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starship-design: My two cents (was Re: Battleship Galactica?)

L. Parker wrote:

> We had already discussed this somewhat. Any first probe of a system will
> likely be a high speed flyby of an unmanned robot that is so small it won't
> be easy to detect. 

An advanced civilization could easily detect a probe of this kind.

> This is less for our benefit than it is for the benefit
> of the inhabitants. We may not want to make our presence known to them
> irregardless of their tech base, or aggressiveness. Plus, there is no need
> to send a manned colony ship (expensive) type of explorer to an empty
> system.
> As to "stumbling" into a system full of aggressive xenos, it isn't likely
> to happen for the following reasons:
> 1)      Any race capable of causing us significant damage is detectable at
> interstellar distances

Most SETI researchers say this, but one must take into account the
possibility that they perform 'signal cleansing' and covert
communication with their colonies. Or they may use transmission types we
cannot detect with our current radio telescopes/maser detectors
(interference transmissions, non-omnidirectional radio transmission,
tachyons, etc.) Note to physicists: Don't repeat the causality-problems
with tachyons. Sagan, Drake, Orgel, Kardashev, et al have speculate on
this. I think I can too. 

> 2)      No races have been detected in our local region of the galaxy - we've
> looked.

Actually, they may have been. The random, non-repeating signals that
could be of artificial origin in this region of space have according to
the late Carl Sagan "not been adequately investigated in a scientific
manner". According to Drake, Kardashev, et al: "Over the distances of
space, owing to the diffuse gas and dust, signals may be diffused,
resulting in little or no contact by merely accidental means."

Most signals die out after a few light years. A few, according to the
September 1971 Armenia conference on SETI, may occasionally leak
through, producing "random, non-repeating signals that could concievably
be mistaken for a natural celestial source". 

> This event is so far in the future it doesn't merit
> worrying about. 

I seem to recall that statement being made by a king of one of the
ancient middle-eastern empires...shortly before the Kassites invaded and
slaughtered them...

Granted, if they're advanced, they probably wouldn't want to fight. What
I'm worried about is humans. Human beings are just stupid enough to
provoke something like this. Then the stuff wil REALLY hit the fan. In
other words: See alien. Say "Hi" and don't make any sudden moves. If
they say "Greetings" or such, respond in kind. If they say "Scram!",
leave fast. Don't argue with an advanced civilization.

Kyle Mcallister