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Spoilers! Loose threads

Aliens? Invading aliens? What will Earth do? Well...we may have a few more resources than we first thought. Come join a friendly discussion about David Weber's newest Tor series - "Out of the Dark."
Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Randomiser   » Sat Feb 13, 2021 4:25 pm

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PeterZ wrote:
Bottom line is that I can a see a society evolved from predators both manipulating the universe around them AND remaining separate from the universe as I postulated. Herd creatures would see such a separation as being too unnatural for their comfort.


Seems to me there are are a good few faulty assumptions jumping into this discussion. It starts above with the ideas that creatures are divided neatly into predators, who are probably solitary, and herd creatures. This ignores pack predators like wolves and *ahem* 'Puppies' and also solitary herbivores like black rhinos and koalas who generally only get together to mate.

Any space-faring race has to have worked out some way to act together in large groups with differentiated skills, or they are NOT going to be able to develop the technology to build a space-ship or much else.

The distinction made in another post between omnivores who can delay gratification and thus plant stuff and carnivores who are always direct action types because their food is based on hunting is also spurious and downright silly. Why on earth can't predators or carnivores work out that ranching might be a good idea?

Any technologically advanced 'predator' race must have worked out how to conserve and increase their food supply somehow, because you can't build up a sizeable population, and even less a sizeable population density (AKA a village or town) based on direct hunting from the wild any more than an omnivore race can do it by hunter-gathering from the wild.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Feb 13, 2021 8:29 pm

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Loren Pechtel wrote:I'm also questioning how much the Shongairi knew--the surveys are obviously very infrequent, how much will they know about the evolution rate of a race that destroys itself.


Three ways:

First, by the destruction itself. You can easily tell how long ago that was, based on other factors, like erosion if inside the atmosphere or dispersion of debris in space. If there are biological agents on the planet, they've reached biological warfare levels. Genetically-engineered organisms will have distinct markers not found in any other organisms on the planet and presumably the earlier expeditions would have recorded that. High levels of radioactivity will point out either to manipulation of fissionable materials or to mastery fusion. An impact crater will show that they've achieved space flight and the ability to produce sufficient momentum to move rocks. There may also be telltale signs of phase space manipulation technologies, anti-matter, whatever.

Second, they probably didn't destroy everything when they destroyed themselves. You can easily do some archaeology and determine the level of technology that they had when they killed themselves off. It will be in varying conditions, from intact inside bunkers to bits and pieces all around. The GH will laugh when they see they only had 4 to 6 layers of redundancy, but they will be able to make the determinations easily enough.

Third and finally, because of FTL, you can just do superluminal hops and reach a point when the planet was still transmitting. The longer it has been, the fainter the signal will be, of course. But some things, like detonation of large scale anti-matter bombs or phase space manipulation will produce very bright sources that you can intercept, if you put your mind to.

It's all a matter of resources and dedication: how much are they determined to find out?

My guess is that after the first dozen expeditions, they simply came up with the carnivore-omnivore-herbivore stereotypes and stopped researching. They don't need more evidence, especially if it disproves their dogma. They'll do a basic search for the markers of how long ago it was, then record in the database "species 8472 destroyed itself around GH Year 98,100."
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Loren Pechtel   » Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:13 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:
Loren Pechtel wrote:I'm also questioning how much the Shongairi knew--the surveys are obviously very infrequent, how much will they know about the evolution rate of a race that destroys itself.


Three ways:

First, by the destruction itself. You can easily tell how long ago that was, based on other factors, like erosion if inside the atmosphere or dispersion of debris in space. If there are biological agents on the planet, they've reached biological warfare levels. Genetically-engineered organisms will have distinct markers not found in any other organisms on the planet and presumably the earlier expeditions would have recorded that. High levels of radioactivity will point out either to manipulation of fissionable materials or to mastery fusion. An impact crater will show that they've achieved space flight and the ability to produce sufficient momentum to move rocks. There may also be telltale signs of phase space manipulation technologies, anti-matter, whatever.

Second, they probably didn't destroy everything when they destroyed themselves. You can easily do some archaeology and determine the level of technology that they had when they killed themselves off. It will be in varying conditions, from intact inside bunkers to bits and pieces all around. The GH will laugh when they see they only had 4 to 6 layers of redundancy, but they will be able to make the determinations easily enough.

Third and finally, because of FTL, you can just do superluminal hops and reach a point when the planet was still transmitting. The longer it has been, the fainter the signal will be, of course. But some things, like detonation of large scale anti-matter bombs or phase space manipulation will produce very bright sources that you can intercept, if you put your mind to.

