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[sci-fi] Justifying the colonization effort?

James_Nostack

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I'm mucking around with a (somewhat) "hard" science-fiction setting using relativistic space travel among the nearer extra-solar planets.

But I can't see my way around the practical objection, namely: interstellar travel and colonization would be a crazy amount of work. And if most exoplanets are mudballs with comparatively little of economic interest, why would anyone put up the money to fund the effort?

I'm sure this question has been kicked around by RPGNet many, many times. Any advice?
 

SeekerJST

Silent Spirits
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"At last, we can truly be free. To live as we want and not how others tell us we must."

Or to put it another way: Ideological reasons are as good as any you'll find when economic ones break down. Whether they can be successful in the long term is another question. I depends on how much of the training and equipment they can bring with them along with the know how and the methodologies to duplicate them.

Ideological colonies can also provide a good basis for different cultures amongst the colonies.
 

Deflare

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Interstellar distances+no FTL=virtually guaranteed isolation. There are tons of people who would put in the money to get onto a colony ship to a new exoplanet. They wouldn't have any plans to come back to Earth; hell, they may barely make contact. There are 6.5 billion people on Earth, and there will be more by the time we're sending out colony ships. Say a colony is 10,000 people; for someone interested in being wealthy, powerful, and important in relation to their community, being one in ten thousand sounds a hell of a lot better than one in 6.5 billion.

A planet the size of Earth, if split amongst 10,000 people, would leave each controlling enormous tracts of land. Even assuming it's not as mineral-rich as Earth, there's still mind-bogglingly ridiculous amounts of wealth there, more wealth than has ever been controlled by any polity in Earth's history. Combined with some automated factories and robotic assistance, and a new colony could be a life of ease and comfort for the brave pioneers willing to risk going out there.

People would band together and make a new colony ship for that reason alone.
 

reason

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If you have nanotech assemblers and whole brain emulation / human-grade AI in the technology base, then the efficient method of initial colonization involves packing up a group of xoxed volunteer minds and design patterns into wisp-probes that weigh in at a few grams and send those out there. Then the wisp-group builds a colony and instantiates themselves from local materials on arrival.

There's probably a high failure rate, but sending multiple wisps is within the capacity of many ideologically motivated smaller groups.

Reason
Principia Infecta
 

Bailywolf

bwakbwak
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Scientific efforts... governments/cultures seeking to preserve their institutions beyond the single fragile orb... prestige... ideological freedom... McGufftanium deposits... just because

All this assumes a reasonably economical method of traveling interstellar, or a post-morbidity society where humans live lives more in keeping with the scale of cosmic time.

I don't know what your technological levels look like, but I highly recommend McLeod's Learning the World for an extremely neat STL colonization implementation which takes advantage of lifespans limited only by stupidity and statistics.

If we're still talking humanity's mayfly lifespan, then either a magic 1G drive or some method of practical suspended animation would be needed to cover the distances... or something closer to the womb ship where a colony travels as embryos to be grown in exowombs and loaded with stored personalities.

Humping mass across interstellar distances is going to be onerously expensive in terms of energy, even with strategies to minimize fuel and reaction mass (bomb tracks, for example) so in this area, some judiciously applied pixie dust might be appropriate in order to get engines able to push a million tones of ship across interstellar distances within a time-frame meaningful to potential ship builders.

Given a leprechaun drive, able to provide the magic 1G, an interstellar meta-civilization isn't just possible, but likely.

-B
 

Vaecrius

Why marigolds are so evil
I'm still trying to get my head around why people ever first bothered to switch to firearms, automobiles, and cooked food before the technologies matured. :eek:
 

EvilSchemer

Well, I never!
Validated User
When writing my Lightspeed game, I created a spreadsheet to calculate realistic future populations of Earth at various times given various factors.

I looked up the global birth rate. I chose a LOW birth rate of 1.5%, a value possible if, out of every 1000 people, each year an average of 35 are born and 20 die.

1.5 percent is an optimistic estimate compared to the rate of almost 2.0 percent growth throughout the 20th century. Then, in my setting, I started to factor in mass death from wars and what-not, and then colony ships leaving. At first, it was just a few thousand, but I built in a growth factor of the colony ships leaving Earth. Each year, more and more colony ships were leaving Earth. Once the population hit a certain mark, it started to decrease. I managed the rate of decrease as any global colonization organization would to ensure that there would be a certain population still on Earth.

Here's what I got.

Code:
Population of Earth
Year	Population	
1600	579 million
1800	1.1 billion
2000	6.1 billion
2033	8.9 billion	Beginning of the Diaspora in my setting.

2144	30.3 billion	World population peak. The population starts to decline at this point.
2200	30.0 billion
2400	29.3 billion
2600	28.5 billion
2800	27.6 billion (projected)
3000	26.6 billion (projected)
6466	6.0 billion (projected)	Pre-2000 level.
8300	1.0 billion (projected)	Pre-1800 level.
What’s worse, that’s with only one planet, not thousands. When one considers the better medical treatment, longer life spans, lower infant mortality rates, and unlimited natural resources and habitable planets of the future, the 1.5 percent rate of growth seems even smaller.

Anyway, the spreadsheet also calculated the total galactic population, estimating how many worlds were being colonized per year, and their population growth.

I wish I still had that spreadsheet (that was 7 years ago). It took me weeks to finish it.

Anyway, my point is that global population growth will be reason enough to leave this planet.
 
Last edited:

Jürgen Hubert

aka "Herr Doktor Hubert"
Validated User
When writing my Lightspeed game, I created a spreadsheet to calculate realistic future populations of Earth at various times given various factors.

I looked up the global birth rate. I chose a LOW birth rate of 1.5%, a value possible if, out of every 1000 people, each year an average of 35 are born and 20 die.

1.5 percent is an optimistic estimate compared to the rate of almost 2.0 percent growth throughout the 20th century.
Actually, there are strong hints that global population might hit its peak at some point in the 21st century. It used to be the case that having lots of children was an economically sound decision everywhere. But now children need more and better education to be a future asset, and that's a huge drain on family finances before it pays off - and so having a large family is no longer worthwhile it if means that all the children suffer from poor education.

This is not yet true for all regions of the world, but nevertheless for an increasing number of them.
 

Jiawen

漂浮少女
Validated User
In my SF setting, I went with a pseudo-nationalistic push behind colonization. Specifically, the corporations decided in the early 21st century that they were sick of getting pushed around by petty dirt-and-flag holders (i.e., nation-states), so they decided to colonize space themselves. Having your corporate HQ in orbit does wonders for your ability to avoid nation-state meddling in your affairs. Eventually, near Earth orbit was filled up, so newer corporations went to the Moon and Mars. Those eventually started filling up, so each successive wave of would-be independents had to push further out. Nation-states also got into the game, increasing the pressure to go further and further. Once FTL was invented, it was wave after wave of nation-states and corporations colonizing stars for dozens of LY around.
 
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