Thoughts on Generation E

EmptyKube's picture

Camidon says in his email:

[quote]
3) So far in this world: A) No FTL travel. B) Nanotech. Yes, but must
confrom to present extrapolations of science. No mini-machines that can do anything and everything. C) The jury is still out about AI, more discussion to come.
[/quote]

and

[quote]Lastly, Below is a list of Technology related questions to think about for
the next chat.
CM

Technology: (** = Decision reached)
1) *FTL?*
2) AI's? If yes, how do we keep them from becoming too powerful?
3) Power systems? (see Dave's black hole idea).
4) Genetic engineering? How much can human's accelerate evolution on a
ship?
5) Artificial gravity? Is it allowed? Physics of this? Do we need
topspin?
6) *Nanotech?*
7) Raw materials for mission? Where do they get them? Mined in space, or
unlimited power?
Cool Intelligent animals? If Human's are affecting their own evolution, why
not other animals?
9) How do they insure advancing technology doesn't pass them by? Is this
just a risk? Is this risk just to big?
10) Current medicine? Doctor Tech?

[/quote]

Thoughts on nanotech first:
"yes but must confirm to present extrapolation of the science. no minimachines that can do anything."
Since I couldn't make it to the chat, I'm not sure how the discussion went.
My understanding of the present technology is that no body knows exactly what to define as nanotech. Eye-wink
I assume that what you mean is that nanotech can't be a type of magic.
That works for me, but I do feel the need to point several things out.
1) technology levels will not remain flat onboard the ship, or at home on earth. If a form of nanotech is used onboard, unless all technological innovation stops, minimachines that can do anything [i]will[/i]
become possible. That's the promise of full fledged nanotech. Despite current scientific conservative estimates of its future (and scientists have to be conservative) being able to manipulate individual molecules will eventually lead to magic like abilities to create and reassemble almost anything. My thought is, that if there is a form of nanotech being used by the society at large when the ship launches, we need to ensure that sensible uses of it are incorporated into the ship, but no experts in the field are included. the technology should be something the crew takes for granted but doesn't understand. As an aside, nanotech can make a great tool for controlling an evolutionary direction. What better way to manipulate genetic material? Genetic engineering without some use of nanotech in the next 100 years will likely be obsolete. IMHO

2) Artificial gravity should be a no. Same reason as FTL. Easy way out, and does not allow for adaptation. If the crew has access to Earth standard gravity all the time, where is the biological need for adaptation? Of course with AG you could change the gravity to match the new world. Six of one half dozen of another. I think spinning the main living areas and having sections that are gravity free except during accelerations would make for some interesting developments. I envision some folks choosing to live in the gravity free zones and adapting in ways that would make them unwilling to "land" at destination. Could lead to a kind of civil war, et.

3) Raw materials. As I've said, I'm partial to the idea of using asteroids.
I think it makes the best sense and evokes the image of early humanity living in caves.

4) are intelligent animals necessary or is that just a need to be inclusive? I think that unless they feed the plot, what purpose do they serve? This question to me is a variation on the AI question. Intelligent animals would be creations of humans that would be A) either more intelligent then us, and leading to the same situation as AI's B) equal in intelligence and possibly leading to prejudiced attitudes. While this is always great fodder for fiction as a topic, I think humanity's own foibles offer just as much room for exploration of prejudice. C) inferior to humans and exist merely as slave labor or for human entertainment. Again, while this can lead to interesting fiction, human personalties the way they are, I'm sure slavery can be discussed in a purely human context.
This is not to say that I don't think animals should be brought along, but the topic of animals brings up one of the real cracks in the idea that we need to address. That is the knowledge of where the ship is going. I know I harp on this, but it bothers me and always has. My original comments for CM's story included a long discussion of this. What animals do you bring along depends on where you are going. Do you engineer new creatures to fit the new world? What sort of species already exist and will you be adding deadly invasive species to a fragile ecosystem? what good is it to adapt to a world only to have your choice of animals (and plants) ruin the environment? Putting aside the question of how you know what to make your descendants, how do you learn enough about the planet to decide what needs to be added? Bringing species from Earth only makes sense in the content of trying to terraform the planet, not create new inhabitants. The crew will need food and stores won't last for the length of the trip as envisioned, so bringing animals and plants will be important, but do we make them intelligent? Only if it makes a good plot line....IMHO

5) They can't ensure technology at home won't pass them by. It likely will.
This is another aspect of this concept that is exciting because if the ship people evolve to a different variant of humans, and the stay at homes maintain some semblance to what would be considered truly human, and the two faction catch up with each other will either consider the other human? Will war ensue? This is an element to the idea I've thought about for a long time, prior to this project. CM when I mentioned I had an idea for a Generation Ship idea that I'd never had the reason to write, this conflict between technology passing the ship by and who is human who isn't is at the germ of that idea. I even have a title: Generations Apart.
Or something similar. This is an area that I will likely work on as my contribution, although anyone else is also welcome to take up the idea
as well.

