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spaceman

The Elephant Universe ... or ... 1 Temujin = 0.108 attoplancks.

This is extrapolated from a discussion between Jeff Teunissen, Gregory Casamento, and myself, between 03:00 and 05:00 UTC, 10th July 2006.

After talking with a phalaena yesterday about Babylon5, Jeffrey Willerth and Patricia Tallman, the topic of Sci Fi came up in the GNUstep IRC channel. Actually it started with Dune but we soon got to B5, how I was bored enough with biotech to prefer working on the science part of Science Fiction more than human medicine and physiology. Not before pointing out Patricia and Jeffrey are cool, of course :)

I won't mention the aliens who's physiology and universe were under discussion since one of my conversaries is writing a story and it's his species. However, it's relevant to point out they are quadratic.

I suppose it was inevitable I'd get back into Sci Fi ... I have difficulty living in this world for more than a few days at a time.

This led though to how different creatures evolve, and that some have much higher capability for biosynthesis and natural ability to become the dominant species in their world. Also that early life used chemosynthesis and that life based on photosynthesis would not evolve to anything that developed technology.

T: As far as humans go, we have everything in the periodic table in us, and can make a hell of a lot more than is thought possible. Some of the drugs we can biosynthesise have structures of tens and hundreds of thousands of atoms and they make drugs like morphine and THC look as weak as water. Naturally, drug companies are more than scared of this ... they can't patent what our liver does on a good day ... and artificially synthesised drugs will never be as object oriented as anything we make ourselves.

J: It's telling that there was already life here at the end of the heavy bombardment. The Sun was barely even visible at that point, so my guess is that the life that was present was getting energy from the rocks, and the air, pulling the methane out.

T: Life is part of the origin of rocks. Rocks are petrified liquid. Makes one wonder if there is any tangible beginning at all.

J: Obviously, not ruling out panspermia :)

T: The easiest way for a Sci Fi buff to get the head around it is to accept some nut went back in time to a beginning point and left some life, minerals and energy there :)

J: Or that the universe was created in a lab.

T: Sh !, I'll be in deep trouble if anyone finds that out :)

J: (after all, the 27 critical values in quantum mechanics may not be the only valid arrangement)

T: 27, one for each lunar mansion of Indian astrology. For when there are discrepancies, Indians arbitrarily created a 28th null mansion called abhijit :)

J: Anyway, though I don't personally believe that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy, my story requires it so by authorial fiat it's there.

T: It is often difficult to accept there is intelligent life anywhere in the universe.

G: No intelligent life, but life nonetheless.

J: Life I consider to be nearly certain.

G: Surely there's a microbe (or something significantly like it) crawling around someplace. (where someplace is not earth, excluding of course any bodies to which our space probes may have carried life) :)

T: (A microbe deep in some cave pool on Mars or Venus is probably watching us now and saying "I'm still not sure if this simulation is worth continuing")

J: If life were rare, it should have taken far longer than it did for life to arise here. On most worlds, it probably will never get past the pond-scum stage. Or even the giant virus stage, if indeed that is the common ancestor of Earth life.

T: We are a giant virus ... look what we did to this planet :)

G: Even our earliest radio transmissions have only travelled out into space for last 70 or so years.... so our impact on the universe around us has been negligible and hardly noticeable by someone looking at our solar system from afar.

While looking for life elsewhere in this universe would be difficult, it would be as difficult for any intelligent life to also detect or notice earth as alive given how far away the nearest systems capable of supporting life are. Let alone that as humans, we are only just becoming aware during the last 10 years or so the we do not exist as individuals, and are perhaps more accurately a commune of symbiants, a dynamic collection of virus, proteins and amino acids co-existing to create the illusion of a single animal. So before becoming aware of another intelligent species in our universe, as a race we would have to redefine our concept of species and intelligence. For example, if thousands of new species can be discovered by examining the earth's ocean, is it not impossible the ocean is itself an individual species no less then we are, when we are also thousands of micro species ?



J: Red Dwarf stars like Barnard's are arguably the best places to look for life ...

G: How so? Red Dwarfs are small, cold stars.

J: They're also our best chance of finding more permanent homes among the stars ... they're plentiful and last a long time. Long after all the other stars are gone, the first generation of Red Dwarfs will still be going strong.

G: They don't burn as hot as more massive stars. Any planets carrying life would have to be closer to the star though.

J: Planets close enough to be in the Red Dwarf goldilocks zones would be tidally locked,

T: Unless they had their own moons ?

J: Say, a hot Jupiter with a large moon ...

G: It would be quite a thing standing on such a world, the star would probably fill a large portion of the sky.

T: Like the recent news footage from the international space station of earth, massive blue arc occupying some 80% of the camera's field of view.

J: An Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf would have an enormous hurricane that never ends directly facing the star. And a completely frozen dark side. Thus a concentration of any living beings at some midpoint if life at all possible.
You'd have a ring of habitability between the storm and the ice. An already-technological civilisation could make a nice, stable home on such a world for an extremely long time.

T: That hurricane would be tapped for energy fast enough ...

J: indeed

T: ... supply heat for habitation of the ice side to facilitate expansion,

J: and sapping its power in the process.

T: Just as badly as we screw up our resources on this planet, fighting wars because we're using fossil fuels to explore space because we've no resources left is just plain screwy.

J: Nature has great techniques, we've got better materials. :)

T: Intraplanetary wormholes ? no transport at all ?

