SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
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Scientific research and development has occurred over time much as in the real world. However, largely influenced by the French Physiocrats, there has been more focus on and patronage of agriculture-centred research rather than other areas of science; this has also been driven by governments focussing on biological research in the face of advancing biological warfare capabilities, and also because it is relatively cheap compared to other branches of science. As such, the biological sciences, agronomy and so on are more advanced than in the real world, while engineering and the physical sciences are generally less advanced. Derived from this there are more advanced plant breeding techniques, genetics, chemical fertilisers and so on, as well as earlier versions of Chaos Theory, here known as Weather Mathematics, and the Gaia Hypothesis, here known as Bioteleology.
In the past botanical expeditions, gardens and research have been very significant enterprises in France and other nations.
Because of the more advanced biological sciences in this world, many governments, particularly the French, have become aware of the importance of an eco-friendly approach to sustainability, and instituted policies to further this end. As a result the environment of this world is generally in a better condition than that of the real world. However, in cities air pollution is often worse than in the real world, with the higher populations and lower level of engineering technology causing a high level of smog and other pollutants. In addition to this, because of the higher population, less advanced physical sciences, and longer use of steam and internal combustion engines, human-driven global warming is more advanced here than in the real world, with increasingly violent climatic effects becoming apparent.
A number of nations are working reduce greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere by biological means. This generally means by way of plants chosen to grow quickly and store carbon in a form stable in the long terms. The most common type of these plants is bamboo, due to its long-term durability and rapid growth rate. Many of the same nations are also working to develop genetically engineered versions of plants, and bamboo in particular, that will be even more effective in this than the unmodified forms. In addition much work is being done on adapting plants to the changing conditions on Earth [by, for example, changing plants that use C3 carbon fixation to use the C4 method instead, or to incorporate the highly efficient photosynthetic mechanisms of cyanobacteria].
Because of the high population and high degree of urbanisation in this world, there is widespread use of vertical farms within cities [that is, farms built into skyscrapers] to provide food and allow crops to be protected from the effects of increasingly violent weather.
Another side effect of the more advanced biological sciences in this world has been the elimination of any rational basis for racism and sexism from the European-influenced world. However, people being people, irrational prejudices still linger.
Communications technology is quite well developed in Clive-Less world. The telephone has existed since 1872, and by the year 2000 there is an extensive telephone network extending around the world, though there is nothing analogous to the internet. All reasonably civilised nations have at least some form of postal service.
All civilised nations have newspapers. In some nations, particularly within Columbia, Louisiana and the Union, these are part of a free press. However, in many more authoritarian nations, such as France, their content is controlled by the government.
Neither radiant [radio] nor television has existed for as long as in the real world. However, most developed nations of the world make radiant broadcasts, and the French and the Union, in particular, do their best to broadcast to the entire world. Television only exists in black and white, and is only broadcast by the more developed nations of the world. Even then it does not, in general, reach more remote areas. All radiant and television broadcasts outside Columbia and Louisiana tend to be government-controlled. As such there is usually quite a limited selection of stations, and programmes are quite bland. Most radiant and television sets use transistor-based technologies, though many older valve-based sets are still in use, especially in the less developed parts of the world.
Cinema has existed since 1892, slightly longer than in the real world, and is a very popular medium for both news and entertainment in all parts of the world. Because it originated during the Second Societal War, Cinema is less controlled by most governments, and so tends to be far more varied and interesting than radiant or television broadcasts.
A derivative of radiant communications, RADAR, is known as ELOR in this world, from the term 'Echo-Location by Radiant'.
Because of the large-scale surveillance that formed part of the Panopticon Society of the nineteenth century, obfuscational [encryption] systems of many different kinds are used around the world to maintain the privacy of the people of many different nations, in addition to the privacy laws most civilised nations possess. These range from the encoding of televox conversations, to systems for obfuscational written text, to the use of secret or constructed languages and alphabets. While some of this originates within the Nullopticon movement, much of it arises from everyday average people, and its use spreads far and wide beyond its creators.
Computing technology in Clive-Less world has taken a very different route to that in the real world. Although mechanical computing [Babbage Engines] was proposed in 1842, it was the discovery of the means to create fluidic switches and thus fluidic calculating machines that sparked the creation of the first computers using fluidic technology in 1870, the first of them known as Arithmetical Fountains [equivalent to Babbage's Difference Engine], with Analytical Fountains [equivalent to Babbage's Analytical Engine] being developed later.
