Friday, 24 February 2012

Your Brilliant Posts Are Full Of Sucking

This is a truly awesome post, of the kind that the web should have more of.  And, of course, in keeping with all internet traditions, having lavished praise upon the post, I'm now going to rip holes in it. 

Drum's quick calculations ignore two very important aspects of Death Star construction.  First, assuming a constant increase in GDP over 500 years is all well and good, but it fails to take into account that over those five centuries, steel will become more expensive, not just due to inflation (which I assume Drum is accounting for by assuming a "real increase"), but due to the increasing scarcity of the metal itself.  Even with a super-advanced recycling system, we'd start to face some fairly steep rises in the price of steel once we start building interstellar fleets.

More importantly, Drum has come up with the estimated cost of building 0.01% of a Death Star on ten thousand different planets.  Unless he's hoping to launch those pieces at pre-arranged times calculated to allow the entire set to arrive in the same system thousands of years later, to then be assembled using superglue and sellotape, I'd suggest there are some fairly major costs that are being waved away here.


Gooder said...

Firstly surely with 10k planets producing steel it wouldn't be as rare as you are suggestion

Secondly I think Drum is suggesting that each of 10k planets pay for 0.01% of the Death Star not actually just physically build a tiny part of each.

Third the site that originally put up the specualtive article also has articles on the cost of the batmobile and how much it's costs to go to Hogwarts

Tomsk said...

I doubt you even need to leave the solar system to scavenge the raw materials. There must be plenty of iron in them thar asteroids.

Tomsk said...

Come to think of it we might as well just mount the destruct-o-laser on the asteroid. If we want to make it look cool we could clad it in anodised aluminium.

Tomsk said...

Obviously we'd need to find an aluminium-rich asteroid to mine in order to clad the first asteroid.

I'm going to stop thinking about this now.

SpaceSquid said...

@ Gooder 10k planets that all have the same consumption rate as "we" do, or who aren't as advanced GDP-wise.

Your second point directly contradicts your first - either the 10k planets are coughing up the steel, or they're just coughing up the dough. If it's the former, there are literally astronomical costs to bringing the materials to the building site. If it's the latter, then the price of steel in the one system it gets taken from is surely something that needs to be taken into account. That said...

@ Tomsk I hadn't thought of that, though one would imagine that even 500 years from now, that would be a more expensive process then mining in a planetary atmosphere. But yes, one could certainly just weld an asteroid field into a planet-sized hunk of rock and glue a superlaser to it.

Or, for that matter, just find an actual small moon, and stick the weapon on that.

Tomsk said...

Using an actual moon would spoil the dialogue though:

"That's no moon."
"Er ... isn't it? It looks like the moon."
"Oh yeah, you're right, it is the moon. My bad."
"I told you you needed to see an optician, Obi-Wan."

Besides there are plenty of objects in the asteroid belt that are at least as big as a moon so no welding required.

If the empire still want to build from scratch then you're right that mining an asteroid will be expensive, though perhaps this will be offset by not having to worry about harming the local environment. But the much more significant cost will be getting the manufactured material into space, and the lowered gravity of the asteroid will make this option overall far cheaper than on Earth (think how much it costs in fuel to get even a small satellite into orbit).

Gooder said...

It is of course all a frivolous exercise, and none of the estimates go beyond raw materials and don't include wages, transport, administration costs (which would be frightfull!).

Still I suspect it'll be cheaper than Wembley and any overruns can be offset by staging concerts by big hitters like the Cantina band

SpaceSquid said...

Some of that would presumably be covered by Drum's use of the cost of an aircraft carrier, though I suspect you're right about the admin costs. Trying to find which you've accidentally sent the vital superlaser components to due to a typo must be a logistical nightmare.

And the Cantina band? Don't make me laugh. They couldn't even get that gig from Admiral Ackbar...