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[Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox

David's and Jacob Holo's newest alternate, cross history series.
[Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:04 am

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The Fermi Paradox, according to Wikipedia, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability. It asks why we have not found any other species, given that all we know indicates that life should be common.

One of the big problems with the paradox is that life may be common and we just haven't found it yet.

The Temporal paradox I'm asking here refers to TVP Chapter 3, which is part of Snipper #6, #7 and #8. Even in The Gordian Protocol, we get to find out time travel is dangerous and can destroy universes. In TVP, it happens again and for a different cause.

Does this mean there is no other sentient life out there?

Because if there are other technological civilisations that achieve time travel, the chances that one of them will trigger one of the Great Filters that not only destroys themselves but the entire universe approaches unity. There should be no universe. And yet it exists.

Unless the "universe destruction" is much more localised and only spans a few light years. Maybe it propagates at the speed of light through the universe, in which case we go back to the original Fermi Paradox, though in a weak version because the signal would be completely unmistakable.
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:55 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:The Fermi Paradox, according to Wikipedia, is the apparent contradiction between the lack of evidence for extraterrestrial civilizations and various high estimates for their probability. It asks why we have not found any other species, given that all we know indicates that life should be common.

One of the big problems with the paradox is that life may be common and we just haven't found it yet.

The Temporal paradox I'm asking here refers to TVP Chapter 3, which is part of Snipper #6, #7 and #8. Even in The Gordian Protocol, we get to find out time travel is dangerous and can destroy universes. In TVP, it happens again and for a different cause.

Does this mean there is no other sentient life out there?

Because if there are other technological civilisations that achieve time travel, the chances that one of them will trigger one of the Great Filters that not only destroys themselves but the entire universe approaches unity. There should be no universe. And yet it exists.

Unless the "universe destruction" is much more localised and only spans a few light years. Maybe it propagates at the speed of light through the universe, in which case we go back to the original Fermi Paradox, though in a weak version because the signal would be completely unmistakable.


If the destruction propagates at the speed of light, we won't see the signal, because the signal is the wave of destruction.
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Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by Jacob Holo   » Tue Oct 20, 2020 9:31 am

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:If the destruction propagates at the speed of light, we won't see the signal, because the signal is the wave of destruction.


Exactly. You wouldn’t see the destruction because the moment you can detect it, you’re within the affected zone.

In that regard, the speed of light is both the great limiter and the great protector for life, and the natural expansion of our universe acts as an additional source of protection, limiting the temporal damage to a slightly lesser degree. It’s still extremely bad, but not quite as binary an event as some of our characters currently believe. Then again, their Theory Of Everything is in shambles and they’re still piecing together a new theoretical framework for the multiverse setting.

The concept of a destructive change propagating through our universe at the speed of light—and how Our Heroes deal with it—is one of the story concepts David Weber and I are looking at. We’re under contract to deliver another three novels after The Valkyrie Protocol, so this could be one of them. However, David has made me promise not to destroy any more universes for at least two books, so there’s that to consider. ;)
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:20 am

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Jacob Holo wrote:Exactly. You wouldn’t see the destruction because the moment you can detect it, you’re within the affected zone.

In that regard, the speed of light is both the great limiter and the great protector for life, and the natural expansion of our universe acts as an additional source of protection, limiting the temporal damage to a slightly lesser degree. It’s still extremely bad, but not quite as binary an event as some of our characters currently believe. Then again, their Theory Of Everything is in shambles and they’re still piecing together a new theoretical framework for the multiverse setting.

The concept of a destructive change propagating through our universe at the speed of light—and how Our Heroes deal with it—is one of the story concepts David Weber and I are looking at. We’re under contract to deliver another three novels after The Valkyrie Protocol, so this could be one of them. However, David has made me promise not to destroy any more universes for at least two books, so there’s that to consider. ;)


Hello Jacob

First of all, great work on TVP! Congratulations to you and David. I really enjoyed the book and can't wait for the next. I'm looking forward to more books named after temporal laws that Raibert named.

If universe destruction due to time travel propagates at the speed of light, then we know that no technological civilisation has triggered universal collapse within the Observable Universe. As I mentioned, it's unmistakable: it can't be a case of "it's there but we failed to see it." If we're still here to ask the question, then it hasn't happened in our past light cone.