6) Medicine. Well ... this will have to be fluid, won't it? I mean if the only type of health system available is based on traditional humans then eventually you'll have a whole lot of later folks without any way of treating themselves. The medical system would need to be highly adaptable, contain large data sources, be able to react to any sudden negative trends in evolution (miscarriages, deformities, et.) The medical system would likely work closely as part of the "guided" evolution. Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but it seems to me, given the requirements, and the need for someway to retain a basic idea of where the development should go, and of being able to adapt to trends in biology, and in being able to remain a constant secure source for health care throughout the long trip, the Medical System should be under the auspices of an AI Laughing out loud

7) last but not least, power....
Fusion should be part of it. So should antimatter. Dave's black hole idea is great, but unless we can come up with a scientifically sound way of getting one, I don't see where they would come from. This is like the reason for not having magical nanotech. The miniblack hole power source would be convenient but modern scientific extrapolation doesn't bode well for either creating them, or finding them lying around the solar system.
Unless we introduce a whole new technology which makes them viable.
Of course the new technology could also be a reason for the trip to be planned. Once a technology for creating mini black holes cheaply were developed and the confinement requirements were easily achieved why not go to the stars?
The reason I mention fusion and antimatter is because modern research makes the use of both much more viable. Fusion as always is an "any day now" technology. And as for antimatter, places like CERN have begun to be able to collect large quantities of the stuff and are developing ways to store it. Of course by large quantities I mean milligrams or less...still the pure extrapolation makes the use of antimatter more likely then mini black holes.

Okay...there's my two sense worth.
Have fun.

Have fun.

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DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

This is going to be fun. I wonder how we should make the decisions on the top level questions. Do we assign a topic to one of the "editors" and let them decide with an overide if the other two editors disagree? Do we discuss each topic first or have the owning editor make a proposal?

Technology won't be stagnent on the ship, they will be in touch with earth. I don't think they will have as many resources for technological development as earth so they will get most of the new tech from earth. As the trip progresses it will fall behind due to speed of light lag. Most stories like this assume that the ship is not in contact with earth. Is ours?

It is pretty safe to say FTL is physically impossible, so it is out. It is not so easy with artificial gravity. Maybe a Theory of Everything will unite all four forces and allow for it.

Asteroids are the easy and obvious source for raw materials. How much processing does it take? Do we make iron slabs and weld them together or excavate an asteroid to get the living space? I'll let the ship construction team figure it out.

Genetically engineered animals is a good area for speculation. It will be technically possible but will it be allowed legally? If you make an intelligent animal, is killing it murder or animal abuse? Unless the planet they are going to settle has an ecosystem into which they plan to fit they will need animals and plants. Do they carry them on board or thaw them on arrival? If they breed them on arrival how is their modification tothe new planet done?

In the field of medicine, do we assume that all disease is cured? The ship will have special needs since the genetics of the crew is changing. Maybe that is the source of their medical problems. The human genome is known so well that all problems can be fixed. The new genome is goo dbut not as well known so problems arise. But autodocs, human doctors, AIs, who or what is the final administrator of treatment?

Just because I can't design a mini black hole power system now doesn't mean we can't use it. I think the physics is known enough that it possible. For most, if not all stories, the power system will be irrelevant. Unless there is a big fight during the design of the ship as to use a fusion plant or a MBH Eye-wink

Does someone want to propose the procedures we use to discuss the issues and make a decision as to what will be adopted?

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

[quote]Just because I can't design a mini black hole power system now doesn't mean we can't use it. I think the physics is known enough that it possible. For most, if not all stories, the power system will be irrelevant. [/quote]

I think you hit on a very key element. Unless the energy is important to the story, its irrelevant what we use. Its just fun to speculate:0

I think the inhabitants will just take energy fo granted as we do. Long at its there who cares where it comes from?

