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10:23

About Mote Prime

A Personal Website

Yes, it's another personal website, by Sean Ellis.

I hope to share my thoughts with anyone reading. Most of the few hits I'm expecting will probably be from other electronics enthusiasts, since there's considerably less microcontroller-based content out there than there is paranonsense and religious debate. It's hard getting elevated above the noise with so much other stuff out there.

What's in a Name?

The name of the site is a reference to the award-winning book The Mote in God's Eye

by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. The Mote is a star near to other inhabited systems, but not connected to the human's hyperspace transport network. Mote Prime is the sole Erthlike planet in the system. At the start of the book, a probe from Mote Prime arrives in the nearest human-inhabited system, travelling slower than light. First contact has been achieved.

From the book:

Marginally habitable world in the Trans-Coalsack Sector. Primary: G2 yellow dwarf star approximately ten parsecs from the Trans-Coalsack Sector Capital New Caledonia. Generally referred to as the Mote in Murcheson's Eye (q.v.) or the Mote. Mass 0.91 Sol; luminosity 0.78 Sol.

Mote Prime has a poisonous atmosphere breathable with the aid of commercial or standard Navy issue filters. Contraindicated for heart patients or where emphysema problems exist. Oxygen: 16 percent. Nitrogen: 79.4 percent. CO2: 2.9 percent. Helium: 1 percent. Complex hydrocarbons including ketones: 0.7 percent.

Gravity: 0.780 standard. The planetary radius is 0.84, and mass is 0.57 Earth standard; a planet of normal density. Period: 0.937 standard years, or 8,750.005 hours. The planet is inclined at 18 degrees with semimajor axis of 0.93 AU (137 million kilometers). Temperatures are cool, poles uninhabitable and covered with ice. Equatorial and tropical regions are temperate to hot. The local day is 27.33 hours.

There is one moon, small and close. It is asteroidal in origin and the back side bears the characteristic indented crater typical of planetoids in the Mote system. The moon-based fusion generator and power-beaming station are critical sources for the Mote Prime civilization.

Topography: 50 percent ocean, not including extensive ice caps. Terrain is flat over most of the land area. Mountain ranges are low and heavily eroded. There are few forests. Arable lands are extensively cultivated.

The most obvious features are circular formations which are visible everywhere. The smallest are eroded to the limits of detection, while the largest can be seen only from orbit.

Although the physical features of Mote Prime are of some interest, particularly to ecologists concerned with the effects of intelligent life on planetography, the primary interest in the Mote centers on its inhabitants...

What's in an Old Name?

This site used to be hosted elsewhere, as Luminous, but all the Luminous domain names had gone. Hence the name change to Mote Prime.

The old name comes from a collection of short stories by one of my favourite authors, Greg Egan. Egan is a computer scientist and author; his writing is lucid, sharp, imaginitive and bitingly sceptical - qualities I struggle to emulate in my own scribblings, to varying degrees of success.

The Luminous anthology includes the chilling tale Silver Fire from which the quote on the Paranonsense page is taken. It is a story of irrationality in the face of a terrifying new disease, one in which the refusal to see the world as it is leads to very personal and public tragedy.

The title story is one of Egan's trademark hard-SF stories which doesn't just stretch the mind, but turns it inside out with the scale and scope of its premise: what if mathematics isn't quite what we think it is? No spoilers here, I'm afraid. You'll have to read it yourself to find out.