Although some use of mechanical computers was made, particularly by the Zulus (who remain world leaders in that field), fluidic computers became the standard calculating device in the world outside of that country. With non-fluidic peripherals, such as electrical printers and telegraph devices they gained great utility, to the point that even when the electronic computer was invented in 1959 it was never widely adopted. The transistor was invented in 1975, but has not found wide application in computers. Integrated circuits have not been developed, and there is little sign that they will be.
Because the first computers developed from the fluidic technology of the Arithmetical Fountains and their descendants, in this world all computers regardless of their technology are known as Fountains, or sometimes simply Founts. This latter term is also derived from their being perceived as 'Founts' of knowledge or wisdom.
The only place in which non-fluidic computers have found a great deal of use is on vehicles, and in particular ships, where the motion of the vehicle would adversely affect the operation of a fount. Thus most ships, and naval vessels in particular, have used mechanical founts since the 1920s, with electronic ones being used since the 1960s and transistor-based ones being used since the 1980s. The specialised nature of these founts has contributed to their not being widely adopted outside of the vehicular environment.
A spin-off of Arithmetical and Analytical Fountains is the Synthesising Fountain. First developed in the Union in 1893, they do not use water as its operating fluid, but instead any of a variety of chemicals. Rather than producing a numerical output, they automatically synthesise a chemical output, its operations combining control of the sequence of chemical reactions with the chemical reactions themselves in one integrated machine. The Synthesising Fountain is a successful and widely used instrument, with later versions of the incorporating self-cleaning sequences, and many of them coming to be made of crystal or gold, or gold-plated, to avoid reactions between the chemicals used and the Fountain itself.
Another spin-off of Arithmetical Fountain technology is the Zadornov Fountain, invented in 1865. These use the flow of water between different containers to represent the flow of money between different parts of an economy [this is very similar to the MONIAC computer of the real world]. Although they are considered a very crude, high-level means of modelling the economy they have been widely used in a number of countries in the past, and very useful to their governments.
Only the development of DNA computing technology in 1986, with the massive processing power it allows, has produced a technology that is beginning to render fluidic computing obsolete in many applications. DNA computers are large and complex machines descended from the most advanced Synthesising Fountains, each one more like a chemical plant than a real world computer, with mixing and separation vats controlled by Synthesising Fountains around a small central reaction chamber. In many cases the Synthesising Fountains use the solutions of dissolved DNA as their operating fluid. Although DNA computers require human involvement in the programming and interpretation stages of their work, they are nonetheless amazingly powerful processors.
Because of these differences in technology there are no personal computers above the level of Analytical Fountains, and no equivalent of the internet. Likewise, there are no electronic pocket calculators. Instead, slide rules and, for those who can afford them, pocket-sized mechanical calculators [not unlike the Curta calculator of the real world] are widely used. One of the best of these calculators is the Zululand-made Ibhungane [beetle] type.
Another innovation driven by the earlier development of computing machines was the use of Founts to automate stock trading [via processes very similar to those of electronic stock trading in the real world]. This was introduced in the OSU in 1871, roughly a century earlier than such methods were introduced in the real world.
Although computer hardware technology in this world is not as powerful as that of the real world, this is somewhat compensated for by the fact that it has existed for longer here. As such, Befehl-Analyse ['command analysis' in German; what our world knows as software engineering] is more developed here than it is in the real world. In particular techniques for making the best use of limited computational resources - in terms of speed and storage space - are very well developed [not unlike the case in the real world where, despite increasingly powerful computer speeds and capabilities, such things are a flourishing art].
There was no George Boole in this world to develop what is known in the real world as Boolean Algebra. However, in parallel with the development of founts in the nineteenth century a fundamentally similar system was developed inspired by the work of Gottfried Leibniz and Johann Heinrich Lambert in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This has become known as Gruffydd algebra after its inventor, the New Wales mathematician Agustín Gruffydd.
With the use and development of increasingly powerful founts and their integration into the machinery of government, it became more and more important for the founts to receive accurate and timely information. This drove the invention of faster and faster mail-carrying vehicles, from trains and ships, to faster and faster aeroplanes, to intercontinental mail rockets that remain in use today and that eventually led to the development of artificial satellites and manned space flight. [Although televox cables do allow the transmission of data, the data rates are low, so this technique allows the transmission of data in bursts that average to faster rates, as with a 'sneakernet' of the real world.]
