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Thread: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

  1. #21
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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by jerryzambrano View Post
    Nice question.

    However, there are other schools of thought (In the Sci-Fi world) that a new or fresh start on a distant planet would only encourage the rapid development of civilization as well as exceeding our previous understanding of it.

    J.
    I don't know, have you watched "Firefly" lately? Plenty of em' live like they did in the 1850's, not all Hi-Tech like StarWars. Tech might be hard to come by on some of the outer planets, an ax and a gun might be your tools of choice in them parts, not a laptop and a phaser.
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  2. #22
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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    The chances of a distant planet being able to support human life without an already advanced technology are vanishingly small. Even if there's life already present, it would be life that evolved from scratch to be fine-tuned to that planet's conditions, and with enough degrees of freedom so that it's very likely quite different from our own biology in a chemical sense. It would have a different suite of proteins and amino acids, different sugars and fats, and quite possibly different nucleic acids (if indeed it even uses anything like DNA or RNA at all). It's not likely that we'd be able to eat it. It's also not likely that we'd be able to breathe the atmosphere. Even if there's oxygen, there might be a lot of other gases present that we don't handle well, but life on that planet does.

    Similarly, alien invasion movies notwithstanding, life evolved on a different planet would probably have the same kind of issues with Earth.

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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    ruh roh... the roaches are going cyborg.

  4. #24
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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    The chances of a distant planet being able to support human life without an already advanced technology are vanishingly small. Even if there's life already present, it would be life that evolved from scratch to be fine-tuned to that planet's conditions, and with enough degrees of freedom so that it's very likely quite different from our own biology in a chemical sense. It would have a different suite of proteins and amino acids, different sugars and fats, and quite possibly different nucleic acids (if indeed it even uses anything like DNA or RNA at all). It's not likely that we'd be able to eat it. It's also not likely that we'd be able to breathe the atmosphere. Even if there's oxygen, there might be a lot of other gases present that we don't handle well, but life on that planet does.
    Firefly has an out due to a totally unexplained, rapid, and very effective terraforming technology that's somehow easier than the next steps of building local infrastructure and cities. But yeah, that's not a thing that could happen in reality.
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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    I suspect that in reality if humans ever do reach vaguely habitable worlds it'll be far easier and cheaper to solve the problem by manipulating our own biology to suit the new environment than any kind of mega-expensive planetwide geoengineering projects.

    Better to modify ourselves to suit the new planet than try and modify and entire planet to suit us. At the very least some modifications for different gravity would seem the minimum, even if we were going to live in bubbles.

    To my mind, if you're going to live in bubbles why bother doing it on a planet anyway? If we ever develop the technology to colonise the surface of an alien planet we would have developed the technology for permanent colonies in space long before. So why bother with the planets at all?

  6. #26
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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    You're singin' my song. I've been advocating for a long time that our future evolution and success lies among the water-rich asteroids and comets, not the surface of planets.

    Asteroids and comets contain every element, and most compounds, essential to life. Those compounds they don't have can be synthesized easily. Their resources are accessible -- since they haven't undergone differentiation, their iron and precious metals will be mixed in with their carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. In addition, much of this material will be reduced rather than oxidized, making processing easier. Very low gravity wells means that very little energy will be required to either arrive or depart -- goods manufactured there can be shipped elsewhere easily. (I didn't say shipment would be fast, only that it would be easy).

    In order for all this to work, we'll need an economical and portable energy supply, almost certainly nuclear fusion. If we get that, our colonies/habitats will be self-sustaining, and we'll not only be able to exploit the asteroid belt, the Kuiper belt, and the Oort cloud, but we'll be able to easily slide out to the Oort clouds of nearby stars. Our descendants will not only be independent of Earth, they may forget they even originated there.

    If we don't develop fusion successfully, we won't be going anywhere.

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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    Exactly. For a space-faring civilisation, planets are the absolute worst places to visit. The gravity wells are just too big, making it obscenely expensive to go down or come up from them. Whatever it was down on the surface that you wanted would have to be something that couldn't be reached more cheaply and easily in space.

    It's like they say, once you reach low Earth orbit you're half way to anywhere. So why would you put yourself right back at the bottom of that hole?

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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    Which is the real answer to Fermi's Paradox. The Alien's haven't visited us, because there's absolutely no advantage to them in doing so. It will be interesting to explore a few comets and see if they show any evidence of having been quarried.

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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    Quote Originally Posted by llanitedave View Post
    Which is the real answer to Fermi's Paradox. The Alien's haven't visited us, because there's absolutely no advantage to them in doing so. It will be interesting to explore a few comets and see if they show any evidence of having been quarried.
    Indeed, I'm also highly sceptical of the sci-fi vision of spacefaring civilisations flitting about between planets orbiting different suns. Since it seems like faster than light travel is in fact impossible and therefore long-distance interstellar travel is impractical I doubt we'll ever make physical contact with another species, especially when it's so much cheaper and easier to just send a beam of data.

    Non-terrestrial habitats would have implications for SETI, but we mainly focus our gaze on stars not planets at present, and I think it's a reasonable assumption that most civilisations will still be clustered around stars (if only becuase that's where most of the interesting and useful stuff is in the universe). So we should pick up transmissions from ET if they were still reasonably close to the star we were listening to.

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    Re: "After Earth" - what would the world look like?

    I agree that civilizations would be concentrated near stars, even if they aren't planet-based. That's still where the resources are. It's likely to be a lot easier to find comet and asteroid-sized bodies orbiting a star than floating freely in space, even if there do happen to be trillions of "unaffiliated" small bodies.

    Thing is, though, they'd be orbiting at a fairly large distance from that star, so you wouldn't have to dip too far into the gravity well. And since most stars are red and orange dwarfs, you can gain access to the great majority of the galaxy's resources without getting close to the radiation from the really energetic stars.

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