Another thought is how to preserve the ship purpose through multiple generations? Certainly data storage, but there ahs never been a better way of perserving ideas ove centuries then religion Laughing out loud

Maybe the answer to the big issue question is letting the originator of the idea decide?
I do like the idea of the editor deciding as well. Or we throw the main issues out for a vote and take a consensus. Or how about we fish for stories and see what works? If a particular story takes us down a path everyone likes, we stick to the general big issue questions in the given story.
Just a few random thoughts.

camidon's picture

Great Stuff

Great stuff here. As Dave said, this is fun. Got to contemplate all that's been typed. Have to do it another day, though, as its after 11:00 and I just finished a five hour exploration trip into Wind Cave after an 8:00 work day. Just a tad dirty, and a tad tired.

Perhaps tomorrow evening I can respond in depth.

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

since the topic of FTL came up, I thought for fun I'd post this link.

http://www.npl.washington.edu/AV/altvw81.html

This is a discussion of Miguel Alcubierre's Warp Drive, which while acceptable under current understanding of relativity, still would require either larg quanities of mass or energy and the use of exotic matter Smiling
But it's fun to read about

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

I posted some figures on the Wiki. Basically there is a star called 70 Virginis (in the constellation Virgo) that is a G5 star. It has a planet called Goldilocks that is a gas giant seven times as large as Jupiter but which is at just the right position from its sun to have a temperature condusive to life. The star is 59 light years from Earth. I posted my math on the Wiki, but essentially if I figured correctly travel at a steady 1G thrust to 70 Virginis would take nearly 1 million years. Steady thrust means constant acceleration which implies LOTS of fuel. If the ship coast there would the length of time be the same? Or longer? At least this gives us a rough guide of how long it could take to get to another star. If 59 light years is a million years (916 thousand and change actually) then if the planet is 1000 light years out it could take almost 16 million years (?) or is that 160 million??? Damn decimal points!!

Anybody else want to try to figure this out???

camidon's picture

Quick Calculation

If: 60 Light years = 1,000,000 years of travel (1 million).
Then: 600 Light years = 10,000,000 years of travel (10 million).
Then: 6,000 Light years = 100,000,000 years of travel (100 million).
So: 1,000 Light years = 16,666,666 years of travel (16.7 million).

Anything under 1 billion years is still a "blink" of a time span with regards to astronomy or geology.

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

I don't think those travel time numbers are right. Mike, you don't say if this is ship time or earth time, but since we're worried about time on the ship I'll assume that.. Chris, you can't just multiply by 10 for a 10 times longer journey. Relativistic time dialation comes in. I found two sites:

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SR/rocket.html

http://www.astro.sunysb.edu/fwalter/AST101/rockets.html

that explain it well. They disagree so I assume that their assumptions as to stopping at the destination are different. In any case, at 1G you can cross the galaxy in 40 years ship time. So for our story we need a smaller acceleration. For 1G you are nearly at light speed after 5 years ship time (84 years earth time) and have traveled 83 light years. These times (both ?) may double if you stop at your destination.

The first site has some equations so I'll try using them and see what acceleration is needed for reasonable travel times. BTW, what is a reasonable time? I'm assuming genetic manipulation so that a trip of a few hundred years is acceptable.

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

[quote]Posted: Tue Jun 15, 2004 10:07 pm Post subject:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I don't think those travel time numbers are right. Mike, you don't say if this is ship time or earth time, but since we're worried about time on the ship I'll assume that.. Chris, you can't just multiply by 10 for a 10 times longer journey. Relativistic time dialation comes in. I found two sites:

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SR/rocket.html

http://www.astro.sunysb.edu/fwalter/AST101/rockets.html

that explain it well. They disagree so I assume that their assumptions as to stopping at the destination are different. In any case, at 1G you can cross the galaxy in 40 years ship time. So for our story we need a smaller acceleration. For 1G you are nearly at light speed after 5 years ship time (84 years earth time) and have traveled 83 light years. These times (both ?) may double if you stop at your destination.

The first site has some equations so I'll try using them and see what acceleration is needed for reasonable travel times. BTW, what is a reasonable time? I'm assuming genetic manipulation so that a trip of a few hundred years is acceptable.
[/quote]

It seems, looking at the two sites that yes, I didn't take everything into consideration. Didn't realize that even at 1G you will eventually reach relativistic speeds. However if the ship accelerates to 1G and then coast will it still reach relativistic speeds?
(I fell into the trap early SF writers fell, by not taking Einstien into account!
:oops: )

I think that CM's idea originally called for million or so year time lapse. Not exactly genetic manipulation so much as genetic guidance.

