1. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Interstellar war

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Meteor, Jan 2, 2017.

    Hi everyone and thanks for taking the time to review this post.

    I'm here today to ask what an interstellar war might look like. This is assuming we possess FTL travel and communication. When I say FTL I'm talking a month, or two, non-stop from Earth to the other side of the galaxy. Six months tops. Same for communication provided adequate transmitter equipment.

    What would troop movements look like? How would economy be impacted? Are we talking millions or billions of combatants? Would weapons of mass destruction be utilized or shunned? Would they be nuclear or chemical? How likely would ship to ship(boarding the enemy)combat be to occurs? How would you determine a worlds strategic value?

    As far as the countries involved let's assume just two. They'd have at least two dozen systems under their control, most habitable. Populations reaching at least 100 billion.

    Thanks again for taking a look at this!
     
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  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Wrting is never clean. :) Contributor

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    Perhaps a point of ref. would be the Warhammer 40K series. They use the Warp to travel the galaxy,
    and wage massive campaigns in space and on planets. That would be a good way to get an idea
    of the scales you are looking to use as models for your own story.
     
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  3. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unworthy in the eyes of the LORD Contributor

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    Lots and lots of variables in your question. A couple that spring to mind are:
    Other than travel and communication, what is your tech like? You have FTL, how does that work? I don't mean specifics, but to take Star Wars, for example, where the ships go from moving quite quickly under normal power to gone baby gone, then pop back into real space the same way. If you can accelerate things to very near the speed of light, you could have weapons as described in The Algebraist (emphasis mine):

    What are the wars motivated by? The above quote is especially speciescidal, and would result in the vaporization of most of the assets and raw materials of the affected system, which is sub-optimal if you are looking to mine or otherwise exploit territory, but ideal if those (insert religious and/or ethnic slur here) are an affront that simply cannot be tolerated by any right thinking individual.

    You say there are a hundred billion individuals per side. The United States has a population of around 300 million, with about 2.2 million servicemembers (active and reserve), so something less than one percent of population range. The DPRK, on the other hand, has about 1.7 million people under arms, out of a population less than one-tenth the size of the US, so around 7% under arms. On the other hand, they've got no tech, no fuel, and no food, so....

    I'd say narrow down your military objectives first, and then we can help you better. Is it a war of conquest, ideology, genocide, or...? That will determine the answers to a lot of your questions.
     
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  4. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    Thank you for the responses guys! I'm going to drop the population numbers down because I feel like they're WAY to high for two dozen systems. I hope this post helps answer some questions. Took me forever to decide on all the stuff I'm using. This was literally an on the fly/off the wall question for me with no background story behind it really.

    Now as for the more specifics.

    Nation A is the invader where nation B is the defender. Lets just say both sides are human.

    Nation A holds a universal belief of manifest destiny for the whole galaxy. This is the primary drive behind their conquests and each new victory is used as propaganda to solidify the idea in the people's minds. They have a strong emphasis on military technology.

    Nation B is an isolationist country with a large number of resources at their disposal even by Nation A's standards. Ten years prior to current times Nation B underwent a civil war. The former government was oppressive and hoarded resources as well as wealth. Nation B was also highly reliant on foreign manufacturing as it is cheaper. The new leadership implemented the isolationist policy with the ambition of becoming 100% self sufficient. The problem is they've spent almost all of their time on improving quality of life and the economy with little to no focus on the military.

    Seeing Nation B as a cash cow that could double its resources and effectively its fighting capacity Nation A makes the first move. They blast a few ships into scrap heaps and declare control over a few boarder planets. Naturally this leaves Nation B scrambling to ready its outnumbered and weaker military force. Boom, war started.

    Nation A, the numbers:
    Population count: 37,486,234,740
    Military Ship count: 56,321 not including fighter craft/transport ships
    Combatant count(infantry etc.): 74,123,285

    Nation B, the numbers:
    Population count: 26,674,532,754
    Military Ship count: 20,213 not including fighter craft/transport ships
    Combatant count(infantry etc.): 40,235,184

    Technology(Civilian/non-combat and infrastructure):

    I'm imagining a society that makes a prosperous USA look third world. Significantly better medicine and scanning devices that can pinpoint the most insignificant problem in the body. Automated surgery is a thing and we can regenerate severed limbs or use prosthetic parts. Cities would house more people as said society can build down(into the planet)just as effectively as it builds high into the sky. The society also has the ability to access all of a world's resources and also fully exploits their system's resources as well. I imagine lots of moon and asteroid mining. Very advanced computer systems that make our more advanced stuff of today look like the toys of tomorrow. Holograms and that sort of thing. I always imagined computer screens being made out of "hardlight" rather than glass or something. Like screens made out of light that felt solid when "touched".

