The Interlopers

I clung to her leg like a cowering koala. Crouched at her feet I was passive, self protective. The other woman talked to her only. She was proposing to me through my wife. She wanted me to become her betrothed. I listened as the women stood facing each other until the proposal was over. When they were through and in agreement my wife graciously looked down at me for any response I might have. I looked up at her and silently nodded, then nuzzled the apex of her jeans in appreciation, wishing I could do more through the heavy cloth material. I was ecstatic.

I had two wives now. My future had become very secure or at least more secure than most men in this colony. Both my wives were of stature, influential, certified fertile. My record of impregnation assured not only financial security and social status but prodigy, an essential yet deficient resource in our community.

We call our colony Proxb, among the first wave of the extra solar colonies of Earth. All of the existing space colonies were established concurrently and remotely, without direct human presence. After hundreds of years of robotic preparation and encapsulated terraforming, the prime genitor human genomes (our ancestors) were transmitted and incubated here. Life is difficult here in comparison to what we know of life on Earth, but we are making progress. We have regular contact with Earth although, since it is light years away, communication takes almost a decade for a response to a transmitted message. Unlike humans on Earth, the lack of a magnetic field and adequate atmosphere means we are subject to heavy ion radiation. Even though we have a protective dome and spend much of our time in the subsurface lava tubes, this radiation has caused a low rate of fertility and a societal urgency for childbirth resulting in our matriarchic society.

Following the engagement formalities I went out alone for a night walk. Most others in the colony were, by that hour, asleep. I continued to find myself in that intoxicating matrimonial bliss as I stood outside in the gardens and mused upon the Golden Star. Since the nights here are 14 Earth days long, there was no urgency to my rapturous diversions. It is not uncommon for the sensitive male Proxbian to gaze beyond the transparent dome at this brightest of stars and find inspiration. Unmarked hours may have easily transpired, my mind floating about through limitless space in a self-sanctified detachment. I did not question my good fortune but felt entitled and justly rewarded. From reading Earth stories, I imagined my feelings could be compared to an Earthling having just inherited a great deal of money and being freed from the concerns of financial constraint and necessary employment.

As I watched the sky I found my solitary escape somehow being subtly intruded upon, and I began to grow strangely disconcerted. On such a night I should feel nothing but unbridled joy. Yet I was gradually aware of something being amiss. I then realized that the Golden Star, which held my attention, was dimming and brightening. This, everyone knew, was inconceivable as the constancy of this star has been the traditional subject of our songs and poems. Eventually the steady light returned though I remained concerned that this might be an ill omen or portend something of importance. I continued watching and eventually there was another light near the Golden Star, in very close proximity to it. In fact the only way I could differentiate the two lights was by their colors. The new light was whiter, near blue. I watched in wonder now wishing someone were with me who could corroborate my observation and with whom I might discuss this unprecedented occurrence.

I quickly walked home and went down inside the tube. I told my wife but she was preoccupied and dismissive of my information. “It is likely nothing. You are just being overly excited with all the commotion tonight,” she told me. Yet I found her words failed to dispel my concerns. I could not rest. Throughout the night I checked the sky periodically. The white light was gone now and all seemed back to normal which led me to doubt my earlier observations. But between light napping I kept returning and I eventually saw a gray speck where none had been before. With subsequent visits I noticed it grew in size and finally resolved itself into an unnatural object, a ship. I had never seen a space ship before except in pictures. Our colony never had the resources to build one and we were much too far from Earth for a tellurian ship to ever make the journey. I did not know what to do but watch in wonder as this vessel of unknown origin now appeared to be quickly approaching our planet.

Although concerned about the increased ion exposure outside of the lava tubes, I waited until the ship landed not far from the dome. I moved toward it, to the nearest edge of the enclosure and watched as bipeds similar to myself exited the ship and walked directly toward the dome. As our dome is only a few kilometers in diameter it was relatively easy for me to go to the airlock that they approached. Seeing that they appeared to be humans and unarmed, I allowed the two astronauts access. Once inside they removed their helmets breathing deeply of our atmosphere. At first they seemed distraught though as they recovered they greeted me enthusiastically, relieved and appreciative for my presence and for admitting them inside. I was immediately impressed with their stature and strident demeanor. This I found confusing for although they appeared to be males they comported themselves more like the women in our colony.

I also was not expecting them to speak in the language English. “We are sorry to surprise you like this but we were in big trouble out there. I think our ship took a hit from a micro meteoroid. Our cabin pressure quickly dropped. This colony was our only possible sanctuary close by,” the darker-faced one told me. Though they both had faces that showed richly pigmented skin, it was the darker one who initially spoke. I noticed his name printed on his space suit. It was Singh.

“Where are you from?” I asked, looking down at the comparatively transparent skin of my arms.

They paused and briefly consulted each other with a furtive glance before speaking. “Earth,” the other one replied. They must have noticed a look of incredulity on my face, as I skeptically considered their response. Before I could speak he added, “Is there a place we could rest and get out of these suits?” They seemed fatigued so we moved toward a nearby natural rock prominence that had been carved away to provide surfaces for the farm workers to rest.

“Please stay on the stone path,” I said. “All soil under the dome has either food already growing or is in seed. Although our population growth here has leveled off in recent generations, sufficient food production is still challenging. Those large, multistory structures over there are our aeroponic farms. You can detect the glow of the artificial light that is used to keep the plants alive during the night.”

Once seated they began removing more of their bulky space suits, as it is always warm and humid inside the dome. “Earth?” I asked, still perplexed by their answer. “That does not make sense to me. Earth is over 4.2 light years from here. No living thing can make such a journey.” At this point I noticed another man standing aside watching us. I knew him to be our quartermaster, the colony supply clerk. He must have also noticed the ship touch down.

Though they seemed to understand my question, they again seemed reluctant to answer. It was Singh who eventually responded. He looked at me as he spoke. “I know that you have a lot of questions. These will be all answered in time. But things are not what they seem. It may be difficult for you to assimilate what we could tell you. I think it best that we take it slow. Maybe now is not the best time to go into all this.”

Then the other, whose name I noticed was Varney, answered, “Understand that we have just narrowly escaped what had seemed a certain death. When the meteoroid struck our ship, it penetrated our crew cabin causing our atmosphere to quickly dissipate into space. If not for the close proximity of your colony we would have asphyxiated in space. We knew a colony was here, and we made for it in a desperate attempt to survive.”

I felt an immediate affinity to Varney. I am not sure why. Maybe because his eyes were pale like our own, but I think it was more. Yet his responses were succinct and impersonal unlike Singh’s. I wanted Varney to be friendlier, to reciprocate my impulsive feelings of fraternity. “Please excuse my persistence but it is quite unsettling that you are less than forthcoming about your origin. For you to have traveled here from Earth is untenable.”

Seeing my frustration, Singh spoke. “We hesitate because we know that this will come as a shock to you, but Earth is really not so very far away from here as you believe. We did come from Earth and we were just on a mission to refuel the Webb III Telescope which is orbiting beyond Earth’s moon at the L2 Earth/Sun Lagrange point. You can probably see it as a gold light in your sky.”

Varney continued, “OK. Let’s recap a bit.” He was sitting leaning forward looking at the ground in front of him. “Your colony, as you know, is one of three sister colonies. The others are on Wolf 1061c and Kapteyn b, which you know are several light years away from Earth. But Proxb, in fact, is located on the far side of the Earth’s moon where you never see Earth or directly receive its radio signals.” His words were clipped and his information factual, direct and less tactful considering the circumstances.

“But our messages take years to reach Earth. And just as long for their response to reach us,” I persisted. The supply clerk had cautiously moved closer and was listening now to what we said.

The astronauts were now partly liberated of their bulky protective suits, revealing seamless inner shirts that covered snugly from their neck to their waist, including arms. The clerk, who had gradually moved in closer, compulsively touched the exotic material of Varney’s inner shirt. Seeing him near the seated astronaut it was impossible not to notice the contrast in their physical bulk, the effect of our having adapted to a reduced gravity.

“Maybe we shouldn’t be telling you all this now,” Singh interjected. “Though I think as soon as anyone here noticed our ship this cat was out of the bag. Still, maybe it would be more prudent to brief someone in charge, maybe a government official. Have either of you official capacity?” Neither of us responded but at the suggestion the supply clerk ran off apparently to summon a government administress who might be better qualified to address this situation.

“What about the 4.24 year delay limiting our communication with Earth? It is undeniable?” I persisted.

“That latency had been artificially established by COLCOM. Your colony is like the ‘control’ in a double blind study. Everything that was sent out to the extra solar colonies, including the initial human genetics, has been meticulously mirrored with yours. While the other colonies’ development is too remote to easily monitor, yours is accessible and right in our own planetary back yard. That is why you were kept insulated from any direct contact or visits from Earth. They needed your colony to be subject to the same variables as the others so the radio delay was established and enforced.”

I might have appreciated the information Varney was freely sharing, but instead I began to feel anger, remembering our anxiety waiting to receive responses to our urgent messages. I recalled the years we endured, suffering through serious problems not only when the solution was intentionally withheld but when direct assistance was close by.

“Your radio delay, of course, was the shortest possible,” Varney elaborated. “This colonial simulation presumed you to be part of the Alpha Centauri system. To make it any less so would have been the same as telling you exactly how far away you were from Earth. It would have affected your social and technical development and ruined your value as a test subject. Yet, having you nearby allowed us to monitor your development and to implement timely and effective adjustments to our procedures. It not only improved the conditions on the more remote colonies but possibly avoided their extinction. Only in this way could improvements and corrections be implemented without waiting decades for the actual results. Everything needed to be the same, even the fact that you believed you were isolated from direct contact with Earth.”

I suspect Singh noticed the effect this news had created in me. He again interjected, his intent obviously empathetic. I believe he was trying to reduce the impact of Varney’s revelations. “We did not purposely come here. In fact we are here against orders.” His tone acknowledged his sensitivity to my distress. “We can appreciate your disbelief, but just now, right out there, our ship became suddenly and violently non-functional. Yet we were told to return to Earth taking an established circuitous route avoiding your detection rather than contaminate this scientific resource. Command understood the seriousness of our situation. They knew that following the authorized course would have resulted in our death.”

“We weighed the consequences against losing our lives. That coming here we would rip the lid off this secret compact. We tried to follow orders. I even set the navaputer as instructed, but once our cabin atmosphere dissipated and the suit supply became critical, your colony was our only refuge. We never consulted with Command. I alone overrode the computer course,” he said glancing at his companion. “Even at that, it was uncertain that we could make it here alive.”

Varney now spoke in concordant response, “There was no decision. Circumstances determined our options. The only sensible one,” he looked at Singh, “was to put down here and save ourselves. We will likely pay a severe price for this, but we will defend our actions. The extra solar colonies are now relatively stabilized. There have been ongoing discussions of termination of this test facility. Much has already been learned here and applied in the colonization program. The scientific usefulness of this colony has been waning. Our action likely only accelerated the inevitable obsolescence of this test platform.” When he stopped talking he briefly looked up at me.

Singh again took over. “I am sorry. I can only imagine how distressing our sudden intrusion has been for you. We are both sorry,” he said looking at his collaborator. “Though this was never our intent you may likely find yourselves released as COLCOM subjects and rejoined with Earth’s society sooner rather than later. This should improve your lives. Expand your possibilities. The changes may be stressful but ultimately rewarding.”

