This past month (9/2020) I’ve been immersed watching the worldbuilding that humans are trying to do in the HBO series “Raised By Wolves”. In this series, after a catastrophic war on earth, a small fraction of human’s remnants build a generation ship, a cryogenic sleep system and set off for the Kepler 22 system over 600 light years away. So far, this show has been very entertaining with its loads of science, science fiction, and clarketech. In order to scratch this phantom itch that the show gives me, let's discuss the show and some of the feasibility of the science.
600+ LY trip from Earth to Kepler22b
In the late 22nd century, the human race finds itself separated into 2 philosophical camps. One is a sun-centric theocracy called the Mythraics and the other side is self categorized “Atheists”. Of course, in a turn of events that surprises absolutely no-one, war breaks out, and with all the future tech that one could dream of, and surprise, surprise, it turns out to be the worst war in human history. Earth is ruined, and most of the humans on Earth are killed. We don’t hear too much about survivors, but the Atheists are able to send a ship to Kepler22b (K22b) with two androids and a dozen embryos. The plan is to have the androids raise the humans to adulthood, teach them the ways of Atheism and build a utopia on the planet. The Mythraics also send a ship to the planet, but it travels 13 years slower than the Atheists ship. Not because the atheists had better reality based technology, but because sending live humans in space requires much more care than sending a ship with two androids and embryos. The slower speed allowed the Mythraics to travel to K22b with the maximum amount of survivors.
Distance and time to get there
There’s a vast distance between the K22 system and the Sol system. If we were to track the amount of time it would take light to travel from our star (sol) to K22, over 600 years would pass on Earth. That is to say, in the amount of time that light travels from our star to that star, the earth will travel around the sun ~638 times. That’s 638 light years. To put it another way, if the ships that were sent from Earth traveled at the speed of light, it would still take ~638 years to get to the K22 system. According to a clip in the second episode, it took the Mythraics 13 years to get to K22b. If light takes 640 years to get there from here, that means they were traveling ~50x the speed of light. Without really going into the repercussions of humans having a technology like that, lets simply say, humans shouldn't have gone extinct under any circumstances. Having the ability to go 50x light speed means that humans can travel anywhere in the galaxy relatively easily. At the risk of beating a dead horse, the androids and their embryos got to k22b 12 years earlier. So they traveled 13x faster than the mythraics. That kind of speed is just mindbogglingly, unbelievably fast. I'll suspend my disbelief for now, but I'm seriously gonna to need an explanation for this wild ability. The Atheists and Mythraics should have both went to separate sides of the galaxy and lived happily ever after.
The humans of the 22nd century have developed a way shorten long trips in the minds of the passengers. Through some undisclosed technology and virtual reality, passengers can prepare for their new locales. It was briefly discussed how Sue, one of the main characters learned to be a medic on trip over. I know I said I'd leave the light speed travel alone, but lets consider this tech for a moment more. They travel like 600x or more faster than the speed of light, and they can suspend aging and sleep through the traveling. Time has basically become irrelevant. Why are they fighting each other? ......anyway...... It was also shown that while sleep on the journey to K22b, all the humans were digitally awake in a type of Virtual Reality environment where they could party, converse and just overall interact with one another. They did this so the sanity of the crew members wouldn’t unravel over the course of the trip. This is actually a novel idea. Most times I read about cryosleep, have folks going to sleep and waking up again 30 years later with little to no memory of the time they spent under.
So, to beat a dead horse a little more:
The humans of the 22nd century can travel 640x or more the speed of light.
They can go to sleep on these journeys, thus making the trips almost instantaneous for them.
They can learn skills while sleep so they can learn to make any repairs and be prepared with all the skills they need when they arrive at their destination.
Seriously, these humans of 200 years from now are very overpowered. There's no reason why they should be fighting eachother when they have basically the whole universe at their fingertips.
Okay disbelief suspended again.
Life on Kepler22b
Humans survive a global holocaust, a 640 light year journey to the Kepler22 system. Just to be able to walk on that planet, and what? Live Comfortably? I guess. With all the tech they've shown so far, I don't see why they wouldn't be able to instantly terraform whatever world they go to.
Breathing the Air, Eating the flora
We Humans have lived on earth since before we were humans. Our bodies are build in just such a way that we can really, only live here. The water we drink has to be just the right combination of Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Air we breathe needs to be just the right combination of Nitrogen ~78%, Oxygen ~21%, Argon ~1% and minuscule amounts of other constituents. All this took billions of years to be put together on earth, and the chances that the same conditions can be brought about on another planet, around a different star hundreds of light years away are so low that its laughable that they put it on this show. If they are really on K22b, the writers have written themselves into a plot hole that going to take the ultimate plot ladder to climb out of...
On the Plot of the Series
This brings me to my final point. Either this program is just some speculative fiction that just throws a bunch of scifi tropes together, without really thinking about the repercussions of what they’re doing, similar to Star Trek having all these alien races being able to procreate with each other, or the Young Adult genere book Across the Universe by Beth Revis, or even The Expanse Series where people just walk on planets all willy nilly, all three of which by the way, I enjoyed immensely or they are going to write their way out of this plot pit. I see only two ways the writers of this series can do that.
Maybe they Arent on Kepler22b
If a human even walked on mars, due to the high levels of perchlorate chemicals in the martian soil and dust storms, that human would get very sick quick, and that’s just one chemical on one planet. Other planets similarly just aren’t designed for our very complex bodies to thrive on, so I got to thinking, what if they’re not on K22b? What if this is just some major trickery, and they are just on earth?! What if the humans were in orbit for centuries, while the androids cleaned up the place like WALL-E. Them androids are super powerful after all, right?
Maybe Humans pre-terraformed
If they didn’t invent a type of WALL-E to clean the place up, what if they were terraforming K22B for years before they arrived? If their ships are traveling AT the speed of light, then it would take a minimum of 640 years to get to K22B. If they’re traveling at 50% light speed, it would take 1280 years. And if they were traveling at 1% light speed, which is a lot more likely in my lamen mind, it would take 64k years to get to K22b. But the show did tell us the androids arrived there
So those are my predictions. They’re either on earth, the pre-terraformed K22b, or this is just some speculative fictional fluff just made for entertaining folks. I hope its not the latter, as thats my least favorite type of scifi.
When I sit down and really think about this show, a lot of it doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless it's a big misdirection and something else is going on, there's really no way this show can make sense. All that being said, I’ll be tuned in every week to see how these humans are going to get through their futuristic problems, cuz even if it is fluff, its very entertaining fluff.
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