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Old 12th January 2020, 01:34 AM   #1
smartcooky
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Ancient Aliens: A different way of thinking

.. or Why Haven't Aliens Settled Every Star In The Milky Way?

This a fascinating chat between Fraser Cain (the publisher of Universe Today) and Adam Frank (an American physicist, astronomer, and writer) in which they discuss a possible resolution to the Fermi Paradox.

The upshot; we cannot be sure that the Earth has not been visited by aliens, but if it was, it was more likely than not, at a time beyond what Frank calls the "evidence horizon", the point at which any evidence of their existence would no longer be detectable.

The video is 14:40 long

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAuQRd9RoA4

NOTE: No joy here for our well-known Londo Mollari lookalike here I'm afraid
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Old 13th January 2020, 05:56 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
.. or Why Haven't Aliens Settled Every Star In The Milky Way?

This a fascinating chat between Fraser Cain (the publisher of Universe Today) and Adam Frank (an American physicist, astronomer, and writer) in which they discuss a possible resolution to the Fermi Paradox.

The upshot; we cannot be sure that the Earth has not been visited by aliens, but if it was, it was more likely than not, at a time beyond what Frank calls the "evidence horizon", the point at which any evidence of their existence would no longer be detectable.

The video is 14:40 long

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAuQRd9RoA4

NOTE: No joy here for our well-known Londo Mollari lookalike here I'm afraid
I subscribe to his channel, a good video.
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Old 13th January 2020, 11:34 AM   #3
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Thanks for that. I watched it and it was very interesting.
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Old 14th January 2020, 12:34 AM   #4
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I think I listened to this as a podcast yesterday, as I subscribe to his channel.

It's a good point, but I do have a couple of issues. One is that while he's right that we shouldn't just assume that a civilization, once it gets going, lasts forever, neither is it obvious that one would eventually die out completely.

I'm also just not sure that they're right about the "evidence horizon". The expansion wave of interstellar colonization reached the earth, and yet left less evidence behind than life did? For instance, if there's any sort of self-replicating units as a part of this expansion wave, none of them continued to replicate to this day? While I can understand that if it existed only for a short period of time erosion and plate tectonics would eliminate much of the evidence in the course of millions of years, it's not clear that it would all be eliminated. We have dinosaur fossils, why no aliens fossils? Perhaps is they were only here for a short period of time the chances of any of their artifacts making it into the fossil record would be low, but there was no real discussion of determining those odds.

So, interesting food for thought, but I'd need to see more in depth to be convinced.
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Old 14th January 2020, 01:18 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
... we cannot be sure that the Earth has not been visited by aliens, ...

Unless they discover that alien artefact left on the moon for us to find, I remain pretty sure that aliens never visited Earth. I mean, why the hell would they - considering the tedious and laborious journey to get here?! Because they didn't have anything better to do?
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Old 14th January 2020, 01:20 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Unless they discover that alien artefact left on the moon for us to find, I remain pretty sure that aliens never visited Earth. I mean, why the hell would they - considering the tedious and laborious journey to get here?! Because they didn't have anything better to do?
As a part of a wave of colonization spreading through the galaxy. That's the scenario under discussion anyway.
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Old 14th January 2020, 04:33 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Unless they discover that alien artefact left on the moon for us to find, I remain pretty sure that aliens never visited Earth. I mean, why the hell would they - considering the tedious and laborious journey to get here?! Because they didn't have anything better to do?
What is being discussed here is an apparent contradiction.

Firstly, its about von Neumann probes. These are theoretical devices, self-replicating robotic space ships which, at only 1/10th of the speed of light, would be capable of spreading throughout the entire galaxy in about ten million years. That is a very, very short time period in galactic timescales.

Now if we can think of this, then so could any advanced intelligent species, and since the universe is about 14 billion years old, and the earth has only existed for about the last 1/3 of that, then the galaxy should already have been colonised and recolonised multiple times