Computer technology in this world continues to advance, although differently to how it does so in the real world. Rather than electronic computers, scientists work to expand the capabilities of the existing founts and DNA computers, and also to develop computers that use living neurons, engineered bacteria or chemical reactions as either replacements for or to provide additional functionality to computers of this kind. Some scientists envision a combination of all four types of computer into some form of 'vat brain', with DNA, bacterial, neuronal and chemical computing elements working together to give a machine of truly vast computing power.
The more advanced biological sciences of this world relative to the real world are partly derived from the work of the Hungarian Catholic monk, Gabor Szekeres, whose genius (comparable to that of Einstein, but in the field of biology rather than physics) outlined the basics of genetics in 1825, Entwicklung [Evolution] and Natürliche Vorwähler [Natural Selection] in 1833 and eugenics in 1840. This more advanced knowledge of biology means that a number of things have been done here which have not been done in the real world. A side effect of this is that the population of the world now tops ten billion people, much of fed by any number of crops genetically engineered for increased yields and other desirable properties.
A significant influence on medical and biological research has been the 1842 French novel 'La Nouvelle Race Et Le Nouveau Monde' ('The New Race And The New World') by Gustave de Lamartine. Inspired by the Theory of Entwicklung [Evolution], this is a tale of the future and evolved 'supermen', the emergence of the new race out of the old under human direction by the power of eugenics, the inevitable extinction of the old race, and also the whole concept of human-directed evolution. [The novel is an analogue of 'Frankenstein'.]
Antimals [antibiotics] have existed since 1884, and have saved a great many lives since then. As in the real world, various strains of antimal-resistant disease have evolved since then, much earlier than this occurred in the real world. To remedy this problem a much wider range of antimals have been developed in this world than in the real world, and other means of treating disease, such as the use of bacteria-infecting viruses [what in the real world is known as phage therapy] are much more advanced.
Most of the nations in the world, and in particular the most developed nations and their colonies, legally mandate vaccination for all citizens. This usually includes protection against diseases that are believed to have been eradicated. This last is a precaution against the recurrence of these diseases, something that has unfortunately happened at times in the past.
In some nations condemned criminals have their organs harvested for use in transplants. In more nations they are obliged to give blood for the good of the general population. This has caused a growing number of criminals to deliberately infect themselves with some form of incurable slow-acting disease, such as herpes, to make their blood and tissues unsuitable for this purpose.
There is widespread use of eugenics, and even selective breeding of humans to improve the human species. Precisely how this is done and precisely what is meant by 'improvement' varies from nation to nation, but most nations have at least some form of eugenics programme which attempts to remove people with congenital defects from the gene pool (with varying degrees of resistance from the population). Many nations also encourage those deemed to have 'superior' genes (which often equate to those with noble blood or large amounts of money) to have as many children as possible, or if nothing else to donate their eggs or sperm for the artificial insemination of the 'less fortunate'. In some nations certain types of criminals are sterilised to prevent their 'bad genes' from being passed on to the next generation, and some nations also practise euthanasia. [With no Nazism and no Holocaust eugenics has not been discredited.]
The eugenics polices of some countries go beyond genetic health to moral issues, with policies that involve removing children from 'unsuitable' families and having them raised by those considered 'more suitable'. Of course, there is little scientific basis for this, and most nations reject such ideas as being too subjective, unpopular, and subject to political influence.
Because the technology to select the sex of children has been available and used since 1951, there are places where the sex ratios of the population are visibly skewed towards one gender (usually men).
Cancer has, in general, been cured. At least for those with access to advanced medical care...
The human genome was first decoded in 1982 by a joint Franco-Ottoman team in a project that used vast resources [perhaps comparable to the space programmes of the real world] and took roughly a quarter of a century to achieve success. The high level of time, cost and staffing required were because of the lower level of computer technology in this world compared to that of the real world. The facilities used in decoding the genome resemble vast factories covering huge areas that are in essence vast linked sets of synthesising fountains that simultaneously compute and perform chemistry. Much of this technology fed into the later development of DNA computers.
Since 1987 it has been possible to genetically modify pigs to have organs immunologically compatible with those of humans, for use in transplants. Although there have been cases of humans catching pig diseases from these organ transplants, they are still quite widely used.
Chimpanzees have also been genetically modified to have organs immunologically compatible with this of humans, again for use in transplants. The first of these modified chimpanzees was born in a laboratory in Sierra Leone. However, as a side effect of the genetic modification process it was found that these chimpanzees were more intelligent than a normal chimp (though not to a human level). The massive ethical problems the creation of a new semi-sentient life-form caused a widespread international moratorium on the production of any more such creatures, one forcibly imposed by France.
