Horrible, Offensive Geekery

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Aresen
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Aresen » 23 May 2019, 23:37

Unless our understanding of physics is so wrong that FTL is possible, I doubt there will ever be a serious effort at interstellar colonization.

First, because the energy requirements to cross interstellar space are so huge. Getting a ship of any sort up to even 1% of the speed of light is so inconceivably expensive that I can't see any civilization putting resources into it. [There is also the odd paradox that lower speeds do not correspond to an inverse square saving of energy because a ship that has to last longer needs to be much larger - generation ships have to be huge and even 'long sleep' ships require considerable maintenance supplies and multiple redundancies.]

Second, even if you know there is a planet in the habitable zone, terraforming it for humans is going to take a very long time. My guess is a minimum of 50,000 years. [From the origin of phytoplankton, it took two billion years to raise the oxygen level in the atmosphere to the point where animals could breathe it.] That's a long time for your colonists to wait around for their new home to be ready. (Incidentally, I have the same skepticism about terraforming Mars and Venus.)

Third, if there is a native biosphere, it is probably going to be toxic to us, filled with proteins we find poisonous. We have mutually evolved with our environment. It is extremely unlikely that the biota of the new world is compatible with us.

Fourth, as others have mentioned, there is no 'payoff' to the home world that would justify the cost. If there is life there, we would learn something about biology and possibly biochemical processes we hadn't considered, but nothing about physics will be different over on 40 Eridani b.

I can see two possible exceptions:
1) Future human civilization becomes so colossally wealthy that it can afford to accommodate a few thousand individuals with interstellar wanderlust. (Or quasi-religious zealotry that causes them to want to flee 'sinful' Sol.)
2) A future civilization might decide that spreading out is necessary to ensure long-term survival of earth-type life.
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Eric the .5b
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 23 May 2019, 23:41

Jennifer wrote:
23 May 2019, 23:19
Eric the .5b wrote:
23 May 2019, 21:17
Jennifer wrote:
23 May 2019, 20:51
Heck, for all we know it's fairly common for intelligent beings throughout the galaxy to communicate primarily via telepathy, and we're the outliers because [sciencey-sounding stuff ...].
Yeah, but that only changes the issue if telepathy doesn't have a maximum range or number of people you can talk to with it—which doesn't seem very likely for anything like physics-as-we-know-it and anything like a living creature as we know it.* Otherwise, you're going to need to use something else for long-distance or mass communications.
If the trippier aspects of quantum theory I've read about are true -- do something to a particle here, thus affecting a particle there -- that could easily explain it. And, again, playing with the idea of earth being an outlier in that regard: our understanding of physics-as-we-know-it would naturally be hampered as a result, kinda like how a species completely lacking in vision is likely to overlook (sorry) a couple of things about the spectrum.
Well, that depends on what "telepathy" is. That's not even an "as we understand it", it's just a science fiction trope based on pseudoscience that was trying to systematize and rationalize folklore tropes. Telepathy could do quantum science woo or it could just involve a "telepathic" species having natural radio transmission and reception abilities.

(Of course, radio has its limits, and weak biological transmitters would cause serious range limits.)
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 24 May 2019, 00:05

Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light. Here's the basic idea:

Suppose that we have two electrons and we're looking at their "spin" (the orientation of their magnetic field, basically). We don't know in advance what their spins are, but we know that their spins are anti-parallel to each other (i.e. if one points up then the other points down) because we set things up so that they'd have to be. (This is easy enough, actually, due to the fact that the spin of an electron is tied to something called angular momentum, which is sort of like regular momentum except for rotating objects. Set things up so that the total angular momentum of the system is zero and then whatever spin one of them has the other will have to have the opposite spin.)

Now we move them far apart from each other without doing anything that will re-orient one of their spins with respect to the other! That bolded part is crucial. If we do something to one of them but not the other, then there's no longer any reason for their spins to point in opposite directions. What directions they actually point in is a complicated question, depending on what we do to them. But we're assuming that we do nothing to them. We push them but don't twist them, roughly speaking.

Then we measure one of their spins. Whatever number we get, we know that the other spin is the opposite provided that the other person hasn't done anything to change it, i.e. if one of them points up then the other points down. We know this because we set it up so that they have to be opposite each other. If the other person has changed it, well, all bets are off. We know nothing.

