1. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    Some sci-fi setting details

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Vagrant Tale, Jul 6, 2016.

    Hello! I am currently working on several short stories all set in the same universe as a novel I will write when they are finished, and I still have plenty of blurry areas in the setting to define. But I don't wanna bore everyone with all of it! So I'll just limit it to a few questions at a time over a very long time I think! So here goes!

    Question 1: I'm trying to make all of humanity sterile so that they cannot reproduce sexually, and are forced to repopulate via cloning. The current reason for this has to do with the method that humans left earth. The short version is that they "rode" an extremely large, almost planet sized/shaped asteroid/dwarf planet that was moving through the solar system. Earth saw it coming hundreds of years in advance, spent hundreds of years preparing.

    After the dwarf planet came within a certain range, millions of humans moved to it and "rode" it out of the solar system for several hundred years, until they came within range of a terraformable planet, then used the dwarf planet to "orbit" the new planet while they made it habitable, and eventually moved over to it as their new homeworld.

    The reason humans are all sterile (as it currently stands) is that what they didn't account for was undiscovered forms of radiation that were encountered during the long journey upon the dwarf planet.

    Does that reason sound silly? Is there any input you guys can give me? Is there a better way to do this?
     
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  2. Spencer1990
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    Coming from a non-sci-fi guy, what sounds much sillier than the sterility thing is the riding a "planet-sized/shaped asteroid/dwarf planet" to another terra formable planet. Depending on how you handle it of course.

    Again, I'm not a sci-fi guy, and for all I know that's a really great idea. So to answer your question, radiation sterilizing humanity is not that that heinous as to prevent you from moving forward with your story.
     
  3. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    I just really don't like the idea of FTL travel myself, and as the only civilization that has what's akin to "warp gates" is an alien race, and humanity hadn't encountered any other forms of life for hundreds of years AFTER they had made the move, I felt it was a neat alternative to both, something I had thought of while I was watching a documentary about Planet X's (proposed) unusual orbit
     
  4. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm with @Spencer1990

    1/ Sterility caused by radiation during space-travel is credible; except that, for the "dwarf planet" to be adequate to sustain life for enough centuries to reach your target new homeworld, you'd expect it to have an atmosphere, probably similar to earth's, which would protect them from that radiation; you probably need to include/exclude something from the atmosphere that means that radiation is not protected against, which is why THIS planet never developed indigenous life.

    2/ If this "dwarf planet" is massive enough to sustain life for a sufficiently large population for centuries, it's going to be so massive that it will require considerable energy to divert into orbit around the new homeworld.
     
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  5. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    @Shadowfax I'll go even further and say that without regular orbit of a star, an atmosphere isn't possible. Life isn't possible if something is floating through space. Not life as we know it, anyway.
     
  6. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why not?

    If the dwarf planet is sufficiently massive, it could retain an atmosphere with its gravity; I don't see how a regular orbit/proximity to a star is a prerequisite.
     
  7. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I misspoke in saying an atmosphere isn't possible...maybe it is; I don't know. The point I was trying to make is that without the regular heat from a star, the kind of atmosphere we enjoy here on earth (or any of the planets in our solar system) isn't possible. We've been finding plants lately based on their proximity to stars. If a giant hunk of rock is hurtling through the universe, it probably wouldn't be able to develop anything long standing in terms of atmosphere because of its ever changing surroundings.

    ETA: From what I know, the gasses that make up atmospheres, even on the gaseous planets, would freeze without the constant heat from our sun. Obviously, there could be exceptions to this and my understanding is feeble...at best.

    Hopefully, someone else will chime in and make me look foolish.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
  8. Vagrant Tale
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    Vagrant Tale Active Member

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    I should have detailed this, but the dwarf planet is merely a vessel, the traveling human passengers created huge artificial habitats inside and in the surface, basically turning the planet into a giant ship-colony, everything they needed they brought with them, atmosphere wasn't needed I think due to the inside environment
     
  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    So we've hollowed out a passing planet to create living space for millions of humans, and created an internal atmosphere suitable for human life?