Experiments in mentally enhancing more intelligent mammals by adding human traits to them have been somewhat successful, with enhanced dogs, dolphins and elephants being developed despite a good deal of ethical objections from around the world. None of these creatures have had their intellects enhanced to the level of the modified chimpanzees, with the brightest being roughly as intelligent as a wild chimp. However, several scientists and philosophers have discussed the possibilities and implications of creating new forms of intelligent life, and in particular how they should be treated by society should it be done.
A number of types of animals have been engineered to give them abilities not found in nature. Most of these are small, fast-reproducing animals such as insects. There are rumours of 'war ants' engineered to enhance their natural tendencies to be drawn to electrical machinery [such as the Crazy Rasberry Ant of the real world] or plastics, or to host plastic-eating bacteria or other diseases inside themselves.
Many nations have the technology to make human clones, but in most nations their production is banned. Despite this, by the year 2000 there are more than a dozen human clones around the world. There are major ethical issues over this, especially as all of the clones born so far have been found to suffer from various medical problems. In some places they are not considered human.
It is known that several of the worlds less ethical governments, including those of Quebec and Zululand, have begun to experiment with human genetic enhancements, despite forcible French attempts to stop such research through the Conférence Permanente De Militaires Du Monde (Permanent World Military Conference) and via unilateral military action.
Adding minor physical enhancements to humans has generally proved to be successful, though people with them also generally have medical problems too. Some research has been done on engineering humans for superior physical abilities, such as strength, speed, toughness and sensory abilities. However, the limitations of biology mean that even the most powerful physical enhancement possible cannot compete with technology under most (though not all) circumstances. This is even more limited by the slow growth and development of human beings. Thus in addition to the moral and ethical issues, significant human physical enhancements are not considered to be cost effective at the current level of technology. This has stopped its being used on a wide scale far more than any moral questions.
Human mental enhancements, very controversial in most of the world, have so far been entirely unsuccessful, leading to madness and other mental problems in those given them. Thus going beyond the human, mentally, cannot yet be done successfully. However, research into the creation of superhuman mental abilities, and/or reliable savant abilities is rumoured to continue in many places around the world, though again it has great moral and ethical implications. As part of these rumours there have been a number of (probably apocryphal) horror stories regarding human genetic engineering from various places around the world.
However, there are a number of proven cognition enhancing drugs, developed in a number of different countries, which enhance aspects of human mental functions, though as yet these remain expensive and of limited availability.
One use of genetic and/or eugenic engineering that is being seriously considered in some parts of the world is using it to adapt the human race to a changing - a warming and more polluted - world. Some of the proposed changes include:
Of course, there are the same large number of practical and ethical issues associated with making any such changes as there are with any other proposed changes to the human species, but the idea is being seriously considered in some places as a way of helping to ensure the continued existence of humanity and human civilisation into the future. [This is inspired an article in The Atlantic.]
The making of similar modifications to any of various types of domestic animal is also being investigated, though by a rather wider range of groups around the world.
It is rumoured that some governments have methods for encrypting information into DNA, proteins and other biological structures for covert transportation or storage, and that these governments may have created genetically engineered bacteria, or even more advanced life forms, with data stored on their 'junk' DNA.
As part of the widespread selective breeding and genetic engineering of crop plants, there are a very wide variety of crops available in most countries, more so than is the case in the real world. Partly this is simply a side-effect of the greater knowledge of biology in this world, partly it is due to the efforts of Arche Gesellschaften (Ark Societies) in preserving as many varieties of crop plants and domestic animals as possible, and partly it is because the governments of the world are fully aware of the dangers of crop monocultures in terms of susceptibility to disease and so on, and so work to discourage this where it is possible. As part of this fields growing a mixture of crops in a polyculture are very common.
In addition to this, there is much wider use of Australian drought-resistant crop plants for agricultural purposes, particularly murnong, quandong, green vine and wattles. This was pioneered in Khandesh in India.
Another offshoot of the advanced biological sciences of this world is that the synthesis of artificial spider silk on an industrial scale is beginning to have an impact in a number of areas, in particular those relating to clothing and body armour.
Tanks are known as Cossacks in this world. They originated from two different sources:
Over time there has been a leaning of nations towards smaller (cheaper) armies with rapid reaction forces, transported first by ship, then by air. However, the limits of this strategy have also become clear over time, and most nations now have larger forces, usually divided between static local militias, and elite mobile national forces. Some nations have large 'base ships' for this purpose.
