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Old 05-03-2013, 04:08 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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We are not going to be doing any interstellar space travel

News flash: I'm not a scientist, or an expert in any field. However, I can do simple math and I also read what scientists have been saying.

The obvious conclusion: Travel between the stars is, in fact, a pipe dream. NASA, however, will lose all funding if they talk about how we will not be leaving this star system in the foreseeable future, so they pretend like they're working on it.

Now, I've just gone and pissed off a lot of you folks. I apologize, I know this is like being told Santa Claus isn't real, and God is a man-made fiction. I know you'd like for space travel to be a reality. Me too, by the way. Well, we will be able to travel within the solar system just fine. The issue is interstellar travel.
It's not going to happen.




Sorry, fans of Star Trek. Your dreams of humanity spreading through the cosmos are ludicrous. Now I will explain why I feel I can make such a prediction, and say it's conclusive. I can't account for technologies that may be discovered in the future, you say? Well, this is true. If science figures out how to create literally infinite amounts of energy, then my explanation holds no water. However, there is not an infinite energy source within the star system of Sol. Atomic energy is not infinite. The sun's radiation is not infinite. Fusion power is not infinite. Even matter converted completely into energy, with almost no energy lost from the conversion process, is not infinite energy. And several interstellar travel plans require infinite energy.


Warp Drive

This is pure fiction. It is true that we can bend spacetime. However, even something as massive as a black hole with the weight of 100,000,000 solar masses only bends spacetime around itself, it does not create a conduit to another part of the galaxy. And, need I mention, we do not have 100,000,000 solar masses worth of matter or energy inside our solar system. Therefore, we do not have access to that amount of energy. Scientists have no known process of bending spacetime using gravitation which in any way causes warp drive to be possible. We can't even replicate the kind of slight bending in spacetime that occurs around a tiny object such as the Earth, without a mass the size of the Earth. That kind of gravitational effect is small and localized around the object in question, and you won't be transporting the Earth with you on this interstellar voyage.

The amount of energy required to bend spacetime around even a tiny vessel would be far beyond anything we can produce. It could only be accomplished by converting an extremely large amount of matter directly into energy, such as instantly converting a planet the size of Jupiter into the kind of energy required to curve space. The mechanism for doing so is unknown, but even assuming we master matter to energy conversion, even assuming we master the ability to conduct such an extreme amount of energy through a machine of some kind (it would completely obliterate any material it passes through), and even assuming we knew how to convert that energy into a spacetime warp around the vessel, we still have numerous problems, Houston.

1) You only have so many planets to consume. There aren't many between the stars that you can stop and scoop up. If something happens to your spacecraft en route (just wait until you see where the real problem is) you just blew up a planet to move a ship into its own doom. You've accomplished nothing and the star system has one less planet in it. Congratulations.

2) You're warping space. That doesn't mean you are invulnerable to the matter that you're passing through.

It will completely obliterate your spacecraft at any speed which is a significant percentage of sub-light speed. And we're talking about bending space for the explicit purpose of getting near (or somehow exceeding) light speed. You run into tiny asteroids, dust, interstellar gas (between the stars is not void, but a very thinly dispersed matter field called the "interstellar medium") at anything close to light speed and the matter will create conditions similar to the big bang, and your entire space vessel goes KABLOOIE. This effect is not lessened by warping space and going faster. It just means you'll be warping that matter toward your space vessel at even higher energy levels, which means you're going to be obliterated even harder. You know how landing an aircraft in the ocean is fatal at a high enough speed? You know how big huge giant asteroids made of iron completely incinerate just moving through an atmosphere at a high enough velocity? Well, we're only talking about speeds of about 100 to 1000 miles per hour. Now imagine you're traveling at 500,000,000 miles per hour. This is a velocity where you are not yet moving at light speed. Run your spacecraft through any kind of matter, even if it is interstellar gas, and you'll be obliterating trillions upon trillions of atoms against your spacecraft every second, even though they are "thinly dispersed", you're still covering 500,000,000 miles in an hour, which means you're hitting trillions of atoms every second, even if there's less than one atom per cubic meter. This is the equivalent of trying to fly through an asteroid at mach 17. You're not going to make it, boy-o. And not even if you make the ship out of as of yet undiscovered fictional material Unobtainium. There are precisely zero forms of matter which will survive such an impact. You could be made out of neutron star material, you will still be completely obliterated. Therefore you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever even approach light speed. You won't even come close.

