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RE: starship-design: It's a bad, bad world out there

On Sunday, October 26, 1997 7:03 PM, Isaac Kuo [SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu] 
> L. Parker wrote:
> >On Saturday, October 25, 1997 9:38 PM, Isaac Kuo
> >[SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu]
> >wrote:
> Actually, the conclusion of the Fermi Paradox is that the universe
> should, with almost certain probability, already be colonized by
> one or more intelligent species.

No, it doesn't PROVE any such thing. It starts from a set of assumptions, 
adds more assumptions to them, then multiplies by still more 
assumptions....IF you accept the factors that are given in the paradox then 
you can arrive at such a conclusion. However, observed reality does not 
match theory, so I would submit that the theory (Fermi's Paradox) is wrong. 
The most likely source of error is in the factors that are used to arrive 
at the conclusion, the logic is actually pretty good.
> First you roughly calculate how often an interstellar capable
> technological civilization should evolve.  Be very very conservative
> in your estimates--assume an Earth-like planet is needed, for carbon
> based life including a roughly human-like intelligent species.  Then
> you calculate how long it should take for such a civilization to
> completely colonize the entire galaxy--be very conservative here,
> assuming, for instance, a .1%c asymptotic rate of expansion.  Then
> you look at how old the Milky Way galaxy is.

f(hab) - fraction of star's with habitable planets
f(sun) - fraction of sun-like stars
f(I) - fraction of Population I stars (i.e. have heavy elements)
f(p) - fraction of Population I stars with planets
f(ec) - fraction of planets that orbit within the 'ecological' zone
f(ter) - fraction of f(ec) planets that are Earth like or terrestrial
f(ax) - fraction of planets with viable axial tilt
f(rot) - fraction of planets with viable rotation rates
f(hab) = f(sun)f(I)f(p)f(ec)f(ter)f(ax)f(rot)

which can also be extended by:

f(life) - fraction of planets developing life
f(int) - fraction of life developing intelligence
f(tech) - fraction of intelligence developing tool use
f(civ) - fraction of tool users to develop advanced civilizations
f(civ) = f(hap)f(life)f(int)f(tech)
which derives a value of 0.001 for f(civ). This equates to 200 million 
advanced civilizations in our galaxy, assuming they all reached this point 
at the same time.
In other words we are the only intelligent life in the closest 1,000 star 

> The three factors conspiring here are the sheer number of stars in
> the Milky Way, the great age of the Milky Way, and the relatively
> small size of the Milky Way compared to its age.  The conclusion
> is that the probability should be nearly 100% that an interstellar
> capable technological civilazation should have already been colonized
> the entire Milky Way (every star, every nebula, every planet, and
> every moon--everything).

Granted, even assuming the above numbers, which are based on Fermi's 
assumptions are correct, we should still have been colonized by now.

> Name one reason why an interstellar capable intelligent civilization
> which has colonized Earth, controlling and using its resources, would
> never be visible to us (other than the fact that we probably shouldn't
> have evolved in the first place).

It would be foolish to assume that all civilizations survive their 
childhood and reach a stage where they are capable of colonizing the 
galaxy. In addition to childhood diseases there are threats to mature 
civilizations as well and those that can occur to any civilization, young 
or old. A partial litany of these threats are:
Over Population
Resource Crunch
Bio/Nano Disaster
Inward Turning
Cosmic Disasters
Delicate Balance Disruption
Unknown (Physics)

> >Case in point, answer the following question, be
> >precise and be prepared to justify your answer:
> >How many intelligent species are there on Earth?
> Who cares?

Since you don't seem interested in what constitutes an intelligent species 
it is probably pointless to consider why they might not become spacefaring. 
I'll continue that particular argument with someone else.

> Don't be confused into thinking the Fermi paradox necessarily has
> anything to do with searching for life in other star systems.  We
> already know searching beyond our own solar system is rather difficult
> and we haven't made a seriously thorough attempt yet.
> >What type of emissions would an ADVANCED civilization emit? How about
> >neutrinos? Gravitons? Not only are these types of emissions almost a
> >necessity for a spaceborne civilization, they are practically impossible
> >to
> >hide...
> Neutrinos and gravitons?  Why?  We don't emit any.  None of the
> interstellar drives we've discussed on this list would emit any
> (other than Alcubierre's, which requires more energy than exists
> in the universe to run anyway).