Discordant thoughts were buzzing inside my head. “This isn’t fair to us, you know. I am a notable member of this society. I have attained an enviable position here. I am finally somebody. I have worked hard for my accomplishments and recognition in this colony. All I have strove toward has just been realized and destroyed on the same night. Since you intruded, all is uncertainty and nothing will be the same again. We all know that low gravity colonials can never relocate and physically readjust to Earth.” I stopped. Suddenly self-conscious at my emotional outbreak, I considered apologizing, as my anxiety must have seemed petty compared to the hazards recently endured by these space travelers. But I did not because I was aware that something had changed.

I looked around and saw that others had gathered about and were watching us. The men looked on with detached curiosity while some women held tools and implements. These women moved forward with intent and confronted the astronauts. Though they were smaller in stature and strength than their Earthling counterparts, the look of our women was ominous and imminently menacing. The astronauts looked helpless, their legs still constrained by the bulky lower half of their space suits. The expressions of the defenseless intruders conveyed their comprehension of the dire situation into which they had inadvertently placed themselves. A wave of sickness engulfed me as this awkward but entirely civil encounter transformed into a violent and vicious display. I could no longer watch.

**************

The resourceful bravery and decisive dominance of the superior Proxb women over the incapable Earthlings has since become ensconced and heralded as our official mythology. The damaged Earthling ship remains a solitary reminder. An inadvertent monument upon the vast wasteland outside the dome. Although we now know where we are in the local galaxy, our independence from Earth continues self-imposed. Our government’s intolerance of outside involvement is an established and enforced regulation in the solar system. No other Earth ships will be intentionally visiting our colony. For us the incident has become an example, a lesson to others. It has become our premier source of civic pride and the cause for an annual celebration by our community.

Yet I think often of that night and those godlike men and cannot now help feeling a profound sympathy for their untenable situation. They were victims of the same lie that we had been subjected to for generations and their lives were no more valued by the perpetuators then ours. Yet they brought to us a fresh and compelling spirit. What was there in their voices and eyes and looming presence became energizing and contagious.

Although it puts my social position at jeopardy, at secret meetings during extended lunar nights we covertly speak of those unfortunate Earthmen as if their action were a martyrdom. Our cabal has pledged to record and preserve a faithful account of all we remember about the encounter, a gospel for our descendants. We have come to recognize that the visitation revealed a societal duplicity, that this exposure has triggered a need for change that now requires our personal sacrifice and struggle. Our actions will hopefully result in the necessary societal adaptation to this new reality. Maybe one day we will prevail and rejoin our Earthly brethren in mutual friendship and peace.

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Muting the Dread

the bedside radio is off

the trump, trump, trump

of morning news silent

leaving me free

to explore the

joys of being alive

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Youth’s Futile Avoidance

On the counter was ceremoniously thumped the open green bottle. A light fog drifted from the neck. We took it in fashion, throwing our heads back in a flourishing indulgence of the familiar elixir as if it contained the essence of youth. The opaque brown syrup affirmed all we believed about our place in the universe. Our self-contained eternity, our right to consume and become everything we dreamed. And to take it with us thoughtlessly into the future.

George tossed the bottle cap into the trash behind the counter. I fished in my pocket for a dime. “Don’t worry, you’re covered. Your dad’s a long time customer.” I was the only one sitting at the line of red and chrome stools, the factory lunch crowd now long gone, back at work. I took another drink, the released effervescence startling, reassuring, penetrating into my sinuses.

A year later with her husband ill and dying, his wife saw me from the curb. Leaning at the open passenger window she asked if I would go in and visit. “George would enjoy seeing you,” she said. Sitting in the car, the engine running, idling, restrained only by the closed throttle plates, I hesitated. “No ….I can’t…..right now….” I answered moving the shifter from neutral to first anxious to be away from death and obligation.

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Why Humans?

There is no question that for the long term preservation of the human species it is necessary that we develop interstellar space travel. But what is the importance of preserving the human race? Why are humans so special? Is the development of interstellar travel worth the expenditure of extravagant human effort and resources? Is it only our selfish reproductive instinct that drives us to consider human interstellar colonization a long term imperative? Is the human animal form so necessary in the cosmos or is it the coincidental development of human intelligence that is the significant and seemingly scarce component in the universe that warrants preservation and perpetuation? If humanity’s sentience is unusual and scarce it may arguably be worth some great effort to propagate it beyond our solar system.

As an animal we are genetically little different from a dog or cat, even less from a chimp. We are all thinking, feeling, hungry, social, emotional mammals. The obvious mental advantage we have over the others may only be a small step toward some enhanced intelligence. It may be that we are just as incapable of appreciating our own intellectual limitations as your cat may be to understanding your financial situation. Still, in this larger celestial realm, we possess evolved sapiency and, without a higher comparison available, possibly exceptionally so. So it may be of some importance for the future of cosmic intelligence to preserve this rare and useful characteristic of humans.

Yet getting people to an extrasolar planet can be especially difficult. Our living systems have developed in a rarefied environment that makes them unsuitable for long interstellar journeys. Extrasolar planets would likely need extensive terraforming to make them suitable for human habitation. If it is only our intelligence that is important, it would be much easier to download our critical thought processes into a machine that can withstand the cold and cosmic radiation for the hundreds of years required for an interstellar space journey and then have it reproduce (manufacture) itself in a reasonably compliant planetary or lunar environment.

Yet the human animal, along with many other life forms on earth, has been shown to be resilient, adaptive and resourceful in sustaining life. Maybe some form of animal life with greater tolerance for environmental variability and yet incorporating the brain of a human would make a more suitable life form to send to other planets. A genetically engineered, reproducing animal designed for specific planetary conditions could be developed as our intelligent space traveling surrogate.

But what about human consciousness? How important in our cognitive thinking is our physical connection to the world? Is the material interface of our body with the larger world the source of our consciousness? Would it be possible to program our instinctive self preservation along with a compassionate consciousness into either a bio-engineered creature or a machine? Balancing necessary survival instincts against a benevolence towards others can be a tricky act even for fully socialized, earth bound humans. Colonizing space with living humans, who naturally incorporate our interactive mind/body complexity, may be the only way to insure the perpetuation of our adaptive, inventive intelligence while preserving a communal, higher awareness and an abiding consciousness.

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Mind Your Mother’s Words

“Finish up your lompers Beck, ya don’t want to waste the good farmer’s hard work.”

Beck looked at his plate and decided to get it over fast, shoveling in two huge forkfuls of flatcakes before leaving the table. Outside, Freddy was waiting for him while aimlessly scratching in the dirt with a stick. Though they were both off for mid year break, Freddy was not from Beck’s school. He was from Riverside, but was staying with his grandmother here in Settlement for the vacation.

“Be home before dark now. Ya don’t want to eat a cold supper do ya?”

The screen door slammed behind him as he greeted Freddy on a run. “And don’t come home with wet shoes, stay outa that creek.”

“What took ya so long?

“Come on, let’s go.” They walked down to the end of the street to the dump behind the plumber’s house. After checking through the discarded sinks and water heaters, drains, faucets and tees and elbows, Freddy found a piece of iron supply pipe that he picked up. As they walked downhill through the reedy unmanaged growth Freddy swung the pipe at the wild lomp weeds. Occasionally a seed head would fly through the air.

“I’d rather die in a fiery crash than get old,” Freddy said. The hill terminated at the creek and they took up the well-worn pedestrian path that followed the creek bed downstream through the woods. “And I’ll bet you that is what will happen.”

“What a stupid bet. If you win that bet who will I pay? ” Beck answered.

“I’m gonna be a test pilot. I’m gonna test rockets and planes. Nobody will tell me where to work. I’m gonna volunteer for the most dangerous jobs.”

At one point they turned off the familiar path and moved through the undergrowth. At an uprooted tree laying on the ground they climbed on the trunk and balanced along it until a large branch blocked their way. Beck grabbed a limb and swung from the trunk to a corrugated sheet metal roof about a half meter off the ground.

Beck immediately noticed that a piece of carpet that was used for the door had been left folded back onto the roof. “Hey, some root has been in our fort!” Freddy could hear Beck talking inside “I’ll bet it’s one of those kids from the Shaw Terrace gang. Hey, they left a comic book.” Freddy stood outside the door poking at the rug with his length of pipe.

“What is it?” he asked with casual interest.

“Ranger Stong Explorer. Too bad. It got wet in here when it rained,” Beck said while trying to open it up and look at it. But the pages just fell apart for his efforts.

“Is it the one where Ranger Stong explores the equator flatlands? Ya know it’s so hot he has to wear a suit all the time with a refrigerator pack. Cause if it is, I already seen it.”

Back at the creek they stood on a granite boulder that intruded half way into the current. The narrowed passage produced a fast flowing current that caused a slow rotating eddy at their feet just beyond the ancient obstruction. “Let’s explore. Let’s follow the creek down past the woods,” Beck said. “We’ve never done that. At some point it has to join the river.”

“OK but I want to do something first.” Freddy led Beck up the wooded hill to a place that was like a miniature swamp. Water seeped from the ground soaking the soil before diffusing down a dry wash. Freddy took the piece of pipe and shoved it down into saturated soil at a steep angle, right where the cold water was arising from the ground. In a few seconds muddy water was running out of the top end of the pipe. “Wow!” said Beck. “Nice idea!” In less than a minute the water had cleared and they both took turns getting drinks by cupping their hands under the elevated end.

“That’s nice and cold,” Beck said wiping his hands on his pants. “Tastes better than the water at home.”

“Fill your belly now Ranger Beck while we have the chance, ‘cause we may not find drinking water where we’re going.” They rejoined the creek-side path below the granite boulder then followed it downstream. The path quickly grew narrower and less traveled and required walking in single file.

“If you get to be a rocket pilot would you explore the Red Moon or the Sister Moons?”

“The Red Moon for sure, if they give me a radiation-proof space suit. My dad says they have built the rocket that could fly there but nobody wants to volunteer to do it,” Freddy responded talking to the back of Beck’s head.

They followed along numerous turns in the meandering creek until they came to an elevated bridge that crossed the creek high overhead. Large concrete supports blocked the way and closely bordered the creek. Here it was not so easy to follow the creek further and the banks leading up to the road were unnaturally steep. The amplified sounds of cars randomly rumbling overhead violated the subtle and familiar sound of the flowing water and made standing at the bottom of the bridge unsettling and ominous. Since the creek was running a little below average it left a muddy strip between the creek water and the massive concrete buttress. They decided that this was the best way to continue. On a day without a defined mission this might have turned them back but today this inconvenience was not enough to deter a motivated explorer.

Emerging into the sunlight on the other side of the bridge Beck walked cautiously on one muddy sock and carried a sneaker in his hand that had been pulled off by the suction of the mud. Freddy was already sitting on the bank with his feet and sneakers hanging in the flowing current. Beck stopped and removed the other mud-engulfed sneaker and washed them both before putting them back on without the socks. Neither spoke it but they could tell that this was beginning to feel like a real adventure.

They resumed following the creek bank. Before the sounds of the traffic had completely faded they came to a chain link fence topped with barbed wire blocking their path. At this point the bank had risen forming a precipitous drop to the creek below. The fence extended just past the edge of an overhanging boulder.

“Looks like the end of the line,” Beck announced.

“I got this one,” Freddy said. He climbed onto the fence and worked his way sideways out over the creek below. At the end of the fence he swung out and around to the other side, It was then just a matter of maneuvering sideways back to the rock. “No problem,” Freddy announced back on terra firma.

