view. A spherical lens could give you that capability.)

Now for the receiver, well, you'd just need to attach a similar sphere to a high resolution projector, and you could project the same image from the sending sphere into the receiving sphere. Note that there may be technical challenges involved in allowing sending and receiving on the same sphere simultaneously, so you'd need 2 spheres to simplify that. Perhaps you could mount it to the back of the camera so that your sending sphere does not see the receiving sphere. Receiving sphere could be a frosted glass, so the image rear-projects directly onto the surface of the sphere, or it could work like a regular projector, beaming an image onto the walls around you. (You'd want to be in a completely featureless white-walled room to get the full effect. Better if the room is also spherical and the projector is in the center so you get a good consistent focus on the image.)

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

If both spheres are hollow, connect them via a taut wire. Tapping on one sphere will cause the tapping to be heard on the other, specially if they have a hole opposite to the point where the wire connects. No magic required, just wave physics.

You may be interested in a related question, for which I provided a similar answer: Could two smart phones work as an intercom on an alien planet?

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Quantum entanglement: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement

It is a mystery today and why do not be a mystery in your world? Like today, here, real world, it just occurs.

Do you know we - the whole humanity - don't know how electricity works exactly? We can make lots of things with it, but we don't know up to the certainty what an electric charge is.

Bonus: Einstein referring to it as "spooky action at a distance".

Your orbs just have this capacity naturally, no one knows why.

$\endgroup$
3
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ QE cannot be used for communication. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 17 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Couldn't you use it for slower-than-light communication? I thought it just wasn't possible to use it for FTL communication. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Apr 17 at 13:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @nick012000 You can use it for encrypted communication, but only if you have another data channel to send the actual data. (The entanglement functions as a tamper-proof shared one-time pad.) $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Apr 17 at 16:40
0
$\begingroup$

The spheres have a single quantumly entangled particle in the center, the glass magnifies the properties of this center particle. Spheres come in linked pairs that mirror each other over distance. if one orb is placed in your pocket, the other one grows hotter, if one is thrown in a snow drift the other sphere cools the air around it and fogs. The communication method relies on rotating the sphere in specific patterns similar to Morse code- Counter clockwise, clockwise, Shake, tap etc..

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to worldbuilding Sphere Lover. Please partake of our tour and refer to our help center for guidance as to our ways. Enjoy our site. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 23:45

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.