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SpaceGuitarist 2015-02-28 21:54

A sci-fi thought-provoking narrative (critiques welcome)
 

..........................................
THE LAST PEOPLE FROM EARTH
..........................................



It was a hard decision. Had all of the wisest men that ever lived been gathered to make this decision, it still would’ve been hard. Let alone two midly clever space scientists - ordinary astronomers. But on who could you trust such a matter?

The urgency skipped formalities. The discovery was then revealed to a tiny group of trusted friends in the business, a few of them important authorities. One of the astronomers began in his best calm, soothing voice:

- “An unknown large body, one fifth the size of Earth was observed and is destined to collide on our planet within approximately one year. This collision will not only end all forms of life, but also shatter the planet to countless parts. With our current technology, we could build within 6 months a prototype spaceship with destination to Mars, to attempt to save those who will become... the last people from Earth. Within these 6 months we can train this improvised crew for this desperate mission, one that’s never been attempted before – and never will be if we don’t start now.”

By this point everyone in the group realized the depth of the motives they had been gathered there for. Who should be the few chosen to live, to represent mankind? Who can be this capable, competent and complete? And what would be the faith of everyone else who remains on Earth, should we make a public announcement? Is panic inevitable? Who else might know about this? If people knew, would this jeopardize the entire escape project? As their minds swirled with dizzying questions, he continued:

- “However... we cannot be certain of anything at this point. And if we wait to find out, it will be too late to take any action. We need to be on the way to Mars at least 6 months ahead of the collision. We need to be far away enough not to risk that any debris of Earth’s explosion might hit or alter the course of the spaceship. Luckily, we can also take advantage of the orbital alignment between Mars and Earth where it is reaching its closest point. We only have one shot to try this, and it is now. But there are many things which might go unplanned. This spaceship can only work as a one-way trip, without ever returning. What if the ship doesn’t make it to Mars succesfully, for a dozen of possible reasons? What are the chances that colonizing and rebuilding mankind is possible at all? ... As hopeless as it may seem, such risks are better than being wiped out like dinossaurs. Except that our speculations get worse. Let’s say that the trajectory was calculated wrong, and the object won’t hit Earth after all. If it passes by near us, it’s gravitational and magnetic field will cause great havoc, but some life could remain for those who could find safety in anti-nuclear shelters. In that case, the best people from Earth might be lost in vain.”

The room was silent when his words ceased. A black, deep silence. Everyone was pondering to themselves questions with apparently infinite ramifications. If the project didn’t get green light at this very moment, we’d never have time to have everything ready to send off to space.

Right that night after the meeting, calls were made, encrypted data exchanged, and the green light was given. The hard decision was made.


* * *


Now that the hardest part was done, comes the second hardest part. Hand pick who exactly will be the last people from Earth - and who should be entitled to select these people? Can a group of men represent every nation and what’s best of interest for all mankind’s heritage and legacy? Can any group be impartial enough to leave every and all politics and personal interests aside and judge things based entirely on fair, rational decisions, to the best criteria?

The avalanche of questions didn’t seem to end. What is ethical to do? Who defines ethics, anyway? Mankind couldn’t seem to agree on basic issues when no threat was imminent; and now it was a matter of survival. The good thing is that when such times come, there’s a sense of humanity and community awakened in everyone. Everybody is on the same side.

Those six months seemed too long and too short. Too long for all the endless necessary measures to be taken for this mission to be successful, and too short because all those labourers who knew what would happen and were working on the mission perhaps would like to do something else too, with their own and now extremely shortened lifes. After all, for most people it was not even certain if death is the ultimate end. At this point, reincarnation became a palatable belief to everyone. Psychologists credited this phenomena to last-minute-one-year-before-blowing-to-pieces panic. Some joked that later they would reincarnate in Mars in the new colony. It felt like a way to distract themselves from the unbearable pressure.


* * *


“It will be a crew of 8.” said the person in charge of that decision. “8?” said others who were also in charge of that decision.