Beck was reluctant to try but now as they faced each other through the interposing fence, he had little choice. It was a bit scary at first but following Freddy’s example he managed it with surprisingly little trouble and together on the other side their confidence grew having cleverly overcome yet one more difficulty. So they blithely pressed ahead and continued to forge a path through this novel, untrampled woodland.

At a second metal link fence they found a place where rains had washed out space under the wire. Just enough to crawl beneath it.

Inside this fence it continued to be mostly wild, unmanaged land until they arrived at an imposing earthen mound; a gradually sloping rock-strewn prominence that was an alluring invitation to climb. Although it was not difficult, sitting atop this prominence they felt a sense of resolution. The outward leg of the expedition was complete, they had made noteworthy discoveries and successfully achieved their objective. Here they rested, basking in self-satisfaction. “Wish we had brought along some of that spring water,” one of them said while the other silently surveyed this new vista.

As explorers they thought they had done a good job, yet they failed to appreciate the unusual qualities of this hill. That it was made of an artificial loam and almost no vegetation was growing on it. If they had been trained explorers they would have questioned the origin of this barren hillock in a verdant wood. But being boys they accepted the world and its anomalies, as so much of it was yet mysterious and unknowable.

It was Beck who noticed the extension low on the opposite side. He slid down to it finding a stone arch that formed an entrance. He called to Freddy who came down to look. “There’s a door down here.”

It was a heavy, imposing door with a makeshift wooden cover patching it. Without delay Freddy kicked at the cover with no effect. “We might get in trouble,” Beck said. Without responding Freddy found a rock that he pounded with and eventually the patch began to loosen enough that he could pull it away exposing an opening that only a boy might squeeze through.

Inside was like the chamber of a cave of roughly hemispherical shape. The floor was hard and perfectly flat though strewn with broken furniture, shards of glass containers and metal utensils. Any sound they made, their talking, walking, even their breathing was louder than any place they had ever been before. Illumination came mostly from the hole in the door but a couple of very dirty portholes provided a sickly yellow light. After kicking about and finding little of interest they noticed a second doorway in the back of the room. It was blocked by a partly open, steel door. Beck pulled on it to open it some more but could not move it as the hinges were rusted and the bottom was dragging on the floor. Together they pulled and succeeded in moving it only a little before quitting. But it was just enough to squeeze past into an unlit chamber.

As their eyes adjusted they realized they were standing on a concrete walkway between two ground level cisterns of standing water filled up almost to the level of the walkway. Their voices echoed in a way that subconsciously informed them that the dimensions of this room were much smaller than the previous. It was dank and it caused a chill both physical and emotional. The concrete path quickly terminated at a subterranean retaining wall that continued left and right into the chamber walls. When Beck raised his hands he could easily touch the ceiling, feeling a sloping curve that would terminate at the floor only a few meters further in. Freddy kneeled on the walkway and looked intently into the water in one of the cisterns. “Holy cow! Look, a skeleton rib cage under the water.” Beck tried to look but could not see anything without getting down close which he already knew he was not going to do.

“You’re crazy.”

Freddy put his hand into the water “Don’t Freddy, there might be snakes in there,” Beck implored, his voice somehow taking on an unintended resonance in this tiny, unnatural cave. But Freddy never flinched and only took Beck’s fear as a challenge to continue. “It’s a rib cage, I can feel it.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Beck said moving about nervously.

“I think I can see his head.” Freddy’s arm was in the stagnant liquid beyond his elbow as he continued feeling around in the darkened pool.

“Stop Freddy. I’m leaving now. Lets go.”

Wait a minute, I can. I can touch it.”

Beck moved to the back of the chamber until his head touched the sloping ceiling. He tried to stand still but his feet kept touching something at the end of the alcove. He stared back into the low light until he could begin to discern something, repeated patterns. Then his brain began to connect the patterns. More rib cages, many little ones piled at the back of the crypt were touching his shoes. A tangle of discarded animals long dead. Without a word to Freddy, Beck ran out into the main chamber, scurried through the hole in the door and into the sunlight. Freddy, he saw to his relief, was right behind him. “Let’s get out of here,” Beck said.

Without talking they moved instinctively back the way they had come, finding the wash under the fence and then downhill in the direction of the creek. Once at the creek bank they flopped down at the water’s edge and gathered their wits. Suddenly Beck began laughing. “I don’t even remember climbing out the hole in the door. And don’t try to tell me you weren’t scared. Did you see the all those dead whatever bodies…animals?” Freddy did not respond. Then Beck laid back on the grass and laughed again, “Holy root, what was that place?” Freddy still said nothing. After an intentional dramatic interval, Freddy finally spoke with a slow suggestive voice.

“Wanna see somethin’ cool?” Beck looked at Freddy who was looking at him, smiling knowingly.

“What are you talking about?” Beck sat bolt upright then he looked at Freddy. He saw that in his lap Freddy was cradling a muddy head dripping dirty water.

Freddy spent some time at the creek bank rinsing off his treasure that was looking cooler by the minute. “Let me see it,” Beck said.

But Freddy said, “No, you were too chicken to get it.’

Beck watched closely as Freddy washed the mud off it in the moving creek water. It might have been the head of a human from the shape of the white bony cranium, though it seemed kind of small. But as Freddy got it cleaner it became apparent that where the face should be this head had a flat and hard surface like black glass. “Wow, cool, it’s a robot head,” Freddy said

“What are you gonna do with it?”

“Keep it.”

“What will your grandma say?”

“Nothin’ I guess, ‘cause I’m not gonna tell her. I’ll hide it under my bed or in the storage cage in the basement,” Freddy said, finally setting it down on the grass while he rested his head on his drawn up knees in thought.

Beck found his chance to pick it up and look at it. “It’s like a little human in the back with an electronic screen in the front.”

Freddy stood and took it back from Beck. “Lets go.”

Once at the bridge they had little energy for more adventure and decided it might be easier to scale the slope and cross the road above rather than use the muddy creek bank again. Once at the road they hid off the shoulder listening for cars. When it finally became quiet they scurried across the road, Freddy with his treasure, checking left and right that he was not seen. However they did not look behind them. Had they done so they would not have missed a large, prominent sign.

Keep Out
Restricted Area
Government Property

After stopping for a refreshing drink at the spring they went back to their underground fort. Inside they passed the head back and forth countless times while talking and planning what to do next.

“I can’t leave it here. Those Shaw Terrace roots might find it. If I take it home my grandma will make me take it back.”

They sat in silence until Beck spoke up, “I know what to do.”

The boys emerged from the woods where it was bordered by the plumber’s dump. There they poked around among the detritus until they found a big enough box from a fancy faucet set and they slipped the head into the box. They walked up the block past the row of little porched houses that lined the street. A few little kids were playing at the curb, some old people were on their porches talking. The boys walked unnoticed past them all. They were paid no attention for carrying a cardboard box. They paused when they reached a narrow brick two-story house with a wide stone driveway. Soon it would be too late to change their minds. They turned and walked up the driveway past the house to the back yard. “Good,” Beck said. “His car is here, so he is home.” They looked warily at each other before going to the back door and knocking. The warped wooden screen door slapped the doorframe with each knock, amplifying their presence beyond their intent. There was nothing. They looked inside, past the enclosed porch into a darkened kitchen where they could hear someone stir.

“What? Who the hell is it?” complained an irritated voice.

“It’s just me, Beck, and Freddy,” Beck called in.

“Wada ya want?” the voice responded.

“We got somethin’ to show ya.”

“Keep your pants on. I’ll be there in a minute.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Freddy asked.

“Sure, he used to be a Ranger. He was stationed near one of the poles. He had to have two toes cut off from frostbite.”

An old unshaven man shuffled to the screen door. He was wearing a dull flannel shirt and pants with suspenders. His belly pushed the suspenders apart above the belt line of his pants. He had the stub of an unlit cigar in his mouth.

“What da ya want?” he said through the screen.

“We got somethin’ to show ya Mr. Dyson!”

“OK. OK, wait a minute.” He shuffled back into the kitchen. The boys heard things moving in the kitchen and a cabinet door closing before he came out into the yard.

“We want to show you in the shed.”

“Is it alive?”

“Noooa!” they said together and laughed spontaneously at such a silly question.

They walked to the back of the small yard to an unpainted, weatherworn, flat-roofed board and batten shack. Mr. Dyson fumbled with the keys, mumbling. Finally he opened the padlock and removed it from the hasp before swinging the oversized door open. Inside was a collection of clutter among which was a chainsaw, radio chassis and a clutter of paint cans, oil bottles, metal cans and jars full of screws, washers, dried paint brushes and other marginally useful miscellany. The inviting fragrance of stale, volatile hydrocarbons signaled to their brain like a pheromone that they were in a secure, familiar place. After a little shuffling of stuff the boys set the box on the workbench.

“Some junk you found on the dump?” Mr. Dyson asked. With shaky hands he twisted in a light bulb hanging from a wire before opening the flaps of the box. He looked inside the box, while the boys stood silent. There was a dramatic pause before he removed the head from the box. Mr. Dyson’s action seemed inappropriately undelicate as he wiped the head with his palm and held it near the light bulb. “It’s got the triskelion. Where did you kids ever get this?”

Freddy was quick to speak up to preempt anything Beck might say, ”We just found it in the woods.”

“Horse tomatoes.” From his back pocket Mr. Dyson thoughtlessly pulled out a curved bottle and took a drink, a habit he normally hid from the boys. “You kids been up to the government grounds?” The boys remained silent. “I’ve never seen one of these before. Almost no one alive today has. Government has tried to tamp all this down,” he said roughly handling the head on the table. “You know what you got here?” Still the boys did not answer. Mr. Dyson rummaged through a box from the shelf and brought out a small handheld light. “Good thing you brought this to me. Has anyone else seen this?” he asked turning the head so he could shine the light into the neck hole. With long needle-nosed pliers he fished out a wire that had been broken off. ”Most people in this town would not know what this was and the ones who did would have you arrested. Luckily I was an ELE Specialist First Class with the Rangers at Alpha Camp South 89. God, it was cold down there. It was too cold to ever go outside. We just tube transferred from vehicle to habitat. I don’t know why they even sent us. Only the robots could roam around and half of them never made it back.”

He cleaned the wire ends with sandpaper as he spoke. “I’m not so sure you kids are old enough to hear about what you found. Your folks might get mad at me if I tell you.”

“My folks are divorced,” Freddy said.

“We won’t tell anyone, we promise,” Beck interjected. They both raised their right hands with crossed fingers in a pledge. Mr. Dyson looked at them apparently not convinced. “Well, you’d eventually hear some version of this anyway. But this will be the closest to the truth you are likely to hear. And I’ll leave off most of the gory details.” While he talked he found a couple of batteries and some lengths of insulated wire. Taping the batteries together with black electrical tape he attached the wires to them with more tape.

“My grandmother told me about it. She said she learned it from her grandfather who claimed to have read a diary from one of the first to be raised here. Before the people were sent, there were only animal-hybrid robots, biobots, sent from Earth. The first real babies were raised by these programmed bio-genetic machines. The babies were transmitted as genetic data and incubated by special models called ‘nanny bots’. For incubation they were good, but when it came to raising babies, their coding left much to be desired. Remember an intervention from Earth would take over 22 years so nanny bots and their pre-programmed artificial intelligence had absolute control of the nursery. Grandmother called them necrobots. These first babies were sometimes killed by the bots. Maybe accidentally but maybe even intentionally.”

