Human Continuity and Persistence
I run a website called www.doomwatch.org that I set up to identify risks to the human race and the creatures that exist on this planet. Many of them are remote possibilities, not likelihoods of occurrence, but some are definite and just dependent on the time we have. When I first saw the Doomwatch series in about 1970, I thought how close to reality this was. It was a scientific based series that showed some of the risks to humanity, some which were more fanciful, but even those were considered with a scientific mindset. It was a series of concepts, ending in 1972 after 3 seasons. Because of the short-sighted BBC idea of cutting minute costs here and there at the expense of paying large salaries elsewhere, 14 of the episodes have been completely lost when master tapes were wiped and re-used. Magnetic tapes cost around £120 per hour and storage could be as low as £1 per tape per year at that time compared to an average programme cost of about £125,000 per hour. Many of the best programmes that the 1970’s had to offer were lost in this way. The BBC still has the legal entitlement of the TV licence but over the years has evolved into just another distant commercial enterprise, but with the legal right to extort from the public to fund its bloated and inefficient coffers. It even advertises how good it is and why this should continue despite its non-advert principles.
But throughout my life I have seen the politicisation of information that the fictional Doomwatch portrayed with many government offices seeing the populace as something there for the Civil Services benefit rather than the other way around. The latest trend of that the government should only collect statistics for the use of the government and cynically stating such is a political policy that echoes this sentiment, the people only there as a discardable resource for the benefit and continuity of the government and the politicians, not to be informed or helped unless absolutely necessary and when that does not interfere with the interests and ethos of government officials. The whole system is considered just there for their own benefit after all. ‘The people exist for the benefit of the state, not the state existing for the benefit of the people,’ in a warped ideology and sense of self-importance in the nature of things. Such a state will go extinct, taking its people with it if they let it, as what seems to be happening with Russia and North Korea. Like with earth generally at the moment, with its blinkered and future myopic viewpoints, it’s not ‘if they or we will go extinct,’ its ‘when will they make us go extinct or when we will go extinct?’
So, I decided it was time to try to set up something that resembles the concept of Doomwatch in a small way, the www.doomwatch.org site.
The types of threat I have listed are:
Climate Change, Axis Shift & Magnetic Shift, Coronal Mass Ejection, Viruses & Bacteria, Nuclear, Systemic Collapse, Asteroid Impact, Super Volcano, Entropy, Supernova, Alien Attack & UFOs, Black Hole or 2nd Star, Chemical, Loss of Atmosphere, Malign Entity, Mind Control, Social Control, Evolutionary Obsolescence, Biological Disaster, Commercial Warfare, Ideological Dominance, Resource Loss, Unknown Risk, Genetic Modification and Genetic Diversity, Environmental Dissonance, Allergies and Tolerances, Methane Release and the Lemming Complex.
Of these maybe Climate Change, Axis Shift, Magnetic Shift, Coronal Mass Ejection, Viruses & Bacteria, Nuclear, Systemic Collapse, Asteroid Impact, Super Volcano, Loss of Atmosphere, Biological Disaster, Commercial Warfare, Resource Loss, Unknown Risk, Genetic Modification and Genetic Diversity and Methane Release may be of immediate concern, Malign Entity, Mind Control, Social Control, Evolutionary Obsolescence, Ideological Dominance, Environmental Dissonance, Allergies and Tolerances, may be of future concern and Entropy, Supernova, Alien Attack & UFOs, Black Hole or 2nd Star, Chemical and the Lemming Complex, possibilities, but not likely, at least for the next 100 years.
Of the list I would put Climate Change, Axis Shift, Magnetic Shift, Coronal Mass Ejection, Viruses, Nuclear, Systemic Collapse, Asteroid Impact, Super Volcano and Methane Release at the top of the list and likely at some time in the near future, probably at least one of them in the next 100 years.
