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View Full Version : Would we be Ready for an Attack by Hostile Aliens?



Richard of Chelmsford
2004-May-27, 01:38 PM
Are any of the world's armed forces prepared for an attack by hostile aliens?

What preparations have been made? How could we fight them? How could we communicate with them?

Would we be correct to automatically assume they would anhialate us, bearing in mind that weaker countries have fought and defeated stronger ones on Earth. (US War of Independence. Vietnam. Sino-Vietnamese war etc)

Could we run and hide, or disguise ourselves?

What is the truth of the report that the world has a considerable surplus of nuclear weapons so that these could be used against an alien attacker and not against an Earthly enemy?

Kaptain K
2004-May-27, 02:11 PM
My personal belief is that against any aliens with interstellar capability, we would have about as much chance as a celluloid dog chasing an asbestos cat through hell!

wedgebert
2004-May-27, 02:23 PM
It would be some of the tribes in the Amazon that still use stone weapons fending off the United States in a battle on an open plain.

NoXion
2004-May-27, 02:26 PM
Consider this: are bullet proof vests arrow proof as well? will an infantry helmet protect against a few kilos of rock?

If these attacking aliens have shields, those shields may defend well against DEWs, but be absolutely useless against bullets and cannon.

The most fancy gun in the universe won't help you if your brains are being beaten out with a rock!

Kaptain K
2004-May-27, 02:42 PM
Just as arrows and rocks are useless against ICBM's, our weapons will be useless against an adversary with the ability to stand off out past the Moon and pound us into submission (if not extinction)! :o

SciFi Chick
2004-May-27, 02:44 PM
Are any of the world's armed forces prepared for an attack by hostile aliens?

I'm guessing no. How would they prepare for something we can't imagine? It would be a poor use of resources.


What preparations have been made? How could we fight them? How could we communicate with them?

How can you prepare for something that may not exist?


Would we be correct to automatically assume they would anhialate us, bearing in mind that weaker countries have fought and defeated stronger ones on Earth. (US War of Independence. Vietnam. Sino-Vietnamese war etc)

It would depend on why they came here to begin with. If they were searching for a specific resource, and we had it, then I'm certain they would take it, by force if necessary.


Could we run and hide, or disguise ourselves?

Run and hide where? Disguise ourselves as what?


What is the truth of the report that the world has a considerable surplus of nuclear weapons so that these could be used against an alien attacker and not against an Earthly enemy?
I hope there's no truth to that, because it seems rather asinine to me. 8)

Dgennero
2004-May-27, 03:40 PM
What we see in movies like "war of the worlds" (aliens would probably NOT be defeated by earthly micro-organisms with a metabolism completely adapted to terrestrial lifeforms) or "independence day" (computer virus made by a terrestrial hacker used to deal with terrestrial computer systems) is completely unrealistic I think, and so are the scenarios that smack of good old grunt war, just somewhat more sophisticated.
I am usually optimistic, but we'd have not a flying chance against an alien invasion, an invasion carried out by a civilization whose mindset we wouldn't understand (so how negotiate?) and who would be far advanced technologically.
While we heat up ICBMs, they coolly send a gravitational shockwave from a distance, without any combat, that just turns the planet's surface into chaotic rubble.
They might not even use primitive, physical force.
What if they have some undescript capability to alter our minds so that we just love them and let them take over? On the other hand, maybe "taking over" or destruction has no meaning at all to them - we can't even speculate.
We could, of course, capture one of their shuttles (if they have something like a shuttle), just like a primitive tribe can capture a jeep full of American soldiers, but I have a hunch that if they want to bring it on, there'll be more than a "jeep".
But why should they?

Drakheim
2004-May-27, 04:40 PM
My personal take on it is this...

If an advance alien race had developed the technology to transverse the vast emptiness that is space, then they obviously are a lot more advanced in technology than we are.

If they were aggressive, then they would have also used their more advanced technology to build weapons for their ships.

We would be able to fight an invasion force for a few hours or so at most. The survivors would either be taken as POWS, Slaves, Food, and ect...

So no, we would never survive an attack from an alien race as our technology stands today.

HOWEVER

On the flip side of it.

I personally believe that any race who is that advanced is mostly peaceful. I came to this conclusion by using humans as an example. (Since we have no other baseline I didn’t have a choice =P.) In order for humans to be able to send a ship from Earth orbit to a planet in the nearest star system, we would have to all work together. That is a MASSIVE undertaking to say the least.

Whether it is a generational ship, or if we finally find a way to break the light barrier or find a way around it, it would take years of research and a large chunk of the world’s economy to construct and maintain the ship itself as well as the construction base.

In such an undertaking, war is not an option. The countries cannot afford to squander their money away on bombs, bullets and tanks when they have a multi-trillion dollar project in orbit. It may be a forced peace, but it would still be peace.

So if another alien race that was aggressive in nature to begin with did this, then the people they sent on the ship would be in either forced or agreed peace to keep the ship maintained for the journey to where ever.

Just my $0.02 though. =P

Demigrog
2004-May-27, 05:04 PM
Assuming the aliens are subject to the same laws of physics as we are (I personally believe "shields", FTL transit and communications are simply not possible), the resources required to send anything to Earth would preclude anything but very high yield nuclear weapons. With the advantage of having a whole planet's worth of resources, we'd win any "conventional" invasion by aliens.

Of course, the aliens could be moving their whole civilization around in some kind of worldship (a la Independence Day), or possibly establish a forward base on another planet in the solar system.

Of course, this all assumes that the aliens want Earth for some reason. Well, any of the resources on Earth would be far easier to get in their home system. The only thing special about Earth would be us, and if they're after us they're either peaceful or trying to wipe us out completely, bringing me back to high yield nukes as the best weapon...

Russ
2004-May-27, 05:09 PM
Here's my point of view on this. Any civilization capable of inter stellar travel would have to be about 2000 years ahead of us technologically speaking. This assumes the closest possible technological seperation. They'd quite probably be many thousands to millions of years ahead. For the sake of this thought problem we'll say 2000 years.

Looking into our own history what chance would the Roman or Greek armies of 50 BC have against an armored cav batallian? This would be heavy tanks and aromored personnel carriers.

The answer is zip. A modern armored cav. bat. could wipe out the whole roman army without taking a single casualty. It would happen fast enough that the Romans would never have a chance to develop a strategy/weapon to appose the modern army.

So if ET shows up with an attitude, learn how to say 'Yes Sir!" in their language as quickly as possible.

Demigrog
2004-May-27, 05:34 PM
The answer is zip. A modern armored cav. bat. could wipe out the whole roman army without taking a single casualty. It would happen fast enough that the Romans would never have a chance to develop a strategy/weapon to appose the modern army.


I'd have to quibble with this. A modern army would run out of gas and ammo in 50BC pretty quickly. Any technology advantage would quickly be nullified, and the Romans would win by sheer numbers and better familiarity with "primative" fighting techniques. Aliens would have the same supply problems compounded by thousands of light years...

I'd also bet that the technology gap between Romans/Modern and Modern/Alien would be far smaller. A nuclear weapon is going to be effective on the alien spaceship no matter how advanced they are. They may be able to take out the delivery mechanism, but in the end we'd get them with numbers.

Drakheim
2004-May-27, 05:37 PM
I'd also bet that the technology gap between Romans/Modern and Modern/Alien would be far smaller. A nuclear weapon is going to be effective on the alien spaceship no matter how advanced they are. They may be able to take out the delivery mechanism, but in the end we'd get them with numbers.

That is of course, if they do not have some kind of shield technology. If that were the case, we may take down a couple of thier ships with sheer numbers, but we would also distroy our own planet in the process.

Russ
2004-May-27, 06:14 PM
I'd have to quibble with this. A modern army would run out of gas and ammo in 50BC pretty quickly. Any technology advantage would quickly be nullified, and the Romans would win by sheer numbers and better familiarity with "primative" fighting techniques. Aliens would have the same supply problems compounded by thousands of light years...

One would presume that the commanding officer of such a force would plan ahead enough that the supply and support units would be adequately stocked. When I was Lt. Russ, I made sure my men drew (fully necessary supplies + woops factor = basic inventory). I also made sure supply lines were multipath. In OCS they POUND into you the six P's. or Proper Planning Prevents Pi** Poor Performance.


I'd also bet that the technology gap between Romans/Modern and Modern/Alien would be far smaller. A nuclear weapon is going to be effective on the alien spaceship no matter how advanced they are. They may be able to take out the delivery mechanism, but in the end we'd get them with numbers.

I'll take the opposing vew here. The rate of Earths' technological inprovement has been exponential for a century or more. In planning for a battle I would be force to presume that ET's technologial improvement was a similar curve. Therefore, the gap between 50BC Roman army and us, would be far less than between us and ET.

Further, if ET is capable of interstellar travel (superluminal speed), its' ships must be able to survive impacts of much greater energy than we can develop with an atomic device. For this reason I believe it is reasonable to expect that our most powerful weapons would be about as effective on ETs' stuff as a Roman lance would be on an M1A1 Abrams Tank. To wit, we wouldn't be able to scratch the paint.



(edit to correct typo's)

Dgennero
2004-May-27, 06:42 PM
Since the universe is already billions of years old, and since there are many stars that might harbor sentient beings, and since we haven't been invaded yet, I daresay we are either the most advanced civilization (at least in this galaxy) or they have no interest.

Glom
2004-May-27, 06:51 PM
We'd just find an Ancient weapon buried under Antarctica and wipe out the puddle faced smeggers.

lek
2004-May-27, 07:08 PM
Call me silly, but i think the "war of worlds" like solution of flu etc killing the aliens would be our best bet hehe... Even if we throw in a big "if" regarding shields designed for energy weapons only... Those ships have to get here somehow, and some shielding against micrometeors etc would be needed as well so i dont find the idea of projectile weapons surprising them with their simplicity very appalling...

