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Tech.Picts page 7

Make your own flying Stormboard?!

Check out Future.Novel for a storming adventure!

As a smart, composite, bubble tech structure of extreme complexity, a stormboard was built around a semi-rigid diamond-lattice trusswork frame covered with an outer layer of stressed diamond. This user surface shape or 'topo-programmable' airframe could withstand accelerations way beyond those of the soft human pilots riding inside the stormboard's thin carbon shell.

Each one of these durable diamond reinforced gliders was filled with a vast collection of nano-sized fullerene-like semi and superconducting bubbles that made up the many thousands of servo-mechanisms and feedback sensors custom designed, then grown, literally atom-by-atom in the zero-G environments of orbiting space mega-corporation modular-ship clusters. The lighter-than-air stormboards were mostly carbon atoms placed one-by-one to each individual boarder's specifications.

By converting any radiation impinging upon or though its structure from its surroundings, as well as the heat radiated from its pilot, a stormboard could power its myriad silicon and servo systems. From the air-currents buffeting the outer layers of the whisp-like glider's skin tiny molecular motors extracted power, as they gave the pilot nano-control over the air flowing over every square millimeter of the stormboard's entire outer surface area. Thus, a skilled pilot had so great a measure of flight control even the most athletic of birds could only envy such aerobatic ability.

Constructed of ultra-pure carbon atoms seasoned with a dash of semi, and superconducting atomic impurities, stormboards were mere ashes made tough enough to boost any mere human's puny muscles to a level capable of taming the chaotic whirling forces powering the most violent of storms on the surface of the earth, the supercell tornado.

A modern stormboard had 32,000 sensors reporting the pilot's body position. A highly specialized 'flight-form' of Yoga ritual was an unwritten law of stormboard piloting. After years of training in the virtual stormboarding game modules, a physically fit, well-trained pilot could control the shape of every square centimeter of a stormboard's exterior surface.

Designed for the sweeter airs found outside the harsh turbulence of the southern uninsured zones, the gentle, femine-appearing cousin of a stormboard, the birdboard could literally be flown by a pilot's flapping arms. The many layers of form-fitting servo-sensor bubble tech effortlessly followed the pilots movements. The movements were then nearly instantly translated, and greatly amplified, allowing the birdboard pilot to flap the birdboard's wings, lifting the birdboard and pilot in the self-powered-flight manner of birds that gravity-gripped humankind had for so long envied.

There were many fine pilots boarding in the insured zones, but none, not even the greatest of them all, had the glamour or following of the least of the stormboarders who risked it all in the super storms of the un-insured zones.

Due to the titantic tornadic forces trying to tear apart the very molecules of a stormboard's diamond-reinforced bubble tech fabric, stormboards were designed as a tight, nub-winged, form that when sealed up for flight was a seamless, single-surface. Just a billion's worth of a billion curves all flowing together to create a lifting surface just large enough to make a glider capable of rising in a fairly strong updraft of air. Like those found in the whirling mania of a tornado's funnel.

The form-fitting bed of servo/sensor fullerene-like cabon atom bubble gel surrounds the pilot, is one of the group of materials known as smartgels.

This highly elaborate bed of smart sensorgel followed every movement of the pilot's body down to the tinest voluntary movement a pilot's highly yoga-trained body was capable of making. Each change in body topography or position would send a signal to the logic gel layers containing the only non-gel tech found as part of a stormboard: the two quantum bio-optical, computers. Nearly prescient, one of the two tiny comps ran the pilot's tornado-action predicting prophet-ware software. The other topo was used to run software translating the pilot's body movements into the stormboard's flight-surface shape changes.

Running prophetware software so complex and fast it was nearly self-aware, the 'tornado prophet' computer was used to predict a tornado's next micro-environmental surface, pressure, and velocity change to be found along the stormboard's immediate glide path. On the really Richie.Richest of stormboards the super-expensive prophetware running topo had the ability to predict a storm's actions with about 90 percent accuracy for about 2 seconds into the future. Fast thinking and reflexes were assets a stormboard pilot had to have in spades.

The servo/sensor gel layers, with their warm, clinging, liquid-like touch on the pilotís body, would read the pilot's body configuration and instantly send the data to the stormboard's surface shape controlling topo computer. The 'body topo' decoded the pilot's body position into changes in the stormboard's outer surface shape. All this happens in a glider that without its pilot, and topo comp, payload would be lighter than air. A stormboard turned its pilot into an armored eagle. A multi-layered diamond armored, yet supple skin fabricated atom-by-atom into a huge man-made flying gemstone, all powered by photons, any photon of light, radio, micro or cosmic radiation, even the photons of the pilot's radiated body heat.

With its, nine-layer holographic paint-job illuminated by laser light pulsed into the holo-paint from a special layer of gels just under its outer skin a stormboard was an incredible sight to behold, storm or no storm.

One of Eller's biggest foes in his effort to stormboarding stardom rode the storms in a board that appeared as a great white unicorn upon which she galloped to many a victory. A relative of one of the great Space-based mega corp clans, she had no need of wasting her nine layers of holo-paint and laser illumination energy on advertisements.

Not even one tiny ad-holo for her family's mega-corp darkened her ride. Yet, every stormboarding fan, however casual knew her name and sponsor corp: Spacer Clan TI(pronounced: tee eye).

The ultra-complex bubble-like gels of a stormboard were so delicate during the fabrication process they could only be made in a zero-G environment. Too delicate to be born of 'Our Mother Earth'or the MomE as the spacers referred to the blue ball below, the weight-less space man created wings for his gravity-gripped brothers.