    Technology(Military):

    I don't imagine humans dropping projectile weapons any time in the distant future. Directed energy weapons would be used almost exclusively on ships. We'd still utilize the good old fashioned missile. I imagine pinpoint orbital bombardment is a thing. I think ground combat would be fought very similar to how it plays out in StarCraft or even Mass Effect. The difference being that personal shields would be very expensive and rare.

    FTL:

    I don't imagine this society being able to fling objects at ultra high velocity. You're bigger ships are either in FTL or painfully slow at sub light. That being said I've gone with the EVE warp system for my FTL idea. I like the EVE idea of larger ships taking longer to enter FTL and moving much slower without appropriate upgrades. No jump gates though, ah I loath the jump gates. I will admit though if we ever do find our way to the stars jump gates are probably they way we'd find ourselves there.
     
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  5. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Troop movement for something a month away would be a lot like troop movement during the 16 and 1700s. The British couldn't just put redcoats in Boston harbor at a moments notice.

    I imagine the war would be all out and over very very quickly. A species capable of moving between stars is capable of rendering a planet uninhabitable. You'd probably end up more with small proxy wars since both side knows that all out war would likely destroy both of them. It'd probably be more like the Cold War than a massive brawl.

    That's because once you have the ability to destroy yourselves, your perception of war changes because a major war sets you back so far. 'I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.' - Albert Einstein

    One thing though, I find troops unlikely. A soldier takes years to grow, requires training, resources... A drone needs none of that, and I'll outperform a creature. A sophisticated AI would also outperform a soldier, so at your level of technology, living soldiers seem antiquated. Humans are the apex of technology simply because Earth took 4 billion years of trial and error to make us, our abilities will surpass what nature can do by the end of the century easily. Humans are the smartest thing that has ever existed on this planet so we tend to be very anthropocenteic with our ideas of the future. We believe the slow pace of AI will continue (those of us in it know it's not as slow as people think) but people fail to comprehend geometric acceleration. The very next generation of humans will not be as smart as their machines. We also won't have any idea of their programming, that's the nature of neural networks which seems right now like the future of AI.

    If I had the technology and desire to destroy an knhabited planet I'd probably use a Blitzkreit attack. Send a trillion drones down on every major city to rip everything apart. Remember the scene in the last Matrix when the machines enter the city and swarm through it? Like that but on a global scale. I'd also make sure they could self replicate so the trillion i throw at the planet is 2 trillion in an hour, then 4, 8, 16...
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  6. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn't even use drones. Just smart bombs
     
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  7. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I wouldn't, bombs are wasteful. It costs money that you don't get back. A self replicating drone costs nothing and creates wealth by replicating itself with what it destroys. A drone can also do recon and gather information that a bomb would destroy. I assume the war is over something they want and not just genocide?

    Once the bombs go off then what? Make more bombs? Seems inefficient, compared to a process that can be seeded and will grow to cover the planet quickly.

    Bombs are also pretty useless in space as it's the shockwave that causes most damage, not the blast itself.

    Also you have to make sure that the technology is consistent. They're using warp travel which requires bending of space and time, but using nuclear or antimatter weapons? Unlikely. Perhaps some sort of black hole bomb (small black holes explode with way more power than a nuke.). A strangelet may also be viable, it's a theoretical structure that fits our understanding of QM but hasn't been found yet so may or may not be real. Also, if you can warp spacetime enough to travel faster than light, you could easily just obliterate a planet with tidal forces, Google Roche limit for how that works. It actually takes a fairly small gradient in the curvature of spacetime to destroy a planet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2017
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  8. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    I meant specifically targeting planets. Not to mention that, with self-replicating drones, the matter in them has to come from somewhere, be it a destroyed enemy or somewhere else, so your still going to be taking material wealth. Not to mention that the energy to keep them moving is going to be more than sending a bomb one way. It does depend on what your going for. Not to mention that if the drones has a fault in its programming, it then gets passed onto the next "generation" so to speak.
     
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  9. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Ive been thinking more about the spacetime warping required for FTL travel. It's actually easier to destroy a big planet than a little one with that technology. If you stationed a small ship in geosynchronous orbit that curved spacetime a little bit (1g) you could rip our planet apart pretty easily. The same weapon aimed as an asteroid would do literally nothing, so it'd be incredible devastating to the planet you are attacking, but have no impact at all on your ships nearby.
     
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  10. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    ^ Isn't that all theoretical?
     
