Known Space; why so small??

Discussion in 'Larry Niven' started by AcesHigh, Mar 18, 2008.

  1.  
    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    I am quite new to the Known Space universe of Larry Niven. Ive just read Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers.


    Why is known space so small? Its like 60 ly across, isnt it???

    Even with hiperdrives that take weeks to travel a ly, its hard to believe humans are not exploring further away.


    Maybe other books hint about the reason for the small human exploration and size of known space. Can anyone enlighten me?
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    Urien

    Urien New Member

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    Although I've read Ringworld (a long time ago), I don't know the specific answer, though I'd hazard a guess at the maximum speed of human ships, and the amount of time humans have had that speed available to them.

    Someone here will know the definitive answer.

    Welcome to the site, where are you in South America?
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    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    Im from Brazil. (I know you have posted in my introduction thread, but I am answering here so other forumers wont think I am ignoring you ;))
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    Dave

    Dave Wherever I Am, I'm There Staff Member

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    The odd human has explored further - the Ringworld is much further (248 ly) and Beowolf Schaffer went to the Galactic Core - but outside of known space is not colonised or mapped by humans or known alien races. The size varies depending on the time period.

    My own view was that I thought it was an analogy to the 'map of the known world' during the dawn of the 'Age of Sail' on Earth. They knew there was a continent across the Atlantic, and they knew there was a continent in the South of the Indian Ocean. Many explorers had been to both before. Columbus was not even the first to America. However, America and Australia were not yet colonised and there were no reliable maps.
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    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    yes.. but thats something that bothered me about the known space universe... several sentient species in just a 60 light years radius (or diameter?) globe. Not mentioning the fact several important species passing through... like the Pupeteers (at subluminal speeds), one PAK Protector and also those weird cosmic aliens...
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    The Ace

    The Ace Aye fur Alba

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    Both Star Trek and Harry Harrison make allusions to the relatively small area of known space, 'The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' concentrates on one galaxy and makes a joke of the whole thing.

    Space is vast and the sad fact is that we'll probably never explore more than a tiny fraction of it.
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    Only 60 ly diameter, AcesHigh?
    I know it doesn't sound much, but if you think of it as a sphere with a volume of 217,330,587,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 cubic miles......:D
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    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    haha, yes,

    well, according to this site
    www atlasoftheuniverse.com/20lys html
    www atlasoftheuniverse.com/50lys html



    there are 83 star systems in a radius of 20 ly from Earth (40 ly diameter) and 1400 star systems in a radius of 50 ly from Earth (100ly diameter), but most of these are red dwarfs.


    Its obviously a lot. But the problem with the small diamter of known space, is the fact that they DO HAVE HYPERDRIVE. Even if slow.


    The area COLONIZED by mankind should be small of course. But the KNOWN space, area EXPLORED, not by simpletons, but by the Earth military and traders should be much larger than only a few weeks of travel from Earth.


    A more plausible scenario, with hiperdrive similar to that of Known Space, would be some 60 light years diameter sphere with colonized star systems (not all, some of them... some on the very border of the sphere...) but known space being at least some 250 ly in diameter and constantly being expanded, by several reconessaince craft from the military and also automatic probes.

    Traders following right behind, opening new routes with any civ encountered there.
  9.  
    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    Pyan... I was the first to create a thread about Clarke´s death, yesterday, but the thread never appeared.

    Also, I had replied to your message about the Known Space, with a BIG post... but it didnt appear also!!!

    Both had in common the fact that the messages had LINKS, the forum said I could not post links, so I edited the posts, removed the links and posted again.


    If there is one thing I hate is writing a big post and losing all of it :(







    PS: this post was actually supposed to be a PM. I cant believe I cant send a PM to a moderator until I have 15 posts.
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    HoopyFrood

    HoopyFrood Iago with a Blackberry

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    If they had links in the post, they are probably waiting to be validated by a moderator and will appear once that's done. Or they may, as sometimes is unfortunately the case, just got lost in cyberspace. Hopefully it's the former, though :)
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    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    The dtanceis only one aspect of the issue. Why would any spacefaring civilisation send vast numbers of its ships to the back of beyond? Only (if ever) when there was an advantage in doing so, whether economic, strategic or personal (which includes megalomania and "religious" beliefs). And double the distance travelled and the volume increases eight times. Even if there were some advantage, where would all the resources come from?

