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October 14th, 2012, 03:16 PM #16
October 14th, 2012, 05:38 PM #17
It was in 1959 that the precession of Mercury was discovered and reality did not match the math of Newtonian physics. It wasn't until Einstein came along in 1905 that an explanation was provided.
We don't know what is left to be discovered. That is why Einstein said imagination was so important. The math has to match the reality, reality does not give a damn about math.
October 14th, 2012, 11:54 PM #18
Thanks for the other books, I will take a look on those as well.
Nice to see that a thread I created to get some Hard Sci Fi good books recommendations became a discussion about the NEED we have for more Real Hard Sci Fi works.
Let me handle two things being discussed here, and give my humble two cents to this debate.
First, regarding the cost of putting spaceships on outer or interplanetary space. Any good spacefaring civilization should be able to build large spaceships directly on space by mining asteroids or planetoids for the raw materials and have spaceshipyards built straight on them. That would save the costs greatly. Even us, Terrans, if we stop wasting time with so much politics, religion and other philosophical BS, we could gather enough resources to go to Mars by 2040 or so, and from that to the Asteroids belt. Our main issue here is: we are alone in this planetary system, and probably in the close vicinity (2 to 3 ly diameter from Sol), so we don't have a close by civilization that could compete with us as far as our Sol system resources go. If we had other humans, or any other similarly predatory intelligent species civilization around, we will already be taking our fighting to the interplanetary space. Resources won't be a problem, as they weren't when Europeans undertook the Great discoveries of the 16th century. And you will have to agree with me that, for their degree of civilization, to gather the intellectual and material resources to design and build the first fleets of ocean-able ships, was a way higher effort than the one our actual civilization would have to do on order to reach a basic spacefaring capability. At least to travel to a close by range (like 3 ly).
Second thing, we are post-highs boson, so there is no discussion (at least not valid scientific debate) of a serious alternative to the standard Newtonian-Einsteinian model of Physics. We proved (5 sigma) that the standard model of particles and the physics that derives from it (gravity, mass, nothing faster than light, relativity) is the only one real physics in our universe.
So, better than our Sci Fi reader and writer forefathers, we are starting from a point where many premises are already surely and absolutely established. Then, we can discard FTL travel, as there is no physical possibility of doing that, at least in our universe. Perhaps if we were able to build solar/stellar wind clipper-like spaceships we would, then, be able to travel without fuel limitations and then, by using constant acceleration (a gift from that absence of the fuel necessity), and reach like 1/3rd lightspeed, or something. But, my main concern remains on the close by, intra-system, or perhaps, close vicinity interplanetary and interstellar travel. At that spacefaring level (achievable with our present technology capabilities), spacefaring would be totally ruled by Newton and Kepler, with some Einstein for when you get a space speeding ticket. That is the kind of stories I would like to read.
Don't get me wrong, I loved Star Wars and Star Trek when I was a kid.
Star Wars is a very good medieval-ninja-knight story translated to some "kinda like" Sci Fi environment, and Star Trek is all about the human psychology, and the way people (and aliens that think like people) behave when under pressure or when having their personal beliefs put in check. But, when you grow and learn physics, their attempts to display spaceships moving in space are comical.
I like the way Joseph Shoer explains the physics of REAL space battles (he got a blog, but a good way to start is from the original article that changed everything: http://gizmodo.com/5426453/the-physics-of-space-battles). And I would like to see more Hard Sci Fi written around that, like how OUR physics work, and not some physics that will exist after we discover the Imbibellilium or make third degree contact with the Mangradviaans from the Messier 87 galaxy.
Sorry, I may sound and I am kinda hard sometimes. I don't believe in anything besides science. I have no religion, no superstitions, and I even see some philosophical and ethics considerations under a very bad light when they go against evolution, physics, genetics, and all the other scientific subjects that are already proved (call me positivist if you want). I don't even like gnomes, hobbits, dwarfs, elves, and mythological creatures in general. I have to go a long way to accept and explain magic and dragons, and such, and I can only like them if I can get some scientific explanation (or build a scientific justification myself, when the book author does not provide one). That is one of the reasons why I prefer GRRM instead of JRR Tolkien (even if those decade long winters and summers are very hard to explain, and there are lots of magic happening too...)
Thanks all for all your book recommendations, and please keep this debate over the Hard Sci Fi needs. That has been very enlightening so far.
Last edited by Mike0101010101; October 15th, 2012 at 12:00 AM.
October 15th, 2012, 03:13 AM #19
October 15th, 2012, 03:25 AM #20
I also disagree that we'll take crime and war into space with us. It's a inimical environment. We can't survive any in the Solar System without technology except for the Earth. It's not the Wild West, where you can ride out into the Great Black Yonder and go wildcatting. That means cooperation is the only way to succeed. And the people involved will be technical people, with skills which contribute to survival. Because it's not worth lifting someone who doesn't out of a gravity well.