  11. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    No? Gravity is an emergent property of the warping of spacetime. Objects move in straight lines in curved 4space, that's general relativity. Well tested, gps wouldn't work if we didn't understand it.

    The reason we have two tides is because water is attracted to the moon on one side and less attracted on the other. The crust experiences the same forces, but is much tougher than the ocean. The moon is simply too small and too far away to create a big tidal gradient.

    The Roche limit is how close one object can get to another before the difference between the gravity on one side and the other is more than the forces keeping it together.

    Remember shoemaker levy 9? It was one comet, but it got too close to Jupiter and the tidal differences ripped it up. That's why it hit the planet in parts.

    Create a 4g space warpature at 25000 miles above earths surface, you'll have 2g pulling on the nearest side and 1g pulling on the far side. That's a difference of a g force, which is the exact same amount that the earth is held together with.
     
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  12. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    The moon is approximately a quarter of the size of our planet.

    How small of a ship could rip apart the earth then, through curving spacetime by 1g, as you said? The size of a car?

    Is the technology even feasible?
     
  13. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    The gravity of the ship is not what will cause the damage, the engines are. In order to travel faster than light, you already have the ability to warp spacetime to a huge degree.

    Otherwise a mass the size of the earth would be required to make 1g.

    By keep in mind, the Roche limit provides the math for when a planet gets torn to shreds, its uninhabitable long before that, Io is well outside of the Roche limit of Jupiter, but the tidal forces keep it nearly molten.
     
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  14. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I see.

    How then would this make for an interesting sci-fi war? Seems all too easy. Just send in a dozen ships into a system and use FTL travel while orbiting the planets and it's all over in a few days or so, if that, no?
     
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  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    That's why I think you'd have a more of a Cold War situation where both sides are afraid to start anything due to mutual assured destruction. I think you'd have proxy wars over colonies. The USA and the USSR taught many wars with each other, just not directly. That's also why I think it'd be very quick, most estimates put the total time from the first nuclear strike to the destuction of both countries in about 24 hours.

    I would think that if a species has the ability to go faster than light, they already have the ability to make a planet destroyer. Hell, we have the ability to render our own planet uninhabitable and we have simple nuclear weapons.
     
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  16. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Based on what's been said, I agree.

    The problem is, there is nothing stopping a terrorist organization from simply obtaining the technology (assuming it isn't available to the public) and ending the world in an instant.

    So wouldn't this very simple fact kill all the fun, by thoroughly undermining the story?

    *Unless technology is so advanced that we've managed to hand-build our own planets, with full control of weather, and have some some sort of gravity device in the core of the planet / defensive measures?
     
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  17. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I fear I may have scared you worh general relativity, I only mentioned it because it's required for FTL travel, but the Roche limit is actually easy to understand with high school physics.

    You know that the force of gravity decreases with distance, so anything with width is pulled harder on one side than the other. If that difference is greater than the forces holding something together, it will fall apart. No advanced physics is needed to understand the basic concept.

    It may remove the fun from a story if you want it to be a heroic war legend, but plenty of very interesting things happened during the Cold War. You could write a very interesting book about nuclear war between the USA and USSR even though no actual nuke to nuke combat took place.
     
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  18. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    I don't understand. For the object to be pulled apart, that would imply that there is something either pulling it from the other side, or keeping it stationary, would it not?

    I never learned about this in high-school. It wasn't taught.

    Wouldn't it be possible to design planetary counter-measures for this sort of thing? Especially if the planet was man-made?
     
  19. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    The simplest solution I see to this possibility of planetary destruction is to fiddle with the way warping works within this story's universe, and make it unusable within a certain distance of a star and/or planets. That could be a naturally occuring phenomenon like the Honorverse's hyperlimit, or it could be some sort of man made technology that was created with the intent of preventing such planetary destruction.

    This has the added benefit of forcing space combat to unfold. Otherwise, even without the ability to shred a planet, it could be possible for a fleet to warp straight for an enemy's heartland, capital world, etc. and win the war with a devastating preemptive strike, before the defenders even know they're at war.
     
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  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Sure, I love talking about cool stuff like this. First refer to this image:
    [​IMG]

    Your space ship is stationed above the planet at one tenth the planets distance and is creating a gravitational field that at the surface of earth is exerting 2 gs. Because the force of gravity reduced by distance squared, ten times as far away, the other side of the planet is being pulled by only 1/50th of a g.

    The planet itself is held together purely by gravity. At the scale of planets, electrostatic and nuclear forces are irrelevant so the earth is held together by exactly 1g in every direction towards the center.

