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Author Topic: Sci-fi getting complicated?  (Read 329 times)

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Offline Spear80Topic starter

Sci-fi getting complicated?
« on: May 20, 2018, 05:40:15 PM »
So i'm still on my sci-fi trip, reading watching, whatever i can get my hands on and something struck me the other day. Shit is getting complicated. Don't you agree?

In the old days of Sci-fi stories, you arrived on a planet, you could essentially pitch a tent near a watersource, check for anything of sufficient size to eat you within it, and you were golden. You could breath Martian and Venus air, one was colder than the other. Both potentially inhabited. (depending on the quality of the writing, by little green men or amazones) I think i recall stories where the Moon had air.

TV-shows like Star trek, did a lot of handwaving around the subject, most missions led to near earth worlds. (probably because of budget) With near human aliens living there, usually speaking accented english. Later ST shows introduced harsher worlds, but the air usually was breathable.

But then we started learning actuall stuff, and shit got real. Not every world is readymade for human life. Even in the potential habitable world zones imagined around certain stars. Keeping to Sol, Mars is cold and we can't breathe there. Venus is hot, and those vapors are not oxygen. You could probably put up domes and live there, more or less happily, just dont expect to take breath of fresh air outside of them.

So Authors/ eggheads came up with Terraforming, basically make a world livable by giving it breathable air, somehow.

Which would actually only be a start!. You'd have to introduce earthlike plantlife and the bugs that keep it alive. Pushing out the extra terrestial stuff, because that space lettuce, might fill the same niche in the realm of plantlife. But because a human didn't evolve eating it and doesn't have the ability to properly synthesize it into the nutrients we need, we could eat it all we want and still starve. Or end up unable to relief bodily waste. (for instance) So we have to bring our own ecosystem. And implement from the nutrients in the ground on up. Even on worlds with near Earth atmospheres

Gravity, we evolved in Earth gravity, i've read authors suggesting, that an increase, might make pregnancies more difficult, for mother and child.

Allergies, what if you find a perfectly earthlike world, you open your helmet, take a good breath, only to find out because it's not our pollen, we're allergic to it to the point of allergic shock. (this author was slightly better than a fanfic author, on a story writing site but what if?)

And that was just some of the ways shit got real, i haven't even started on how travelling between the stars was as easy as going from point A to B because of a special faster than light engine working very much like a rocket. But then FTL couldn't be a thing because of time dilation, time passing differently aboard the ship than on Earth, making a round trip, less feasable.

So authors/ brainiacs came up with warp-drive, jump-drive, hyperdrive, Slower than light drive, i probably missed more than a few. Some of these are point to point, others have actuall speeds or even speedlimits. Some are actually scientific theories, others not. All of them breaking the rules of theorized nature.

And then there is warfare, whether alien on human, or we continue to amuse ourselves by killing our own, in the older stories, we'd shoot lasers at each other, but weaponized lasers don't work as they were then portrayed, (pieuw pieuw) It apparently takes time for a laser to do damage and burn through. We'd throw nukes at each other like they were handgrenades, on the ground. Or as missile warheads in space. Then some authors came up with "bomb pumped lasers". (energie from the nuclear explosion goes through a lens zapping the target) They threw in shields. electronic countermeasures, point defense, kinetic bombardment, each and all adding its own level of complication to the story.


Don't get me wrong, it's not bad thing. I like it when an author takes, something the eggheads have come up with, and takes it just a little bit further. Gives it his or her own realism in his universe. And off course each and everything mentioned above, is pretty much still theory. Or can be argued being a theory only lasers are real thing, just not as imagined back in the day. And i do get a giggle about the (now) sillyness of those old stories.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2018, 11:21:46 PM »
I think this could turn out into a very academic conversation.  ::)

Quote
Gravity, we evolved in Earth gravity, i've read authors suggesting, that an increase, might make pregnancies more difficult, for mother and child.

To my knowledge, the current huge problem here is actually a decrease in gravity. Spending a long of time in micro-gravity (as during space-travel) is extremely hazardous to the human body, as it leads to the breakdown of bone and muscular tissue. I've read recently on the possibility of micro-gravity implying that your brain floats around inside the skull and knocks against it as you drift around, especially in the area of the frontal lobe. This could potentially lead to you turning into a gibbering idiot as the flight goes on. The only currently conceivable way to try and go about it involves Einstein's equivalence principle. You need an acceleration to simulate Earth's gravity field, and one possible way to do that would imply a ring-like, rotating ship, as was shown in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. However, I think it's more likely we will resort to robots for exploring/harvesting the Solar System, at least for the short and mid-term future. 

