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Aurora - a critique by Stephen Baxter and others
(08-18-2015, 07:11 PM)Rynn Wrote: I can't imagine the size of the ship necessary to take an entire planet's full of ecosystem. That's millions of species of just animals alone, let alone any other kingdom. You'd have to take a breeding population of all of them at least and even more of species that support others by providing food, shelter, pollination etc.

Legend has it that it runs about 300 cubits IIRCWink

(08-18-2015, 07:11 PM)Rynn Wrote: Genetic engineering and bots could shrink that number down as we've suggested if you can design things like robotic pollinators, soil species that fill multiple niches etc.

Agreed. And I suspect that if you can build a starship in the first place, your gengineering and automation skills are well beyond anything we can do today.

(08-18-2015, 07:11 PM)Rynn Wrote: I assume here your idea is that humans don't draw resources from this ecosystem? If the apex creatures are cats then they likely couldn't, humans requiring a lot more resources. But I suppose that if the journey was short enough you may be able to get away with stores of food, recycling technology and life support all to keep the humans alive until they can arrive and expand the ecosystem.

Depends on what you mean by 'drawing resources'. The crew would be engaging in some form of farming, which might include raising smaller animals for meat, milk, etc. Trees and plants could be onboard for both aesthetics and to process the atmosphere in whole or in part. In some cases, you might get protein from insects, algae, or some kind of cloning or gengineered organisms or plants. The farming in question would probably look more like some form of intensive indoor farming than km of fields like we use now.

You certainly wouldn't have people just going out and picking fruit off random trees or hunting random animals (unless the ship was really large). But this wouldn't be so different from what we see in cities even now. You aren't going to find a lot of cows or wolves in a modern city. But you can find lots of plants and a range of smaller animals that live and die without big animals as part of the ecosystem.

A couple of centuries isn't all that long as interstellar trips go and from a tree's perspective may not be much at all. If we were looking at 500+ years to thousands of years of voyage time, I think you'd need a much bigger ship.

(08-18-2015, 07:11 PM)Rynn Wrote: Later in the setting technology could do the job of an ecosystem. An artificial ecosystem could replace the air, recycle waste and advanced medical technology might be able to provide all the symbiotic organisms humans need to properly survive. That's a deceptively monumental challenge though replacing the biological environment humans have spent their entire lineage evolving to fit within. Vecs would definitely have an advantage in colonisation.

Later in the setting you have thousands of years of experience at this kind of thing and tech that is more or less alive in its own right. Agree that vecs would have an advantage (but then machines are generally superior to biology (or have that potential) IMO).

(08-18-2015, 07:11 PM)Rynn Wrote: Which sets up a second strategy quite nicely: building an ecosystem from scratch. As difficult as it would be to transplant an ecosystem this is orders of magnitude more. You have to not only synthesise millions of organisms representing thousands of species but somehow apply them to an environment in the right order (likely artificially preparing that environment first) so that they thrive rather than die out in a huge wave. A lot of scope for failure there. Hmm....ideas for an entry about an early colonisation effort are percolating

I'm sure there would be failures and near-failures and wild successes all taking place in the 'mid-early' timeline when terraforming and hab creation were really hitting their stride. By Y11k though, you just bring in the big industiral grade bioforges, load the desired template (I'd like a 32B ecosystem please) and get out of the way while the whole thing is forged up and deployed in the appropriate order. Although, I suspect a lot of hobbyists like to noodle around with making things from scratch and writing their own templates.


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RE: Aurora - a critique by Stephen Baxter and others - by Drashner1 - 08-19-2015, 12:19 PM

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