G: I seriously doubt that Wormholes can by created and maintained in such a way as to make them useful.

T: It would be downright dangerous. Digitise the lot of us and cover the planet with fibre optic petabit ethernet ? :)

J: A space elevator on the night side would need to be very long, but it would work. Orbital velocity vs. rotational ...

T: Classic Arthur C. Clarke.

G: Rather than wormholes, an Alcubierre Drive is much more likely. And even that is not very likely. Interstellar travel is a huge problem, not to mention intergalactic.

T: A hundred years ago our metabolisms had no experience of travelling faster than a horse could run. We still get a localised temporal distortion called jetlag. When the London subway opened, people believed they might die at such speeds.

G: Discount it when it means that the individuals travelling will not be able to return for several thousand years ...

J: It's only a few years ... ship time, of course ...

G: Time dilation. Meaning from the point of reference of the people on the ship 4 years goes by, but from the point of reference of the people on earth it takes 20,000 years.

J: M-Theory gives us a theoretical "out", depending on whether or not another P-brane is coexistent with our own.

T: P-brane or Pea-brain ?

G: I was just thinking that.

T: Trust me to say it :)

G: It's a p-braned theory :)

G: There have been some very serious scientists who've called String theory (aka M theory) a crock.

J: And they are right to do so, if the string theorists continue to fail to come up with unique predictions. That said, it really is a nice theory.

T: I am not tempted to write an idiots guide to astrophysics and call it "The Elephant Universe" :)

G: I had a couple of physics classes in College. One of my other electives was Stellar Dynamics (basically the principles behind how stars work). Stellar Dynamics was a hard freakin' class.

J: Physicists are attracted to string theories for the same reason they were attracted to general relativity.

J: "It's so beautiful, it just has to be right".

G: Well, if the model fits, then perhaps it is ... but, if it doesn't then it's time to throw it out and start over.

T: "If it's neither useful or beautiful, destroy it"

T: I'm rarely up for anything involving the kind of heavy math used in astrophysics

J: Astrophysics is way simpler than particle physics.

T: I'm trying to avoid that physic as well as much as possible. I let apps do molecular dynamics for me

G: Quite often the theories which stick aren't elegant, but they work. :)

J: You get the same results with fewer magic numbers. If you can get past the dimensionality bits, it's easier to work with.

J: The thing about string theory is that the equations work better.

T: Are there test applications of those same as we can test molecular or particle dynamics and have tangible results ?

J: Yes, they're called "electronics". If quantum mechanics were far from correct, transistors wouldn't even work.

T: I know IBM were sending electrons in different directions in superconductors in 1979, but I thought this to be more particle physics than string theory. Well, IBM publicised this in 79, meaning they'd probably been doing it since 69.

J: The problem with string theory is that you do get the same results to other theories like QED and QCD and Supergravity. For example, string theory predicts supersymmetry, but so does supergravity. It predicts gravity waves, but so does general relativity. And it looks like a direct test of string theory is impossible, because quantum strings are smaller than the Planck length.

T: This is what I asked, whether to test and apply results is possible as it is in molecular dynamics.

T: So to replace Planck's length/constant with something more appropriate ?

I never accepted the speed of light as a constant. The human race cannot yet agree of definition of grams to ounces even. For one substance the ratio is one thing, for another substance, it is entirely different, after archaeologists define civilisation on having a unified system of weights, measures and constants, something we still do not have. Our science is still somewhat primitive and almost still impirical until we have better constants.

J: String theory is compatible with both constant and inconstant values for c. It's compatible with everything, which is part of why it's not directly testable.

J: The Planck Length has been proven to be the minimum measurable distance. But the length of a quantum string is so small that it is as much smaller than the Planck length as the Planck length is shorter than the diameter of the galaxy.

T: So, fractions of Planck ... micro and nanoplancks, took me one second to think that.

J: Right but you can't measure anything smaller than the Planck length.

T: I can now :) It might not make sense to any mathematician, but it works for me :)

J: Even if we somehow find P-branes using string theory math, that still doesn't tell us string theory is correct.

T: If I have to break the laws of math to make it work, it's probably not correct, or at least, not yet.

J: In a sense, it's not disprovable. Which means it's not a theory, nor even science, but a philosophy.

T: Hence, we are still impirical and not yet scientific or civilised enough.

J: But even so, it is a remarkably elegant way of doing the math.

T: String theory or my nanoplanck hack ? :)

J: Femto

J: For example, it can be used to combine gravity with the other forces. It has been used to theoretically verify Hawking's black hole math.

T: I notice it's a quadish fraction

T: Personally, purely for the sake of asian numerology, I prefer Atto to Femto

J: 1 Temujin = 0.108 attoplancks.

T: 0.108 is a nice asian number as well :)

J: I'm aware :)

T: So I will one day prove string theory, using my buddhist rosary which includes a real string.

J: And quadrillions of cosmic ones.

Glossary

Microbe : a little monk's habit for an audio transducer.

Plankton : weight of a life form of the smallest measurable size in whole units, see Planck.

Planck : smallest measurable unit of length, an incredibly tiny piece of wood.

String Theory : a concept of the fabric of the universe descended from the asian belief all matter is sound vibrations, how primordial sitars created everything.

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I'm aware that for anyone who has the necessary knowledge to understand, all this must be extremely funny ;-)