He then brought forth a chart, with all the classes of people to be considered. “First, 2 pilot astronauts. These will fly the ship. 2 technician astronauts. These are particularly capable of mounting the colony with the extendable structures we’ll be packing in the cargo bay, operating gigantic robotic arms outside the ship to build. All 4 astronauts are also capable of carrying biological, geological, and other scientific experiments and sustain life. These are the essentials.”

After a brief pause as the others nodded positively, he proceeded “Now, for the non-astronauts. Do we need artists? I think not. These will be born over the generations and culture will be re-established in the colony within many years, using our extensive database in the ship as reference and learning center of all that we had on Earth. The delicate part is reproduction. Should we pick for breeding those of us with the best genes, and at least two specimens of each race? It seems as if loss our human genetic diversity is inevitable, as we cannot hold more than a dozen people on the spaceship. For a trip as long as this, we have a very limited amount of water, food and oxygen. Also, physical space, a living quarters with decent accomodations for everyone. 6 months in space, living in zero-G, it is not a game. We cannot pretend to be making a Noah’s ark. Breeding is survival of our species, therefore our priority. Certainly we have healthy female astronauts who’d have the enormous advantage of not needing training, but perhaps we should pick the women whose genes where best, whose fertility was highest, whose minds were most intelligent, to ensure the healthiest babies? Is it even possible that we can train them in 6 months to learn how to live in a spaceship?”

Who, who should be the last people from Earth? He kept going, as if certain of the answer. “Besides the 4 essential astronauts, we’ll have 4 crewmates. 4 of the brightest, healthiest, most beautiful women from distinct countries and races, as to preserve as possible our gene pool diversity”. It seemed reasonable. It was a hard decision.


T H E
E N D

Spoiler:

Polaris 2015-03-01 11:20

Not bad...

But this is pretty much the ending of Dr. Strangelove, only instead of going to Mars, they are looking for people to go live underground. So I've thought about this before :?

I'd say a rational decision isn't possible, partly because human beings would decide, partly because I don't think there is one. Humanity is too vast to save everything, even with a few thousand people, and the people choosing would automatically choose what they think is best.

Darkflame 2015-03-01 17:55

Well written. Theres been a few storys and films like this. One old one I remember went particularly heavily into the Noahs arc analogy.

Anyway, my take is two fold;

a) Tell the world straight away. Yes, panic and riots - but also massively more investment and effort. You might be able to save a handful more in space, not to mention at least some increase of survival chance by bunkers being prepared and food supplies for them sorted.

b) I'll go with genetic diversity no matter what really, with a strong bias towards doctors. This will also so some extent deal with culture at least a little.
Best you can do else is bring along as many frozen sperms and eggs as you can afford with the resources. Also, DNA samples of a selection of earths species.

c) Its easier to send other stuff to mars then humans. Might want to chuck everything we got at it loaded with hard drives, samples, CDs burnt we stuff....something for the human colony to look for latter from the old world.

Polaris 2015-03-02 01:29

Creating and sending off a massive database does sound nice. We could send up the whole internet !

Hey, let's roleplay this, this is the situation, we have to make the choice.
//

Go public on this ? What more investment would we gain ? If anything the panic would made the internet harvesting way harder, no one would want to work anymore, power goes down and with that, good luck on sending anything to mars !

Your idea works only if everything is in order, let's bribe the people we need to bribe to get the dna samples and whatever we need to space, and shut up about this.

Doctors are a nice idea, but we need one without a family, else they'll want to stay together, we can't afford a full family here...
Or maybe we can ? It would ease up the choice.

marcosmapf 2015-03-02 02:14

tldr lol


For real now, it was a nice story. Maybe you could also send a 3D printer with blueprints of everything that we currently use on earth? I Imagine that would make things much easier... maybe they could make it work by using materials that can be found on mars, and solar panels for energy.


I don't think something like that should be announced to the public. It would obviously cause riots and sabotage to the project, and it just wouldn't work in the end. But I do believe that everything would end up being revealed when the "unknown large body" got close to the earth, and those riots would happen anyway.