For question how / why they get here is another issue... For any resource they might want, surely theres enough uninhabited rocks to get them from. Also its very possible that such superior species exixts but just isnt here (yet) becauseof some speed limits... There has been plenty of imaginary li mits claimed so far, but maybe theres a limit which actually is limit which cant be broken or bent, maybe light speed is it, maybe not.

ToSeek
2004-May-27, 07:23 PM
I don't see how it would be possible to prepare for such an eventuality. If the aliens are even fifty years ahead of us in technology (which is a blip on the evolutionary scale), we'd be overwhelmed - imagine facing modern weaponry with World War II technology.

Kebsis
2004-May-27, 07:36 PM
We would not be able to nuke them, at least not when they're in space. Our nukes simply aren't designed to fly out of Earth orbit and target something in space...they're designed to fly into the upper atmosphere and come back down on the Earth somewhere. Regardless, we humans have fairly effective anti-ICBM technology, so how much of a chance do we really have of landing a nuke on a far-more advanced alien spaceship? All it would take to destroy the missle would be one powerful chemical laser, right?

As for why they would be coming here, that's a decent question becuase it determines whether they want to simply scortch the planet or if they cant do that because it would destroy whatever they came for. However, I doubt they would want anything like that (what is on this planet that they cant find in their soloar system? And if they went this long without it why is it so urgent that they get it now?). My personal feeling is that if they arrive, it would be for one of two reasons 1) Exploration/peace mission, star trek sorta stuff, or 2) Religous Crusade.

Of course like it was mentioned above, they would have a pretty different mindset then us, so what constitutes a good reason to invade might not make a lot of sense to us.

edit: of course, I guess it is possible that they simply ran out of the stuff they came here looking for on their planet.

ChesleyFan
2004-May-27, 07:37 PM
Since the universe is already billions of years old, and since there are many stars that might harbor sentient beings, and since we haven't been invaded yet, I daresay we are either the most advanced civilization (at least in this galaxy) or they have no interest.

I was thinking about this myself...

What if we're already within the territorial boundaries of some friendly aliens that have a Prime Directive of non-inteference, but because of the dynamic nature of the Milky Way (a wide range of angular momentum between stars) and the rigid structure of territorial boundaries, Earth is moving toward the territory of fairly hostile aliens? That would explain why we haven't been conquered... yet.

Dgennero
2004-May-27, 07:44 PM
I don't see how it would be possible to prepare for such an eventuality. If the aliens are even fifty years ahead of us in technology (which is a blip on the evolutionary scale), we'd be overwhelmed - imagine facing modern weaponry with World War II technology.

I refute this claim in a heartbeat: If the aliens are ahead enough to even get here they are advanced by more than fifty years; if they are advanced by just fifty years, they won't reach us anytime soon.

JustAGuy
2004-May-27, 07:56 PM
It comes down to sheer numbers. Any alien attack fleet is almost certainly going to number in the thousands, or maybe millions at the absolute high end.

Even though they might do some pretty nasty damage to our armed forces, they'd wind up in an occupation scenario in the absolutely best case scenario (from their POV). Assuming they didn't have some sort of giant hypno-ray (ala Family Guy) we'd be able to stage an efficient resistance, using whatever technology we could get our hands on. 6 billions humans can be hard to herd.

Dgennero
2004-May-27, 08:01 PM
This is still a scenario from earth, depicting war as we are used to it.
I suspect it will be different, completely.

daver
2004-May-27, 08:10 PM
What if we're already within the territorial boundaries of some friendly aliens that have a Prime Directive of non-inteference, but because of the dynamic nature of the Milky Way (a wide range of angular momentum between stars) and the rigid structure of territorial boundaries, Earth is moving toward the territory of fairly hostile aliens? That would explain why we haven't been conquered... yet.

We're moving pretty slowly. Quite a coincidence that we're so close to the edge of the friendlies.

Which brings us to the point--why would the bad guys want to invade? What do they want that's easier to get from a planet than from space or through applying their own alien technology? Probably not resources. Possibly living room (the rare earth business). If their biochemistry is incompatible with terrestrial biochemistry they sterilize the earth and reseed--game over for any alien invader story--there's nothing humans could do to prevent it. So, by some cosmic fluke, we assume that alien biochemistry is compatible with terrestrial biochemistry, and that the aliens want to move in ASAP. Biowar seems the obvious answer, and again there's nothing humans could do about it--for all practical purposes, we'd be dead before we knew we were under attack.

Anyway, in order to have an interesting scenario, you need aliens that are (1) biologically compatible with terrestrial life forms, (2) starfaring, (3) no more than a decade or so more advanced in life sciences than we are. Probably (4), no more than a couple of decades more advanced in weapons and technology.

Some of this could be gotten around if the aliens liked to see humans suffer--they might pretend to be sufficiently incompetent that humans might think they have a chance (perhaps they are some sort of psychic parasite). I suppose it's also possible that we would get invaded by nouveau riche aliens--perhaps they want to have some subject races just like those snooty Andoreans. Or maybe we get invaded by a technologically decadent species--they're too artsy to maintain their own ships and want to find some clever monkey boys to fix their toys.

ToSeek
2004-May-27, 08:18 PM
I don't see how it would be possible to prepare for such an eventuality. If the aliens are even fifty years ahead of us in technology (which is a blip on the evolutionary scale), we'd be overwhelmed - imagine facing modern weaponry with World War II technology.

I refute this claim in a heartbeat: If the aliens are ahead enough to even get here they are advanced by more than fifty years; if they are advanced by just fifty years, they won't reach us anytime soon.

Who knows, maybe we'll discover warp drive in fifty years. In any case your point just emphasizes mine, rather than refutes it: Even Desert Storm vs. D-Day would be a debacle (my point), but the reality is that it's more likely to be Desert Storm vs. the Battle of Olduvai Gorge, or (probably most likely of all) my right boot vs. some ants.

Slamoid
2004-May-27, 08:36 PM
To give a straight awnser to your question, I'd say not right now. Any power with the ability to go from even the outer rim of our solar system (Jupiter->Sedna) to our planet within one lifetime would be able to slingshot a mass-missile the size of my neighbor's Honda around Mars accurately enough to take out Chicago before we could send a 'Welcome to Jupiter' postcard.

But then again, if they could travel even from one planet to another like going from Earth to Mars with any sort of equipment and personell, chances are they'd just want to stay in bed and surf the Europian internet while setting up planetary fireworks displays to wave us hello.

But that is assuming they're not spirit creatures or mud monsters, but some sort element-based biological life-form that desires to cultivate technology.

Up unitl decades after the Wright Bro.'s flight, most humans where scared of technological advancment. Heck, try taking a tabletPC to an amish community in Utah and see how far in the gates you'd get while playing Unreal Tournament before they go 12th Century on your pitchfork-marked hide. Why assume that an alien culture even desires technology?

Bob
2004-May-27, 08:48 PM
We should select Brad Pitt as our champion and have him challenge the alien leader in single combat, winner take all. It's our only chance.

Swift
2004-May-27, 08:59 PM
I would highly recommend Larry Niven's book Footfall for a science fiction (but realistic and well written) look at the how and why of such an invasion.

Demigrog
2004-May-27, 09:03 PM
Why assume that an alien culture even desires technology?

We assume that just because we lack the technology for interstellar flight (and I'm not sure that we do; I feel it is more socio-economics than technology), that aliens have to be more advanced than us. Well, why? Much of our technology was developed to solve specific problems; the aliens may not have faced the same problems, leaving them far behind us in some areas of technology while ahead in terms of space travel.

Heck, unless they have to upgrade constantly to play the latest games as well, I am pretty confident that our computer technology rivals any in the universe. Moore's law may be unique to capitalist Humans.

More to the point, the key technology for interstellar spaceflight may simply have eluded humans while it came easily to some other species.

I also doubt that our current understanding of physics is so far off that aliens could have developed FTL technologies or star trek style sheilds, etc.



To give a straight awnser to your question, I'd say not right now. Any power with the ability to go from even the outer rim of our solar system (Jupiter->Sedna) to our planet within one lifetime would be able to slingshot a mass-missile the size of my neighbor's Honda around Mars accurately enough to take out Chicago before we could send a 'Welcome to Jupiter' postcard.

This is exacty what I'd expect from aliens that really did want to wipe us out-- and we could not stop them with current technology (at least without some warning). Heck, we cannot even find our own space probes without knowing exactly where they are, so we would not even get any warning. My point is that they could not invade Earth and be able to occupy it successfully without wiping us out from orbit first.

What a cheerful thread. :) Anyway, we all know that the aliens are green blooded pacifists with pointed ears.

Richard of Chelmsford
2004-May-27, 09:13 PM
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your very incisive replies.

Two more points I would like to make.

The B.A. made the point in his book 'Bad Astronomy' that aliens wouldn't come to earth to get water because, said he, "the solar system is full of water" (sic).

Well, yes, so it is, but I rather take the view that like someone who wants a drink, so he goes into a pub and stands by the bar or sits on a stool, so aliens might just want to sun themselves in sunny California if they come to find water near the Earth! That is, if they could easiliy dispose of us, and most of you seem to think they could.

Another point..if we could see something coming..ala 'The Black Cloud' perhaps we could write some kind of 'Last Will and Testament' which could be incorporated into a probe fired in the opposite direction. Perhaps details of Earth, its history and fauna, and as many samples of DNA we could squeeze onto the ship.

Who knows, it might get found by a benevolant race at some time in the future and we could find the human race back in business.

TriangleMan
2004-May-27, 10:02 PM
Not to rain on your parade Richard as I think this is a great thread you've started but . .



Well, yes, so it is, but I rather take the view that like someone who wants a drink, so he goes into a pub and stands by the bar or sits on a stool, so aliens might just want to sun themselves in sunny California if they come to find water near the Earth! That is, if they could easiliy dispose of us, and most of you seem to think they could.
You are projecting human psychology on a race of aliens which I feel is a mistake. It is more likely that their logic and psychology would be completely and utterly different from our own. Their reasons for doing anything might not really make sense to us.