    1/ How much room would "millions" of humans require? Taking 10 Million using the 11 cubic metres specified by UK guidelines for office space, that means 110,000,000 cubic metres = 3 metres high x 6km x 6km. Plus, to grow 400 g per person per day of rice, at a yield of 22.4 tonnes per hectare per year, you'd need an area of 25km x 25km.
    2/ How much work to do that in the short period of time that this planet would be within range of earth-based travel?
    3/ How to ensure that the atmosphere was secure within the "tunnels" - by installing air-locks - to prevent it venting into space?
    4/ How to produce enough food without direct sunlight, especially during the long periods of travel through the interstellar void.
     
  10. newjerseyrunner
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    Cloning is not a solution to sterilization, in fact, it will cause it. There is a process called replicative fading, which causes cloned genes to simply degrade and any species that tries to reproduce this way will eventually become sterile.

    Your time scale is not logical though. Hundreds of years is not enough time for a rogue planet, even with extremely high hyperbolic trajectories to reach another star system. Stars and planets move at enormous speeds, but space is even bigger. Hundreds of years wouldn't even get you to the inner Oort cloud. The minimum number I would estimate to make it to the closest habitable worlds I'd put at around 20K years. How will they steer it? Is it just happened to be heading in the right direction? Considering the distances and angles involved, that's very unlikely.

    Also, the sci-fi idea that humans can simply drop down on an Earth-like planet and live there is pure fantasy. Even a tiny chemical variation is unfriendly to humans. And humans require O2. That's not naturally occurring so the planet would already have a thriving biosphere.
     
  11. Vagrant Tale
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    Hmmmm well, I didn't really think about hollowing it out, it'd be more like an anthill

    As for the speed and direction, as soon as it's in range, humans settled it and began to construct on it, part of that construction is massive engines to move it along, like a massive ship

    As for the settling thing, none of the planets are naturally habitable, the vessel planet everyone lives inside structures that can support life, the second planet is terraformed from orbit over a long period of time

    As for the cloning, the original idea I had to keep the genes from degenerating is to "print" people from data instead, whereas the genetic code is saved digitally and the process of creation reconstructs it with 100% accuracy every time, the actual genes that are used as a basis are held somewhere on the vessel, and later the home world, without the general populations knowing where
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2016
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  12. doggiedude
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    Possible solutions for your premise:
    Having a passing dwarf planet coming into our solar system is a reasonable assumption.
    I would make it known that they sent out work crews hundreds of years ahead of time to begin construction.
    As time passes more people arrive with newer technology which allows them to hollow out a massive portion of the center to turn into a habitat. -- Try reading a book called "Live Free or Die" I think the second book in the series explains how they do something similar.

    Problem: It would take thousands of years to randomly find a new habitable world.
    Solution- during that time, the humans on board continue to modify their big rock into a more maneuverable ship.
    You can write into the story how the rock contains all the basic elements required for ore extraction and refinement.

    They would need something for power: Fusion or fission devices. You won't need to get into detail to explain it. I used a miniature Dyson Sphere in my story.

    Problem: - Water / light / food
    Water can easily be explained away by having your rock already having an ice coating when they got there.
    Light can be generated & food can be grown IF you have enough biological material to grow it in and supply nutrients.

    As unrealistic as we consider finding another habitable world, sci-fi writers have been doing it for years & I wouldn't worry about it. Most readers are willing to just accept it as a given. I would make sure the planet they arrive at already has a living biosphere. Starting one from scratch might be stretching the unbelievability too far.

    As for the cloning, it does make for a shitty substitute AS WE UNDERSTAND IT. There are plenty of smaller organisms which do perfectly well with the method. I see no reason why after a few thousand years we can't work out the bugs and make it work. It wouldn't even need to be clones. If you plot only requires them to be sterile, have them take a few random cells from both parents and mix them in your magic sci-fi box to create an embryo. The embryo can then be implanted in a uterus or in a magical sci-fi artificial uterus.

