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Old 07-26-2015, 02:56 PM   #13
cdcox cdcox is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
So it sounds like your theory is that a fifty-year advance in one step would be too much. Maybe it is, but I guess I would hope that it would accelerate development to some extent. Ten years? Twenty years?

The obvious next question is about alien technology. Looking at the voting, does everyone pretty much think that we couldn't advance more than 50 years in the current day? If an alien ship landed that was 100 years more advanced than we are, would we just scratch our heads and give up? Would it shorten our development timeline from 100 years to XX years? What would happens?
Look at nuclear weapons. That technology is now 70 years old. The key concepts about how to do it have been public knowledge for decades. Yet there are many countries who want that capability that are struggling to achieve it. You have to have the fundamental knowledge and the infrastructure to exploit the known technology. Now, it can be argued that if North Korea didn't have any knowledge from outside about the existence of nuclear weapons that it would take their own scientists even longer to come up with that technology on their own. Maybe hundreds of years longer.

When the US developed the atomic bomb, I'm not sure the science of the device was even the rate limiting step. I'd lean more to figuring out how to separate Uranium 235, building the factories to do it, and then the inherent time it took to do the separations were rate limiting.

Even though developed countries now have the scientific infrastructure in place to better exploit advanced technology than we did 150 to 200 years ago, it might be questionable how many steps ahead we can jump.

Let's take the example of the microcomputer chip. If we had dropped a modern day laptop into the labs of Bell labs in 1950 (shortly after the invention of the transistor but 2 years before the patent of the first integrated circuit) how fast would it have sped things up? I think it would have been less than a factor of 2. In other words, I don't think that we would have had today's computers by 1983 if a lap top got dropped into Bell labs in 1950. There are too many advances needed in materials science, growing silicon crystals, material deposition, photolithography, wire bonding, doping, that would not be revealed by just being given a laptop. Those would have to be learned the old fashioned trial and error way.

If we speculate on alien technology, we can start by thinking of technology as the ability to manipulate matter, energy, and information. What if the device manipulated dark energy or dark matter? We don't know what these are. Similar to an 1820 automotive engineer may be puzzled by the substance gasoline with very limited analytical chemistry tools to figure it out and where it came from. Having the vision provided by the prototype can speed things up, but only by so much.
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