Friday, June 20, 2014

Generation Ship


I'm a big fan of xkcd and the What If? blog over there.  So along those lines, here's this scenario.

Once upon a time while young and naive, I pondered the creation of deep safes using ingame gimmicks, like mwds and superfast ships.  Then the reality check: space is B-I-G.

So, here's the question:  Using only sublight engines (no warping), how far would you have flown by now if you started at launch?

Here's the maths and stuff:  Distance = Rate * Time.

Let's start with Time first:
EVE launched on May 6 2003.  Today is June 20 2014.  That's 4063 days.

Assuming a 23 hour day (most downtimes are shorter, but there have been a few outages over the years, maybe our intrepid player slept in a few times a year), that's 93,449 hours or 5,606,940 minutes or 336,416,400 seconds.

Now for Rate.

Let's say you took this literally and rolled a character, undocked for the first time, double clicked, and walked away until the next day's downtime.  Then you logged in and did it again, picking exactly the same axis of travel.  And the day after.  And the day after.  And the day after....

Let's say your rookieship, in whatever fitting, flew at 150 m/s, every day for 23 hours a day.  From Launch until now, you'd have traveled 50,462,460 km.  That's a big number, but it's only about 0.34 au.  If you started at our (real life) Sun, you'd now be in the neighborhood of Mercury.

But rookieships are slow.  Let's say you somehow managed to get in a cruiser with an afterburner and could sustain 500 m/s.  That's 168,208,200 km or about 1.12 au ... almost back to Earth and just a bit farther.

Somehow, if you managed to get born with a mwd frigate that did 3500 m/s, you'd now be at 7.8 au from the Sun, or past Jupiter and almost to Saturn.

The distance between most gates is further than this, and we cross those distances in seconds while in warp without thinking, yet our imaginary player had logged in for 4063 days straight to accomplish the same.

I know there are faster ship fits out there, but here's my point:  The term Generation ship comes from the notion that it might take a generation or two for humans to travel between the stars.  Using the game mechanics of EVE, we've demonstrated that travelling for over a decade at sublight speeds doesn't get you past the gas giants.

The nearest star from Earth is about 4.22 light years, or 4x10^16 meters.  In your mwd frigate at 3500 m/s it would take just over 378,000 years (using 23h days) arrive in the new star system.

And that, my friends, is a lot of PLEX.

What's playing:  Soundgarden, Blackhole Sun.



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