I'm extremely sleepy, don't judge me if my post was awful and I couldn't write proper english

Darkflame 2015-03-02 02:39

Only if the family was all useful :D
No, wait, bad idea....I mean...breading....
Unless IVF from day1 which is unlikely with a brand new colony.
--
Quote:

Go public on this ? What more investment would we gain ? If anything the panic would made the internet harvesting way harder, no one would want to work anymore, power goes down and with that, good luck on sending anything to mars !

Your idea works only if everything is in order, let's bribe the people we need to bribe to get the dna samples and whatever we need to space, and shut up about this.
Its a risk, but Id still vote to take it.

Speaking personally, if they made the announcement Id help where I can. Try to make my last days meaningful. Not sure how many are like me, but I think more then a few.

Not everyone will be working on rockets, of course. Maybe a lot more will be working on bunkers. A foolish hope perhaps, but more chance then the surface.
Refitting mines maybe.
Others may work on what they think should be preserved.
Naturally every private spacefirm in the world would be accelerating their programs. Choosing between last ditched human efforts, or resigning themselves to just getting some data up there.

Id expect a huge rate of failed attempt with all the rushed launches of course.

Remember, regardless of anything else, billionaires will instantly put their money into survival till money becomes worthless. Many already spend a fair bit on immortality projects.
The question is if these last ditched efforts can be organised.

For example, the British Skylon project will get people into orbit in quick single stage, completely reusable crafts.
That probably could be accelerated to competition.

But its only of use if there's another craft to meet them. Docking at the ISS wont help get to mars.
By itself a project like thats useless. Despite the fact "getting people into orbit" is a massive part of the problem in terms of energy use and construction costs. Skylon just flys up and down. Currently we chuck huge rockets away each time.

Part of this is why I think we need space infrastructure ASAP.
Not "one off" rockets the US keeps building. We need things that might be harder to build but can be used time and time again and make things cheaper in the longrun.
Constructing stuff in orbit.
Building giant cannons - useless for humans, but gets mass into orbit vastly cheaper and quicker. Perfectly possible physically and would let us build vastly bigger spaceships.

As for the Mars end....I wonder if we could build suits/parachutes able to dive down from orbit? Space-diving I think its called. That would save a lot of effort the other end.

Doughtfull any of this would work in a year though.

And, the "meta-problem".
I honestly believe humans have the skills and resources to achieve almost anything. Even pretty quickly. But our organisation skills are terrible right now.
We need worldwide methods to problem solve and prioritise. To get the people with the answers in communication with the people with the problems.
We have the technical ability to do it, we are great at storage and communication.
We just suck at structure. Organisation. Filtering.

--

And yeah, whole internet isnt a problem provided most video is left off.

Darkflame 2015-03-02 02:46

Quote:

Originally Posted by marcosmapf (Post 450934)
tldr lol


For real now, it was a nice story. Maybe you could also send a 3D printer with blueprints of everything that we currently use on earth? I Imagine that would make things much easier... maybe they could make it work by using materials that can be found on mars, and solar panels for energy.

Excelent idea.

It works especially nice too;
Not mars, but there was a study that showed you could actually create solar panels just from the dust on the moons surface.

The idea was you could have little robots just making continuous panels as they go along. Send the robots up and let them go, powered by what they create. It doesn't take much to make a panel like this apparently, its not a complex thing.
Unlike earth panels these would be very simple things, no where near as efficient. But it doesn't mater, real estate is no issue! Make them as big as you want.

And yes, 3D Printers. Already used on the ISS. Would be incredibly useful.
Make sure it can build its own parts too, and you got a significant increase in survival odds for any colony. They could replace more things that break, as it would be a long time before they have real factories and such and they gotta survive till then.

Darkflame 2015-03-02 16:06

Actually another quite thought;

Perhaps you dont want to take experts in stuff so much as people that can learn fast and proven to be adaptable?
I mean, I thought a Doctor would be a pretty essential. But what type? A general GP? Their likely to encounter problems and issues rare on earth. Typical experience probably wont help much. They will have to extensively research as they go what they need - with all the books and knowledge brought with them.
So the ability to learn and adapt is more important then any specific knowledge they start with.
Same likely for any other expert in any other field.