Of course, we won't know until we find some aliens to use as a sample of "alien psychology" (unless you count the ones with the fixation on anal probes). :)


Another point..if we could see something coming..ala 'The Black Cloud' perhaps we could write some kind of 'Last Will and Testament' which could be incorporated into a probe fired in the opposite direction.
Who knows, it might get found by a benevolant race at some time in the future and we could find the human race back in business.

Given the vastness of space it is extremely unlikely that the probe would ever be found regardless of the time. If it was found, would the aliens rebuild the human race so it could continue? Maybe - see my paragraph above.

daver
2004-May-27, 10:28 PM
Well, yes, so it is, but I rather take the view that like someone who wants a drink, so he goes into a pub and stands by the bar or sits on a stool, so aliens might just want to sun themselves in sunny California if they come to find water near the Earth!

Possibly, but they'd expose themselves to our atmosphere and biota if they did. It's presumably much cheaper and more convenient and safer to refuel out by Sedna.


That is, if they could easiliy dispose of us, and most of you seem to think they could.

The Road Less Travelled is a classic, but it doesn't seem particularly likely to me. FTL is likely to be impossible, if possible, it's likely to be very difficult. The hypothetical aliens are likely to have hundreds of ways of wiping out humanity in perfect safety. If they got here STL, it is even more difficult; I'd expect they'd have devised thousands of ways (did someone mention Larry Niven? "The Fourth Profession" does describe a plausible alien menace scenario, but not one in which any degree of military preparation would help).

kenneth rodman
2004-May-28, 05:12 AM
id like to add that interstellar technology may not be a 2000 year leap ahead from where we are technologically today. Our technological advancements have happened mostly in the last 100-200 years or so. Our tech is advancing at a faster and faster rate, who knows what may happen

MrObvious
2004-May-28, 06:54 AM
Efficiency and effort are the key things in waging war. If I was in the aliens shoes I'd make the planets inhabitants do the work for me to make it more alien friendly and safe.

Steps:

1) Control the goverment.

2) Get the goverment to control the general population.

3) Keep the population busy dealing with mundane issues so much they can't think for themselves.

4) Educate the population how to work, not how to survive as a species. Slaves who don't think of themselves as slaves....

5) Get them to wipe each other out.


Litmus tests for the above, the five signs....

1) The goverment does what's best for themselves not the general population or the species.

2) Impose mundane laws that are based on arbitrary limits, eg the arbitary definition of speed limits. Then enforce these laws with more vigour than moral laws.

3) Complicated taxation systems, illogical-nonsensical laws that place any normal person into states of disbelief, eg, a legal limit for speedo accuracy of 10% but fines start if >=3% higher than the posted speed. No real complaints from the public, then they have stopped thinking clearly.....

4) Teach trade type subjects, frown upon mind opening subjects, slaves work not think.

5) Countries having the capability of destroying the world including themselves many times over yet have a urgent need for better weapons.


Yep, we're already being invaded, we just don't know it yet... 8-[

eburacum45
2004-May-28, 07:40 AM
It would be an absolutely incredible coincidence if aliens were to arrive in our system that were only two or three centuries ahead of us, that is to say a civilisation that was only just developing interstellar spaceflight.

The universe is 13 billion years old; it has recently been suggested that there may be Earth type planets a billion years or more older than the Earth itself, so any alien civilisation is very likely to be far in advance of our own.

But-
if this unlikely scenario were to happen- if a single colonising ship a few centuries in advance of our own technology were to arrive- the crew might be low on energy and supplies, perhaps with casualties from on-board failures during their hundreds of years in deep space...

we should not assume they will be combat ready when they first arrive.
They may in fact need our help.

AKONI
2004-May-28, 07:49 AM
Most everybody seems to be in agreement that we wouldn't stand a chance so I'll give a theory as to why they would want to come here.

What they normally breathe is in the air whether it is oxygen or carbon dioxide or anything else, so they chose the Earth for resources because it can sustain them (and if they don't breathe, whatever kills them is not here).

or...

They need the Earth as a base of operations. We're between two factions that have been moving steadily in this direction, and much like how Hawaii is a strategic base for the United States, Earth is a strategic base for whoever gets here first.

Either that or they heard that Earth Girls Are Easy and they're looking for some action.


By the way, didn't Hawkings himself say something to the affect that we shouldn't be too eager to find other life because we don't know whether or not it will be hostile?

Morrolan
2004-May-28, 07:54 AM
I would highly recommend Larry Niven's book Footfall for a science fiction (but realistic and well written) look at the how and why of such an invasion.

and a most excellent book it is! definitely worthwhile reading.

i don't agree with

any race who is that advanced is mostly peaceful.

i just bet the Mayans said the same thing about the Spanish, or the Australian aboriginals about the English.
nowhere does it say that technological advancement creates a peaceful state of mind. on the contrary: the more one 'type' humans are advanced from other 'types' the more superior they seem to consider themselves.

sufficiently advanced interstellar travellers that evolved from something biologically completely removed from us, would feel no kinship whatsoever towards us. what need do we feel to behave civilised towards rats?

Richard of Chelmsford
2004-May-28, 09:19 AM
Somebody once said that there might be alien species so advanced that we cannot even recognise them. A bit like the fact that insects probably can't recognise us as a species.

So if that's the case would we even know if they're here.

Shades of Fox Mulder and his gorgeous sidekick. :)

PeterFab
2004-May-28, 09:43 AM
I would highly recommend Larry Niven's book Footfall for a science fiction (but realistic and well written) look at the how and why of such an invasion.

and a most excellent book it is! definitely worthwhile reading.

And you can play a fun game of 'How Many Science Fiction Authors Can You Spot'

I think I got most of them in the first reading.

PhantomWolf
2004-May-28, 10:00 AM
People seem to be making vast assumptions here that often invalidates their arguments.

First, as a few have pointed out, any Alien envasion force will still have to obey the laws of physics. That means that it's unlike that they'll have planet exploding superlasers or snubfighters that can turn on a dime. Nor do I believe that they would have shields even the same as the SW particle shields.

Second... People are assuming that technlogy will continue to explode at the same rate as it is currently or tht it will increase. How do we know that it won't plateau out in 20-30 years? And how can we assume that any alien society is going to be subject to the same sort of tech explosion at all? Who knows, they may be millions of years older on their planet, but because they have never really needed them for anything very serious, their weapons might be worse than ours are, or perhaps Nukes, missiles and projectile weapons are the top of the tree. They might have had an "Enistien" who worked on space travel rather then nuclear physics.

Thirdly... It's being assumed that, even if they are hostile, that they will be readily supplied to deal with what we do have. What happens if said colony ship started out 10,000 years ago after a scout mission returned. They would have no idea of our existance on Earth, let alone our weapondry. They might be planning to colonise Erth themselves thinking it unihabited.


In the end, we honestly can't know.

Richard of Chelmsford
2004-May-28, 11:50 AM
Another point might be to think about what biologest Jared Diamond said on the subject of human development.

Someone commented on the actions of the British when they encountered Australian aborigines.

Well, Diamond has illustrated that if in the 16th-17th centuries the white British upped sticks and swopped places with the black aborigines, then, due to advantages existing in Europe which did not exist in Australia, the British would have remained as an ancient society and the aborigines would have developed into a modern society. He cites similar examples elsewhere, and in doing so, does, I feel, make a substantial anti-racist observation. One of the best I've heard.

Suppose we find that planets are similar, and that the invading aliens home plabnet has somehow given them an advantage we don't have.

Of course, by then it will be too late for us to do anything about that, but what might such an advantage be?

Argos
2004-May-28, 01:35 PM
It would be some of the tribes in the Amazon that still use stone weapons fending off the United States in a battle on an open plain.

They use bow and arrow. More precise. And there´s no open plain.

Argos
2004-May-28, 01:49 PM
There is no reason to believe there´s such a thing like violent extraterrestrials trying to attack Earth. I don't think that “civilized” aliens (whoever/whatever they are) have destructive disposition. I stick with Frank Drake's opinion that highly developed forms of life should necessarily destroy themselves before posing a threat to other civilizations. Large scale scientific advance will necessarily lead to large scale ethical development.

I really don´t think an ethical civilization would consider genocide as a strategy. When we consider hostile aliens we´re implying some equality between the actors of the drama; something like the Klingons versus Humans. But there´s little chance that this will ever occur. We assume the civilizations to spring at certain time intervals. It would be very unlikely that two civilizations came to existence at the same time. One of them will be older, or younger, by far, necessarily. So, I don´t believe there´s a chance of direct confrontation between two leveled advanced civilizations. But even if it happened, it seems clear to me that two advanced technological civilizations would come to terms about their respective "pursuit of happiness". The question of the distance separating them is also determinant here. I don´t believe in "balance of terror" when it comes to a galactic community.

In my opinion, if a civilization is capable of dislocating matter across vast distances in space-time, a thing that could entitle them to defy an enemy elsewhere among the stars, it means that they have acquired a great domain over science and technology. They probably had to cooperate in planetary scale, along vast periods of time, with members of their own species. If they did this, it means that they have necessarily advanced so much in ethics. Their "reptilian brain" must have been tamed for generations now. Now they´re grownups; a contemplative scientist-philosopher civilization. So, the impulses that could lead them into attacking another species are under strict control, if not disappeared.

We are ourselves in the verge of a breakthrough: next 100, 200 years will be crucial to our long-term aspirations. We are in the destructive adolescence stage. If we emerge safe and sound after this troublesome period, we’ll surely become an increasingly peaceful civilization, apt to assist (or observe at distance) the development of possible inferior life forms we detect, without destroying them.

I admit that my arguments are strongly based upon human morality. But I think we are ready to extend our morality to the farthest limits of the human experience, and we’ll certainly do it.

The reluctance the most developed nations exhibit today about using force results from applied ethics (which, in turn, derives from rationality). This very reluctance was achieved in a short 500 years period, since the first steps toward rationality were taken. I deem it to be an excellent record. Now imagine what we can achieve in other 500 years. And do extrapolate it to what a stable civilization can do through thousands of years.
Besides, there’s the question of the distance to separate the worlds. No matter how developed your civilization is, it is not too practical to wage war on a species which is separated from you by an abyss of light-years.

