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Scotty

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NP: Monday March 27, 2017

107 posts in this topic

1 minute ago, hkmaly said:

... or, we may get aliens who are able to predict EXACTLY how fast we invent things. The first transmission we catch on the first prototype of FTL radio will start "-mly welcome the civilization of planet Earth to our communication network."

... ok, they did get it few seconds wrong.

You know, if they are that good, I don't think I'll be quibbling about them getting it a few seconds wrong. o.O

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3 hours ago, hkmaly said:

I don't have access to real strategic plans for nuclear war, but I wouldn't count on anything in Europe or North America to be safe. Some parts of Asia and probably Africa may survive, yes ...

The blast and radiation radius for even strategic warheads isn't nearly as big as many people assume.  Plus fallout's radiation drops off relatively fast over time.  Any radioactive substances with long half-lives are not a real radiation hazard, that's why they have long half-lives they aren't tossing radiation around as much as the shorter lived stuff.  Counter value (i.e., population) targets are not part of the US/UK/France's targeting plans and Russia says they aren't either.  That's why all the major nuclear powers have done so much to increase the accuracy of their delivery systems, so to make counter force (i.e. military targets) a better choice.

That being said, larger mega cities of nuclear-armed countries would not be a good place to be, nor would metro areas with major military bases and, of course, where nuclear delivery system are kept.  In  Oklahoma, for example, Oklahoma City and maybe Lawton would be dangerous places to be in, but the rest of the state would not, in all probability, be a target.

Also, there is zero reason for any part of South America, Central America or Africa to be targeted.  The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand would also be off most target lists.

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43 minutes ago, mlooney said:

Also, there is zero reason for any part of South America, Central America or Africa to be targeted.  The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand would also be off most target lists.

A book I read back in High School called "The Crysalids" was about life a few hundred years after a nuclear war. It mainly revolved around a community in Newfoundland/Labrador and technology amounted to 18th century equivalent, it also made it clear that the majority of North America had been completely devastated. It was assumed that Europe, Asia and Africa were also in pretty bad shape too but later revealed that New Zealand had been spared and managed to become technologically superior.

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3 hours ago, mlooney said:

Also, there is zero reason for any part of South America, Central America or Africa to be targeted.  The Scandinavian countries, Australia, Japan, and New Zealand would also be off most target lists.

Except for hapless Denmark, lying as a plug in the Baltic and in the way of the Baltic fleet. One plan that was revealed after the fall of the Berlin Wall had every single airstrip in Denmark -- even small private ones -- singled out for at least a tactical strike. Copenhagen, Aalborg, Aarhus and Odense were each selected for a strategic nuke. And the small strip of land connecting Jutland to Germany was marked out for saturation bombing to prevent German NATO forces from reinforcing Denmark.

Let this be a lesson for you. Do not live in a strategically important junction. It isn't good for you.

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35 minutes ago, The Old Hack said:

Let this be a lesson for you. Do not live in a strategically important junction. It isn't good for you.

I once spent some time thinking about how many plausible military targets there are in the Puget Sound area of the state of Washington. This is a piece of land basically about 200 miles north-south and less than 100 miles east-west at its widest point.

I don't remember all of them, but I found at least three inside Seattle city limits. And at least a dozen more elsewhere in the specified area. I didn't run out; I just decided that any additional ones would have approximately no impact on the survival rate.

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17 minutes ago, Don Edwards said:

I don't remember all of them, but I found at least three inside Seattle city limits. And at least a dozen more elsewhere in the specified area. I didn't run out; I just decided that any additional ones would have approximately no impact on the survival rate.

Maybe we'll get lucky and the next world war will be fought in the form of competitive origami. o.O

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7 hours ago, hkmaly said:

This is again about how similar they are. If their biosphere is incompatible, removing ours with bombardment would be safer than hoping they can modify it before some pathogen adapts to them. If they are compatible or close, they might actually be able to use their biochemistry knowledge to engineer such bioweapon.

