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Old April 14 2013, 03:32 PM   #1
ZapBrannigan
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If Warp Drive were Possible...

There is a thesis held by some in the science community and it goes like this:

Our galaxy has so many worlds and has existed so long, that everything that can happen has happened, out there somewhere. You name it and some alien civilization has done it-- provided it is physically possible.

If warp drive were possible, it would have been invented billions of years ago by an alien civilization in our galaxy.

They would then have built a galactic empire and at some point, long before man evolved, they would have found Earth and colonized it themselves. Their expanding population needs real estate and other resources.

In that case, their animal control department, or maybe even terraforming efforts, would have prevented our evolution.

Since we are here, and there is no credible evidence that space aliens ever were, it follows that warp drive is physically impossible.

Are we all agreed?
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Old April 14 2013, 03:41 PM   #2
R. Star
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

So by that logic the atom bomb was impossible before 1945 since we were here and there's no credible evidence there were atom bombs before that? That's a dang circular argument.
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Old April 14 2013, 03:44 PM   #3
F. King Daniel
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

The galaxy is so ridiculously big they could have missed us. Or there could be a civilization on a million planets with FTL drive, but 50 galaxies away.
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Old April 14 2013, 03:57 PM   #4
Elvira
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

Let see ...

Their galactic empire rose and fell billions of years ago, whoever they were they're gone now.

Our atmosphere/pressure/heat was incompatible with their life form, and there are so many planets better suited to them, they never bothered to "terraform" our world.

They're currently living on Venus.

We are the remnant of a colony, there was a technological/societal fall tens of thousand of years ago.

They left a large black monolith in Africa.

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Old April 14 2013, 04:12 PM   #5
ZapBrannigan
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

R. Star wrote: View Post
So by that logic the atom bomb was impossible before 1945 since we were here and there's no credible evidence there were atom bombs before that? That's a dang circular argument.
You don't get it. I'm not saying the thesis is unassailable, but your analogy is just a head scratcher.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:15 PM   #6
yousirname
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

This seems like a variant on the "Where is everybody?" argument against the existence of extraterrestrials.

Aside from possible environmental incompatibility and the possibility that they are simply too far away anyway, there's no guarantee they'd detect us. We've only been broadcasting for a little over a century. So there's a radio shell with a diameter just over 200 light years across surrounding Earth, and at that distance, who knows if it's even distinguishable from background radiation?

That said, I'm not optimistic about FTL travel being possible. Just this isn't a good argument for that view.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:26 PM   #7
R. Star
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
R. Star wrote: View Post
So by that logic the atom bomb was impossible before 1945 since we were here and there's no credible evidence there were atom bombs before that? That's a dang circular argument.
You don't get it. I'm not saying the thesis is unassailable, but your analogy is just a head scratcher.
So you pose a circular argument that says because it hasn't happened yet it can't happen... then your rebuttal when questioned on that is "you don't get it?" That's not exactly a solid argument.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:28 PM   #8
The Green Mushroom
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

I think the theory isn't that the galaxy is large enough for anything that could have happened to have happened, it is that the universe is large enough. The galaxy is a pretty darn big place, but it pales in comparison to the entire universe. If someone somewhere in the universe invented a warp drive, it could still take them so long to get here that we would never know about it.

And even then, the theory only works if there really is only X possible things to happen and the universe is larger than X. I'm inclined to believe that unless the universe is infinitely large, there are things that are possible that haven't happened.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:35 PM   #9
ZapBrannigan
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

yousirname wrote: View Post
This seems like a variant on the "Where is everybody?" argument against the existence of extraterrestrials.

Aside from possible environmental incompatibility and the possibility that they are simply too far away anyway, there's no guarantee they'd detect us. We've only been broadcasting for a little over a century. So there's a radio shell with a diameter just over 200 light years across surrounding Earth, and at that distance, who knows if it's even distinguishable from background radiation?

