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Null panels are some of the odder panel technologies, though mostly because humanity has some idea how it works. Essentially, in an area around the panel it is physically impossible for high energy particles to exist, and so all the energy is lost as heat to the material. A simple pipe network built into the panels allows water to be rapidly boiled and used to power turbines which just goes to show; even in the future space ships are steam powered.

Practically, this means that a layer of panelling around an energy source will result in near perfect absorption, though not conversion, of the emitted energy, and this will work with anything from a fusion reactor to a candle. In addition, as it prevents the escape of practically all particles, it is perfectly safe to run a nuclear reactor a few feet from the crew quarters[1].

Theoretically null panels have a variety of other uses, they would make near perfect hull panels for example, as they are completely opaque to radiation, though they are so expense to produce the cost of such a thing would be astronomical[2]. They could also technically safely contain a nuclear bomb, though the amount of heat transferred into them would melt the panels at anything but extreme ranges. Other applications involve solar panels and scientific equipment.

Random Fact: Judging from the layout of null panels on the Derelict, the derelict builders used null panels to protect them from hard radiation. This is odd as a ‘jump’ does not create such high energy particles but it’s an unsolved mystery. Interestingly, the water flow system was adapted from heat sinks built into the original designs.

Authors Note: Oddly enough, null panels were one of the later technologies to occur to me. Yes, I’d introduced a way to get additional energy out of the fusion reactor, but I hadn’t thought about the mechanism. The null panels were invented as a way of explaining the increased efficiency and so I could keep my old ship designs, as they mitigate radiation as a factor.


[1] This relative safety is partly why nuclear reactors have been licensed to private individuals, you do need to have taken a maintenance course to use one, but they have become notoriously lax in recent years.

[2] Later in the time line, null panels are used for battle armour, as they negate a lot of the potential damage by a nuclear weapon detonating nearby. Again, expense generally prevents them being used in all but top of the line ships.

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