    I think your biggest problem is the reason why they're all sterile. Exposure to radiation MIGHT cause some people to become sterile if it didn't kill them outright. But to have an entire population react the exact same way is unrealistic. Even if it caused mass sterilization, that wouldn't mean any cloned offspring that came to the next generation would be sterile unless every single person had the exact same damage on the exact same portion of DNA.

    Your best bet might be to have an intentional virus released to the population. A genetically designed virus with the specific intent to sterilize the humans. Maybe some group who was left back on Earth was pissed off for being left behind and sent the virus out with some of the colonists.
     
  13. Vagrant Tale
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    I like you, that was great. Let me see here...

    I think you are right about sending the construction crews out ling ahead of time, it's a minor detail but I hadn't thought about it.

    I'm still not sure if I want it to be more like the inside of an anthill, or a hallowed out area. Maybe a combination of both.

    As for randomly finding a new world, they actually had already found one remotely, or rather, one that was close enough to being earth-like it could be modified to make it habitable, and it became a part of their culture, with more than 1 generation on earth growing up with dreams of reaching it and being part of the group that would truly colonize space.

    I think you are quite correct about the mass sterilization. The thing is that it HAS to be genetic, and there is no longer any form of genetic diversity. People can look different if they have the money by getting surgery, but that's it. They "key" to HSC (human sterility condition) is a frequently researched topic, but so far no one has found a solution.

    This makes having children much more based on economic conditions, and gives rise to a lot of other strange cultural things, such as adults in child-like prosthetic bodies who can be paid to be someone's "perfect child."

    It's a huge part of the premise, but your idea of a virus is actually great. I think I know just what group would inflict that upon them.
     
  14. Shadowfax
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    1/ Hollowing/anthill...all part of the same problem; if you want 10 million humans on board, you'll need somewhere around close to 700 sq km to support them at a VERY basic level. i.e., each one has a 2m cube to live in, and lives on a basic ration of rice...every day for several generations...to put that into context, the city of Birmingham (UK) has an area of 268 sq km and a population of around 1 million. You'll also need more floor area for an access infrastructure; corridors, etc.

    2/ However, with long enough, I see no problem with digging enough tunnels. But that's your next problem.

    How are you going to locate a planet far enough away?

    We know where in the sky Halley's comet is, because every 76 years it comes around, and we are able to calculate where it goes to during the intervals between its appearances, based on when and where we see it. We DON'T know where it is because we can SEE it when it's 38 years away.

    We can detect whether a star has an orbiting planet because of variations in the star's brilliance, indicating that the planet is transitting it; and you can make the same observations on a regular basis to ensure that it wasn't just because you hadn't cleaned the lens on your telescope! But your roaming planet won't do that, except accidentally and once or twice.

    3/ OK, I'll stop being negative...let's assume you're going to take eighty years to reconstruct your roaming planet...you're going to need to meet it somewhere around the orbit of Neptune; so, you're starting with the assumption that humanity has space capacity to roam the entire solar system and, like King Louie in Jungle Book, we've reached the top and had to stop...too far to the next planet. But, we've put a system of satellites that far out in space, and they're forming the biggest radio-telescope in the world, which is able to resolve ...things... to enough precision to pick one tiny dark spot heading our way out of all that noise (you'll also need massive computing power)

    A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures most or all of its power output.

    Sorry, that won't work for a planet that isn't orbiting a star...and I don't see how you can have a "miniature" one?
     
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  15. Vagrant Tale
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    This part of history isn't really going to be discussed in that much detail ever, as far as I know. As far as I can tell, the only time the dwarf planet is going to be brought up is in passing conversations, and when it gets used as a setting once. I'm really not sure going into that much depth is necessary. And the habitable planet was located by humanity in still a far-off future from today, so its reasonable to say that the ability to seek out other planets has been greatly improved from today's.