***

Those tend to be on more places than expected. Especially considering the "military assets" are build on separate locations PRECISELY to make sure it will be hard for enemy to hit all of them at once.

And the nuclear arsenal is not exactly optimized, even after several attempts to disarmament we have much more nukes than needed.

I think that I read that the US government considers the minimum necessary force for a First Strike against Russia (i.e. one that degrades their air and missile bases enough to prevent any of them from launching nukes of their own) is about three thousand warheads.

As for the alien biosphere thing, presumably the main reason that they might want to keep our biosphere alive for other than purely scientific/curiosity reasons would be because our life is biochemically compatible enough for exports made out of it (foods, wood, clothes, whatever) to be worthwhile. If our life is poisonous to theirs, then they would want to wipe most of it out anyway.

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9 hours ago, hkmaly said:

the aliens would need to be very stupid or very sloppy in Venus observation to believe anyone looking remotely human lives there.

Lives there?  No.  Certainly not.

But what about Lived there?  Who knows how long ago the Venusians needed to abandon their home world?

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7 hours ago, The Old Hack said:

Except for hapless Denmark, lying as a plug in the Baltic and in the way of the Baltic fleet

To be honest I wasn't thinking of Denmark in that context.

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13 hours ago, hkmaly said:

If they have FTL engine, they probably have other technology capable of defeating us easily. If they don't, it means it took them centuries to get here ; getting impatient now is improbable and would be sign of very bad planning.

Unless we are dealing with something like in Turtledove's short story "The Road not Taken" where discovering FTL tends to cause civilizations to stop advancing, so the Aliens had black powder weapons against automatic rifles. 

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Yes, and assuming that FTL is not something simple that we have merely overlooked due to our modern reliance on Relativity and Quantum-based scientific paradigms (as in "The Road Not Taken"), we can pretty much assume that any aliens that travel to us are at least a couple of centuries ahead of our current tech. Our real-life Alcubierre-White Warp Drive theory (the closest thing we have to actual FTL at present) requires that we first discover how to create gravity-like repulsion, which we as yet have no idea how to achieve unless we can find some negative-mass matter somewhere.

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4 hours ago, mlooney said:

To be honest I wasn't thinking of Denmark in that context.

That's okay. Mind you, I think the very southernmost tip of Sweden (Scania) got a few nukes aimed at them as well. I will agree that the rest of Scandinavia simply isn't that critical except possibly for control of Finland's strategic reindeer reserve.

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24 minutes ago, The Old Hack said:

the rest of Scandinavia simply isn't that critical except possibly for control of Finland's strategic reindeer reserve.

First, thank you for remembering the Reindeer.  Santa Claus is a vital strategic resource and Canadian Caribou just don't do the job quite as well.

And second, Scandinavia is the source of the best bikini calendars on the planet.  If there is another official calendar revision, it will probably become Gregersian instead of Gregorian.

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18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

They may also have different regulations for radioactivity and be not willing to risk underground water contamination or something similar as much as we do.

Nevada is very dry and the salt mines are rather deep.  Very low risk of water contamination.  Also why I selected the Sahara.

18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Those tend to be on more places than expected. Especially considering the "military assets" are build on separate locations PRECISELY to make sure it will be hard for enemy to hit all of them at once.

And the nuclear arsenal is not exactly optimized, even after several attempts to disarmament we have much more nukes than needed.

I don't have access to real strategic plans for nuclear war, but I wouldn't count on anything in Europe or North America to be safe. Some parts of Asia and probably Africa may survive, yes ...

Europe especially would be hit hard because population military (such as it is) centers are close together.  The US is much more spread out though both coasts are going to get hit hard.  You didn't even mention Africa or South America as land that would be relatively untouched...

Nuclear arsenals are actually rather seriously optimized.  One only thinks there's too many if one makes assumptions that simplify the actual situation.