And we're ony talking about the relatively easy part, which is getting up to that speed, and moving in a straight line. Yeah, we have the technology to do that now. It will just take a long time, and it will require an ion drive. We know how to make them. They are capable of continued acceleration without massive numbers of tons of chemical rocket fuel. But we won't be able to move in a straight line. And we wouldn't want to move at that speed under any circumstances. I'll tell you why. But first, another mythological creature:


Wormholes

Okay, warping space to create warp drive requires energy which can fold space in front of and behind a spacecraft, and to sustain such energy levels for hundreds or thousands of years. It's completely prohibitive.

A wormhole is a fictional structure created out of warped space, connecting two distant parts of the galaxy. The structure of which must be generated in the first place, and then maintained long enough for a ship to pass through it.

Problem: We can't even *fold* space around a tiny spacecraft. Or a pound of dirt, for that matter. The energy level required to fold space across the distances between the stars would be infinitely higher than that. Black holes that occur naturally require much more matter than is in our solar system. So to even have a shot at this, you'd need to collapse all the matter in the solar system, and even then, all you have is a useless black hole, not a wormhole. You'd need to collapse a black hole at your destination point as well, or instantly generate the equivalent amount of energy. Once again, how are you going to find it? And problem number two: How do you get there to form the other end of the wormhole?

You'd need to travel there first, wouldn't ya. And therein lies one of the many problems.

And we don't know jack about wormholes other than, for a fact, it would require a nearly infinite amount of energy just to create one. Then, you'd need to keep it from collapsing using something that generates an anti-gravity force. Otherwise the entire thing collapses within tiny increments of Planck time. Nothing we know of generates a natural anti-gravity field, and you'd need to generate a field EQUIVALENT to the amount of energy you used to create the damned wormhole in the first place. A nightmarishly large amount of energy to breathe life into this completely unrealistic monstrosity, and a nearly infinite amount of energy to keep it from collapsing, and that energy has to be of the negative variety, by the way, to generate an opposing field. You're not going to do this with magnetism or the strong or weak nuclear forces, because the wormhole has to be large enough to allow for a spacecraft to move through it. So the nuclear forces aren't far-reaching enough. And gravity overpowers magnetic AND nuclear forces combined at those energy levels. That's why iron can be crushed into neutron star matter- the magnetic repulsive forces and the nuclear weak force cannot overcome gravity.

So in total, you'd need the force equivalent to a black hole being instantly created in star system A, and in star system B, and the force equivalent of several black holes' worth of anti-gravity energy just to keep it from collapsing, we'd still need to know how to convert the energy into a folding of space, we'd still need to know how to connect the two ends of the fold, we'd still need to travel to star system B in the first place, and did I mention this still requires an infinite amount of energy?

This is never going to happen, and even if we could do it, we absolutely shouldn't. We shouldn't consume the entire matter of a star system just to travel to another one. It's pointless. That means we can't try again if we fail. The cost is too high.You could know how to do it, and you'd still need the fleets of regular spaceships to go collect all the matter in a star system, and then you'd need to obliterate all the matter all at once and convert it to energy, without screwing it up.

This is as much within our means as reversing the expansion of the universe. It is entirely beyond the power of human beings, even with technology that allows perfect conversion from matter to energy, there just isn't enough matter in our solar system. Therefore this is not viable.


Any significant fraction of speed of light travel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oort_cloud

In order to survive the forces exerted on the ship itself, and the human life contained within it, we travel at a rate of acceleration which amounts to approximately 1 G, and little more than that is recommended. If you were able to put 1 G worth of acceleration on the vessel, and provide that level of energy continuously, you can reach a considerable fraction of light speed at a reasonable time frame.