    Basically, humanity finds a habitable planet, and begins working on ways to get there, when suddenly a rogue planet is seen coming our way, and scientists are faced with a challenge of developing technology fast enough to use that planet as a platform to house millions of people, and use it as a vessel to travel to the habitable planet. Since they have an entire dwarf planet of their own to load up with gear, they take advantage of it and add as much as they can to not just make the new homeworld habitable, but make it into an excellent habitat for a new civilization. Meanwhile, the dwarf planet they used to get there remains in orbit, and is the "moon" of their new world, and a lot of humans choose to remain/live there

    It doesn't really seem like THAT absurd of a premise...I think I'll go with a hollowed out center, with a ton of anthill like tunnels around the hallowed out portion, and turn the hallowed out portion into a paradise-like garden area

    I think that's pretty much solved that part of the premise for now. Improvements to the premise so far have been:

    1) The vessel-planet was spotted a long time before it got near enough to earth to reach, and was immediately put under construction
    2) It wasn't just a vessel, it was converted into a massive ship and habitat
    3) The surface and inside of the vessel was tunneled and built upon to house a great number of humans in relative comfort
    4) HSC (human sterility condition) was said to be caused my radiation, but this is a myth spread by the ruling body of the vessel, and the real cause has never been publically revealed or known
    5) Humans repopulate via cloning using digital replications, so that the replications do not degenerate, the housing for the actual DNA that was used to create the digital copies is stored somewhere on the vessel, even in the current day after the humans have completely covered their new homeworld and the vessel became the moon of the new homeworld

    Now I run into a new problem I hadn't considered...I want to turn the number of digitally stored human DNA prints from 10 million up into far more, maybe even 1 billion or more. It doesn't seem feasible that 1 billion humans could all live like that. Maybe a massive section of humans who are in stasis on the vessel?
     
  16. Shadowfax
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    If you're storing DNA digitally, there's no reason why you can't randomly generate a near-infinite quantity of DNA sequences.

    Problem with this is that a massive percentage of those random numbers would be monstrous, and would abort. Many more would be defective, and be born with hereditary illnesses.

    Solution is that DNA technology is sufficiently advanced as to identify "rogue genes/gene combinations" and genetically modify the DNA used for the reproduction.

    Incidentally, have you looked at parthenogenesis as an alternative to cloning?
     
  17. Vagrant Tale
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    I have not, but the premise I have been working towards requires that there are many, many carbon copies of the same people walking around in multiple places. It has long-stretching political, economic, and social effects for humans and the other alien races, and is a huge part of the premise of the setting, and it is something I must make work, lest many of the most interesting aspects of the setting come unraveled. I think having a data storage of every every animal on earth, as well as anyone who volunteered to give samples of DNA for storage reasons back on earth into a digital backup. The digital backup wasn't SPECIFICALLY designed for the colonization of the other planet, however a copy of the digital DNA backup became part of the journey, as the humans wanted to be able to populate their new world with familiar animals, and the human DNA data was just included as part of the complete package.

    How's that for a good explanation? I can't think of any better one myself.
     
  18. Shadowfax
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    It's actually CAUSED by the ruling body, because they've suddenly realised that if population keeps increasing at its present rate, there aren't enough resources on this planet-ship to sustain them all until they reach their destination; so they've got to enforce birth control...but something goes wrong, and they then have to embrace DNA cloning as a means of getting procreation going again.
     
  19. Vagrant Tale
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    I actually came up with something quite different, even though it was a biological attack, it wasn't caused by humans, but by another species instead. It's all part of the setting, but its likely it won't ever be revealed. That actually brings up another good question, actually...

    It's kind of a complex question to ask, so I will make it as simple as I am able.

