Interstellar snail mail
An update to our earlier post on the Fermi Paradox:
Charlie Stross offers some of his own thoughts about the issue.
Tanenbaum’s Law (attributed to Professor Andrew S. Tanenbaum) is flippantly expressed as, “Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway”. It’s a profound insight into the state of networking technology: our ability to move bits from a to b is very tightly constrained in comparison with our ability to move atoms, because we have lots of atoms and they take relatively little energy to set in motion.
Read the whole thing. Some of the comments are quite interesting as well:
Remembering how paranoid some of the denizens are here, can I point out the beautiful absurdity of message missiles and message laser?
“No, you idiot, I wasn’t trying to bomb your planet, I was trying to send you a copy of the Encyclopedia Galatica with instructions for planetary peace and interplanetary governance. It wasn’t supposed to take out your space station. Really. Now turn off that terawatt message laser please, before it fries our launch facility so that we can try again? Okay?”
Interstellar war or peaceful contact. What if you can’t tell the difference?
Good stuff. An essential problem in interstellar relations is the bare fact that any means of transportation or communication across light-year scale distances is, inherently, a weapon of vast destructive power.