>>(They have a pretty weak grasp of astronomy in general over at the
>>Avatar home office.
>This led me into wondering about the astronomical knowledge of the
>people of Dìqiú in general.
There is a great deal of that, as one might expect in a world where one of the biggest countries is basically imperial China, but it's all slanted toward astrology. That is to say, the sages of Dìqiú know a hell of a lot about the way their night sky works, in terms of what moves where and when. They can predict eclipses and such with great accuracy and know exactly when things like the Comet are coming back.
What they have until very recently been almost completely lacking is a field like astrophysics, which looks at why astronomical phenomena happen. It's probably only within the last century or so that their civilization has realized obvious things like "the stars are other suns that are very far away".
To be fair to them, this is less of an oversight in a world where astrology is actually not a load of hooey. For example, in Dìqiú in 171 ASC, there was a major planetary alignment in the Zipang system - the kind of thing that crystal gazers and horoscope readers expected would cause all hell to break loose on real-life Earth in 1987, and of course absolutely nothing happened - and all hell did break loose on Dìqiú because it's that kind of world.
Waterbenders' powers wax and wane with the phases of the moon, even though the moon is STILL THERE when it's new, it's just that the side of it being illuminated by the sun is facing away from the planet, and bending ability has no correlation to actual exposure to moonlight, or it wouldn't work indoors or during the daytime. Similarly, firebenders' powers stop working entirely during totality of a solar eclipse (I would assume the same happens to waterbenders during totality of a lunar eclipse), even though nothing whatsoever actually HAPPENS to the sun during a solar eclipse, and again, it's got nothing to do with sunlight, or firebenders would be powerless indoors (which is entirely not the case).
(As an aside, bending really annoys physicists, firebending most of all. The other forms of bending can just barely be explained as a kind of super-specialized telekinesis (even though it isn't really), but firebending violates conservation of energy and mass. Fire is a combustion byproduct, and firebenders aren't burning anything; they're just making superheated, ionized gas plasma come out of nowhere. That personally offends a certain breed of scientist.)
>The BPGD entry says that Dìqiú and Yue
>"exist in a limited parallel reality". What would happen to anyone
>trying to go out beyond Yue?
I have not chosen to examine the matter this closely. Probably they would come back onto the other side of the screen, like in Pac-Man or Asteroids.
>Would it even be possible to get modern
>spaceflight technology through a nexus point, or would it all have to
>be built right there on Dìqiú?
I doubt there is a natural nexus that is physically large enough to get an entire starship, even a small one, through in one piece. As far as anyone has ever been able to determine, there's no actual limit to what you can bring through one as long as it fits through the door, but then no one has ever tried dragging along, e.g., a hyperspace motivator. Those have a tesseract inside them. That might not get along & play well with the dimensional threshold. Might be able to do it with a powered-down Cochrane drive, but again, it's entirely possible that there's nowhere to go at faster-than-light speeds anyway. It hasn't been investigated.
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