18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Not so much. The idea is to send one swarm of projectiles hitting both, not two obviously separate asteroids.

Also ... even if it would seem too coincidental, what do you think we will do with that information?

What do we do?  We start looking for explanations.  Oh wow, we have iceballs inbound aimed right at us and Mars.  One iceball aimed at just earth or just Mars is coincidental.  Both makes you wonder.  If we can image the aliens we begin to prepare for invasion.  By definition the aliens have a harder time taking Earth.

18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Unless they already have exotic matter industry and can afford to install singularity into Mars core :)

I think that main reason we are finding bigger exoplanets is that bigger exoplanets are easier to find.

Some neutronium would work just fine for increasing Mars' gravity. I would guesstimate about the same amount as Mars' current mass.  I don't know if that's "exotic matter" by your definition.  But why would any race capable of shipping planetary masses' worth of neutronium across interstellar distances be interested in Earth?  They could make their own planet out of raw material.  Slartibartfast pick up your phone...

The exoplanets I'm talking about have surface gravities of between 1.2 and 3 times that of Earth.  We're capable of detecting marse-mass planets if they're really close.

18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

That may be easier strategy: they can likely generate strong EMP bursts more effectively than we do and cripple most of our technology without any nuclear fallout, AND they don't even need to know that much about us, just looking at how much junk we have in orbits will tell them enough to consider this strategy.

No need to just do these things  They don't exclude other avenues of attack and enhance their effectiveness.
 

18 hours ago, hkmaly said:

If they have FTL engine, they probably have other technology capable of defeating us easily. If they don't, it means it took them centuries to get here ; getting impatient now is improbable and would be sign of very bad planning.

In fact, most likely, they are going to send automatic ships before the ones with themselves, and those automatic ships will launch attack in the time window created by fact automatic ship can accelerate faster than ships with crew.

... not speaking about the possibility to launch attack in time window obtained by NOT DECELERATING. If they accelerate to 0.5c to get here fast, anything which they WONT bother slowing down (like ... empty fuel tanks) would be much more effective than any asteroid AND will arrive months if not years before the invasion force. If they would be able to aim it good enough ...

Or, if we consider the EMP plan, again, it's likely possible to fire the EMP pulse from something which is flying through our solar system in high speed ; you need to almost stop to start invasion.

Pulling of an EMP pulse when moving at .5 C aimed approximately at the target is a nice trick of timing.  Could go wrong easily.  On the other hand just pegging the Earth with the empty fuel tanks...much easier and a great idea.

Now let's back up and consider one important thing.  How would the aliens know they are attacking a civilization?  The easiest way is detecting Earths unusual RF output.  They have to have detection equipment scanning the proper radio bands within 100 light years of earth AND get the information back to base in time to hit us today before we get too good at technology ourselves.  A monster telescope capable of imaging Earth as if from orbit would reveal signs of civilization (city lights at night, cultivated land) much further away.

Fist we'll talk about a race with no FTL ability.  Let's say their method of travel allows a crewed ship to travel at a speed that works out to 0.25C.  If we assume radio output is their clue Earth has a civilization, they cannot be further away from earth than 20 light years.  And being as far as 20 out would mean they have the invasion force ready to go at a moment's notice (20 years for radio to propagate outward to the aliens, 80 years for the invasion fleet to get to earth).  Even if they can travel as close to light speed as makes no odds, they could not be further out from Earth than 50 light years.  Further distance than that and they either haven't heard of us yet or their invasion fleet is still in route.

Even a FTL-using race still needs some clue Earth is inhabited in order to launch an invasion.  FTL improves the aliens' response time but not the rate at which information is propagating from Earth.    A FTL race whose closest world is, say, 5000 or more light years away might know Earth has life but they would not have any clue that Earth is inhabited unless they can get information from Earth at FTL speeds. 

