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  #51  
Old Jan 31st 2013, 12:01 AM
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I was only suggesting that warp-speeds might become available several centuries in the future (or not at all, who knows?).

That being said, if humans were to build a starship to traverse a worm hole located out somewhere around Jupiter, we wouldn't want the trip to Jupiter to take three freakin' years.
That might nevertheless be the case no matter what technology becomes available. Whether one uses wormholes or FTL or anything fancy, it would never be a good idea to use it close to a gravitational source, i.e. planets, stars, etc. Many SF novels do take that into account, even the ones that 'jump' around.

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That would indeed be handy, but perhaps a bit unrealistic?
Probably, possibly, who knows ? Personally I don't think they can exist at all, naturally or artificially. But there's no novel without something to get around.

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As long as there are some wormholes, that should be at least sufficient, given the size/scale of the galaxy, to find linkages to some good planets.

Indeed, it might be interesting if wormholes came in slightly different varieties - meaning that some would be wonderfully useful because they are so huge and stable, while some other ones might be a bit smaller or less stable and therefore much more dangerous.
That makes sense, planets and stars come in all sizes too. The biggest stars are unimaginably bigger than our silly little Sun.

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Speaking of which, I'm sure I'll read up about it, but for wormholes to be truly useful for interstellar travel, one has to have the possibility of TWO wormholes in a system, otherwise one just gets a single bridge between two solar systems where one can go only back and forth. I'd like to be able to go through wormhole #1 to solar system A and then through wormhole #2 to get to solar system B and so on.
You want a Wormhole Subway System
But yeah, not much use for just pairs of connected stars. OK, Wanted: an astronomical reason for having a few [0->5] wormholes per stellar system.
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Old Jan 31st 2013, 04:11 AM
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Another alternative, and one that would get rid of the whole interstellar problem thing entirely, is forget about wormholes and warp tech and just hypothesize that we get really good at terraforming over the next few centuries. Instead of finding "earthlike" planets around other stars, we turn the Moon, Mars, the moons of Jupiter, and who knows what else into bodies capable of comfortable supporting life from earth.
I thought Jupiter was a gas giant. Speaking of which, I had bean burritos for lunch.
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Old Jan 31st 2013, 07:34 PM
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I thought Jupiter was a gas giant. Speaking of which, I had bean burritos for lunch.
Jupiter is a gas giant. But it has a bunch of very nice moons.
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Old Jan 31st 2013, 07:39 PM
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That might nevertheless be the case no matter what technology becomes available. Whether one uses wormholes or FTL or anything fancy, it would never be a good idea to use it close to a gravitational source, i.e. planets, stars, etc. Many SF novels do take that into account, even the ones that 'jump' around.
Yes, I understand that. But most sci-fi on movies/tv always jump directly into orbits around planets which seems odd.

Btw, if there are any wormholes in our solar system, I'd expect they'd be located out there beyond Pluto somewhere.

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Probably, possibly, who knows ? Personally I don't think they can exist at all, naturally or artificially. But there's no novel without something to get around.
Indeed. Can't have a space opera without some way to fly around in space.

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That makes sense, planets and stars come in all sizes too. The biggest stars are unimaginably bigger than our silly little Sun.
Makes for a potential plot device too - and suspense as the ship carrying our hero heads for the unstable smallish wormhole in desperation...

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You want a Wormhole Subway System
But yeah, not much use for just pairs of connected stars. OK, Wanted: an astronomical reason for having a few [0->5] wormholes per stellar system.
Well, how else could one use wormholes to get anywhere?
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Old Feb 2nd 2013, 01:23 AM
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Default Re: Future Science & Technology

Not much news here. I've been reading tons of papers on wormholes but it's all either very technical or very speculative. There isn't really anything that compels stellar systems to have them which is logical because a theory of stellar formation only has to include what has been observed (Occam and all that).
The book by Kip Thorne I advised earlier might be the best but it's not the most recent 'standard' work. That would be Lorentzian wormholes by Matt Visser. I haven't got or read it but from the description it's safe to say that it's hard core. A book that "appeals to the general reader as well as the specialist" means it's replete with high level mathematics.

