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Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable planets

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Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable planets
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:56 pm

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Form the stories so far, we've seen that wormholes connect to systems with habitable planets at an astonishingly high rate. Even granting that there's a selection bias in what we know, in that we are told a lot more about the WH that are militarily and/or economically significant, the rate seems higher than pure chance would allow for.

It's one of two things:
I) what we are told in the books is representative of wormholes; or
II) it isn't

It's unlikely to be II, at least not entirely. It's possible it is the case, but after 600 years of knowing wormholes exist, the science of detecting them is imperfect. It might require extensive surveying, which is often accomplished only in systems with habitable planets. We also know that there are systems where a WH was discovered after centuries of human presence.

But it would mean there are WH just about everywhere and such a sheer density would mean random chance would find them. Transstellars and major governments would have invested a lot to find them in empty systems. The dynamics of the universe would be totally different. Since they aren't, I don't think it's II.

So it's probably I. That subdivides into:
1) the WH end in habitable systems because there's a direct cause-consequence link; or
2) the WH end in systems that happen to be habitable, due to an unknown reason (in universe) or because RFC did not tell us.

For it to be (2), we would need to have a strong cause that would explain why systems where WH end are also systems where habitable planets come to exist. For example, WH termini could connect to systems with G- and F-type stars because they're about the right size to keep the WH terminus in orbit. This argument alone is not sufficient to explain, though, since there should be 150k to 200k G- and F-type stars in the human settled space.

It's difficult to tell because we don't know what factors cause habitable planets to form. We don't know what other characteristics the star systems that have habitable planets have in common.

That still leaves (1). And that seems to imply that either WH are artificial constructs or that habitable planets are or that naturally-occurring WH termini were moved to systems with naturally-occurring habitable planets. Either way, it implies intelligence.

Could that be?
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by kzt   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:43 am

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You might consider the possibility that they generally occur where its convenient to the plot.
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by Weird Harold   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 12:49 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:Form the stories so far, we've seen that wormholes connect to systems with habitable planets at an astonishingly high rate. ...


I thing you're missing the actual locations and just counting the 'common names ' for WH links.

I can only think of of two, or maybe three, wormholes that are actually IN the system they're named for: Manticore and Torch. The majority seem to be around uninhabitable or planet-less systems.
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:26 am

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Weird Harold wrote:I thing you're missing the actual locations and just counting the 'common names ' for WH links.

I can only think of of two, or maybe three, wormholes that are actually IN the system they're named for: Manticore and Torch. The majority seem to be around uninhabitable or planet-less systems.


If that were the case, the MWHJ alone would a huge outlier. 5 of the 8 termini are in inhabited systems
* Manticore
* Beowulf
* Basilisk
* Trevor's Star
* Gregor (binary star system)

Then we have:

* Ajay
* Asgard (another junction in an inhabited system)
* Bessie
* Calvin (the planet used to be inhabitable)
* Congo (Torch)
* Darius
* Erewhon Junction
* Idaho
* Limbo
* Mannerheim
* Mesa
* Midgard
* Nolan
* Prime
* Roulette
* Stine
* Visigoth
* Warner
* Włocławek

This list has 24 systems, which is 0.75 to 1% of the settled systems (SL has 2000 systems, so I'm guessing anywhere between 2500 to 3200 settled). If it were exhaustive -- and we know it isn't -- and warp termini occurred randomly in G-type stars, there should be a minimum of 0.75% * 7.6% * 6.7 million warp termini, or 3800 termini.

This was a strict minimum. But we know there are more, since there are warp bridges we've never heard of, certain termini that the Wiki didn't say were inhabited might have been, and I restricted to G-type stars.

Even with the restriction, 0.75% is 3 in 400. Those odds are good enough to mount survey to all G-type stars in your neighbourhood. 3 ships spending 3 months per star would be done with 400 stars in 33 years.

So it can't be a random distribution, even to a single stellar spectral class.
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by tlb   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:02 am

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kzt wrote:You might consider the possibility that they generally occur where its convenient to the plot.

One of those you mention, Torch, might have been occupied because of its proximity to a wormhole. One you did not mention, Matapan, most likely was settled because of the wormhole. Basilisk was inhabited by aliens, the humans are there because of the wormhole.

