Samuel's Post Hoc Proposal For A Mission To Gliese 581 g

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Samuel's Post Hoc Proposal For A Mission To Gliese 581 g is a document written in 2012 by Samuel Baltz to explain why Drake-Sagan 2011 went to Gliese 581 g instead of a more conventional mission destination. In 2020, this proposal was brilliantly parodied by Jamie Tait-Glossop in an assignment for Mr. Hodgson's AP Language and Composition class.

Post Hoc Proposal

I understand that our choice of mission destination is the source of much derision and has been repeatedly questioned. There was a time when it was almost universally scoffed at. I don't know whether current and future members think that we did the right thing by going 23.5 lightyears away and inventing a wormhole to do so, but I'm quite certain that hearing my version of the story will help you understand why.

When gliese 581 g was discovered on September 29, 2010, it was clear that it was the single most important discovery of my lifetime, if not in all history. Although its discovery was not definite, and still isn't, the fact that we had encountered an earth-like exoplanet only 15 years after we'd started looking for exoplanets had tremendous implications for human existence in the cosmos. Gliese 581 g can hold an atmosphere, has remarkably Earth-like conditions, and astrophysicists worldwide deem it likely habitable. Immediately Gliese 581 g revised the best estimate of the distribution of nearby habitable planets; immediately it revised the possibility of future homes for us or present homes for others. I brought it to spacesim's attention immediately, and I began to advocate for a mission to the gliese 581 planetary system. I wanted everybody to know, I thought that was the best way to get people intimately familiar with the idea of exoplanets. Every space advocate should be shouting from the rooftops about Earth-like exoplanets. At the time, the spacesim mission was the highest rooftop I had.

Ian readily agreed (which I thought was good, since Ian was the mission commander), and so did Euan. Olivia was more skeptical, and Nick fell somewhere in between. We decided that a mission this divergent from the existing Beta canon would have to unanimously pass multiple club votes. Doctor Magwood was willing to do the programming necessary, but he cautioned that since we would be messing with the Beta universe, we really should talk to as many alumni as possible; they had built the beta reality and it wasn't ours to squander. I started speaking to alumni, while we tried to gauge the position of club members. We did not rush this process. We made this process as public as possible. Nobody was more attached to the beta reality than to the learning experience of the club, but it seemed as though getting us there would require a massive alteration to the beta universe, which we really wanted to avoid. Stefan de Young was hesitant to approve of the idea of a mission that futuristic, but he offered some very good suggestions as to how we could implement it if we wanted to. Ever wise, he was adamant that the decision belonged to current club members and that we shouldn't put too much weight on his position. Maclean Rouble and Ben Paul supported the idea but cautioned us that, if we were sacrificing some beta realism for a learning experience, we should use the learning experience as much as possible. Nevin Hotson said that it sounded like a cool idea, and gave technical suggestions as to how to get there. Lyra Evans was vehemently opposed to the idea. We began to see that this decision was fundamentally about whether spacesim should simulate the near-future or the far-future, whether it should simulate what an Earth corporation could do with enough money or whether it should venture into the realm of science fiction. That's an easy enough question to answer (a more realistic simulation is better, mission integrity is king), but a lot of us weren't willing to compromise on this great a learning opportunity.

And so we put it before the club. Ian and I spent no less than 3 hours of lunch meeting time going over our various options for getting there (wormhole, cryogenic freezing, near-light travel invoking time dilation), but each of these had a problem associated with it (respectively: what effects would a wormhole have on people going through it, how do you simulate cryogenic freezing and isn't that ridiculously futuristic, and how do you deal with MC members having to suddenly get much older). I called a Tuesday lunch meeting to talk about our options. And a Wednesday one the next week. And countless ones after school. Eventually, we settled on a wormhole as the best idea, and a pseudoscience committee tried to figure out what that would mean. It seemed to us that a massive enough black hole exerts a small enough tidal influence that you can reach the event horizon (I prove this here), and that maybe wormholes work the same way, so maybe it would be okay. We took an anonymous vote on whether we should go to gliese 581 g at a lunch meeting with about 15 attendees. Everybody agreed. We took another vote two weeks later with a similar number of attendees. Everybody agreed again.

So did we succeed? Well, all ~40 people who took part in the mission, everybody who read the city section of the Citizen in February of that year, and anybody who reads the first line of this wiki page now know about potentially habitable exoplanets. As far as the Beta reality is concerned, there was a pretty whacky year with a failed mission that went through a wormhole, but we lost AYSE for reasons completely unrelated to the mission destination and the wormhole disappeared forever. Literally the only lasting affect of our mission destination in the beta reality is some strange beta lore and a missing submersible. So, all in all, I'm sorry about the submersible, but I do not for a second regret our mission to gliese 581 g.