Thus, I’m very optimistic about the possibility of a peaceful universe. A species that fails to tame its aggressive inclinations will destroy itself before posing threat to other intelligent beings.

TinFoilHat
2004-May-28, 02:08 PM
An alien civilization advanced enough to travel between stars is advanced enough that the resources and technology on earth would be no use to them. A spacefaring civilization can find raw materials and energy more easily elsewhere - everything on earth is inconvienently at the bottom of a gravity well. So we can dismiss the ideas of aliens wanting to invade earth to steal our resources or enslave us as improbable - aliens wanting resources or water would simply mine the asteroids and comets instead.

Our hypothetical alien civilization might just ignore us. They might find us interesting to talk to or study. Or they might consider us a threat or possible future competitor, in which case the safest route would be for them to exterminate us. If an advanced alien civilization wanted us dead, we'd be dead before we even knew we were under attack. All it would take would be a few large astseroids diverted our way at high speed.

The only plausible scenerio for an invasion which we could fight off would be if we encountered an alien race advanced enough to have the ability to get here, yet stupid or clueless enough to not have realized that invading an already inhabited planet is a waste of time. Niven's Footfall portrayed a situation like this - the aliens were evolved from the genetically engineered pets of a since-dead ancestor race. They had reverse-engineered much of the ancestor's technology, but hadn't matured enough to realize that that level of technology made invading planets unnessesary.

Kaptain K
2004-May-28, 02:09 PM
...any Alien envasion force will still have to obey the laws of physics. That means that it's unlike that they'll have planet exploding superlasers or snubfighters that can turn on a dime...
They don't need them. They are at the top of the gravity well. As previously mentioned, see Footfall. See also The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein. All they would have to do is stand off and throw rocks at us (there is a virtually unlimited supply of 'em in the asteroid belt). A 100 ton rock hitting at 11 Km/sec would release energy equivalent to several kilotons of expolsives, without the mess of radiation and fallout. If we can send probes to planets with pinpoint accuracy, don't you think that they could hit any place on Earth with similar precision? They could warn us that they were going to give us a demonstration by hitting some exact (uninhabited) place like the four corners marker in the southwest U.S. or drop one into Crater Lake, at a given time, and then do it, to give us a chance to surrender. Or they could obliterate every city on Earth simultaneously with out warning. Or anything in between. In any event, there would be nothing we could do about it!

eburacum45
2004-May-28, 02:33 PM
Well, if these hypothetical aliens are planning a space bombardment, they may as well use rocks from the outer solar system; as Zubrin pointed out they need less energy to be deflected out of their orbit than near-earth objects. It would take decades or more to set it all up, but eventually the Earth could be targeted by a series of artificial comets.

Even if these hypothetical aliens are only a couple of hundred years ahead of us- if they don't like us,
as Bender might have said-
we're bones.

Sam5
2004-May-28, 02:44 PM
so aliens might just want to sun themselves in sunny California if they come to find water near the Earth!

I’ve actually seen aliens in southern California! And I’ve seen people from other planets in Berkeley.

Argos
2004-May-28, 02:56 PM
If an advanced alien civilization wanted us dead, we'd be dead before we even knew we were under attack. All it would take would be a few large astseroids diverted our way at high speed.


An advanced civilization would have been around for thousands of years. I think if they wanted us dead they would do it while we were still in the cradle. However, no civilization farther than 100 light-years is aware of us right now.

So, be prepared: if the premise of suppression of competition is valid, they will take steps to eliminate us as soon as they receive the first radio signals. If the nearest advanced civilization is 150 LY far (this number has been proposed), and if they have hyperspace propulsion, the end of the world will come in some 50 years. :)

iFire
2004-May-28, 03:57 PM
Aliens might invade becasue they have seen our giant leap in technology in the past 100 years, and observed our more "violent" tendancies, and see us as a future threat and want to get rid of us before we are a real threat.

Weird Dave
2004-May-28, 04:08 PM
They wouldn't even need to come to our solar system. Perhaps they have some space telescope array back home, that seeks out terrestrial planets in the "Goldilocks" habitable zone. When they find one (such as Earth), they strap some solar sails to some warheads (kinetic projectiles like asteroids, nukes or antimatter) and send them our way. At lower speed, they send a robot probe with some of their plant and animal life. The Earth would be sterilised before we get any say in the matter, and the fallout has died down by the time the probe arrives. Eventually, the aliens send a colony ship with some of their excess population, and settle their new, pre-prepared planet.

They wouldn't wait until they detect radio signals or any other form of civilisation - they just assume that a habitable zone planet will be full of the "wrong" sort of life, and may even give birth to rival spacefarers.

What really worries me is that this sounds like the kind of strategy that we may start using. :(

Bozola
2004-May-28, 04:38 PM
Take a couple hundred tonnes of crowbars and split them into two groups.

Launch them, in two waves, 12 hours apart, at the Earth from some other star and accelerate them to 0.92c or better using your relatively cheap engine (since its just a missile, no heavy life support needed).

Once they get up to speed and stop accellerating, scatter the crow bars so that they disperse evenly over a 10,000km diameter circle facing the Earth.

First wave hits the atmosphere and turns the facing half into a big microwave oven.

Twelve hours later, the other half or the Earth rotates and is slammed by the second wave.

Since it is coming at you at relativistic speeds you won't know it is there.

Since it is scattered, unpowered, and targeted against something that cant be maneuvered it can't be stopped even if you know it's coming.

Author Charles Pellegrino called this "relativistic bombing".

AKONI
2004-May-28, 05:06 PM
so aliens might just want to sun themselves in sunny California if they come to find water near the Earth!

I’ve actually seen aliens in southern California! And I’ve seen people from other planets in Berkeley.

I believe you.

N C More
2004-May-28, 08:31 PM
What should we do if attacked by hostile aliens? One word, surrender. I think fighting back would be a lost cause against a technologically advanced alien race. Arthur C. Clarke said it nicely:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke, "Technology and the Future"

NoXion
2004-May-28, 09:33 PM
Somebody mentioned aliens destroying us for our aggressiveness...
I personally think they would try to cultivate some sort of alliance because of the viciousness and inventiveness of humans when it comes to killing.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2004-May-28, 10:28 PM
Somebody mentioned aliens destroying us for our aggressiveness...
I personally think they would try to cultivate some sort of alliance because of the viciousness and inventiveness of humans when it comes to killing.

Yeah, isn't that what we did with Wolves?

Sounds like fun!

I'll just lie here on my Doggie Bed, while you guys drive my Feral Cousins into Extinction ...

HenrikOlsen
2004-May-28, 11:04 PM
I don't think that “civilized” aliens (whoever/whatever they are) have destructive disposition.

With the danger of getting into politics, have you seen the news the last couple of centuries?
There has been no correlation whatsoever between civilization and peacefulness.

Morrolan
2004-May-29, 01:27 AM
hehe... i notice quite a few readers of David Drake, Eric Flynt, Harry Turtledove and John Ringo amongst those that frequent this board... :D

besides the already mentioned Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.

Brady Yoon
2004-May-29, 02:46 AM
I think any sufficiently advanced civilization would be peaceful because they would have killed each other off if they were violent.

AZgazer
2004-May-29, 03:24 AM
Advancement and sophistication simply means better weapons systems. We have refined our means of achieving death to our opponents and there is absolutely no reason to believe that will change...ever. We all may hope for it, but since the beginning of recorded time humans have killed each other.

I have a hard time believing life from another planet would be any different, that doesn't mean they are going to come zap/probe us first and ask questions later.

As far as defending ourselves today against a race that can travel across the universe... forget it, we're done if they are aggressive. I would imagine they would not need to land to accomplish it. (A few nice nuclear detonations would ruin our day in a bad way as Space Cadet's sig points out, also there is no indication they would need to be in a hurry.)

We have the means to end our reign on earth, I believe it extremely niave to believe Galaxy hopping E.T.'s would not possess something similiar. The fact that they were venturing into unknown areas would ensure they possessed weapons IMO, I could not imagine sending out a scouting party into potentially hostile territory without a means to defend themselves.

Dgennero
2004-May-29, 04:46 AM
The fact that (aliens) were venturing into unknown areas would ensure they possessed weapons IMO, I could not imagine sending out a scouting party into potentially hostile territory without a means to defend themselves.

I can imagine an advanced alien race that is specialized on purely defensive means - impenetrable shields and "armor", stealth techniques, deflectors e.g. - of course they might have weapons in case an enemy has weapons that penetrate the "impenetrable" shields.
But encountering a species that does not have such sophisticated technology, it would be sufficient to prove to us we cannot cause any harm attacking them, like rifle bullets are useless against battleship armor.
They'd just wait until we got the message, maybe demonstrate what damage they could cause and then proceed doing whatever they like to do.

HenrikOlsen
2004-May-29, 05:43 AM
(A few nice nuclear detonations would ruin our day in a bad way as Space Cadet's sig points out, also there is no indication they would need to be in a hurry.)
Forget about nukes, they are ridiculously underpowered compared to what then can do simply by dropping rocks.
If they are out there and they can move things around we're boned, and there's absolutely no need for any technology more advanced than what we have at the moment for that to be true.

Richard of Chelmsford
2004-May-29, 12:27 PM
I read somewhere back in the '70s (I think it was 'Supernature,') about the possibility of alien races which had partially or fully 'electronicized.'

That is, their body parts had eventually been replaced by machine parts...as in Star Wars..and their brains and other things replaced by computers, so that eventually the biological fauna of the planet had completely died out leaving a self-replicating electronic fauna.

Example of this...the first Star Trek movie.. when the 70 mile long alien artifact heads for Earth seeking the creator of 'Vega' (Voyager to me and you)

So we might find ourselves being invaded by an army of droids..an everyday event it seems to me in Star Wars! :roll:

Argos
2004-May-29, 02:11 PM
I don't think that “civilized” aliens (whoever/whatever they are) have destructive disposition.