Assuming you can convert matter to energy so efficiently that it is economically feasible to have a constant rate of acceleration, you have the following issues.

1) It will take you as long to slow down as it did for you to speed up

2) The Oort cloud extends out to approximately 1 light year. You cannot navigate such a field at anything near light speed, because navigation will be impossible. What happens when you turn a vessel at near light speed? When you are turning, you create an arc. The more massive your craft, and the faster you are moving, means it is harder and slower to turn the ship. Remember Titanic? Couldn't corner worth a damn and that's when we're traveling at steam ship speeds, and we're talking about a vessel not nearly as massive as an interstellar space ship would end up being. You try turning to avoid an asteroidal "iceberg" and you will do one of two things- either fail completely in turning the ship in time, or be destroyed by the lateral forces required to turn it.

TL;DR- The Oort cloud means you'll be traveling at very slow speeds just trying to exit the damned Solar System. It will take you hundreds of years just to get out of this place.

3) The Oort cloud would be awfully strange if it is the only such cloud in the universe around a star system. You can bet the future of humanity on the fact that there will be a similar cloud around every single star in the heavens. Which means another several hundred years at very slow speeds when you arrive at your new star system, just to safely navigate through the cloud around that star.

4) You're still running into gas, dust, and ejected material every now and then in distant interstellar space, and there will be absolutely no way of detecting or avoiding this material until you're blowing through it at near-light speed, which destroys your ship in every case.

5) Rogue planet

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rogue_planet

Yeah, sometimes this happens. And we have no idea how often. But it's a fact- things get ejected from star systems, and star systems have been around for most of the history of the universe. That means there is a crapton of interstellar objects of a size greater than a grain of sand, and yes, some of them will be bigger than the freaking planet Earth.

You can't avoid hitting one if it is in your path and you're traveling at near light speed. But you were already incinerated just from the dust itself, so why are we worried about a planet? The odds are low that you hit one, but if you do, your journey is over. And that means you'd need to be able to detect and avoid interstellar objects with a mass greater than a grain of sand, even if you were able to survive impacting interstellar gas and dust at that speed, which you can't.

And there is absolutely no way to avoid hitting the gas and the dust, which again, is completely fatal at those speeds, under all circumstances. You could make the hull out of pure titanium, and put a "cow catcher" several hundred miles long made out of solid steel, and the gas you're hitting will be the equivalent to the Large Hadron Collider's worth of energy release per atom, creating conditions similar to the Big Bang, on the nose of your spacecraft.

In short, your space ship will be flying into the equivalent of what the universe was like seconds after the Big Bang, every second, for THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Your spacecraft was destroyed, no matter what it was made out of, long before the first year had ended.

So that means you travel at very slow speeds between the stars, or you don't travel at all. This means your journey can take hundreds of thousands of years.

Which means we won't be doing it at all, because by then, the star system we were traveling to is now a few hundred billion miles away from where it was when we began our journey, because these stars aren't stationary. They're moving toward and away from us at great velocities. And even if you could find an intrepid crew to board your interstellar craft for a hundred thousand years, you'd have to put them all in stasis, because nobody is going to be part of the human petri dish experiment for 100,000 years of traveling awake and alive in a generational ship the size of the international space station IF WE'RE LUCKY.


The journey itself at speeds less than 1% of the speed of light

Perhaps we really build a magnificent craft, and it is the size of an office building. Could you imagine building something that's going to survive for 100,000 years of human inhabitants and interstellar debris and radiation, and vibration and turbulence? Could you imagine living for 25,000 generations inside an office building that never changes? We have the entire planet to roam on and people still go absolutely batshit insane and blow themselves up. Try containing humanity for 100,000 years inside a building and ensuring that nobody goes crazy and explodes the hull. So stasis for the entire journey is recommended, and that includes while navigating asteroids and dodging comets. So the computer has to fly us there and keep us alive. And we'd better hope it never overheats, never needs human maintenance, never breaks down, never needs replacement parts, never experiences an error, and so on, and so on. And we have to hope our hibernation stasis never gets interrupted for any reason, ever.


