2275 Milestone: the age-old human fantasy of homes floating among the clouds has come true
By 2275 almost a third of Earthside population lives in homes floating in the sky
or the sea, rather than permanently fixed on a plot of land somewhere (though some
sky homes remain 'tethered' for lengthy periods to dry land or sea barges).
Floating sky homes such as seen above typically contain lighter-than-air vacuum for lift, alongside advanced propulsion and maneuvering systems. The greatest bulk of the home is primarily a relatively hard-shelled balloon, with the actual living and storage spaces hanging at the bottom.
The use of vacuum for aerostatic lift wouldn't be practical without advanced materials and structural design. In the case of homes like these, advanced biological engineering is involved (see more details below).
Much more compact homes utilizing buffer fields and other methods of lift in place of aerostatic means are also available, but considerably more costly to purchase and maintain.
Though the technology has also been used elsewhere for a long time now, humanity's own synthetic form of natural photosynthesis (where protons/hydrogen ions are used rather than the electrons of electricity) is perhaps showcased today in its most dramatic light in these sky homes-- as some variations of the floating homes are almost entirely devices of biological engineering, actually 'growing' from seeds similar to some 1998 flower bulbs, into at times enormous skycraft, over a period of months-- requiring little more than water and sunlight to do so. The floating versions of these homes also generate their own internal vacuums.
Some smaller examples of this technology exist as hybrid robotic aids, integrating the biologically engineered floating platform with inorganic devices, to create vast numbers of floating/flying appliances for miscellaneous uses.
-- "HARNESSING NATURE'S CELLULAR DYNAMO", Apr. 2, 1998, Businessweek
The 'grown' floating homes' secret to successfully containing a pure vacuum over long periods, as well as not imploding from the external atmospheric pressure? The balloon or bladder containing the vacuum is hard shelled, and internally honeycombed with billions of small cellular enclosures. The cell arrangement insures that no sharp pressure gradient exists anywhere within the structure to cause spontaneous and catastrophic leaks or integrity failures. The vacuum bladder consists of layers somewhat like an onion, with the outermost layer containing air only barely below normal atmospheric pressure, while the inner most core of the bladder is near perfect vacuum. All the layers between these two extremes are suitably graduated between them pressure-wise so that no layer suffers a very great pressure differential from those adjacent to it.
A gaseous circulatory system within the cellular walls themselves help maintain the proper pressure levels throughout, with excess air typically being purged from the innermost cells, and either routed to outer layers if needed, or exhausted to outside the ship. The main work of non-core cells consists of maintaining their seal integrity. The outer surface of the bladder serves as an exo-skeleton of sorts supplying the rigid structure all the rest depend upon, plus protection of the community from the elements. The outer shell also collects both solar-derived heat and protonicity to help nourish the community, as well as water.
Where emergency landings from significant heights are necessary, the entire community can utilize stored energy to drive the circulation system at a faster rate, and reverse the normal vacuum maintenance to actually bring air into the bladder, making the craft heavier, and allowing a faster descent than might be possible via aerodynamic propulsion alone working against optimum buoyancy.
Advanced (read: more expensive) versions of these homes may just as readily manage water as air-- making them essentially craft capable of both air flight and submarine voyages.
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2250-2300 sub trends and detours; 99 +% recovery/reconstitution from fatal accidents, and more
The first "Expers" are created...human minds transferred entirely into inorganic circuitry.
There are many problems related to the technology, but also enormous demand for it,
due to the potential immortality and superhuman aspects that might accompany such a transition...
Star Trek style replication becomes technologically available for human beings. New technologies offering to 'back you up' for
alternate reconstitution in case of accidents or other untoward events now come online.
Death is becoming obsolete
Genetic samples and recent comprehensive scans (regularly
made) can now be used to reconstruct people (with original personalities and memories intact) of whom nothing else remains. Though a 100% reconstitution process can be expensive, necessitating special high cost insurance policies. This technology
too creates no end of debate and challenges, similar to the transport/replication technology
itself...and requires years to be formally sanctioned by the authorities (in the
meantime a whole new category of illegal reconstitution clones, replicants, and related entities begin
appearing within the population).
Scanned 'snapshots' of the human mind seem much more reliable than the long term functioning
of human minds ported to inorganic platforms-- at least at this time....
The military might of Earth is changed in primary focus from Earthside to Earthside
conflicts, to Earthside to Earthorbit and beyond, to better defend against space-based
threats both natural and artificial. Purely Earthside crises now become basically
police matters rather than military (but the average police officer is a formidable cyborg
or humanoid, capable of being supplemented with whatever firepower and other items might be required
for their job-- possibly including nuclear weapons capability and more).