With the danger of getting into politics, have you seen the news the last couple of centuries?
There has been no correlation whatsoever between civilization and peacefulness.

I meant a real civilization. We are brutes, naked apes (with only a basic level of enlightenment) that live in clusters we call "cities" (civilitas). Swap the trees for the skyscrappers and you´ll find we´re still living in the jungle. There´s no parameter to judge what a real civilization is supposed to be. Have you seen the latest news? :)

added: my first post in this thread may have been written in a poor English, but if you read it carefully you´ll see that my point is that cooperation in a planetary scale during millenia is what make a real civilization. We still don´t cooperate with each other in a planetary scale. Instead we kill each other, which leaves the impression of being the only way of life possible. I say peace is rational. Killing and genocide are for underdeveloped brutes. Advanced civilizations are rational.

majic
2004-May-29, 03:46 PM
A lot of the people in this thread make big assumptions about alien races and their social/psychological profile.

I think we should stop doing that - the variations between alien civilisations are simply limitless, because the way they evolved only has to differ a fraction from the way we humans evolved to make them a totally new, unknown factor. Their customs, their physical properties, their living situation, their history, their intelligence, their luck .... so many factors that will make them completely unfamiliar to us.

Obviously I dont say that _all_ alien races are unfamiliar to us...the simple fact that we still exist means that humans followed an evolutionary path that was succesfull, and hence means this can and probably WILL be occuring in other places in the universe. Simply look at how various species can end up looking very similar simply because their surroundings were similar - the environmental parameters simply mean that species will find an "optimal" form or behaviour, to the extent that they are indistinguisheable although they stem from completely different races.

Now, about the peacefullness of an alien race that has the means and/or intentions of getting here. Please understand that with humans, warefare is the ONLY reason we have come to this level of science.

People saying that scientific knowledge/ability is a measure of how peacefull, understanding and cooperative seem to forget this..
The biggest discoveries, scientific breakthroughs / advances have been made because of the will to expand, the will to win and conquer.

Evolution works this way - one species outwitting the other, giving room to itself and usually taking it away from the other.

We can look at this most BASIC evolutionary rule - the fittest will survive - and we can safely assume that at least a part of the alien races out there will also resemble this elementary psychological profile.

Now the alien races that are a competing species will have the need to develope better ways to defend themselves, to get more energy to supply to their warfare/defensive machine, to optimize, make things as efficient as possible. Inventing new ways to do things is simply a logical thing to do - it gives them greater chances of surviving.

Species that either evolved with little/no competition or got into a phase where they out-competed everything and lost their surviving/competing instincts will most likeley not be standing on our front door. This "peacefull" behaviour will not yield great discoveries, and the will to expand/discover is just not as important to them as it is to a war-hungry species.

Therefor I would like to hypothise that species that get here in the first place are species that feel the need to expand/explore - and that most likely stems from their instincts, which in term are most likeley the result of the historical need to compete.

Obviously there we simply cannot predict how the exceptions in the "general rule" will behave - and I think that not even our wildest dreams can even grasp the technology, history and culture of such a race. (And in term, they ours)

All in all I would say that our chances are pretty damn slim right now. Any prediction skill would make an alien race mark us as "damn very dangerous" - the amount of growth we have witnessed in the past 100 years is just incredible, and I feel this will continue for a while to come. Our instinctive needs to expand, colonize and conquer are strong, and are the reason we got here in the first place.

If I would be an alien race I would simply erase this planet from history before it's too late. [For them]

Weird Dave
2004-May-29, 03:59 PM
Seeing as my exams finished today :D , here's a slightly more cheerful post than my previous one.

Firstly, it is of course perfectly possible that our First Contact is with a peaceful civilisation. Maybe they actively seek out aggressive upstarts like ourselves, and teach us to get along with each other. They would undoubtedly have advanced weaponry, but might only use it for peacekeeping.

We might even civilise ourselves. Perhaps a benign dictator will force an entire generation to be genetically engineered against violence and selfishness.

As for fighting off an invasion, I suspect that in a century or two, we might have a chance. For instance, we could send spacecraft to the Oort cloud to powder some comets. Any relativistic projectiles from other stars would be destroyed by just one tiny lump of ice. Or perhaps we could detect them by scanning for blue-shifted thermal sources, or for objects that pass in front of stars. Once detected, we could destroy them with our orbital comet-deflection laser.

We are going to build an orbital comet-deflection laser, aren't we? 8-[

It is also perfectly possible that the invaders will be incompetent, and do stupid things like trying to invade us with unarmed ground troops who are allergic to water [-X .

Please may I add a couple more books to the growing reading list? Stephen Baxter's Space gives a very interesting view of interstellar warfare between civilisations at similar levels of development. He has a good take on alien motives and incompetence. Also, see the bit in Ringworld (Larry Niven) about the Kzinti Lesson (I haven't read any of the Man-Kzin Wars books, but I expect they elaborate the issue).

kenneth rodman
2004-May-30, 05:50 AM
realistically if such hostile aliens existed and were that advanced tech wise
we wouldnt be able to do much. Hell they wouldnt need to invade us if they wanted us gone they could destroy our sun and be done with us.

Hoshiko
2004-May-30, 08:08 PM
Some people have said that aliens must be peaceful because if they weren't they would self-destruct before they became technology capable of interstellar travel. I'm sure this is a silly question, but how could a civilization self-destruct? If there was a total global war, wouldn't they fight until one side was completely elliminated and then what ever was left of the other side would remain? Sorry I just don't get the concept of a civilization self-destructing...

And some have said that if we Earthlings wanted to launch an interstellar space flight, it would require major cooperation among nations. Is this necessarily true? After all, it was competition with the Soviet Union that drove the United States to send an astronaut to the moon. As sad as it is, it seems to me that on this planet at least, it's competition that causes the most major advancements in space travel technology. Maybe it's this way on alien planets. And if these aliens are warlike, and have the technology to travel the distances between stars, it couldn't possibly be a good thing if they decide they don't like Earth.

JustAGuy
2004-May-30, 08:14 PM
Well, it's largely agreed that a no-holds-barred WWIII between the US and USSR would have left the entire planet uninhabitable. I consider that a good bit of self-destruction.

As for inter-stellar flight requiring a multi-national effort. Using the Apollo program as a comparison isn't quite accurate. The energies and timespans involved are so vastly different that it's like comparing driving to the corner store with putting a man on mars.

For what its worth, getting humans to Alpha Centauri would probably involve something along the lines of hollowing out a small asteroid, building a city in it, presurizing it, spining it up to get some gravity and then accelerating the whole deal to an appreciable fraction of c. And the trip would *still* take literally decades.

I don't think the world as a whole is up to this task just yet, let along just the US.

Hoshiko
2004-May-30, 08:31 PM
Ok thanks JustAGuy...yeah I guess the Apollo wasn't a good comparison to inter-stellar flight. Wow hollowing out an asteroid...that would be something. :o

Glom
2004-May-30, 09:24 PM
I believe something like that isn't actually considered practical. The rule is, if you can't get there quickly, don't go. Because if you go slowly, by the time you get there, you may find that another faster ship has beaten you to it. So we talking an appreciable fraction of the speed of light for travel, which will shorten the proper time to something a bit more modest.

SAMU
2004-May-30, 10:41 PM
They have already conquored Earth. They use it as a vacation spot. (outer space is a rather dull environment.) When a human being or other specis with an interesting lifestyle is born, they insert an alien mind into the body of the infant or fetus.

Of course the alien memories are not included in the inserted mind so as to make the life natural for the individual into which the alien mind is inserted. Some portions of the alien mind may be included in the inserted mind. When the alien's time is up the mind is returned to its original alien owner.

The only technologigal advancement required is the ability to transfer minds from one brain to another. (An ability which I predict is as little as 20 years in our own future.) This ability is implicitly speed of light travel. All that is needed is the recieving and insertion apparatus at the destination and a brain to recieve the alien mind.

For local interplanetary travel within the originating star system the originating minds would have to produce their own brains to inhabit. For interstellar travel it would be most efficient to use the native fauna at the destination since the recieving apparatus still has to travel at much less than speed of light speed. But once it arrives at the destination the travelers can fly to any recieving station anywhere in the universe at the speed of light.

Ilya
2004-May-31, 01:06 AM
I say peace is rational. Killing and genocide are for underdeveloped brutes. Advanced civilizations are rational.

Haven't we been over all that before?

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=9000&postdays=0&postorder=asc&star t=0

I know I won't convince you, but there is not a shred of evidence to support your position. Whereas there is plenty to support the opposite.

MrObvious
2004-May-31, 02:40 AM
Let's just see what happens if life is found on mars or any other planet, even if it is microscopic. What are we going to do? If we use that planets resources then we are affecting the future of evolution for that planet.

Logicaly speaking, if an alien race comes here then it WILL affect our future. They would know that already so it must have been decided from their end already that our future will be affected and they are happy to accept those consequences. That already implies interferrence and superiority from their point of view.

This also would preclude them being peaceful. Anyone who is under the impression an alien race will effectively knowingly interfere with the future of another planet AND be peaceful needs to realise this is a contradiction.

If they were peaceful they wouldn't interfere. We do the same when we observe nature, fully knowing that one animal or another will die but will not interferre.

In essence, a peaceful alien race would observe us even if it means at the cost of our own destruction without interfering. An alien race that makes contact is knowingly interferring already so they can already be considered unpeaceful at some level. Just what their motivation is and to what depth is any one's quess, but rest assured it's not soley our best interests that motivates them.

All we can do is hope our survival is in their best interest....

Regards,

Argos
2004-May-31, 04:36 PM
I know I won't convince you, but there is not a shred of evidence to support your position. Whereas there is plenty to support the opposite.

I say there´s plenty of evidence supporting my point of view.

Take slavery, for instance. It´s an expression of violence, and it plagued human race for centuries until rationalism came in and humans realized that it could not go on. This is an enormous progress from barbarism to civilization.