As you said, wormholes are going to be searched most intensely in the areas near inhabited planets. Suppose one is found, what will happen at any inhabitable planet at the other end? Most likely it will become inhabited. Do we really know the colonization history of every system within a day's travel of a wormhole?

Instead of a sizable percentage of wormholes being found next to inhabited planets, my conjecture is that any habitable planet near a wormhole is likely to become colonized. Yes, that would mean that the MWHJ is a huge outlier (but of course Manticore would not be the subject of the books, if the wormhole junction did not exist).
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 11:26 am

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tlb wrote:One of those you mention, Torch, might have been occupied because of its proximity to a wormhole. One you did not mention, Matapan, most likely was settled because of the wormhole. Basilisk was inhabited by aliens, the humans are there because of the wormhole.

As you said, wormholes are going to be searched most intensely in the areas near inhabited planets. Suppose one is found, what will happen at any inhabitable planet at the other end? Most likely it will become inhabited. Do we really know the colonization history of every system within a day's travel of a wormhole?

Instead of a sizable percentage of wormholes being found next to inhabited planets, my conjecture is that any habitable planet near a wormhole is likely to become colonized. Yes, that would mean that the MWHJ is a huge outlier (but of course Manticore would not be the subject of the books, if the wormhole junction did not exist).


No doubt that any inhabitable planet within a day or two's travel in hyper from a wormhole terminus is going to become inhabited. Being connected more closely to other hubs is a serious economic boom, dropping shipping costs, giving access to financial instruments, information, etc.

But that was not my argument. I was talking about the fact that there are so many inhabitable planets in the very system the terminus is located in.

But I've just had a thought: what if those systems are actually unremarkable because inhabitable planets are extremely common? If 20% of G-type stars have them, then it's 100,000 planets in human space. If we say there are 500 known wormhole termini and 400 are in inhabited/inhabitable systems and all those are G stars, that's 0.4% of inhabitable systems and less than 0.1% of all G-type stars.

If that's the case, then for sure what you said comes to pass: any new terminus discovered has something like 15% chance of connecting to an inhabitable system, which will become inhabited in short order. The other 85% are baked into the narrative: we know of a lot of termini connecting elsewhere and those that are dead-ends are not important to the story.
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by Armed Neo-Bob   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:33 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:
tlb wrote:One of those you mention, Torch, might have been occupied because of its proximity to a wormhole. One you did not mention, Matapan, most likely was settled because of the wormhole. Basilisk was inhabited by aliens, the humans are there because of the wormhole.

As you said, wormholes are going to be searched most intensely in the areas near inhabited planets. Suppose one is found, what will happen at any inhabitable planet at the other end? Most likely it will become inhabited. Do we really know the colonization history of every system within a day's travel of a wormhole?

Instead of a sizable percentage of wormholes being found next to inhabited planets, my conjecture is that any habitable planet near a wormhole is likely to become colonized. Yes, that would mean that the MWHJ is a huge outlier (but of course Manticore would not be the subject of the books, if the wormhole junction did not exist).


No doubt that any inhabitable planet within a day or two's travel in hyper from a wormhole terminus is going to become inhabited. Being connected more closely to other hubs is a serious economic boom, dropping shipping costs, giving access to financial instruments, information, etc.

But that was not my argument. I was talking about the fact that there are so many inhabitable planets in the very system the terminus is located in.

But I've just had a thought: what if those systems are actually unremarkable because inhabitable planets are extremely common? If 20% of G-type stars have them, then it's 100,000 planets in human space. If we say there are 500 known wormhole termini and 400 are in inhabited/inhabitable systems and all those are G stars, that's 0.4% of inhabitable systems and less than 0.1% of all G-type stars.

If that's the case, then for sure what you said comes to pass: any new terminus discovered has something like 15% chance of connecting to an inhabitable system, which will become inhabited in short order. The other 85% are baked into the narrative: we know of a lot of termini connecting elsewhere and those that are dead-ends are not important to the story.


