5 thoughts on “Frank Tipler”

  1. That would tend to indicate no life on Mars nor any other planet in our solar system.
    And so it seems it’s a “theory” which may be disproved within a few decades.
    And it seems such idea, would to go with the idea that our universe is much younger than it is imagined to be.

    I have tended to think that there is about 1000 spacefaring civilization in our galaxy.
    But when we become spacefaring, there does not seem much reason to travel lightyears away to some star.

    But it’s possible we can travel less than 1 lightyear- I tend to think there is a lot more stuff then is imagined within a lightyear of our sun.

    1. I worked with that last idea in my 1997 novel When We Were Real and some related short stories. The main action takes place in the Oort Cloud, but also in what I called the Centauri Jet, which is a stream of planetoids ejected from the Centauri system by the hyperboloc passage of Proxima (no long a widespread theory, but it was back then).

      1. As a fiction writer who has researched planetary and stellar science, could you share your take on these two questions?

        Have you encountered writings of Tom Van Flandern? His out-of-the-mainstream book Dark Matter, Missing Planets and New Comets, believe it or not, is in the collection of the Astronomy, Mathematics and Physics Library at UW-Madison.

        His theory that the comets and asteroids and the “asteroidal” moons of Mars and Jupiter were created by a Saturn-sized planet just outside the orbit of Mars exploding by some unknown cause a couple million years ago is definitely outside the mainstream, but his layman’s explanation of orbital mechanics appears to make sense. Whether his exploding planet theory makes any sense is one thing, but he claims to explain that mainstream explanations of how Mars or Jupiter could just “capture” moons don’t make sense either.

        His is a sad tale because he was “separated” from the US Naval Observatory, where he was good at what he did — calculated ephemeris tables for navigation — but he was shown the door for espousing theories outside his work domain. He also died young — in his late 60’s — from cancer.

        Whatever the plausibility of Van Flandern’s theories, they may make for some good Sci-Fi yarns?

        The second question is that I have recently developed an obsession with stellar evolution.

        There used to be a genre of science fiction, especially in short-story anthologies, of the Human Race having to face the Sun “going nova.” As with the Centauri Jet, the idea that the Sun could go nova went out the window with research in astronomy indicating that supernova is the end stage of much more massive stars and “ordinary nova” events are the result of mass accretion to the surface of a white dwarf from a close binary companion star evolving into its giant phase.

        As to the Sun wiping us out by becoming a red giant, current results from helioseismology indicate that this requires the core hydrogen supply to be depleted, the Sun is only halfway there, and this won’t happen for another 5 billion years.

        A Chinese novel “The Wandering Earth” explores the consequences to Civilization of the Sun going Red Giant much sooner than that, and a Chinese-language movie was made. If anything, the movie is “natural disaster porn” and it centers on the human interest angle of brave men Doing What Needs to be Done to protect their wives and children, which I guess is a “thing” in Chinese and also many other cultures.

        That said, “we” may not have 5 billion years of not getting baked off of Planet Earth, it may be only 500 million years, or less before the Sun, even on the hydrogen-burning Main Sequence increases enough in luminosity to make things toasty on Earth.

        Interestingly, and this was a few years ago, I attended a dinner lecture club at the U where the speaker addressed what was then called Global Warming and is now called The Climate Crisis, and afterwards, one of the Astronomy professors took me aside to say he didn’t “believe” any of this, stating that the Sun has brightened by about 20% is it over the time life has evolved on Earth, so there have to be feedback mechanisms that will resist whatever change is caused by our CO2 emissions.

        The results of astrophysical modeling that a Main Sequence core hydrogen-burning star brightens by a non-trivial amount, Earth climate wise, is filtering into broader awareness. I read that the Climate Crisis community is flapping their arms to explain how life could have even start on Earth some 3 billion years ago — there must have been a lot of CO2 in the atmosphere and resulting warming back then! It has also filtered into the Rare Earth community that we are Alone in the Universe, explaining that it took 3 billion years of evolution to get to us, and the time we have remaining (if we stay bound to Earth) is a lot shorter than that.

        Any thoughts?

        1. Heard of all that, but I tend to stay away from fringe theories as I think they make hard SF less realistic. Face on Mars is a distraction from humans on Mars in general. My main source of information in my heyday (from 1989 to 2009, when the bulk of my SF was published) was the UAZ Space Scoence Series, and especially the volume “The Sun in Time,” which was the source of a lot of what’s in “Alpha Centauri.” I’m not known as a hard sf writer because talking about pussy is embarrassing to many nerds and incels. As far as the origin and spread of life in the universe goes, I settled on panspermia in “Iris.” But the evolution of life on Earth points two chemosynthesis at some point not too far in the past. More presolar evidence is required. Not to mention finding some life elsewhere that’s clearly not related to ours. I once hypothesized the evolution of piezoelectric life forms. That’d do it.

  2. I think people miss the point about his objection to statistical arguments. Sure there will be “life” everywhere given the size of the universe. Probably trillions of bacteria planets. But dinosaur planets will be few and far between and space faring civilizations? Sans FTL, a billion year old empire might be in a radio bubble eight billion lights years away, an area we see from seven billion years before that civilization began. Are their ten such civilzations in the universe? A thousand? Unless there are billions of them, we may never meet them, or they us. Sans FTL.

    In one of my stories, instantaneous communication is developed and there is unexpected “line noise.” It’s the signals of other civilizations far far away. Even with FTL, how fast? At 100 times the speed of light, Alpha Centauri is weeks away, but the galactic core is centuries away and Andromeda millennia. The Universe is fucking huge. In my 1976 novel A Plague of All Cowards, the starships can go 40,000 times the speed of light. Only months to the galactic core! Only a couple of decades to Andromeda! Fucking huge. Poul Anderson’s book Tau Zero is a fun read.

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