Quote
But then FTL couldn't be a thing because of time dilation, time passing differently aboard the ship than on Earth, making a round trip, less feasable.

The culprit here isn't really time dilation. What time dilation implies is that moving clocks tick slower than stationary ones, and the effect is reciprocal (i.e. for an observer present in the space ship, the Earthbound clocks will tick behind). This is just a consequence of the velocity of light in vacuum being the same in all reference frames, which in itself is just a particular example of the laws of physics being invariant to your choice of observation point. The problem is that traveling from anywhere to anywhere, even in relativistic conditions, takes an unreasonable amount of time, and transporting human beings safely for that duration is an extremely complicated problem. You are talking about prolonged exposure to micro-gravity (already discussed), cosmic radiation that is so powerful it penetrates pretty much any kind of shielding save for some humongous water tanks or lead walls that would prohibit your ship from flying in the first place, a complex life support system (that can fail in so many ways), storing supplies and so on. The closest known star is about 50 light-years away, so good luck with sending a colony ship able to survive the hazards of the Cosmos for several generations. Meanwhile, Europe still faces difficulties in landing probes on Mars. <.<

Just a few years ago, relativity theory was extended beyond the speed of light in a very simple and straightforward way. Unfortunately, this extension has remained a mathematical gimmick with little physical weight. It looks pretty nice, but it doesn't present a way to be tested and furthermore suggests that the faster than light sector is actually off-limits if you are in the slower one, so it's pretty much a no-go theory. Meanwhile, boosting anything heavier than a uranium nucleus to relativistic velocities in the real world remains a far-out dream.

These and many other things have actually made me gradually lose interest in science fiction that involves space travel. It's an excruciating problem and there isn't really a believable way around it. And assuming that you somehow make it alive and well to the end of the journey and land in a habitable new world, there's literally so much stuff that could outright kill you on your first breath that it's hardly worth discussing seriously. The future of space-exploration will involve machines (or creepy cyborgs), and it begs the question if machines capable of colonizing new worlds located light-years away have any need for baggage in the form of curious, but ultimately flawed creatures. I'm afraid that as lofty an ideal as is reaching for the stars, grasping them would require one to relinquish humanity.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2018, 02:36:37 AM »
War of the Worlds had the aliens die as they didn't develop our immune system against our bacteria like we did if you wanna add another one. ;)

Gravity's interesting, as atop of the ring build to spin and cause artificial gravity (spin too fast though and that'll wreck humans, so it has to be large and I believe off the top of my head and memory it's like 3rpm we can take), I know in realistic sizes, we could probably get a gravity the same as Luna. Bigger rings and top speeds brings better gravity.

Also, there's other Gs to consider, like thrust. Inertia and thrust actually. As a ship moves forward, Gs are created within the ship pushing toward the tail where the thrusters would be located. In take-off part of being an astronaut is being able to take higher Gs, like a fighter pilot can. So you need to deal with escape velocity Gs for the small amount of time before exiting Earth. Then we're talking about ship speed to go elsewhere, 1G is a fair speed in thrust, 9.81m/s2, though you'll wanna go faster to reach, like Mars, in a decent time. Also thrust takes up your fuel, which is why there's accel and deccel (lack of real traction in space means using half your fuel to deccelerate back down or the ship will just smash right into where you plan to go, it's basically hitting the brakes for as long as you accelerated at the start), space travel usually takes so long with us as we'd have a drift period where as we don't lose the speed accelerated due to lack of traction as mentioned, we can just stop and drift at the optimal speed for the majority of the journey, saving what little fuel the rocket has and then leaving the rest to deccelerate back to a stop (put more simply than manouvring the ship to land would be). Inertia I'll probably leave for a future post.

So yeah, the faster you get to light speed, the more time dilation happens, where as mentioned above, time in the ship moves slower than outside time. I think if you wanted to go interstellar, it'd be a one-way trip realistically and the astronauts would need psyche exams to realise if they did go back home, the people they know, the world they knew would have aged way further than them. Their children who were tiny upon leaving could well be elderly or more likely long dead when they return.

