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Thread: Relativistic Kill Vehicles and the Fermi Paradox

  1. #61
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    Agreed, which was basically why I was dubious about the long term genetic prospects for any surviving human groups. I never thought there would be many survivors, perhaps a few thousand at best, scattered in penny packets across thousands of klms of devastated country side. Small groups of people might (I stress might) be able to make it through the first few years but what are the chances of hooking up with other groups in the long term?
    I see two potentialities in such a scenario. On one extreme, the human race could go completely extinct, on the other hand the human race could speciate, and diversify into several different species. There used to be at any one time several or even a dozen or more species/sub-species of humans walking the Earth until just a few tens of thousands of years ago, some of which went extinct and others of which were assimilated into our sub-species.

    One thing that I think would be for certain is that survivors would likely regress/re-develop certain atavistic traits that have been lost since we transitioned from a hunter-gatherer species to an agricultural/city-based one. I imagine our sense of smell would get better, our jaws would again grow large enough to fit our wisdom teeth, our vision would improve, spatial intelligence would return, etc. We already have direct evidence that this process of atavism occurs simply by observing what has actually happened to several domesticated species that went feral for several generations, such as razorback boars, mustangs, dingoes, etc. Combined with what we already know from archaeology, we would be able to at least make educated guesses what would happen to us.

    Not that it would do our potential successor species any good. The eggheads making the guesses, assuming they survived, would be too busy scraping up that fungus and/or digging for buried food, and along with everyone else would simply experience and see their descendants go through the process firsthand without giving it any second thought.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 03 Apr 18, at 02:41.

  2. #62
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    I fear that our reproductive cycles doesn't allow for such rapid adaptation. 14 years (from birth to puberty) between successive generations is a long time to survive. Pigs and cats can give birth every year. We can't.

  3. #63
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    I fear that our reproductive cycles doesn't allow for such rapid adaptation. 14 years (from birth to puberty) between successive generations is a long time to survive. Pigs and cats can give birth every year. We can't.
    You do have a good point, but there are certain traits that can manifest/develop within a single human lifetime. Put a taxi driver/cop in a CT scan, and you can see the area of the brain for spatial mapping/intelligence is far more developed than say, an office worker. We do have direct evidence that the human brain is malleable within a single lifetime, and that needed areas will develop while unneeded areas will atrophy.

    You're right though when you implied that outward physiological changes would not occur in these sorts of timeframes.

  4. #64
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    I see two potentialities in such a scenario. On one extreme, the human race could go completely extinct, on the other hand the human race could speciate, and diversify into several different species.
    Wrong time scale. We're talking about a decade of disastrous species ending conditions followed by a slow return to whatever the new "normal" looks like after 75% of the existing species are wiped out.

    If humanity somehow survives the first decade, they'll likely get re-established and bounce back. Since the population at the end of that decade would be largely survivors of the old world we wouldn't be starting from scratch as a species as a fair chunk of knowledge would be carried forward along with relics of the previous world in metropolises that will help fill in the gaps in scientific progress. That means transportation and communication should be re-established to some extent between surviving pockets of humanity.

    As far as geologic and evolutionary timescales go humanity is either done for entirely, or will bounce right back within the blink of an eye in a few hundred years.

    After the industrial and agricultural revolutions occurred the world population exploded from a few hundred million into the billions within ~200 years. I don't think that knowledge will be lost unless humanity is done for entirely.
    Last edited by SteveDaPirate; 03 Apr 18, at 16:26.

  5. #65
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Yeah, the problem there isn't food. It's water. An ELE asteriod hit would make a nuke strike a camp fire by comparison. Once you talk metropolis, a whole bunch of other problems crop up.
    You have a good point there. Any metro would be a disaster area of the utmost severity, with a wide variety of extreme toxicological and disease hazards. These hazards would likely be the immediate cause of acute illnesses with who knows how many types of significant co-morbidities. Something I hadn't considered. So we can write off metro areas as anything but an acute cause of death to anyone who entered.

    So in the face of decades-long dimming of the atmosphere, the inability to grow crops, and the decimation of up to 99% of plant life on Earth, the only thing I can think of that would be a consistent food source would be varieties of fungus, and/or surviving animals that feed on it.