Take war. The most advanced nations nowadays hesitate (in some cases refuse) to use brute force, unless in case of defense. We are devoted to peace. See the pacifist movements, the pacifist institutions. They prove that humans understand that killing is unacceptable. They can be regarded as the start-up movements towards largely applied ethics. They represent a deliberate attempt to tame aggressive tendencies. And this trend will prevail (alternative: destruction). Now think of millennia of insistence and improvements and you will have a pacifist civilization.

Moreover, violence requires a lot of energy. I think there are more subtle – and more efficient - ways for an advanced civilization to deal with menaces and competitors.

I think there´s a point of inflection when dominance-oriented scientific progress shifts to altruism-oriented development. I believe we´re about to make this shift. At the present stage both tendencies co-exist, and it can be very dangerous. The risk of failure is present and could blow the whole thing up. If we fail to cooperate in planetary scale we´ll destroy ourselves so that we won´t pose any threat to others. And this must happen everywhere in the universe.

Ilya
2004-Jun-01, 12:20 AM
Take slavery, for instance. It´s an expression of violence, and it plagued human race for centuries until rationalism came in and humans realized that it could not go on. This is an enormous progress from barbarism to civilization.


Only because industrial production made slavery non-competitive. Slavery still flourishes where it is profitable. Including sex slavery in the "enlightened" West.


Take war. The most advanced nations nowadays hesitate (in some cases refuse) to use brute force, unless in case of defense.


Only because they have so much to lose. It is a matter os self-interest, not enlightened morality. And when a "civilized" person feels immediately threatened, he is as ruthless as any "barbarian".


We are devoted to peace.

Who is "we", and which planet do you live on? How many people do you think are killed by violence this very day worldwide?


See the pacifist movements, the pacifist institutions. They prove that humans understand that killing is unacceptable. They can be regarded as the start-up movements towards largely applied ethics. They represent a deliberate attempt to tame aggressive tendencies.

Such movements are nothing new. Pacifist societies had existed for millenia - and invariably disappeared when less enlightened guys with spears showed up. Pacifism is not a good long-term survival strategy.


And this trend will prevail (alternative: destruction).

Peace forced via Mutual Assured Destruction is not really peace at all - just a temporary truce until better defensive weapons are developed. It certainly does nothing to "enlighten" the participants.


Now think of millennia of insistence and improvements and you will have a pacifist civilization.

Personally, I find millenia of improvements in mutual offense and defense far more likely. BTW, "improvements" do not necessarily mean "bigger bangs". Smaller and more precise ones are far more cost-effective. Which also addresses your next point:


Moreover, violence requires a lot of energy. I think there are more subtle – and more efficient - ways for an advanced civilization to deal with menaces and competitors.

Sure. A virus tailored to defeat your competitor's immune system requires very little energy. Cheap, efficient, stelathy and deadly.


I think there´s a point of inflection when dominance-oriented scientific progress shifts to altruism-oriented development. I believe we´re about to make this shift.

Sorry, but that's pure wishful thinking. No evidence anything like this is happening.


At the present stage both tendencies co-exist, and it can be very dangerous. The risk of failure is present and could blow the whole thing up. If we fail to cooperate in planetary scale we´ll destroy ourselves so that we won´t pose any threat to others.

Perhaps. Or variations of MAD may keep the lid on violence - much like US and USSR refrained from an all-out war, but not from proxy wars and low-level surreptitious violence. And once we spread out through Solar System, the lid will come off.


And this must happen everywhere in the universe.

Utter Wishful Thinking. You know nothing about psychology and motivations of other intelligent species. As I mentioned in the above thread, a species may be entirely peaceful within itself, yet regard others (including us) much like we regard dangerous disease organisms. Extermination out of pure precaution, without anything we'd recognize as "malice".

Morrolan
2004-Jun-01, 01:28 AM
i'm very much in agreement with Ilya on this: currently the world is a more violent place than ever before. i'm looking for the article, but recently a study was presented saying that a few years (2 or 3) ago more people were engaged in wars/confilct etc. than during WWII.

there is no indication whatsoever that we are moving to a more peacuful state. on the contrary, with the erupting conflicts in the Middle East, Asia and Europe stability is threatened more than during the Cold War. the Balance of Terror had going for it that all parties involved had too much to lose to start a war. that balance is gone, some parties think they have nothing left to lose...

[edit: not sure on the 'more people involved in conflict' statement, it could also be 'more countries'. still checking.]

cello
2004-Jun-01, 11:38 AM
imho, we could interfere only with civilization close to ourself in being. otherwise, we won't ever notice them. not a peacefull watching. not a full colonization.

Argos
2004-Jun-01, 02:25 PM
You know nothing about psychology and motivations of other intelligent species.

I´m talking about trends. Don´t you recognize any progress in human morals? Do you really think everything is just a matter of interest?

I´ll say it again: violence is unsustainable in the long run when you have WMD´s. It could have worked in the times of bow and arrow.

Everything that has led us into violence in our troublesome history, namely territory and material needs in general, are not an issue for highly advanced species. They must have complete control over their environment.

Demigrog
2004-Jun-01, 03:56 PM
Anyone who thinks humans have somehow begun outgrowing violence and conflict has not tried to get a parking spot in the Commuter Lot five minutes before 9AM classes at the local university...



I´ll say it again: violence is unsustainable in the long run when you have WMD´s. It could have worked in the times of bow and arrow.

We have had WMDs for over fifty years, and I see no sign of violence being unsustainable. By their very nature, WMDs are useless for preventing violence on any scale but total war. So, we have had 50 years of proxy wars, intelligence and economic warfare, terrorism, and regional conflict. Worse, the existence of WMDs in a nation may ensure violence and misery, as its government can never be removed peacefully no matter how corrupt, violent, or ineffective it becomes.



I believe something like that isn't actually considered practical. The rule is, if you can't get there quickly, don't go. Because if you go slowly, by the time you get there, you may find that another faster ship has beaten you to it. So we talking an appreciable fraction of the speed of light for travel, which will shorten the proper time to something a bit more modest.

You’re right, but eventually you have to launch something, or we may be stuck on this rock forever. :)



Well, it's largely agreed that a no-holds-barred WWIII between the US and USSR would have left the entire planet uninhabitable. I consider that a good bit of self-destruction.

It’s a bit of a conceit to say that the human race would end if the US and USSR nuked each other. Bad as such a war would be, it would still be tough to wipe out the human race completely. Give us a thousand years (probably less) and we’d be back in space.



As for inter-stellar flight requiring a multi-national effort. Using the Apollo program as a comparison isn't quite accurate. The energies and timespans involved are so vastly different that it's like comparing driving to the corner store with putting a man on mars.


“International cooperation” is a slow, ugly, and expensive way to get anything done. Good old competition gets better results faster. (The ISS should be a warning to the next ten generations…) I’m not saying that German engineers cannot work with Americans (we do it all the time), just that international efforts at the government level are, by design, political tools and not real attempts at cooperation.

Ilya
2004-Jun-01, 04:23 PM
I believe something like that isn't actually considered practical. The rule is, if you can't get there quickly, don't go. Because if you go slowly, by the time you get there, you may find that another faster ship has beaten you to it. So we talking an appreciable fraction of the speed of light for travel, which will shorten the proper time to something a bit more modest.

You’re right, but eventually you have to launch something, or we may be stuck on this rock forever. :)


I think a good rule of thumb is - never launch anything that would take more than 50 years to reach its destination. TAU (Thousand Astronomical Units) mission is thus a valid objective. By the time it reaches Inner Oort Cloud, it will be obsolete, but not ridiculously so, and it will do good science along the way. A "50 year probe" every generation would be a good incremental buildup to a true interstellar mission.

Argos
2004-Jun-01, 04:52 PM
I´ll say it again: violence is unsustainable in the long run when you have WMD´s. It could have worked in the times of bow and arrow.

We have had WMDs for over fifty years, and I see no sign of violence being unsustainable.

Fifty years is just a wink. :wink:

ytrewq
2006-Oct-09, 07:06 AM
as long as we have Will Smith we have a chance...

Kebsis
2006-Oct-10, 08:38 AM
wow

Chip
2006-Oct-10, 08:38 AM
Will Smith does OK with ugly aliens but he can't resist the touch of Lee "I-am-for-you" Meriwether!
http://memory-alpha.org/en/images/thumb/b/b7/Losira.jpg/180px-Losira.jpg

GOURDHEAD
2006-Oct-10, 01:01 PM
This thread started questioning whether we could defend ourselves against an alien invasion. In 200 or 300 years after beginning we could have in place the power beam generator described in http://home.comcast.net/~mbmcneill7/ . It is unlikely that the advanced ones could bring along enough energy to overwhelm it; however, they may be able with stealth to disable it before we know they are here. Eternal (and technicaly competent) vigilance is still a worthwhile practice.

BigDon
2006-Oct-10, 03:40 PM
Big snip..

It’s a bit of a conceit to say that the human race would end if the US and USSR nuked each other. Bad as such a war would be, it would still be tough to wipe out the human race completely. Give us a thousand years (probably less) and we’d be back in space.



No, it was bad in the bad ol days. A limited nuclear exchange between the two of us was considered 5000 megatons. Mainly broken up into 180 to 250 kiloton parcels. Though I was a bit stunned when I got to read declassified intelligence work on what was targeted by the Soviets for where I live. I didn't think San Francisco was worth that much in the way of distruction.

A 5 megaton device for Hunter's Point naval shipyard, which to me was always just a bunch of rusty cranes, warehouses with broken windows and old obsolette transports being repainted. That's seven miles north from where I live.

A second 1 megaton device for SF airport which is three miles south.

Treasure Island, 5 meg aprox. 12 miles away

The Presidio, 1 meg

And in case they missed something, a full blown 20 megaton device to be lit off at killing altitude above San Francisco proper. Approximately 6 miles away.

And no nuclear attack on the Bay Area is complete without a subsurface burst in the bay itself. Crushs hulls and creates radioactive fog which is a very effective antipersonel weapon. Then there are the targets in Oakland, Berkeley, Port Chicago, Redwood City etc.

