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Wakum Mata!
Politcally Incorrect Musings
The Speed of Information 
22nd-Dec-2010 10:10 am
science
I was watching "My Life as a Teenage Robot" this morning with the kids. The Sky Patrol was sending forms by carrier pigeon. This got me to thinking about one of my favorite role-playing games and one aspect of it that I truly loved.

The game is called "Traveller". The aspect I like is that the fastest form of communication is snail mail. Ships can travel faster than light, so therefore, the fastest method of exchange of information is by courier.

This is something that I have always disliked about StarTrek. It took the ship days or weeks to travel to remote stars, but interstellar communication was instant. That made no sense. Matter IS information. The only way I could see how to get around this is using quantum entanglement (how fortuitous that that very news article should just come out), but that STILL requires a ship to put the relay node where you need it. Given the enmity between the Federation and the Klingons and Romulans this presents a SERIOUS single point failure. The entire communications grid could be knocked out by the destruction of a single relay if they tie multiple QE nodes together. What happens to the QE particle at one node happens to its twin at the other instantly. Inject enough energy and you can create a cascade effect where the particle explodes and takes out the other neighboring QE particles - a poor strategic design.

Oh, but they put them into the SHIPS! Riiight. Same problem. Warp drive goes boom, and there goes your grid, again.

Heck, simple interstellar neutrinos could disrupt communications over that node if you get a lucky hit.

So, in a FTL world, it seems to me that the fastest and most reliable form of information exchange is by courier.
Comments 
22nd-Dec-2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
The communications thing may not have been addressed in the Star Trek TV show, but I've seen it repeatedly addressed in both the TOS and TNG novels, getting within range of the communications relays, and having delays up to several days talk to Headquarters.

Fanfiction authors tend to be particularly careful about this, which is always amusing to see, when the fan writers are more careful about the science of the show than the actual canon of the show.
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