It's all a matter of resources and dedication: how much are they determined to find out?

My guess is that after the first dozen expeditions, they simply came up with the carnivore-omnivore-herbivore stereotypes and stopped researching. They don't need more evidence, especially if it disproves their dogma. They'll do a basic search for the markers of how long ago it was, then record in the database "species 8472 destroyed itself around GH Year 98,100."


Which is what I think is happening--they aren't spending much effort on looking. Their "answer" is their preconception far more than a real pattern. I also think they aren't paying much attention to the actual rate of technological progress.

I do think carnivores would be more likely to destroy themselves because it's easier to take them out ecologically. Look at the balance we see on Earth--herbivores are plentiful, carnivores expand, they eat more than a sustainable level of herbivores, herbivore populations go down, carnivore populations go down even further. This normally does not actually take out a carnivore species but consider what happens when you add some intelligence--they'll be a lot better at hunting down herbivores rather than starving to death. This will make the bust cycle go much deeper.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:36 pm

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Loren Pechtel wrote:
ThinksMarkedly wrote:My guess is that after the first dozen expeditions, they simply came up with the carnivore-omnivore-herbivore stereotypes and stopped researching. They don't need more evidence, especially if it disproves their dogma. They'll do a basic search for the markers of how long ago it was, then record in the database "species 8472 destroyed itself around GH Year 98,100."


Which is what I think is happening--they aren't spending much effort on looking. Their "answer" is their preconception far more than a real pattern. I also think they aren't paying much attention to the actual rate of technological progress.


BTW, even a cursory examination would show if there was a species that developed far faster than the norm. If visits by the GH are around 1000 T-years apart, a second expedition after the first found bows and lances as the height of technology to find a civilisation destroyed by atomic weapons would raise significant red flags.

Even in the case where the first expedition found an already-destroyed civilisation can they know more, if the system being researched is within 200 light-years of an inhabited GH world. That world will likely have picked up transmissions in the first place, which is what caused the expedition to go to the system in question. Anything closer than 100 light-years is a near certainty to have been producing noise for quite some time before destroying themselves. The absence of such noise at close distances would be a telltale of very rapid development.

There are two big IFs on this. First, that the GH isn't wilfully covering up what they've found out. Second, that their preconceived notions aren't getting in their way of doing research.

TBH, I don't see why the GH would want to suppress research on quickly-developing civilisations, especially if those have killed themselves in the process (any that haven't would be living proof). That only supports their prevailing dogma that stability is good and anything that changes too quickly is unwelcome. So having more data to show that certain civilisations "burn fast" would be compelling.

But we can't speak for the OG. Since we don't know what their motivations are, we can't tell their agenda or if they'd have a reason to erase the data in the GH data banks.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Loren Pechtel   » Sun Feb 14, 2021 9:03 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:BTW, even a cursory examination would show if there was a species that developed far faster than the norm. If visits by the GH are around 1000 T-years apart, a second expedition after the first found bows and lances as the height of technology to find a civilisation destroyed by atomic weapons would raise significant red flags.


That would require research to figure out it was atomic weapons and not natural disease. (Consider what happened to Earth--the devastation of the New World when contact was made. The New World wasn't nearly as suitable for large cities so it didn't have much to hit the old world with, but imagine a world where the devastation of ocean travel was two-way. Especially for carnivores that are especially sensitive to loss of their prey.)
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon Feb 15, 2021 2:49 pm

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Loren Pechtel wrote:That would require research to figure out it was atomic weapons and not natural disease. (Consider what happened to Earth--the devastation of the New World when contact was made. The New World wasn't nearly as suitable for large cities so it didn't have much to hit the old world with, but imagine a world where the devastation of ocean travel was two-way. Especially for carnivores that are especially sensitive to loss of their prey.)


It does require that they care sufficiently to look for it, but the signs aren't very difficult. Fission-based atomic weapons will leave a significant amount of decay products in the atmosphere. Fusion ones will likely have neutron radiation contamination, but I don't know if that is easy to pick up. Impact craters from fast KEWs are probably easy to tell apart from slow-moving asteroids.

My point is that it is possible to tell if the extinction was a natural phenomenon or not. And besides, a species that is capable of destroying itself will likely have produced a lot of other effects on their planet before doing that, like atmospheric pollution, which should still be around even after a couple of centuries.

All it needs is that the GH care enough to investigate.