FTL communication would help a lot.  A survey drone could then look earth over and send the results back,  If they were able to transmit using quantum-entanglement, they would get up to the minute results.  But there's still the question of travel time.  If the alien race only crosses distance at 2C, they'll be 2500 years in transit.  They would probably have better ways of invading earth by the time they're ready to invade earth.  Of they wouldn't need to.  Imagine 1500 years into the voyage some super-swift ship catches up to them and calls the invasion off. 

Bottom line is we're more likely to see a colonization attempt than a military invasion.  If we remove the need for the aliens to know in advance that earth is inhabited, we make it much easier for them to show up in our system without phoning first.  But then the aliens aren't expecting us any more than we're expecting them.  Earth could be detected as life-bearing for 3-4 billion years.  Which means galaxies 3-4 billion light years away would know we have life if they have instruments powerful enough to image our planet.  There would be no anticipating how quickly Earth's life would become sentient life would become technologically savvy sentient life.   Simply playing the odds, a colony would come prepared to deal with megafauna at the worst.  Then suddenly they're in-system and...well...carpbaskets. 

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1 hour ago, Vorlonagent said:


Bottom line is we're more likely to see a colonization attempt than a military invasion. 

That was actually what Turtledove's aliens had in mind, a combination. First the invasion and pacification force. Then, twenty years later, the colonisation fleet. The problem was that twenty years later the humans still weren't feeling very pacifistic.

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1 hour ago, The Old Hack said:

That was actually what Turtledove's aliens had in mind, a combination. First the invasion and pacification force. Then, twenty years later, the colonisation fleet. The problem was that twenty years later the humans still weren't feeling very pacifistic.

Colonization is practically to be expected.  Earth has to have something rare that aliens would want badly.  A pre-existing compatible ecosystem would be on the short list of such things.

My point is that aliens are much more likely to come prepared for an extended safari than warfare.

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1 hour ago, Vorlonagent said:

Colonization is practically to be expected.  Earth has to have something rare that aliens would want badly.  A pre-existing compatible ecosystem would be on the short list of such things.

I suddenly have this mental image of Earth being invaded by alien Greenpeace activists who curb stomp us to save the environment.

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19 hours ago, mlooney said:

That being said, larger mega cities of nuclear-armed countries would not be a good place to be, nor would metro areas with major military bases and, of course, where nuclear delivery system are kept.  In  Oklahoma, for example, Oklahoma City and maybe Lawton would be dangerous places to be in, but the rest of the state would not, in all probability, be a target.

It's true that US has lot of almost empty space. In Europe, the cities (and industries) are much more packed.

19 hours ago, mlooney said:

Also, there is zero reason for any part of South America, Central America or Africa to be targeted.

There are rumors Egypt has nuclear weapon program. No matter if true, someone might decide it's worth few nukes. I agree with South America and rest of Africa.

11 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

But what about Lived there?  Who knows how long ago the Venusians needed to abandon their home world?

Something over three billion years ago?

8 hours ago, Sjmcc13 said:
21 hours ago, hkmaly said:

If they have FTL engine, they probably have other technology capable of defeating us easily. If they don't, it means it took them centuries to get here ; getting impatient now is improbable and would be sign of very bad planning.

Unless we are dealing with something like in Turtledove's short story "The Road not Taken" where discovering FTL tends to cause civilizations to stop advancing, so the Aliens had black powder weapons against automatic rifles. 

Discovering FTL TOO SOON. But yes ... even in less extreme cases than the ones described in that story (according to wikipedia), there is possibility of meeting aliens with unbalanced (compared to us) technology for various reasons. With single exception: with FTL technology, you CERTAINLY can use kinetic weapons (asteroids).

7 hours ago, ijuin said:

Our real-life Alcubierre-White Warp Drive theory (the closest thing we have to actual FTL at present) requires that we first discover how to create gravity-like repulsion, which we as yet have no idea how to achieve unless we can find some negative-mass matter somewhere.

