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Portable Chickens

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Posted

Money is portable chickens.

A guy is a chicken farmer. That's what he knows, and how he makes his living. But he needs a house. He doesn't have the knowledge or materials to build his own house.

His neighbor does, though. His neighbor is a professional house builder.

The chicken farmer asks his neighbor to build him a house.

"Sure," the house builder says. "And because I'm a completely nice guy, I'd build it for free, if I could. Unfortunately, I can't. If I build you a house, I expend energy that needs to be replenished. If it isn't replenished, I'll die. All living organisms need energetic inputs to keep themselves far from thermodynamic equilibrium. Otherwise, we break down and are transformed into an entropic conditions. That's a fancy way of saying we croak."

"What do you require?"

"Chickens to fill my belly, which will give me the energy to build your house. Chickens are money. Money is portable chickens."

"How many chickens?"

"Well, since I'm totally honest and not some greedy bankster, not some cowboy capitalist and don't wish to take advantage of you or anyone, I'll ask only the minimum number of chickens required to pay back the energy I expend. That is, I'll give you the cheapest rate possible, consistent with my not dying."

They figure it out. The builder's belly will require 10 chickens to build a small house, 50 to build a medium house and 100 to build a big house

"I want a big house," the chicken farmer says.

"OK, a hundred chickens. I'd do it for fewer chickens if I could. I'd do it for free, if I had my druthers. But, I can't. Because if you pay me less than a hundred chickens for a big house, I'd run out of energy and couldn't finish your house. You'd have wasted a hundred chickens and received an unfinished house in return."

"But I can't give you a hundred chickens. I need chickens myself, because I need to eat, too."

"Well, then you'll have to settle on a smaller house."

They agree on a medium house for 50 chickens. The chicken farmer is well pleased.

A few months later, the chicken farmer tells the home builder: "You know, a giant meteor is heading for the earth, and will destroy all life on it. I propose to build a gigantic house in the sky to house everyone on earth, to save humanity. How many chickens will that cost?"

The home builder works out his necessary energetic intake just to stay alive to finish this project. He does not even ask for a profit. He's not going to ask for one chicken more than his energetic input required to stay alive and finish this monumental task.

"It's gonna cost you 500 trillion chickens," the builder announces. "There's nothing I can do about the price. It's just basic biology and physics. The bottom line is, no matter how many capitalist shysters there are in the world, and no matter how much economic unfairness there is, everything has a intrinsic energetic cost that must be paid for somehow. I'll need to eat 500 trillion chickens -- this portable money -- in order to survive to build this house in the sky. And I'm not even asking for a profit."

"But I can't possibly afford that many chickens!"

"And I physically can't achieve the task for any fewer chickens. It's not that I don't want to. It's that I can't. It's physically impossible."

"There must be something we can do!"

More later:eek3:

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Posted

If I misinterpreted anything in chat, I apologize. I thought the idea here was: suppose that the earth was threatened with total disaster. Could we build a colony in the sky to save everyone, or most everyone? If that is what we are discussing, my position, as indicated above, is simply that even if it were possible to do this technologically, it would not be possible to finance such a project. It would be physically impossible, because it would require far too many energetic inputs that any society could give without dropping dead in the process. There aren't enough chickens in tens of thousands of years to fill all the bellies that would be needed to bring this off. Maybe I have missed something, granted. :noidea:

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Posted

Then you just had to answer that it is technologically possible but not physically possible. That is all I wanted, but you didn't answer that.

I still disagree though.

Wait, I just had to add because now I realize that you probably didn't read everything I wrote in chat. It would be physically and technologically impossible to move _the entire Earth's population_.

-Scott

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Posted (edited)

The Back to the Future series is implausible because the flux capacitor invention is not feasible at 1985 levels of technology, no matter how much a genius Doc Brown was.

The Time Machine is impossible because Victorian steampunk technology cannot ever rip a fabric in space-time, no matter how potent the elixir was.

The Matrix films are based on an implausible scenario because the amount of bioelectricity in the body of millions and billions of human beings are not sufficient to power the technology of the machines.

etc., etc., etc.

Conclusion? Science fiction is not dependent on some "innate trajectory" plausibility of existing technology or the limitations of the imagination of its users. :deal:

Edited by The Heretic

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Posted

Yesterday:

:scotty::manhug::davidm1:

Today:

:scotty::argue::davidm1:

Tomorrow:

:scotty::amour2::davidm1:

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Posted (edited)

If the planet ever were threatened with such an extinction event, and our illustrious leaders did consider economics to be physical barrier to saving the human race, then yes, we're all doomed. Which then renders economics irrelevant.

Edited by tobarstep

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Posted

What's needed is slave labour. Sure, it'll take a hell of a lot of work to produce the necessary materials to get the human race to another planet, and to colonise it, but they'll all gladly do it for nothing if they have to. :yup: The whole human race can work together.

Of course, with all that hard work being done, everybody will be expending energy, and will therefore need food, lest they perish. As well as mining materials, everybody will also agree to farm and/or forage food, which will be shared out, and there'll be enough for everybody, and everybody will happily let everybody else have a decent share. Selfishness will be eradicated somehow, and nobody will try to take much more than they worked for at the expense of millions who worked much harder than them, because that would be something no human has ever done before. :yup:

Of course, it may be possible to produce enough free food that everybody can selflessly share to provide the human race with enough energy to relocate us all to the stars when the Earth dies, even if at that time the effects of climate change, extinct bees, and other disasters have rendered the planet incapable of providing a substantial amount of sustenance for a considerable number of people. We just need to kill off at least a few billion people before we start the project. :clap2:

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