There's one or two very large asteroid based colonies now, as well as many more smaller
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2270-2330 subtrends and detours: the second wave of private deep space explorers leave the solar system
Though perhaps even more diverse than the first wave, this group boasts a much higher survival rate than their predecessors, mostly due to their improved technology and better relative financing in general. Unfortunately, their plans and goals run the same gamut from suicidal to inspired, much like the first wave's, and often with the results you'd logically expect.
At least some among the science community of the late 20th century believed it reasonable to assume humanity will possess craft capable of over one million mph by 2300, allowing for relatively nimble interplanetary flights. Much faster velocities are required for interstellar journeys-- unless some sort of stasis or multi-generational options form a significant portion of the plans for manned flights, or effectively immortal AIs/robots crew the vessels rather than people.
-- Predictions for the new millennium By LANCE GAY, October 25, 1999, Nando Media/Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.nandotimes.com
There's two major categories of adventurers here: those headed towards the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and those following other vectors through the region. Those headed towards the center enjoy at least a slightly better chance at not ending up completely stranded and alone somewhere, because of the relative proximity of their competitors/fellow explorers, and the way to the core has become a semi-regular route for many expeditions over past decades. To prevent the many fatalities which marred the first wave of deep space explorers, as well as encourage exploration towards the galaxy's core for other reasons, the strongest governments within Sol System have financed a semi-public wake way pointing towards the core to sustain ion drives (however, the quality of such wakeways are unknown and unproven beyond some 8-10 lightyears distance from Sol system, although many mass driven comet wake generators were suitably prepped to penetrate much further than that before, during, and after this period). For these and other reasons the galaxy's core proves a very popular destination for many years-- though actually reaching it and returning to tell the tale proves elusive for a long time to come.
As you'd expect, there's a great wealth of intriguing stories generated by all these expeditions. But the bulk seem to come from the core expeditions rather than others. Why? Simple arithmetic is one reason: far more expeditions of these early days head for the core than other places; so there's more experiences there, and more to tell of them. Too, the further towards the core you get, the closer together planetary systems become. So after a while you'll simply get to more different places faster heading towards the core, than you might in most other directions. More places, faster, equals more stories, faster. Then there's the traffic reliability. If something goes wrong on your trip towards the core, you can be fairly confident that another craft will come within communications range of you within a matter of years or decades afterwards-- much like sailors stranded on isles amid Earth's oceans in the 16th through 19th centuries could hope for (keep in mind that today's adventurers may be much longer-lived than yesterday's too). So you stand some chance of rescue eventually, if you can hold out long enough. Rescue, and then telling your tale. The same cannot be said for most folks who head in directions other than the galactic core.
The central bulge of a particular galaxy may contain up to 10% of the total stars within that galaxy.
-- Hubble Tackles Questions About Cosmic Bulges By Deborah Zabarenko, Yahoo! News Science Headlines, October 7, 1999
The heavy elements required for life formation may work at concentrations as low as 10% that found in Earth's Sun and original formative dust cloud.
Stars and planetary systems which theoretically possess similar compositions of heavy elements as our Sun-- plus considerably more time in which life could have developed (up to billions of extra years)-- exist towards the galactic core. With others like 47 Ursae Majoris sprinkled elsewhere too.
-- Scientific American:
Feature Article: Where Are They?: July 2000 ["http://www.sciam.com/2000/0700issue/0700crawford.html"] by Ian Crawford
So for quite some time to come, the core expeditions provide most of the more interesting stories related to deep space exploration. Yes, not one, but thousands of mostly solitary adventurers or small groups decide to make their way to the galaxy's core. Many of these people are never seen or heard from again, swallowed up by the infinite depths of space and time. Many others make the wise decision to turn back before it's too late. And the rest of the second wave, makes history...though it takes quite a while to unfold.
One legacy of the second wave is the accidental colonization of at least a handful of worlds by stranded explorers, which otherwise might not have ever been chosen as long term habitations.
So is there anything else interesting about core expeditions (besides a greater probability of encountering new star systems in a smaller volume of space, and less chance of being stranded forever)? Yes. There's the enormous singularities and clusters of singularities to investigate and exploit commercially; the largest being at or near the galaxy's very center, with others circling the core at varying distances...there's even clues that the central singularity may already have been tapped for energy generation by an alien civilization-- because its X-ray signature seems strangely subdued...
The enormous core black hole of our galaxy is puzzlingly quiet in terms of X-ray emissions
-- Chandra Detects 'Fountain of Life', Jan. 18, 2000, Associated Press, Discovery Online News Brief, http://www.discovery.com/
...There's also the anti-matter fountain being created by one or more of these central singularities; if that fountain can be 'harvested', those who do so will become the richest people in all history. The same core vector some 26,000 lightyears beyond also brings us to the dark matter galaxy currently passing through the Milky Way. Though no explorer in this group has any realistic chance of reaching the DM galaxy (partly because their effective immortality is dependent on onboard technologies; a tiny set of isolated equipment likely to malfunction thousands of years before such destinations could be reached), it does add a certain mystique to all core expeditions: after all, what if a core mission encountered a probe heading our way from a DM galaxy civilization? Technically it IS possible-- though exceedingly remote.