We manage to get there somehow

And if we do manage to get to the next star system, we find that none of the planets there is capable of supporting life, or that the one that is, has no life on it, and will take many, many generations of planting and farming bacteria and other life forms and creating an eco-system. So we could be orbiting our new Earth for 1,000 years before it is remotely habitable. And in such a case, we'd be better off just colonizing Mars, now wouldn't we?

And perhaps we find it is already inhabited. We won't know until we get there. And when we find out, we find out the planet is inhabited with life forms which will utterly destroy our immune response and turn our organs into liquid shit. We have absolutely no defense to alien germs.

Bottom line: I predict that 100,000 years from now, there will still be no human life outside of this solar system. And the feeble attempts we make to leave this star system will fail, and continue to fail for at least this long. Wormholes and Warp drive will never happen, and slow sub-light travel will be too expensive and time-consuming for us to bother with. Finally, life on Earth gets wiped out by a natural or man-made phenomenon before the 100,000 years are up, and even if we happened to colonize Mars, the Mars colony withers and dies without mother Earth's help.

Cue your TL;DR reactions. If you can't make it through this post, you'll never make it past the asteroid belt, buddy, let alone the Oort cloud.
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:27 AM
MostlyClueless MostlyClueless is offline
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"It'll never fly."
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Old 05-03-2013, 04:34 AM
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Don't listen to him, Trekkers! I've created a neutron Warp Drive that will transport you instantly to far away galaxies! I know it looks like an old grain silo with a bunch of deadbolts that lock from the outside, but looks can be deceiving!

You too, House DJs. Don't you make me turn on the hose again.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:36 AM
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JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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That sucks. Deep down I always knew this to be true, but I appreciate your detailed but very readable reasoning.

In your opinion (anyone can chime in), how does this shape your attitude toward interstellar communication? It's looking like that, at least, might happen... 50 years between messages (let's say) brings its own challenges, but less insurmountable. But what will it mean to talk to "folks" we know we can never meet? I guess a bit like friends or family members who live on either side of an uncrossable border, but who can exchange letters (surely this has happened in human history, probably somewhere right now) -- writ large.

More likely still is that we will detect life forms on some exoplanet, and know soon after that they're not "intelligent" in any way. We'll be able to say something like, "90% probability it's pondscum, 10% probability it's more like a slime mold," and that's it. We'll never be able to get close enough to know more.

Or -- does removing the human body from your scenarios help things at all? That is, might we be able to send a vehicle to said exoplanet and have it return to earth with a stlll-living sample of said pondscum?

Last edited by JKellyMap; 05-03-2013 at 05:37 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:40 AM
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Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Send several (for redundancy) lightweight, high speed probes to another star; upon arrival they use local materials to build a laser receiver and colonial/industrial infrastructure. Some time afterwards, a communications laser arrives encoded with the recorded mind states of a number of humans (or whatever); new brains and bodies are constructed and the minds downloaded into them. Off the top of my head there's one scenario you didn't cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
You try turning to avoid an asteroidal "iceberg" and you will do one of two things- either fail completely in turning the ship in time, or be destroyed by the lateral forces required to turn it.
Not at all. At astronomical distances it takes only a tiny nudge to miss an object. The last thing you would want is to turn at right angles like an ocean going vessel anyway; you'd be giving up all your forward velocity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
And there is absolutely no way to avoid hitting the gas and the dust, which again, is completely fatal at those speeds, under all circumstances. You could make the hull out of pure titanium, and put a "cow catcher" several hundred miles long made out of solid steel, and the gas you're hitting will be the equivalent to the Large Hadron Collider's worth of energy release per atom, creating conditions similar to the Big Bang, on the nose of your spacecraft.
That's a serious exaggeration.