I read a manga years ago called 2001 Nights, it's a hard scifi and looks into the oddities of space travel that would actually happen. The one method used in the earlier chapters to reach and colonise another world was sending a ship out with ice at the front to protect it from acceleration and other hijinks space can give and it was filled with sperm and egg samples (as it was so far away that even with time dilation etc, you'd have to go generational ship, where the crew has kids to take over as the original crew aged and died. Genepools diluting due to small crews and tech limitations are another thing, so the sperm and egg solution makes sense). When the ship would reach it's destination, robotics would inseminate the eggs and teach the newborn colonists based on databases of Earth's history to create the new colony then shuttle them down to the world when all was ready to go down there.

Simplified a lot, though for sure will chat more on this, as this is my jam. ^___^

Oh, also last I checked, the nearest Earth-similar worlds to us were theorised to be orbiting Tau Ceti, which is 12 Light Years away. Proxima Centauri is 4 LY away, though it seems the planet thought we could jet to there is a lava world. Tau Ceti became the locale for my wander worlds setting based on that.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2018, 02:38:56 AM by wander »

Online Sain

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2018, 05:02:47 AM »
You should check out Isaac Arthur who does consultation for video games and other scifi projects to back up their science. He has some great informative videos about how things could work in the framework of our current understanding of the universe.

The modern "realistic" scifi might at parts lack the breath of fantasy that old space adventures had, but in a way I think it's still really awesome when there are authors who are ready to kick it up a notch and meticulously apply physics to everything. I think both are enjoyable in their own way ;D


Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2018, 11:47:38 AM »
For sure, I adored the late '50s and '60s Green Lantern comics, I have a love for pulp every now and then. I actually was still reading Green Lantern until recently, only reason I dropped the series was money budgeting.

The Martian is a good scifi that is very hard and still really super interesting to watch. :)

Offline Spear80Topic starter

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2018, 02:50:12 AM »
Speaking of pulp, ;) i once found a sci-fi series, that started when my dad was young and is still going now. They're issueing into the 2000's now. I never got far into it, other writings getting the better of me. But it pretty much started with Mars and Venus inhabitable. I can't tell if it "matured" as our knowledge did. Based on the titles it's pretty far out there. Anyway the bits i read were a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine, until i discovered Honor Harrinton.


As for the Martian, i both read the book and watched the movie i liked it. It seems to me as a layman to be fairly realistic. And i shudder at the nightsoil scenes. ;) What did bug me, and this as a pet peeve of mine. is that NASA is still going strong in, what was it, 2040, spending gazillions of dollars so a handfull of people can putter around on mars. Only to be sent scurrying home by a planet fart. I know its not fair, with me liking the little bits of realism that complicate things in sci-fi. But NASA, i mean,...No.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2018, 03:57:26 AM »
* wander flies a cyber-dragon to Mars.

Like a baws.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2018, 08:53:15 AM »
My issue is colonizing planets it would be far cheaper to build instead of colonizing Mars building thousands of large orbital cities with millions of people each and if say the system is at grave risk or you want to go to other star systems have these with some kind of travel system we have that's cheap to use. One had a big plate in the back of a ship and you drop nukes these moving you along to a fast speed and use the same to slow down. But an advanced dive system could work an anti-matter engine or something. Terraforming is in principle very costly and colonizing near Earth worlds should be the priority but could use some for limited colonization for rare resources perhaps. But looking at this objectively if I did a space game like Star Trek it would be largely artificial space cities, some colonies on worlds where the work is minimal to expand on them or for vital resource mining or scientific study of odd things and most habitats would be well designed modular artificial ones with defenses and the like to be tough to attack.

I think a good example of this is the Expanse they have minimal colonies and besides Mars its dedicated to things vital to the system like food production or research or mining resources but there to wouldn't a space city concept be generally better?

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 12:34:56 PM »
It's resources that really screw up space travel. People tend not to realise how fucking vast space in our own solar system is, let alone the rest of our galaxy. Anti-matter is sheer futurism to be fucking around with that also.

Basically, we must look at the facts; one say Sol will not exist and for humanity or whatever follows us to survive, we need to find a new solar system to continue our legacy, whether memetic or genetic.

Offline Shores

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2018, 09:46:38 AM »
I actually think we’re in the waning twilight of humans as a race and robots are our next evolutionary step. They have easily replaceable parts which leads to ease in space travel since they can repair themselves as they fly, harvesting from rocks and other stars. Their replicative abilities also means there’s no time limit to how far they can travel. Humans will only be able to travel for a hundred years on average currently. I personally think that we will achieve space travel before we can prolong our lives to, say, two hundred years on average.

