T-ray vs X-ray. Is there a clear winner?

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Grim G Grim G's picture
T-ray vs X-ray. Is there a clear winner?

So I'm starting up a group again and one of my players wanted to mod his utility helicopter. After looking through T-rays emitters and X-ray emitters he decided to go with the later and during the discussion I began to wonder if X-rays are just better than T-rays.

Now, X-ray emitters are not in the augments section, but at the same time I wonder if it should. I don't think X-ray emitters are that big, so why not put one under the skin? On top of this they don't have any specified range of effectiveness nor are they stopped from going through skin to seeing if the enemy has cyberclaws installed. X-rays can still locate biomorphs through walls for precision targeting and finally, they cost the same.

So I'd like to have this discussion with you, what makes these two systems cost the same? Is X-ray clearly superior or do T-rays bring something else to the table? Discuss.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
T-rays penetrate metal and

T-rays penetrate metal and metal coated surfaces. X-rays don't.
In a world of asteroid and automated mining everything can be made our plated with metal. Even if there are more durable alternatives, metals still are probably great compromise between ease of manufacture and price.
Therefore in the future your see through walls vision should not be based on x-rays.

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UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Pretty sure that isn't right.

Pretty sure that isn't right. T-rays don't even penetrate skin, so penetrating metal would be a bit much. And actually, it says explicitly in the section "on using Enhanced Senses" T-rays are absorbed by water and metals, which might be worse than X-Rays, since they at least bounce back.

The advantage to T-Rays is that they occur naturally in space, or are low enough power to be produced by an emitter embedded in the body. X-Ray/Gamma imagers are higher resolution and much more powerful, but require an external emitter source (I guess you don't want to embed highly radiating device directly next to your brain), and while the book talks about "safe levels" X-rays are still pretty nasty, one probably needs to be careful about waggling them around just to see through walls - at the very least it probably isn't stealthy.

The main advantage of T-rays in this case is that they don't go through walls, it seems. As well as seeing through "cloth, plastic, wood, masonry, composites, and ceramics", you can use a T-ray emitter to study the composition of materials based on the interaction. This is not noted in talking about X-rays with either the emitter or the "Using Enhanced Senses", you just use X-rays to see through barriers.

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ubik2 ubik2's picture
I believe t-rays penetrate

I believe t-rays penetrate through skin, but only a few millimeters.

I feel like the x-ray radiation risk must have been addressed by some other technology. It's unlikely that these habitats in space are able to eliminate incoming radiation, but if there is simple medical technology that can identify and repair damaged cells, the inhabitants won't care.

Note that for general vision, you want your light source to be reflected off the object back into your eye/sensor. If the light passes through without being reflected, you'd need to have your sensor on the other side (this is how most people use x-rays now). Since x-rays pass through people without significant reflection, this is inconvenient. There is also x-ray reflectivity, which does bounce the x-ray off the object, and is used to collect data about what's just under the surface, but I don't think any of the EP material mentions that, and it's hard to imagine it being applicable to general vision.

Also, t-ray vision systems are similar to active night vision (or radar), where an opponent with enhanced vision can see your emitter clearly. If you're trying to hide and use t-ray vision, you'll want your emitter to be somewhere else in the room.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
UnitOmega you are right about

UnitOmega you are right about T-rays' metal absorption. I simply misread the Wikipedia article (read single negative where there was double negative).

That also states something about the world. Since the T-rays' are the go to (ironically) x-ray vision, then we can infer that most of the habitat walls is unobtrusive to them and therefore nonmetallic.

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UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
That might be a fairly

That might be a fairly accurate assumption. When talking about "walls" in Objects and Structures, outlines are given for a lot of materials, including Aerogels, Metallic Foam, Polymers or Wood and Transparent Alumina (and then some more hardened materials for reinforced walls and doors). Given the outline of what T-Rays penetrate above, I think that should be most of those materials - it might even bypass armored walls if they're made of the right materials.

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Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Both T and X rays find the

Both T and X rays find the atmosphere partially opaque, so for a helicopter I'm not sure that either would be very useful at anything above a very short distance.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
Good point. The wikipedia

Good point. The wikipedia entry on Terahertz radiation mentions that it's "...limited to tens of meters" in atmosphere.

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
On the other hand in this

On the other hand in this article they speak about ranges counted in hundreds of meters

https://physics.aps.org/story/v20/st10

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UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
The T-Ray emitter is

The T-Ray emitter is explicitly 20m in Atmo, 100m in Vac, I believe, in the core book. Keep in mind that's just the version you install in yourself, which has to be small enough to like, fit in your forehead region.

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o11o1 o11o1's picture
Why are T-wave emitters fore

Why are T-wave emitters fore-head mounted anyway?

A slight smell of ions....

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
No winner because they have different purposes.

ubik2 wrote:
Since x-rays pass through people without significant reflection, this is inconvenient. There is also x-ray reflectivity, which does bounce the x-ray off the object, and is used to collect data about what's just under the surface, but I don't think any of the EP material mentions that, and it's hard to imagine it being applicable to general vision.

It's a hell of a lot more than inconvienient.

For X-Ray vision, pretty much all matter can be pictured as made of black smoke of varying opacity, or non-reflective smoked glass.
If something is between you and an xray source then you can see it, and the thing behind it, and the thing behind that... but everything else is just an inky mass.

Now, you will get some ambient sources, and vision is probably going to be configured to that level of illumination so some stuff will be visible, but you probably won't be doing any high-detail inspections.
What X-Ray vision does is allow you to see that something is there despite cover or other barriers, and if you're running of ambient sources then your illumination is going to be fairly constant and dependable.

T-Rays are much simpler, safer and can be used pretty much with impunity. If you don't have a dedicated scanning setup, then T-Rays are genrally better for detailed inspection of a subject, whilst X-Rays give more general information about your surroundings.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Grim G Grim G's picture
Trappedinwikipedia wrote:Both

Trappedinwikipedia wrote:
Both T and X rays find the atmosphere partially opaque, so for a helicopter I'm not sure that either would be very useful at anything above a very short distance.

Well that's the thing, it never specified the distance of X-rays so as far as I'm concerned it all makes sense.
Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Doing a little bit more

Doing a little bit more research it looks like X-rays are primarily scattered and absorbed by the oxygen in molecules of water, so the range of an x-ray system in atmosphere could be seriously extended in an extremely dry atmosphere. That said there's a pretty deep physics rabbit hole here, and I didn't dive very deeply into it.

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Scattered by the oxygen in

Scattered by the oxygen in water, but not by diatomic oxygen floating in the atmosphere? Why would that be?

A slight smell of ions....

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
I just mangled the sentence,

I just mangled the sentence, it's not specific to the oxygen in water.

Nitrogen scatters x-rays pretty well as well as it turns out though, so that's probably the bulk of the scattering in earth's atmosphere.

ubik2 ubik2's picture
This chart of absorbtion may

This chart of absorbtion may give you ideas about frequencies that would work well in an Earth-like atmosphere.
There's the dip at 10um, for infrared, and then much later closer to 10cm for radar. The latter is going to give you very poor resolution of detail.
The other ranges are just going to be short range, though this may not matter for combat distances. Seeing someone 10m away through a wall is incredibly useful, and would handle a typical SWAT situation.