This may actually explain the "discovering FTL very soon": what if you can LITERALLY find negative-mass matter on most planets but someone stolen ours?

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

Nuclear arsenals are actually rather seriously optimized.  One only thinks there's too many if one makes assumptions that simplify the actual situation.

Optimized for attack. Not optimized when you admit enemy will fire as well. If one country launch their nukes, at least two countries would respond, and both would counterattack on very similar list of targets.

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:
22 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Unless they already have exotic matter industry and can afford to install singularity into Mars core :)

I think that main reason we are finding bigger exoplanets is that bigger exoplanets are easier to find.

Some neutronium would work just fine for increasing Mars' gravity. I would guesstimate about the same amount as Mars' current mass.  I don't know if that's "exotic matter" by your definition.

I was attempting to quote something ... "exotic matter industry" was industry dealing with not only producing exotic matter, but also using it to control small singularities (black holes) and wormholes.

Exotic matter is usually matter with negative mass.

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

The exoplanets I'm talking about have surface gravities of between 1.2 and 3 times that of Earth.  We're capable of detecting marse-mass planets if they're really close.

I didn't said we can't, I just said bigger planets are easier to find so logically we find more of them. But I must admit I'm not doing my own statistics.

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

Even a FTL-using race still needs some clue Earth is inhabited in order to launch an invasion.  FTL improves the aliens' response time but not the rate at which information is propagating from Earth.    A FTL race whose closest world is, say, 5000 or more light years away might know Earth has life but they would not have any clue that Earth is inhabited unless they can get information from Earth at FTL speeds. 

What about automatic probes with detection equipment spread around? THEY may be 5000 light years away but the closest probe might happen to be just 50 light years from Earth ...

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

They would probably have better ways of invading earth by the time they're ready to invade earth.  Of they wouldn't need to.  Imagine 1500 years into the voyage some super-swift ship catches up to them and calls the invasion off. 

Or delivering upgraded weapons :) ... but yes, invasion which would take multiple centuries to get here would be at serious disadvantage.

3 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

Bottom line is we're more likely to see a colonization attempt than a military invasion.  If we remove the need for the aliens to know in advance that earth is inhabited, we make it much easier for them to show up in our system without phoning first.  But then the aliens aren't expecting us any more than we're expecting them.  Earth could be detected as life-bearing for 3-4 billion years.  Which means galaxies 3-4 billion light years away would know we have life if they have instruments powerful enough to image our planet.  There would be no anticipating how quickly Earth's life would become sentient life would become technologically savvy sentient life.   Simply playing the odds, a colony would come prepared to deal with megafauna at the worst.  Then suddenly they're in-system and...well...carpbaskets. 

I think there are several human commanders which, even planing colonization attempt, would pack lot of weapons "just in case". Especially if they have some replicator technology and packing weapons is just matter of having the files and energy to replicate them.

Note however, that colonization attempt would at least mean they won't target us because of Jar Jar. They may be convinced to call off the invasion if it wasn't supposed to be invasion from start.

1 hour ago, The Old Hack said:
2 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

Colonization is practically to be expected.  Earth has to have something rare that aliens would want badly.  A pre-existing compatible ecosystem would be on the short list of such things.

I suddenly have this mental image of Earth being invaded by alien Greenpeace activists who curb stomp us to save the environment.

That actually makes sense. They are not interested in us, but diverse ecosystem not yet devastated by industry ... well, ok, partially devastated, but in much better shape than theirs, because their industry had more time to devastate it before they finally developed the FTL technology.

 

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1 hour ago, hkmaly said:

Optimized for attack. Not optimized when you admit enemy will fire as well. If one country launch their nukes, at least two countries would respond, and both would counterattack on very similar list of targets.

It's not like the US doesn't talk with the other nuclear powers.  In terms of numbers there's the US, Russia and everybody else in the margins.  With only 2 major players, there's minimal duplication of effort possible even if there is no coordination between the players at all.