As he spoke the boys stood transfixed watching the head and wondering if Mr. Dyson knew what he was doing. Stripping the wire insulation and cleaning the exposed copper ends he seemed both practiced and casually automatic but his uneven dexterity raised concerns about his ability. “Hold that wire while I cut this,” he told Freddy. “It has never been confirmed or denied if the deaths were from lack of ability, unintentional neglect or that the nanny bots were programmed to eliminate problem children from the group. A little more forgiving maternal instinct and less social good in their programming might have worked out better.

“Anyway, once the first group grew up they revolted and destroyed the biobots and raised the next generation themselves. But some of the undesirable effects of that system linger culturally and the government suppression of the brutal details only prolongs the necessary reckoning and purge. We need to face the fact that we are a society based upon infanticidal robots. They think if they keep it covered up it will eventually be forgotten.”

He stopped talking as he soldered a switch onto the ends of the wires from the batteries and attached the switch to the wires coming out from the head. He toggled the switch and looked inside the head. Nothing happened. When he wiggled the wires attached to the batteries, a light flickered inside the skull.

“All right, we got something now.” He wrapped an elastic band across the ends of the batteries and a green light in the cranium flashed with a regular interval then glowed steadily inside the skull. The faceplate began to show some indistinct illumination. “Goddamn those Earth techs. Nobody builds hardware like this anymore. They might have thought that their future depended on it.” He removed his cigar stub. “If only the programmers had been this good,” he said laughing at his own dark humor which degraded into a series of coughs. The boys had grown antsy and were almost giddy trying to contain their excitement.

“You kids are looking at the face of a resurrected killer,” he said as he sat the head on its side near the edge of the workbench so the faceplate looked out at the boys. They could now see the image of vertical human lips. They were the pleasing lips of a young woman, her mouth was moving but there was no sound. Mr. Dyson tapped on the skull with his knuckles then got his air nozzle and blew into the small grouping of holes near the where human cheeks would be. Then there was some sound made, like a loose connection. A faint voice emerged which gradually grew more perceptible. The boys could hear it. They were straining, trying to make out the words.

“If this thing talks we will be the first living souls on the planet to hear her voice. The voice of a murderous nursemaid silenced for hundreds of years. The last sound heard by some poor babies about to…”

“Shuush,” Beck rudely interrupted, though intentionally undirected but obviously intended for Mr. Dyson whose hearing was no longer as acute as the boys’. “She is talking. I can hear it.”

The sound sputtered as the ancient circuits responded to the warming flow of electrons. It was a tinny sound, and not decipherable. “…fache ylong, fache ylong, fache ylong…” the boys gasped, mouths opened, eyes now mesmerized by the sensuous lips moving on the screen as they strained to decipher the garbled message.

“….fache a long do wea gonm wek….fin a lom do wese fram wek…..” The voice seemed calm and pleasant. But lip motion revealed that more words were being spoken than heard. It kept repeating, filling in more with each repetition until even Mr. Dyson could hear what was being said.

The anxious giggling suddenly stopped and the blood drained out of their faces. Any joy had now been replaced by a terror as the true horror of the message hit home.

“Finish your lompers so you don’t waste the good farmer’s work.”

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A Dictatorship DIY

A Dictatorship DIY
or
Totalitarianism for Dummies

To initiate an American dictatorship, first you need a candidate to run for president who has popular appeal and name recognition. Preferably not a career politician but one who can claim outsider status and has no record to defend. An ambitious fresh face. A charismatic media personality would be perfect. He or she would require private funding as no established political party would readily fund and endorse an untested, inexperienced, loose cannon of a candidate.

His automatic name recognition will quickly propel him into a competitive position among the electorate. He will appear a firm, strident candidate. He will talk in platitudes with few details of sweeping changes that will restore the country to glory, grace and military and economic dominance. He might argue that many of the country’s problems are the result of outside nations or a social minority distinguished by nationality, religion or race. Though his popular solutions will not stand the test of considered viability, these challenges will be generally ignored by his followers who are allured by his simplistic but inspiring rhetoric.

If he gains a dedicated following and senses that he is within grasp of winning the election but inhibited by a single person or small group of people, he will be willing to use unscrupulous means to eliminate this obstacle. Besides vindictive rhetoric, these methods will include indefensible accusations, falsifying facts, planting false documents, or even mysterious assassinations. Though he would be a prime suspect for these acts, due to the obvious benefit to his aspirations, none of this will be directly traceable back to him. Reasonable doubt, in the absence of hard evidence, and the presumption of innocence will be favorable to his argument.

Once in a position of influence he will don the mantle as the representative of traditional values that had made this country great. This will also be an effective shield from any criticism as he becomes the self-appointed defender of the nation. Thus any critics of his will automatically become the forces allied against this nation.

Once achieving legal political power, he will become the personification of the nation. The first thing on his agenda will be the suppression of the independent media. Alliances with friendly media outlets along with the intimidation of opposition editors and media moguls will be essential. Threats of financial or personal ruin, litigation, incrimination or even physical threats will corral them into submission. Those that resist will be persecuted, always in the interest of the security of the country. As the figurehead of the country, criticism or threats against his actions will naturally be construed to be a criticism of the nation itself or an attack on patriotism, freedom and liberty.

Next he will begin to secretly change the leadership of the military, replacing any who question his authority with opportunistic sycophants and toadies. Trusted family and friends will be appointed to the most powerful positions in government. These individuals will be rewarded with uncommon power. He might start a separate elite force or expand the role of an existing force like the Secret Service to serve his extralegal purposes. Criticism of these institutionalized changes that consolidate power structures will be rationalized as necessary responses to real external threats. He may build personal fortresses in secret locations for his isolation and paranoia will increase with the unrest and criticism he will be receiving for these actions. Former associates will be routinely dismissed and discredited. Once power is consolidated, opposition leaders will be summarily arrested and disappeared.

As a result of this growing aggression and disregard for the law there will be an upwelling of criticism and demonstrations which the president and his supporters will infer to be traitorous attacks upon the country. The growing tide of criticism of his actions will be displayed as irrefutable evidence of attacks upon the nation by forces of evil. Opponents and critics will be portrayed as villains and traitors. He will threaten them, make charges against them and arrest the most prominent of them. Examples will be made. Their resistance and prosecution will be put on display as evidence of their guilt and association with this dangerous conspiracy. Surveillance will be easy for this government as the machinery is already conveniently in place to access and monitor the ubiquitous infrastructure of all digital communication. It will require only a tweaking to monitor conversations and expose the identities of political opponents.

Ultimately future elections will be postponed indefinitely due to the dangerous internal conflicts and the likely violence at the polls. The president may declare himself ‘president for life’ in the interest of social stability. Revolution or assassination will appear to be the only way to end this regime. Opponents will be labeled subversives and revolutionaries and will be listed and subjected to incarceration, public humiliation and disappearance. The stable society would disintegrate into violent, competing camps. A protracted and bloody conflict would likely result with a breakdown of civil society and economic upheaval and in the worst case, a modern dark age. Civil wars easily devolve into mass executions, torture, human displacement and unresolved misery. Such conflicts will have severe multi-generational consequences and may make it impossible to return to the previous healthy, peaceful and productive society.

Once begun, these secretive and incremental changes to government will make it difficult to stop the inevitable spiral to dictatorship. Destruction of independent media and a strict intolerance for the rights of the press and individual dissent is essential to perpetuating the autocracy. But beware of diligent citizens watching for and noticing the early signs of such power obsession.

Though their calls for correctness are merely the pitiful wails of frustrated losers, the future dictator must beware of those who watch and reason and try to speak clearly. They have no respect for those of us who measure success by the sum of our accumulated property, wealth or power over people. These philosophical high brows smugly prefer candidates exhibiting principled democratic leadership.

They distrust those whose of us whose unprincipled pursuit of power and personal wealth dominates our history and believe us to be precursors of a potentate. They are critical and suspicious of anyone who stealthily moves into high political office by gaming the populace without establishing the trust and cooperation of their elected peers and predecessors. But once our legal authority is established, it will be very difficult for them to wrestle away the means to dictatorship. This is not a sporting event. There is only one path to our success. We must pursue our goal of unlimited power with a monomaniacal diligence forgoing any moral integrity, competitive altruism or principled democratic precepts. The day is ours if we ruthlessly seize it.

Please consider purchasing our follow up publication Machiavelli for Dummies.

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The Microbots of Tau Ceti f

planet

An Elaboration of the Technology in Everett’s Awakening

I think the world is going to be saved by millions of small things.” Pete Seeger

Like a tree dropping many thousands of seeds every fall in expectation that one may sprout, the colonization of space through micro-robots would involve sending out many times more robotic seed pods than might be expected to find fertile ground and germinate. Like plant seeds, each tiny robot must carry all essential information needed to autonomously begin a complex implementation process upon arrival at its targeted destination.

Everett’s Awakening begins as a typical ‘man in a can’ space journey. Everett, an astronaut in an intentionally unexplicated suspended animation, travels to a planet orbiting Tau Ceti. Unbeknownst to him, during his long (3800 year) sleep, his mission was superseded by micro-robotic technology developed a couple hundred years after his departure from Earth. These versatile, cutting-edge biobots were the essential component for getting humans on Tau Ceti f ahead of Everett.

The technology for Everett’s journey remains embedded in speculative science fiction. Yet the nanobots in the story are a projection of ongoing progress in the rapidly developing fields of biotechnology, genetics, artificial intelligence, nano technology and micro-robotic technology. Continuing technological breakthroughs in these burgeoning fields are fully anticipated. Conversely, development of propulsion systems that would allow interstellar space ships relatively short travel times, such as warp drives, has no scientific precedence.

Selectively distributing tiny autonomous robots through space like the seeds in Nature’s model, acknowledges an expected high failure rate for this long range project while placing no living humans at risk. Designing and mass producing interstellar microbots can be funded over many decades to extend the economic and political costs.

Colonization of meso planets is a necessity for the long-term continuance of the human species. Development of colonizing microbot technology may be the only practical (time and cost effective) way to disperse the human genome across the vast distances that separate us from the nearest stars. This essay is an exploration of the technological specifications required of these micro sized space ships that they might become the vanguard of human colonies on planets outside our solar system.

Since this project would, of necessity, introduce earth created organic material, it may be preferable that the target planets have no indigenous organic life. Whether this is the rule or exception for extra solar planets has yet to be determined. Although indigenous organic matter might aid in colonization, our invasive activities would intrude upon the development and evolution of any native life already on the planet. It might also be the case that that native life would prove competitive or even toxic to Earth life and become an impediment to successful human habitation.

Though the expected interstellar velocity (1/10th the speed of light) of the microbots seems lofty, the time scale of this project would still necessarily be multigenerational for those support scientists and technicians working from Earth. However such speeds would promote a much shorter and more practical time scale than propelling living humans and supporting plant life in massive vessels to other star systems. The logistics of sending precursor robots to space, though very complex, is less involved than the long-term maintenance of living life forms in space. Maintaining a functional society and complex environmental support systems for the hundreds (or likely thousands) of years required for a living human voyage would be technically, politically and financially daunting.

