[ExI] hard science

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Wed Feb 12 05:26:44 UTC 2014

On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 6:30 PM, William Flynn Wallace
<foozler83 at gmail.com>wrote:

> Assume tens of thousands of years from now:

I would recommend 1-2 thousand at most.  That's time enough for practically
anything to happen as it is; tens of thousands is time enough for tens - at
least - of anythings to happen, each going from its own base rather than
anything that readers in the present might recognize.

> what kind of power will they be using?

That is a question with many possible answers.  What kind of power would be
convenient for your story?  Even assuming no FTL, it's quite possible for
mankind to have rearranged much matter from the asteroid belts and beyond
(possibly just the Oort Cloud, if every solid body from Neptune inward was
claimed) into a full Dyson Sphere within a couple thousand years, perhaps
with a thin slice left open to shine upon the planets' and asteroids'
orbital plane (which would still leave over 99% tapped), and ship energy
around in the form of antimatter (produced, stored, and consumed at close
enough to 100% efficiency).

Compared to certain other possibilities, that's downright tame - and easy
for an audience to relate to.  Of course, if one political entity owns the
Dyson Sphere, it also owns the chief energy production means in the solar
system.  Whether or not this is a good thing depends on your story; if it
is not, then simply have multiple political entities each controlling some

> Will they still use wires for anything? I hate wires!  What do you need to
> go wireless?  More wires.)

That's possible today - you just have to have a way to beam power and data
from point to point.  Broadcast energy is less efficient, but given the
time you're talking about, it's not much of a handwave to say that they've
found a way to focus beams to coherent enough over long distances.  Just
don't have anything get in the way - and make sure to have receivers
specially designed, since very high energy densities are weapons-grade.
(Or, again, just ship physical fuel around.)

> Alternatives to circuit boards?

"Data crystals" are an old trope in science fiction for a reason: they're
quite plausible, assuming standard interfaces.

It might be better to think in terms of what properties you want, and then
see if there's a hard-enough sci-fi way to achieve that.  E.g., data
crystals - and synthetic crystals for most computing architecture - fits
right in with the
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CrystalSpiresAndTogas motif used
in a lot of sci-fi, especially ones depicting the kind of society I suspect
you're going for.

> Assuming everything now known is digitized and so is everything from now
> to then:  how big a sphere or cube would it take to hold all of man's
> digital data?  Assuming some sort of storage in atoms/molecules/???

Less than a cubic millimeter.  Beyond that...unless you've a good plot
reason to care, it's probably best to just say "less than a cubic
millimeter", so you don't get tripped up by calculation errors.

> I will use anti-gravity and teleportation whether they are ever going to
> be feasible or not.  It's fiction, right?
> Everything else is up for grabs.

Sure.  It's your story, and there are at least guesses for how those two
might possibly be done given much better understanding and control of
quantum physics than present technology affords.
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