RE: Major Technologies

Billy Brown (
Tue, 19 Jan 1999 08:44:29 -0600

Dan Clemmensen wrote:
> I chose to build my weapon in the Oort cloud specifically to keep you from
> knowing what I was doing, and to give myself stealthy access to more mass
> than you have readily available.

Then you picked the wrong way to do it. By current U.S. legal definitions, I currently own more mass than you could dig out of any hundred comets (a few thousand acres of useless swamp, projected down to the center of the Earth - yes, I own the mineral rights). That ignores the fact that Luna and the Earth-crossing asteroids are much closer than the Oort cloud, and can be mined much faster.

> I also get the advantage of throwing
> my planet-sized mass down a steep gravity gradient giving you an
> impossible task.

What impossible task? You're thinking in 20th century terms. With the technology we are talking about there is no problem hitting an object that moves at a paltry few tens of KPS, and one mega-nuke per comet is a cheap trade - I can easily take out as many comets as you care to throw.

> The only way you can stop me is to organize your entire
> set of resources into a single defensive and surviellance effort, to keep
> track of all of my efforts to destroy you.

Again, tracking every large natural object inside the orbit of Saturn is not that big a deal. Comets are especially hard to hide - an asteroid would have been a better choice.

> That is inconsistent with the concept of complete freedom of action for
> millions of individuals.

Did I say I was an Anarchist? Governments will only be replaced if we come up with another institution capable of fighting wars - either way, there is going to be an Earth-Luna defense system backed by the collective resources of four billion human beings. Good luck - you'll need it.

> Any weapon
> you can build and use to defend against an earth-massed weapon can be used
> against the earth, also.

Comets aren't 'earth-massed weapons' - a typical comet might weigh 10^12 tons, while the Earth is more like 10^21 tons. That's why comets are relatively easy to stop. If you want to use a really big object (like Ganymede) as a missile a short-range interception becomes impractical - but there is no way to move something that massive without releasing enough energy to tell the whole solar system what you're up to in plenty of time to stop it.

Look, I happen to be in favor of expanding into space as soon as possible, for the obvious reason that the world is getting to be too small a place to fight on. I am also in favor of putting a lot of work into design-ahead of defensive systems, so we can all be as sure as possible of avoiding a disaster scenario. However, nanotech does not magically negate all defenses. Nanotech warfare is simply warfare on a larger scale, and if we move into space it begins to look a lot like conventional warfare at that. If both sides have the same tech base, there is no obvious way to tell whether attackers or defenders will have the advantage.

Billy Brown, MCSE+I