It is known now that a lot more systems have planets than were assumed 30 years ago; planets are being discovered everywhere around all sorts of stars. We may end up living in a lot of red dwarf systems. :)

Also, systems were settled prior to the wormhole detection capability--and almost a thousand years before they were actually accessible and not deathtraps. So initially, wormholes would be found in systems that were already inhabited, and the first thorough searches for them were in systems close to occupied systems (because they were already occupied.) Hence, an apparent skewing of the numbers.

tlb: I am pretty sure you already know this, but if anyone missed it:

Matapan is a region, not a system--the terminus system itself is uninhabited. There are several (never specified) newly settled systems there, similar to the systems that have built up ivo Basilisk terminus. In one of his posts, rfc indicated it was a protectorate similar in some ways to the former Trucial States (now UAE?). Doesn't need much policing, and Manticore takes care of it (Asgard takes care of the region around the Midgard Federation).

Regards, Rob
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by tlb   » Sat Aug 24, 2019 5:25 pm

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Armed Neo-Bob wrote:tlb: I am pretty sure you already know this, but if anyone missed it:

Matapan is a region, not a system--the terminus system itself is uninhabited. There are several (never specified) newly settled systems there, similar to the systems that have built up ivo Basilisk terminus. In one of his posts, rfc indicated it was a protectorate similar in some ways to the former Trucial States (now UAE?). Doesn't need much policing, and Manticore takes care of it (Asgard takes care of the region around the Midgard Federation).

Regards, Rob

We have been discussing that in a different thread and Threemile presented a nice map. Yes, Matapan is a region, but I was not sure about the system names and I am pretty sure that they were all settled through the Manticore wormhole.
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10208

Here is the Pearl where RFC discusses Matapan:
http://www.davidweber.net/posts/119-rei ... he-ba.html
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by Keith_w   » Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:57 am

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Most of the wormholes mentioned, Basilic, Beowulf, Talbot etc., are at least several hours at FTL speeds away from an inhabitable system. Our solar system has a radius of 50AU or approximately 400 light minutes to the Kuiper cliff or 120 AU to the Heliopause or 1000 light minutes (1 AU=93 million miles, or the 8 minutes, 19 seconds that light takes to travel from the Sun to Earth) so this would tend to indicate to me that wormholes do not tend to form in solar systems, habitable or otherwise.

On the other hand, I always wondered why Grendalbane's location was known far and wide making it vulnerable to attack. It seems to me that if you are going to build a strategic resource out in the middle of nowhere you should a) keep the location a deep dark secret and b) protect it with defenses equivalent to those you would use on your home system. Instead, what we got was oooooh the big bad Havenites are here, lets run away and blow up our own stuff.
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Re: Improbability of wormholes connecting to habitable plane
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sun Aug 25, 2019 10:57 am

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Keith_w wrote:Most of the wormholes mentioned, Basilic, Beowulf, Talbot etc., are at least several hours at FTL speeds away from an inhabitable system. Our solar system has a radius of 50AU or approximately 400 light minutes to the Kuiper cliff or 120 AU to the Heliopause or 1000 light minutes (1 AU=93 million miles, or the 8 minutes, 19 seconds that light takes to travel from the Sun to Earth) so this would tend to indicate to me that wormholes do not tend to form in solar systems, habitable or otherwise.

On the other hand, I always wondered why Grendalbane's location was known far and wide making it vulnerable to attack. It seems to me that if you are going to build a strategic resource out in the middle of nowhere you should a) keep the location a deep dark secret and b) protect it with defenses equivalent to those you would use on your home system. Instead, what we got was oooooh the big bad Havenites are here, lets run away and blow up our own stuff.


Neither the Beowulf terminus nor Basilisk terminus need hours of FTL to reach an inhabited system. They need hours of n-space travel only.

You are correct that there are termini that are not in an inhabited system but are still named after the closest system. The example here is the Lynx terminus, which is a couple of light-years from the Lynx system (a couple hours' FTL). So it's possible that in my list I added a couple of others like that, but in my defence that would be because the Wiki information is incomplete -- I tried to only add those that were listed as existing in the system where a planetary government also did, plus Calvin.

I think it's far more likely that I didn't add enough. That is, that some of the known termini are in inhabited systems but that was never mentioned in the books or captured into the wiki.
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