[extropy-chat] FW: The Drake Equation and Spatial Proximity

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Oct 24 07:09:34 UTC 2006

On Mon, Oct 23, 2006 at 05:11:22PM -0400, Rik van Riel wrote:

> Personally I suspect we might end up crossing the void between
> stars very very slowly, in much the same way human civilization
> crossed the pacific ocean in small boats and canoes.

Recipe: take a couple of asteroids. Infect them with a self-replicating
factory, which processes them into gossamer-thin photovoltaics platforms,
which double as phased-array capable microwave radiators. Steer them
(photonic pressure and directed radiation is good enough) into a
an assembly with sufficient aperture. Span a large carbon truss sail in
front of a small probe. Fire the phased array, heating the gray
sail to several kK. Watch the probe accelerate at several g as long
as you can track it with your phased array radiator. At 1 g, it would
take you about one year.
> "All we need to do" is get a diverse enough set of human
> populations in asteroid belt space stations and give them the
> means to expand and build more stations.

That's certainly an option, but such expansion is static
in comparison to a solid state culture.
> Population pressure should ensure people migrate out to the
> Jupiter trojans, and eventually further out into the kuiper
> belt.  Hopefully humanity will survive enough for the sun to
> have a run-in with another star along the galactical orbit,
> and get some of the human stations pulled out of their orbits.
> A few of those might make it to other stars.

Canned monkeys, to the stars? Seems quite absurd. It could be
done, in theory. But what would be the point? Machines will
have colonized the next star system before you could launch
some megatons or gigatons at a leisurly crawl.
> Even this scenario seems far-fetched enough to me to be
> science fiction.  It might even make a nice story for some
> of the writers here...
> As for relativistic travel - that's even more far-fetched IMHO.
> I can't deny I would like to see it, though :)

Relativistic travel is easy, when you're sending small craft
(a kg-ton is a small craft) and leave the drive (a star, for
instance) at home. Braking is more tricky, especially over
large distances, where sacrificial sails won't work.

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
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