In other words, all of our information is coming from an event in the past, when we ripped these two electrons with opposite spins off an atom. We measure the state of one and we know something about what the state of the other must have been back then, so we know what the state is now if nobody has messed with it. But if somebody has messed with it? We have no way of knowing that.

So no information is transmitted instantaneously. All of the information comes from a past event that we were present at, and we traveled from that time and place to our current time and place (with the electron) slower than the speed of light.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Aresen » 24 May 2019, 00:33

thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 00:05
Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light. Here's the basic idea:
Thank you for that clarification. The articles I have read on the subject have either been so superficial that nothing is explained or so jargon-filled that I couldn't follow what was being said.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 24 May 2019, 03:40

Eric the .5b wrote:
23 May 2019, 23:41
Well, that depends on what "telepathy" is. That's not even an "as we understand it", it's just a science fiction trope based on pseudoscience that was trying to systematize and rationalize folklore tropes. Telepathy could do quantum science woo or it could just involve a "telepathic" species having natural radio transmission and reception abilities.

(Of course, radio has its limits, and weak biological transmitters would cause serious range limits.)
Well, off the top of my head -- and remember the title of this thread is NOT "Actual science stuff I believe true" -- it could be due to some chemical/hormonal/electrical thingie in the brain.

Semi-related: you know when people talk about that "tingly" feeling that someone is looking at you? Sometimes you look up and sho'nuff you see the looking person, other times you don't. I remember once, when I was a teen or early 20-something, reading some skeptic's magazine claiming to do to an experiment proving there was nothing to that phenomenon: something like, various volunteers sat behind one-way glass while the experimenter would flip a coin (or some other random thing) to determine whether to look at the volunteer, or look away. The volunteers' answers regarding whether or not they were being looked at was no more accurate than random chance would indicate. Ergo, the magazine concluded, nothing there, and any belief "I can tell when someone's looking at me" is due to confirmation bias: you remember the times you felt the tingle and caught someone looking, and forget the times you felt the tingle and found nothing.

But -- while I did not think there actually IS anything to that phenomenon, I remember thinking the experiment technically did NOT prove its point, because it didn't truly replicate the conditions: when someone actually is looking at you from across a crowded room or whatever, that person is likely having some emotional reaction: surprise, happiness, anger, lust, fear, something to motivate them to focus on you. But if that coin-flipping interviewer felt anything, most likely it was simply boredom (which generally does NOT inspire intense across-the-room stares). And various feelings and emotions do cause actual physical/chemical changes in the body and brain so, while I highly doubt it, it's theoretically possible that the "tingly" feeling is real and caused by something like, subconsciously picking up traces of a pheromone-equivalent from the person. Ideally, such an experiment would actually involve two experimenters: one bored person to NOT look at the volunteer, and one person currently in a highly emotional state of some sort who DOES look at the volunteer.
thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 00:05
Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light.
Still plenty fast for interpersonal communication between beings on the same science-fictional planet, though.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 24 May 2019, 03:55

For that matter, here's an ever simpler possibility, regarding the dark forest: maybe for some-odd reason having to do with earth or other planets, we're among the few inhabited planets that don't have some sort of inherent radio communication ability, similar to how other animals have built-in "radar" or "sonar" (and even humans can learn to get around by recognizing sounds and echoes, though it's not as easy for us as it is for, like, bats). In an intelligent species actually did have built-in radio ability to communicate amongst themselves, how likely is it they'd want to use radio for much communication? It would be like us using VERY LOUD SOUNDS as an everyday communication method -- no, we don't do that, and never did. We do have things like foghorns and loudspeakers for those times DO need to make louder-than-human sounds travel over longer-than-usual distances, but nobody's ever tried using "high volume" sound devices to, like, talk to their friend in the next town over, let alone to communicate between continents. Maybe our "radio" devices would be like that, to a biological-radio species.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Mo » 24 May 2019, 05:14

thoreau wrote:
23 May 2019, 13:13
At the risk of being too arrogant about our current understanding of the universe, I don't think there are any technologically usable forces beyond the big 4. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of discovering new interactions as we learn what dark matter and dark energy are, but there's strong evidence that dark matter and dark energy are distributed on very large length scales, rather than clumped like ordinary matter. That, in turn, strongly suggests that however they interact it won't be useful for technologies that can be manipulated by human-scale lumps of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Partly it's a question of how we would grip it: If we can't interact with it very strongly* via the forces that ordinary matter interacts with, how will we manipulate it.