1 hour ago, hkmaly said:

I was attempting to quote something ... "exotic matter industry" was industry dealing with not only producing exotic matter, but also using it to control small singularities (black holes) and wormholes.

Exotic matter is usually matter with negative mass.

How would exotic matter help Mars gain surface gravity?
 

1 hour ago, hkmaly said:

I didn't said we can't, I just said bigger planets are easier to find so logically we find more of them. But I must admit I'm not doing my own statistics.

What about automatic probes with detection equipment spread around? THEY may be 5000 light years away but the closest probe might happen to be just 50 light years from Earth ...

The question is how the information gets the remaining 4950 light years back to the aliens.  Unless the probe is going to invade earth by itself,

the information isn't going to do the aliens any good until it gets back to them and they're still 5000 light years away.  If the probe can only send the information back using normal lightspeed communications, the aliens do not get information on Earth's condition any faster than it's coming to them anyway. 

That's where quantum-entanglement communication would come in.  With quantum entanglement, the alien race is seeing what the probe sees as the probe sees it.  Now the only problem is how to get them 5000 LY to Earth.

2 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Or delivering upgraded weapons :) ... but yes, invasion which would take multiple centuries to get here would be at serious disadvantage.

I think there are several human commanders which, even planing colonization attempt, would pack lot of weapons "just in case". Especially if they have some replicator technology and packing weapons is just matter of having the files and energy to replicate them.

Note however, that colonization attempt would at least mean they won't target us because of Jar Jar. They may be convinced to call off the invasion if it wasn't supposed to be invasion from start.

A colonization effort would certainly be in a moral quandary.  Do they tool up for war and attack?  Do they go back home?  Can they go back home?  Do they have a secondary target they can go to instead, either in sol system or elsewhere?

Just because you can make weapons and vehicles doesn't mean you have an army.  Warfare isn't just hardware, it's a mindset.  It's training.  Handing out weapons to your hairdressers, management consultants and telephone sanitizers do not make them soldiers.  The colony is going to want some police, hunters and predator killers and those groups will at least know how to handle weapons but they will be at best novice-grade NCOs officers and generals when it comes to fighting a war. 

The colonizing race is playing the odds.  How likely is it that they're run into an intelligent race that the early surveys missed?  Especially one which can give you any kind of fight.  Intelligence takes a long time to build up and occurs so quickly it's almost impossible to find a civilization that's around where you are at.  usually it will be transcendentally more advanced or barely started chipping its stone tools.  Why invest a lot in warfare unless you know you're going to fight?  That space might be put to better use hauling something else.

Here's an interesting thought.  If you're colonizing a planet with existing life, it is always an invasion and there's always a native civilization at stake.  by colonizing the world, you are potentially aborting any native intelligence that the planet might have ever produce from now to its sun going nova.

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53 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:
3 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Optimized for attack. Not optimized when you admit enemy will fire as well. If one country launch their nukes, at least two countries would respond, and both would counterattack on very similar list of targets.

It's not like the US doesn't talk with the other nuclear powers.  In terms of numbers there's the US, Russia and everybody else in the margins.  With only 2 major players, there's minimal duplication of effort possible even if there is no coordination between the players at all.

China.

54 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:

How would exotic matter help Mars gain surface gravity?

By allowing to install the neutronium inside without tearing the core?

Or maybe you don't need the exotic matter itself, just that every person who understand neutronium is already employed by exotic matter industries.

56 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:
3 hours ago, hkmaly said:

What about automatic probes with detection equipment spread around? THEY may be 5000 light years away but the closest probe might happen to be just 50 light years from Earth ...

The question is how the information gets the remaining 4950 light years back to the aliens.  Unless the probe is going to invade earth by itself,

the information isn't going to do the aliens any good until it gets back to them and they're still 5000 light years away.  If the probe can only send the information back using normal lightspeed communications, the aliens do not get information on Earth's condition any faster than it's coming to them anyway. 

