The Way of the Smartass

Let’s say, that a scientific community has a consensus. For example, that 2000 years ago people always navigated near shores, just to be on the safe side.

Archaeologists, historians and every book on the subject — they should know their own field, shouldn’t they?

But you take a ruler and draw the shortest line possible between two major ports on either side of a sea and say: Here they’ve traveled!

Then you continue with your arrogance, saying: I bet they drank the wine they were transporting there, and I bet they threw empty bottles overboard.

Let’s say you then take your ship across the line you drew and find an unprecedented amount of empty ancient bottles under the sea, just where you predicted they were going to be.

Robert Ballard did this. Another great smart-ass in an honorable line which made this world an interesting place. Without them, everything would stay boring, as it used to be.


Someone is Wrong, on the Internet

This guy!

Reaching orbital speed takes much more fuel than reaching orbital height

That’s not true. What do you reckon, that all the fuel is used for in the first second after ignition? Be it Saturn V or a Space Shuttle?

It’s used mostly for keeping the vehicle hanging in the air. It stays that way for quite a while. At least until the ascent is more or less vertical. That’s why the rockets take a more horizontal position as soon as possible, and then the remaining fuel is spent achieving orbital velocity,

The majority of the fuel is used merely for neutralizing the force of gravity.


Extreme Cases in Relativity

What does this suppose to mean, you ask. Isn’t Relativity already extreme enough?

A proton in CERN can reach the weight of a mosquito, due to its near light speed. During the acceleration a lot of energy has been transformed into the proton’s relativistic mass, just as Einstein would have wanted.

Speed it up some more, and it will weigh as much as a mouse or even an elephant. Then if it were to be accelerated to a speed even closer to c it would became so heavy as to equal the weight of a mountain or even that of a continent! Approximately at this point the proton would become a black hole. Not a microscopic black hole which would allegedly soon cease to be, but a substantial one, radiating the Hawking radiation in megawatts. If you were to push it even more after that, the resulting black hole would cool down, and thus reach a state where its mass would surpass the mass of a planet, with a radius of just one meter.

Only a fraction of the energy of a supernova explosion is needed to transform a proton into a black hole, more massive than the Earth, and with a radius of just 1 meter. So I have no concerns about the feasibility of such an experiment.

What worries me is this: It’s a black hole for the stationary observer, but for the observer on the space ship chasing it, it’s just a humble proton which will likely soon acquire an electron, and become a very innocent hydrogen atom – the most common thing in the Universe.

So you see, black holes can indeed be relative! For one observer an object can appear as nothing more than a small rock, for another it can be a super massive black hole!

This could be called an extreme case derived from the Theory of Relativity. The relativistic contraction only makes a relative black hole more achievable.

If the Einsteinian train shortens in addition to gaining mass, it collapses into a black hole even faster. Only for the observer on the platform of course! To the observer on the train (inside the black hole) everything looks normal.


The Kurzweilian Expedition Outward

Sending probes into space in all directions at near light speed isn’t enough. Colonizing the whole Universe, even if we did it soon, isn’t enough!

A scenario where our probes go through the front of alien probes without noticing them, is very bad. No alien probe may pass the spherical border behind the front of our probes established up to then.

Even if there isn’t a single alien probe in the whole Universe, we have to have a contingency plan just in case the Universe is already filled with expanding alien civilizations. Today we can see a far away galaxy as a quasar 5 billion years in the past. In the next 7 billion years we might encounter a super intelligence there, which has already consumed a good billion of galaxies down to the last atom for its needs, requirements and purposes.

The conquering of the Universe is a military operation, not a peaceful exploration. (The so called Prime Directive of ST is utter bullshit!) In actuality colonization is the engineering of the environment by all means necessary.

The arms race has already begun a long time ago, and will last until the end of the world. We must defend our civilization (which currently doesn’t even deserve that name), as long as we are the best out there.

Even if there never was and never will be a single alien, we must be vigilant. The GRBs and other space junk is already bad and dangerous enough. We hardly need a (thankfully not very likely) adversarial civilization.

But if we were ever to meet one, the best option might be to negotiate peace – if  it is possible and beneficial. In this case they will be our allies, who will have already done some of the dirty work to our mutual benefit.

There is also a remote possibility, that we meet somebody much better, in which case we should dissolve ourselves, just as we would dissolve other unworthy things.

Pondering these strategic long term options, narrows our choices. We must not only attempt to do the best we can, but also secure our future to be non-nonsensical. Otherwise we may find ourselves the target our betters. We must be the pinnacle in every way imaginable.

To behave as super-rational thinkers (in the Hofstadterian sense), when facing the Universe is essential, because other super-rational thinkers might be on the other side of the table.

To become a Type V civilization – a logism coined by a friend of mine (known here as Saladin) – and to control the Universe, we will need a lot of wisdom and a lot of resources that can only be obtained by way of expansion.

The main objective, as I understand this game we will hopefully soon be playing, is to make all our postpeople happy and free for a semi eternity. We shall freeze the world in a Golden age for a long time – forever if it were possible.

Without proper colonization the Universe is pretty much worthless.


An (imaginary) Dialogue

Them: Gravity is an extremely weak force, you know.

Me: A proton, that has just entered a nuclear reaction in the center of our Sun, has a considerable speed, don’t you think?

Them: Yes, 15 million Kelvins, everybody knows that.

Me: Still it doesn’t have enough speed to escape the Sun’s gravity field, even from the surface, let alone from the center the star. (All collision obstacles aside, naturally!)

Them: This doesn’t count!

Me: Of course it doesn’t…


Yet another dialogue

Him: Once upon a time I had an employee, who was a compulsive lotto player. One afternoon we were working together and he had a combination already written down. He was going to bet on it that night. It was a few hours before the deadline, which he of course missed. We were just too busy to notice on time. Later he told me, it was a winning combination.

Me: Now you fell bad?

Him: Yes, sure.

Me: If he hadn’t missed the deadline, if you two had stopped work earlier, some other combination of numbers would have won.

Him: There is no connection here!

Me: As a matter of fact, there are deep connections. Even if he had managed to submit the ticket he prepared, it would have been just as useless. The drawn lotto numbers would have been different.


Another dialogue

Him: So, you are saying, no supernova warning is possible? Even if we had a probe near every suspicious star nearby, the signal from the probe wouldn’t be here before the gamma rays?

Me: Actually, I am not saying that. I am saying that we could predict for every nearby star, when it is its time to go off. Some big telescopes and computers, is all we need for the stellar weather predictions.

Him: It’s not what I hear from others. They say it’s impossible. The light speed prevents any kind of warning.

Me: No, it doesn’t. You can’t get the news of a storm from the other side of the planet in less than a millisecond. However, you can predict it hours ahead. The same principle applies here.

Him: I see.

Me: But you know me, I think we should dismantle every star, anyway. 

Him: Yeah, yeah, here you go again …