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Old 01-26-2018, 06:01 PM   #1
Astromancer
 
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Default Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

Issac Asimov once wrote that he assumed that it would be those born and raised in space colonies, O'Neil's ideas on space colonies were a big hit then, would man the starships and colonize the stars. Planet born people wouldn't want to be cooped up for decades in a ship, especially with no guarantees about what's on the other end of the journey. However, for those born in Space Colonies, it wouldn't be such a change. Heck, some might see a star system without planets as an improvement.

Since THS has canonical Space Colonies and asteriod settlements, even in the Deep Beyond, then there are plenty of people who'd be glad to get on a generation starship. So, the setting, as presented, is only a decade or two away from being able to star travel. This would be flesh and blood travelers, not just A.I.s.

Since many people living beyond lunar orbit don't see themselves as Earth people, leaving the Solar System and its violent conflicts would be more attractive than staying. Which leads to two questions.

One, why wouldn't the third generation space colonists, if they thought it reasonably safe, treat it as a serious option?

Two, what technologies would be the key ones to start Star Travel in THS?

Yeah, I'm still hoping for Transhuman Stars.
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Old 01-26-2018, 07:06 PM   #2
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

The only reason to blow trillions upon trillions of dollars chucking meat-bags at anther star system to effectively never hear from them again is ideological.
Once you get that into the mix, then it makes just as much sense for Martian-bound people as space station.
If anything, I think it more likely, because more station kids would just ask, "Why go anywhere? What's wrong with the vast space just a little further out than 'here'?"
Planet-bound/obsessed people would focus on the few in this system and the many "out there".
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Old 01-27-2018, 06:29 AM   #3
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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Originally Posted by Astromancer View Post
=Since THS has canonical Space Colonies and asteriod settlements, even in the Deep Beyond, then there are plenty of people who'd be glad to get on a generation starship.

One, why wouldn't the third generation space colonists, if they thought it reasonably safe, treat it as a serious option?

Two, what technologies would be the key ones to start Star Travel in THS?
A generation ship, as compared to a bunch of Deep Beyond ships and stations, has several disadvantages:

You can't replenish any resources. In the deep beyond, there are asteroids and comets that you can use. There aren't a lot of them, but they exist, and are on known trajectories. On a generation ship, Oort cloud objects are a collision hazard, rather than anything you can exploit, because you're going far too fast to pick them up - and dodging them is hard. So if you got anything wrong in your ecosystem setup and reserve supplies, you're stuck. You might be able to escape by uploading and lasering yourself back to Sol system, but will anybody be listening?

You're stuck with the same set of people, and their descendants, for the rest of your life. It's dull, especially since light-lag to the rest of humanity is steadily increasing. You can't go anywhere else.

With THS engines, any interstellar journey will take many generations. Even if you're confident you and your companions will stick to the mission, how about your sixth-generation descendants? You can't stick around to supervise them: there is limited life-support capacity.
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Old 01-27-2018, 09:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

To take your first question; what reason would your potential star-travellers have to go to another star-system?

Any resources would have to be extremely valuable and their existence pretty much a certainty. Columbus discovered the Americas by accident; he was looking for a quick route to the known spices of the Orient. I can't really think of anything in THS that would warrant such an investment.

There is no real shortage of territory in THS, with the number of minor celestial bodies that could be inhabited.

I can definitely see a reason for a mission to Virginia but it would be, almost certainly, composed of infomorphs for reasons of cost and practicality. If signals had been detected that originated from aliens that would be a real reason to send a mission, but again that would be composed of infomorphs.

Concerning your second question; to make non informorph star-travel viable I think some kind of Super-Science or handwavium is necessary. For meat beings "to boldly go where no man has gone before", the means of travel needs to be relatively easy and relatively inexpensive. The Enterprise was not a unique vessel, there were others, if somewhat few and far between.

Larry Niven's Kzinti had their "gravity polarizer" and their ships were capable of 0.8c. I've always been fond of another of Niven's inventions from the short story All the Bridges Rusting, where travel is at light-speed as an "enormous transition particle", the journey being instantaneous to the travellers, although not to outside observers. One might even "fold space from IX".

I don't mean to rain on your parade, as I too rather like the idea of Trans-Human Stars, but I can't think of any hard-science methods since Bussard ramjets have been proved impossible.
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Old 01-27-2018, 11:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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I don't mean to rain on your parade, as I too rather like the idea of Trans-Human Stars, but I can't think of any hard-science methods since Bussard ramjets have been proved impossible.
There are other proposals. But the fundamental issue is that getting a starship to move fast enough to reach another star in the lifetime of a human civilization involves a controlled method of adding vast quantities of energy to it. And that's "vast" on a scale approaching those necessary to *create it from vacuum*.

A civilization with access to, and fine control of, energies like that is so different from ours we can't guess why they would spend them on starships, but it isn't to acquire the resources in the distant system - they have more at home than they know what to do with if they're tossing off quantities like that into interstellar space.

Alternately it could use less energy but be a civilization so stable that it routinely engages in multi-thousand year projects. The motives of civilizations that operate on those sorts of timescales are beyond our ability to guess at very plausibly too.
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Old 01-27-2018, 01:46 PM   #6
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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A
You can't replenish any resources. In the deep beyond, there are asteroids and comets that you can use. There aren't a lot of them, but they exist, and are on known trajectories. On a generation ship, Oort cloud objects are a collision hazard, rather than anything you can exploit, because you're going far too fast to pick them up - and dodging them is hard. So if you got anything wrong in your ecosystem setup and reserve supplies, you're stuck. You might be able to escape by uploading and lasering yourself back to Sol system, but will anybody be listening?
The Solar System's Oort Cloud is known to extend halfway to Alpha Centauri, and at the point you'd meet their Oort Cloud. If it's a hazard, then it must have useful supplies of matter.