Two things are certain though;

They can't be close to the center of a stellar system, more specifically they have to be well outside of the orbits of the gas giants. Two of the reasons are that they would have been observed here on Earth and more importantly they would mess up the planetary continuity, i.e. they would cause planets to either fall into the sun or be thrown out of orbit into interstellar space.

They are spherical and not two-dimensional. Apparently some fiction portrays them as such but that's topologically impossible.

String theory has a nice possibility that allows them to exist without weird stuff such as exotic matter to keep them open or without the need for ginormous amounts of energy. More about that later.
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  #56  
Old Feb 2nd 2013, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Not much news here. I've been reading tons of papers on wormholes but it's all either very technical or very speculative. There isn't really anything that compels stellar systems to have them which is logical because a theory of stellar formation only has to include what has been observed (Occam and all that).
I too have been reading a few things about wormholes and Einstein-Rosen Bridges, exotic matter and negative energy, as well as Lorentzian and Schwarzschild wormholes, not to mention Raychaudhuri's theorem.

This shit makes my head spin. It is all esoteric, mysterious and speculative.

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The book by Kip Thorne I advised earlier might be the best but it's not the most recent 'standard' work. That would be Lorentzian wormholes by Matt Visser. I haven't got or read it but from the description it's safe to say that it's hard core. A book that "appeals to the general reader as well as the specialist" means it's replete with high level mathematics.
Oh good - 'hard core physics'

As if the basic beginner/intro Wikipedia article on wormholes wasn't completely incomprehensible to begin with!

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Two things are certain though;

They can't be close to the center of a stellar system, more specifically they have to be well outside of the orbits of the gas giants. Two of the reasons are that they would have been observed here on Earth and more importantly they would mess up the planetary continuity, i.e. they would cause planets to either fall into the sun or be thrown out of orbit into interstellar space.
Yes, this is something that always bothered me about Star Trek, Battlestar Galactic and Dune (etc) - and that's the way these space ships do their warp-jump-fold thing right into and out of planetary orbits. Given what little I know of astrophysics, the pull of planetary and/or solar gravity fields is a big issue and that ought to make that kind of thing particularly difficult or dangerous. It would make more sense if something like warp-jumping is possible, it would likely have to be done some distance away, necessitating the ship to fly at some sub-warp speed across the solar system to reach a planetary orbit - or to fly far enough away from planetary or solar orbits to make the jump.

Same thing with wormholes - if they existed, they ought to be out there on the fringes far beyond Pluto's orbit. I'm just using layman's logic here.

One amusing thought about using 'traversable wormholes' is that if the idea of a wormhole 'subway system' isn't plausible, then we'd end up with the idea that wormholes were as rare as 'earth-like' planets. That is to say, they are out there, but not very common. In that case, it might be easier to get to go back and forth between here and some star system in another galaxy than it is to go from here to Alpha Centauri (only 4 light years away from Earth).

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They are spherical and not two-dimensional. Apparently some fiction portrays them as such but that's topologically impossible.

String theory has a nice possibility that allows them to exist without weird stuff such as exotic matter to keep them open or without the need for ginormous amounts of energy. More about that later.
Yes, I saw mention of that possibility.

One idea that caught my attention for sci-fi writing purposes was the idea of the Alcubierre drive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

It almost sounds like the idea here is to create your own wormhole. And that sounds like an idea that one might build a sci-fi spaceship with that could go 'jumping' around the galaxy with.

Maybe using 'Tachyon engines' (or dylithium crystals?).
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  #57  
Old Feb 3rd 2013, 10:47 PM
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I too have been reading a few things about wormholes and Einstein-Rosen Bridges, exotic matter and negative energy, as well as Lorentzian and Schwarzschild wormholes, not to mention Raychaudhuri's theorem.

This shit makes my head spin. It is all esoteric, mysterious and speculative.

