posted on May, 5 2007 @ 07:19 AM
True Yeti, it's certainly nowhere a person would want to live, but I have a different concept of what an early space expansion might look like.
I tend to think that we are unlikely to master faster than light travel simply because I would expect a slice of real estate like ours to have been
conquered several times over in human history if it was possible. Of course that tells you how I treat the variables in the Drake Equasion and
there's a significant possibility that I am just plain wrong.
Assuming that naturally habitable planets for carbon based life as we know it are rare, a space empire is not a traversable, trading network of
aligned states but a network of civilizations far enough apart to be immune to eachothers actions and thus free to exchange information without
significant consequence to themselves. Basically you step out a little further each few generations and establish a new outpost, and the best you can
ever hope to get in return is information, and failing the advent of quantum communication, even that at a significant lag time.
That being the case, any system in close proximity to Earth that has a signifcant and concentrated supply of the heavier element under temperature and
gravitational conditions that make them accessible to us is a destination for early colonization.
My admittedly speculative belief is that we could have Gliese 581 c colonized (in the sense of having a few thousand humans there for scientific
purposes and using the planet as a base for further outreach) in 800 years. I'm giving us 100 years to get our act together 400 years for the first
round trip, and 300 years to prepare, send, and establish the colonial mission... I'm assuming we're not in such a rush that we want to shoot
billions of dollars and hundreds of souls into space without a 75%+ chance of success, that we are infact confined to sublight, and that we're not
very efficient... and of course that nobody finds us first and speeds the process up.
Of course all that is assuming there isn't something promising a bit closer. If everything closer ends up being devoid of significant planets, it
could end up taking the place popularly occupied by alpha centauri, which isn't incredibly useful if it turns out not to have a terrestrial planet
with readily accessible oxygem (oxygen alone is worth something, being the rarer third of the water a craft would theoretically have to replace now
and again for a multitude of purposes).
Another thing I like about that view, although its not factored into my formation of the opinion, is that it removes the idea from the influence of
the Zeitgeist. Although I don't think humans will ever entirely get along without either falling under the control of an authoritarian state or
evolving to a point where we have a biological instinct to support the community above ourselves (call me nuts if you like, but if ants had a higher
brain and opposable digits, they'd rule this planet, size be damned), I still believe that we can get along in pretty much the same way that the NWO
does- by playing cut-throat politics with eachother and trying to avoid outright murder, except of course in the cases of people named Kennedy or
Wellstone- which, more simply stated, means that I think that if we were able to go to Gliese 581 c right now, a war would probably break out here on
Earth if the mission was successful, but I figure a few hundred years down the road we will be content to lie cheat and steal from eachother to get
our slice of the shared pie.
Parting question for the road if there are any hardcore physics buffs around here... to have a density about 1.75 times that of any terrestrial
planets in our system (8.? g/whatever versus 5.? g/whatever... I admit I am rusty and dont feel like going to wikipedia right now) I assume Gliese 581
c would need a greater proportion of metals. Question: to have a significantly greater proportion of metals, wouldn't it have to be in a pretty
special circumstance- specifically being already there and in close proximity at the time that the star that birthed those elements ejected them?
If so, it seems to me that the area would be a rare and valuable peice of ground, and may also have something to teach us about the what circumstances
make for what kind of star system compositions, and therfore where in the galaxy we are most likely to find the conditions most likely to produce
intelligent life. Or is synthesis of heavier elements more common than I think?