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Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
The journey itself at speeds less than 1% of the speed of light

Perhaps we really build a magnificent craft, and it is the size of an office building.
Why? If you're going slow, build big; big enough to hold a town's worth of people. Have the thing travel between those comets and rogue planets, harvesting useful materials as it goes so it never runs out of fuel and supplies. Every so often it stops by a large chunk of interstellar debris, builds another ship out of it and moves half its population there. Keep this up for long enough and interstellar space will be filled with an ever expanding cloud of these ships traveling in all directions.

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Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
We manage to get there somehow

And if we do manage to get to the next star system, we find that none of the planets there is capable of supporting life, or that the one that is, has no life on it, and will take many, many generations of planting and farming bacteria and other life forms and creating an eco-system. So we could be orbiting our new Earth for 1,000 years before it is remotely habitable. And in such a case, we'd be better off just colonizing Mars, now wouldn't we?

And perhaps we find it is already inhabited. We won't know until we get there. And when we find out, we find out the planet is inhabited with life forms which will utterly destroy our immune response and turn our organs into liquid shit. We have absolutely no defense to alien germs.
Eh. If we're talking realistically, long before then either we won't be human in any biological sense or we'll have been replaced. And by then our descendents will be used to living in space and will likely be more interested in colonizing that than any planets in the system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
Bottom line: I predict that 100,000 years from now, there will still be no human life outside of this solar system.
Personally, I predict that in a few centuries at most there won't be a significant amount of what we would call humans anywhere, in or out of this system.

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Finally, life on Earth gets wiped out by a natural or man-made phenomenon before the 100,000 years are up, and even if we happened to colonize Mars, the Mars colony withers and dies without mother Earth's help.
No, if we ever do colonize this system there's no reason to think that the colonies would be dependent on the homeworld. Especially since preventing such a extinction scenario is one of the major reasons to colonize space in the first place.
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Old 05-03-2013, 05:42 AM
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JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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Last question -- what about unmanned flybys of exoplanets (once they've been definitively detected)? Will it ever be worth the time and expense just to get some nicer pictures (and geologic tests, if they land) of those planets? (I'm talking about the closest ones, which by the law of averages I'm assuming will NOT harbor life.) I guess the answer depends partly on how good our Solar System-bound telescopes and such can ever get.

Last edited by JKellyMap; 05-03-2013 at 05:44 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:26 AM
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DrFidelius DrFidelius is online now
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I'm holding out for galactic colonization by the silicon-based children of the mind of Man. On a crusade to find and wreak vengence upon the race who caused our extinction.
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Old 05-03-2013, 06:32 AM
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CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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The current issues of Skeptical Inquirer has a good article on this. I thoughht this was what might have set the OP off, in fact, but he doesn't seem to give any indication that he read it. The SI article, in tyuirn, cites in large part an appendix to a 1960s article by Edward Purcell* that considers practical near-lightspeed travel in some detail and shows that it wouldn't be practical.


Occasionally SF writers will point out how extremely hard and unlikely the realities of near-luminal speeds are, but this makes for short, depressing, and often dull stories, so they take really high speed trabvel as a "given" asnd see wghere that gets them. It's really no different from Jules Verne making the assumption that firing his heroes out of a cannon (in From the Earth to the Moon) wouldn't simply smash them to pulp, sop that he really could proceed to the interesting stuff.


And occasionally someone will suggest a workaround. Physicist and Robert L. Forward wrote a book entitled Indistinguishable from Magic, in which he alternates essays about seemingly improbable high-tech possibilities with stories that use them. One of his favorites is near-luminal travel, and he devoted considerable time and effort to the topic, coming up with his "Starwisp" concept of laser-light-pressure-driven ultralight craft. For this, both the effective "engine" and the effective "reaction mass" don't have to be carried aboard and accelerated along with your payload, so you can avoid the absurdly higfh mass-to-payload ratios even matter-antimatter engines would, by Purcell's calculations, require**. But it's still a helluva huge effort and expenditure. Neverheless, his concept has been published in respectable journals, and I heard him lecture about it at a meeting of the American Institute of Astronautrcs and Aeronautics.