It's also a question of mass ratios: This stuff is so thinly-distributed. How would we get a substantial amount of it in one place to do anything with?

So, never say never, but I'd be comfortable placing a bet at reasonable odds.

*In the colloquial sense, not the "strong nuclear force" sense.
I guess my hypothesis is if some species figures out FTL travel, there's probably a whole load of stuff we're missing as well.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 24 May 2019, 11:15

Mo wrote:
thoreau wrote:
23 May 2019, 13:13
At the risk of being too arrogant about our current understanding of the universe, I don't think there are any technologically usable forces beyond the big 4. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of discovering new interactions as we learn what dark matter and dark energy are, but there's strong evidence that dark matter and dark energy are distributed on very large length scales, rather than clumped like ordinary matter. That, in turn, strongly suggests that however they interact it won't be useful for technologies that can be manipulated by human-scale lumps of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen.

Partly it's a question of how we would grip it: If we can't interact with it very strongly* via the forces that ordinary matter interacts with, how will we manipulate it.

It's also a question of mass ratios: This stuff is so thinly-distributed. How would we get a substantial amount of it in one place to do anything with?

So, never say never, but I'd be comfortable placing a bet at reasonable odds.

*In the colloquial sense, not the "strong nuclear force" sense.
I guess my hypothesis is if some species figures out FTL travel, there's probably a whole load of stuff we're missing as well.
Sure. But I don't think Lorentz symmetry will ever be broken in ways that enable FTL. The assumptions underlying it are so simple, and the experimental tests so precise, that I am just not seeing the wiggle room.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 24 May 2019, 11:16


Jennifer wrote:
thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 00:05
Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light.
Still plenty fast for interpersonal communication between beings on the same science-fictional planet, though.
Actually, it doesn't transmit information at all, fast or slow.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 24 May 2019, 14:11

thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 11:16
Jennifer wrote:
thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 00:05
Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light.
Still plenty fast for interpersonal communication between beings on the same science-fictional planet, though.
Actually, it doesn't transmit information at all, fast or slow.

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Serious question, then: can you give a layman's "explain like I'm five" explanation of the theory behind possible future "quantum computing" I've read about?
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 24 May 2019, 16:02

Jennifer wrote:
24 May 2019, 03:55
For that matter, here's an ever simpler possibility, regarding the dark forest: maybe for some-odd reason having to do with earth or other planets, we're among the few inhabited planets that don't have some sort of inherent radio communication ability, similar to how other animals have built-in "radar" or "sonar" (and even humans can learn to get around by recognizing sounds and echoes, though it's not as easy for us as it is for, like, bats). In an intelligent species actually did have built-in radio ability to communicate amongst themselves, how likely is it they'd want to use radio for much communication? It would be like us using VERY LOUD SOUNDS as an everyday communication method -- no, we don't do that, and never did. We do have things like foghorns and loudspeakers for those times DO need to make louder-than-human sounds travel over longer-than-usual distances, but nobody's ever tried using "high volume" sound devices to, like, talk to their friend in the next town over, let alone to communicate between continents. Maybe our "radio" devices would be like that, to a biological-radio species.
Like animal eyes and ears, natural radio senses and "voices" would almost certainly have a limited frequency range. You'd just broadcast outside that range for artificial radio.

Of course, some of that would depend on how the biological wiring worked. If strong radio sources in their ranges aren't harmful to the aliens, the equivalent of "regional public address" could be used, either for emergencies or in more totalitarian/regimented societies. If they are harmful.... Geeze, that'd be an easy and horrible weapon.

If course, there are issues of reflection, directionality,, etc. It might more resemble cetacean communication than most SF takes on telepathy. Maybe they also have natural radar?

And while humans haven't done so often (I seem to recall some experiments using parabolic dishes), mainly because we developed radio at roughly the same time we got sophisticated about the physics of sound, elephants and cetaceans communicate over very long distances using sound.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 24 May 2019, 16:26

Jennifer wrote:
24 May 2019, 14:11
thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 11:16
Jennifer wrote:
thoreau wrote:
24 May 2019, 00:05
Quantum entanglement does not transmit information faster than light.
Still plenty fast for interpersonal communication between beings on the same science-fictional planet, though.
Actually, it doesn't transmit information at all, fast or slow.