Also another random idea;

You could save a lot more people....but they would be doomed to die soon after.
To avoid the impact you dont need to head to mars, just away from the earth - and you could do that along its orbit path in the opposite direction. (and thus get out the way a lot quicker)
But, as I said, wouldn't help really. Without a course to anywhere youd just die when supplies run out. Even if you lasted a year when you went back around to earth's position youd crash into all the debree :-/

Battler 2015-03-02 18:10

What about, you know, breaking the impacting object to smitherens? I'm sure someone, somehow, would be able to find a way to. That way you also save everyone on Earth.

Darkflame 2015-03-02 19:03

The "best bet" we have for large objects heading towards the earth is to catch them early and "nudge them" somehow.
Problem with blowing them up is you still got debree raining down on the earth.

Of course, that might be better then one big impact. At least your spreading the energy of the impact out out and giving the atmosphere more opportunity to burn up parts of it.

But sadly even with this it doesn't take much to really fuck the earth up. I think I read somewhere that even a 10km rock would be deadly for almost everything on earth.
So if you got a 100km thing, say, you'd have to not just blow it up but make sure each fragment was itself tiny compared to the whole. So you'd need to blast the big one, then all the little ones, then maybe what they break up into as well...


Hay, maybe "asteroids" was training :D

Polaris 2015-03-03 01:28

We have no time to experiment, we need to act fast. Sending people off to Mars is still the safest bet. Let's pick a 4 member, highly educated family with one parent being a doctor, and the kids between 20 and 30. That way we'll get the research team needed.

--

IRL, if such a thing was revealed, I think I would either curl up and cry or stop studying/working and do whatever the hell I want... I wouldn't try to be more productive than ever...

Darkflame 2015-03-03 17:00

I think you underestimate yourself. "productive" for most people right now, frankly, means jack shit. We do what we can to keep our job, to earn enough to pay the rent. But little of it means anything. Little of it really matters. Even most studying is just stabs in the dark guessing at what might be usefull in future.

With such a threat imminent, I think it stops being about productive and such and more "if I can help someone survive" I would. Its, I dunno, focus? Its live or death even when its not your own and I think that's of greater value then 99.9% of what people are doing right now.

Quote:

Let's pick a 4 member, highly educated family
umm...inbreading?"

I mean, yeah, social stigma should go out the window, but you need genetic diversity if the species is to survive.
Sure, we send egg and sperm samples....but not sure they could use them in one generation. I think for awhile they will be fighting for their lives and setting up that sort of medical work might be quite hard.

I assume btw, we will send them to the polar regions. Waterice in large quantities probably the single most useful thing for survival.

SpaceGuitarist 2015-03-03 23:21

1 Attachment(s)
hmm anybody checked my spoiler at the end? I thought it was hilarious |) not? oh ... well :o

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
Well written.

Thank you!

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
One old one I remember went particularly heavily into the Noahs arc analogy.

Something like this?

http://forum.magicball.net/attachmen...1&d=1425415853

But I think it's hardly possible, trespassing realism into the realm of fiction... I doubt any of those animals would adapt to zero-gravity (albeit would be interesting to watch! How does a bird fly for instance?!).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polaris
Hey, let's roleplay this, this is the situation, we have to make the choice.

Thanks for the enthusiasm Polly. :D That's much like how I felt while writing it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polaris
Go public on this ? What more investment would we gain ? If anything the panic would made the internet harvesting way harder, no one would want to work anymore, power goes down and with that, good luck on sending anything to mars !
Quote:

Originally Posted by marcosmapf
I don't think something like that should be announced to the public. It would obviously cause riots and sabotage to the project, and it just wouldn't work in the end. But I do believe that everything would end up being revealed when the "unknown large body" got close to the earth, and those riots would happen anyway.


I'm with you guys on this. I think going public would ruin your very last chances for a civilized escape.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
Maybe a lot more will be working on bunkers. A foolish hope perhaps, but more chance then the surface.

Hmm not sure about this. I'm pretty sure our planet will break in pieces with any massive object colliding on us at massive speed.