Which is why I am positing the Temporal Fermi Paradox: where are all the time-travelling aliens? We'll also need an updated Temporal Drake Equation to determine whether life arises, evolves to technological civilisation, then to time travel, and whether they trigger the Great Filter.

If FTL travel is possible in the Gordian universe, we could see time refugees: aliens outracing the wavefront of destruction. After all, our scientists think that FTL travel implies time travel, so could time travel imply FTL?

BTW, on light-speed universe destruction, there's currently some discussion on vacuum decay, which is a situation that our scientists think that our current vacuum energy is not the lowest possible, but only a local minimum (which could also explain why Relativity and Quantum Mechanics disagree on the value of vacuum energy by 125 orders of magnitude). If a patch of the universe does manage to drop to a lower minimum, such a change would propagate universe-wide at the speed of light, altering the laws of physics as we know them. Our current scientists don't think that has anything to do with time travel, but I'm sure you could explain it that way.
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by Jacob Holo   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 7:45 am

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:First of all, great work on TVP! Congratulations to you and David. I really enjoyed the book and can't wait for the next. I'm looking forward to more books named after temporal laws that Raibert named.


Thanks! We're both looking forward to writing more books in this series. It’s been a blast so far. :)

ThinksMarkedly wrote:If universe destruction due to time travel propagates at the speed of light, then we know that no technological civilisation has triggered universal collapse within the Observable Universe.


You’re absolutely correct that humanity being around to ponder these questions implies no aliens have triggered a temporal catastrophe within the observable universe. However, there’s a slight clarification to that statement necessary in the Gordian Division setting, because any society capable of time travel is also capable of branching the timeline. So, in that sense, every alien society within the observable universe has the potential to both pass and fail simultaneously. They can be both a one and a zero within the Drake Equation, so to speak, which is a phenomenon we've already seen in the series through humanity's destructive interactions with the multiverse.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:If FTL travel is possible in the Gordian universe, we could see time refugees: aliens outracing the wavefront of destruction. After all, our scientists think that FTL travel implies time travel, so could time travel imply FTL?


FTL travel is possible within this setting and fits very snugly within the established ruleset from the first two novels, though that’s something I think David and I will likely save for the right story. Regardless, I tossed a line into our current draft of Book Three hinting at the possibility. It’s very subtle, though. Blink and you’ll miss it. ;)

ThinksMarkedly wrote:BTW, on light-speed universe destruction, there's currently some discussion on vacuum decay, which is a situation that our scientists think that our current vacuum energy is not the lowest possible, but only a local minimum (which could also explain why Relativity and Quantum Mechanics disagree on the value of vacuum energy by 125 orders of magnitude). If a patch of the universe does manage to drop to a lower minimum, such a change would propagate universe-wide at the speed of light, altering the laws of physics as we know them. Our current scientists don't think that has anything to do with time travel, but I'm sure you could explain it that way.


You know, it’s funny that you mention vacuum decay. One of our story concepts does involve Our Heroes facing a deliberately triggered vacuum decay event. As you can imagine, dealing with a wave front of destruction you can’t see coming which also rewrites the laws of physics as we know them would be . . . something of a challenge for Our Heroes. 8-)

Right now, the vacuum decay story concept is one I’m very interested in writing (perhaps as Book Five?), but the Gordian Division series is quite a bit more freeform than David’s other series, so it’s difficult to say for certain which of our many story concepts we’ll pursue in the immediate future. It won’t be Three or Four, though, because I’ve been placed on a universe-destroying diet for the next two books. :lol:
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:33 am

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Jacob Holo wrote:You’re absolutely correct that humanity being around to ponder these questions implies no aliens have triggered a temporal catastrophe within the observable universe. However, there’s a slight clarification to that statement necessary in the Gordian Division setting, because any society capable of time travel is also capable of branching the timeline. So, in that sense, every alien society within the observable universe has the potential to both pass and fail simultaneously. They can be both a one and a zero within the Drake Equation, so to speak, which is a phenomenon we've already seen in the series through humanity's destructive interactions with the multiverse.


Oh! That's an interesting concept to mull about. The first thing that came to mind was that it would be a quantum-like concept, where the value like a qubit isn't known for certain until the quantum state superposition collapses. That would mean there's another equation that gives the probability of the factor being any particular value...