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Serious question, then: can you give a layman's "explain like I'm five" explanation of the theory behind possible future "quantum computing" I've read about?
The short version is that classical computers handle 0's and 1's, while each bit ("qubit") in a quantum computer can be a mix of 0 and 1. Because it handles more complex information in step of a calculation, it can do more in each step, and hence do things much more efficiently. So calculations can proceed in fewer steps on a quantum computer than a classical computer. Of course, this is only an advantage if those steps are rapid. Right now quantum computers are slow, so doing a few steps in a long time per step is less efficient than doing many very rapid steps. But once they scale up, they will be effective.

It's been a while since I paid close attention to the field, but they are known to be particularly good at two tasks: Searching databases and factoring numbers. Searching databases is a huge task in the information age, and the difficulty of factoring large numbers underpins the security of many encryption algorithms.

There's also something called quantum cryptography. Basically, instead of transmitting modulated laser beams (bright pulse = 1, no pulse = 0) they send individual photons that exist as a combination of two possible states. These states have to do with how the electric field of the light wave is oriented, and one orientation = 0 while the other = 1. Combinations of these states correspond the combinations of 0 and 1 used by quantum computers.

Here's why it's so useful for cryptography: These combinations of 0 and 1 are delicate. Mess with them and they "collapse" into 0 or 1. (I'm over-simplifying, but trust me, you can't handle the truth.) If somebody tries to tap your fiber-optic cable, you'll know. Immediately. Whereas if somebody tapped a conventional optical signal and made the pulses just slightly dimmer, well, they could always patch in an amplifier to compensate, so you'll never know on the other end. (The NSA, of course, most definitely does NOT have the tech to do this. No way. At least, not without a warrant. Or a cryptic phrase in the Terms and Conditions that they interpret to mean you consented.)

Supposedly the US government already has quantum encryption networks running on the East Coast. The Swiss banks also have such cables, and supposedly the Swiss election authorities use them as well, because for some reason they don't take Russians at their word when they say that they would never, ever, EVER meddle with elections. I'm sure that Wall Street has such systems. Getting certain data a millisecond before someone else could enable big profits in high-frequency trading, so quantum encryption would be worth it.

Now, long-distance communication via quantum entanglement is a sci-fi thing that doesn't actually match up with our current knowledge of quantum mechanics. It has to do with measuring the state of an electron of photon over here and immediately knowing the state of a distant particle. However, that information is contingent on (1) a shared history (they were created together in the past) and (2) nobody messing with the other particle since then. So you don't get any instantaneous information on what somebody subsequently did far away. You only get information about their shared history. Nonetheless, it's pretty weird (for reasons I don't have time to explain) so some sci-fi authors fudge and say it's FTL communication. However, if you take relativity seriously then you could reverse cause-and-effect with FTL communication, so I don't think it will ever be possible.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 24 May 2019, 16:32

BTW, there are only 3 things that I've ever hammered on about the impossibility of:

1) Beating the diffraction limit.
2) Violating the first and second laws of thermodynamics.
3) FTL communication.

The first one was done shortly after I first rambled on about it in my optics class (arguably it was done sooner, but the first really useful demonstrations were after that) and I now focus much of my research on understanding how that's possible.

I intend to keep insisting that 2 and 3 are also impossible, in the hopes that I'll be proven wrong.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 25 May 2019, 23:29