    You also raise a good point regarding water. Would be interesting if we had a hydrological/atmospheric guy who could weigh in on that. Without even taking into account boiling off, probably virtually all drinkable surface water would be a poisonous/toxic stew.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 04 Apr 18, at 11:55.

  6. #66
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    Wrong time scale. We're talking about a decade of disastrous species ending conditions followed by a slow return to whatever the new "normal" looks like after 75% of the existing species are wiped out.

    If humanity somehow survives the first decade, they'll likely get re-established and bounce back. Since the population at the end of that decade would be largely survivors of the old world we wouldn't be starting from scratch as a species as a fair chunk of knowledge would be carried forward along with relics of the previous world in metropolises that will help fill in the gaps in scientific progress. That means transportation and communication should be re-established to some extent between surviving pockets of humanity.

    As far as geologic and evolutionary timescales go humanity is either done for entirely, or will bounce right back within the blink of an eye in a few hundred years.

    After the industrial and agricultural revolutions occurred the world population exploded from a few hundred million into the billions within ~200 years. I don't think that knowledge will be lost unless humanity is done for entirely.
    If it's just a decade of disastrous species ending conditions. If the size of the impactor increases, then we might see something more like my scenario.

  7. #67
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    Personally I consider this scenario unlikely simply because of the scale of resources and time periods involved. We would be talking about millions of years and thousands of light years between 'contact's. The resources involved and scale of commitment required makes building the pyramids look like self assembling some IKEA book shelves. Still, there is an eerie silence out there.
    Another thing I think is worth considering... the Earth has been more or less habitable to oxygen-breathing, water drinking life for hundreds of millions, if not a billion years or more.

    Alien civilizations, assuming they exist, are either so far away, whether backward in time, forward in time, or if they are contemporaneous to us, by sheer distance alone.

    I don't think the distances involved on an intragalactic level preclude visitation, or even colonization, by another civilization residing in the same galaxy. With the Kepler telescope and its eventual successors, we ourselves are already on the bleeding edge of being able to detect habitable planets in other solar systems.

    Surely, if there were another civilization in the galaxy at any point in the preceding billion years, they would have been able to detect our habitable planet by now, using, let's just call it, a "hyper-Kepler" telescope. This of course assumes there's no issues with line of sight, i.e. their view of our solar system being occluded by, say, the galactic core.

    For the sake of argument, let's assume that a hypothetical civilization exists 50,000 light-years away, and detected our planet 5 million years ago. Their "hyper-Kepler" readings would have confirmed the planet is habitable and has no signs of civilized/intelligent life. If this civilization were to have the ability to travel even at just 0.01C, in this hypothetical scenario, there could be a probe arriving tomorrow.

    Just thinking of this stuff, a picture is worth a thousand words:
    https://media.giphy.com/media/xT0xeJ...blEk/giphy.gif

    I think though it's safe to say that we're currently the only advanced technological civilization of Earth-type biological make-up in the galaxy at our level of development. There may have been such a civilization a billion years ago, or a billion years from now, or as is the case with dolphins, a sentient species that has no need for all but the most basic of technologies.

    It's fun to theorize that things like the Zoo Hypothesis or the Dark Forest Theory could also be the case. Stuff like Dyson Spheres undetectable to all but the most advanced detection methods, and civilizations that have transcended biology and exist in virtual environments through mind uploading could be other possibilities.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 10 Apr 18, at 09:43.
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    What would be the point?

    I mean, why would a civilization go through such an expense to send a probe to find habital worlds that they would not even get an answer to? Whatever answers this probe finds will not get its findings back to that civilization in time for it to be of any use, if that civilization would still be around.

    This goes back to the point that Choggy and I were discussing. It would not be biological intelligence making contact with each other but machine intelligence. If you send out a probe with an AI that can lasts for 50,000 years. It would be logical for it to find other AIs that can lasts just as long. Thus, they would have no interests in us and we are nothing more than an ant colony to their intelligence level. A curiousity but not significant enough to merit their intellect.

  9. #69
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Regarding a biological civilization - with the purpose of life being more or less to propagate itself, what I'm referring to, I suppose, is the Panspermia Hypothesis.