That said, I'm not optimistic about FTL travel being possible. Just this isn't a good argument for that view.
Regarding our radio signals, the thesis I put up suggests that the aliens would have scouted the galaxy and found Earth long before we were even here.

Also, it's my understanding that our broadcasts do fade to nothing before they even reach the nearest star, and the whole SETI project is thus all the less likely to hear alien signals.

King Daniel has a point in that the warp-capable aliens could simply miss the Earth, even over the span of a great galactic empire's existence.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:47 PM   #10
Ryva Brall
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

The Green Mushroom wrote: View Post
I think the theory isn't that the galaxy is large enough for anything that could have happened to have happened, it is that the universe is large enough. The galaxy is a pretty darn big place, but it pales in comparison to the entire universe. If someone somewhere in the universe invented a warp drive, it could still take them so long to get here that we would never know about it.
Or maybe they have reached Earth at some point, saw that we were a primitive pre-warp civilization, and decided not to interfere with our development.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:52 PM   #11
ZapBrannigan
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

Ryva Brall wrote: View Post
Or maybe they have reached Earth at some point, saw that we were a primitive pre-warp civilization, and decided not to interfere with our development.
That's an optimistic vision if ever there was one.
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Old April 14 2013, 04:54 PM   #12
ZapBrannigan
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

R. Star wrote: View Post
ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
R. Star wrote: View Post
So by that logic the atom bomb was impossible before 1945 since we were here and there's no credible evidence there were atom bombs before that? That's a dang circular argument.
You don't get it. I'm not saying the thesis is unassailable, but your analogy is just a head scratcher.
So you pose a circular argument that says because it hasn't happened yet it can't happen... then your rebuttal when questioned on that is "you don't get it?" That's not exactly a solid argument.
The thing is, humans on Earth can only come up with so much, so fast. But the whole galaxy would include so many civilizations, over such a long span of time, that every possible thing would have already happened somewhere.

That's the part you didn't seem to get. And again, I'm not saying the OP thesis is set in stone. It's very debateable.
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Old April 14 2013, 05:05 PM   #13
Ryva Brall
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

ZapBrannigan wrote: View Post
That's an optimistic vision if ever there was one.
Thank you.

Personally, I think it's conceivable that the technology could have been developed somewhere in the universe; like The Green Mushroom said, the galaxy is a big place, but it's an infinitesimal speck in comparison to the rest of the universe. (You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.) In which case, the chances of a warp-capable species finding one tiny planet in one tiny galaxy would be pretty remote.

By the way, every time I see your username, I can't help reading it in Billy West's voice, with the extra syllable and everything. "Zapp Brannigan-neh."
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Old April 14 2013, 05:06 PM   #14
Timo
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

The thing is, you don't need warp to conquer the entire galaxy in, say, a million years. Sublight ships with really poor success rate will suffice, if you are motivated enough.

But by that token, successive waves of colonization would probably constantly take place, erasing previous empires in geometrically intriguing patterns, and resulting in a jigsaw puzzle of cultures at varying levels of development, retardation or renaissance. Lacunae and fallows would also inevitably result, even if fairly locally.

In this respect, warp drive would be fundamentally different from any other innovation, as the formidable speed of information propagation would "synchronize" the galaxy and pit fairly evenly matched factions against each other. Basically, we seem to be witnessing the very thing around Earth, with Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Andorians and now Earthlings vying for dominance.

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Old April 14 2013, 07:21 PM   #15
Third Nacelle
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Re: If Warp Drive were Possible...

And Native Americans prior to 1492 might have thought sailing across the ocean was impossible. I can't agree that because we have no evidence that warp drive has been used already means it's impossible.

Furthermore, I doubt there are as many "civilizations" in the galaxy as you seem to believe.

-Of all the planets out there, only a fraction support life (as we understand it)
-Of those that support life, only an INFINITESIMALLY small fraction would take the evolutionary route toward intelligence
-And of all intelligent life, I doubt many would feel the need to use tools and develop technology (look how happy dolphins are without warp drive).


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