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

According to JPL at the speeds Voyager is traveling it will take 76,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri which is only 4.3 light years away.

Is our trip going to traveling faster than Voyager (roughly 10.5 miles per second or 37800 miles per hour)???

At that rate very little relativistic effects will come into play. You only reach relativistic effects when you reach a percentage of the speed of light. (Dave that's the differnce between your two sites. One speculates percentages of lightspeed, one assumes constant acceleration at only 1G)

If our ship reaches 1G and coasts at that speed, no constant acceleration,
it could well take millenia to cross only 59 light years.

at 37800 miles per hour (Voyager's speed) in one year you will reach 331,128,000 miles

divide 346,831,488,973,441 miles (59 light years) by 331,128,000 (distance per year) and you get a trip time of 1,047,424 years. This is ship time and approx Earth time since at no time is the ship traveling at relativistic speeds. Time dilation isn't a factor. It only comes into play when you reach a significant percentage of the speed of light. For instance 25 percent of the speed of light (the first figure noted on one of the charts on the second site you listed, Dave) would be over 40000 miles per second. Voyager is only doing about 10 miles per second.

What will be the speed of our ship? I think to determine this we need to determine how long we want the trip to last. From my dialogues with CM I assumed the initil idea called for 1000's or millions of years.

Dave seems to stress a couple of hundred. I can work either way.
But we need to decide distance (which implies destination), rate of travel, and how long we want trip to last. The last point will make determining the first two easier.

camidon's picture

Time

I agree with, Mike. Let's try to pick a destination, which will affect travel time, and potential timeline.,

I fully step aside to your two's calculations. I was only tossing in the basic Math's of Mike's first assumption. As the later posts, suggested, there are more than a few other factors to consider when calculating "time" which of course, is all relative, which is part of the problem, right? Laughing out loud

Physics was never my strongest science.

Fun Stuff.

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

It is all pretty academic. We pick a distance, pick a ship's time, and adjust the acceleration to make it work. I think the ship would travel faster then the Pioneer probe. BUt it is much more massive so???

Personally, I can't see anyone signing up for a trip that would take millions of years. The chance that technology would advance so that the first travelers arrive at a place that has already been settled is too great. There can always be a problem in flight, but that is a bit over used. Maybe there is no destination. The earth government is forcing or restricting evloution so this group takes off to let evolution (god) proceed naturally.

I think that has to be our first decision. What is the reason for the trip? That is followed closely by how long and to where. Then when does it leave.

BTW, the two web sites I posted are consistant. One does the calculations for a 1G round trip. Accelerate half way, decelerate to the destination. Same on the return. Each trip has four stages. To match with the other site you have to calculate a quarter year trip and then multiply by 4 for the four stages. Then it agrees with the one year spaceship time of the other site.

EmptyKube's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

[quote]Personally, I can't see anyone signing up for a trip that would take millions of years. The chance that technology would advance so that the first travelers arrive at a place that has already been settled is too great. [/quote]

This is what I've always thought was our biggest concern. Maybe I take it too literal, but these are the points I agrued in my rather longwinded comments a few weeks ago. Except you put them much mor succinctly 'cause i can't be short winded if I try:)

I think we all have lots of common ground to reach first.
I've always liked the diea of slowboats, traveling at less then relativistic speeds. But as you say, who would sign up knowing that not only would they not see the destination themselves but niether would there children, grand children, et. Only their descendants would. This kind of trip would call for zealous fanatical outlooks.

again, I brought this up in my long winded comments but you have summed it up much more succinctly....

So where do we go from here????

Any thoughts?

CM it was your idea originally....long millenia evolutionary changing trip
or fast relativistic trip where original crew is genetically manipulated to suit new world. Or do we do both? Multiple trips means multiple possibilities.

I've grown to like the idea of a nice slow progression that evokes the idea of using time and space to evolve humnanity in new directions.

As I said though, I can work either way.

camidon's picture

Time is our Ally

The basic idea I had was to use time as our ally. Perhaps time is just what we need in order to span the cosmos. While generation after generation slide by, the descendants can evolve to the parameters of a chosen planet (anyone want to write Humans who have evolved to live in a gas giant? What an idea someone had! Elizabeth I think.) We MUST stop thinking in minutes, days, and years, and start thinking in thousands, millions, and billions, of years. That is the crux of the story, and any evolution comes out of that, slow and steady, as we have evolved on this planet (therefore I'm against "fast" genetic engineering). If we know the end parameters of a chosen planet, then we can assume the end projects of what evolution may be like, and slowly progress down a line, changing conditions of a ship (temp, pressure, gravity, gas concentrations, etc) to fit the destination. How do we know the conditions of the chosen planets? See my previous idea about probes, lots and lots sent out continuously from the ship.