*Physicist and nobel prize-weinner. And author of my first college text in Electricity and Magnetism.


** Purcell came to the conclusion that using matter-antimatter you could accelerate to relativistic speeds with a ship-to-payload mass ratio that's about a single order of magnitude (a factor of teon or so). But if you actually wanted to slow down and stop, it required a couple of orders of magnitude. For even perfect fusion-fueled accerelation the ratios were completely absurd.

Last edited by CalMeacham; 05-03-2013 at 06:33 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:24 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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I'm not aware that NASA relies on the notion of interstellar travel for any funding; they have a hard enough time getting funding for interplanetary work.

Of course we will colonize Mars before any substantial push to the stars (if we ever get off this rock to stay). That hardly impinges on the necessity to go beyond.

I didn't see any comment on sublight voyages other than generation and sleeper ships. What about digitized minds, robots, and stored DNA? We don't have to transport whole people across the gulfs; we build them on arrival, or we don't bother with old-style biological bodies at all. So send out as many relatively-small probes as we can build, and accept that some fraction will go awry or be destroyed.

As for the predicted demise of humanity within 100,000 years: quite possible. But shouldn't we try to avoid that? Preserving our home world (as long as the sun remains amenable) and reaching out as far into space as we can manage--these seem like they should be fundamental species motives.

Why do you hate humanity, pizza man??

Last edited by Peremensoe; 05-03-2013 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JKellyMap View Post

More likely still is that we will detect life forms on some exoplanet, and know soon after that they're not "intelligent" in any way. We'll be able to say something like, "90% probability it's pondscum, 10% probability it's more like a slime mold," and that's it. We'll never be able to get close enough to know more.

Or -- does removing the human body from your scenarios help things at all? That is, might we be able to send a vehicle to said exoplanet and have it return to earth with a stlll-living sample of said pondscum?
In other words, we might not be able to colonize other planets, but maybe we could help exoplanet life forms colonize us.

Not such a great idea after all. Oh, well.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:48 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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So... no pizza delivery to Alpha Centauri, then?
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:57 AM
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JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
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So... no pizza delivery to Alpha Centauri, then?
I'm not so sure. That's why my follow-up questions focus on the feasibility of interstellar travel for:

1. Human bodies (looks like it's pretty unlikely)
2. Lower life forms/soft tissues (exoplanetary pondscum; earthly mozzarella, pepperoni, or tomato sauce...)
3. Just an unmanned, unpizza'd probe
4. Messages

Last edited by JKellyMap; 05-03-2013 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 05-03-2013, 07:58 AM
Antinor01 Antinor01 is offline
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So... no pizza delivery to Alpha Centauri, then?
Delivery in 30,000 years guaranteed or your pizza is free!
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
Of course we will colonize Mars before any substantial push to the stars (if we ever get off this rock to stay). That hardly impinges on the necessity to go beyond.

<snip>

As for the predicted demise of humanity within 100,000 years: quite possible. But shouldn't we try to avoid that? Preserving our home world (as long as the sun remains amenable) and reaching out as far into space as we can manage--these seem like they should be fundamental species motives.
I see these arguments made sometimes, like it's 'manifest destiny' to colonize Mars, or extend our species life span. 99%+ of life that ever lived on Earth have gone extinct. What makes us so special?

IMHO, our efforts and resources are better spend in solving earth-bound problems. Otherwise, we are likely to snuff ourselves out or soil our nest long before technology provides a life raft to some other place.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:18 AM
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I see these arguments made sometimes, like it's 'manifest destiny' to colonize Mars, or extend our species life span. 99%+ of life that ever lived on Earth have gone extinct. What makes us so special?

IMHO, our efforts and resources are better spend in solving earth-bound problems. Otherwise, we are likely to snuff ourselves out or soil our nest long before technology provides a life raft to some other place.
I'm going to go total nerd here and state that the utilization of space is the solution to our earth-bound problems.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:19 AM
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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.