If any of these actually occur then the earth may not recover for thousands of years, with the possibility of all life on earth eventually becoming extinct because of this. At the moment we have a reasonable stable period to change our outcomes, a chance that may not occur again. The concentration of the world at the moment is on climate change, but not all scientists are convinced this is changeable, and that what is being done at the moment is cosmetic changes to satisfy fears, not actually doing anything practical about it. The still trend of increasing levels of pollutants and CO2 year on year is almost proof in itself that what is being done is maybe slowing the change, or more likely having absolutely no effect whatsoever, so seem to be merely expensive exercises in futility for the gullible so nobody panics.
The CO2 level was about 276ppm in about 1750, 295ppm in 1900, 305ppm in 1930, 316ppm in 1960, 360 in 1990, 380ppm in 2000, 400ppm in 2015 and about 418 now, so pretty much nothing over the past 20 years has been achieved, despite the trillions of pounds and quintillions of man hours in every country spent on trying to do so. The claim is it could be worse, but the graph trend is smooth and pretty much unaltered by any jumps where you should see at least a flattening out of the curves if there was any real effect of how we were combating it. This is probably the current state of affairs, so many of the cosmetic and feel good fruitless and pointless efforts aren’t working, despite unproven and easily disputable claims. The numbers give the true answer, not the unquestioning beliefs and hopes of the devout. They are too busy planning for the return of a past and a future utopia with both unlimited and non-polluting energy using theoretical perpetual motion machines. Their imaginary version of utopia that is, not yours, as you’ll probably hate it and energy=pollution anyway.
If we take it that the human race is probably in for a very bumpy ride, then how do we stop it becoming terminal or an extinction level event? We have two choices, buckle down, make it work temporarily, and eventually die off quickly, or get off the planet as fast we can. Staying just on this planet, that’s it basically. There is no future, even for all the creatures and plants we save for the very short term. If we are the only life there is, then it’s so rare that it’s probably the end of life everywhere and anywhere for eternity. We had a good chance and we blew it. The end of the universe will probably come before a second chance happened.
The best way for life to survive is to have two separate areas that are separated by space, the more distant the better. Anything affecting earth will probably affect earth’s orbit, a major wrong polarity CME hitting earth probably taking out everything in orbit first. The moon is quarter of a million miles away most of the time. Something like a CME has a typical diameter of maybe 1.4 million miles, and the velocity of the earth is around 66,500 miles an hour, typically taking about 21 hours to pass through one, the moon also being definitely within this area for about 2/3rds of the time. So, there is a 1 in 3 chance the moon might avoid it, but no chance the earth will. If the second or more areas were on Mars though, there would need to be also be the added chance that happens every 2 years of Mars lining up with the earth so also getting hit, probably about once in every 700 years. So using a baseline of something like the Carrington event compared to the next solar peak of 2025 if there is a similar event then, a occurrence over every 116,000 years, so rare.
First though, we need to have a base on the Moon at least, and preferably also on Mars. The latter would more likely give a second target type defence for life, the Moon, although much easier, would likely suffer similar effects of a stellar outburst due to its proximity. The Moon would give a second place, but it is just too close for any effect that has even a minimal arc of action. But how to get to Mars?
We have many Mars plans, ideas about having got there and survived the process, finding lava tubes and setting up perfect complicated systems within them that will ensure survival. But how likely is this? At the moment with our technology and the physical risks I would put the chance of actually making it to Mars with a mechanical device about 50-50. With people, maybe a 1 in 4 chance each way, space and entropy meaning they may not live long if they made it back. So, a two-way mission just using rockets maybe a 1 in 15 chance of coming back, a 1 in 50 chance of living a normal life afterwards.
Why spend the money doing this? There is ample evidence that nature has many hazards and that staying put on one planet means that sooner or later it won’t be here, or not in a form that humans can survive on it. They’ve happened in the past and are likely to happen sometime in the future. Climate change may just be a minor inconvenience, probably never turning into something like Venus, but the populations needing to move towards the north and south poles more, areas and climates changing drastically with all the upheavals of large population migrations. It’s pretty evident that countries are aware of this and the recent land and resource grabs and hogging’s are a symptom of this. It’s said that Venus and Mars were like the Earth at some time, but it’s based on pure theory and dubious and unproven extrapolations, the likelihood is that neither were even close and will never be, except when the sun decides to destroy all three. But the danger from other things still exist, and one of them may occur in our lifetimes, like the safeguards and people protecting us from things like Covid-19 that turned out to be pretty non-existent and ineffective in practice. Covid-19 was a politically sponsored and promoted disease in the world, even right at the start and the current position was and still is quite predictable.