In the past biological weapons were considered ideal for economic reasons - because they are cheap. However, they have never worked as intended when released into the field, leading to the Conférence Permanente De Militaires Du Monde (Permanent World Military Conference) banning them via the 1953 Versailles Agreement.
Despite this, for decades it has been public knowledge that most of the major powers of the world have 'doomsday weapons', one or more engineered super-diseases that would be released into the environment in the event of their defeat in war by any of a number of simple, hard to stop means. It is less widely known, though certainly well known within the CPMM, that despite their best efforts not just all of the major powers of the world but a significant number of the minor ones as well have this capability. It is speculated that this may explain the slow decline in the numbers of wars seen around the world and in general their replacement with skirmishes and precision strikes rather than anything that might lead to national defeat.
In response to this a great deal of effort has been put into ways of locating and destroying these weapons. Many governments are believed to have developed 'sterilisation bombs' [essentially a form of fuel-air explosive] for this purpose, though the number of instances of such devices being tested in combat is very low. In general it is believed governments rely more on espionage and covert operations to try and destroy such weapons.
Rumours of tough, hardy, 'war weeds', genetically modified to infest farmland and be nearly impossible to remove surface from time to time. These are based on the difficulties caused by genetically-engineered super-wheat in North America [see 'Exit Mundi']. Although not technically banned, these are generally considered almost as dangerous as 'conventional' biological weapons.
It is rumoured that governments around the world are researching fungal or parasitic weapons. Some are believed to simply eat their victim from the inside out. Others are more sinister and are allegedly intended to influence or control the mind of their victim, for example by making them suicidally fearless [like an enhanced version of the toxoplasmosis parasite].
Another feared bioweapon that is rumoured to exist are viruses that cause cancers in their victims, engineered from existing cancer-causing viruses. Some are rumoured to be airborne, while others are believed to be engineered to produce very fast-acting cancers a tool of assassination and terror. The same technology has, however, also allowed the development of vaccines against many types of virus-caused cancer.
ICBMs do exist in this world, having evolved from mail rockets. However, their small payload [in the absence of nuclear weapons] and low accuracy mean that only the richest and most advanced nations have them, for use as a form of intercontinental artillery using either chemical or shotgun-like payloads.
A weapon commonly used by law enforcement organisations is the Peppergun. This uses compressed air from a tank in the stock to spray an aerosol of chilli pepper-derived chemicals at an opponent, usually from a long spray wand, to keep the mist away from the user. Even so users normally wear protective face masks. The compressed air reservoir is typically filled from a charging station, generally located in an armoury, but most pepperguns can also be pumped by hand if required. [This is a form of pepper spray.] In France they are sometimes also known as Pistol Piment, or PP, after the French word for chilli.
Nuclear weapons are the new threat. Although so far only massive ship-transported bombs have been deployed by the Swedes during the War of the Bomb (the Incorporation War), and no other nation has shown any signs of having developed them, there are persistent rumours that air-portable versions exist, and even if they do not, most nations with the resources to do so are racing to build them as quickly as possible.
Should easily-portable nuclear weapons be developed in this world, it is quite likely that they will be used, perhaps much more often than has been the case in the real world. This would be the case because, compared to the biological weapons that have historically been used as weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapons are both more precise and much cleaner...
The first steam-powered trains were developed in the early 19th Century. As such, they have been more developed than in the real world.
The first practical internal combustion engine was developed somewhat earlier here than in the real world, and since then they have achieved very widespread use. Because of their invention before the availability of cheap mineral oils, internal combustion engines have always been powered by alcohol, and this continues to the present day, with the infrastructure for the production and distribution of fuel alcohol being present across the world.
The French King of the time, Louis XVI, approved of the railways when he saw them, but also considered that if he was to ride on them then he wanted a proper amount of space for himself. Therefore French railways developed with a very broad gauge, and large, wide carriages. Because this made them more expensive to build French railways developed slowly, and did not expand greatly until after there was money to do so, well after the Economic Collapse. Because the French are the most powerful bloc in Europe the French Gauge has been widely adopted across Europe despite its impractical aspects.
There are various places in the French Empire where another, smaller, railway gauge known as the Mesure Coloniale Française (French Colonial Gauge) is used for local industrial lines, This is used because it is cheaper and easier to build. It is particularly used in Africa and India. Some places in the French colonies also have dual gauge tracks - three rails allowing trains of two gauges to both use the line - where Royal visits have occurred, necessitating the construction of standard French Gauge railways to carry the King. There usually run along existing Mesure Coloniale Française lines.