Though one has to question where we would be today if minds like Marie Curie could have lived for two hundred years.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2018, 02:14:12 PM »
I actually think we’re in the waning twilight of humans as a race and robots are our next evolutionary step. They have easily replaceable parts which leads to ease in space travel since they can repair themselves as they fly, harvesting from rocks and other stars. Their replicative abilities also means there’s no time limit to how far they can travel. Humans will only be able to travel for a hundred years on average currently. I personally think that we will achieve space travel before we can prolong our lives to, say, two hundred years on average.

Though one has to question where we would be today if minds like Marie Curie could have lived for two hundred years.

I don't think I managed to understand what you meant by the highlighted section. I'm fairly certain that currently, any human space traveler would die of some aggressive form of space cancer long before getting to a place as close as Mars. There's a stupid amount of high energy radiation outside of our magnetosphere, most of it coming from the Sun. If it wasn't for Earth's magnetic field, the planet would have remained a sterile wasteland. If a peak in solar activity or some freak mass ejection catches you out there (and it's pretty much unavoidable on a journey as long as the one towards Mars), you're basically roasted. Some years ago I had the chance to address this issue with someone that was actually competent in space-travel problems and not just shrugging opinions like me, and the answer was something like "yes, that's a problem but I'm confident we'll figure something out eventually".

Otherwise, I completely agree about machines being the future and taking over. Maybe not like The Terminator, but I think it's an inescapable reality. They'll be better & cheaper than humans. A weird closure to Darwinism.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2018, 02:29:06 PM »
Surely we have the tech currently for radiation shielding? Over time sure, radiation build-up could still be an issue, though honestly I think reaching Mars is more an issue of resource management and fuel constraints. Fairly sure a trip won't take a century if we had unlimited funds to build a vessel for it, though with fuel space being a thing for accel/deccel, we need to also consider space for food and water for the crew and that means a larger vessel and as such a need for more fuel to get there in a workable amount of time for the food and drink to not run out before getting there. That's before we get into the psychological affects of going months in space with the minimum sized crew to make resources last.

Online Sain

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2018, 02:34:51 PM »
Radiation shielding might be difficult to make. You need a crazy strong magnetic field or a lot of mass. From what I understand it would be a better idea to try of course make as good shielding as you can, but also try get enough augmentation going with gene-engineering and such that you could counteract the harmful effects of it.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2018, 02:49:18 PM »
Surely we have the tech currently for radiation shielding?

Well, we do. The problem is that encasing your ship in a lead sarcophagus (pretty much the only thing that can potentially dampen such high amounts of radiation) doesn't really leave it in a space-worthy state.  ::)

Maybe you could have some kind of inner bunker where the crew can retreat, to venture out only when needed. Though cramping humans together in such tight quarters for a long duration is not exactly pleasant either.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2018, 03:35:48 PM »
I'm personally skeptical about the whole 'we'll invent sapient machines who will take over everything', mostly because there's still so little we actually understand about the human brain. Until we can fully grasp the biological original, I doubt we'll have any success towards creating a synthetic replica, and that will be a very long time from now. Over-automation of our society and technology does come with risks, but I think they're more concentrated on the human end - i.e., cybersecurity to protect automated systems from human-directed malicious action - rather than the autonomous systems themselves being a threat.

As far as radiation shielding, one idea I see pop up sometimes in sci-fi is a water cap; stick a big reservoir of water at one end of your ship (generally the front, because that is where particle density is highest) and it makes a phenomenally effective barrier against radiation coming from that direction. Sure, that water probably won't be directly drinkable unless you want all of the cancers, but it's still reaction mass and/or a source of oxygen.

Offline midnightblack

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2018, 01:24:07 AM »
It won't happen tomorrow, that's for certain, but sapient machines will probably arrive sooner than reliable, long-term space-travel for human beings. Though, you do have a point, so maybe hostile cyborgs would be a more reasonable expectation.  :P

Regarding water tanks, I've heard of that idea as well. You'll need a lot of it to begin with. Containing it in a safe manner is probably not the biggest issue, though I'm not sure if it doesn't make it harder to steer the ship if it keeps throttling about at the front.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2018, 06:28:43 AM »
I saw thick ice as a cover for that, though it'd need to be a fair thickness to not melt in exiting/entering the atmosphere in escape velocity.

Offline Spear80Topic starter

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2018, 02:29:58 AM »
They probably don't enter the atmosphere with the iceshield in place. I doubt a ship of any real size will ever enter an atmosphere if it can avoid it. Until anti gravity is a thing. And even then it's going to be power consuming like frak.