What they could do, however, are MOAR spaceships. Why only 1 spaceship if we could make, say, a 100? use all of Earth's fuel to "eject" people into space, as if Earth was a giant airplane about to blow. Maybe they could be headed to the dark side of the moon (for protection) to build a temporary colony?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
To avoid the impact you dont need to head to mars, just away from the earth - and you could do that along its orbit path in the opposite direction. (and thus get out the way a lot quicker)

This is clever... but I think if mars is not the destination, then my idea above of going to the dark side of the moon is better. Although it is known that the dark side of the moon actually receives more meteorites than the side that faces us, it would be very temporary, more like a launch pad to mars, gaining time.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Battler
What about, you know, breaking the impacting object to smitherens?

Seems a risky bet to me, as pointed in Darkflame's reply.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
Hay, maybe "asteroids" was training :D

"MY CHANCE TO SAVE THE WORLD HAS COME!"

http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/...20070806061727

:lol:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polaris
Let's pick a 4 member, highly educated family

I'm not entirely sure about all the implications of sending a family... I think this could endanger the entire mission. We need strict professionalism without blood links between any of them. Plus, incest. :rolleyes: Even if breeding is done "in vitro", that's taking a risk that these sperms and eggs will survive. What if, a meteorite collides with a sealed cargo bay area during the way and destroys part of it? Or there's a malfunction in the cooling system? Or if some of this family are not enough fertile? Then suddenly you are doomed with a crew whose reproduction will result in genetically defective people.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame
I think you underestimate yourself. "productive" for most people right now, frankly, means jack shit. We do what we can to keep our job, to earn enough to pay the rent. But little of it means anything. Little of it really matters. Even most studying is just stabs in the dark guessing at what might be usefull in future.

With such a threat imminent, I think it stops being about productive and such and more "if I can help someone survive" I would. Its, I dunno, focus? Its live or death even when its not your own and I think that's of greater value then 99.9% of what people are doing right now.

I'm really enjoying all the replies here, but this one really puts forth the value and strenght of the human spirit. Nice contribuition.

Nevertheless I still think it shouldn't go public until it simply is not possible to hold anymore, which even so, will still give the remaining people many months to do their last things alive on Earth. The information would, anyway, slowly spread among conspiracionists, ufologists and other outsiders of society, who would give credit when amateur astronomers spot the object and throw viral pictures on the internet and social networks much before an official public announcement from the government, so many people would be informed - mostly the right people, those who wouldn't go insane and riot, murder, pillage, etc.

Polaris 2015-03-04 02:05

Quote:

Originally Posted by Darkflame (Post 450949)
umm...inbreading?
I mean, yeah, social stigma should go out the window, but you need genetic diversity if the species is to survive.
Sure, we send egg and sperm samples....but not sure they could use them in one generation. I think for awhile they will be fighting for their lives and setting up that sort of medical work might be quite hard.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpaceGuitarist (Post 450953)
I'm not entirely sure about all the implications of sending a family... I think this could endanger the entire mission. We need strict professionalism without blood links between any of them. Plus, incest.

Whoa, I haven't said anything about incest (although I have nothing against it, ask my sister), there are four more person in charge of making sure the ship works, if I remember well.
I'd say a good functioning family can do the best in terms of research, knowing eachother for a very long time.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpaceGuitarist (Post 450953)
What they could do, however, are MOAR spaceships. Why only 1 spaceship if we could make, say, a 100? use all of Earth's fuel to "eject" people into space, as if Earth was a giant airplane about to blow. Maybe they could be headed to the dark side of the moon (for protection) to build a temporary colony?

Well if we had time to test, we could also try to build a mega-reactor to just push the earth away and then push it back to its orbit...

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpaceGuitarist (Post 450953)
Nevertheless I still think it shouldn't go public until it simply is not possible to hold anymore, which even so, will still give the remaining people many months to do their last things alive on Earth. The information would, anyway, slowly spread among conspiracionists, ufologists and other outsiders of society, who would give credit when amateur astronomers spot the object and throw viral pictures on the internet and social networks much before an official public announcement from the government, so many people would be informed - mostly the right people, those who wouldn't go insane and riot, murder, pillage, etc.