2. The Oort Cloud is not a boulder-strewn rubble field like the Millennium Falcon went through. 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.

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. Presumably long before we could launch such a journey we'd be familiar with keeping people alive and well in habitats within our system. And no the colonists wouldn't be crammed into a ridiculously small ship.

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.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Askthepizzaguy View Post
We are not going to be doing any interstellar space travel
Then you had better come up with a way to stop Voyager 1, if it is not already travelling in interstellar space.
  #18  
Old 05-03-2013, 08:39 AM
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For your value of "we," maybe. But there is more to the Universe and physics than is comprehended by your puny Earth brains.
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Old 05-03-2013, 08:40 AM
Anne Neville Anne Neville is offline
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Radiation is a problem for sending humans to Mars. Some of this radiation comes from the Sun, but some of it is galactic cosmic rays. That's going to be a problem if you're talking about a longer space voyage than a Mars mission. It might also make your pizza taste funny when you finally get it.

If you get a pizza 30,000 years after you ordered it, do you take inflation into account when figuring the tip?
  #20  
Old 05-03-2013, 08:57 AM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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Why do you hate humanity, pizza man??
I think his other rants about his pizza delivery costumers explains the reason quite well
  #21  
Old 05-03-2013, 09:27 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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I see these arguments made sometimes, like it's 'manifest destiny' to colonize Mars, or extend our species life span. 99%+ of life that ever lived on Earth have gone extinct. What makes us so special?
Consciousness. Wonder. Art. We are the eyes of our world.

Of course, none of this is likely very special on a galactic or universal scale. But just as each person should have dignity and value among billions, so should each world have value among the uncounted.

I admit I may also have a certain bias.

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IMHO, our efforts and resources are better spend in solving earth-bound problems. Otherwise, we are likely to snuff ourselves out or soil our nest long before technology provides a life raft to some other place.
You notice I mentioned "preserving our home world" as the first of our species priorities. So, I agree--except that I don't think the goals are exclusive or that the one must wait on the other. As suggested, some of the solutions for this planet may grow out of things we learn or achieve in the course of reaching for others.



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I think his other rants about his pizza delivery costumers explains the reason quite well
Ah yes.
  #22  
Old 05-03-2013, 09:39 AM
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I don't know. Unlike certain properly impossible things, such as time travel and me ever having sex again, interstellar space travel isn't actually forbidden by the laws of physics.
  #23  
Old 05-03-2013, 09:47 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Send several (for redundancy) lightweight, high speed probes to another star; upon arrival they use local materials to build a laser receiver and colonial/industrial infrastructure. Some time afterwards, a communications laser arrives encoded with the recorded mind states of a number of humans (or whatever); new brains and bodies are constructed and the minds downloaded into them. Off the top of my head there's one scenario you didn't cover.
Wouldn't need to cover it, because it's more absurd than just sending the human bodies to begin with.

The machines required to synthesize and gestate human cells and grow them into adult hood will take up more space and be a lot harder to create than just sending human women. That's a lot simpler than sending a machine that can create a human woman- human women are already "machines" that can create more human beings. And do it a lot more easily and efficiently than any machine possibly could.

If we're going the redundancy route and we have mind beams and synthetic human bodies (clones), just send the human bodies. Assuming your mind beam technology existed, to "beam mind states" into a human body, that means it's possible to clone human beings and also clone your thoughts as well. So you just do that, and put them aboard several redundant vessels. They're clones, so who gives a damn. More than that, they're your clones. You created them to try to travel to another star system.

And if we're doing that, you send a bunch of seeds and bacteria and all manner of other DNA aboard several payloads, and even livestock. Otherwise you've got to send machines which are capable of synthesizing from raw materials all the chemicals found inside of a cell, and then they've got to literally build a cell. And make sure that it develops into a life form. That requires more technology than just sending the human bodies and livestock. So your proposed solution doesn't solve any problems associated with interstellar space travel that we didn't already know how to solve using less sophisticated technology. Building a human being out of inorganic matter is a lot more complicated than just freezing and shipping it.