Now that the supporting technology for deep space missions has matured, private expeditions prove far superior to public ones in regards to relative successes and accomplishments.
Hints from past history that, at least in some cases, private expeditions often fared better than public ones, both in terms of survival and discoveries. Keep in mind however that it will likely be centuries from 1999 before the challenges of deep space missions for future generations reach rough equivalence to that of arctic missions for past Earth-bound explorers. Such equivalence, I believe, would be necessary before the perspective given below could achieve optimal relevancy.
The research of Jonathan Karpoff indicates privately financed expeditions of the past tended to survive and achieve more (and more often) than those funded by governments. Karpoff extrapolates his findings to space exploration-- speculating that private rather than public ventures should be encouraged there.
-- "Arctic Dreams and Failures " by Lee Dye, Special to ABCNEWS.com, found on or about 8-5-99, ABC News Internet Ventures. , http://www.abcnews.go.com/
The Pearsall Saga details the most prolific expedition among these private explorers during the third and fourth millennium (from a speculative perspective).
-- Florida Today Space Online (datestamp 1-8-98), stated our galactic core is about 26,000 lightyears distant from our own solar system.
A huge black hole definitely seems to be sitting at the center of our galaxy, swallowing stars and planets.
The same article states our galactic center is about 24,000 lightyears away from Earth.
--"'Supermassive' Black Hole Found In The Center Of Our Galaxy", National Science Foundation, 7 September 1998
A quick synopsis of a journey to the galactic core. Aim towards the constellation Sagittarius and proceed straight ahead for 27,500 lightyears.
This will first take you across the gap between the Orion Arm and the Sagittarius Arm. After passing through Sagittarius you will traverse another gap (this one 6000 LY (lightyears) wide), then reach another galactic arm (the 'Inner Arm') which lies some 9000 lightyears from the core.
Beyond this arm is a 1500 LY zone brilliant with star clusters and few clouds. Beyond that is roughly 489 LY of space with an increasing density of star population, and a fast spinning disk, home to lots of interstellar molecular clouds. The inner edge of the disk places you only 150 LY from the center of the galaxy. There are no distinctly individual clouds left here.
At roughly 10 LY from the galactic center exists the outer edge of another rotating gas disk, forming part of an enormous spherical region filled with millions of stars, with a dozen or so red supergiants on the edge of becoming supernovas. The speed of the disk increases as you travel inwards. Only a handful of LY from the galactic center, portions of the disk's inner edge can be seen falling along two pathways towards the core.
Here remnants of a supernova nebulae, as well as radiation from Sagittarius A, fill the region. Sagittarius A is likely a black hole, with its own accretion disk. Thousands of old stars exist very near one another here. Supernova explosions occur in this region every few million years.
-- >Ask the Astronomer: What would a trip to the center of the Milky Way be like? (http://www2.stx.com/cafe/qadir/q1982.html) by Dr. Sten Odenwald, found on or about January 15, 2000
There's two enormous clouds of young stars at the galactic core-- the Quintuplet and Arches clusters. The Quintuplet is four million years old, the Arches two million. Arches is under 100 LY from the galactic center, or some 25,000 LY from Earth. Hundreds of stars at a time appear to be being violently created in these regions even today. In light of this new discovery, galactic cores appear to be much more dynamic than previous views suggested.
Besides the Quintuplet and Arches, there's only one other such massive star cluster in the entire Milky Way.
Some of the young stars in these clusters may be among the most massive few dozen stars in the entire galaxy.
One perhaps surprising finding is the large amount of heavy elements at the core-- this implies that stars near the core may be more likely to possess planets than those further out. However, such planets would likely have short and violent lives compared to Earth-- due to the terrible carnage of destruction and creation occuring all about the core. At best they would be frequently bathed in hard radiation, sterilizing them so far as potential life was concerned, over and over again. At worst they would be broken up and reformed every few centuries due to violent gravity tides and other events in the vicinity.
-- CNN - Two supermassive star clouds found in Milky Way center - By Robin Lloyd, September 16, 1999, http://cnn.com/
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2340 Milestone: Human re-engineered photosynthesis and related protonicity replacing legacy electronics and electro-mechanicals for some purposes
This adaptation of natural plant biotechnologies to human demands has some limitations compared to previous inorganic technologies, but it also enjoys some advantages.