Eric the .5b wrote:
24 May 2019, 16:02
Jennifer wrote:
24 May 2019, 03:55
For that matter, here's an ever simpler possibility, regarding the dark forest: maybe for some-odd reason having to do with earth or other planets, we're among the few inhabited planets that don't have some sort of inherent radio communication ability, similar to how other animals have built-in "radar" or "sonar" (and even humans can learn to get around by recognizing sounds and echoes, though it's not as easy for us as it is for, like, bats). In an intelligent species actually did have built-in radio ability to communicate amongst themselves, how likely is it they'd want to use radio for much communication? It would be like us using VERY LOUD SOUNDS as an everyday communication method -- no, we don't do that, and never did. We do have things like foghorns and loudspeakers for those times DO need to make louder-than-human sounds travel over longer-than-usual distances, but nobody's ever tried using "high volume" sound devices to, like, talk to their friend in the next town over, let alone to communicate between continents. Maybe our "radio" devices would be like that, to a biological-radio species.
Like animal eyes and ears, natural radio senses and "voices" would almost certainly have a limited frequency range. You'd just broadcast outside that range for artificial radio.
I was toying with this idea today (while running around doing lots of errands, and in a constant state of slight overheatedness because the car's air conditioner couldn't quite keep up with the humid heat outside... pre-emptive excuses in case this turns out REALLY dumb) -- IF there were an intelligent species that communicated via biological radio, they might not even get around to inventing "technological" radio until far, FAR past the point where we invented it ourselves. Similar to how for humans, after discovering electricity, one of the first useful inventions marketed to everyday people* was the electric light bulb -- but would we have bothered if we were a bioluminescent species? Why spend all that time and trouble trying to figure out a nifty new light source when "it's too dark to see" has never been much of a problem anyway? Eventually someone likely would've gotten around to inventing light bulbs -- but as a sort of medical device for handicapped people who can't bioluminesce themselves, NOT as the type of thing that EVERYBODY owns and wants. Or, as the "lighting" equivalent of a loudspeaker -- which is useful in many places, but again, a loudspeaker is not the sort of thing EVERYBODY has, or wants. Similarly, a "biological radio" species would never have had the problem of "There's no way to immediately communicate with people who aren't already in very close proximity to you," so once they started developing high technology, figuring out new long-distance communication methods would be low on their list of priorities.

Also, if you had a species that communicated via radio waves rather than sound waves (as we do when we talk), the ability to shift frequencies the way we can switch to different radio stations might be part of it. Human parents of very young children will sometimes spell out certain words when talking to each other, to prevent the kids from understanding them; "radio" parents might shift to a different frequency their little one hasn't developed yet.

*As opposed to something like the telegraph, which was indeed groundbreakingly useful at the time, but was never the sort of thing where we-all have our own telegraphs, as we now have our own computers and internet connections.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by dbcooper » 03 Jun 2019, 15:01

Image
Slip inside a sleeping bag.

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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 06 Jun 2019, 19:36

From the fragile masculinity thread (context: discussion of "incels")
Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 19:07
dead_elvis wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 18:47
Jasper wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 11:17
Hmm. I wonder if the prevalence of social media now amplifies how insignificant everyone is.

Because yes, you can now connect with just about everyone on the planet that shares your interests and outrages, but the fact that everyone else is also screaming into the cacophony, it only magnifies how your input is a single pixel on an endless screen of static. Nobody fucking cares except the self-selected that share your warped views.
I think there is a lot to this.

Used to be even in a decent sized city, whatever your profession, hobbies and interests are, those will narrow down to small enough niche communities to feel like you are special, have a role to play in a community, that you might be missed, etc. Now not only are you not a big fish in a small pond, you aren't even a small fish in a big pond- everyone is brine shrimp in one big ocean. The incomprehensibility of our own insignificance was always masked by geography, and now that that is melting away I think we absolutely will see a cultural change in how we derive self-esteem.
I've actually been thinking about something similar lately -- this is NOT a matter of "toxic masculinity" or anything, more sociological sci-fi speculation on what future societies will be like when everybody alive was born and raised post-Internet -- in addition to driving home "you're but one person out of seven billion here today" bit, there's also the weirdness of making it far easier than ever before, to find people who are on the same page as you, more or less. Consider the couple dozen or so "active" posters here -- for all the things we disagree on, we can pretty much take for granted such things as "Capitalism is definitely better than Communism," "the war on drugs is a failure on every level, and a civil rights abomination," "the second amendment is generally a good thing," "equal rights for gay couples," etc., even though these things are considered controversial among many (even most) people today.

But if this were Ye Olden Days (pre-Internet) then, unless you actually lived in a big city like DC or LA or someplace where Reason or Cato or some similar organization has a presence, it would be difficult if not impossible for you to be in situations where you can talk to people who share these controversial views of yours -- especially the Gryll-members living in Bible-belt towns like East Jesushump or hippie cities like Commiesnowflakeville.