This dominance over atom-by-atom bubble tech so indispensable to the Earth's technology, gave the Spacer MegaCorpClans a powerful point of political and economic leverage. Which they sorely needed to maintain their ex-terra existence as certain vital things were still needed from the blue seed below that still nurtured all human existence, high or low.

The Spacers knew well that they did not at the time have the technology to break free of their need to be renewed by the great well of creation that was the MomE. So, because of the's needs for more and more energy and materials to support the material hungry and ever growing masses of people, the Spacer Mega-Corp Clans paid, and paid. In lives lost among those willing to build the structures to wrench power from the sun and the MomE's massive magnetic fields to support the increasingly energy hungry techno-world spinning under their transparent bubble gel space-suited feet. And, they paid with minerals mined in the most 'death-haz' environments outside of a stormboard's tornado, those careening cosmic conglomerations of solidified gas and dust called comets and their rocky, but hardly less dangerous asteroids.

The Spacers paid, yet with the determination of any pioneer tough enough to forge a life in unknown places of extreme hardship, they stayed as independent as possible, and grew silently, but not too slowly, stronger.

It's not surprising that the best Stormboarders were the Earth-bound descendants of the Spacer MegaCorpClans. Eller Dumaurier, stormboarding hero was one of a very small, group of very seriously crazy, independent stormboarders.


structural aerogels

semiconducting aerogels

At the end of the year 2090, tornado alley in the continental United States had become the tornado super highway. In defense, the northern U.S. and southern Canadian open-sky cities had become a nearly 2 thousand mile continuous reinforced concrete blockhouse of window-less, fortress-like city'cretes. These gigantic concrete and metal superstructures housed the great masses that had been displaced by the slow flooding of the costal plains, and wind-storm destroyed interior sections of the once great old American Midwest.

The places that had just a few decades before the stormboarder's time had been the famous world-feeding breadbasket of America had been left storm-wracked, and un-insurable by the overwhelming fury of the nearly constant barrage of supercell-spawned tornados. For a divi.dole supported citizen to attempt surface or air travel in the un-insured zones of the flood and tornado wasted areas was still open and free. But, that right was not insurable. Get lost, hurt, wrecked, crashed or simply out of energy for your vehicle, and you had better be able to pay in gold, pre-rescue. Because, unless you had the buddies with the resources, willing to risk it all to collect your sorry remains, you would have had to pay a huge premium for rescue by the 'have heavily-armored, amphibious transport, will travel' types. And, when you get back to the insured zones, don't be hurt, as your insurance does not cover un-insured zone incurred injuries.

This is Our E-Earth's techno paradise era of 2090, with 90 percent unemployed, but emancipated kids, 13 years and older, living provided for, and by the Almighty Pixel, on the world-ruling World.Telco's Dividend.Dole.

The extreme cost of stormboard construction, and required ground support personel and vehicle, very definitely, kept the average Riff and Raff out of this death-haz sport so extremely popular with the 3D Vid watching population. Stormboarding was strictly for the Richie.Richies or the very few independants able to find private investment capital.

Then, along came Eller Dumaurier, who was both a little Riff and a little Raff. But Dumaurier was lucky, tough enough, damn smart enough, and especially in the right place at the wrong time enough to make a success of independent stormboarding. But, most importantly he was so damn good of a pilot enough. Good enough to get the Richie.Richies enticed into buying up his initial private.stock offering. This kid, Eller, who had won it all in the low-stakes gaming world of virtual storm boarding, decided he was ZeroK(ultra-cool) enough to go from the supplemented divi.dole his virtual boarding career afforded him to the high stakes world of owning private.common.shares, to live off their dividend, if any.

Eller Dumaurier chose this sliver-slim, but electrifing chance to succeed rather than exsist on the guaranteed dead-brain security of the World.Telco's dividend.dole.

The domination of the masses by the dividend dole, and the pixels it provided, was-to the dissatisfaction of those predicting the end of the world as they knew it-apparently not all that bad as a solution to the great masses of unemployed looking for something to pass the time. For the first time in MomE's history, the masses and those who cared for them became happy, to a point never before matched in history, and the earth society worked. Even if it was for the most part dead-brained and stagnant, uncreative and un-evolving. It worked, people lived long and healthy, had what they needed or had been taught they wanted. All neatly tucked inside of a self-renewing pixel-based economic loop. How long could it work? Those controlling the World.Telco knew the answer, and so did the Spacers. As this seemingly well-oiled society was really dominated by the intrigues of cold war created by the needs of the World.Telco and the Spacer mega-Corp families, who looked to the predictions of their self-aware-ware quantum-bio-optical comps running prophetware of unmatched power and foresight.

Cheap brain, and muscle work done by silicon and servo-mech made for a world where 10 percent of the very-skilled and those very lucky about their choice of familial DNA, could and did easily do the deeds still necessary to manage the mega corporations providing the materialistic needs of 100 percent of the Earth's many billions of 2090. Even with so much of the earth's former agriculture then given over to submerged aquaculture hidden from the surface storms everyone had the food and other items so that all were happy enough that civil unrest after the time of the Kid's Net War was unheard of except for the tiny grumbles of the always unhappy few 'Fringer's'.

Eller's vie for stormboarding fame can be followed further in Future.novel.

(Make your own flying Stormboard?!)

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Copyright (c) 1996 Lee Skidmore