The biggest limitation is overall slower response times of the technology to various demands of its users. Unlike traditional electronics, protonic devices rarely act instantaneously to environmental stimuli on a realtime human scale of perception. Thus on-demand computing and communications tasks are beyond their usual territory. 'Meat'-based biotech on the other hand, may come much closer to satisfying human demands in realtime-- although those too lag too far behind the response rates required for humans boosted much beyond the pure biological platform.
But for those needs and wants where immediate responses are not necessary, protonic devices may replace legacy electronics and even outdo them via greater cost-effectiveness and certain unique capacities in some fields.
Combine the new protonics with more standard inorganic technologies in complementary hybrids, and you often achieve things near impossible at reasonable cost for any previous technology platforms.
Growing your own luxurious sky or sea floating home via these technologies has been old hat for some time now. Likewise the creation of virtually free floating aids for safety and security matters such as personal lighting and monitoring for walkabouts, or handy floating workstations or seating (i.e., you literally can now take your office or living room furnishings, appliances, and more with you wherever you go, following in an obedient floating entourage at your side or behind you, often in extremely compact form until needed, at which time they unfold into full functionality).
The new protonics have made a great many aspects of a luxurious and comfortable life available to anyone who might desire it, for negligible cost.
Protonic and protonic-hybrids often boast at least partial self-healing/self-repairing powers as well. Many may produce or manufacture special substances, such as particular drugs, or food or drink, or other items too (though not nearly as rapidly or conveniently as inorganic replicators; on the other hand, protonic generation of some substances can be far cheaper and less feed intensive than use of inorganic replicators). However the significant delay time instrinsic to the technologies often comes into play in this functionality. A substantially damaged home for instance might require a month or more to regenerate completely, while something like a personal sofa workstation might need several days or so. These delays might not sound like much to a late 20th/early 21st century reader, but circa the vastly accelerated 2340s they can seem like the 20th century equivalent of months or even years. So these lag times are viewed as very serious drawbacks to the technologies by many.
Of course, one way to reduce the weaknesses of protonic tech is to wield substantial redundancy in your protonic foundation. For instance, you might have several protonic homes dispersed over a wide area, insuring you can live in another if one must be regenerated. Likewise personal appliance entourages; maintaining several complete entourages where you can access them readily allows you to worry less about damaging a single escort group. Yes, this all makes for a massive increase in 'conspicuous consumption' and personal storage needs-- at least for those of this time who are heavily into protonic tech.
Another possible drawback to protonics is their vulnerability to some forms of pollution and toxic wastes. They are living organisms, after all (at least in many cases), and may suffer from the same things as certain other high biological content entities do. Protonics also do not do well during extended periods of darkness or drought or lack of various supplements. Protonic supplements are the protonic versions of inorganic replicator feed. Protonics are typically much more efficient than i-replicators, and so require much less supplements to do a similar amount of work. Too, protonics may often acquire all the supplements they need from simple physical contact with the Earth or earth-based pools or streams, for free.
Thus, as you might guess from all the above, protonics tend to appeal to naturalists, lovers of plants, traditionalists, environmentalists, and low to middle income citizens (though others sometimes utilize them as well for niche purposes).
-- "HARNESSING NATURE'S CELLULAR DYNAMO", Apr. 2, 1998, Businessweek
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Feedback from the Barnard Star seeder expedition has been processed. The destination
system has proved disappointing in some respects (as all the biospheres found are stunted and primitive compared to Centauri's riches), but the expedition's technology
has performed far better than that of the first Centauri expedition. Five years after expedition arrival significant numbers of cyborgs and major technology upgrades
are being added to the Barnard colony.
Within Sol System itself, the sun orbiting laser arrays required to feed power to
outer system bases and colonies from solar reactors are partially completed and functional.
The first star fish pattern 'super-bush' forms are developed, and used as construction
equipment for mega projects, remotely controlled by human beings; these systems are
considered so powerful that special laws have been enacted forbidding their direct
or supervisory control by high level artificial intelligences. The super bushes are
of pure nanotechnology construction-- no crude micromachines here. These devices
in theory may actually provide powers to users only imagined in previous centuries
for comic book fantasy characters.
The lightspeed barrier is becoming a serious obstacle now for practical communication and transportation
Significant troubles are brewing among artificial humanoids/ virtual employees /artificial
intelligences currently serving humanity.
Widespread Exper madness erupts; seemingly infectious among the millions who have
opted in decades past to make the transition to inorganic platforms to escape other
problems, or obtain impressive new capabilities. The Exper madness combines with
recent AI problems to raise major concerns for society and its future-- as humanity is wholly
dependent on its inorganic servants for its present living standards, and most are
planning to make the transition to inorganic platforms themselves at some point,
to escape their biological limitations. Now both their present and their future seem endangered--
but most have little choice but to continue as planned and hope solutions of some
sort are developed.
Inspiration sources include the 'robot bush' described in "Mind Children, the Future of Robot and Human Intelligence" by Hans Moravec, 1988
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