    Now, on the surface of the planet, everything is normally 1g, but now the added combined forces add together and the vectors look like the second image. The surface of the planet on one side is actually being pulled away from the planet harder than its being pulled towards it.

    Remember that planets are soft, the crust is actually the coldest, hardest part. Earth happens to be mostly liquid actually. So the whole thing deforms into a teardrop, this would be a cascading effect because the leading edge would then be closer to the ship and being pulled even harder.

    A man made planet doesn't have to be soft, it can be solid. The smaller they are the better, less distance between edges means less tidal difference. It also makes energy requirements lower.
     
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  21. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Ahhh, okay- I think I see. So in order to actually pull/move the planet with pure gravity, one would have to exert an even gravitational force on the entirety of the planet. As well, the gravitational force would have to be greater than that of the Sun, correct?

    P.S. Sorry @Meteor for hijacking your thread. I hope you can take something away from the discussion though that will be useful for your story, which sounds very interesting by the by.
     
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  22. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    As for moving it, yes, it'd have to be even or close enough to not hurt the planet, which is more fragile than common sense would predict.

    The sun would not be relevant, we are in a balance with the attraction of the sun with our angular velocity, that's what an orbit is. If you pull the earth in the direction it's orbiting, it'll speed up and go into a higher orbit and you could continue the process to eject it from the solar system. You could also pull it in the other direction to slow it down, in which case it would fall into the sun.

    You could avoid the problem with super powerful space warping technology by creating completely new physics not based on anything we currently understand.

    Oh shoot @Meteor, I'm sorry too, I didn't realize I was going off on a tangent, I though @Foxxx was the original poster haha
     
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  23. Foxxx

    Foxxx The Debonair Contributor

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    Well, for the sake of @Meteor and his story, an army probably wouldn't feel the need to deliberately destroy a planet-- especially since it sounded like the war was for resources and occupiable territory.

    And since his story's civilizations are so advanced, it would be a no-brainer to not jump into FTL until a safe distance away from nearby planets (and it sounds like you'd have to be quite close to do significant damage).

    Also, it is likely safe to assume that the civilizations also have some sort of advanced tech or knowledge that are counter-measures to this sort of thing.
     
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  24. Meteor

    Meteor Active Member

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    @Foxxx @newjerseyrunner Its fine guys I've learned some cool stuff after reading all of this and its why I'm here for the most part. Like I stated above Nation A is all about manifest destiny where Nation B just wants to be left alone. This also made me think of another idea from a game I've played and really enjoyed called Sins of a Solar Empire. I think it could solve the warping to obliterate a planet dilemma. There is a device in the game they use to disrupt phase jumping(their method of FTL)and make it so ships take 700% longer to enter FTL. It also makes the jump field unstable and damages the ships during their trip. A few tweaks could make it an anti-warp field. Have two of them deep below the surface of a planet for protection and spitting out enough power so that anything in a certain distance of the planet can't warp. Now the other thing, about drones and ground battles etc. I think Nation A likely views casualties as necessary and doesn't give much of a crap either way. That being said their goal is to expand but, not to genocide which is why I foresee ground battles. A planet they just take over isn't likely to cooperate even in the slightest without some force moving down to pop their pretty little heads off if they get out of line after stomping the local militia.

    I'm not sure about drones, let alone self-replicating ones. I know AI development is moving along at(to my understanding)a staggering pace. The impression I always got of the future is that as technology grows humanity would grow with it, with following generations becoming smarter and smarter. Not to mention there is that fear of machines getting out of hand even today. I could always go with a purist society that said fear drove down a different technological path to prevent rogue AI. Now granted I'm also the same guy who believes humanity will never be surpassed by AI. Personally I'm a creationist so I don't believe chemicals, neural pathways and electrical impulses are all their is to higher thought. I find it very hard to believe that we can use lesser intelligence to create greater intelligence. Ah but, I don't know everything so... anyways. I think it'd still be fleshy vs fleshy because of the winning hearts and minds concept. I think people would take even less kindly to automated invaders and that'd possibly cause more problems for the invader. I really hope this is all coherent, forgive me I just woke up.


    Thanks again for the replies everyone!
     
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  25. ReptilianAgent

    ReptilianAgent New Member

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    In my story, FTL travel is though gates that connect solar systems, but communication is through narrow beams or radio-waves limited by the speed of light with the exception of the information short-cutting through the gates.
    Information leaves point A at the speed of light, cuts through a gate and travels 4 light years instantaneously, then travels at the speed of light towards point B. I use this as a plot device that shows how information can be faulty and outdated when the amount of time it takes to send and reply to a simple message can sometimes stretch out to a month or more depending on distance. Feel free to use this if you want.
     

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