There have always (at least for the past ~150 years or so) been people who'd, like, have "pen pals" living in far-distant parts of the country or the world ... but we are at or approaching a time where, for the majority of people (at least adults) alive, the majority of your friends/conversation partners/whatever are geographically distant from you. Which of course is radically, mind-bogglingly different from what "socialization" or "socializing" meant for the majority of humans who've ever lived.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 06 Jun 2019, 19:58

Come to think of it -- that last comment ties in to the "dark forest" and my speculation that a species with "biological radio" capabilities wouldn't have bothered inventing "technological radio until MUCH later than we did, if at all -- if I recall correctly, a stripped-down version of "The history of electricity, from a human perspective" is this: first, we discovered what it was and how to generate it; also we did some interesting scientific experiments with it ("Huh, if you connect a dead frog's leg to an electric wire, the leg twitches! What might this mean?"); and the first practical use we made of electricity was the telegraph system: it was hugely expensive (in terms of materiel, labor and time) to set up in the first place, but once we made that substantial initial investment we could, for the first time in history, have immediate or near-immediate communication with people far out of hearing distance or line-of-sight.

There's a scene in one of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books -- her first teenage mixed-sex party was at the home of the town telegraph operator, and at one point the telegraph operator's son (who hosted the party for his classmates) showed them the telegraph, made a click on it, and everyone at that Dakota-territory party was absolutely awestruck when he told them "That click is heard in St. Louis, right now."

But, of course, a biological-radio species wouldn't have bothered inventing such an expensive (and still inconvenient in many ways) communications system. At least, it would not have been the first practical invention their species developed after it had electricity. In fact, for that species, they can "naturally" have a form of communication not too different from what we have now with this-here internet thingy: you and I are hundreds of miles apart yet communicating with each other, almost in realtime, for hardly any effort or cost. Except for us, of course, it doesn't come naturally: we need some specific technologies and devices and infrastructure to be able to do this, and if we lack the device OR the infrastructure goes down, it's all lost. But the radio species wouldn't have that problem.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 06 Jun 2019, 20:51

Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 19:58
In fact, for that species, they can "naturally" have a form of communication not too different from what we have now with this-here internet thingy: you and I are hundreds of miles apart yet communicating with each other, almost in realtime, for hardly any effort or cost.
Well, that's assuming they have powerful enough biological transmitters, sensitive enough receivers, and use a frequency that bounces off the ionosphere like shortwave does. (Or one person is on a very high mountain, maybe, so as to have line-of-sight.) A ham radio setup's power level of 1500 watts would require constant electrical output much higher than a electric eel's 600w, which it can only produce in pulses of a couple of millisecond in length.

I suspect any living creature with such a communication method would have a much shorter range. That would give plenty of utility for things like telegraph or radio. They might never have devised semaphore-like techniques, though, if they can communicate at least as far as they can see each other with the naked eye.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 06 Jun 2019, 21:00

Eric the .5b wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 20:51
Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 19:58
In fact, for that species, they can "naturally" have a form of communication not too different from what we have now with this-here internet thingy: you and I are hundreds of miles apart yet communicating with each other, almost in realtime, for hardly any effort or cost.
Well, that's assuming they have powerful enough biological transmitters, sensitive enough receivers, and use a frequency that bounces off the ionosphere like shortwave does. (Or one person is on a very high mountain, maybe, so as to have line-of-sight.) A ham radio setup's power level of 1500 watts would require constant electrical output much higher than a electric eel's 600w, which it can only produce in pulses of a couple of millisecond in length.

I suspect any living creature with such a communication method would have a much shorter range. That would give plenty of utility for things like telegraph or radio. They might never have devised semaphore-like techniques, though, if they can communicate at least as far as they can see each other with the naked eye.
Question regarding radio waves, though: is the wattage necessary for the ham radio to emit those waves an inherent or engineering limit? ("We can't go faster than lightspeed" = inherent limit, according to modern scientific knowledge. "We can't make planes break the sound barrier" = former engineering limit, resolved well before I was born.) So is it "X watts are inherently necessary to generate these radio waves," or is it "We only know how to generate these waves with devices requiring at least X watts to run."
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Eric the .5b » 06 Jun 2019, 21:12

Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 21:00
Eric the .5b wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 20:51
Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 19:58
In fact, for that species, they can "naturally" have a form of communication not too different from what we have now with this-here internet thingy: you and I are hundreds of miles apart yet communicating with each other, almost in realtime, for hardly any effort or cost.
Well, that's assuming they have powerful enough biological transmitters, sensitive enough receivers, and use a frequency that bounces off the ionosphere like shortwave does. (Or one person is on a very high mountain, maybe, so as to have line-of-sight.) A ham radio setup's power level of 1500 watts would require constant electrical output much higher than a electric eel's 600w, which it can only produce in pulses of a couple of millisecond in length.