Oh good - 'hard core physics'

As if the basic beginner/intro Wikipedia article on wormholes wasn't completely incomprehensible to begin with!
Wiki ? That's for school children

Just kidding, it's fun stuff, isn't it ? I've been reading that shit for three decades and I still don't understand half of it. I remember I had to read the chapter on the Higgs field in Alan Guth's The Inflationary Universe three times at least before the penny finally dropped. And that's a general reading book.
I used to mess with the maths too but if there's one thing I hate about getting old(er) it's that maths become far more difficult if not impossible with age

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Yes, this is something that always bothered me about Star Trek, Battlestar Galactic and Dune (etc) - and that's the way these space ships do their warp-jump-fold thing right into and out of planetary orbits. Given what little I know of astrophysics, the pull of planetary and/or solar gravity fields is a big issue and that ought to make that kind of thing particularly difficult or dangerous. It would make more sense if something like warp-jumping is possible, it would likely have to be done some distance away, necessitating the ship to fly at some sub-warp speed across the solar system to reach a planetary orbit - or to fly far enough away from planetary or solar orbits to make the jump.
There's a more down to earth reason for it too. Even in a future setting, a big ass military space ship would be a priceless asset much in the same way an aircraft carrier is today. One does not do silly things with those when it takes ten years to replace one. Some of the stunts pulled in popular SF movies with such ships are the equivalent of using said aircraft carrier for mine sweeping or to hunt a submarine pack. That just doesn't happen, it's why there are destroyers and mine sweepers, i.e. much smaller, flexible and in the end more expendable ships. A major ship would only jump well established, tested and safe wormholes. The fun, crazy and risky stuff is for small vessels.

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Same thing with wormholes - if they existed, they ought to be out there on the fringes far beyond Pluto's orbit. I'm just using layman's logic here.

One amusing thought about using 'traversable wormholes' is that if the idea of a wormhole 'subway system' isn't plausible, then we'd end up with the idea that wormholes were as rare as 'earth-like' planets. That is to say, they are out there, but not very common. In that case, it might be easier to get to go back and forth between here and some star system in another galaxy than it is to go from here to Alpha Centauri (only 4 light years away from Earth).
You make an important observation there concerning an issue I have with how authors mostly present wormholes. They consider the 'bridge' between the two mouths of the wormhole as existing in something called hyperspace. But there is NOTHING in any relevant theory (relativity, quantum physics) that indicates such a spooky extra dimension exists. The extra dimensions in string theory cannot serve that purpose either since they are rolled up on the Planck scale (I'm going to start using technical terms liberally now ).

Furthermore, there is no compelling reason for supposing the existence of hyperspace. The equations that describe wormholes (e.g. ) don't have that property of needing an extra dimension. They're just set in normal, albeit extremely curved space.

What's more, IF wormholes went through this hypothetical hyperspace then there would be no reason at all for the mouths to be close together in normal space. For a galactic empire it would be pretty useless to have a network of wormholes that connect a number of dots billions of light years separate from each other in normal space.

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Yes, I saw mention of that possibility.
There's a problem with those too in relation to plausibility. Since they are pre-inflation objects their dispersion is random vis--vis galactic distribution meaning that 99.999...% of them would be no where near a galaxy, let alone near a star system. They'd just be sitting uselessly out there in intergalactic space. Not very useful either.

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One idea that caught my attention for sci-fi writing purposes was the idea of the Alcubierre drive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

It almost sounds like the idea here is to create your own wormhole. And that sounds like an idea that one might build a sci-fi spaceship with that could go 'jumping' around the galaxy with.
I remember when that idea for some weird reason suddenly hit the mainstream media a few years ago (2007-8 ? ). Of course it was presented as if just the right screwdriver and a decent hammer were all what was needed to get this thing on the road. Fact is that nobody has even the beginning of a clue how to 'fold space' in front of you.
But that doesn't mean you can't use it. You don't have to make a full technical explanation for anything in a novel. It only has to be plausible, not provable.

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Maybe using 'Tachyon engines' (or dylithium crystals?).
If I were you, I'd make a visit to this place:
http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/AALibrary/
Not only do they have a marvelous library (I found out about this place when my library book search thingy gave this address for Matt Visser's book being available ) but you're sure to find some people there that are more knowledgeable than either of us and might like the idea of guiding an budding author in this aspect. (If you go, do me a favour and ask about hyperspace. That's been bugging me for ten years )
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Old Feb 4th 2013, 08:36 PM
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There's a more down to earth reason for it too. Even in a future setting, a big ass military space ship would be a priceless asset much in the same way an aircraft carrier is today. One does not do silly things with those when it takes ten years to replace one. Some of the stunts pulled in popular SF movies with such ships are the equivalent of using said aircraft carrier for mine sweeping or to hunt a submarine pack. That just doesn't happen, it's why there are destroyers and mine sweepers, i.e. much smaller, flexible and in the end more expendable ships. A major ship would only jump well established, tested and safe wormholes. The fun, crazy and risky stuff is for small vessels.
Indeed. Any starship built would probably be 10x or 100x larger and more expensive investment than a mere aircraft carrier. They would be extremely valuable assets that wouldn't be risked for anything but an alien attack against Earth.