The contradiction is, well, where are they? That is the question Fermi's Paradox asks.
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Old 14th January 2020, 04:46 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Unless they discover that alien artefact left on the moon for us to find, I remain pretty sure that aliens never visited Earth. I mean, why the hell would they - considering the tedious and laborious journey to get here?! Because they didn't have anything better to do?
Once you have the ability to cross interstellar distances with colony ships, visiting Earth is no more laborious than visiting any other star system in the general vicinity.
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Old 14th January 2020, 04:55 AM   #9
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What if all civilizations are doomed to reach self-destruction before interstellar travel ?
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Old 14th January 2020, 05:13 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
What if all civilizations are doomed to reach self-destruction before interstellar travel ?
The premise seems implausible.
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Old 14th January 2020, 05:27 AM   #11
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If you think that very advanced civilizations would upload their minds into Computronium (or get replaced by A.I.), then it becomes very plausible that they will not l leave their homesystem, as the lag of interspace communication would be intolerable.
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:10 AM   #12
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We have moved towards a world that is only concerned with the next quarter's earnings. What in the world makes you think that a civilization would think far enough ahead to colonize the galaxy?
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:11 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The premise seems implausible.
It is consistent with observation
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:14 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
If you think that very advanced civilizations would upload their minds into Computronium (or get replaced by A.I.), then it becomes very plausible that they will not l leave their homesystem, as the lag of interspace communication would be intolerable.
That's a pretty extreme assumption. Maybe they'll calve off computer clusters like so many icebergs. Explorers who pass the long centuries in digital hibernation, and talk amongst themselves long after the homeworld has forgotten them.

There are people who can't get through the day without a certain amount of chatter with other nearby people. There are others who'd rather spend a year alone in Alaska, than spend even an hour making small talk in real time.

Why shouldn't aliens have a similar variance? There could be an alien race that is all clustered at the "alone in Alaska" end of the spectrum. Their whole civilization could be built on the production of long haul starships so they can achieve even greater separation, even more intermittent communication.

There could be an alien race at the other end of the spectrum. So social that they load themselves all into the same AI, so they can talk amongst themselves even more. And when they've achieved that, they their AI core to the stars, in search of more conversational partners.
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:21 AM   #15
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Unless you postulate the existence of something like Unobtainium, there are no advantages to colonizing other systems, only drawbacks.
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:25 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Unless you postulate the existence of something like Unobtainium, there are no advantages to colonizing other systems, only drawbacks.
Isn't that a bit like saying people should have never left Europe?
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Old 14th January 2020, 07:21 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Isn't that a bit like saying people should have never left Europe?
I don't think so. The New World did in fact have all the unobtainium. There was every reason to leave Europe and obtain it at the earliest possible opportunity.

So far, there's no evidence of anything similar at any of the nearest star systems. Or even the nearest planets.
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Old 14th January 2020, 07:27 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
Isn't that a bit like saying people should have never left Europe?
Not even close.
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Old 14th January 2020, 07:29 AM   #19
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One unique thing about Earth that might interest aliens is ourselves. They may not make the effort to travel here for minerals or something they could get elsewhere, but if they're interested in other life forms they'd have to come here to get to us. It's not that far-fetched: we ourselves are interested in the existence of aliens, regardless of whether they live on a resource-rich planet or not. Why couldn't they feel the same way?
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Old 14th January 2020, 08:17 AM   #20
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That's kind of what I think. What we have to offer is a unique experience.
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Old 14th January 2020, 08:25 AM   #21
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I like the idea I've come across a few times in my reading that each other's culture is what alien races would be most interested in. They'll have all made the same scientific discoveries, they'll all have similar resources, but art, music, stories - these are the things that would make them different, and which they could offer each other.

Obviously there will be a limit - a species without ears would not be able to appreciate music, for example - but any species evolving to sentience in this universe is going to have a unique, and yet at least partly sharable, perspective.
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Old 14th January 2020, 09:37 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
Unless you postulate the existence of something like Unobtainium, there are no advantages to colonizing other systems, only drawbacks.
In the long term, continued existence depends on leaving your star system.
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Old 14th January 2020, 09:43 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Pixel42 View Post
I like the idea I've come across a few times in my reading that each other's culture is what alien races would be most interested in. They'll have all made the same scientific discoveries, they'll all have similar resources, but art, music, stories - these are the things that would make them different, and which they could offer each other.

