This is largely the theme of Gremlins. No I’m Not A Smartass I Am A Trained Professional And I Speak Fluent Sarcasm Shirt. If you find it amusing you should check out the rest of the series. Basically, Humanity is like 1/10th (or smaller) the size of typical aliens. In this universe and for whatever reason prefer to stowaway on alien ships. And stations instead of traveling in our own. I don’t recall if it’s canon or if it forms one of the side stories, but I believe the explanation is that the numbers don’t work out in our favor – the more massive the ship, the better the fuel + engine mass to speed ratios work out.
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So instead we co-opt other species ships in quiet symbiotic relationships and gradually build knowledge and acceptance for us as we do so. except that we have our own ships & their way overpowered and stronger than most dreadnoughts I believe was the comparison. Better repaired and maintained, but for sheer power output, the Aliens have Humans beat. At least we can make them run more efficiently. It’s essentially because of the square/cube law, isn’t it? They’re able to build such large things compared to us that we can’t really compete, the flip side being that we have much more attention to detail, and thus efficiency.
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The square/cube law usually works the other way, No I’m Not A Smartass I Am A Trained Professional And I Speak Fluent Sarcasm Shirt. the proportionate strength of something tiny is far greater than something large, be as you increase the volume, your cross-sectional area doesn’t increase at the same rate. Or, in other words, one increases in a cubic while the other increases in a square. If I remember right, it’s more just the technology gap making alien designs far better than humans. And the size difference making use of technology that just doesn’t work on human scales.
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Well, a reactor that’s larger than another would generally have a proportional increase in power. No I’m Not A Smartass I Am A Trained Professional And I Speak Fluent Sarcasm Shirt. Right? So what I was getting at was that since the aliens are so big. They have an easier time making big stuff. Stuff that would be impossible for us to make just because of the sheer scale and resource cost. Yeah, they’d theoretically be able to make a bigger power output. But the size difference would make an efficiency problem that would make that sort. Of technology unlikely to work at human scales