All thats trivial. In an all out exchange of arsenals during the heyday? More than a 8 to 12 times that 5000 megaton estimate.

Consider this. Nobody has ever detonated a multi-megaton device at its most efficient killing altitude. Ever. If you lit a single 20 megaton device off over Kansas at its most efficient altitude (~28,000ft) you would simultaniously burn people in Boston and in San Francisco. And everybody in between who didn't have something solid between them and the explosion. And thats a single bomb.

But wait you say, I'm Joe Aussie, downunder or Fred Mbuti in the deepest Congo, why should we care if the entire Northern Hemisphere is depopulated in the space of a day? Because the entire Northern Hemisphere is now intensely radioactive. Incredibly hot fireballs ten times hotter than the surface of the Sun would drag millions of tons of isotopes into the upper atmosphere for global dispursion. Your deaths would only be postponed by about five years max.

Thats not hubris, thats just a sad fact. Takes all the romance out of the post apocalyptic world. Kids nowadays think the word fallout is a political term. The Incan in the Andes, the Tongan in the South Seas, the Afrikaaner and the New Zealander, nobody would have survived a full exchange in the Sixties and Seventies. They just would have taken longer to die.

(Looking up at what I wrote I can only think, Good Lord, what a bummer of a post! I'm not that depressed, honest! Thinking about fuzzy bunnies and cute hamsters now!)

Here.

Demigrog
2006-Oct-10, 08:06 PM
Consider this. Nobody has ever detonated a multi-megaton device at its most efficient killing altitude. Ever. If you lit a single 20 megaton device off over Kansas at its most efficient altitude (~28,000ft) you would simultaniously burn people in Boston and in San Francisco. And everybody in between who didn't have something solid between them and the explosion. And thats a single bomb.

There were actually quite few multi-megaton weapons, and they were generally targeting hardened targets. You're also way overestimating the power of nuclear weapons; there is no way even a 20 megaton device would cause burns that far away no matter the altitude. The actual radius of 1st degree burns for 20 megatons is about 53 km at 5.4km (28000 feet) altitude. Higher altitude bursts certainly could affect hundreds of miles in radius, but mostly with EMP.



All thats trivial. In an all out exchange of arsenals during the heyday? More than a 8 to 12 times that 5000 megaton estimate.

Try playing with the calculator from the Federation of Concerned Scientists (http://www.fas.org/main/content.jsp?formAction=297&contentId=367); they only go up to 4 megaton, but bear in mind that there are diminishing returns with larger weapons.

Consider; if the area of major destruction for a 1 megaton weapon is (way overestimating) about 1250 square km, it would take 149000000 / 1250 = 119200 weapons to destroy the entire land surface of Earth. Even if we're only going for the US, it is still over 7000. To put that in perspective, the US arsenal has about six hundred fifty 1-2 megaton weapons and fifty 9 megaton weapons ( http://www.cdi.org/issues/nukef&f/database/usnukes.html), officially.

So, the direct effects of an all-out nuclear war will only (despicable use of the word) kill a large chunk of the population, 25%-40% probably, depending on the targeting strategy.



But wait you say, I'm Joe Aussie, downunder or Fred Mbuti in the deepest Congo, why should we care if the entire Northern Hemisphere is depopulated in the space of a day? Because the entire Northern Hemisphere is now intensely radioactive. Incredibly hot fireballs ten times hotter than the surface of the Sun would drag millions of tons of isotopes into the upper atmosphere for global dispursion. Your deaths would only be postponed by about five years max.

Yup, life is going to be pretty rough (by industrialized standards) for a while, all around the world. But bad enough to kill off everyone? Highly unlikely. Say we’re reduced to stone age levels of technology. Well, humanity survived ice ages with stone tools and our wits.



Thats not hubris, thats just a sad fact. Takes all the romance out of the post apocalyptic world. Kids nowadays think the word fallout is a political term. The Incan in the Andes, the Tongan in the South Seas, the Afrikaaner and the New Zealander, nobody would have survived a full exchange in the Sixties and Seventies. They just would have taken longer to die.

You’d be hard pressed to support that with data, I think.

What ever happened to good old Stuart?

Van Rijn
2006-Oct-10, 08:29 PM
Consider this. Nobody has ever detonated a multi-megaton device at its most efficient killing altitude. Ever. If you lit a single 20 megaton device off over Kansas at its most efficient altitude (~28,000ft) you would simultaniously burn people in Boston and in San Francisco. And everybody in between who didn't have something solid between them and the explosion. And thats a single bomb.


No, you have to consider both horizon and distance. Granted, an air burst is nasty, but more and smaller bombs are more effective.



But wait you say, I'm Joe Aussie, downunder or Fred Mbuti in the deepest Congo, why should we care if the entire Northern Hemisphere is depopulated in the space of a day? Because the entire Northern Hemisphere is now intensely radioactive. Incredibly hot fireballs ten times hotter than the surface of the Sun would drag millions of tons of isotopes into the upper atmosphere for global dispursion. Your deaths would only be postponed by about five years max.


No, the worst radiation from fallout would be during the first few weeks. There would be a somewhat increased cancer rate in the longer term, but that's it. The bigger issue for unhit areas would be massive economic disruption.

PhantomWolf
2006-Oct-10, 09:58 PM
But wait you say, I'm Joe Aussie, downunder or Fred Mbuti in the deepest Congo, why should we care if the entire Northern Hemisphere is depopulated in the space of a day? Because the entire Northern Hemisphere is now intensely radioactive. Incredibly hot fireballs ten times hotter than the surface of the Sun would drag millions of tons of isotopes into the upper atmosphere for global dispursion. Your deaths would only be postponed by about five years max.

Sounds like someone's been reading (http://www.amazon.com/On-Beach-Nevil-Shute/dp/0345311485) or watching (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053137/) On the Beach.


p.s. doing some name dropping, Nevil Shute is related to me through my Grandmother. :)

BigDon
2006-Oct-11, 12:50 AM
Okay I'll play as long as it doesn't become a flame war. I'm not posting an ATM here.

Okay in order:

Demigrog,

If carefully read you see I stipulated the arsenals in the 60's and 70's, prior to the SALT talks. Considering the accuracy of the weapons of the time, they went with big, multi-megaton weapons for the same reason we went with hundreds of bombers to destroy a single factory in WW II. Not all of them are going to be anything like a direct hit.

The size of the arsenals prior to SALT talks was enormous. You are applying modern curcumstance to a thought exercise that takes place probably before you were born. (No insult intended)

We had thousands of warheads and the Russians had five to seven times our arsenal. If you look at a map of the United States, in an all out exchange of arsenals every single city in the US with a population greater than 40,000 had at least a 180 kiloton device targeted just for it. There were nuclear warheads for depth charges and torpedos for God's sake.

And in a full exchange it wasn't just Russia and the US. Britain, France and Germany were on the to do list because they were our allies by cause and treaty. Also believe it or not China was on the list too. The Russians couldn't take the chance of an overland invasion by the Chinese while they were weakened. So they had to be softened up as well. Of course the Chinese are going to shoot back.

(Now obviously the Russians aren't madmen as this didn't happen. Thought exercise from the sixties, remember?)

So now we have most of Russia, eastern China, all of up-wind Europe, the contental US, parts of Alaska, all of Hawaii, Guam, big chunks of Japan, the Phillipines (US Airforce and Navel bases there) All smoldering craters worse than Chernobyl. Just from the nature of the tech at the time bombs were dirtier. Want to vacation on Bikini Island? Its been close to 50 years, its all good now, honest. I'll sell you beach property, cheap.

Van Rijn

I'm well aware that anything over .8 megatons and you start losing effectiveness due to the force of the blast being channeled out of the atmosphere. (For other reading this think of the films you see of depth charges going off, the big column of water spouting up is analogous to what happens to big nukes. The atmosphere can't compress fast enough so it channels a lot of force into space.)

IIRC, radioactive Iodine and Potassium are pretty bad but short lived. But our good friend Strontium would stick around for a long time. There would be a lot of it loose. Your body thinks its calcium and so sucks up as much as it can handle and deposits it in your bones and teeth.

And lastly but not leastly PhantomWolf, (this has taken me a long time to type out so if others have posted in the interim, I'm not ignoring you)

Of course I've read On The Beach. I'm literate. But you have to consider when I was born. Am I the only one here who had to do "Duck and Cover" drills?

Once a month up until I was in fifth grade. Being a New Zealander you probably never had to do even one. So I'll describe it. Huge air raid sirens in my town would go off and all the teachers would close the curtains and direct us to get under our desks, face away from the windows, and assume "crash" positions. And the teachers would even tell us why, how could they not? This was to protect us from the exchange I described earlier.

You can't be raised like that and not have an opinion on the subject. Everything I based my opinion on came from books I no longer have access to, pre-internet. Including declassified stuff that I trust as true.

But I'll modify my defense of Justaguy's statement to say, there would have been a very good chance of the extinction of the human race in the event of an all out exchange in the late 60's/ early 70's. Don't forget it was policy at the time to include biological agents a well. One in ten Soviet ICBMs being so equiped. Weaponized, hemorrhagic smallpox (the only kind worth weaponizing) being the favorite. Plus good ol' anthrax. And thats as good as your going to get out of me.

Boy, you guys make me sound like an old racist! And not one of you mentioned how cute the hamster is! What are you? Cold, calculating scientists or something?

BD

Swift
2006-Oct-11, 03:55 AM
Just to throw in my two cents, and yes, I'm old enough to have done duck and cover (acutually, I mostly remember the drills in grade school where we would stand in the hall, away from the windows).

I'm no expert, Big Don, but your numbers sounded a little high, even at the peak of the nuclear arsenals and if everyone joined in. But I also remember Physicians for Social Responsiblity's study of a single nuclear bomb exploded over Boston. Not only are about a million people dead, but there are more second and third degree burn victims than all the beds in all the burn wards in the US. And that's just one city.

Let's talke Demigrog's value of 40% killed in the initial war or die of their injuries shortly after. To say the economy would be in ruins seems like a severe underestimate. I suspect that a considerable number will starve to death in the first winter, not to mention all the diseases when the remaining refugees have no sanitation or medical care.