I suspect any living creature with such a communication method would have a much shorter range. That would give plenty of utility for things like telegraph or radio. They might never have devised semaphore-like techniques, though, if they can communicate at least as far as they can see each other with the naked eye.
Question regarding radio waves, though: is the wattage necessary for the ham radio to emit those waves an inherent or engineering limit? ("We can't go faster than lightspeed" = inherent limit, according to modern scientific knowledge. "We can't make planes break the sound barrier" = former engineering limit, resolved well before I was born.) So is it "X watts are inherently necessary to generate these radio waves," or is it "We only know how to generate these waves with devices requiring at least X watts to run."
The first, all other things being equal. (Anyone's welcome to correct me with better specifics.) Unless these guys are brontosaurus-sized, they're going to have rather small antenna apertures, which makes things even harder on the power front. It's basically the same inverse-square law as light—it gets dimmer the further away the source is.

Of course, if they are brontosaurs with giant antenna dishes on their backs, they miiiiiight be able to produce the electricity needed. Their developing tool use at that size might be harder to arrange, though.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by Jennifer » 06 Jun 2019, 21:24

Eric the .5b wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 21:12
Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 21:00
Eric the .5b wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 20:51
Jennifer wrote:
06 Jun 2019, 19:58
In fact, for that species, they can "naturally" have a form of communication not too different from what we have now with this-here internet thingy: you and I are hundreds of miles apart yet communicating with each other, almost in realtime, for hardly any effort or cost.
Well, that's assuming they have powerful enough biological transmitters, sensitive enough receivers, and use a frequency that bounces off the ionosphere like shortwave does. (Or one person is on a very high mountain, maybe, so as to have line-of-sight.) A ham radio setup's power level of 1500 watts would require constant electrical output much higher than a electric eel's 600w, which it can only produce in pulses of a couple of millisecond in length.

I suspect any living creature with such a communication method would have a much shorter range. That would give plenty of utility for things like telegraph or radio. They might never have devised semaphore-like techniques, though, if they can communicate at least as far as they can see each other with the naked eye.
Question regarding radio waves, though: is the wattage necessary for the ham radio to emit those waves an inherent or engineering limit? ("We can't go faster than lightspeed" = inherent limit, according to modern scientific knowledge. "We can't make planes break the sound barrier" = former engineering limit, resolved well before I was born.) So is it "X watts are inherently necessary to generate these radio waves," or is it "We only know how to generate these waves with devices requiring at least X watts to run."
The first, all other things being equal. (Anyone's welcome to correct me with better specifics.) Unless these guys are brontosaurus-sized, they're going to have rather small antenna apertures, which makes things even harder on the power front. It's basically the same inverse-square law as light—it gets dimmer the further away the source is.

Of course, if they are brontosaurs with giant antenna dishes on their backs, they miiiiiight be able to produce the electricity needed. Their developing tool use at that size might be harder to arrange, though.
Well, speculating a planet of brontosaur-sized intelligent aliens is easy (especially if you imagine a planet with lower gravity than earth). And instead of evolving from a four-limbed species or phylums or whatever the term is, the way most large earth animals are (mammals, birds and reptiles, off the top of my head), they can be a six-limbed species: basically, brontosaurs with arms, hands and opposable thumbs.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by JD » 22 Jul 2019, 13:50

I saw a FB post addressed to people who are bent out of shape about there being a female Thor; it featured (I guess; I don't really follow the comics universe) female-Thor talking to male-Thor and had the added caption "Cool thine tits".

I was very tempted to ask where the place was for people who weren't bothered by female Thor but are extremely peeved by Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe. Also it was doubly nonsensical since Thor (at least in the few movies I've seen) doesn't really talk like that.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by thoreau » 22 Jul 2019, 13:56

I was already expecting a female Thor.

I just assumed she'd be played by Tessa Thompson, not Natalie Portman.
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Re: Horrible, Offensive Geekery

Post by lunchstealer » 22 Jul 2019, 15:25

thoreau wrote:
22 Jul 2019, 13:56
I was already expecting a female Thor.

I just assumed she'd be played by Tessa Thompson, not Natalie Portman.
Yeah, and I'm a little sad about it just because I thought Thompson would be good in the role, but I'm also okay with saying that whoever takes over running the Asgard community doesn't have to be named "Thor".

But then again I'm a heathen who never read any of the comics in question so I'm not a REAL fan.
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