That's where quantum-entanglement communication would come in.  With quantum entanglement, the alien race is seeing what the probe sees as the probe sees it.  Now the only problem is how to get them 5000 LY to Earth.

Yes, I was thinking about probe with FTL communication (it may even be slower than quantum entanglement, just 1000c would suffice).

58 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:

Just because you can make weapons and vehicles doesn't mean you have an army.  Warfare isn't just hardware, it's a mindset.  It's training.  Handing out weapons to your hairdressers, management consultants and telephone sanitizers do not make them soldiers.  The colony is going to want some police, hunters and predator killers and those groups will at least know how to handle weapons but they will be at best novice-grade NCOs officers and generals when it comes to fighting a war. 

Yes, that sounds like good topic for book or several: war between technologically advanced aliens with little or no military training versus top earth strategists.

59 minutes ago, Vorlonagent said:

Why invest a lot in warfare unless you know you're going to fight?  That space might be put to better use hauling something else.

Here where the replicators came in. Well, sure, even the data space might be used for something else, like another season of their longest soap opera, but captain had relatives in congress and they insisted of taking weapons. Not that captain was that afraid, she just hated that soap opera.

1 hour ago, Vorlonagent said:

Here's an interesting thought.  If you're colonizing a planet with existing life, it is always an invasion and there's always a native civilization at stake.  by colonizing the world, you are potentially aborting any native intelligence that the planet might have ever produce from now to its sun going nova.

Just one of them. It's very likely that the other three would be aborted by the first one anyway.

 

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4 hours ago, hkmaly said:

Discovering FTL TOO SOON. But yes ... even in less extreme cases than the ones described in that story (according to wikipedia), there is possibility of meeting aliens with unbalanced (compared to us) technology for various reasons. With single exception: with FTL technology, you CERTAINLY can use kinetic weapons (asteroids).

This may actually explain the "discovering FTL very soon": what if you can LITERALLY find negative-mass matter on most planets but someone stolen ours?

 

The "somebody stole our key resource and we never knew that it's missing or even existed in the first place" idea was played with for Naquadah in the Stargate franchise--the aliens who had posed as gods thousands of years ago had extracted all of Earth's easy-to-reach deposits of Naquadah, so Earth scientists never knew of this element until they encountered aliens using it in the 1990s. Naquadah allows for, among other things, neutron-free nuclear fission (thus allowing the "atomic power in your pocket" dream of the 1920s-50s to be realized, and a megawatt-class reactor is man-portable).

Anyway, your idea sounds like a good idea for a SF story--what if the material that is key to FTL is common in the universe, but aliens mined most of it from Earth (and maybe other Solar System bodies) before humans ever became civilized? Maybe we discover a small amount of it on some other Solar System body--just enough to figure out its secrets and outfit ONE expedition of starships to go out and search the galaxy for more . . .

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Suppose that the large majority of earth-like planets have complex life forms and some degree of technological sophistication is not particularly unusual.

Then every colonization force needs to either (a) be a follow-on to a scouting mission - the scouts get word back BEFORE the colony launches, with the resulting communications and time-delay problems, or (b) be an invasion force.

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1 hour ago, hkmaly said:
2 hours ago, Vorlonagent said:

It's not like the US doesn't talk with the other nuclear powers.  In terms of numbers there's the US, Russia and everybody else in the margins.  With only 2 major players, there's minimal duplication of effort possible even if there is no coordination between the players at all.

China.

The People's Liberation Army Rocket Force is more or less just a tactical force compared to the Russian and US strategic forces.  

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I suddenly remembered that the Greenpeace aliens actually kind of sort of were a thing in Brin's Uplift universe. And that humans got into big trouble because of our happy-go-lucky mass extinctions in our early years of civilisation and technology.

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