The next one would be whether it's possible at all for there to be more than one time-travelling civilisation in each branch of the multiverse. Suppose that as soon as any start doing time travelling in any meaningful way, they cause a branch and therefore any destructive action they produce affect that universe alone? If you do decide to tell a story about time refugees, the answer to this would have to be "yes, there can be." Which implies that Our Heroes' universe could be at risk.

And finally, on branching: we know that the Admin universe branched off and one branch survived the destruction of the other. So could the same have happened to the destroyed universes T3 through T5? Could there be a copy of them out there, waiting to be discovered?

FTL travel is possible within this setting and fits very snugly within the established ruleset from the first two novels, though that’s something I think David and I will likely save for the right story. Regardless, I tossed a line into our current draft of Book Three hinting at the possibility. It’s very subtle, though. Blink and you’ll miss it. ;)


I'll look forward to how you explain it.

The simplest FTL through time travel isn't possible with the rules from the Gordian Division universe, because of the True Present. The simplest FTL is to travel backwards in time while moving forwards in space: for example, if you travel backwards 1 second for every light-second you move. That means that for a non-travelling observer, the trip is not only faster than light, it's actually instantaneous. The travellers arrive at destination at the same moment they've left, even though shipboard time will have elapsed. But in the Gordian universe, that would mean a trip to Alpha Centauri puts the travellers 4.2 years in the past, not the True Present. (they could then jump forward back to the True Present, but then this trip is no longer faster than light, it's at best light-speed)

I'd be curious of the SysGov colony at Alpha Centauri was achieved with slowboat ships or if it was FTL. If it was slower than light, because of the transhumanism, are there any meat humans there, or just ACs and synthoids? And now that the colony is there, anyone can transfer to Alpha Centauri in the blink of their eye: sleep on Earth, wake up in Alpha Centauri 4.2 years later.

In fact, the transhumanism aspect of the SysGov universe is one of the most compelling parts of the story to me. It's taken second place to the time travelling, of course, but I really wish you'd explore this further. Peter F. Hamilton developed a very compelling one in the Commonwealth Saga, especially in the second part (the Void Trilogy and the next two books) when they truly achieve post-scarcity. I'd like to see your and David's take on this.

Right now, the vacuum decay story concept is one I’m very interested in writing (perhaps as Book Five?), but the Gordian Division series is quite a bit more freeform than David’s other series, so it’s difficult to say for certain which of our many story concepts we’ll pursue in the immediate future. It won’t be Three or Four, though, because I’ve been placed on a universe-destroying diet for the next two books. :lol:


As a citizen of the multiverse, I thank you for your restraint.
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by Jacob Holo   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 1:00 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:And finally, on branching: we know that the Admin universe branched off and one branch survived the destruction of the other. So could the same have happened to the destroyed universes T3 through T5? Could there be a copy of them out there, waiting to be discovered?


Possible, but unlikely, since the implosive events that ended T3 and T5 “hoover” up nearby child or parent universes, as demonstrated with T4’s destruction.

ThinksMarkedly wrote:I'd be curious of the SysGov colony at Alpha Centauri was achieved with slowboat ships or if it was FTL. If it was slower than light, because of the transhumanism, are there any meat humans there, or just ACs and synthoids? And now that the colony is there, anyone can transfer to Alpha Centauri in the blink of their eye: sleep on Earth, wake up in Alpha Centauri 4.2 years later.


The SysGov colony on Alpha Centauri was established with sublight propulsion. Since the initial cargo was self-replicators and AC data, the spacecraft were almost all engine and could sustain acceleration unsuitable for organic life. And yes, you’re correct that additional colonists can transmit their connectomes to Alpha Centauri just that easily. Photons travel cheap. ;)

ThinksMarkedly wrote:In fact, the transhumanism aspect of the SysGov universe is one of the most compelling parts of the story to me. It's taken second place to the time travelling, of course, but I really wish you'd explore this further. Peter F. Hamilton developed a very compelling one in the Commonwealth Saga, especially in the second part (the Void Trilogy and the next two books) when they truly achieve post-scarcity. I'd like to see your and David's take on this.