    Let's face it, there are still odd pockets here on Earth (not including the barely visited deep ocean depths) which have yet to be explored. Why? Because it's worth no-one's while to do so.
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    pyan

    pyan Fortiter et recte! Staff Member

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    j.d. amalgamated all the Clarke threads, AcesHigh, as there were actually four of them....and in fact, I posted the first one, and redirected people posting new ones...
    But I can check on the other ones for you: as HoopyFrood says, if they contain links, they're probably in the moderation stack, waiting for a supermod or Brian to check them.
  13.  
    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    Ursa Major, I disagree. Only places not explored were places of difficult access.

    At space, there is HARDLY difficult access to other star systems. Its more a question of TIME.

    These vast distances are much more akin to the european explorations of the 16th century than anything else. Hiperdrive speed in known space is 2 years for 200 ly. Or 1 year for 100 ly.
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    Ursa major

    Ursa major Bearly Believable Staff Member

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    Sorry, AcesHigh - it's Time AND resources AND desire.

    You can have all the time in the world(sic), but if the resources you need to travel from place to place are limited, you're not going to be able to visit that many places. And you can have lots of resources, but if very few people want to use (or can afford to use) them going to other worlds, it isn't going to happen.

    As to the short travel times you mention, that's fine if all you want to do is get as far from Earth as possible; but does exploration really happen that way?
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    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    And don't forget, Wunderland, We Made It and Jinx were all settled by slowboat, taking centuries to reach their destinations. The hyperdrive has only been in humanity's hands for a few centuries, and ships to take them were all military at the outset, and incredibly expensive for a while afterward.

    No, I think the point Niven's making is that the people who go extragalactic have no real concept of the sheer scale of interstellar space.
  16.  
    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    truth, but resources apparently are not that scarce, since Louis Wu himself can take a space yatch and explore some places.

    the question is why such exploration hasnt been done by governments and other human entities? Or probes? Is Known Space a kinda of "dark ages" of the future where humanity has lost desire to explore?


    maybe not the colonizing, but the exploration wouldnt be so hard. As I said, intelligent robotic probes could be exploring and expanding Known Space at a very fast rate.



    I guess so. Thats what NASA does. Explore the solar system with probes that take 15 years to reach pluto. How much ground could you cover with hyperspace probes of the Known Space age?
  17.  
    AcesHigh

    AcesHigh New Member

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    Since I didnt know the whole story of Known Space, thats something I was hoping someone would explain.



    its immense I know. As I said in the post that never appeared, in a 50ly ray around Earth there are over 1400 star systems and 2000 stars, albeit they are mostly dim red dwarfs.
  18.  
    chrispenycate

    chrispenycate resident pedantissimo Staff Member

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    Mankind's been expanding at sub-light speeds for many generations, sending out Bussard ramjet propelled probes to investigate possible systems, and colonising ships to any suuitable planets (and at least one asteroid belt which, since a largish proportion of astronauts are belters rather than flatlanders should suit them quite well)

    During this expansion they ran into the Kzinzi, an agressive, lion like culture that had got into space by enslaving the more advanced race that discovered them ( they'd never have been able to co-operate enough on the research to make it on their own.)

    During this war the outsiders (that's the cold, photoelectric ones) sold the secret of the hyperdrive to humanity, not to the kzinzi, Victory for humans, pick up the pieces, take over a number of races enslaved by the kzinzi. A generation – a long generation, with boosterspice – of consolidation, and they're starting to explore again. They know ( the leaders know) that the core of the galaxy is exploding, and in a hundred thousand years or so they're going to have to move on, but they can afford to procrastinate a little, and the ARM ( the police force) has as a principal duty to eleminate all inventions with the potential for massive damage(which means almost everything; who can judge all the potential of an idea?) so technical development is slow.

    But an awful lot of the "known space" stories (including of course "Ringworld") are wholy or partially set outside known space.
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    Roadkiller

    Roadkiller New Member

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    The war definetly slowed expansion.

    Related to that is the idea that for many generations humanity was protected by a Human-Protector known as the Brennan Monster. Apparently during that time humanity became quite passive and risk adverse. Not that he urge to explore and colonize disappeared, just that an ever smaller percentage of the population were interested (remember flatland phobia?).

    The hyperdrive was originally a military secret, great lengths were taken to keep it out of Kzin hands (as shown in a couple of Man-Kzin War stories).

    Don't forget that Known Space and Human Space were two different things. Known Space was the area where humans had at least some knowledge through exploration or contact with another sentient species. Human Space was a smaller are colonized by Humans.
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    Scifi fan

    Scifi fan New Member

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    Maybe it's just economics. Most of the ocean floor hasn't been explored, and most of the Earth's core hasn't been explored, and the reason is that it's too expensive - humans have better things to do with their money, like buy nuclear weapons.

    The same may be true for Known Space - humans are too busy fighting the Kzin to worry about exploring the final frontier.

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