Map of the Fortnight 275: Exodus


The Challenge

Make a map of a diaspora, showing a population that is scattered across regions which are separate from its geographic place of origin. Maps should show the geographic location the diaspora identifies with and where they currently reside.

The Restrictions
There are no restrictions on when your PoD or map may be set. Fantasy, sci-fi, and future maps are allowed, but blatantly implausible (ASB) maps are not.

If you're not sure whether your idea meets the criteria of this challenge, please feel free to PM me or comment in the main thread.


The entry period for this round shall end when the voting thread is posted on Monday the 5th of June.



Any discussion must take place in the main thread. If you post anything other than a map entry (or a description accompanying a map entry) in this thread then you will be asked to delete the post. If you refuse to delete the post, post something that is clearly disruptive or malicious, or post spam then you may be disqualified from entering in this round of MotF and you may be reported to the board's moderators.
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Earth was dying, the death blow inflicted by a particle accelerator accident. The only way to preserve humanity was to evacuate Earth. The same new physics uncovered by the accelerator accident also gave us the knowledge to build faster-than-light Null Drives. Enormous Orion drive starships, straight from the dreams of Freeman Dyson, were assembled to ferry humanity across the stars in search of a new home.


The full write-up can be found here:
Earth was dying, the death blow inflicted by a particle accelerator accident. The only way to preserve humanity was to evacuate Earth. The same new physics uncovered by the accelerator accident also gave us the knowledge to build faster-than-light Null Drives. Enormous Orion drive starships, straight from the dreams of Freeman Dyson, were assembled to ferry humanity across the stars in search of a new home.

On the morning of May 1, 2071, the world’s most powerful supercollider, located in eastern China, achieved a new energy record of 1.3 PeV. In doing so, it caused what would later be called the Huzhou Cascade. In the first few moments of the incident, an avalanche of never-before-seen high-energy particles were created. Zhang Fermions, tachyons, rho-phasons. In addition, microscopic black holes and metastable strangelets were generated in the cascade. The dozen or so microscopic black holes quickly decayed via Hawking radiation, lasting only a few milliseconds, but in that moment they released the energy equivalent to several gigatons of TNT, devastating eastern Asia and killing millions.

Worse still were the metastable strangelets. These sank into the earth’s core, converting ordinary matter into more metastable strangelets. This process released incredible energy directly into the mantle. The metastable strangelets would then decay into a host of new high energy particles. Within a few weeks of the Huzhou Cascade, scientists detected a measurable increase in the heat flux coming from the earth’s core.

The effects were felt slowly, then all at once. Many people disbelieved the warnings at first, but most changed their minds after the eruptions started. The eruption of Lake Taupō, the vastly accelerated subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate, and the endless lava flows from the Mariana Trench devastated the planet and convinced the skeptics.

“We will solve this problem like we solved global warming,” many said. A tremendous number of techniques were tried, but all failed to remove the metastable strangelets from the Earth’s core. Within 75 years, the Earth’s surface would be rendered uninhabitable. Eventually, the carbon dioxide emitted by the volcanoes would overwhelm the sequestration plants and heat the planet to 70 Celsius. Meanwhile, the volcanic particulates would block out the sun, leaving the surface simultaneously oppressively hot yet dark as night.

The only way to prevent extinction was evacuation. A planetary program was put in place, with as much as 40% of the planetary economy going to facilitating the evacuation. Conventional spaceships would not suffice. The Mars Colonial Transporters had proven effective in delivering people to the Mars colonies, but Mars was unsuitable for a new home for Earth’s teeming billions.

In an ironic twist, the Huzhou Cascade which caused this catastrophe would also provide the solution. Much was learned about high-energy particle physics in the months and years after the Cascade, including the existence of tachyons, particles which move faster than light. Studying tachyons allowed scientists to develop the Null Drive, a faster-than-light jump engine which could instantly rip a starship from one point in the universe to another, up to about 20 light years away.

The Null Drive required significant quantities of exotic particles to initiate a Null Jump. Ships fitted with Null Drives would need large particle accelerators of their own to produce the exotic particles necessary. Even with huge accelerators, collecting the necessary particles would take two years.

Had humanity relied on conventional chemical or nuclear thermal rockets, only a vanishingly small number of people would have been able to escape the dying Earth. Instead, an idea over one hundred years old was resurrected: The Orion Drive. The brainchild of Freeman Dyson, the Orion Drive worked by successively detonating numerous nuclear weapons underneath a spacecraft to propel it into orbit and beyond. It was never attempted due to concerns over the environment and nuclear weapons proliferation. Such concerns are nullified in the face of total extinction.

Even in the 1950’s, Freeman Dyson proposed enormous Orion Drive spaceships, some up to 400 meters in diameter and over a kilometer tall, taller than any building on Earth until 2039. Those dreams were made a reality in the early 22nd century.

Countless 400 meter diameter Orions were launched from Earth, each with a mass of eight million metric tons. Once in orbit, several would come together to form the basis of even larger ark ships. Typically, five or six would be used to build one arkship. The central cylindrical habitat was built from the cylindrical payload bays of the Orion ships launched from Earth, with the rest of the ark ships assembled in orbit.

Over a thousand Orions were launched from Earth in the half century before the Earth became uninhabitable. Hundreds of arks were constructed in orbit. Even with this great effort, there was not nearly enough room to evacuate the population of Earth, reduced to the low billions after the successive supervolcanoes began to take their toll.

