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Inferno Science

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One of the most important things about the Inferno world is, of course, the technical innovations and inventions that are changing the face of society, and making everyone's life better. But what can and cannot be done? And what great innovations have the past few years seen?

The essence of Steam-punk science is that Big is Best. None of your micro-technology here - the paying public like to see what they are getting for their guineas and florins. Creations must look impressive, as well as being magnificent - if this means that they must have vast spinning fly wheels, thousands of brass knobs and pipes, thundering pistons and choking clouds of steam and coal smoke - then so much the better. Tiny, subtle, inventions just donÕt get a look in. Even the scientists of House Taurus - taken from the worlds greatest creators of gadgets - know the value of size in an invention: an adding machine may well be included into a wrist time-piece, but note also the interconnected boxes of workings hanging from the belt, the convenient power source in the inside pocket of the gentleman's jacket, and the steam pouring from his trouser-legs.

In the Inferno world electricity has been abandoned as a useless scientific curiosity, which, although it may be included as a small part of a design, has no real use. The only exception to this is that telegraph wires appear to work using electricity - or at least that is the best explanation that anyone has come up with as to how they do work. But they work, so best not to worry too much about the exact whys and wherefores.

No system has yet been discovered for transmitting information through the air. A certain Dr Kesinger recently believed he had succeeded in this supreme task of technological innovation, when he patented the A.R.T. - the Aetheric Resonance Transmitter. The ART was immediately put into mass production, and looked as though it might change the face of Europe for ever more. Indeed, it very nearly did - although not in a way that Dr Kesinger (now usually referred to as 'Kesinger the Vile', 'The Diabolic Professor' or 'The Devil's Best Friend') may have wished. it was discovered that ARTs functioned not through 'Aetheric Resonance' but through the cooperation of 'entities' found to inhabit the ART's housing. These 'entities' (popularly referred to by the crude term 'demon') spent many months running rampage through Europe, and abusing the considerable power that Kesinger - and others - had given them.

But the last few years have seen considerable scientific breakthroughs - the great scientist and explorer Kasselhoff discovered the 'lost continent' of Atlantis with his huge submersible Mole Machine (although implicated in the 'stealing' of Amsterdam, he is also generally credited with saving the lives of many of its residents from the brutal attacks of the Prussian army). Dr Von Braun has been responsible for a number of unusual patents, including the gun-powder powered Polaroid camera, and has achieved the remarkable feat of placing a mirror into orbit. Clemientine Kleiderwollenstein overcame the twin handicaps of her gender and a mild infatuation with pigs, to increase drastically the human understanding of the brain. Unfortunately the highly regarded Virtue technologist Kris Knight has recently disappeared under somewhat suspicious circumstances - his original notes, and much of his laboratory equipment, is also believed to be missing.

Many of the greatest scientific advances of the last few decades have, of course, been involved in the great art of war. France's amazing Verne Cannons, capable of bombarding anywhere on earth. Prussia's devastating Land Fortresses - vehicles as large as several houses, heavily armed and armoured, that are devastating in battle. Bavaria's famous Aero-navy - formed of heavily armed dirigibles. And Great Britain's fleet of powerful Dreadnoughts - the most fearsome ships on the sea (with the possible exception of the mysterious Captain Nemo's Nautilus).

As for civilian transportation, the Steam Train is the greatest means of mass transport (lines are being laid in most countries). Although steam cars are beginning to appear they remain mostly a 'fun' vehicle for the well-off young. Air-ships are being seen more and more, but are still very expensive, and relatively slow. Many steam cruisers plough the waves, and have now completely replaced sail boats.

It should be understood that science in Inferno does not work as it does here. Almost anything can be achieved with technology - except those things that are easily achievable here. Don't bother messing with electricity, petrochemicals, or internal combustion engines - they just aren't going to work. But if you build it big, and build in a steam engine, you will find you can achieve almost anything.

[Ref hint: Anyone thought of combining technology and magic? We guarantee the results will be very interesting...]

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