Technology: Superconductor

“Important? Yes! Critical? Absolutely. I would go so far as to say that Superconducting Fiber alone makes our present economy possible.”

— CEO Nwabudike Morgan, MorganLink 3DVision Live Interview

Superconductor is labeled as a fourth-tier military technology.  All it does in the game is unlock the Gatling Laser.  Which, by the way, is a wonderfully evocative name for a futuristic weapon.  I can just picture the rapid-fire laser blasts coming out of the rotating cylinder of long barrels, the metal of each barrel cooling off just long enough during the cycle to be ready to blast again.  High-temperature superconductors would presumably enable whatever apparatus that generates the energy and spins the lasers to be small and efficient enough to make the Gatling Laser a practical battlefield weapon.

Interestingly, the Superconductor technology directly relies on Optical Computers and Industrial Base.  The dependency on Applied Physics, which one might expect as it unlocked the previous generation of laser weaponry, is implied by the Optical Computers prerequisite.

Now, given all of that, what in the world is Morgan talking about in this interview?  If superconducting fiber is amazing enough, in Morgan’s estimation, to serve as the foundation of the economy, why is it that there are literally zero immediate economic implications to the technology?  There are plenty of real world reasons to agree with this assessment, after all.  A superconductor resilient enough to withstand the stresses of the Gatling Laser is one that could revolutionize all sorts of applications all over the economy.  If that’s the case, and if Reynolds is aware of this, then these questions of the fidelity of the SMAC game model naturally arise.

The answer to the dilemma is that, canonically, Morgan isn’t giving this interview at the time his faction develops the cheap superconducting substrate in the lab.  He’s giving this interview years later.  By that time, Morgan Industries has climbed significantly further up the tech tree.  And from that vantage point it’s pretty clear to the informed observer that every critical application relies in some way on the now-ubiquitous Superconducting Fiber.

I imagine it as analogous to noticing that nowadays everything has an electric computer of some sort in it.  That’s a stark contrast to the time the electronic computer was invented, when the head of IBM famously said that he saw a worldwide market for the new devices of about five.  So, following that analogy, the SMAC tech “Computers” would pop up sometime in the ’70s for the US faction.  Basically, the discovery of the tech corresponds to the time when computers stopped being a niche academic product, but not necessarily after they became widely accessible to average people.

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