So, taking that we have the capability to go to Mars, what are the physical problems of getting there? We have the problem that so far half of the missions have failed in some way. It may be the technology was old and not very good at the time, but if it is just a problem of cumulative entropy rather than physiology, then we may lose 50% of the missions there and 50% coming back. So, unless we have people permanently staying there we could have a 75% total loss rate of all crews. With the technology at the current level and nothing so far having been returned I think that figure may be as high at 90%. Space takes its toll on the human body as it is. To navigate it for any long period of time would alter the physiology of the space traveller unless it was genetically hardened to avoid or minimise this. On a minimum of a 6-month trip in space at the moment to get to Mars if the timings are just right, a year if you get it just factionally wrong, you may find that radiation will render them much higher likelihood of developing cancers and other damage related diseases and things like bone density may be permanently reduced. Even with exercise on space stations this loss of bone density is concerning. This may mean that anybody who travels the distance may not be able to return to earth. The earth environment may now kill them.
As far as space medicine goes there are only a small number of people who have experienced the true rigours of space, those who undertook the Apollo missions from 1968-1972. All of the other people including all from the various space stations stayed in near earth orbit so probably had a large amount of radiation protection from earth’s magnetosphere. On a trip to Mars or the Moon there is no such protection, so in many cases what was found and the principles applied outside these missions may be fairly irrelevant.
The trouble is astronauts get annoyed if you say only the Apollo missions were really space exploration.
If you look at people who went on a mission outside earth’s protection you find that the age at which they died is on average about 6 years less than similar other country astronauts in near earth orbit missions, and that the astronauts who stayed in the command module in orbit, not landing on the moon, so possibly having less protection of the moon itself, this figure increases to 8 years less. On average a trip to the moon and back gives 6 days of lack of earth’s protection, command module pilots possibly twice this, or 6 days of lesser protection.
On a trip to Mars this lack of protection could be 180 days each way, totalling 360 days, and possibly up to 540 days, so giving 60-90 times the cumulative damaging exposure.
The maximum time spent in a ‘weightless’ environment, one where the forces of orbit counter the gravitational forces of the earth has been a duration of 438 days for one man, most being a year in orbit. But, there may be a problem with counter balances of mass, velocity outward and constantly changing direction plus the pull of gravity possibly not being the same as having gravity with close proximity to the pull as a pure effect downwards. So, a mission to Mars may have extra unknown characteristics. The 6-month trip to Mars and the resultant bone density loss may be irreversible and combined with an extra radiation damage may make take the case event further than safe standards.
So, if we do a table of cell regeneration, in space the cells being continually slightly damaged we end up with a comparison table for the Moon and Mars as below:
|Cell Replacement Figures in days|
|Type||Normal Renew period||Moon trip renew times||Mars trip 1 year renew times|
|White blood cells||4||1.50||91.31|
|Red blood cells||120||0.05||3.04|
We are born with a genetic load of errors. Each time a cell needs to renew it does this with a percentage doing so imperfectly. The harsher the environment the bigger the chance for these imperfections to happen. So, pollution, poor diet, developed intolerances and allergies, drugs, lack of exercise for stressing, too much exercise and stressing too much, radiation from the sun or other sources, etc., increases the genetic load and the chance that something will go wrong or not work within its normal limits. But the more times the environment damages the cells, the bigger the chance of these imperfections snowballing into something problematic. So normally a person in a reasonable environment would have a renewal in the colon of say an average of every 4 days, or say 6,500 times in an average lifetime. On a trip to the moon this may mean it needs to happen every day or at worst every hour because of the radiation, not having a chance to recover properly for the whole trip there and back, so you may get 4-80 times extra cumulative damage, a thing that may be happening to other parts of the body. Mars may be as much as 60 times the effect of the Moon, so 200-4000 times the normal damage and repair cycling.
