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And I mean faaaaar future. Like, twenty thousand years minimum. 13 million years at maximum.

Let's say the Earth is doomed and to avoid the impending extinction of the human race, we throw most of our eggs in the space colonization basket and then set a few thousand people aside for the crazy, last ditch effort in case all attempts to colonize other planets fail. We're going to send these people into the distant future, far enough for the Earth to heal from this disaster, in the hopes that they'll retake the planet and assure the human race continues to thrive on planet Earth.

How would this work? Is there any scientifically plausible way this could be done and could it be done in the next 200-300 years? I don't necessarily mean time travel here (although that seems like the most likely solution), just anything that'll get these people from point A in our present to point B in the far, far future.

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  • $\begingroup$ There is a manga called "7 Seeds" where there is a group of selected individuals who the government puts in stasis in case something happens which will wake them when the Earth is habbitable again so one day they go to sleep and the next they wake up in a stange destroyed world having no clue what's going on. You might like it. I need to re-read it because the releases were too slow and I stopped and just never caught back up with it. $\endgroup$ – Durakken Aug 25 '16 at 14:48
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Assuming planet Earth is doomed three hundred years in the future. Predicting the future is never easy. There could be new physical discoveries that could be implemented as practical technologies. Any one of which could make sending people twenty thousand years in the future with ease, or thirteen million years even. What can be expected is the development of quantum computing which will open up a wide range of scientific understandings.

The two obvious options are biosuspension and relativistic time dilation. Other answers have dealt with these options already. Of the two, biosuspension is the more probable and the proposals have some ingenuious suggestions. While achieving relativistic time dilation space travel is far less likely within a few centuries.

This answer will propose exotic solutions based on established physics and technologies, although this does assume advanced extrapolations of these solutions.

Stasis fields based on atom traps

Atom traps are a technology used in the laboratory mainly for experimental work on quantum mechanical systems. Essentially single atoms are held in place by confining photons. If this technology could be extended to trapping multiple atoms in complex systems and especially if this could be scaled up to the level that all the atoms in objects like people and equipment.

This would be effectively a stasis field and if these stasis fields can be maintained for many thousands or even millions of years, then a selected group of people can be sent into the future.

Gravitational time machines

The method uses the other form of time dilation. Namely, gravitational time dilation. To make this technique work we will make three assumptions about how this could be feasible.

One, gravitation is based on gravitons. Two, gravitons can be collected and, three, can be confined to specific locations for sufficiently long periods of time.

This gravitational time machine operates in this way. The time-shifted group are placed inside the time-machine. Gravitons are collected and confined to the volume of the machine. As the internal gravitational field inside this chamber rises this will increase the amount of gravitational time dilation. If the density of gravitons rises progressively over the time these humans who are inside this machine will experience less and less time passing. This will enable them to travel into the far future.

Where will the time machines be kept?

If the Earth is doomed, then either time machines, the atom trap stasis fields and the gravitational time dilation system, might be destroyed along with planet Earth. Therefore, they need to be kept somewhere safe.

By the 24th century, space technology should be developed enough to launch one or either of these time machines into interstellar space at a low velocity of around 300 km/s or one-thousandth of the speed of light. Travelling at this velocity a time machine would travel ten light years over ten thousand years. At this point the time machine/spaceship can decelerate and head back to the solar system arriving a further ten thousand years later. This is the minimum time suggested for recolonizing the Earth that has recovered from its doom.

Obviously if longer time periods are needed to be traversed, then longer distances can be travelled at a suitable low velocity.

Admittedly these time travel technologies aren't the time machines as commonly found in science-fiction, they are based on known physical principles and existing technologies. Although they have been extrapolated to accommodation putative advances over the next several centuries.

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I can see two plausible alternatives - neither of which we really know how to do yet.

Hibernation

People talk about this, it occurs naturally to varying levels in fish and amphibians, but for complex vertebrates, nothing yet (summary of hibernation). And certainly nothing on the time scales you're considering. The bigger question is, where do you put the hibernation pods so that they won't be affected by the impending disaster, or the last desperate humans running amok? Not to mention, do you have a power source and computers that can work that long, to manage the ongoing hibernation process and re-activation?

Relativistic Time Dilation

Put people in a spaceship and make it go really really really fast, and then come back to the earth. But if you can do that, your space colonization plan will almost certainly succeed and you won't need plan Z.

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@JohnFeltz has covered the two most plausible options, so I will offer a couple less likely possibilities (which we also do not know how to do yet)...

Deferred Gestation (the artificial version)

Freeze a large quantity of fertilized human embryos (and a larger quantity of fertilized livestock embryos), then build a machine which can not only keep itself functional for 200 centuries, and survive the death and rebirth of the Earth, but also gestate, birth, feed, and educate a new generation of humanity, all without the assistance of a human womb.

Deferred Gestation (the less-artificial version)

Freeze a large quantity of fertilized human embryos, then genetically engineer a primate which can survive and thrive on the f%#k'd up Earth. It doesn't matter if the modified primates are intelligent, as long as they can survive. Now build a machine that can keep itself functional for 200 centuries at which point it needs to be able to capture and impregnate some of the surviving primates with a frozen fertilized human embryos.

Deferred Gestation (the GMO version)

Genetically engineer a breed of hardy primate who can survive what we have done to the planet. Into their genetic code, insert a bunch of dormant genes contain everything needed to shift the primate back to homo sapiens. Set up some kind of genetic timebomb which will reactivate the dormant genes in a thousand generations.

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  • $\begingroup$ Re hibernation. The control and maintenance can be human. There are many interstellar ship stories where the crew sleep for a hundred years and then wake for a year on watch. 1000 sleepers and ten crew awake at all times. In an emergency the crew can awaken whichever sleepers have the specialist skill that is needed. There are also radiation-damage arguments which say you would need to wake for at least six months per century of suspended animation. On Earth, that is. Human crewed nterstellar ships ... forget it. $\endgroup$ – nigel222 Aug 26 '16 at 10:06

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