[quote]This kind of trip would call for zealous fanatical outlooks. [/quote]
Perhaps, at first, this would be the only ones interested in the trip. As long as Humans are stuck in our millisecond timeline, we'll never do this.
However, I do think that anyone concerened about the continued survival of Humanity will eventually see the stars as our only future. Our planet will not last forever (there are differeing predictions of how long it will last). Therefore, we would rather take to the stars, then die all together. And when we DO take to the stars, let's work with the vast quantities of time necessary to span the empty voids as opposed to creating some FTL or fast propulsion unit to zip around quickly (which IMHO will never happen). We either work with time to cross space, or we die on our planet.

If we ban FTL, then, in my mind, we're closer to solving the problem of what if technology passes the ship by, and other ships can now wiz pass them.

Here's a thought:
There are so many stars, if our goal is evolution to fit a planet over time, then why would a second/third/fourth/etc ship have to go (be sent) to the destination of the first ship if there are billions of other options? I could see this as a stellar law, claimed planets can not be colonized by anyone other than the first ship (of course, I could see story lines about rebels...)

Also, I don't think I ever envision technology radically reducing the timeframe to cross the stellar voids. That's a little too much scifi, and not enough science fact. Maybe I'm just not forward thinking enough.

Also 2) Dave is 100% right when he says we're creating a "universe". There are so many potential story angels to this idea, (first colonizing ship, subsequent missions--millions, arrival at planets, building each world, rebels, raiders, aliens?, etc) it's almost absurd. An author could make a career in this "universe"...

----

Life is a lot like caving: Most of the time you grope around in the dark.

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

Actually I'm more interested in building the universe than the slowboat stories. I'm sure that I could write some, particularly after all the work of building a universe, but it is just a background.

In my mind the only reason to travel for a million years is to enjoy the journey. Or to get away from where you are and you don't care where you go or how long it takes. But that is hard on your decendents.

Also it doesn't make sense to depart until the technology is advanced enough so that you won't be over taken in flight. Relativity makes that strange. For any acceleration on long flights or high (near 1G) you reach nearly the speed of light and you get there sooner if you leave sooner. If your acceleration is weak than it gets close if you should wait for the technology. For example, If your starting acceleration is 0.01G and it improves 30% every ten years, and your trip is 100 light years. then it takes between 193 and 210 years to get there (earth time) reguardless of when you leave. With weaker accelerations (0.001G) it pays to wait.

DaveK's picture

Wiki structure

I'm thinking of re-structing the wiki. Whit I'm thinking is that the first page is a list of the topics and their solutions. If the topic is under discussion then there is a link to a page with that discussion.

The up side is that the first page is the result and only has the result. The down side is that you have to go to additional pages to browse through. As is the E ship page is getting very long and hard to find new entries.

What do you think?

Also I would like to move the discussions there instead of here. As soon as Chris can get in.

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

Dave, I was actually thinking of creating a web for the project, then structuring from there. I've allowed you Administrative access to TWiki, so you can do this if you want. Also, I'm thinking of installing a plug-in that allows for comments at the bottom of a page. That way, we can improve the structure of active discussions, I think. What do you think?

-anneliese

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

OK, I created a new web and put a link to it from the old one. I'm not sure what that plugin does but it sounds interesting. I used this oppertunity to restructure it like I suggested earlier.

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

I created the new web but I don't see it showing up in the WebTopicList or the WebIndex or by searching from the Main web. Nor does it show up in the list of webs at the top right of the main page.

Is it supposed to be that hidden?

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

I've added the Worlds web to the web list so you can get to it from a link at the top of each Twiki page.

-anneliese

DaveK's picture

Re:Thoughts on Generation E

Great. I'm surprised that it wasn't automatic but I suppose there are reasons to keep some webs hidden.

Now all we have to do is to use it. I made up some rules-purely arbitrary-as a starting point. We have six people signed up. As a start we can take it from the top of the list and work on the issues. Or we can redo the list if that seems the right thing to do.

In any case, we are going to have to figure out how to work in a Wiki. It is a cross between a forum such as this and a static web page. One good point is that we can remove old data so it doesn't clog up the pages. The down side is that it is harder to keep track of new information and who entered it. I created a Contributers log on the GenerationE top page to help keep track of it.