Obviously there will be a limit - a species without ears would not be able to appreciate music, for example - but any species evolving to sentience in this universe is going to have a unique, and yet at least partly sharable, perspective.
One of my favorite extrapolations of this idea was in one of Iain Banks's later novels. The galaxy is occupied by five separate civilizations. Each one comprises one or more alien races. The civilizations are grouped according to preferred EM spectra and primary resource requirements. This leads them to concentrate in different star systems. They typically have little to do with each other, and little to say to each other. Every so often, their ships will cross paths, and usually ignore each other. Every so often, a couple of the civilizations will run up against a mutual conflict of interest. They have processes in place to resolve this kind of thing, but sometimes it degenerates into war.
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Old 14th January 2020, 10:01 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
That's kind of what I think. What we have to offer is a unique experience.
Precisely: the aliens will come to us for sex. It's inevitable. As a species we are hot. We got curves in all the right places, and we know how to shake our moneymaker! The aliens will not be able to resist our siren charms. And then we'll help ourselves to their technological secrets while they're sleeping it off.
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Old 14th January 2020, 10:05 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
As a part of a wave of colonization spreading through the galaxy. That's the scenario under discussion anyway.
Nonsense. The Earth's atmosphere is toxic to them...


...I said too much already.
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Old 14th January 2020, 10:44 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
One unique thing about Earth that might interest aliens is ourselves. They may not make the effort to travel here for minerals or something they could get elsewhere, but if they're interested in other life forms they'd have to come here to get to us. It's not that far-fetched: we ourselves are interested in the existence of aliens, regardless of whether they live on a resource-rich planet or not. Why couldn't they feel the same way?
Perhaps when you have access to millions or billions of planets the earth, with or without life, is at the very bottom of the list of things that interest an alien race.

It's not all about us, you know.
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Old 14th January 2020, 10:57 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Perhaps when you have access to millions or billions of planets the earth, with or without life, is at the very bottom of the list of things that interest an alien race.

It's not all about us, you know.
My point is that maybe it is. Humanity is currently confined to one planet, making that planet unique. That may well be a point of interest to aliens, moreso than a million, billion, or trillion uninhabited planets.
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Old 14th January 2020, 11:06 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Steve View Post
Perhaps when you have access to millions or billions of planets the earth, with or without life, is at the very bottom of the list of things that interest an alien race.

It's not all about us, you know.
I'm with TM. If you have access to billions of planets, you've pretty much commoditized all resource extraction, from stars on down, over intervals of hundreds of light years. Collecting interactions with unique alien species is probably the most interesting thing going. Everything else is just boring laws of physics going through their predictable motions. Once you've seen one pulsar up close, you've seen them all. But once you've seen Zoats up close, you still haven't seen Humans.

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Old 14th January 2020, 11:18 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm with TM. If you have access to billions of planets, you've pretty much commoditized all resource extraction, from stars on down, over intervals of hundreds of light years. Collecting interactions with unique alien species is probably the most interesting thing going. Everything else is just boring laws of physics going through their predictable motions. Once you've seen one pulsar up close, you've seen them all. But once you've seen Zoats up close, you still haven't seen Humans.
This presumes that the aliens in question view us as an interesting life form among a potential of millions of different life forms. We may just be dull and uninteresting, and they just have not got around to us yet. Their priorities may differ wildly from what entitled humans think they should be. And that may be a good thing.
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Old 14th January 2020, 06:22 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't think so. The New World did in fact have all the unobtainium. There was every reason to leave Europe and obtain it at the earliest possible opportunity.

So far, there's no evidence of anything similar at any of the nearest star systems. Or even the nearest planets.
Any particular star system has a limited amount of resources. It's star puts out a finite amount of energy. Once you've maximized your use of those resources you can invest some of them to have access to the resources of another star system.

Let's say you're interested in computation. Initially it would be stupid to go to another star system and build computers there: it's much cheaper to build computers in your own system and power them with the light of your own star. But at some point you're using as much of that energy as you can get and performing computations as some maximum rate based on the energy and other resources available to you. You can then sacrifice some computations today by investing energy and other resources into an interstellar mission to colonize the nearby star and use it's resources for computation. The products of computation can then be sent back to your home star via radio waves.

It may take a thousand years to reach the break even point where you've done more computations after the interstellar mission that you would have if you'd just put that energy into computation in your own system, but a thousand years is a short time on astronomical time scales.

This requires that there are no local investments that pay off at a better rate than the interstellar investment, but at some point when you've reached maximum utilization that has to be the case (unless interstellar missions pay off at zero or a negative rate).
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:19 AM   #31
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There is the assumption here that any alien civilization will be like ours and expand everywhere it can. We certainly would, but I fail to see why alien intelligence would necessarily do the same, and why growth would be a goal in itself. After all, growth is what is making us destroy this planet.

