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On the Energy Potential of Faith and Worship

So, if you were reading with me last night, you'll know that I determined through highly circumspect technobabble that the average, formerly 175 lb Ascended being is made up of about 7.136 exajoules of energy. But, as popkin16 and rhia_starsong mentioned later, that doesn't account for the whole energy transfer that is supposed to make the Ori so powerful.


Naturally, this bothered me all night. And for most of this morning. But, first, a few factoids that will come in handy later:


Energy/Mass Equivalencies
1 calorie (cal)=4.184 joules (J)
1 gigajoule (GJ)=10^9 J
1 terajoule (TJ)=10^12 J
1 petajoule (PJ)=10^15 J
1 exajoule (EJ)=10^18 J
1 zettajoule (ZJ)=10^21 J
1 yottajoule (YJ)=10^24 J
1 gram (g)=89.9 TJ


and some reference points:

Reference Points
1 J=energy needed to lift 1 apple 1 meter
6 GJ=potential energy found in 1 barrel of oil
63 TJ=energy released by "Little Boy"
210 PJ=energy released by "Tsar Bomba"
1.41 EJ=energy released by 2011 Tohoku Earthquake
0.5 ZJ=annual gobal energy consumption
10^44 J=energy released by average supernova


Okay, now that we've made it past that, we can get down to the real business of this post: how does the energy transfer from faithful follower of Origin to Ori work? 

The easiest thing to assume is that, on some level, it functions like the Wraith feeding process - ie, it steals energy from a living being, albeit in a much less drastic/noticeable/fatal manner. After all, the goal of the Ori is to have as many followers as possible for as long as possible. So nothing can go on that drastically effects the health/longevity of their followers. 

Working off this, this gives us a daily maximum of 8,360 J to work from a day (as the average person burns 2,000 calories a day; see conversion units above). Since some (most) of this energy has to be used to maintain the life of a worshiper, I present the assumption that it is only the energy used i active worship of the Ori that feed their power. Which begs the questions: how much energy does worship burn? and, how much time do people spend worshiping? 

I'd intended to find some figures and guestimate how much energy prayer/worship burns, but it turns out someone's already done some of that for me. As it turns out, you burn 80 calories an hour actively participating in worship (singing, dancing, clapping, standing, moving about) and 24 calories an hour reading religious materiel. Assuming that the "average" worshiper does equal amounts of these per hour of "worship," then 1 hour of Ori-oriented worship provides 52 calories or 217.568 J to the Ori.

Now, it's much harder to find just how many hours a day people spend in worship related activities. Based off a general survey of the information I was able to find online, I am going to assume for the purposes of this meta: 20% of people are highly faithful, meaning they spend 1 hour per day in worship; 60% of people are moderately faithful, meaning they spend 1 hour per week, or 8.571 min a day, in worship; the remaining 20% of people are minimally faithful meaning they spend 1 hour per month, or 2 min a day, in worship.

The next question we must ask ourselves is: how many worshipers are there in the Ori galaxy? Or, in this case, in Pegasus, as that's what I'm particularly interested in for the AJ 'Verse:

Now, we learn in "The Kindred, Part 1" that the Hoffan Plague will kill approximately 200,000 people on 8 planets despite a 30% mortality rate - meaning that the average population for each of these worlds is 83,333 people

Now how many inhabited planets are there in Pegasus? The Drake equation would suggest 10,000 planets, But with a Pegasus-style Stargate, up to 1,168,675,200 in-galaxy addresses are possible. Assuming that only 0.01% of all addresses lock, that still means there are 116,868 Stargates in Pegasus. Assuming that onl 10% of these are inhabited, that still leaves us with 11,687 populated planets in Pegasus. 

Doing the math, that's means there are about 973,912,771 people in Pegasus - which is still less than a seventh of Earth's total population. We will round it up to 1 billion for mathematical purposes. 

So, how much energy does that give an Ascended being per day, assuming that all of these people are faithful and follow the 1:3:1 average I mentioned about? Well, that's 43.514 GJ from the highly faithful, 18.048 GJ from the moderately faithful, and 0.346 GJ from the minimally faithful a day. Or 61.908 GJ a day. That's the energy of about 10 barrels of oil. 

Now I suppose this begs the question: can this energy be stored? am going to assume yes, because every indication we've had of the Ori home galaxy shows it at about the same or slightly above the average level of development in the Pegasus galaxy, meaning its population would probably be at or around 1 billion as well, meaning that it's a bit insane to be going to all this trouble for 22.596 TJ a year, divided over several thousand(?) Ascended beings when they're made up of 7.136 EJ each - that's like giants fighting over a popcorn kernel.

So I'm going to go with, yes, this energy can be stored. Normally, I'd put something about the 10% rule here - that is to say, a plant can only store 10% of the total energy it receives from the sun, an animal can only gain 10% of the energy stored in the plant it eats, we can only get 10% of the energy found in the cow when we eat it, and so on - but since we're assuming that Ascension is 100% conversion of mass to energy, I'm going to say that's not a factor here. 