    There are 3 races involved in this question: Humans, Centari, and Firsts (both of those last ones are just palceholder names)

    Long before aliens even encountered each other, every race in the galaxy that had radio technology was exposed to Earth's television broadcasts for a very short period of time after a mysterious event happened on Earth. Since every alien in the galaxy shared this experience, this is why aliens all can speak human languages, and have some kind of understanding of human customs, such as handshakes. A number of species actually used human ideas in their own civilizations after this, while some rejected the idea of allowing their cultures to be changed by the outside influence of humans. Many alien species came together to form a Union after that time, and humans are seen as a sort of "enlightened" race, though they were never encountered at that point.

    The Firsts were the ruling species, and ran the Union with an iron fist, using the Centari as slaves to keep the other races in line. Later down the road, the Centari actually rebelled and vanquished the Firsts from power, making them all but extinct. After this had happened, and the Centari were long established as the ruling body and the peak of the civilized races in the Union.

    It's the Centari that finally encounter the humans after they had long been moved to their new homeworld, but they deem these humans as "inferior" to the "real humans" that are on Earth, due to their lack of genetic diversity, and instead dub them "post-humans." They get go to Earth to find it completely devoid of intelligent life, and are unable to approach it without severe consequences. Earth is completely controlled by the Centari after this.

    One would find it strange that the "exalted enlightened race" is treated like second-class citizens by the wise-benevolent rulers, but the reason for it (lack of genetic diversity) is just an excuse. The reason reason is because the Centari don't want to be seen as inferior to the newly encountered humans in the eyes of the rest of the Union, so they make the excuse that these aren't REAL humans. The real humans are still mythical beings that have yet to be encountered.

    Now this idea of keeping the ruling class at the top of the pyramid would have also been the case if the Firsts were still in power when the humans were encountered. So the question is...

    Were the humans actually already under observation by the Firsts, who pre-emptively created HSC as a way to exterminate the humans, or secure their own dominance if/when the humans joined the Union? Or was it the Centari after they had gained power to ensure their own power instead? Are the perpetrators already vanquished, or are they hiding behind their politics on a terrible secret?

    Sorry, its a very complex question, and I'll understand if you don't want to read it.
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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  22. Sack-a-Doo!
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    :)

    I just Googled, "male sterility in space" or some such thing. I heard something about it in a documentary the other day, so I knew cosmic rays would do the job. And as far as I know, the only way to protect ourselves from them is to have Earth's atmosphere wrapped around us. Good luck finding a way for your characters to get that on their dwarf planet!
     
  23. Vagrant Tale
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    Well, it's not just about surviving the current predicament, it's about making humans utterly sterile for the longterm. The very fabric of their DNA has been damaged/altered, and its something they suffer from moving forwards.
     
  24. Sack-a-Doo!
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    I could be wrong, but I think once the cosmic rays make you sterile, there's no coming back from it. And radiation will make women infertile and whether or not they can come back from that, because it's radiation, any babies—if they even reach full term—will have a hard time surviving. I don't think it's much of a leap from there to "Let's clone to survive!"
     
  25. newjerseyrunner
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    @Shadowfax Detecting an incoming planet would actually be fairly easy. Your information on our ability to scan the solar system is a bit out of date. We can in fact see Haley's comet at any point in it's orbit. In fact, because it's orbit is so well known, it's used to test and calibrate ultra-dim telescope optics. The WISE telescope would detect a small planet hurdling through our solar system before it even got inside of Neptune. Because of government funding to find all of the large asteroids near us, infra-red astronomy has been kicked into high gear.

    Storing the genes digitally would allow you to reproduce people consistently I guess. It'd take one hell of a computer, but that's reasonable for the future.

    My biggest problem is that if they've built themselves a civilization inside of the asteroid, and have lived there for generations why would they settle on a planet? They would have taken an enormous evolutionary step forwards and become a free-roaming civilization. Why would they want to digress to one stuck on a planet? If you use realistic timescales, you'll have as many generations between the people who left earth and those on the "ship" as you have with the people who painted the first cave paintings.
     

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