So how do we get around this obvious problem of long-term environmental damage in space. You need to surround yourself with something that will protect you. If a rocket were powered by water and nuclear fusion you could live in a shell within the water tanks. This would give you at least some protection, but not too much as water is quite low density, at 1 gram per cm3. If you had a sphere with a living area inside of maybe 14,000 cubic feet, equivalent to the ISS, so about 30 feet diameter and an extra 10 feet of water around it, so about 1.5 million litres of water it would add 1,500 tonnes to the weight to propel to Mars. The ISS’s mass is about 420 tonnes, took 42 flights and 10 years to construct, so such a Mars craft would be over 3 times the cumulative mass after construction.
Asteroids are usually between 1.5 and 5 grams per cm3, so if we took the heavier of them for our purpose at about 4gm/cm3, then the equivalent protection would be somewhere near a 2.5 feet extra bulk around the living shell, or an asteroid 34 feet in diameter. Ceres at 2.16gm/cm3 or Vesta at 3.46gm/cm3 and around 600 miles diameter would not be practical to move or deflect for our purposes, but there are at least some of the 150 million asteroids over 300 feet diameter that could be of use this way. There are around 5,000 that are near 300 feet that come close to the Earth at some time so could be accelerated or slowed to allow for an orbital parking, but not too close.
Granite is about 2.7gm/cm3, so ideally it would be between granite and limestone at 2.3gm/cm3 to allow for working, but space allows for use of non-conventional mining techniques where its use would contaminate and react with the environment around it on earth, dissipating in the enormity of space.
To utilise an asteroid as a second ‘earth’ type environment and use it as a method of travel to Mars you would need to go through a number of steps.
- You would need to identify a suitable asteroid that coincided with earth’s orbit and cycle that could be manoeuvred using standard rocket motors into either reaching the Lagrange points for the earth or the moon, or at last into a computer compensated orbit that would allow its access. The asteroid would be best if it was of a rocky variety with metal incursions or veins that could be used to stabilise and give structure to the ‘hollowing or mining’ that would be necessary. The compensatory cost for the construction would be of the minerals extracted from it and transported to earth.
- The velocity would need to be near earth’s, slowing it down or speeding it up as necessary, but not endangering the earth in the process, parking it in a moderately near-earth orbit, or possibly following or leading the moon.
- The asteroid would be mined and hollowed, but not so much the vacant space would damage the integrity of the asteroid. You could then construct a station inside the asteroid with airlocks to the outside, air and water tanks, and strategically positioned engines for slow manoeuvre with large stable satellite dishes that the fairly small gravity would now allow. If you had a polar construction for airlocks and dishes you could possibly make the construction have the walking surfaces in the inside of the enclosure, at some point generating a spin on its axis to give internal gravity. The motors could be computer timed to give a spin or reduce it in any directions to spin in and out of interplanetary orbits.
The idea is to create a structure or structures in close to earth orbit that are large enough to be semi-independent of earth. This is really the first key stage. Without it you have no base to efficiently launch a vehicle to something like Mars. It is like making every journey to London from Bristol. You want to go from Swindon to London so you obtain a vehicle in Bristol to do it. Similarly, Birmingham, Edinburgh, etc, always getting your vehicle from Bristol. The ISS is in very near-earth orbit, technically still within its atmosphere, and definitely still within a considerable amount of its gravity. The real minimum area probably is at geosynchronous orbit distance at about 22,236 miles where gravity is at 0.226 of earths at sea level. Any launch from that site would need probably next about a 20th of the propellant for each unit of mass, so practically the vehicle could be 5 times the size or carry a lot more resources between way-stations. This is where size is important. If you could capture asteroids and hollow them out, using them as a more local powered moon then this could constitute a space shipyard as well as a semi-independent split target. The most efficient place to locate any space station would be about 200,000 miles from earth and 40,000 miles from the moon at one of the earth-moon Lagrange points. At this point it would need minimal adjustment and relocation or reorientation fuel as there would be little variation in orbit creep. Travelling at a tangent across a gravity field for any craft travelling to or from another planet, you would use an earth or moon slingshot going out and an earth or moon gravity brake coming in. All you would need to do is time your spiral with the moons orbit around the earth. The earth moon gravity would balance movement around the orbit using minimal fuel until breakaway or capture. Create a structure or structures in Moon orbit that is also large enough to be semi-independent of earth. This later would become semi-dependent on the moon for resources. Again, if you did not want to risk the earth with such structures you could use stray asteroids for this purpose, basically moons of the moon.