Going public or not depends on you goal I say. I still think it would do more harm than good, but it's the lawfull morally right thing to do.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Quote:

Originally Posted by SpaceGuitarist (Post 450953)
hmm anybody checked my spoiler at the end? I thought it was hilarious |) not? oh ... well :o

I... didn't... find it very funny :o

SpaceGuitarist 2015-03-04 02:20

1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by polaris (Post 450955)
well if we had time to test, we could also try to build a mega-reactor to just push the earth away and then push it back to its orbit...

:) ?

Darkflame 2015-03-04 02:28

Might be worth trying to build a few of these if you want to do that;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_driver

Its A LOT of energy to move stela mass's.

Quote:

Maybe they could be headed to the dark side of the moon (for protection) to build a temporary colony?
I thought of that, but without the earth its a bit unknown how its orbit will go.
Depends what its position is relative to the earth when the earth goes boom I think. Could go flying out, flying in, or going around the sun.

Supply's might be an issue too. There is a little water, but a lot less then mars.

Still, your right, for a last ditch effort its infinitely easier then mars.

As for bunkers, well, long shot but even a shattered earth some of it might still orbit the sun at the same distance...

SpaceGuitarist 2015-03-05 20:15

psst, hey Hollywood movie producers, I know you come to MBN to steal ideas... make this one a movie! |)

Polaris 2015-03-05 22:26

:lol: reminisence of the "Imagine a world" thread much ? :D

SpaceGuitarist 2015-03-05 22:44

Yep :lol:

Battler 2015-03-06 00:29

Wait a second here. Who said we'd necessarily go extinct after an asteroid impact? We're mammals after all, we survived the impact 65 million years ago that killed all non-avian dinosaurs, who's to say we wouldn't survive this one too without having to go anywhere? Sure, some would die, but humanity at large would survive, IMHO.
Also, what about building a mega reactor on the asteroid to push it away from Earth?

Also, Polaris...
Quote:

Whoa, I haven't said anything about incest (although I have nothing against it, ask my sister),
You... did your sister? :|

(This thread is slowly delving into really weird waters, thank God for no gay orgies (yet), though...)

Polaris 2015-03-06 02:35

// :lol: As I told SGK in pm, I was just roleplaying :p
// Kinda disappointed me that only two people reacted though :D

SpaceGuitarist 2015-03-06 02:45

Quote:

Originally Posted by Polaris (Post 451007)
// :lol: As I told SGK in pm, I was just roleplaying :p
// Kinda disappointed me that only two people reacted though :D

You evil manipulator :D And here I was thinking polly was the most innocent, good intentioned little creature.

Darkflame 2015-03-06 03:56

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpaceGuitarist (Post 450996)
psst, hey Hollywood movie producers, I know you come to MBN to steal ideas... make this one a movie! |)

Not to mention some great RTS videogame ideas could come from this.

Personally I kinda like the idea - crazy though it is - that some people in a bunker on earth survive....

...but the earth is completely shattered into peace's. They are now just a tiny chunk of earth orbiting the sun separately.

The bunker they were in was quickly made from a mine shaft - so they have plenty of resources and some machinary to get them going.

However....they cant open the doors to their bunker else all the air will escape.

So your first task is to build "earthsuits" to venture outside and see what remains of the fragment of earth your on.

From there you have to rebuild your civilisation. Get oxygen and water supplies. Figure out how to live without gravity. Perhaps "catch" some other pieces of earth as they go by...getting random resources and (very very rarely) the odd new people.

I can see a RTS or TBS here for sure!

SpaceGuitarist 2017-01-15 18:51

2 years later.


Would you guys still hold the same opinion?

I've re-read this (my I did write wonderfully back then I'm so proud HAHA :rolleyes::p ) and I think the final choice is still sensible enough. I don't know about you guys but sci-fi theories always gets my heart pumping faster, sometimes even the shivers.

Polaris 2017-01-15 23:03

I didn't reread the whole thread, but I don't think we reach agreement on the final choice, or did we ?

My opinions haven't changed much, but this time, I laughed at the pic in your first post :D


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