www.whyville.net Jan 16, 2004 Weekly Issue

WASA Reporter

All Charged Up, Ready to Go!

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Hi citizens, it's deriko again, bringing you the latest in Whyville space-age technology. Researchers have developed (or stolen?) the plans to an advanced "Ion Engine" here in Whyville. For years, Whyvillians gazed into the stars... generations have passed and been reborn, yet we have never reached those big bright lights in the sky. Whyville life will never be the same, as we may now have the means to carry Whyvillians to Mars...!

The Ion Engine Game works on the affects of electricity. It's much like magnetism, in that 'like' charges repel, and 'opposite' charges attract. The engine cathode propels charges toward a pair of charged plates. The ion particles progress through the cylindrical tube and outward towards the back of the engine.

First, positive particles must pass through a positively-charged grid. The particles are initially repelled by this small force, but once they pass through the grid, they are drawn at amazing speeds towards the oppositely-charged grid (negative). With the 'like' charge (positive) behind the particles and the attracting charges (negative) in front of them, they increase in speed between the plates.

Okay, so, the particles fly in from nowhere, and they speed up along the way, but what has this got to do with moving anywhere? Once those particles speed up, they are shot out the back of the engine and provide a very significant force. This force propels the spacecraft through space at a rate never achieved by the human race before. Editor's Note: Actually, one of the strange and amazing things about ion engines are, they don't give you a lot of acceleration -- just a very efficient, constant acceleration that will eventually get you to a huge speed over a long period of time. Why do you think they're different from normal rocket engines?

In the Whyville ion engine room, you can create your very own ion engine. There are 2 factors for you to consider: the grid's location, and the grid's charge.

The grid location controls the distance between the plates. The greater the distance, the longer the charges will move faster for.

The grid charge controls the voltage flowing across the grids at any given moment. The higher the grid charge, the faster particles move in between the two fences. Also, when you have a higher grid charge, your fuel is used up over a shorter period of time, and you may not get to shoot as many particles as you would have liked.

There are 100 particles, and I advise you to use them all wisely. Each one that floats out the back of your engine provides a little more force, sending you more distance and adding points to your rocket's score. Along the top of the screen, you will see a miniature design of your engine. As you run the engine, the miniature design will move along the top of the screen, showing your score as you go along. I've only been able to achieve a score of 234, so I expect to see some tough competition from everyone.

Apart from building your own ion engine, Whyville City Engineers have developed a new four-player game called "Hotspots". In this exciting game, me and a few friends played an exciting variation of hockey. The two teams, purple and blue, are assigned 2 players each, a positive and a negative terminal. The ion cannon is placed randomly around the room; and after 10 seconds, it fires one single shot forward. The positive players (or terminals, as I call them) force the positively-charged particle to avoid their characters. The negative terminal players pull the particle towards their characters, once it has been shot from the cannon.

The objective of the game is to pull or deflect your particle into your own net. If you can do this, you score one point. All four players agree on a score to try and reach, and the game begins. Once your team reaches that number, you are the game victors. I played an exciting game with a few friends at 8:00pm on Jan. 16, 2004. Savvvy and Lovrboi faced off against Zipperoo and I. Sadly for me, the game ended in a 7-1 win for Savvvy and Lovrboi. I was very disappointed when the cannon appeared behind their goal line several times, firing a shot right into their goal line! Still, we were no match for their tactical teamwork strategies, and amazing gameplay.

All these great activities, plus a couple of added chat rooms are here for YOUR enjoyment. I hope Whyvillians relax and have fun around this fantastic Ion Engine game. Maybe it could become something much more for Whyville citizens everywhere.

This is your Whyville Aeronautics Space Administration (W.A.S.A) citizen reporter, deriko, signing off.


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