The solution was to put most of the population into a hibernation torpor, a technique used with great success on astronauts traveling to and from Mars. Simulations indicated about 10% of the population of an ark could be kept awake to maintain the ship and keep the other 90% alive but asleep.

Records from the old United Nations claim that over 900 million people managed to evacuate from Earth, though this number is disputed and generally considered optimistic.

Many of those who left Earth died in the cold vastness of space. Habitable planets were exceedingly rare in the galaxy. Some arks tried to colonize less-than-ideal planets (similar to old Mars) rather than searching for a comfortably habitable world. There are no known examples of colonies surviving on less-than-ideal worlds. Such colonies require too much support from elsewhere, and no support was incoming. The only reasonable option was to find habitable planets with oxygen rich atmospheres to settle.

One partial exception to the above axiom is the Dvārakā Habitat at Gliese 902. An Indian ark fleet chose to settle in a resource-rich system and try making a new home in space rather than on a planet. Since then, a number of additional arks have joined them, making for a very large habitat. The Dvārakā Habitat claims to be the most populous locus of humanity at this time, though that claim is widely disputed.

All other known ark fleets have attempted to find a habitable world to settle. The first we have been able to confirm is Yellowstone, colonized by the NASA Contingency Fleet.

Other fleets have not been as lucky. The European Union’s Diversité Dans L’ Unité Fleet is presumed destroyed. The last tachyon burst from that fleet was detected from a star system with a star which periodically undergoes violent flares. It is hoped they survived on one of the planets in the system.

Our fleet, the Seven Sisters Fleet, was launched fairly late in the evacuation. A number of nations are represented among our crew, but primarily Brazil, the USA, North Mexico, the Philippines, the United Congo, and Tonga. Our brave crew have kept us alive in these past 36 years. Over 14 million of us have called the Seven Sisters Fleet home for more than a generation.

This ship, the Canaveral Ark, was launched from Florida, USA. The main habitat is a cylinder 1600 meters long and 400 meters in diameter. There are 65 decks wrapping around the central axis, though many have such low gravity they are only used for storage. The total floor area is 60 million square meters, about 200 times the floor area of the Burj Khalifa (a major Earth landmark until its destruction during the Resource Wars). Conditions are cramped, with little chance for privacy. There are some open areas inside the ark which serve as parks, which are nice. [Editor’s Note: My favorite is the one on Deck 12, Section 44. It has a kind of tree called a hibiscus tree with the most beautiful flowers.]

There are 2,208,000 people aboard the Canaveral Ark. 265,000 of us are awake, and 1,943,000 rest in hibernation torpor. Some arks keep their children in hibernation, but in this fleet we keep them with their families. They give us a reason to keep on pushing towards our new home.

After each Null Jump, we take about 26 months to collect enough exotic particles to initiate the next jump. During this time, we explore the star system, mine and refine resources, build our industry, and do everything we can to keep ourselves alive. With our telescopes we can search nearby star systems for signs of a habitable world to investigate on our next Jump.

Our voyage has not been without incident. Upon arriving in the Roman-461 system, we discovered the People’s Solidarity Armada had already arrived. The Roman-461 system is a desiccated red dwarf/neutron star binary. Our scientists hypothesize that the supernova which produced the system’s neutron star also blasted away any major source of volatiles, including water. The only place in the system with water was the south pole of an inner moon of a gas giant world.

When we arrived, the People’s Solidarity Armada had already begun mining operations to extract the water. They informed us that the water (several billion tons, more than enough for us all) was theirs and we were to stay away. They even destroyed a mining ship we sent. Thus began the Battle of Roman-461. Each side sent Orion battleships to destroy each other in volleys of nuclear fire (the same nuclear devices used in propulsion were easily retrofitted into weapons).

Terrible damage was inflicted to both sides. Thousands of our astronauts were killed in battle, and the damage caused to the Sampaguita Ark resulted in the deaths of thousands more, mostly people in hibernation as their life support failed. We do not know the full tally of the deaths in the People’s Solidarity Armada, but reconnaissance probes confirmed heavy damage to the Berkeley Ark and the Lal Salam Ark. In the end, an uneasy ceasefire was achieved, with control of the moon’s south pole being handed back and forth every 60 days.

Our most recent jump was our 18th. It has been over 36 years since we left Earth. But we have found our new home!

Around a bright but unassuming F-class star we found a habitable world to call our own. The seas are teeming with primitive but multicellular life! The land is host to a few small vascular plants. The atmosphere is oxygenated only slightly less than that of old Earth. There are two continents and a number of archipelagos, with a total land area about as much as North and South America combined.

We held a vote to give our new home a name. Thousands of names were submitted, but the winner was proposed by a seven-year-old boy from the Liahona Ark.

Our beautiful home is New Horizon.

This map and narrative was inspired by:
  • Project Orion: The True Story of the Atomic Spaceship, by George Dyson
  • The computer game IXION, in which you command an ark searching for a new world in the aftermath of a disaster
  • A fun conversation with one of the discoverers of the top quark
In this world, the Assyrians were able to crush the Neo-Babylonian Empire in its infancy and remain in charge until the Persians swooped in a lifetime later and finished them off. The Persians were rather more Assyrian than in our world and when they got into wars with the Greeks, they deported them.

However, the Greeks were a strange people who failed to assimilate properly and so this was not quite the last the world heard of the Ionians (Yaunans)...