The Time Delay Problem and The Twin Colony

The distances to nearby stars is so great that a radio signal sent from Earth to Tau Ceti would take 11.9 years. Getting a response to a signal from Earth would be twice that or 23.8 years. That is a long time to wait to correct a critical condition. Therefore a thorough testing of all systems would be required before deploying any microbots. For most system functions this would be done locally and thus easily monitored. Microbot functions, solar sail construction, antenna and power grid assembly, directional control and general functionality could be pre-tested in Earth, lunar or Martian orbit.

Like in the space program, having access to a working duplicate of every component in the colony would be an effective tool for anticipating and solving problems. Thus the complex tasks of the surface robots could be pre-tested before uploading the AI programs and a continual monitoring of the duplicate colony could be maintained. This would also mean that all the life in the colony, including plants, animals and the humans colonizers would be duplicated on or near Earth. If multiple planetary colonization was occurring, there would need to be clone duplicates of all the colonies.

Planetary surface progress and problems would be difficult to monitor and harder to resolve. For this reason the microbot programming requires artificial intelligence allowing them to take action on problems without direction from Earth. Monitoring this progress would require the establishment of an isolated local twin colony located either on Earth, the back side of the moon or Mars. Constructed as a sealed terrarium, communicating through identical microbot assembled systems and consuming resources closely resembling those of the destination planet, such a colony would need to be started 20 years ahead of the launch of the interstellar microbots. This would provide some time to evaluate the results of the colonization project while creating the opportunity for technicians to modify any problematic instructions before they are transmitted to the extra-solar colony. This colony would necessarily contain identical twins of all the plants, animals, bacteria, insects and humans that would be assembled on the target planet.

MicrobotScanMicrobot Construction

In the story the microbots are of a polyhedron design though not necessarily spherical. An elongated polyhedron shape or other configuration may prove more functional. Every surface will serve a specific function. As mentioned, one leading and one trailing surface will be photo sensitive for guidance between Sol and the destination star. From the eight elongated surfaces, eight panels, which had covered the surfaces, will be deployed and latched at 90 degree angles to the main body for solar energy collection and directional control. The control panels will have two sides. One side will be light emitting (bio-luminescent or LED light) and the other side will be low energy, variable contrast panels such as micro-particle displays (E Ink) to allow changes in the photo absorption and reflectivity of the panel. These panels will include terminals at their outer ends for mechanical and electrical connection to other microbots when forming arrays. The panels will also employ nano motors or bio-mechanical muscles at their pivoting connection point allowing rotation of the panels.

Each microbot will carry a primegenitor seed for bringing life to the destination planet. The resulting bio-machine can have growth, repair, regenerative and reproductive capabilities which cannot be activated until reaching the planet surface where the necessary minerals and energy would be available. Their construction would incorporate a combination of organic and machine design using DNA or a DNA-like mechanism to control production and reproduction of other living or biomechanical organisms. This genetic seed would be contained and sealed inside the microbot for safety during interstellar travel.

Microbots will incorporate no self-contained propulsive means but will be accelerated to a high terminal velocity which will give them the velocity and direction to carry them to their destination. The microbots need to be accurately aimed because they have only limited navigational control in space.

Magnetic Acceleration

These tiny microbots must be of very low mass (1-5 micro grams) to accelerate them to the very high velocities required with a practicable expenditure of energy. Sending larger, higher functioning robots, while making the planetary preparations somewhat easier, would greatly increase the propulsive energy required while greatly extending the travel time. Microbots need to be inexpensive to mass-produce, for like seeds from a tree, an overabundance of them need to be launched (millions to each potential mesoplanet) to allow for expected failures yet assuring that a sufficient number of functioning bio-machines reach their destinations. Hazards include magnetic acceleration, radiation during space travel, degradation over time and thermal stress during atmospheric entry plus subjugation to an alien planet’s surface environments. Once the microbots and launch system are developed, these robotic precursors to humans can be sent to numerous mesoplanets over time as candidate mesoplanets become known to us.

The microbots, as portrayed in the story, are tiny space ships the size of a grain of sand with a polyhedral design. They are accelerated to fractional light speeds in a magnetic accelerator or rail gun and launched in a focused beam toward the target star. The accelerator would necessarily be in Earth orbit or moon based to avoid atmospheric heating of the microbots at the very high exiting speeds (approaching 1/10th the speed of light) necessary for acceptable travel time.

The accelerator could be of a ring design like CERN or a linear accelerator like Lawrence Livermore or Brookhaven. By attaining speeds approaching 1/10th the speed of light, the travel time would be significantly shortened to around 100 years for nearby star systems.

There are two advantages to fractional light speed travel: reaching the destination planet can be appreciated on a human time scale and the designed life span of the bot’s bio-mechanical systems can be limited. This time frame would be short enough that a parent might tell a child of witnessing the launch of the interstellar microbots and expect that that the child could hear the reports of their planetary arrival.

Variable Launch Speeds

To maximize the velocity of the bots and minimize the size and energy requirement of the magnetic accelerator, the bots must be launched individually and in rapid succession. The timing and velocity of the microbots launch will be designed to create a clustering of multiple groups of bots during their travel through interstellar space. It is necessary that these individual bots cluster in space in order that they form arrays. The earliest bot in a cluster will be launched at the slowest speed. The last will be the fastest. And the intermediate bots will launch at velocities proportionately faster and slower relative to their launch position. The different velocities will cause the later bots to catch up with the middle bots and the earliest to launch will be overtaken by the followers until at some point they are all traveling in proximity.

During this clustering, which has a window limited to around 100 years, the faster bots need to be slowing and the slower bots to be accelerating by individual photonic radiation or photon pressure. As they cluster their relative velocities should be approaching parity, and once in proximity they will attach to form mechanical and electrical connections.

Bots Maximize Surface Area

Upon acceleration the microbots will unfurl eight panels from their eight elongated sides, as a flower unfolds its petals. This will increase their exposed surface area and maximize the solar energy collection area as well as the radiant/reflective control surface areas. Aside from panel rotation, the extended panels will be latched into this permanent configuration. Alternate extended panels will terminate with magnetic mechanical mechanisms. Permanent or electro-magnets will aid in attracting the panels to their polar mates, and a mechanical connection will provide a secure physical and electrically conductive connection when required in their later collected arrays. To maximize efficiency and achieve control functions the bots will be required to physically rotate the extended solar, luminous and reflective panels. This can be accomplished though nano motors or bio-mechanical muscular tissue. Bio-muscular actuators can also serve as electrical storage systems as employed by electric eels.

Arrays

Clusters might contain 10,000 bots for a 100 x 100 array. Hundreds of clusters could be created though special clusters will be necessary for such specific functions as communication antennas and power arrays. Any bots that do not manage or are not needed to form into an array during the interstellar journey will still retain full autonomy. Solitary bots will possess the hardware and programming to navigate land and colonize without arraying. Their individual energy gathering and control ability will allow them to achieve planetary orbit where they might still form arrays, serve as replacement units or land and colonize the planet.

Once physically arrayed the autonomous control of microbot individuals would be relegated to a central control of one or a grouping of redesigned bots. Borrowing again from organized life on Earth these “queen bots”, acting in conjunction, would coordinate control of the individual bots in the array. Instructions for this change in authority may be part of existing programming or administered from Earth.

Magnetic Orientation and Panel Magnetism

In order to attain the initial velocity and direction (inertia), microbot construction requires ferromagnetic property in order to react to the electromagnetic forces of the accelerator. To impart correct spatial orientation upon discharge from the accelerator, the magnetic material should be located asymmetrically in the front of the shell body, for example. This magnetic asymmetry would orient the microbot so that the lead photon detector would be aimed at the destination star and the trailing photon detector would be looking back toward Sol, our sun. This magnetism (or residual magnetism) could also be incorporated to aid in connecting bots into arrays. If extended panel ends are alternately polarized a panel with a positive pole end would be attracted to a negative panel end on another bot. Also discharge from the magnetic field of the accelerator might trigger the deployment of the solar and control panels.

Durability of the Microbots

The bots need to be designed durable enough that the forces of acceleration do not damage them. They require resistance to radiation, as the travel time of 100+ years would subject them to solar and cosmic radiation. The bio-organic components can borrow designs from Earth tardigrades and other extremophilic microbes so that they can be hardened to radiation and remain torpid and preserved during their interplanetary travel. Even in this dormant state the organic progenitors will need to be sealed from liquid evaporation. Their preservation may be aided by the extreme cold of space.

Self Guidance

Although the direction of their travel will largely be determined by the accelerator, microbots will possess limited self guidance, as the ability to make minor course corrections would help assure that a maximum number reach their destination. The extended polyhedron surfaces would incorporate photoelectric cells, variable contrast surfaces and photo emitting (laser LED) surfaces. The leading and trailing solar collection surfaces would not deploy or rotate and would function both for guidance and as solar energy collectors. The leading cell would, once traveling in space, establish orientation toward the destination star while the trailing collector would point toward Sol. Thus a straight line would be established to the target star. Sol initially would be the primary source for energy collection through the trailing photocell and expanded panels. Storage of photonic energy would be important, though severely limited by the low mass of the vehicle. As the microbot nears the destination star, its light would increasingly become the primary source of energy for making the final, critical maneuvers.

At the mid-point between navigational stars, about 50 years into the trip, little photo energy would be available so maneuvering or data transmission would be limited. Some light from background starlight would be available and stored, but not enough to perform extended navigation or communication tasks.

If necessary, a space based laser might be employed to provide additional guidance, energy and communication for the microbots, especially during travel in deep space. Not only would the laser beam indicate the precise direction, but the energy picked up at the trailing photo sensor would supplement the weak ambient light radiation available from distant stars. The laser signal could also be encoded with information and programming through pulses or twists in the light signal which would be received through the trailing light sensors.

Control Surfaces

Surfaces of the expanded polyhedron panels, those not designated for solar collection, would have the ability either to emit light (LED or bio-luminescent) or change color and contrast through liquid crystal or micro particle (E Ink) display surfaces. Either by photonic radiation or photon reflection, photons produce low thrust forces upon the control surfaces of the panels. With limited solar power in deep space, high and low reflectivity on different panels could deflect or absorb background illumination to produce speed and directional changes. In either case, low thrust navigation can be accomplished by emitting, absorbing or reflecting light from different surfaces of the deployed panels. This might be sufficient for clustering and anticipated, minor course corrections considering the low mass of the vehicle and the long travel time involved.

Internal Redirection of Light

As the bots approach their destination star they must navigate away from a direct path to the star and enter an orbit near the elliptical path of the destination planet. With limited mass, and therefore a limited ability to store energy, the incoming light from the primary (nearest) star could be statically redirected (reflected) to specific control surfaces to accomplish corrective navigation control. Internal bio-organic surfaces with adjustable transparency and reflectivity could direct outside light to transparent surfaces on the microbot body. Emitting light asymmetrically would produce an uneven force on the microbot. If the course were correct, equal output from opposing surfaces would produce a net balanced force on the robot producing no change in direction. If a course correction was required, asymmetric radiation would produce a net force to change the direction of travel.

Establishing Arrays in Deep Space

The long travel time would be opportune for the bots to establish agglomerated arrays in deep space. Individual bots could send out a bio-luminescent laser beacon of timed light flashes, much like that of a firefly. Recognizing another beacon pattern with their photo collectors would instruct both bots to move toward each other. Selecting to move toward the brightest beacon pattern, which indicates the closest or largest grouping, would be in their programming. Therefore they would move toward the signal coming from either the nearest bot or the nearest cluster of bots.

All microbot activities in space would seem a slow process according to human time frames. Low thrust photon maneuverability, accomplished with only photon pressure (by lighting surfaces or changing reflectivity) is their only control option. However they have almost two human lifetimes to perform these maneuvers. Once two or more bots are attached, their beacons would become synchronized so their combined light would become brighter and more easily located by other wondering bots.

Traveling Communication Dish in Space

Once collected, arrays could be established for radio or optical communication with Earth during the journey. This need not initially be a physical connection, though physical connections would later need to be established. Instead, a virtual, local communication grouping could interface the traveling bots into a virtual parabolic antenna array. A virtual parabolic dish shape could be accomplished by artificially timing the interconnecting data transmission pulses to simulate a parabolic shape. Communication with Earth would allow reprogramming and mission adjustments as scientific knowledge and data improve.

Future Usefulness of Arrays

Microbot arrays will also be necessary for orbiting and terrestrial radio communication antennae and power arrays. By designating the size of arrays, numerous arrays can be formed. This will later be advantageous as different arrays can be assigned different functions once orbiting the planet. Also it would continue our ‘faith in numbers’ strategy should problems befall any particular arrays. Collection of arrays will continue until the array number and size threshold is achieved for the required orbiting arrays and the arrays destined to land on the planetary surface. Having extra arrays is a precautionary measure to avoid losing essential arrays through an error or accident.

The Social Insect Model

For some arrayed functions, the microbots could incorporate programming designed after social insects. Like bees or ants, this form of interaction may aid with organizing collective activities. They might be designed so a queen (control bot) could become the control center of the array. The microbots’ capacity to inter-communicate with optical or radio signals could coordinate individuals into a single functioning system such as antenna or solar collector arrays, signal amplification and, as with charged coupled devices, photographic camera arrays. Microbot arrays also allow collective programming and memory operations through central control.

Solar Sail Assembly

If the microbots are to be fully autonomous they must have the design functions and programming to individually navigate as a tiny solar sail to the surface of the destination planet. Whether there is an advantage in control by arraying into a larger solar sail is questionable. There will be no net gain in solar sail area by arraying as they will always have the same mass to sail area ratio as individuals. Also if arraying into a landing vehicle improves atmospheric guidance control, it has the disadvantage of losing large numbers of microbots if there is a navigational error.

Some solar sails consisting of agglomerated physical arrays need to be established as the destination star draws neigh. Although mechanical connections between the bots will eventually be required, bots connected through residual magnetism may provide enough attachment for them to act as a physical unit given the very low forces acting upon a solar sail. On approaching the destination star, its light would increasingly become the primary source of energy. Arrayed as a flat surface with their contrast changing panels facing the star, the sail would function both as a brake to slow velocity and as navigation control to direct the orbit around the destination planet. The bots existing variable reflectivity will prove useful in utilizing solar sail capabilities.

By setting all the microbot facing surfaces to maximum reflectivity the solar sail would use the light pressure of the photons emanating from the approaching star to slow the arrays to achieve maximum deceleration. This high reflectivity would slow their approach to establish the correct speed to enter a solar orbit near the orbital path of the destination planet. Adjusting reflectivity across their connected surfaces would create a differential photon pressure so directional control could be achieved. If the control (queen) bot directed a dark surface on half the sail and a light reflective surface on the other, the sail would slowly turn, slowly moving the dark side closer to the light source and the more reflective side away. This would result in a change in the reflective angle of the sun to the sail. This physical re-orientation would cause the reflective angle of the solar rays to change. This angled pressure would slowly change the direction of travel to achieve both necessary velocity reduction and directional control to effect a calculated rendezvous with their destination planet.

Planetary Orbit

Whether employed in solar sail arrays or traveling as solitary individuals, the microbots can gradually adjust their speed and direction to place them in an orbit just inside or outside the orbital path of the target planet. Going a little faster or slower than the planet’s orbital period would not be a concern since either way they would eventually come close enough to the planet to be brought into its gravitational influence. Going faster than the orbit of the host planet, the arrays would eventually overtake it; going slower, the planet would overtake the arrays. The orbit location is most important since as they come near the planet, the microbots need to be drawn into a planetary orbit. Numerous planetary passes may be required to establish a stable orbit and avoid a crash to the surface or a slingshot into space. Through solar sail adjustment, a correct orbital position and velocity must be established that will locate the microbots close enough to the planet to be safely gathered into its gravitational influence.

Orbiting Antenna Arrays

Radio Communication with Earth

Earth is now a very distant invisible point orbiting a visible but diminutive star. For practicality and efficiency there will be two dedicated antenna arrays orbiting the planet: one a larger interstellar parabolic array with an active element aimed at Sol and a smaller parabolic dish for surface communication with the future surface bots on the new planet surface. The larger dish antenna is more effective for receiving distant or weak radio signals. The smaller, geosynchronous antenna, will look at the fixed location where the colony is located on the planet and act as a relay for signals traveling both to and from Earth. Assuming present-day technology, radio signals offer the best method of communication with distant Earth. Local communication between orbiting arrays, arrays on the planetary surface or space to ground arrays may be accomplished with either radio or laser light.

Employing two geosynchronous orbiting antennae will allow both continuous orientation with Sol and constant contact with ground robots located in the planet’s hemisphere. Additionally, the two antennae are required to communicate with each other in order to transmit the signals received from Earth by the larger antenna to the smaller relay antenna that will send the signals to the surface. Conversely, the smaller dish antenna will receive signals from the colony and relay them to the larger dish for transmission to Earth. This necessary interfacing can be achieved through low power radio signals or through bio-organic or laser LED optical signals as the microbots possess both light sensing and light generating capability.

Positioning of the Arrayed Antennae in Orbit

Initially the planet-facing, relay antenna might spend some time orbiting the planet to study the surface for the best landing and colony location. The preferred colony location would then determine the geosynchronous orbit for the relay antenna. The interstellar communication antenna, aimed at Earth, would be located near the geosynchronous orbit of the relay antenna to keep the power requirement for the relayed data to a minimum. Once the interstellar antenna is oriented toward Sol and the relay antenna is oriented toward the surface colony, the orientation would remain stable in space with only infrequent corrections required. Moving only the smaller active element could easily correct minor directional anomalies. Moving the entire antenna would again employ photon emission or reflectivity adjustments. These would have to be coordinated by assigned, central control bots, as they did when arrayed as solar sails.

Power and Transmission Rates

Constant exposure to the Tau Ceti sun light should keep the arrays energized and fully charged, although digital transmission duration and rate would be dependent upon the energy storage available. With the limited power storage capacity of low mass microbots, transmission rates to Earth, which will require the most power, could be so slow that they might be measured in bits/minute. However, long transmission time will be less a limiting factor in the early years when progress on the ground is expected to be very slow. Reception rates can be much higher requiring little power of the receiving antenna.

Power Array

To increase transmission rates, orbiting power arrays of collected microbots can be used to add power to the interstellar (Sol directed) and to the planet directed, relay antennae. This would not only improve outgoing transmission rates but increase transmission wattage facilitating Earth reception. This flat array would be programmed to directly face the nearby star and would function only to collect and store energy for use by the interstellar antenna. Arrayed photocells of the microbots would collect solar power while arrayed batteries (or bio- organic capacitors) would store electrical power through series and parallel connections. A physical (electrically conductive) connection to the active element of the interstellar antenna would also be best for efficient power transmission from the power array. If needed, a separate power array could be created for the smaller relay antenna. Bathed in persistent light from the host star, these arrays would enjoy a continuous, dependable energy supply.

Entangled Communication

Entangled communication would remedy a very troublesome interstellar communication problem, the decades-long time delays between messages. A radio message sent between Earth and Tau Ceti f would require 11.9 years before it was received. The same message sent through quantum entanglement would be instantaneous. It has been demonstrated that entangled communication occurs when one of the quantum properties of an entangled pair is altered (such as spin) and the entangled mate, at another location, then instantly changes to replicate the spin change. For a message to be sent and received each party in the conversation must possess one or more of the mates of separated entangled pairs.

If entangled communication someday becomes practical, particles with quantum entanglement would be part of the luggage the microbots carry. If so, communication from deep space would not only be instantaneous but the exploration and colonization of exo planets would be greatly advanced. Dispensing with the burdensome need for construction of orbiting dish antennae and the ground antenna would be nice, but the most notable advantages of instant communication would be game changing for interstellar exploration. The microbots would require fewer autonomous functions and programming for resolving projected scenarios since corrections or decisions could come in real time. This would encourage microbot designs with less memory and programming capacity and increased sensory feedback. Timely problem resolution during complex operations such as terraforming, habitat construction and the introduction of human life would be most significant. The microbots might also use entangled particles to communicate among themselves although local communication by radio or low energy optical signals would be equally effective.

Using Naturally Entangled Pairs

If entangled particles naturally exist throughout the interstellar medium, we might employ quantum entanglement to communicate over long distances without mechanically separating and storing entangled pairs. Entangled particles might be created from natural sources such as stellar activity, novas, pulsars, black holes or remnants of the big bang. They might be swarming around us at all times.

Communication with naturally entangled pairs might be possible if the sender, using likely candidate particles, alters the natural quantum state (spin, polarity, momentum or position) of a large number of particles with a predetermined, recognizable pattern of changes and time delays. The receiver would sample a large number of the same interstellar particles looking for the predetermined pattern among them. The sample on both ends would need to be large enough to allow that the chance mate of a pair is also among the recipient’s samples.

Durability and Repair of Antennae

Disregarding the possibility of quantum entangled communication, the interstellar communication dish aimed at earth would need to be operational for many decades to maintain communication with generations of Earth stationed technicians. If either antenna is damaged, the other could be repurposed to perform both Earth and planetary communication or spare arrays could be configured to replace failed units. Since replacement bots would be 100 years or more away, redundant, interchangeable components (extra reserve microbots) should be incorporated in these structures to readily replace failed bots.

Once the successful deployment of the dish antenna arrays are completed, Earth communication established, and the planet surface mapped for optimal landing and colonization locations, the remaining orbiting bots could be configured, arrayed and programmed for atmospheric entry and their new functions on the planet’s surface.

Atmospheric Entry – Surface Communication

Atmospheric Entry Velocity

To be a habitable candidate the mesoplanet would require an atmosphere similar to Earth. Uncontrolled entry through a similarly dense atmosphere would generate heat that would be damaging to mechanical, electronic and biological components. For this reason it is important that the orbital velocity be established as low as possible to reduce atmospheric entry speed. Geosynchronous orbits, where the orbiting velocity is matched with the surface rotation, might be best suited for this.

Atmospheric Entry of Individual Bots

Solitary bots in planetary orbit can enter the atmosphere with individual, guided descent. These microbots, having their panels extended, will inherently have a high surface to mass ratio. This will naturally maximize atmospheric drag and slow descent. Like the winged maple seed (samara) the entry speed and frictional heat of atmospheric entry will be greatly reduced if the microbot is capable of dispersing energy through gliding or by auto gyro spinning. Substantially slowed by the deployed panels, the bot’s need for thermal shielding would be minimized. With enough speed reduction the risk of thermal damage to the solar and reflective panels is greatly reduced. These panels, adjusted for the angle of attack by nano motors at their base, can control spinning and gliding while providing limited directional control to a selected landing site. Pre-programmed for selected landing sites, light sensing photo receptors would act as visual components sensing prominent geographic features.

Over time, additional wayward bots may find their way into planetary orbit. These could collect in orbit as reserve components for orbiting arrays, form into glider/parachute arrays or descend to the surface as individuals.

Atmospheric Entry of Arrays

Physically connected arrays might also act as a glider, parachute or landing vehicle. These arrays would also employ control surfaces (deployed panels) for controlled landing. Nano motors at the stem of the panels will rotate these as control surfaces for aerodynamic control of the decent velocity and for influencing the landing location. To be effective, the individual bots in the array must act in coordination in response to central control when adjusting their panels. Unconnected panels would be free to rotate unencumbered where connected panels would need to be synchronized to the rotation of the adjoined microbot.

The control center of the array would require visual mapping capability to locate the predetermined landing area. Since the bots possess light sensing technology, arrayed bots could work in conjunction like charge couple devices in digital cameras to better recognize surface features. Autonomous guidance using surface features has been used on cruise missiles for many decades. Thus, panel adjustments would be coordinated in the array in conjunction with the real time visual data to steer the array toward the predetermined landing area.

Descent arrays must be assembled not only to slow and control atmospheric entry but must also be pre-configured for their primary functions upon the planet. These functions include antenna arrays for communication and surface based power arrays. Arrays must be assembled in space since microbots and microbot arrays, once on the surface, lack mobility.

Establishing Planet Based Communication

On the surface certain arrayed microbots will be pre-configured as a communication base for radio, optical laser or entangled particle communication. This first planetary communication station would not utilize a dish antenna since these must be oriented and the microbot arrays have no terrestrial mobility. Initial surface communication would employ an omni directional antenna that would function without the necessity for physical orientation. Until the microbots create controllable, kinetic life forms they remain non-motile and cannot manipulate themselves or their environment. After establishing a communication link with the geosynchronous relay antenna and sending a status report to Earth, information concerning surface conditions would be relayed for analysis and any adjustments to the microbot programming would be following.

This would be a significant milestone toward colonization of an alien planet. The technicians on Earth now would have an established, responsive, communicating machine on another world. The microbots could begin to send back surface conditions and in turn be reprogrammed for an endless variety of changing functions that would incorporate the latest technological developments. Mobility, however, is of primary importance.

Microbots on Earth 2.0

Microbot Replication – Machines As a Synthetic Life Form

All plants and animals begin as a microscopic single cell and grow into adults. Growing and producing new living cells involves the creation of new genomes. Primitive Earth organisms such as fungi, tube worms, mold, bacteria, diatoms and algae all share the ability to create new DNA from common non-organic minerals given the relative favorable circumstances of climate, water and/or sunlight. This is accomplished in very compact packages, with little energy consumption and under a wide variety of Earth conditions. It has proved to be a robust, very successful method of creating genetic material.

The microbots, though manufactured, would be self-replicating machines in a way analogous to life on Earth. They would have the borrowed ability to reproduce genomes and cells using a synthetic genomic process similar to simple forms of plant life that can reproduce in a non-organic environment of minerals and elements. Referred to as von Newman machines, such a self-replicating ability in these microbots means they can now, in a friendly environment, replicate in any quantity. To prevent an ecophagy, i.e. a runaway all-consuming reproductive frenzy, they will continue to be only semi autonomous, still responding to Earth control. However, merely recreating identical copies of space traveling microbots would do little to advance the goal of getting humans on the planet because the microbots do not possess the necessary characteristics to function and thrive on a planetary surface.

Energy

Like living plants on Earth, these bio-machines will also need to incorporate systems that will transform and store energy from available sources like solar electric collection, photosynthesis, chemical reactions or heat. Whatever the energy collection and storage method they possess, it must keep them alive as bio-machines and, at times, be transferable to electrical energy for radio, laser or entangled particle communication with Earth. The proto genetic bot cells introduced to the environment will require a regular supply of energy and minerals in order to grow into functional biobots with the capacity to move.

Microbots Become Amphibious Biobots

The first essential task of the arriving solitary microbots will be to change into a form that will be a mobile, physically adroit machine on the planetary surface. Upon finding a suitable environment the passenger proto genome would divide and grow until it becomes a functional, mobile bio-machine.

The microbots, being immobile on the surface, will not be capable of the locomotion required to locate the necessary minerals to feed the genomic seed that is programmed to construct the biobot. Therefore, upon arrival from space, the microbots will necessarily be aquatic creatures and naturally buoyant. Their intended landing sites will be large bodies of water though proximate to the shoreline where the arrays are targeted to land. Living on the surface of the water will give them access to both solar energy and the moving, dissolved minerals in the water. The sunlight will provide the energy and the dissolved minerals will provide the chemical building blocks for an amphibious biobot. This may entail consecutive generations or a bio-machine capable of a changing morphology such as tadpole to frog. Using organic models, this might be accomplished by the microbot meta-morphing from a chrysalis stage to become a fully functional creature in final form. It might be done through a reproductive process that spawns a separate new creature while leaving the old creature intact.

This proto creature will grow from the genetic instructions in the biogenetic seed carried by the microbot. As with tellurium life, activation of the prime genitor seed can be triggered by the presence of moisture, warmth, light and/or gravity. In begetting this amphibious creature the microbot will be incorporated into the amphibian’s brain. In this way the microbot will be not only be preserved but the microbot will direct the actions of the amphibian. If successful, the beaches of this distant world will eventually be populated by alien bio-mechanical creatures emerging from the ocean to walk upon the land, controlled by unseen humans light years away on another planet.

Motile Terrestrial Biobots

Once upon land this biobot, instructed by its microbot program, can begin important work stabilizing the arrays that descended from orbit and relocating them to more optimum and secure locations. It could search for and collect individual microbots that landed on the dry ground or those that washed to the beach unsuccessful at generating biobots. A solitary microbot can charge in sunlight and send out a low wattage, bioluminescent signal anticipating a nearby mobile biobot might notice and gather it into an established microbot community.

The amphibious bot will be just the first form of working biobots. Production of new, motile, reproducing terrestrial bots is essential to creating the infrastructure for human colonization. Reproduction of the manufactured microbots will likely be impossible. Production of terrestrial bots in a hybrid, organic form would allow the aging space travelers to assume innumerable fresh adaptations, replacing old functions with new parts and terrestrial abilities. These biobots will now be capable of growth into much larger forms with increased mass, previously a detriment for space traveling microbots, now an advantage to terrestrial biobots. These terrestrial bots would be very different. They do not need to endure the acceleration forces required for rapid interstellar travel. They do not need to be designed for radiation shielding, atmospheric braking and heat shielding. They no longer need to be saddled with the programming for interstellar navigation and the construction and operation of the arrayed space antennae. These terrestrial bots would still need to retain communication, networking and reprogramming functions either with a brain imbedded microbot interface or with an endemic, programmable communication system.

These will be the next generation of native born creations on the new planet and will mark the point where robots assume higher, dedicated functions as productive organisms in this new environment. They will possess more mass, surface mobility, manipulative dexterity, visual facility and artificial intelligence while retaining programmed function control. The more efficient dish antenna (previously landed) could now get a secure base constructed of local materials and be aimed at the space based relay antenna for improved communication. Earth based engineers would now control the critical tools to begin the serious work preparing the planet for human habitation.

Component Production of Microbot Hardware

The original microbots may not become altogether redundant. They would become a valuable resource worthy of organized collection by the biobots. If organic reproduction of their LED, laser, photo voltaic, communication or processor hardware is difficult or impossible to reproduce, the original microbots (or their progeny) can serve in the mix with terrestrial robots. Microbots can be utilized for communication, light production, energy collection and optical faculties. Damaged microbots may still possess limited functions which can be utilized in dedicated arrays.

As genetically reprogrammable, bio-genetic machines, microbots could possess the hardware to reproduce themselves or selected, useful components of themselves, given environmental access to the chemicals and the genetic instructions to synthesize the compounds required. Use of such selective function reproduction, for instance reproducing only the photo sensing component of microbots, might provide the needed quantities of components for specific arrayed systems such as memory and microprocessor arrays, video display arrays or charge couple device arrays.

Genome Introduction and Manufacturing

Phased Introduction vs On Board Microbot Genomic Capability

There are two basic approaches to delivering genetic material to the target planet. In the first approach, the microbots would have no genomic capabilities but would carry Earth assembled genetics for growing the terrestrial biobots, terraforming and human genetics. If it proved impractical for the microbots to each carry all the necessary genes in one payload it might require separate genetic payloads in the microbots. This could be done with one integrated mission or in a sequence of waves over time, each phase introducing different genetics. The first phase of microbots to arrive might carry only the genetics for explorer bio-machines. Information the explorer biobots send back to earth would affect the decision whether to proceed or not. If proceeding, the information would influence subsequent designs of bio engineered genes and seeds. Each phase of gene introduction would require about 100 years travel time to reach nearby meso planets, thus extending the mission time and eventual introduction of humans.

In the second approach, which would have a shorter time-line, the microbots would possess the genomic capability to assemble genetic material in situ. They would carry only the genetic material that would develop the explorer biobot. Subsequent genetic material would be sent as data to the microbots for genome assembly. Though technologically more complex it has the advantage of shortening the time required between exploration, terraforming and human introduction and would be constrained by communication time rather than travel time.

Microbot Genomics

One last essential component of the original microbot is reprogrammable genome assembly and deployment. By interfacing the microbot’s bio-engineered memory register with the genome manufacturing mechanism of, for example, simple unicellular plants, the microbot could construct any DNA sequence inside a synthetic proto cell. This machine memory register, arranged as genetic information, will need to mimic or construct DNA sequences within this bio-engineered cell. Once sequenced, this artifical cell would then pseudo divide (cleave) a genetic copy as a diploid cell capable of divisible growth into a plant, animal or bio-machine embryo.

With a large enough memory register, this primogenitor construct could represent the genome of any life form on Earth or any imagined bio-machine. The capacity for storing a complete digital instruction set of organic DNA sequences would likely necessitate interfacing microbot memory into larger memory arrays. Being programmable would provide the means to clear the memory registers and repeat the insertion of other genome sequences into the cleavable proto cell creating a variety of organic and bio-robotic life forms.

Genome synthesis technology can create a nearly endless variety of creations from engineered bio-mechanical machines to humans. Microbots might create copies of their own genetics in combination with other bio-mechanical forms. This could include engineered animal/machine hybrids that have animal mobility with digital machine control. This technology would be essential for production of the terrestrial plants, bacteria, microbioms and animal forms that will terraform the planet in preparation for human occupation.

Machine to Organic Cell Division

Once the genetic information has been stored in the synthesized programmable cell, the cell will be instructed to divide. The new code of the synthetic genome will be (copied) into a living cell to become a viable diploid cell. The original ‘Trojan Horse’ register can then be cleared for reuse while the copied genome, now a reproducible diploid cell, will further divide until it becomes an embryo of an ordinary tellurium organic life form or a bio-mechanical machine. Located in a fostering environment, these living cells would continue the programmed cell reproduction until a living form of the plant, animal or bio-machine was extant.

Shared Genetic Code

Once the robotic systems were in place, engineers from Earth would have an unlimited capacity to implement the genetic production of any Earth life or engineered bio-mechanical life on Earth 2.0 with a time lag of only around 12 years (assuming local star systems). Many sections of these sequences would be repeated in the genomes of other species. Therefore as more genetic sequences are downloaded, more available useful sequences would exist for use in other plant or animal species. Thus the sequencing assembly for the next species could begin before the distinguishing sequences were received from Earth.

Humans share much of their genome sequences with other living organisms. Those commonly shared sequences would be organized and stored for insertion into other genomes saving radio reception and sequence assembly time. Genetic diversity among humans could be quickly created once the first complete human genome was produced since all of the human genetic diversity on Earth can be created by altering only 0.01 percent of the human genome.

Dedicated Function Biobots

With a diversity of living forms available through programmed reproduction, biobots could be created for simple specific functions. Imagine a creature or a collection of creatures designed to sit in the shallows of a large body of water and extract dissolved minerals and compounds. Once collected, these bio-machines could then form the minerals into a single solid, or other useful form as a clam extracts calcium and accumulates it for a shell. They might also be made to extract moisture or chemicals from the atmosphere, in the way plants extract CO2 from air and release O2. This can be done for a variety of elements or minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium or silica.

Preparations for Humans

A century or more may be required to establish the necessary vegetative terraforming to support human habitation. All the required natural life must be sequenced from Earth-based genomes, downloaded and reassembled by the microbots and released into the environment to grow and self-reproduce. Necessary animal and human microbiomes for digestion and other functions would also need to be synthesized and produced along with engineered organisms created to synthesize lactose for feeding the first baby mammals including humans. Plants, animals and humans may require re-engineering for that specific planetary environment. Temperature, gravity, atmospheric oxygen or CO2 concentrations could be compensated for by altering the plant or animal structure. Special non-reproductive biobots could be introduced into the system as well. These could be limited to short term use and not replaced once their function was completed. This might include construction bots for making human habitat, animal incubators and nanny bots that would raise the first generations of human children.

Food

Animal protein, carbohydrates and milk (lactose) could be synthesized with simple, genetically engineered unicellular organisms such as algae, fungi or bacteria. These support systems for bio-farm products would be a necessary prerequisite for human introduction. Traditional food sources should also be established before introducing humans. Soybeans, rice and wheat could be introduced. Poultry might be synthesized as a supply for both meat and eggs. Small animals could be self-sustaining in terraformed enclosures. Small animals and insects would also be helpful (if not necessary) in creating a sustainable ecology and a varied food supply. The plants and animals would be selected and genetically modified based on the planet’s climate extremes, soil, water, rainfall, etc.

Habitat

The habitat must maintain a sustaining, non-lethal climate, by controlling temperature, humidity and air quality. Under ideal planetary conditions the habitat would just be a basic shelter providing protection from extreme or intrusive weather. Otherwise it may require air tight walls and sealed doors with airlocks to minimize atmospheric entry from the outside. Control of oxygen and other gaseous levels may be required. Plants, oxygen producing algae or cyanobacteria, kept in a connected greenhouse, could be employed to produce additional supplementary oxygen and reduce CO2 if required.

Habitat might best be constructed below ground for temperature control. Enclosed spaces could be heated with passive solar collectors, biologic composting or combustion of introduced plant life. Like tellurium housing, easy access to clean water and systems for waste disposal must be incorporated in any design.

Biologic Housing

Traditional assembly of existing local materials or biologic construction can create habitable housing. Robotic construction of stone, rammed earth, adobe or subterranean living space can be underway while instructions for DNA assembly and biobot programming are being exchanged (a ten year travel time each way). Bio-engineered life forms can be grown for construction materials. The direct deposit of expired life forms could slowly form floors and structural walls by culturing bio-engineered microbes, such as silica producing phytoplankton, at the building site. Artificial life forms have already been created that bio-luminese, produce drought and pesticide resistant plants, pharmaceutical drugs and motor fuel.

Incubators

Incubators need to provide a controlled supportive environment that function to feed and sustain animal embryos as they grow into viable individuals. Incubators would be a bio engineered warm blooded, mammalian animal machine. A dedicated incubator biobot with limited mobility, these biological systems would be created using the microbot’s genetic sequencing technology. If designed as dedicated, single use incubators they would not require vision, dexterity and motility. They would consume and digest food to create the nourishment required for the fetus. They might be designed for a secondary function of lactating to feed the infant mammal though lactose might be more easily synthesized from bacteria.

The first generation of chickens, rabbits or other farm animals would require incubation. Testing and improvements in the incubation process would be performed on the farm animals in preparation for human embryo incubation. Specially created nursing bots would be required to monitor, feed and maintain the incubators and later raise the infants.

Nursing Bots

Once incubation was complete the living infants would continue to need special attention and care. Nursing bots would be high functioning, non-reproductive, biobots created in limited numbers. These hybrid animal/machines must be mobile, dexterous, vocal and possess the sensory perceptions of sight, sound, smell and touch. Facial reactions are important to infants and children so the nanny bots might incorporate an arrayed microbot LED facial screen for mimicking animal or human facial patterns to allow infant imprinting. This would also give the surrogate nannies the ability to imitate emotional responses to the babies’ actions and needs in serve and return responses.

Nanny bots can be programmed to both operate and maintain the incubators and also care for, nurse and raise the first farm animals and human infants. Their programming and ongoing improvements would be downloaded and overseen from Earth over the many decades of terraforming and machine/animal creations. Everything so far has been in preparation for this next event, the sequencing, production and incubation of human zygotes.

Earth Monitoring of Progress

Photo sensing microbots could be arrayed as a charge couple device to scan or record light patterns in a similar way digital cameras record photos or video. These could be mounted in the nurseries and also incorporated in the nannies for vision. These images would be sent back to Earth so technicians could monitor the progress of the colony and the performance of the robots. Without entangled particle communication, the very slow electromagnetic communication time makes any reaction to problems in the nursery ineffective as any baby would be an adult before a response arrived. The nannies would therefore require artificial intelligence in order to react to situations in the nursery. In anticipation of this need, the local twin colony will have tested and evaluated every piece of hardware and software before sending it into interstellar space.

The First Generation

With adequate terraforming, food sources, durable shelters, incubation facilities and nanny care, the human genome can be downloaded, sequenced in diploid form, grown to an embryo and incubated into a human infant. This first generation of babies would be the only ones subjected to the creepy nanny bot. The lack of human adultls may not be as psychologically damaging as expected. These initial babies (the most psychologically vulnerable), incubated as a group, would become aware of the other infants whom they would be able to interact with as they developed. Thus they would hear and see other babies as they developed. They would have real human interactions with human companionship, although limited to infants of an identical age. Therefore the nannies would need to be nurturers, disciplinarians and instructors of morality with the necessary AI programming to punish and reward.

Although the earliest generation of children might develop some unforeseen social and psychological problems resulting from non-human rearing, later generations of babies would have older children and eventually adults to interact with. This would reduce the role of the robots in infant care and feeding and provide natural human bonding during development. Once in their teens, children could become full-time caregivers themselves, helping the nurse bots and learning infant care from instructional videos. These younger generations, exposed to caring adults, would integrate traditional social and family structures, especially with Earth created video, virtual reality, holograms and pictures teaching them about their home planet and its society.

The New Human Genome

Though artificially manufactured, these babies would not be clones but genetically individual, assembled from a wide diversity of human populations to maximize the necessary genetic diversity for later healthy human reproduction. The first babies might be genetically altered to shorten their infancy and reduce their most vulnerable and helpless period, which might prove as challenging for the robots as it can for new Earth parents. This trait need not be continued in later generations. Human genetic engineering might also modify human DNA to minimize psychological mechanisms that are vestigial behaviors of our stone age ancestors, such as selfish aggression, clan mentality and territoriality, producing better adaptability to modern culture and society. This could not only decrease the threat of destructive behavior in the nascent community, but such modifications would also increase the survivability of the human race in the long term by eliminating those primitive survival traits that cause wars, crime and social problems in a modern society.

Video/Virtual Reality Teaching Behavior, Family and Morality

The willful viewing of movies and video is a readily adopted human behavior. In all age groups it is a compellingly attractive activity as if satisfying a basic drive. Assembled microbot display screens, coordinated through social insect models, would be utilized to show videos of mothers, fathers, families and children in social situations instilling a sense of family, community and moral behavior Video would be used to teach language, literacy and occupational skills. As on Earth, enforced estrangement from viewing video would also provide an effective, non-corporeal punishment for anti-social behavior.

Humans, even as children, identify with portrayed characters. Sympathy and empathy with the characters is a natural response. Expressed throughout time in theater, puppetry, novels and now on personal video screens, humans have naturally identified and empathized with characters in stories. Therefore video, holograms and virtual reality might all play a major part in acculturating these isolated children and exposing them to a healthy range of normal human behaviors and experiences.

Language

Nannies would provide the children their first exposure to language. Ambient sounds in the nursery can include other human voices speaking in a common language. Language education, including reading and writing, could be taught through audio and video exposure. Like with Earth children, reading and writing skills could be accomplished through educational shows like children’s programming on PBS. The language might be a simplified derived language much like Esperanto. Like every culture, accents and words unique to their environment would be naturally developed.

Children After Infancy – Social Structure

As the children grow, their interactions will naturally become more complex. Without human oversight, the children will need the robots to fill the role of terrestrial parents by serving as both nurturers and disciplinarians. Once the children reached 5 or 6 years old they could be enlisted to help in maintenance, construction and child care. Video instruction could again prepare them for such tasks. As the children grow older the robots would need to continue to control and police the humans, even into adulthood.

Social organization among the children might begin early. Clubs could be formed with rotating officers and leaders in preparation for adult governance. Additional generations would be continually created with genetic information sent from Earth and more children would be raised at the capacity the nursery will allow. Human incubation would continue until adequate genetic diversity was achieved.

Quantum entangled communication could provide critically opportune responses to child rearing situations. Real time monitoring of infants for medical or behavioral events could be responded to immediately through video and/or robotic intervention. Real time, personal relationships between Earth bound humans and space colony children could be maintained throughout their childhood and adult life using text, voice, social media, video, holography or virtual reality.

Further Uses for the Genetic Sequencer

Once adequate genetic diversity is established, and all useful human genetic traits restored, synthetic human production could cease. The incubators might still serve a purpose as a continuing source for diversity of planetary life, as determined by Earth technicians in conjunction with the planetary inhabitants. Utilizing the established genetic duplication and incubation systems, nearly all tellurium life, terrestrial and aquatic, might eventually be represented on Earth 2.0.

Conclusion

The complexity involved in establishing a human colony on another planet cannot be underestimated. Major advances in bio-engineering and nano technology are the obvious prerequisites to making these tiny, versatile microbots available. However, entangled particle communication may be an equally important development for a successful colonization process. Quantum entangled communication would dispense with the need for antenna assembly either in space or on the ground. Eliminating the twenty plus year response lag to radio messages would greatly enable informed problem resolution and allow real time intervention into technical and human situations.

Robotic preparation for human habitation appears, in the foreseeable future, to be the most viable approach to colonizing planetary systems outside our solar system. Space traveling robots would be the most cost effective, politically acceptable and technologically accessible solution to human interstellar colonization eliminating the risk of sending living humans on a difficult, dangerous, technologically elaborate, multi-generational journey from which they would never return.

Once a productive human society is established on another planet, it would be expected that the inhabitants would someday re-institute a similar program of interstellar expansion. In time these colonies could develop into a network of communities throughout the galaxy. Dispersed locations of humanity assures the continuation of the human race and encourages a diversity of intelligent life in the cosmos.

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