So, what is available? Ideally, we want something that is large enough to accommodate a permanent station. We are therefore looking at something that is between 1000 feet and 3 miles, with a density between 2.2-4 grams per cm3, has a similar rotational period as the earth or near a Lagrange point, going through its cycle about every year like the earth. There are two real potential objects already in a close proximity to earth of this type, 2010 TK7 (1,000 feet diameter, 3.95 grams per cm3, but at about 12.5 million miles away, so about 100 million tonnes) and 2020 XL5 (3,900 feet diameter, density 1.7 grams per cm3, about 63 million miles away.) 2010 TK7 would almost seem to be put there just for this purpose. If you were going to gradually push it towards Mars and back to earth it would be ideal for this purpose and at 12.5 million miles away at its closest it is only 50 times the distance to the Moon compared to a transfer orbit to Mars of about 70 million miles, 280 times the distance to the Moon.
The exploration of further space is all dependent on the speed of light being a maximum value. It may be possible to warp space, but we don’t have a black hole close by to do it effectively, two colliding only giving a minute ripple in space, and the various LIGO’s not detecting any other space warping that would signify such a transport type signature. The LHC at CERN operates at 6.5 TeV per proton and it hasn’t even detected any warping whatsoever, so things don’t look promising.
Unless there is a back door into physics that nobody has come across in our history that will allow you to side step time it’s unlikely that a trip to even the nearest star would take less than 8 years. An asteroid hollowed out, say a minimum 3 miles across with its own self-contained community and next to no entropy from its system integration, powered by solar collectors around earth may stand a chance. But that’s also dependent on a few other factors that haven’t been created yet. It would still probably have to lose probably somewhere near three quarters of its mass in getting there and loading up with the same to return. as we are still in nearly every case dependent on shoving things out the back as fast as possible.
Ion motors would need to collect a lot of stuff on its way out to propel itself even at a small fraction of light speed. Something like 3200 Phaethon, a 3-mile diameter asteroid had a mass of maybe 36 billion tonnes, so a half empty shell of 18 billion tonnes compares unfavourably to using a rocket motor to move about the 27 tonnes of the Apollo spacecraft, 670 million times smaller. You have more time, but even having a millionth of the acceleration take a very long time to build up to anything above natural orbital fluctuations.
Mars like the Moon is little more than a barren rock in space. There is no nature, culture, population, and so little atmosphere that you will die within seconds without a spacesuit. The romantic notion of a beautiful planet like earth is really like the difference between an alive animal and a fossil. It’s nothing you can experience except behind a thick piece of plastic or glass, and the reality of finding a burger packet there is probably at a cost of £20,000 to get it there, so discarding things like that is pretty dumb and a waste of scarce resources, probably being the only cardboard within 34 million miles. But there is evidence that the soil is highly irradiated and full of oxidants such as peroxides that form in limited oxygen. The moon is likely pretty innocuous compared to Martian soil, being closer in many ways for growth of plants similar to trying to grow them in a bleach solution. There is a possibility that an extremophile species may live there, some live and thrive in arsenic on earth, but trying to turn them into something edible is a remote possibility and probably much less overall energy than just getting a similar supply rocket from earth pound for pound.
Things were left on the Moon as it would cost millions of pounds to bring even some of the smallest things back. With Apollo 11, costing $355 million, the most they could bring back from the Moon was themselves and 48lbs of moon rock, about $500,000 per pound and Mars is at least ten times as expensive, so the purely emotive and illogical concept of ‘littering’ is just fanciful nonsense. Even after 10,000 years of such ‘littering’ you will not really notice any difference if you actually stood on the planet, there being so much planet and so little additions, the earth receiving millions of times the amount.
