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Old 05-03-2013, 10:23 AM
Askthepizzaguy is offline
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Norway
Posts: 2,910
Originally Posted by Lumpy View Post
Over-pessimistic on several fronts:

1. You don't need an artificial black hole to create a warp drive, and the energy requirements might not be as bad as first thought. There are already proposals for laboratory experiments to detect whether a warp effect can actually be created, although no one is proposing that a Zephram Cochrane will appear in our lifetimes
It's overly pessimistic because we don't even know if we can create a warp effect yet?

2. The Oort Cloud is not a boulder-strewn rubble field like the Millennium Falcon went through.
I'm aware. You don't need to weave through asteroids. You do need to be lucky enough to avoid hitting dust at certain speeds.

The bodies in it are estimated to be separated by distances comparable to the width of our solar system. Gas and dust are an acknowledged problem, and most proposals for fast interstellar flight presume some sort of system for clearing the way- lasers, or magnetic shields, or expendable drones.
I like the drones idea. The drone smashes into things and creates another debris field to fly through.

Magnetic shields, splendid. I'm not sure how much magnetic field energy would be required to repel the matter that would be hitting your ship, but this is certainly feasible at slower speeds anyway. The issue is that your magnetic field will be moving as fast as your ship is, and therefore, the issue becomes one of time.At relativistic speeds,the magnetic field will not exert enough force on the objects in your path to move them out of the way in time.

If we ignore traveling at relativistic speeds then we don't really need the magnetic shields anyway. It doesn't solve any problems that maneuvering thrusters wouldn't solve.

The laser idea seems plausible. So I give you much kudos for that. The issue being that something traveling laterally may not hit the laser beam, just collide with the ship. And the wider the beam, the less powerful it is. You wouldn't be able to obliterate an asteroid in our path. You still have to turn to avoid it, which you don't want to do at relativistic speeds.

3. No one proposes a 100,000 year journey; 1% of the speed of light would get you to the nearest solar systems in about 500 years, 5% within 100 years.
If you're going to be moving at 1% of the speed of light, that's 6 million miles per hour. There's not much difference in terms of danger if you went faster than that. There's nothing that I've described which is any more or less dangerous at 6 million miles per hour and 600 million. You might as well approach light speed if you can move that even 1% that fast safely.

4. If we've learned to live in our solar system beyond Earth, we don't need a viable ecosystem waiting for us at our destination. See above about keeping people alive and well in habitats. Interstellar colonization isn't going to be a Heinleinesque "Farmer in the Sky" scenario of neo-pioneers building log cabins and plowing the new land.
I agree that building the new colony isn't as difficult a task as moving near light speed. However, we still need to build it, because the entire point of populating a new star system is so that we don't need to live inside the interstellar ship forever.

So it's not as simple as handwaving away the difficulty in making the new colony. We still have to make it, or we've traveled several light years to float outside of a planet we never intended to colonize, which is ridiculous in the extreme.