October 24th, 2007

travelling in North Africa, winter of 1941-42, border controls and travel time

My google-fu appears to be *terrible*.

I need travel times / experiences across North Africa in the winter of 1941-42, along with what paperwork you'd need.

I've worked out travel routes, spoken to a WW2 nut to get route and who controlled where during that period, but getting any more than that is appearing to be impossible, as all my searches bring up stuff that's either later or earlier than I need. And I can't find anything on paperwork and border controls.

The route is plane from London to Lisbon, Lisbon to Algiers, Algiers to Tunis, then make their way down from there to Tiaret and then Ghadamis just over the border in Libya. I've been told that Lisbon - Tunis is most likely train at that period and shouldn't be too much trouble. However, I can't find out how long it would take in that period, or what you'd need in the way of paperwork (getting it won't be a problem - German, British or French, but I need to know what you'd need and what the border controls were like). The rest of the route I'm doing by jeep, not so much of a problem.

:deep breath: That area at the time was French-controlled (collaborationist) if that would help (well, until they get into Libya).

The problem is that everything I've been able to find in the way of travel guides or reports is either 1890s - 1908 or modern. Anything with Algiers, Tunisia or WW2 is getting me a lot of reports in the personal accounts of soldiers sites (we love the personal history archives) but... it's all June 1942-43 and part of the reason I've got them travelling prior to then is to avoid the war zone (that and Eastern Front issues which affect said plot).

And if you *must* know, it's Jack Harkness and Methos on a retrieval mission to get the Resurrection Glove that Indiana Jones dropped out of a plane in 1937. Shush.

ETA : The current rail only runs once a day as it is, which leads me to believe that the old train times might have been similar (I live with British rail, the timetable hasn't really changed all that much since the early 1900s). And it's also known as the Bone Guelma Rail since that's the company who built it in the 1800s. Any further advances?

The fic 'll be up on darkisrising as it gets written for nanowrimo during November.
  • Current Location: work
  • Current Mood: confused
  • Current Music: Gethsemane - Daniel Boys

Flying near a comet

Setting: far future sci-fi

I'm wondering what would happen if someone in a small spacecraft (comparable in size to a Star Trek shuttle, say, but not capable of faster-than-light travel) brought that ship as close as possible to a comet that's, oh, about a year or two's travel away from its star (it has about a 200-year orbit). How fast would the ship reasonably have to be going to keep up with the comet and stay near it for a period of several hours? Would it be horribly dangerous to do so for any reason? (I know that various probes and whatnot have gone through comet's tails and survived relatively unscathed, but I don't know how close they got or how long they spent there...) If there were a viewscreen or something similar, what would being that close to a comet look like to someone inside the ship? My current understanding is that except when they're quite close to the star they orbit, comets don't have a tail, so would it just look like a big lump of icy rock?

I don't need complete scientific accuracy, but something plausible-ish would be nice. In an ideal situation (for my plot ;) this would be a somewhat dangerous but not completely suicidal move, the ship could keep up with the comet without trouble, and it would look kind of cool from the viewscreen, but I'm willing to change things around if any of that couldn't possibly be true... *g*

I've done searches for "comet", "comet speed", "comet tail", etc. The wiki page for "comet" seems to be vandalized right now, as it contains such informative sentences as "Some are moved into Sun-grasping farts that complete the comets when they near the anis, while others are thrown out of the butt forever." Anyway, it's talking about observing comets from Earth, not from a spaceship. I did click through to the links of various comet-observation missions (Stardust, Giotto, Deep Impact) and did find a few interesting things on the Giotto page at the ESA, but I'm hoping for more information, that's more understandable to non-scientician me :)

Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

How to break (then fix) an emergency beacon

I'm writing a story in which an emergency beacon (or, if it would be easier, any other transmitter that at least has the ability to ping a receiver) is broken during a parachute landing and needs to be fixed with items that might be found in a typical day pack.  In case very specific details are easier to work with, I'm looking for:

1. A problem that can be the plausible result of impact (but an impact that wouldn't set off the beacon -- water immersion is possible if that helps), but can be fixed with every day items.

2. How to fix the problem.

-or-

1. Transmitter schematics.

I remember having better luck finding schematics a few years ago -- these days all I can seem to find are overly simplifed graphics that aren't helpful for this kind of project.  I've googled 'transmitters', 'transmitter schematics', 'emergency beacons', and 'how emergency beacons work' without success.

Also, since I'm posting: can anyone tell me about how line-of-sight affects GPS transmissions?  Is tree cover enough to impact it, or just stone?

Thanks in advance!