But, we need to get away from this idea of keeping things ‘pristine’ so that research into the past can go on, if we are to survive. It’s a bit like not farming land as its too valuable for research into history and letting your population starve to death by doing so, pandering to the pathological extremists, ‘my little bit of knowledge is more important than everybody else on the planet.’ The philosophy of the scientifically insane.
There’s a lot of difference between imagination and reality. Stainless steel isn’t too good for a spacecraft as it’s so heavy. Stainless steel is about 2.5 times denser than aluminium and nearly twice that of titanium. Most rockets and craft are made of composite materials to keep the weight down. Take the Apollo mission. Saturn V rocket, total weight 3000 tonnes of which 2/3rds is fuel. This will put a 30 tonne Command and service module, design life 11 days combined, plus a 15 tonne lunar module, design life 3.5 days on a path to the moon. You get there and back, and a Command capsule, design life of about 12 days, weighing 12 tonnes to be returned, about 4%. So effectively you used 2000 tonnes of fuel to get 12 tonnes there and back again. If the return spacecraft was twice as heavy you would not need 4000 tonnes, but an extra 1000 tonnes for lifting the extra fuel off, and an extra 400 tonnes fuel for that fuel and 100 tonnes for that fuel and 25 tonnes for that fuel. So far people have been surprised by Musk getting the Falcon Heavy to work, but the upgrade in scale from low earth orbit is the difference between a bicycle and Ford Mondeo. Possible if you acquired existing experts already in the field, but so much continuity has disappeared.
Entropy and e=mc2
In science there are two main camps, those who believe the speed of light can be passed or at least side stepped and those that don’t.
If you have the belief in things like star trek and warps, etc., then this is not a problem, but where is everybody? Are we just simply a nature reserve for monkeys and obscure forms of life? We have this obsession in natural science fields of keeping creatures exactly the way they are that we grew up with, even though evolution is constantly changing them. What we have in creatures not even being similar to the ones a thousand years ago, and nothing but the weirdest evolutionary dead-end creatures being close to those 10,000 years ago. Also no one seems to have an idea at the moment on how to practically do anything like warping space and no signs of any such type effect being observed, all of it being still mired in the science fantasy world rather than the science fiction one. A universal cure for cancer or a sentient computer is science fiction, Star Trek warps and traversable wormholes are closer to science fantasy. Conventional science suggests we will need at least energy equivalent to sun like powers to do this, but we only have one and it might be imprudent to start meddling with it. Which is the constant energy, which is the detonate, and which is the off switch? So, at the moment this is possibly 1,000 years in the future, maybe never, and we can’t even manage fusion yet. A thing that I don’t think likely outside of near zero gravity, so may be possible within an asteroid, not freefall like the ISS. Too many factors to warp a contained field, especially if you’re using a Tokamak type system. And very few people are even looking at or thinking of alternatives, all trying the same concept over and over again, hoping that with a bit of extra technology it might work and physics won’t be looking in that direction this time. Unlimited free energy it is not, no more than fission reactors, again this is moving into the fantasy end rather than the fiction.
As for warping space, we only supposed to have seen ripples generated by something like two black holes colliding, those being minute variations and not really the level to bend space to allow a spacecraft to travel. Finding the power of two suitable black holes may be somewhat of a problem for terrestrial science. We haven’t detected the bow wave or signs of someone warping space, which I’m sure would happen, so it may just be science fiction that can never become fact.
