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So given an Earth in our near future, year 2100 or so, where some of our tech has improved to the point where we have robots and the usual sci-fi devices for interfacing with computers.

A colony is dispatched to a new "earth-clone" planet and it's a one-way trip with no communications possible with Earth. They knew this from the start. This planet is not hostile in any way. There are edible plants to farm and docile cattle-like animals to domesticate. The starting population is 100 people with mixed skills and education. They arrive with some building supplies for their shelters and a few replacement parts for some of their key tech and power generators (solar&wind).

With the eventuality that their tools and replacement parts will be depleted. How long before this colony can create relatively "simple" items like metal tools and clothing? How long before firearms and ammo? How long for electronics? How long for computer components?

-John

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  • $\begingroup$ Would be stupid to reach the destination totally unprepared, with no trace of energy and technology to bootstrap the development. Some compact fission reactors are likely to be taken to be used at destination (assuming no compact fusion reactors are invented by then). And robots - which, btw, do not necessarily mean humanoid robots, can be manufacturing ones - 3d-printing capabilities and such $\endgroup$ – Adrian Colomitchi Apr 20 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, thank you for the response. But even those things they would bring would "wear out". $\endgroup$ – John Apr 20 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ Well, Renault came in the Socialist Republic of Romania in 1965, began building an automobile industry from scratch, and ten years later Romania was producing automobiles with all components sourced from the domestic market. And they didn't have artificially intelligent molecular fabrication units, self-aware universal robots, artificial wombs, autonomous agricultural production units, high-speed brain-computer interfaces and so on. Seriously, you are grossly underestimating the technological advances required to bridge interstellar distances. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 20 at 18:09
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    $\begingroup$ How many robots do they have and how capable they are? Without robots, by answer would be somewhere in the ballpark of 500 years. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Apr 20 at 18:15
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    $\begingroup$ This seems very similar to a question I asked awhile back. Mine was about an unplanned colony but I think with the details provided and the scenarios involved it's a very closely related but not quite duplicate question. $\endgroup$ – EveryBitHelps Apr 20 at 19:05
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All of the items that you mentioned could be very easy or difficult to re-create on your planet. There is a primary issues working against you: Even if a planet is "Earth-like," the difference between it and Earth can be like night and day (both literally and figuratively). While the atmosphere may be able to sustain human life, it is unlikely that the amount of resources would be similar to that on Earth. Even these "cattle-like" animals could be inappropriate for human consumption; this is based on realistic likelihood. Ultimately, it's your story. YOU make the rules. Depending on which elements are more plentiful on this new planet, this could create A LOT of problems too.

I'm sorry, but there's no reasonable answer for this without taking various specifics into consideration. Your colonized planet seems pretty lazily made (no offense), so it sounds like most of the resources and elements on Earth would be just as plentiful there. Taking that into consideration, you're looking at a matter of months for every single item that you mentioned. Some of them would only take days, and that would include the procurement of the components used to create them. I imagine clothing and metal tools would be the easiest (the term "metal tool" is very broad though and could be a very simple item or very complicated). If your planet is an Earth clone, keep in mind that since the population would be NOTICEABLY lower, most resources would be abundant by comparison.

On the other hand, if some resources are more rare, it could take several years for the simplest of items. Various Earth-like items might require a knowledge of chemistry to combine the appropriate elements found on the planet to create them. If those elements are in short supply... there's your problem. I imagine that this new colony would use various substitutions based on availability. They'll probably have to get pretty creative.

As an aside, it's also incredibly important for you to focus on the skills of your population. I'm not sure what you meant when you said "mixed skills." There would have been a tiring amount of studies done on this planet prior to setting foot there. If Earth is going to be colonizing anything, we would send some of the brightest minds of humanity. There would be no shortage of scientists and engineers. People will get sick and injured whether they're on Earth or on some colonized planet, so doctors too... And it's likely that some type of "military presence" would be dragged along. What about family members or even just people who are there for the ride? The 100-person population is not viable. And the population would DEFINITELY have people with the knowledge to attempt to re-create just about anything found on Earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for the responses. My thought experiment boils down to the time it would take to get back to the point where they could manufacture the things they brought with them. Let's say their robots can manufacture things. Where do the colonists get the supplies? What happens when the robots break down? They would repair them of course. Using up supplies like ... duct tape, or what have you. So what would they do when they run out of duct tape. Ballpark of 500 years seems like a reasonable starting point considering how small the colony is in my example. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 20 at 18:57
  • $\begingroup$ That goes back to by answer. Using your example of duct tape, are the necessary materials to make duct tape readily available (cotton, polyester, nylon, etc.)? Are they capable of easily producing polyethylene? If so, you certainly won't need anywhere close to 500 years. Realistically, a population would focus on sustainability. If they don't have the materials, they will substitute or create something else entirely to supplement their needs... You should really narrow down what resources are available in this new world. $\endgroup$ – Rauri Apr 20 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ Of course, elements can be combined (chemistry) to form other materials, but if those elements aren't available to begin with, there's nothing the people can do about that other than rely on substitutions or get creative. $\endgroup$ – Rauri Apr 20 at 19:56
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I think the colonists would be in a lot of trouble, but the devil is in the detail. It depends on so many different assumptions such as do the colonists know where to find all of the materials they need? What transportation do they have available and how is it powered? What is the mix in skill and education? How long will a few replacement parts last for?

Firstly clothing: this should be relatively simple at least initially – grow the right crops and harvest the fibres using basic tools manufactured from simple locally found materials such as wood (looms, spinning wheels etc) plus imported tools made of steel. But the steel will eventually blunt, break or where out, this might take a long time but they will need replacing eventually.

So how about steel? This is more problematic but should still be possible. They need to find a source of iron ore that is readily accessible and perhaps some limestone, (charcoal can be easily made from wood) then create some sort of crude furnace, leather bellows and a clay lined hearth perhaps but that will only get them iron not steel. True steel is going to need an oxygen supply and a lot more processing.

So simple metal tools and clothing yes, steel not immediately.

Fire arms? If you have iron it should be possible to fashion a crude cannon, but proper gun powder would be problematic. Assuming that a source of sulphur is available locally, charcoal can be made and potassium nitrate can also be sourced from dung, but purification and granulation would be difficult. The resultant firearms would be dangerous and unreliable.

Electronics would be a long long way down the technological tree and would not be available for many years or decades. The reason being that they require so many different materials that have to be found and then processed in complex ways, with equipment that also needs to be created somehow. As for computer components they would be even further down the tree.

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