Computer: Game: Space
Remote Mining "MUD"   (+8)  [vote for, against]
Harness the energy of adolescents, and conquer space.

mrkillboy's "Terran Fleet" reminded me of an idea I had a couple of years ago, whereby astroid mining would be carried out by robotic mining equipment, guided remotely from Earth via a video game-like interface - teenagers and games enthusiasts could be employed from home. Of course the laissez faire extraterrestrial free market would result in predatory behaviour: attack and subversion of rival mining sites, sattelites, etc, making the whole thing terribly exiting. Other elements of drama would be added by astroid storms, sunspot activity, etc.

This would rely on a better and faster form of communication, perhaps entangled quantum pairs or something, although the slight delay might add a certain element of complexity. As you can begin to discern, this is really the design for a distributed Computer Game, which I've not currently the time or the skill to develop.

Another related idea, involves the construction of extraterrestrial habitats programmed with as realistic as possible physics, and biological constraints. This might be useful as a laboratory for testing various designs and support systems, and modeling biological effects, as well as being fun. Can anybody say open source?
-- Scott_D, Sep 01 2000

Gain-assisted superluminal light propagation http://www.nature.c...ll/406277a0_fs.html
The original "FTL" (not!) article in _Nature_. [egnor]

Subluminal http://www.netspace.../APPLETS/20/20.html
A cute applet by Greg Egan (sci-fi author and physicist) visually demonstrating the phenomenon of "group velocity" exceeding the speed of light even though individual photons do not. [egnor, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Subluminal http://www.netspace.../APPLETS/20/20.html
A cute applet by Greg Egan (sci-fi author and physicist) visually demonstrating the phenomenon of "group velocity" exceeding the speed of light even though individual photons do not. [egnor, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Dennett's "Where am I?" http://www.cs.umu.s...2/HT99/Dennett.html
"Think of it," they said, "as a mere stretching of the nerves.... We're simply going to make the nerves indefinitely elastic by splicing radio links into them." [rmutt, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Autonomous Nano Technology Swarm
I hate to link to, but this seem like what you have in mind: spam the asteroids. Hey... Smart Programmable Autonomous Mineralologists? [centauri, Sep 01 2000, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Just to remind our viewers, entangled quantum pairs do not enable FLT information exchange.

Other than that, I think robot exploration is the way to go. Humans are flashy and they make the news, but frying one of them is more than just a multimillion dollar setback.

If we get smart enough machines, we could seed the asteroid belt with them, each reporting back to a team. The team get the pictures and data and then gives a vague command like "Drive in search pattern Alpha, looking for ore and ice," and the bot reports back over a period of days until it has finished or meets an obstacle it can't navigate.

Well, we pretty much have this today, just with dumber, clunkier bots. If they got cheap enough, I don't see why the team couldn't be a classroom, or even a group of friends.
-- centauri, Sep 01 2000

Did I say FTL? I meant that quantum entanglement might offer lightspeed communication, without the problems of a laser piercing the atmosphere. You could use a two stage, microwave to sattelite, and laser to remote relay, although quantum entanglment just seems a lot cooler. while we're on the subject, I recall reading, not too long ago that somebody had succeded in accelerating photons to four times light speed - did I imagine this? I can't find it again.
-- Scott_D, Sep 02 2000

Entangled quantum pairs don't offer any kind of communication, actually. In any case, the comlink is not the hard part here.
-- egnor, Sep 02 2000

No, I don't think I imagined it, I seem to recall that it had even been replicated. I havn't heard any thing else about it, which may indicate it turned out not to be true or something, but I definately read it.

At any rate, read the idea again, it is essentially an idea to begin an planning stage of such a scheme, in the form of a game using VR modelling techniques to work out all of these particulars. One would be able to test ones design in this VR environment, and the better designs would survive in Darwinian fashion - basically a design tool for the development of extraterrestrial development schemes. It is my contention that this would be a lot of fun, whether such designs are ever implemented or not, and the VR environment is way complicated enough, that development would take a while.
-- Scott_D, Sep 02 2000

Except that in reality, mining asteroids is probably deadly dull most of the time (even if there are occasional hazards). Boring, boring, boring, boring, METEOR STRIKE!, oops you're dead. The more realistic, the less interesting.

If nothing else, you'd want a way to speed up time during the boring parts.

That said, I've certainly wanted something like this myself; I've daydreamed about lots of veritably halfbaked ideas for realistic space-exploration simulation games. I occasionally wonder if you could harness the power of bored netizens to operate a robotic colony on the Moon or something; it would be just like a MUD or MMORPG with a sci-fi theme, except that it would be real!

(I believe at least one of the several startups hoping to produce publicity-funded moon-shots is planning to launch a rover that Web surfers can pay for the opportunity to "drive" remotely for a few minutes, purely for entertainment purposes.)

I think I know what you're thinking of w.r.t. "accelerated photons". Basically, the media was confused by some subtle physics (and perhaps encouraged by publicity-happy physicists) into thinking that certain esoteric group velocity effects demonstrated FTL signalling.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. Einstein's speed limit still holds! I've added some links that may clear up the confusion. I hope Vernon doesn't see this...
-- egnor, Sep 02 2000

How unfortunate! Centuari's last link no longer exists, I've been spending my online time in the MSN Community, Free Speech America, where after many long months of superhuman effort, I have succeeded in convincing one or two individuals that there is indeed a distinction between an abstract ideal, which exists only as a discrete pattern of electrochemical impulses in the brain, and the instantiation of it, which can be said to have a demonstrable external existence - I think it was worth it, but have indefensibly neglected the beloved halfbakery in the interim.

As far as the entertainment value of my proposed scheme, much like the toy industry, where vast effort is expended in designing, refining, test marketing and mass marketing new toys, which lie broken and discarded within minutes of having been recieved by the average child, it is my thesis that the act of designing and implementing such a scheme, overcoming the technical problems, creating new theoretical technologies and designs to be tested in the virtual environment, etc, would be the interesting part, leaving the implementation to those whose financial ambitions would furnish the nesseccary interest and inventive to continue it - perhaps avoiding the fate of the unhappy aforementioned toys.

Happy New Year!
-- Scott_D, Jan 06 2001

Specifically. I was thinking along the lines of a sort of remote smelter/forge, capable of producing the structural members, from Nickel-Iron, required for the construction/extension of a space station - the idea is to limit the quantity of material required for extraterrestrial export, free Hydrogen, I beleive may be available in space, though Oxygen might have to be exported - this is perhaps the limiting factor in extraterrestrial habitats, although I've heard somewhere that Oxygen might be produced from Moon rocks or something like that - any thoughts?
-- Scott_D, Jan 06 2001

I like the idea of utilizing the gaming-addicted for space exploration, but someone will need to write an interface where comet ice mined resembles lap dances by scantily clad elvish fems, and locating a rich pocket of iron ore equates to blasting hostile robots with bazookas, or no work will get done
-- normzone, Dec 02 2003

Enders Game without shooting? Bun.
-- loonquawl, Jan 19 2009

[egnor], I have no objections to the rules regarding phase velocities and group velocities. My own FTL idea posted here involves manipulating the properties of the fabric of space-time, to basically increase the speed of light. If possible, then one could not go faster than the new speed limit, but one might be able to go faster than the old speed limit. Simple!
-- Vernon, Jan 19 2009

random, halfbakery