Other people favour anti-gravity or the negation of inertia, but so far nobody’s managed to get it off the ground, so to speak. CERN is always looking for something which may be used to alter the normal laws of physics, but even spending billions of pounds on it there is still a vast difference between a few odd particles, an understanding, and a production line. The phrase ‘no such thing as a free lunch’ has always applied to physics, and nobody in its history has managed to find a way around it. An example, nuclear energy, has never been absolutely clean, simple, or free, and still ranks as a pretty expensive but reliable form of energy. Nobody has managed to produce a self-sustaining fusion reaction except for very short periods, and often using a massive amount of input to get it started. Current balance; 100’s of petawatts in and over a trillion dollars, a few megawatts out and no return so far, so I’m not really expecting it in my lifetime. You would get a better return if you just placed a snail on a turbine rotor to power it. Then there are the complications of using fusion power that are similar but larger in scale than normal nuclear. 60 years ago, nuclear was the ‘free and unlimited clean energy.’ Anybody who lives in the real world knows it isn’t, Two Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima are a bit of a giveaway in this claim, so, neither is fusion, you don’t want to be anywhere near such a reactor if things went really wrong, possibly not in the same country. Commercial fusion reactors will be built to lowest cost standards, like the space program and space shuttles with a view ‘everything has been thought of.’ But the be cost effective re-processing of radioactive shells and irradiated chemicals like highly radioactive lithium and thorium to reclaim things like tritium at $500 a gram will need to be done very local to such a reactor. You might use $100,000 worth of it to start the reaction each time, but you might be able to recover the costs by selling the U233 or weapons grade uranium, similar in fissile capability of plutonium it could make (look up Pokhran-II and Shakti V for details, 0.2kt.) A new promise and dream of perpetual motion, getting something for free.
If life receives constant setbacks, either of the reset or reboot type, then it’s more likely than not, that is has happened many times in earths past. Again, if it hasn’t, where are they? A reset is where society is reset back to the start of the bronze age, a reboot, back to simpler organisms.
If faster than light travel is impossible, even for those we would consider the gods, then we have a problem. Our level of systems integration only works for say a week at the most before we have problems. Unmanned craft can operate between -100 and +200°C, and 0 to 1000 atmospheres, but living organisms exist mainly between 10 and 40°C and 0.2 to 10 atmospheres. They can live outside this range, but will have major problems long term, so the narrow bands are near required permanent environments. This is where entropy sets in, where even the most efficient integrated systems, unless of an adequate size will degrade into being unusable. How many 1%’s does it need once a month for this to happen and a system becomes unviable? Even at 1/100th of a percent a year, after 10,000 years a system would probably be uninhabitable.
So, for rockets, unless you want to spend 50,000 years in what needs to be perfect hibernation and end up looking like desiccated coconut from radiation damage, they are pretty useless. You’re probably looking at maybe in a sealed area 99% cell damage, unless the craft and occupants are very small and very well insulated. If you have 99% cell death then you probably will want something more than a coffee as a pick me up.
So where does that leave us and any alien civilization? Probably imminent extinction. Aliens, being cleverer than us we hope, would either accept this and try for palliative care for its inhabitants. At least perish in luxury, or they would think, if we can’t survive, how about in proxy or something similar?
This is where planned panspermia comes in.
The principle is to contaminate the universe with your basic cells or something that will produce those basic cells. Maybe as far as an inanimate structure for any stray proteins, sugars and amino acids to attach to. That way, something like man may exist again, but probably not knowing about where they originally came from. Some people regard the Human Race as pollution, so that will not impress those and it’s not worth trying to discuss it with them, but others will see this as a possible lifeline for life itself and may think of it positively. The chance that somewhere in the cosmos there is a chance that elephants and pandas may exists again, though probably in a slightly different form, has its appeal.
You would normally need a lot of craft that can stand the rigours of deep space. Probably cooled with liquid nitrogen until you get out into space where the lack of heat will keep it frozen. At that temperature most cells would possibly survive indefinitely, if it were not for the radiation. You can only provide a certain amount of protection, and then it is really a numbers game. Totals numbers against time and irradiation, but as previously stated you might get 99.9% loss. If radiation damage will destroy all cells then the only way you could transmit on the race would be to break it down into non-perishable components, the common denominators and structures of life, only allowing for the required ones to be able to reconstruct at the other end. You would need to have creators and counters controlling the end result to produce and refine the programmed path. There would be a lot of yesses and noes, ands and ors, ifs and nots, with the soup producing the necessary controls, switches and breakers; a patterned program. You would need to make sure most of this inbuilt set of systems would construct themselves from local resources, rejecting defects. The system would be one of construction and deconstruction, with both evolving and growing from basics, one constructing, the other making sure it only changes in permitted ways. It seems a bit Von Neumann, but self-constructing, processing, evolving, and built in programmed checks and balances would be a necessity for persistence if faster than light travel was not feasible. DNA and RNA are ideal as a programming language for ongoing survival if this is true.