But depressing as you lot are ;),  it seems those authors haven't even started complicating my beloved sci-fi. I get why they often skip the hard scrabble NASA years and start with a proper mode of interstellar drive. Dropping hints in their future histories about briljant scientists that developed said stardrive. Or initial sleeper ship colonisation. And the robot wars. I think i like it better that way. Just complicated enough, with the hard part long forgotten. :P

Offline Shores

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #18 on: May 29, 2018, 05:22:42 AM »
Our lifespan is only a hundred years currently, so we'll only be able to travel for a hundred years in whichever direction in space we choose to go, even after we solve all the other problems like radiation, gravity bone loss, lack of sunlight driving people insane, etc. Unless we figure out a way to stop our DNA loss, it's better to focus on robots exploring space for us. It'll be easier to sustain a robot in space than a human.

Online Sain

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #19 on: May 29, 2018, 08:56:32 AM »
Well it's probably not reasonable to assume we'd be sending anything out there beyond our solar system before we properly colonize our own. It'd be easier to build cylindrical rotating habitats with just mass to absorb the radiation and make those livable than change a whole planet or try adapt them. There's also quite a lot of raw materials and free energy (sun) in our own solar system so it'd be more economic to fully wrestle those under control before anything other than those robotic probes.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #20 on: May 29, 2018, 10:58:34 AM »
Our lifespan is only a hundred years currently, so we'll only be able to travel for a hundred years in whichever direction in space we choose to go, even after we solve all the other problems like radiation, gravity bone loss, lack of sunlight driving people insane, etc. Unless we figure out a way to stop our DNA loss, it's better to focus on robots exploring space for us. It'll be easier to sustain a robot in space than a human.

On average the human life span is a little less, though my great grandmother lived to 105. Anyways, you're not taking into consideration a Generational Ship, where the original crew has children who are taught to take over the roles of the originals and generations of crews are born and raised and die in the ship until the destination is reached.

The only issue that's pretty obvious with a Generational Ship will be genepool size. It'd be okay for a short journey of around a century, though the longer it's left, the smaller the genepool gets.

Offline Shores

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #21 on: May 29, 2018, 11:10:27 AM »
I personally think it's unethical to have a generational ship, since the children born on it will not have a choice in whether they are colonists or earthians. It will also be difficult to convince the first woman to conceive, bear, and give birth to a child in a spaceship. Much like other medical and psychological experiments which are not carried out due to ethics. I think that this idea will not have people in favour of it until the earth is in serious danger.

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #22 on: May 29, 2018, 11:15:39 AM »
I personally think it's unethical to have a generational ship, since the children born on it will not have a choice in whether they are colonists or earthians. It will also be difficult to convince the first woman to conceive, bear, and give birth to a child in a spaceship. Much like other medical and psychological experiments which are not carried out due to ethics. I think that this idea will not have people in favour of it until the earth is in serious danger.

No more unethical than it was for settlers to travel to America from England, or similar long-distance colonizations, during the Age of Sail (leaving out Australia, which was involuntary to begin with). As far as convincing women to go, I can't see what is the least bit unethical about that, as long as it is convincing and not compelling; there will always need to be pioneers, and pioneering new frontiers will always be dangerous for the first generations to attempt it. I suspect there's far more people who would be willing to embark on such a journey than you do, if it was practical to do so, and I think you'd hope that to be true as well. Otherwise, humanity is pretty much doomed to extinction because if you wait until the planet is in crisis to attempt some sort of exodus, you won't have the resources or time to do it properly and work out the inevitable glitches.

Offline wander

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Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #23 on: May 29, 2018, 12:29:57 PM »
This is also as far as I was saying, assuming that the crew would have couples aboard, rather than... 'breeders' there purely for that. Like every person there is trained at what they do and happen to already be together beforehand. It'd be too risky to assume people would hook up onboard mid-journey for the original generation.

Online Sain

Re: Sci-fi getting complicated?
« Reply #24 on: May 29, 2018, 12:39:51 PM »
This is also as far as I was saying, assuming that the crew would have couples aboard, rather than... 'breeders' there purely for that. Like every person there is trained at what they do and happen to already be together beforehand. It'd be too risky to assume people would hook up onboard mid-journey for the original generation.

For sake of mental health it would be better to have them already be balanced couples who can take care of children and each other in such difficult circumstances. Likely would need very very heavy psychological vetting before picking which couples get to go.