In science fiction literature, it has been common to assume that if aliens ever discovered us, they would try to destroy us, or conquer us. To me, it is anthropomorphism just like when as aliens are imagined to look like something that has evolved from a human framework.
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:28 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dr.Sid View Post
What if all civilizations are doomed to reach self-destruction before interstellar travel ?
Current, earthly, evidence, suggests that this is the case.

Of course, this assumes that there is actually some other form of life out there somewhere, which is an unsafe assumption.
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:36 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
There is the assumption here that any alien civilization will be like ours and expand everywhere it can. We certainly would, but I fail to see why alien intelligence would necessarily do the same, and why growth would be a goal in itself. After all, growth is what is making us destroy this planet.
We're not even close to destroying the planet.

And maybe one way the aliens differ from us is that they see gravitationally-bound masses orbiting stars as convenient lumps of raw material (and, if they have an ecosphere, stored energy), not as emotionally-charged treasures that must be preserved at all costs.

And also, if the aliens are at all expansionary, even just "expand to populate this entire puddle of rainwater", then over time they're going to populate larger and larger puddles, and expand further and further in search of resources.

I figure, by the point where you're harvesting energy directly from stars on a galactic scale, you're way past the point of concern about "destroying" a planet.

It'd be like us being concerned about "destroying" a lump of bauxite to get aluminum.
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Old 16th January 2020, 09:58 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
We're not even close to destroying the planet.

And maybe one way the aliens differ from us is that they see gravitationally-bound masses orbiting stars as convenient lumps of raw material (and, if they have an ecosphere, stored energy), not as emotionally-charged treasures that must be preserved at all costs.

And also, if the aliens are at all expansionary, even just "expand to populate this entire puddle of rainwater", then over time they're going to populate larger and larger puddles, and expand further and further in search of resources.

I figure, by the point where you're harvesting energy directly from stars on a galactic scale, you're way past the point of concern about "destroying" a planet.

It'd be like us being concerned about "destroying" a lump of bauxite to get aluminum.
Humans: Yer after our gold!
Aliens: We convert photons to matter and construct any physical objects we need from that.
Humans: Yer after our precious Earth!
Aliens: We did copy/paste on your planet and now have eighteen million exact copies of it.
Humans: Yer after our sex!
Aliens: Guilty as charged!
[Erotic interaction commences]
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Old 16th January 2020, 10:09 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
There is the assumption here that any alien civilization will be like ours and expand everywhere it can. We certainly would, but I fail to see why alien intelligence would necessarily do the same, and why growth would be a goal in itself. After all, growth is what is making us destroy this planet.

Is there any life form on Earth that will refused to colonize any niche it's capable of? I know of a few examples of species that seem to have a feedback mechanism on available resources but don't know of any that won't expand in to a new niche that has available resources. It seems to me that life forms that refuse to occupy every niche they can would be more exposed to extinction than others.

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Old 16th January 2020, 10:15 AM   #36
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"We're expansionistic on a scale barely dreamed of by your most visionary fantasists, but we're not that expansionistic."
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Old 16th January 2020, 10:46 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Humans: Yer after our gold!
Aliens: We convert photons to matter and construct any physical objects we need from that.
Humans: Yer after our precious Earth!
Aliens: We did copy/paste on your planet and now have eighteen million exact copies of it.
Humans: Yer after our sex!
Aliens: Guilty as charged!
[Erotic interaction commences]
It's called rishatra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ringworld

https://www.definitions.net/definition/rishathra
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Old 16th January 2020, 12:44 PM   #38
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The one problem with going close to the speed of light is that a huge amount of energy is required to do so. There may be workarounds for small spacecraft such as external sources of energy but for large ones these will not work.
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Old 16th January 2020, 02:55 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by DuvalHMFIC View Post
We have moved towards a world that is only concerned with the next quarter's earnings. What in the world makes you think that a civilization would think far enough ahead to colonize the galaxy?
Religion. I think any interstellar species will be religious.

I have a fairly broad definition of religion for this context, which doesn't require belief in a deity. By religion I mean an alogical (not illogical) shared value and belief system. In order to invest the resources necessary for interstellar travel, which may have no payoff for most participants within their lifetime, they need to be motivated by a religion.
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Old 16th January 2020, 05:49 PM   #40
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The escape from the Fermi Paradox is that it makes the assumption that a "robotic probe" or something comparable such as a species with an unalterable instinctive (or religious, etc.) drive to colonize more star systems can also be adaptable enough to accomplish the task. I doubt that deeply. By the second colonization cycle from their origin world, they'd be deciding to build theme parks instead of colony ships.
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