    That pretty much leads to a slippery slope of Ancient Aliens though, which I prefer to avoid, as there's a lack of evidence. Life on Earth could have started with alien biomatter being "deposited" on a barren planet 1.5 billion years ago for all we know, but there's no way to prove that and there's pretty much no point in speculating about it.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 10 Apr 18, at 15:42.
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  10. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    Regarding a biological civilization - with the purpose of life being more or less to propagate itself, what I'm referring to, I suppose, is the Panspermia Hypothesis.
    Doesn't jive with facts as we know them today. No life that we know of can survive sterilization by heat, ie atmospheric friction. If we are the result of extraterristial origins, then a large body of organisms should be able to survive boiling water. That is not the case.

  11. #71
    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Doesn't jive with facts as we know them today. No life that we know of can survive sterilization by heat, ie atmospheric friction. If we are the result of extraterristial origins, then a large body of organisms should be able to survive boiling water. That is not the case.
    I was thinking more along the lines of an alien taking a dump on a barren planet 1.5 billion years ago, or emptying the sewage tank just before taking off in that spaceship - but I'm not seriously proposing life on Earth began like that. It's pretty much just a joke, but one that's fun to think about. :-)
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  12. #72
    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Going back too the asteroid scenario for a moment, it occurred to me that while, as the models predict weather patterns wouldn't return to 'normal' for a decade or more after the impact the worst effects would actually be in the first 18 months or so.This is because the heaviest components of the dust and ash cloud would precipitate out of the atmosphere fairly quickly. If true the effect would be an exponential decline in particulate matter with a matching return rapid movement back towards 'normality'. The last few years of the decade would still be colder than normal but not extremely so.

    This would assist any groups who could get through the first say 2 years without starving to death. So that's sort of a plus. Then on the other hand I got to thought of a potential big negative. All of those nuclear reactors spread across the globe whose cores go into meltdown when their containment shields are breached (crushed). At a guess this 'problem' might not eventuate if there was enough warning time to order shutdowns before impact. Hmmm ... lots of variables to consider.
    Last edited by Monash; 14 Apr 18, at 04:38.
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  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by Monash View Post
    Going back too the asteroid scenario for a moment, it occurred to me that while, as the models predict weather patterns wouldn't return to 'normal' for a decade or more after the impact the worst effects would actually be in the first 18 months or so.This is because the heaviest components of the dust and ash cloud would precipitate out of the atmosphere fairly quickly. If true the effect would be an exponential decline in particulate matter with a matching return rapid movement back towards 'normality'. The last few years of the decade would still be colder than normal but not extremely so.

    This would assist any groups who could get through the first say 2 years without starving to death. So that's sort of a plus. Then on the other hand I got to thought of a potential big negative. All of those nuclear reactors spread across the globe whose cores go into meltdown when their containment shields are breached (crushed). Hmmm ... lots of variables to consider.
    Actually, I think I know how aliens could seed life across the cosmos. Design an asteriod with all the materials you need to spread in the atmosphere to get the changes you want. Put that on the surface of the asteroid. Put the bacteria you want to survive in the centre of the asteroid. The impact would have spread of the materials you want into the atmosphere, causing the changes you want while the bacteria would be relatively protected and now cracked open to spread while protected from atmospheric entry and the resulting fire.

  14. #74
    Senior Contributor Monash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WABs_OOE View Post
    Actually, I think I know how aliens could seed life across the cosmos. Design an asteriod with all the materials you need to spread in the atmosphere to get the changes you want. Put that on the surface of the asteroid. Put the bacteria you want to survive in the centre of the asteroid. The impact would have spread of the materials you want into the atmosphere, causing the changes you want while the bacteria would be relatively protected and now cracked open to spread while protected from atmospheric entry and the resulting fire.
    You would have to give it some form of propulsion system together very good passive sensors and a sophisticated guidance system. This is because the asteroid will need some capacity to maneuver in order to hit the target, even if you weren't particularly worried about how long it took to get there. Otherwise the chances of hitting a target planet from thousands of light years away are so remote that it wouldn't be worth making the effort. The odds of scoring a simple, random chance hit would be in the order of trillions to one against! (You'd probably also want to include some sort of signal beacon so it could sent a 'mission successful' message just before it hit (or not as the case may be).
    Last edited by Monash; 14 Apr 18, at 07:43.
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    It's getting to the solar system that is the problem. Not hitting the planet itself. If the solar system travels a predictable path, ie didn't run into some major black holes that would alter it's course, then you can reasonably get your asterioid into the general area. After that, you can use onboard intelligence to deploy reflective surfaces to use solar winds to guide you onto target.

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