Not true, we do emit neutrinos, not in significant numbers yet, but it will 
> >> But you see, it doesn't make sense.  Yes, the aliens have the ability
> >> to wipe us out.  However, we do _not_ have the ability to wipe out
> >> the aliens.  Therefore, they do not have to choose between them and
> >> us.
> >That is what a pre-emptive strike is all about, wipe them out BEFORE 
> >
> >have the ability (much less the inclination) to wipe you out.
> Actually, not necessarily--if you look at what "pre-emptive strike"
> had always refered to during the height of the Cold War, both sides
> already had the ability to wipe out the other side.  A pre-emptive
> strike was supposed to eliminate the other side's ability to do
> so (by heavily attacking the other side's missile silos and airbases,
> rather than civilian targets).  Having eliminated the enemy's ability
> to retaliate, the side which fired the pre-emptive strike could demand
> unconditional surrender without slaughtering the other side's civilian
> targets.  This is what made the pre-emptive strike so scary--it looked
> like an attractive option even if the leader doing it was not a
> genocidally bloodthirsty maniac--and neither side could afford to let
> the other do it first.

Also not true. Isaac, you weren't even alive during the Cold War and 
obviously slept through history. Several of our Generals were pressing for 
exactly that at the end of World War II. They were already afraid of Russia 
and wanted to end it right then, while we still could. We could have too. 
We did have the weapons and Russia did not.
> That's just an aside.  I know the "pre-emptive strike" you refer to
> is fundamentally different.
> The kind of "pre-emptive strike" you refer to is really something
> different.  It makes the assumption that eliminating an interstellar
> capable species with billions of years more advanced technology is
> even plausible.

Now you are confused, you got it backwards. It is the species which is MORE 
advanced which goes aropund eliminating the less advanced one, you said so 
yourself just a few paragraphs ago...

> >> Anyway, for an alien race to wait until we had developed the ability
> >> to speak in 3 word sentences, much less build Sony Walkmans and
> >> interplanetary rockets, they aren't doing their genocidal job very
> >> well.
> >Granted, but this still assumes that they are practically next door.
> No, this assumes they are here.  They have been here.  They were
> here to witness the formation of the planets.

Then there is nothing to worry about, we are still here also, so they 
obviously don't plan on exterminating us. At least not just yet anyway...

> Umm, what do dolphins have to do with anything we're talking about?


> Besides, I doubt anyone who knew what he was talking about ever used
> the term "pacifistic" to describe dolphins.  They're carnivores which
> hunt to live.  They're quite openly aggressive.

And at the top of the ladder in their environment...

> Back to the topic, what does "top dog" mean, anyway?  Does it mean
> the richest person in the world (which would mean Bill Gates, but
> none of the rest of us)?  Does it mean any species which has no
> natural predators (which would include Panda Bears)?

Umm, good example. Vegetarian, pacifistic, non-aggressive, nearly 

> Competition for resources is a constant theme on Earth, but the end
> result is many different things.
> Interspecies interaction between predators and prey are often quite
> complex--no predator can afford to completely eliminate their prey.

Nor will it ignore competition from other predators.
> Within a species, direct competition is nearly inevitable--but there's
> a wide range of possibilities, including simple competition by
> outreproducing and stylized enforcement of territory borders.

These are individual survival behavior patterns, not species. You misread 
your Darwin.
> In the context of what in the world "top dog" means, both might be
> relevant, depending upon what "top dog" means.  Pelligrino implicitely
> assumes that the "top dog" must be an entire species.  Therefore,
> interspecies interaction is what's relevant.  He tacitly implies
> that on Earth, homo sapiens is the "top dog".  And yet we go out
> of our way to avoid exterminating species like Spotted Owls, which
> we are no more dependent upon than Dodo Birds or Passenger Pigeons.

Which were the arguments the unfortunate captives tried to advance, that we 
weren't really like that, that Rules 2 and 3 didn't apply. Pellegrino's 
point was simply that the other species can't (and won't) take the chance.

> Nobody except for Carl Sagan made such an assumption.  It's the
> ultimate in optimism considering humans aren't pacifistic.
> Actually, to be fair to Carl Sagan, he only made the assumption
> that a civilization which managed to not destroy itself in
> nuclear war long enough to colonize other star systems would be
> pacifistic.  It is conceivable that humananity will "outgrow" war
> and/or destroy itself before colonizing other star systems, in
> which case we won't be a counterexample to Sagan's assumption.

Well, it has been fun Isaac, but its back to work tomorrow. BTW, the 
working draft of the timeline is up, it is at: