This is a very basic timeline for the Ad Astra universe.

2037 first dying person Uploaded.

2042 first commercial fusion reactor.

2054 first permanently manned moon base.

2066 first asteroid mining mission completed.

2093 asteroid belt population reaches 1 million.

2104 The United Nations declares that environmental collapse on Earth is “inevitable”. The UN Interstellar Colonisation Initiative is created.

2123 C-Jammer, the first interstellar colony slowboat launched. It is powered by a combination of multi-stage fusion rockets and a solar sail – illuminated by fixed lasers.

2124 first of the “water wars” launched by the Sovereign State of California.

2166 Centauri colony founded around Alpha Centauri..

2188 Procyon colony founded around Procyon A.

2198 Esperanza colony founded around Epsilon Indi.

2201 first contact with aliens. The Xa declare that Esperanza is part of the Xa Imperium.

2209 Bessel colony founded around 61 Cygni A.

2220 Hong Kong launches first human-built jump-capable starship – the C-Breaker.

2239 First Xa War. Esperanzans defeated, and accept their place in the Xa Imperium.

2239-2378 Human diaspora. Humans from Esperanza and Bessel start to push out into the Main, colonists take passage on jump ships, or hire on as labourers. Earth continues to launch slower than light colony ships, this time to much further destinations. Jump ships from Earth remain limited to the Core worlds.

  • 2254 Earth receives first shipment of antimatter from Esperanza. Antimatter-powered ship enable the flow of colonists and industrial goods from Earth to vastly increase. Esperanza colony grows rapidly.

  • 2271 Colonists from Bessel settle on Weg.

  • 2294 Earth Union declares environmental catastrophe averted, thanks to “unlimited” power from antimatter.

  • 2345 New Puritans exterminate last batwing alien on Esperanza.

  • 2375 Weg rebels against the Xa Imperium.

2378-9 Second Xa War. Esperanza wins its freedom from the Xa. Nebelwelt colony founded in the Gliese 892 system.

2420-54 Third Xa War. Casseopeia captured.

2521-27 Fourth Xa War ends in stalemate.

2609 scientists on Earth perfect the jump-1+ drive.

2616 DX Cancri colony founded.

2627 Fifth Xa War. The Esperanzan Commonwealth, allied with the Earth Union, finally conquers Xa-Arrack, renames it Gateway.

2673 Sixth Xa War. The Xa Navy launches a punitive strike against Gateway, in an attempt to suppress human piracy. Allied forces of the Esperanzan Commonwealth and the Long Republic breach imperial defences, and devastate all Xa shipbuilding yards.

2705 Esperanzan telepath Illuminati proclaim Year Zero. Next Step party founded.

2718 Earth Union falls to the Next Step.

2720 scientists on Procyon perfect the jump-2 drive.

2722 present day.

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  1. alex said,

    15 December, 2014 @ 10:02

    Facebook comments:

    Andy Miles Was the first anti-matter traded to the humans? Was it a gift? Was it an altruistic gesture to save the human home world?

    Alexander Tingle Part of the benefits of belonging to the Imperium. The Xa wanted to help the new guys get on their feet. After a while, Esperanza was profiting from selling on industrial goods from Earth. (With antimatter, even STL trade is possible, if the goods are valuable enough.)

    Tony Jones Some questions.

    If the first upload is in 2037, when is the first true AI created, if ever?

    Assuming technology (especially computer technology) continues to advance, why is there no technological singularity?

    How has Earth society changed over the course of the timeline? I’m thinking particularly of the changes that would be required to build and maintain such long-term projects as the launch lasers used for the STIL interstellar missions. Not something you could easily get built in todays short-termist environment!

    How much volume and energy does an uploaded human mind take to run? If it’s a cubic metre and a kilowatt per mind, 100 billion minds would be 10^11 m^3 (a cube roughly 4600 m on a side) and 100 TW of power (this is about 2/3 the power received from the Sun by the Earth as a whole). Obviously scaling up and down as the actual values vary…

    An actual human brain is 0.0015 m^3 and consumes about 20 W. 100 billion of them would need 1.5*10^ m^3 (a cube about 530 m on a side) and 2 TW of power.

    Alexander Tingle As I mentioned in a different thread, a principle assumption is that tech after TL10 is intrinsically hard to develop. That’s solely for reasons of drama. However, it does explain where there has been no singularity.

    The kind of scale I had in mind was that each human mind requires about four racks worth of processors, so perhaps 10kW per mind. The entire Virtuality therefore needed about 2000TW. Even with a supply of antimatter, it was a huge burden for Earth to support.

    I think I described how Earth (not the Xa – my mistake) has developed into a rigid caste-based society over the centuries.

    Imminent environmental collapse (not the Plot, no sirree…) was the spur for the ambitious STL colonisation programme.

    Tony Jones What about AI?

    Alexander Tingle AI is TL13, humanity hasn’t cracked it yet. If you want me to handwave a reason… it’s because just simulating human brains didn’t teach us anything about AI. Scaling up the brains proved ineffective. Running them at super fast speed is a non-starter, as the servers are running at full pelt in the first place, and the priority has always been to add more capacity to keep up with the demand for new uploads.

    OTOH, looked at a different way, the entire Virtuality was a single gigantic AI. It was principally responsible for creating the advanced jump drives, for example.

    Matt Fitzgerald Uploads and AIs would have been prime candidates for sub light ships crews. For initial survey missions at least even if the colony ships had human crews to assuage Frankenstein fears of the passengers. Were the colony ships launched to surveyed systems or ‘blind’ to promising candidates ? Not quite interstellar Russian Roulette if the ship could act as an orbital habitat or starting point for a belt colony.

    Alexander Tingle They were launched blind to promising candidates. Although astronomy had already got pretty good at detecting exoplanets and their conditions, so it wasn’t entirely dumb luck.

    Low berths were available, so the life support costs were manageable.

    Matt Fitzgerald Hmm. With your ‘field energy’ for powering small devices, would it be possible to build a unit that would indefinitely power an Upload server ? If so then a sufficiently rich Upload could have themself sent out to explore the stars indefinitely.

    Matt Fitzgerald I now have visions of a small band of die hard Uploaded gamers playing Traveller as they coast into infinity. Can’t you get that upload tech any sooner than 2037 ?

    Tony Jones 10 kW per mind, so 2000 TW overall, is an issue for Earth as a whole! This is because in the end I would imagine most of that 2000 TW gets turned into waste heat. The Earth receives about 150 TW from the sun. Thus the uploads would be outputting more than 13 times as much power into the Earths environment as the Earth receives from the Sun! This is roughly equivalent to shrinking the radius of the Earth orbit by a factor of 4, which is inside the orbit of Mercury!

    So I think you would either need to have uploads be less power-hungry, or most of them need to be moved into space. Even then you’d need to be careful as their waste heat radiators would need to pointed away from the Earth or it’d be baked that way…

    Also, 2000 TW equates to slightly more than 0.1 gram of antimatter per second, which equates to roughly 10 kg of antimatter per day, which is roughly equivalent to a single 900 MT explosion per day. In addition to the waste heat would the radiation from all this be having any impact on the Earth? And how reliable is the delivery system for all this antimatter? How vulnerable is it to one little accident causing a vast disaster?

    Alexander Tingle I make it 10g per second. So the Earth would need a few hundred tonnes of antimatter each year. I think we can assume that the containment technology is pretty mature by now. As you can see below, antimatter containment is a “dimensional engineering” technology. I imagine the particles of antimatter are held in a “foam” of higher dimensions. Breach of one part, wouldn’t necessarily cause a chain reaction.

    Waste heat is obviously a problem, compounded by the fact that the Uploads want to minimise communications latency, so they can’t all be in deep space.

    Here’s the “dimensional engineering” tech track up to TL12 (Earth is B/11, Procyon is C/12):

    9 jump-1, antimatter containment [power]
    A pocket dimension [computing]
    B jump-1+, slow field [structure]
    C jump-2, stasis field

    Pocket dimensions allow computer chips to increase the transistor density beyond the normal physical limits. Some (most?) of the waste heat must be radiated into these higher dimensions too. There’s bound to be a downside though… um, suggestions?

    Tony Jones Oh yes. I had c 10 times too big. In which case roughly a ton a day…

    Tony Jones The downside could be pissed off higher dimensional aliens! Or things coming to live off this handy new source of energy…

    Andy Miles I’m sure you’ve already covered this but I can’t find it. Who precisely are the Uploaded? Was being Uploaded something that was bought and paid for or was it an automatic right for certain nationalities/social classes/professions?

    Alexander Tingle It cost money to get uploaded. To start off it was only within reach of the super-rich. By the end, even some Peons were able to afford it. (See the Earth article: http://blog.firetree.net/2014/11/17/earth/)

    Andy Miles So, how did/do the economics of being Uploaded work? Was a substantial sum deposited that would maintain the individual’s Uploaded status in perpetuity? Or did a situation arise where it was simply accepted as an aspect of Earth culture that the Uploaded needed to be maintained no matter the cost? Or did the Uploaded control and direct the economy? Some combination of the above?

    Alexander Tingle It started out as the former – the cost of the process included a sum that was intended to support the servers in perpetuity. Gradually, the uploads began to command more and more of the economy, until they were essentially in charge.

    It’s similar to the ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom, where more and more land & resources came to be controlled by the mortuary cults of long dead leaders. I think Quinton mentioned this similarity – it was indeed a kind of religion.

    Andy Miles Yes, he definitely used the R word. And talking of such, you mention Catholicism and the Xa religion. Does religion have a big place among the stars?

    Alexander Tingle Religion certain plays an important part in many cultures.

    Tony Jones If you can get rid of waste heat along extra dimensions, can you get rid of physical waste along them too? Like radioactive waste you can’t get rid of any other way?

    Also, if you have a ‘slow field’ is there a ‘fast field’ too? That might have all kinds of applications. For example a ‘bomb booster’ (boosting the power but not the energy of a bomb or other weapon by releasing energy faster) or an ‘ageing bomb’. Or just growing crops, clones etc. faster.

    Are there different types of extra dimensions. For example, is Jumpspace a different extra dimension

    Andy Miles I think I asked about “fast fields” too. If not I certainly meant to. Or maybe I dreamt it… Can’t nuclear waste be disposed of with nuclear dampers?

    Alexander Tingle There may be fast fields at higher tech levels, but none that you are aware of.

    Matt Fitzgerald @ Dr J … Doesn’t ‘drop it into the local star’ work for most kinds of waste disposal ? A problem if they do turn out to be sentient I admit.

    Alexander Tingle Jump drives use the same kind of extra dimensional tweaking that pocket-universe-enhanced computer chips do. There is something about the jump chords that make it possible to access more complete higher dimensions. Slow fields too. It makes sense to me that slow fields would fail to operate in jump space.

    Tony Jones Can you nest pocket dimensions?

    Tony Jones @Matt: Maybe, but where’s the fun in that? I suppose it would depend on the relative cost of each method…

    Matt Fitzgerald Hmm. Won’t that mess up the pocket-universe-enhanced computer chips as well then ? Another reason for not having Upload crewed ships. I imagine ‘blue screen of death’ takes on a whole new level of meaning when your host rack hard crashes And can misjumps still occur with Alderson drive ? If so does a misjumping ship arriving in system cause a dimensional ‘sonic boom’ that will crash any enhanced chips within a certain range ?

    Andy Miles I thought that one of the uses of slow fields was to reduce the apparent time spent in jump…

    Alexander Tingle Yeah, I just changed my mind. Well spotted.

    Andy Miles Which way have you changed your mind?

    Tony Jones If you can nest universes then all the problems go away. Though possibly create a whole new set…

    Alexander Tingle I don’t think you can nest universes, so the slow fields, and pocket-universe-enhanced computer chips don’t work in jump space.

    Matt Fitzgerald Great. Now not only are we stuck in jump space for the full subjective 5 days but the X-Box 9000 doesn’t work either.

    Andy Miles Maybe we’ll just all have to go into low berth for the journey.

    Alexander Tingle …or read a book?

    Andy Miles Do what? Next you’ll be suggesting that people spend the time improving themselves.

    Matt Fitzgerald Great unsolved mysteries of Classic Traveller : What did people do in jump space ? What the heck did the crew do in the 19 minutes between shots in space combat ?

    Alexander Tingle It’s pretty obvious that you fight off hijackers whilst in jump space. Every. fucking. time.

    Matt Fitzgerald And the ‘mystery 19 minutes’ ? Kick the targeting computer until it reboots ?

    Alexander Tingle I think that’s Gun Crew Union rules.

    Andy Miles You spend 19 minutes drawing vectors and trying to figure out how you could do it better in 3d and then give up.

    Alexander Tingle BTW, I changed my mind again. The antimatter containment has to work in jump-space, or there can’t be a FTL trade in antimatter. Therefore the other “dimensional” technologies should work there too – so slow/stasis fields and supra-dimensional computer chips also work when the ship is in jump space.

    Andy Miles Well, just so long as anti-matter containment doesn’t change properties mid-jump.

    Matt Fitzgerald If it does, you won’t have to worry about it for very long.

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