You would then send them out in very large numbers in all different directions. Various types of construction would be possible, needles, saucers or balls, or an ablative combination, a needle or long cylinder to give precise pointing and entry, which ablates to a saucer to use an atmosphere to glide that ablates to a ball for impact.
They would drift into planetary and solar orbits and either is found or come down on the sun, planet, or moon. Again, if it’s too hostile it ends there, unless it is a frozen world where conditions may change. But if they were coated with the same sort of material as space shuttles, a suitable planet may ablate them and impact fragment the contents, especially if inside the contents were still frozen. Life could have a chance. The odds are tremendous, even of hitting a planet, but consider that the solar system probably used to abound with bits of rock that made up the planets. If something comes into our solar system it has an outside chance of hitting something, even the sun. Now going through 10,000 solar systems, the odds are slightly higher.
You would need a world library of as many cell specimens as possible to provide a bank for the ‘Life Capsules’, as you cannot pre-define a starting point. You should have a DNA list engraved on platinum discs so that an alien culture could use as a template for fragments to re-create various species. Normal planetary forces may incorporate DNA fragments in a possible life form, but you can’t guarantee it, so if a life form developed which was not strictly according to earths standard of life, they may be curious and regenerate those types using the templates. But there is always a possibility that life is channelled into certain forms by the laws of physics and statistical chance, so our forms may be simply the natural route available.
We cannot be sure when the mankind, or all life on the planets off switch is going to be hit, but we are in the position of having enough technology for thinking about continuation at least somewhere. It’s possible this has already been done.
Of course, if life so far has just been a sort of galactic relay race, with past ancient civilizations trying this as they think they couldn’t manage to continue with what they knew, not doing so may be the equivalent of mankind dropping the baton and extinction of all life being crowned the winner.
A continuation capsule would need to be easily eroded or de-encapsulated. You would not have the benefit of a controlled re-entry system, so it would need to not only survive this but also to break up when the package has been delivered. A container that doesn’t allow for extreme temperatures or is unbreakable and last forever is pretty useless in this matter. The needle, saucer, ball construction allows for the best outcome designed for a suitable world.
Alternatively, you could send it to be implanted in a moon, comet or asteroid. This would offer much greater protection against cosmic radiation than a capsule. A lot of moons, comets and asteroids are only temporary partners of a planet or solar system. It takes quite a lot to capture any of them and during the life of a planet or star they follow short to long-term stable orbits. Our moon for instance is only a temporary structure as far as life of the universe goes, and is moving away from the earth year by year. In 5 billion years at best it will be 50,000 km farther out, if the suns change doesn’t disrupt all the orbits by then and swallow the earth. The moon has a chance of being flung into another wider orbit or possibly out. So, a capsule on an outer planet or moon may become viable, especially if it was something like Europa. But usually moons tend to go nowhere before they are destroyed in some way.
The ideal place to launch from would be either something like a platform in space in an earth or moon orbit, or something like a launch cannon on something like the moon or maybe even a suitable asteroid. The cells being just cells could be buffered against the initial launch, as they are not an integrated living entity or life as we know it Jim, that would suffer from the sudden acceleration, but a carefully concocted mix. Think cosmic egg. If we send out one capsule that is better than not sending out one. Send out ten and the chances go up more than just ten times. Send out 100,000 and you’re getting into the realms of likelihood.
But there is also one other advantage to this. If technological life existed and we discovered such a capsule, how would it bear on history and the knowledge of life, especially if technical works went with it. If a past civilization had worked out practical fusion power, how would it affect our world?
Temporary support medium
Liquid or solid nitrogen
Shaped space shuttle type tiles
Radiation limiting material
Tables for the deterioration rate of organic and non-organic materials by space radiation, within and outside planetary shadows.
Blueprints for DNA types on platinum disks for recreating from fragments
Books, art, music on platinum disks
Launch vehicle, moon or asteroid cannons
Lots of them
Time to do it
This is a work in progress. I plan to add further developments and ideas shortly.