We can see to the edge of the observable universe - er, obviously. And we still haven't found evidence of intelligent life elsewhere. Why that should imply that only space within a three light year radius of us is barren but not elsewhere, I don't know. The universe is fifteen billions years old. We humans have existed in less than an eyeblink of that. Which at least suggests that the timescales necessary for intelligent life to develop are trivial, so trivial that we should be able to see or detect something to demonstrate we are not alone. But we haven't.
October 15th, 2012, 03:48 AM #21
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Iain M. Banks' The Algebraist might have what you're looking for. And of course Ender's Game and The Forever War.
As to the state of current physics, just because we have an internally consistent model (which is what we mostly mean today when we say "proved") doesn't mean certain things won't adjust. Human hubris being what it is, I doubt we've got it nearly as well figured out as we'd like to suppose.
October 15th, 2012, 04:00 AM #22
October 15th, 2012, 07:07 AM #23
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Well, physics phd students are sure gonna have it rough when those last few bits are worked out!
"The maths work without us actually knowing" is what I mean by internally consistent.
October 15th, 2012, 03:29 PM #24
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All this talk of maths... at the risk of being highly controversial....
The laws of physics provide a model by which we can predict what will happen from a certain set of initial conditions if we come across those conditions in reality.
Now let's take a real leap into the imagination... but first I'd like to remind you of a fundamental point of mathematics. A solution to a mathematical problem may not be unique. It can comprise a direct solution to the problem plus any solution that gives a zero answer. So you can have a whole family of solutions to that problem.
So whilst we have such a family of solutions, we can choose any one and know we have a 'right' answer.
Applying this to the laws of physics model, we can have a solution that gives a 'right' answer plus any increment of another solution that gives a null answer. Hence we can end up with a whole family of predictions. Now we don't experience the null answer increment until we come across new phenomena that would show it up. But for now, how do we know which 'right' answer plus null increment represents the real universe?
And before people say this can't happen... think again, because mathematicians use different null increments to find mathematical answers more easily to electromagnetics problems.
So there is no one maths model that can be deemed to be 'right'. There is a family of maths models, any one of them that could be right.
I suppose I'd better find a way of explaining this simply to put into a story... on wait I did that in a bizarre kind of way... and nobody wants to publish it. Doh!
October 21st, 2012, 10:20 PM #25
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I'm not particularly smart when it comes to science or math or astrophysics ,but I've always had an interest in space travel. Popular science and mechanics are my favorite magazines. And of course, I read a lot of sci-fi.
From what I have understood from all these different sources is that FTL travel, even if we could achieve it, would still be mostly useless when it comes to traveling to other stars, excepting the closest ones to our own.
This is why sci-fi writers have come up with concepts like wormholes, subspace and hyperspace.
Isn't it largely understood that unless or until humanity can discover or invent some way to travel instantly across time and space that we'll always be stuck here in our own solar system?
Sure, we might try to reach the closest star, but even if we had FTL, and some form of cryogenics
it would still take far too long for a human lifetime.
Even more complicated, from what I've read, just for FTL speeds, we'd have to also invent things like inertia compensators and antigrav.
I guess what I'm saying, is, that until we find that miracle cure that lets us move across vast distances of space instantaneously, I don't think we'll ever leave our own solar system. Someone might try to get to the closest star in a ship driven by nothing more than thrust, but what would be the point?
October 23rd, 2012, 08:21 PM #26
Even if FTL is figured out it probably won't be in my lifetime so I see no point in being negative about it. The scientific revolution is hardly 400 years old. We have not even known the structure of the atom for 100 years. The neutron was not discovered until 1932. Science fiction is fun but there is no need to get all serious about it except as a tool for encouraging interest in science and teaching a little science with some accurate SF. That does not mean all SF has to be accurate to be fun.
But I calculated that with constant 1 G acceleration it would take 71 days to reach 20% of light speed. That would mean Centauri in 20 years. With 300 year life spans and a 75% hibernation duty cycle that would mean 5 years alive to the crew. So with von Neumann probes sent in all directions to report findings no live crew would be sent on a wild goose chase.
Our problem is getting through this century with the crash of stupid consumerism.
October 23rd, 2012, 09:42 PM #27
October 23rd, 2012, 10:41 PM #28
November 2nd, 2012, 03:19 AM #29
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Last edited by martinhcoat; November 2nd, 2012 at 03:24 AM.
November 2nd, 2012, 09:12 AM #30
Nearly all the SF I read is based on Earth, but when I do read space travel novels (especially when they go on about the actual activity of space travel) I'm always left with the sense of fantasy rather than science, which puts me off somewhat. If a story does have space travel then it has to be in the background for me to accept it.
The notable exception was Tau Zero which was so spectacularly well illustrated that I was carried away by the power of imagining it could be real.