My feeling is that they are such sticklers for protocol that they will.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Loren Pechtel   » Mon Feb 15, 2021 5:26 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:
Loren Pechtel wrote:That would require research to figure out it was atomic weapons and not natural disease. (Consider what happened to Earth--the devastation of the New World when contact was made. The New World wasn't nearly as suitable for large cities so it didn't have much to hit the old world with, but imagine a world where the devastation of ocean travel was two-way. Especially for carnivores that are especially sensitive to loss of their prey.)


It does require that they care sufficiently to look for it, but the signs aren't very difficult. Fission-based atomic weapons will leave a significant amount of decay products in the atmosphere. Fusion ones will likely have neutron radiation contamination, but I don't know if that is easy to pick up. Impact craters from fast KEWs are probably easy to tell apart from slow-moving asteroids.

My point is that it is possible to tell if the extinction was a natural phenomenon or not. And besides, a species that is capable of destroying itself will likely have produced a lot of other effects on their planet before doing that, like atmospheric pollution, which should still be around even after a couple of centuries.

All it needs is that the GH care enough to investigate.

My feeling is that they are such sticklers for protocol that they will.


Those decay products mostly decay pretty fast. I don't think the speed makes that much difference on impact craters but any race that can do itself in with KEWs has an extensive off-planet presence that would certainly be notable.

Careful look, yes, they will know. I don't share your faith in them having a careful look, though. They certainly weren't careful in looking over Earth before they attacked.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by phillies   » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:58 pm

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What are you likely to find, a long time later. There was a recent scientific study on the question of what we would find if there had beena civilization on Earth 60 million years ago. The civilization, the name "Silurians" has a deliberate stfnal root, would mostly be gone without a trace. One exception, in note, would be someone whodropped a piece of gold jewelry into a lake bed that later became a coal measure. It would last.

And, curiously, such an item was allegedly found, in the 19th century, in the Midwest.
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon Feb 15, 2021 11:12 pm

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Loren Pechtel wrote:Those decay products mostly decay pretty fast. I don't think the speed makes that much difference on impact craters but any race that can do itself in with KEWs has an extensive off-planet presence that would certainly be notable.

Careful look, yes, they will know. I don't share your faith in them having a careful look, though. They certainly weren't careful in looking over Earth before they attacked.


Not that fast. We're talking about a thousand years at most, not millions. The chances are that the civilisation's death occurred in the latter part of the 1000 T-year interval between visits, so there should be plenty of decay products left. Ditto for first visits: if they've invented radio and killed themselves off in 100 years, it's still fast by Hegemony terms.

I don't know for sure they'd look. On one hand, they're so conservative and sticker for detail and protocol that I find it likely they would. On the other hand, if one is convinced something can't happen, they won't search for it and will have a huge blindspot when it comes to evidence pointing to the contrary.

Quoting from The Praxis philosophy, from Walter Jon Williams' "Dread Empire's Fall" series (another sequel of which I'm waiting for and he's even slower than David): "all that is important is known."
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Re: Spoilers! Loose threads
Post by Daryl   » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:00 am

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Such assumptions tend to be too simplistic.
I remember from Niven's Ring World series how it was deduced that the Puppeteers' planet didn't have a moon as they weren't used to tides. Turned out that they had six worlds orbiting the same star, and all were moving at a fraction of light speed. Niven also advised not to smile at a Kzinti as baring teeth to any carnivore was a challenge. My assumption of him is that he didn't have a dog, as my dog smiles when he is happy, showing his teeth in a soppy grin. RFC himself also does become over simplistic at times, describing habitable planets as having a "whatever" climate all over (Safehold is properly described as variable).

Randomiser wrote:
PeterZ wrote:
Bottom line is that I can a see a society evolved from predators both manipulating the universe around them AND remaining separate from the universe as I postulated. Herd creatures would see such a separation as being too unnatural for their comfort.


Seems to me there are are a good few faulty assumptions jumping into this discussion. It starts above with the ideas that creatures are divided neatly into predators, who are probably solitary, and herd creatures. This ignores pack predators like wolves and *ahem* 'Puppies' and also solitary herbivores like black rhinos and koalas who generally only get together to mate.

Any space-faring race has to have worked out some way to act together in large groups with differentiated skills, or they are NOT going to be able to develop the technology to build a space-ship or much else.

The distinction made in another post between omnivores who can delay gratification and thus plant stuff and carnivores who are always direct action types because their food is based on hunting is also spurious and downright silly. Why on earth can't predators or carnivores work out that ranching might be a good idea?

Any technologically advanced 'predator' race must have worked out how to conserve and increase their food supply somehow, because you can't build up a sizeable population, and even less a sizeable population density (AKA a village or town) based on direct hunting from the wild any more than an omnivore race can do it by hunter-gathering from the wild.
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