The Union, both in Britain and in Europe, uses a smaller railway gauge, derived from that used in horse-drawn mining and other non-steam railways. As their railways developed the North American parts of the Union adopted a different gauge again. This also comes to be used in Columbia, Louisiana and Quebec, as it is simply easier to do so, and because Union engineers were responsible for building much of the Colombian and Louisianan railway system. These are both different to both French gauges.
Because there is a need for international railways in Europe (and some other places) dual gauge tracks allowing trains with both French and Union gauge wheels to run on them are used on a number of major European rail routes.
The first steam-driven road vehicles were descended from horse-drawn carriages. However, in this world the first of them to find common use had the engine simply replacing the horses rather than being built into the body of the vehicle. A stoker travelled with it, but the driver sat on the carriage, controlling the engine by reins. As vehicles developed, this configuration persisted, resulting in vehicles with a wasp-waisted look, where the entire engine and drive wheels section turns to steer the vehicle by way of a large joint between the engine and main body of the vehicle [not unlike a more developed version of the real world Sir Vival concept car from the late 1950s]. As vehicles became larger the reins were superseded by steering chains, then powered chains, controlled by a left-right lever or geared wheels, or two levers, one for left and one for right. Later versions had powered steering, with wires to control other engine functions running over the top of the steering joint on pulleys. Because of this original design self-propelled road vehicles have become known as 'Wasps', and even vehicles of different configuration to this are known by the same term.
The Union and its allies drive on the left hand side of the road. France and most of the rest of Europe drive on the right. This causes problems at the borders between them.
Steam turbines were developed later than in the real world here. Because of this, jet engines were also developed later. Aircraft, however, were developed earlier, so propeller planes are more developed than in the real world. Pusher propellers become the commonly used type (as opposed to tractor propellers in the real world), and thanks to the work of Russian aviator Gennadiy Innokentiyvitch Illarionov the majority of aircraft also have an asymmetric design. Military planes of this type include ones similar to the real world Blohm and Voss designs of World War II (see also Luft46.Com, Nest of Dragons and Axls Planes Gallery). Pusher-driven aircraft include ones like the World War II Dornier 252, 247 and 335, Henschel Hs P.75 and 87, and the Blohm and Voss BV P.208.03.
There are no helicopters manufactured in this world. They could theoretically be built, but a number of high profile disasters with early experimental helicopters in which a number of their most enthusiastic advocates were killed led the aeronautical establishment to consider them suicidally dangerous. Instead, development has focussed on gyros [autogyros], some of which are as large as the largest helicopters of the real world. The most advanced ones are able to take off and land vertically, but cannot hover. Some of them use jet engines for propulsion.
Long-distance skycraft design is dominated by seaplanes.
Some designs of asymmetrical skyliners [airliners] have their engines in a cluster on the wing to one side of the cabin; this is considered better for fuel and control line delivery. With propeller-driven skycraft [aircraft], engines are often mounted in pairs one behind the other, with one pulling and one pushing. Engines also are often mounted in pods above and below the wing, and sometimes also embedded in the wing. Four engined skycraft with two engines above and two below the wing are common; seven engined skycraft with two above, two below and three in the wing in a hexagon configuration are also quite common. Propeller-driven skycraft with the same engine configuration have double this number of engines.
The success of asymmetric skycraft has inspired other asymmetric designs and a trend towards asymmetric artefacts in general. This has led to a spread of asymmetric ships, skyships [airships], cars, Cossacks, trains and buildings including:
Hovercraft exist, having been invented in 1958, though in this world they are known as hoversleds. They have found wide use in some of the worlds more inhospitable terrain, particularly in the Alyesko-Siberian Federation, where they allow travel over cleared 'roads' regardless of their condition.
The Alyesko-Siberian Federation and a number of the other nations of the world such as Zululand, Cape Colony and New Wales make use of vast military and cargo ships built out of reinforced ice. [These are equivalent to the idea of 'Pycrete' ships from the real world; more information can be found at Wikipedia, The Royal Navy and Combinedfleet.Com.] Zululand and Cape Colony use them to support their Antarctic colonies.
Space flight has been developed, but later than in the real world. The first person was launched into space by the Union in 1995, using a heavily modified mail-carrying rocket. The French have had somewhat less success with their manned space programme, but were the first to launch a satellite in geosynchronous orbit in 1999.