Another Alien Contact Hypothetical - Time Dilation

The time, the near future, a spaceship of obviously alien origin enters Earth orbit and makes contact. Tentative discussion begins and it turns out that they are explorers doing a survey of likely inhabited worlds and are pleased to find other intelligent life, which is apparently not common but not particularly rare either so every Contact its something of an event.

Despite their physical form, roughly ant-like in appearance and of human size they aren’t psychologically that different from humans and the two species get on well, both species can breath each others atmosphere’s with no major difficulties.

Eventually the aliens declare that they have to return to their home planet to report their discovery and they would like to take a few humans back with them, as well as diplomats, scientists etc they also want to take a few average everyday people as well. So applications are invited and to your surprise you are selected to go with them. They assure you it is completely safe and hint it will be an incredible experience, and you trust them implicitly.

However, the catch, there is no faster-than-light drive on their ship, they are simply a long lived species and can deal with the consequences of this method of travel. They tell you that the journey to their home planet and back will be seem to take roughly eighteen months subjective for you, but by the time you return over ninety years will have passed from Earths perspective. So if you leave in 2017 the date when you return will be 2107.

So do you still go?

Also side questions, would you volunteer in the first place? If you did what would be the maximum duration of trip would you be willing to accept, five years? Fifty? Five hundred?

Yeah… If they’re recruiting someone like me to go, it is because they firmly believe we will be eaten or dissected or something and are certain never to return. And the other 1.2 billion people ahead of me all said no.

My wife is still alive, I never apply. She’s already dead, put me down for whatever. Having no kids and being closer to cousins than I am my brothers family I could dig seeing the earth (assuming it is still inhabitable) 500 years from now.

I’ll go. I voted Other because you didn’t give an option to accept the 100-year turnaround time mentioned in the OP, and primacy is a powerful part of my life.

You’re right, and I even checked before submitting to make sure I hadn’t missed anything.

Why 100 years and no longer though? (I don’t really understand the second part of your post)

I’d need my “things”; space for approx 2 college dorm rooms, one of which would be for storage, one I’d live in. No ‘limitations’ on what I store as long as I’m not an ass with my stuff.
No room for a car for the return; so a bike? BMW R1200RS seems a good choice. Also, tools, a collapsed bench, a lathe, and a drill-press for ‘parts’ I might need to make for almost… anything…

Also, I’d insist that I’d get ‘paid’. The ants can drop off some amount of tons of gold ore pulled out of some useless asteroid & sold to some reputable commodities broker for a 500 year annuity, direct deposited monthly.

I’m an explorer, not a dead-beat.

Everything up to the last line of your OP is asking “Would you go on the 100-year trip?” That’s the question I answered. In the last line, you asked “Also, what’s the maximum length of a trip you’d take?”, but your poll didn’t have the option of “Yes, I’d go on the 100 year trip, and the maximum would be 672 years.” Or some other number.

Sorry, folks, I’m not that adventurous. I’ll stick with snailtime.

On the other hand, if it were to be an astronaut without some alien race being involved and able to send communications back, I’d probably volunteer. Expanding human knowledge and all that. Go figure.

Is there a cookbook involved in this scenario?

I suspect there is. That’s why I wouldn’t volunteer in the first place.

I can’t see volunteering for that much novelty all at once, even if being in the craft didn’t scare me.


There’s a high chance I’d chicken out…but I’d like to imagine I’d go, and, in that case, no upper limit. As the song goes, “I don’t care if I never come back.” I’ll be trying to serve as an ambassador for earth and our human ways and values. Maybe – just maybe – I can actually do a little cosmic good.

(I’m just a token swept into the warp of life… until someone places the Moebius Tubes…)

The opportunity to see an alien civilization and then to see what human civilzation looks like in the future… I can’t believe that you people would hesitate - I would do this in a heartbeat even if I only had a 10% chance of surviving the journey.

Even though you’ll never see your loved ones again?

Me too, but my family comes first. I would want to go, but I would not go.

Fuck those people, I’m out!

Yes. They would understand, just as I would understand if they were given the opportunity.

I voted 5 years because I’m pretty sure that, in 50 years, people would have changed so much that I wouldn’t recognise human society anymore, so there wouldn’t be much of a home to return to. Even if it’s not the Kurzweil Singularity, changes on all fronts are accelerating so that 50 modern years is like 2000 ancient years.

I’m not sure I’d go at all, though, because the aliens might find out how I treat the carpenter ants I find in my house. And then they’d start feeding me formic acid or something.

I’d go. Loved ones, schmoved ones. It’d be fascinating seeing how things have changed in 100 years. I’d like the proviso that if humanity screws up and civilization collapses or wipes itself out, or I otherwise don’t like what I find when I get back, I get to stay with my new ant friends.