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You make an important observation there concerning an issue I have with how authors mostly present wormholes. They consider the 'bridge' between the two mouths of the wormhole as existing in something called hyperspace. But there is NOTHING in any relevant theory (relativity, quantum physics) that indicates such a spooky extra dimension exists. The extra dimensions in string theory cannot serve that purpose either since they are rolled up on the Planck scale (I'm going to start using technical terms liberally now ).

Furthermore, there is no compelling reason for supposing the existence of hyperspace. The equations that describe wormholes (e.g. ) don't have that property of needing an extra dimension. They're just set in normal, albeit extremely curved space.

What's more, IF wormholes went through this hypothetical hyperspace then there would be no reason at all for the mouths to be close together in normal space. For a galactic empire it would be pretty useless to have a network of wormholes that connect a number of dots billions of light years separate from each other in normal space.


There's a problem with those too in relation to plausibility. Since they are pre-inflation objects their dispersion is random vis--vis galactic distribution meaning that 99.999...% of them would be no where near a galaxy, let alone near a star system. They'd just be sitting uselessly out there in intergalactic space. Not very useful either.
This is the problem with using wormholes for sci-fi planet travelling - they just aren't likely to be enough of them in the right places.

(sidenote: my favorite space-strategy game is called Space Empires and they use wormholes to jump from one star system to the next. There are anywhere from 1-5 wormholes per star system. In other words, wormholes would have to be more numerous than stars (and that just isn't probable or even possible).

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I remember when that idea for some weird reason suddenly hit the mainstream media a few years ago (2007-8 ? ). Of course it was presented as if just the right screwdriver and a decent hammer were all what was needed to get this thing on the road. Fact is that nobody has even the beginning of a clue how to 'fold space' in front of you.
But that doesn't mean you can't use it. You don't have to make a full technical explanation for anything in a novel. It only has to be plausible, not provable.
Yes, that's true. I just want to work with something that isn't outlandishly absurd. So many sci-fi books seem to make space travel so easy and convienient like terrestrial airlines which just doesn't seem very realistic.

Hell, even my favorite Sci-fi series (Dune) has one planet exporting rice! Seriously, exporting rice via space ships to another planet? That just can't be profitable.

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If I were you, I'd make a visit to this place:
http://www.astro.utoronto.ca/AALibrary/
Not only do they have a marvelous library (I found out about this place when my library book search thingy gave this address for Matt Visser's book being available ) but you're sure to find some people there that are more knowledgeable than either of us and might like the idea of guiding an budding author in this aspect. (If you go, do me a favour and ask about hyperspace. That's been bugging me for ten years )
Yes, it is good to live in a city with a major world-class university.
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  #59  
Old Feb 8th 2013, 09:19 PM
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For anyone who is interested, here is my 'brief' outline of future history that I intend to use as a base for setting a sci-fi novel. The one angle of sci-fi that interests me the most is the idea of humans looking for, finding and colonizing new planets - and how to deal with what we find out there. So that's my real focus point in this project. I'm also interested in the way new technology impacts the socio-economic, cultural and political elements of society.

As I've already mentioned above, I also like to have my sci-fi to be 'quasi-realistic', but the very nature of the process presupposes the advent of a whole lot of future technologies. One other idea I'm interested in exploring is the 'rare earth' theory - the idea that the multiple conditions of many elements that make up earth's 'ideal' life-supporting function are likely to be a rare combination (not unique, just rare).