Thank you. I'm glad you like the worldbuilding, especially since I'm the designated "tech guy" on these collaborations. :) David and I will be exploring SysGov society in much greater detail in Book Three, so please look forward to that. David originally suggested the third book be a sci-fi police procedural with a tighter, more intimate feel than the first two, so we essentially have a murder mystery in store for readers next, complete with plenty of cool technological and temporal shenanigans possible in this setting. In the current draft, it actually starts with a prominent character from The Valkyrie Protocol being murdered. 8-)
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:44 pm

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Jacob Holo wrote:Thank you. I'm glad you like the worldbuilding, especially since I'm the designated "tech guy" on these collaborations. :) David and I will be exploring SysGov society in much greater detail in Book Three, so please look forward to that. David originally suggested the third book be a sci-fi police procedural with a tighter, more intimate feel than the first two, so we essentially have a murder mystery in store for readers next, complete with plenty of cool technological and temporal shenanigans possible in this setting. In the current draft, it actually starts with a prominent character from The Valkyrie Protocol being murdered. 8-)


You can't go wrong with sci-fi detective work with androids around, in the best Asimov style. But unlike Asimov, you do have time travel and TVP already dropped the hint that temporal investigation is possible: just go back to see what happened. Oh, except that all TTVs are grounded...

On the transhumanism aspect, there's a lot more to explore that can be done with the wetware, things that I hadn't even thought of but are "duh, of course," like having taste overlays and not needing holography at all. I'm curious to see what else you both come up with.

And as the tech guy, please bring some more megastructures. Does Earth have a ring or a space elevator? Maybe SysGov doesn't need it because it has gravity manipulation, but maybe the Admin has one of those. Or maybe it was built before the secret of antigravity was cracked, so it's still there.

And don't let the Mercury Historical Preservation Society discourage you, I want to see that Dyson Sphere! On our way to Kardashev II! But if they do get in the way, you can always get sufficient mass from the Sun itself, via starlifting. Just saying.
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by Jacob Holo   » Thu Oct 22, 2020 12:29 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:And as the tech guy, please bring some more megastructures. Does Earth have a ring or a space elevator? Maybe SysGov doesn't need it because it has gravity manipulation, but maybe the Admin has one of those. Or maybe it was built before the secret of antigravity was cracked, so it's still there.


Megastructures, you say? Oh, I think we’ve got you covered there. ;)

A significant portion of Book Three will take place on a SysGov megastructure in Saturn’s atmosphere. Saturn actually became a rather interesting colonization topic once I started digging into it. It’s a big ball of fuel, which is great. It’s orbited by tons of minable resources, which is even better. It has a moon with an atmosphere, which is pretty neat. Gravity within the 1 bar pressure zone of its atmosphere is comfortably close to Earth’s at about 1.07 g’s. Radiation is quite low, especially compared to Jupiter’s environs. Pick a latitude with calm winds, design your floating megastructure to stay in the 1 bar pressure zone, and living in Saturn’s atmosphere doesn’t seem so strange. Granted, it’s cold and you can’t breathe the air, but at the same time you’ve placed yourself right smack in the middle of a natural resource buffet.
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Re: [Minor TVP Spoilers] The Temporal Fermi Paradox
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Thu Oct 22, 2020 3:59 pm

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Jacob Holo wrote:A significant portion of Book Three will take place on a SysGov megastructure in Saturn’s atmosphere. Saturn actually became a rather interesting colonization topic once I started digging into it. It’s a big ball of fuel, which is great. It’s orbited by tons of minable resources, which is even better. It has a moon with an atmosphere, which is pretty neat. Gravity within the 1 bar pressure zone of its atmosphere is comfortably close to Earth’s at about 1.07 g’s. Radiation is quite low, especially compared to Jupiter’s environs. Pick a latitude with calm winds, design your floating megastructure to stay in the 1 bar pressure zone, and living in Saturn’s atmosphere doesn’t seem so strange. Granted, it’s cold and you can’t breathe the air, but at the same time you’ve placed yourself right smack in the middle of a natural resource buffet.


I'd never read that about Saturn. What you just described is usually applied to Venus and we do know that Venus has senators in the SysGov, so it's probably been long settled. Floating cities in the Cytherean atmosphere are a topic in several sci-fi novels and short stories, as well as in futurist blogs and videos. More so in the past two weeks because of the phosphine detection.

Space elevators on Earth currently require materials we have no idea are possible. But space elevators on Mars or any moons in the Solar System are possible with known materials today. So I expect you'll give me a space elevator on Titan!

And then there's Enceladus with its liquid water subsurface oceans and there's Mimas: Image
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