What is a factor is that, with this kind of storage, it would take 315,808.108 years for 1 Ascended being to double his total energy content, assuming that he or she is the only Ascended being around. But considering that the Ori have been around for approximately 65 million years and have, in all likelihood, not used most of the energy at their disposal in the intervening time (I mean, why would they need to?), that's not really an issue. The total power available to all Ori at the time of the Ori Crusade, if this is the case, would be in the range of 1.537 ZJ at absolute maximum. That's about three times the annual energy consumption of Earth. Or the energy equivalent of 215.321 Ascended beings. 

In all honestly, I'm not sure what exactly to make of this. After all, it's suggested that the Ascended Ancients in Avalon are at about the same strength of the Ori. And, while there are lots and lots of Ascended Ancients, they're all individually relatively weak. The Ori are made up of a significantly smaller group of Ascended beings with significantly greater power each. 

I mean, I was expecting the power of the Ori to come out to supernova-like power (see the energy/mass equivalencies table above). But these maths don't even bring the Ori close to half of that. Thinking about it, I suppose that makes sense - otherwise they'd have been able to build a Supergate in Avalon without needing to destroy a planet in the process. 

So, what does this all mean?

Well, for one thing, I guess it means that while Ascended beings are clearly not gods, the power at their fingertips is, frankly, absurd. I mean if, individually, you have the power of 5 earthquakes at your disposal, what chance do mere mortals have against you? What are mere mortals to you other then something less than ants - less than protozoa even? It's kinda easy to see how they could quickly come to believe themselves gods. 

But it also means they are not invincible, as proven in the various incarnations o Stargate. Granted, as proven time and time again in SG1, the only one capable of stopping them are other Ascended beings, if only because they are the only other beings in existence with access to  that kind of power.

(Though, on an interesting side note, this does seem to imply that Merlin's Sangraal - the one Daniel built and sent to the Ori home galaxy in "The Shroud" - must generate an absurd amount of energy as well, albeit at a frequency or whatnot that effects only the higher planes.

(I would go on to add that, while the ZPMs are immensely long-lived "batteries" capable of generating incredible amounts of power over their lifetimes, their average energy output at any given moment is relatively small - when compared to the numbers we're talking about here. Still substantial - say, 2 EJ a day - but nothing when compared to the amount of energy the Ori are capable of calling up at a moment's notice. Which is probably why ZPMs were not used to power the Sangraal.)

In conclusion, I'm not sure what the point of any of this is. I mean, even as far as the AJ 'Verse is concerned, Iohannes will never have access to the kind of power the Ori do, provided he is only fueled by the worshipers of one galaxy. Granted, if 100% of the galaxy is highly faithful, that could lead to 217.568 GJ a day coming his way, or 79.412 TJ a year - which would e significant, being 10 times is personal power - to say nothing of what would happen if these highly faithful people decided to spend more than 1 hour a day on worship, but the fact remains that, despite this, these figures are only important if Iohannes needs access to more than the 7.134 TJ he has at any given moment. 

And, really, if that happens, well, they're screwed either way. 
  • 10 comments
I think what it means is that you put a lot more thought and logic into this than the shows' writers/creators did.
there's that too. (Seriously, though, I spent like an hour and a half typing this up, not counting all the tought I put itno it before starting this post.) But it's kinda cool to see all the numbers laid out like this. I mean, Stargate's not the first series to suggest faith feeds gods in some manner. At least the math "shows" that there's some "truth" behind the idea.
Wow. I used to joke that my dedication is really obsession, but I think you have me beat.

By a lot.
lol You're welcome.

*nod* It's cool that you think about these kinds of things; there's so much about Stargate that was never explained, it's all so interesting...
:D

I think about everything. Too much. That's my problem. But, hey, I suppose there are worse obessions.

And I'm still working on my head!canon for how Wraith feeding actually works.
The show just never gave enough information on how the process works. Though Carson does admit - at least in season one - that they have no real idea of how the Wraith feeding process works. But that gives room for writers like you :D
I think it's really cool that you put so much thought into things. It might be kind of useless knowledge (from an outsider's POV), it might be time spent on nothing (depending on if and how much of the information is actually used in a story), but these posts are definitely fun to read. It also shows that you actually think things through, instead of just inserting a random unchecked fact into your story; a fact that might be easily disproved (depending on the fact) if only a little bit of research is done.

A++ , I say :D
the amount of research I put into these fics is absurd in the extreme, I'll admit, but I do think it will be useful in the end - I certainly know that I'll be needing this information later. Plus, I have FAR too much time on my hands these days....

And an unhealthy obsession with trying to force logic upon unlogical things.... It's ultimately the reason I had to back out gracefully from the ST fandoms. (facepalm)
  • 10 comments