Quote:
You're stuck with the same set of people, and their descendants, for the rest of your life. It's dull, especially since light-lag to the rest of humanity is steadily increasing. You can't go anywhere else.
One reason why Isaac Asimov thought that the descendants of Space Habitat settlers would be the ones to do interstellar journeys, they already live that way. And groups of ideologically focused people often want to hang in like minded crowds.

Quote:
With THS engines, any interstellar journey will take many generations. Even if you're confident you and your companions will stick to the mission, how about your sixth-generation descendants? You can't stick around to supervise them: there is limited life-support capacity.
I asked about innovations that would make starflight more likely. Still, the Atlantic was crossed before it was economically practical.
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Old 01-27-2018, 01:59 PM   #7
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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To take your first question; what reason would your potential star-travellers have to go to another star-system?
As Flyndaran pointed out, it would be ideological. Maybe they feel their ethnic group or cultural ideology is doomed on Earth or even in the solar system. They could seek to found their own utopia in isolation so they could totally reject violence and all forms of coercion. Maybe god said unto their holy man, "Second star to the right and straight on till...." It doesn't really matter.


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Any resources would have to be extremely valuable and their existence pretty much a certainty. Columbus discovered the Americas by accident; he was looking for a quick route to the known spices of the Orient. I can't really think of anything in THS that would warrant such an investment.
What if all they desire is simply distance, peace, freedom, and the adventure of being discoverers? The founders of New England would have done better staying home, founding New England was madness, and yet they did it. You're assuming strictly economic motivations.

Quote:
I can definitely see a reason for a mission to Virginia but it would be, almost certainly, composed of infomorphs for reasons of cost and practicality. If signals had been detected that originated from aliens that would be a real reason to send a mission, but again that would be composed of infomorphs.
Infomorphs might explore, but their would be those who'd want to settle.

Quote:
Concerning your second question; to make non informorph star-travel viable I think some kind of Super-Science or handwavium is necessary. For meat beings "to boldly go where no man has gone before", the means of travel needs to be relatively easy and relatively inexpensive. The Enterprise was not a unique vessel, there were others, if somewhat few and far between.

Larry Niven's Kzinti had their "gravity polarizer" and their ships were capable of 0.8c. I've always been fond of another of Niven's inventions from the short story All the Bridges Rusting, where travel is at light-speed as an "enormous transition particle", the journey being instantaneous to the travellers, although not to outside observers. One might even "fold space from IX".

I don't mean to rain on your parade, as I too rather like the idea of Trans-Human Stars, but I can't think of any hard-science methods since Bussard ramjets have been proved impossible.
People might commit to ideals and goals you'd find pointless or doomed. And there's no proof we know all of physics.
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Old 01-27-2018, 02:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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The Solar System's Oort Cloud is known to extend halfway to Alpha Centauri, and at the point you'd meet their Oort Cloud. If it's a hazard, then it must have useful supplies of matter.
But you can't pick the matter up. You're making something like 1% of lightspeed, which has cost you an enormous amount of fusion fuel and reaction mass.

If you want to hop from Oort object to Oort object, speeding up and slowing down, you need to be able to replenish your fuel readily, which means hauling along the machinery to process lumps of ice miles in diameter, which rather adds to your mass, and requires more fuel, in an vicious spiral.

If you nonetheless want to do it by hopping, you aren't going to make 1% of lightspeed, which is about 2000mps. You're going to do it at the kind of travel speeds used within the solar system, of about 50mps. This means the journey, rather than taking a bit over 400 years, takes about 15,000 years. At that point, you aren't travelling between stars, you're colonising interstellar space. This is not a friendly environment.

There's a reason that interstellar travel isn't really a hard-science SF concept. You need some radically different physics to make it practical.

Last edited by johndallman; 01-27-2018 at 02:19 PM. Reason: Not hard-SF
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Old 01-28-2018, 05:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

I'm sure that there are aspects of physics that we don't know about at the moment. That does, however, mean that any technologies based on those unknown aspects are, currently, handwavium. In which case just pick a preferred handwavium and go interstellar with it.

Likewise with ideology, pick an ideology and a group that decides to follow it to go interstellar and run with it. As most ideologies are essentially non-rational I don't see why such an ideology would be any more likely to arrise in an artificial habitat than on a planet.

When New England was colonised the necessary technology, ships capable of crossing the ocean and associated navigational aids, had been around for more than a century and had become, relatively, inexpensive. They were thus available to an ideologically based group. Once interstellar travel technology exists and becomes more available I'm sure there will be many ideologically based groups setting forth.

Historically most primary exploration has been in search of resources and wealth. This drives investment in the technologies necessary for the exploration. Ideologically based groups tend to come later. They also tend to be much less well funded than profit based groups as, being ideology based, they cannot easily get funding from outside that ideology.

Even if an interstellar travel technology were invented by a member of a group whose ideology was based around the need for interstellar travel, I don't think they would be able, by themselves, to raise sufficient funds to develop its practical application, unless it were incredibly cheap to build.

As I mentioned earlier, just pick your preferred handwavium and go to it.
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Old 01-28-2018, 05:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Will the Space Colony children be the Startravelers?

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. . . the Atlantic was crossed before it was economically practical.
This isn't, I'm afraid, correct. The Atlantic was first crossed by Christopher Columbus in 1492 because he was looking for a quick, and proffitable, route to the spices of the Orient. He hoped, as did his backers, for a very large return on their investment.

The fact that he discovered the Americas, with all their wealth was entirely accidental.
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