The third world won't be in much better shape, with no support from the West, and refugees from the war zone moving in.

Though I remember a time in my teens when I feared that humans would and could wipe not only themselves, but all life off this planet. I suspect now that is not quite true, we seem to be a hardy species. But to pull some numbers out of my "special storage spot", I would suspect we would end up with 75% of the world dead, and the rest knocked back pretty close to the stone age (maybe bronze).

I think it is a bad idea and we should avoid it at all costs.

eburacum45
2006-Oct-11, 07:22 AM
The size of the arsenals prior to SALT talks was enormous.
I thought I'd check this out.
Interestingly the peak time for the number of nuclear weapons in the world arsenal was long after the SALT talks;
see this table;
http://www.nrdc.org/nuclear/nudb/datab19.asp
In 1986 there was a grand total of 65,056 nuclear weapons available worldwide, and the Soviet Union had around twice the arsenal of the United States.

So a lot of damage could have been caused if all those weapons had been used; I doubt very much that the Soviets had the capability of actually delivering more than a fraction of their weapons, but a full exchange would have been very bad.

ASEI
2006-Oct-11, 02:42 PM
Any alien race that can transport sizeable amounts of mass at near lightspeed is going to be wielding far more energy than we're used to dealing with, with far greater finnesse than we could possibly manage. If it were to happen tomorrow, 5, 10, 100 years from now, we'd be sitting ducks.

In the event of a war, the first thing to enter our star system probably wouldn't even be a ship at all. More like a series of big dumb projectiles at near c that impact every terrestrial planet and most major moons, dealing out gigatons of fun to anyone on the surface.

Actual ships that show up would probably be robotic, carrying payloads optimized to cause maximum damage/mass (nukes and bioweapons, probably). Or perhaps even von-Neumann machines that land in the outer system to construct the actual weapons. Also, any interesting engine (one with high enough thrust and efficiency) would probably also double as a nasty particle beam weapon.

By the time the actual aliens show up (assuming they even want to), the solar system would be pretty thouroughly sterilized.

The only thing we would have readily available to fire back at any legitimate target would be nukes on slow interplanetary rockets. Ballistic missiles wouldn't even be able to reach our assailants.

BigDon
2006-Oct-12, 06:08 AM
Thanks ASEI,

I was thinking the exact same thing. But I already bummed out enough folks in this thread already. If they can get here from there, we're hosed.

Care for a hamster?

Cookie
2006-Oct-12, 02:51 PM
Umm.. Could the dinosaur extenction have been caused by something targeted at Earth from far away (by design) at speeds near C, with the purpose being to sterilize the Earth?
:shifty:

Perhaps they sent more than actually impacted, as the others could have missed due to miscalculation or some other mistakes or oversight?

Ah...
Maybe they sent a generational ship that might turn back when it gets to a distance where they'll start recieving our radio and TV signals?

I don't actually believe any of my questions or statements in this post, but it's fun to play the game. =D

transreality
2006-Oct-15, 01:24 AM
What if it is just one representative of a highly advanced technological culture who arrives in a capsule slowing down by conventional solar sail, and on achieving orbit demands that we surrender the planet completely. Now can we please bring him down to the planet so the full extent of the mighty technology can be demonstrated. And if we refuse then we can expect that at sometime in the next few centuries a horrible retribution will arrive and destroy the planet?

That is, the battlefleet does not arrive, merely the threat.

eburacum45
2006-Oct-15, 11:25 AM
Arriving by solar sail? It's a bluff. The alien race he/she/it represents probably can only just manage to send a single individual by expending all its available resources on the project; solar sails are the cheapest, lowest tech form of interstellar option.
Treat him/her/it politely, but don't believe a word.

cozzman
2006-Oct-15, 04:25 PM
Well this kinda scares me that I've thought about what I'm going to write... but here it goes...

There are two *separate* defacto environments a species that is either planet bound or spacefaring experience. The first is a closed system:

A few presuppositions about the closed (single planet or star system):

1. All organisms compete with other organisms in their surrounding biosphere for resources.

2. An organism can only control as much of those resources as it can defend.

3. Theoretically, once an organism has achieved defacto dominance in an ecosystem, it has only itself to compete with for resources. (this is called war in our vocabulary)

4. An ecosystem is a closed system.

A few presuppositions about the open system (Species existing as an advanced spacefaring culture)

1. Due to the open nature of the universe, competition for resources is either eliminated or completely reduced.

2. One species cannot control an infinite universe.

3. Since an organism cannot achieve defacto control of the universe and be it's own sole competition, intra species war no longer exists or is unlikely.

4. Since the universe is an open system and essentially infinite, interspecies competition or war no longer exists or is extremely unlikely.

5. The technology needed to traverse distances between star systems also as a priori would dictate that the *creation* of resources from raw material or raw energy in a manner dictating non-competition either inter or intra species.

The short version:

Once you graduate to a technical level where resources are no longer a problem- none of the old concerns about conflict apply.

PhantomWolf
2006-Oct-16, 01:57 AM
Of course I've read On The Beach. I'm literate.

Actually these two things do not necessarly logically follow each other, well one way. Just because you can read doesn't mean you have read that particular book, or have even heard of it, especially since the book is somewhat old (published nearly 50 years ago.)

My referance to the novel was merely that your description of the events greatly mirrored that portrayed by Shute in his book as if you had taken his description of what would happen and used it.

Thanatos
2006-Oct-16, 06:20 AM
Inca: What are those bumps on the horizon?
Incan Priest: Seaweed.
Inca: I see people walking around on the seaweed.
Incan Priest: Have you chewed cactus blooms lately?
Inca: I'm right behind you.

Is it safe to say any beings capable of interstellar travel have technology far superior to our own? We would be hopelessly outclassed [see above: Spanish Armada].

V-GER
2006-Oct-16, 02:34 PM
Thanatos wrote:

[see above: Spanish Armada].

You mean the one that sank off the coast of England? That too was supposed to be far superior to anything at the time but yet it was toppled by foul weather and a pirate... so I guess we still got hope.

transreality
2006-Oct-16, 10:31 PM
I guess this is the point of the guy in a capsule who wants the world. Yes it is a bluff, but his culture has demonstrated the technology to send a high velocity impactor from out system it might hit for a few centuries. Possibly because of the time lag we could hope to develop a comparable technology in time and find a way to avert destruction, but so much is being gambled.
If we surrender, who is to say we don't come into contact with new more advanced sociality, new concepts that will lead us out of a subordinate position. Humanity should perhaps surrender to the first starfarer that demands it, or at least appear to.

Even in the case of the Inca the ruling clique still fought itself into extinction, we would have to make sure the local commanders weren't given the option.

V-GER
2006-Oct-17, 09:12 AM
If we surrender, who is to say we don't come into contact with new more advanced sociality, new concepts that will lead us out of a subordinate position. Humanity should perhaps surrender to the first starfarer that demands it, or at least appear to.

It could be pretty hard to recover our spines after decades of subordinate position.


Even in the case of the Inca the ruling clique still fought itself into extinction, we would have to make sure the local commanders weren't given the option.

How exactly? wage war against our own because they refuse to surrender, to aliens?
Talk about collaborating...

Ilya
2006-Oct-17, 01:17 PM
Sorry, no. As long as the speed of light is a barrier, the universe is NOT infinite. Once Earth (for example) is surrounded by so many colonies it can no longer reach the frontier, we are back to limited resources. And as the colonies send out their own colonies, more and more planets will end up in "limited resources" situation.


Well this kinda scares me that I've thought about what I'm going to write... but here it goes...

There are two *separate* defacto environments a species that is either planet bound or spacefaring experience. The first is a closed system:

A few presuppositions about the closed (single planet or star system):

1. All organisms compete with other organisms in their surrounding biosphere for resources.

2. An organism can only control as much of those resources as it can defend.

3. Theoretically, once an organism has achieved defacto dominance in an ecosystem, it has only itself to compete with for resources. (this is called war in our vocabulary)

4. An ecosystem is a closed system.

A few presuppositions about the open system (Species existing as an advanced spacefaring culture)

1. Due to the open nature of the universe, competition for resources is either eliminated or completely reduced.

2. One species cannot control an infinite universe.

3. Since an organism cannot achieve defacto control of the universe and be it's own sole competition, intra species war no longer exists or is unlikely.

4. Since the universe is an open system and essentially infinite, interspecies competition or war no longer exists or is extremely unlikely.

5. The technology needed to traverse distances between star systems also as a priori would dictate that the *creation* of resources from raw material or raw energy in a manner dictating non-competition either inter or intra species.

The short version:

Once you graduate to a technical level where resources are no longer a problem- none of the old concerns about conflict apply.

Van Rijn
2006-Oct-17, 09:44 PM
Sorry, no. As long as the speed of light is a barrier, the universe is NOT infinite. Once Earth (for example) is surrounded by so many colonies it can no longer reach the frontier, we are back to limited resources. And as the colonies send out their own colonies, more and more planets will end up in "limited resources" situation.

Actually, unless there is infinite living space and instantaneous travel, there must be a limit to exponential growth. A velocity limited FTL drive wouldn't be sufficient. Instantaneous travel in a finite universe wouldn't be sufficient. Humanity will have to deal with exponential growth long before we run around colonizing other star systems. Considering the immense energy cost of travelling between stars at a reasonable fraction of the speed of light and given that growth must stop eventually anyway, I seriously doubt there would be much incentive for interstellar war.

Noclevername
2007-May-10, 02:38 AM
Alien invaders wouldn't NEED hyperadvanced technology. They'd already hold the high ground. Drop a few orbital kinetic weapons, or one big Dinosaur Killer on us, and we'd be toast. Our best bet is dispersal; to get as many human beings as far from this single-planet target as possible before the attack.

In fact, if they're TOO much more advanced than us, there's nothing we'd have that they couldn't make themselves, or get a lot cheaper elsewhere (but perhaps they're religious fanatics looking for a few forced converts).