For anyone unfamiliar with the details of this theory, the planet earth has an even and stable orbit around a nice lonely and long living yellow star full of metals, at just the right orbital distance to receive just the right amount of heat energy, with a nice thick atmosphere filled with a particular percentage of oxygen and nitrogen, with an iron-core and sufficient mass to create its own magnetic field, and large enough to have active plate tectonics (to release gases from under the crust and generally stir things up), with just the right axial tilt to create a seasonal weather pattern that is a useful spur to evolutionary development and the planet is just the right size and spins at just the right rate to produce a nice balance of night/day, annual cycle time and a modest level of gravity. And the balance between the distance of the sun, the thickness and composition of the atmosphere produces an approximate average temperature range that humans can live in. And of course, lots of liquid water. Based on earth evidence, this combination can theoretically produce (or sustain) lifeforms. I'm probably missing a few more items, but the essential point is that ideal-life-supporting planets are likely to be fairly rare (relatively speaking).

Anyway, here's my 'working' outline of future history

21st
- development of private market interests on a scale and scope of traditional national space programs
- development of nuclear fusion technology
- continued deteriorating climatic (and socio-political) conditions on earth
- continued unmanned space probes sent to explore our solar system and the planets in it
- continued development of microelectronics, software, AI and robotics
- continued development of medical and biosciences, artificial body parts, genetics, DNA screening
- continued development of transnational corporations and global government initiatives (UN)
- some trace evidence of ancient/extinct microbial life on mars is discovered

22nd
- development/testing of 'space elevators', astroid or lunar mining and orbital platforms
- Mars surface research station established
- development of unmanned space probes sent to explore our nearest solar neighbors (Alpha Centuri)

23rd
- construction of large rotating orbital stations as human living space (Stanford Torus)
- supported by astroid and/or lunar mining facilities
- space elevators connect earth surface to LOE docking stations
- deployment of military robotics (battledroids) dominate the battlefield on earth and in space
- an unmanned space probe launched from earth unexpectedly finds a wormhole way out there
- development of robotic space probes to explore the wormhole

24th
- robot probes are followed by manned ships, while a couple more wormholes are discovered
- a couple of planets are found that can/do support life, but far from ideal
- planets are many hundreds of light years away from earth
- orbital stations around earth get larger and larger (cities in the sky)
- first experimental colony-research stations are established on new planets

25th
- continued exploration of wormholes and new star systems
- wormholes are fairly rare things - some of them are too small or unstable
- first real extra-stellar planetary colonies established (not just research stations)
- fascism with robot battledroids dominates earth (elites moving to orbit/colonies, poor stuck on planet)
- earth starting to get very 'Blade Runner-ish'

26th
- development of some type of alcubierre-like drive that would enable interstellar 'warp-jumping' by creating its own wormhole - this leads to a huge new wave of exploring star systems, planetary mapping expeditions and new planetary colonies

27th
- fascist government on earth gets taken over (completely) by the AI system
- rebellion/war against the machines (cyborgs vs battledroids)

28th
- humans defeat the machines, but at a horrible cost - AI/robots use nukes - earth is a mess
- result of the war is no more computers or smart robots (and lots of mutants)
- new schools established to teach/create math/memory training to substitute for computers (mentats or perhaps a cyborg)

29th-30th
- human society slowly begins to recover from the damages of the war against the machines

31st
- human explorers discover an advanced lifeform - and they are nasty
- this requires a long backstory, but it ties in to a human-launched deep space probe from the 22nd century that fell through a small and unstable wormhole and disappeared (presumed lost). It actually landed (relatively intact) on an ideal type planet with a complex ecosystem and an advanced sentient lifeform (lizard-like) - sparking scientific development of space travel and robotics (seeded by the same AI system that the humans went to war against).

* * *

So, that's the basic historical outline. No doubt there is lots of stuff that needs to be added and fleshed out. I plan to focus on the 24th century period, then the 26th and then the 31st century, since those are the key points where the ethics/philosophy stuff becomes very poignant.

Anyone have any comments, suggestions, ideas or criticisms, please feel free. I'm not trying to write a history of human society, but I do need a decent background setting for my spaceships to 'boldly go where no one has gone before...'

Essentially, my theme is a warning against utopias and the danger of unintended consequences of seemingly innocent acts.
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  #60  
Old Feb 8th 2013, 11:11 PM
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As mentioned colonization of planets (normally for desired mineral and exotic resources) was by far the most common theme when I was addicted to science fiction writing. Endless variations with inevitable central themes of capitalism, power and independents. With your proposed time span I'd think setting the initial scene to define desired progression will be the major challenge.
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