And then you're talking about building a laser beam and using it to hit a target in your other star system, which is moving. That's one heck of a bulls-eye. But I'll assume for the moment that we can do this. It's one thing to have any light whatsoever be received via a laser pulse, it's quite another to send the amount of data contained within a human brain via a series of laser pulses. Nothing can interrupt this laser beam, or parts of your "mind" will be missing upon arrival. So we can't have, for example, one of those trans-neptunian objects moving across your beam. You can't have your clones forgetting how read or comprehend language.

But again, this doesn't solve any problem that we already know how to get around. You'd just send clones or really brave non-clone people, and send lots of them. The issue isn't that I'm afraid we will lose some people on the way there, the issue is that it will take too long at safe speeds. Unsafe speeds will destroy every single one of your spermatozooan seed craft due to the interstellar medium, so you must travel slow enough to move through the medium.

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Not at all. At astronomical distances it takes only a tiny nudge to miss an object. The last thing you would want is to turn at right angles like an ocean going vessel anyway; you'd be giving up all your forward velocity.
If you're traveling at a significant percentage of the speed of light, how do you detect what you're about to run into in time? Further, you'll be running into matter all the time. You're not going to be dodging dust or debris fields the entire way, and you can't really avoid hitting gas.

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That's a serious exaggeration.
Do you know of any materials which can withstand matter being hurled at it, at near light speed? How we study the insides of atoms is by hurling matter at itself at significant portions of the speed of light. And that splits atoms apart. There's no construction process that builds molecules which can survive such an impact, let alone things as large as spacecraft.

It's an exaggeration if we're not attempting to travel at light speed or anywhere close to it. But to traverse those distances, we've got to try.

http://earthsky.org/space/alpha-centauri-travel-time

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Originally Posted by earthsky
So how could we get to Alpha Centauri? Would a conventional rocket work? Consider the Space Shuttle, which traveled only a few hundred kilometers into space. If Earth were the size of a sand grain, this would be about the width of a hair in contrast to the 10 kilometers to Alpha Centauri. You’d need about 10,000 shuttle main engines in sequence just to build up a decent speed (say, 1/100th light speed). The Space Shuttles weren’t starships. At a maximum speed of about 17,600 mph (about 28,300 kph), it would have taken a Space Shuttle about 165,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri.
Going a whole lot faster than 17,600 miles per hour isn't really advisable. A cloud of asteroidal debris can ruin your entire day.

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Why? If you're going slow, build big; big enough to hold a town's worth of people. Have the thing travel between those comets and rogue planets, harvesting useful materials as it goes so it never runs out of fuel and supplies.
Well, that will certainly make the trip even longer.

I'm already assuming we can construct the ships that can do this in the first place. So we do that here on Earth, where we have the population and resources and don't have to worry about stopping and starting. We just build ship after ship. That's assuming we have the will to do this and the ability. There's enough matter here in the solar system to easily construct fleets of ships. Well, easier than a ship that's supposed to be traveling to another star system could possibly do.

So here, you've solved none of the problems I've described. You've just created additional problems of starting and stopping and building things along the way, which were never necessary problems to add to our discussion, especially since it solves nothing.

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Every so often it stops by a large chunk of interstellar debris, builds another ship out of it and moves half its population there. Keep this up for long enough and interstellar space will be filled with an ever expanding cloud of these ships traveling in all directions.
So instead of the "quick" 165,000 year journey, we might get put aboard a different vessel heading for an even more distant star system, another 200,000 years away.

Again, we can already build a fleet of ships heading in all directions, here in our home star system where it would be a lot simpler and feasible. The issue is not creating the ships, the issue is getting to a destination.

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No, if we ever do colonize this system there's no reason to think that the colonies would be dependent on the homeworld. Especially since preventing such a extinction scenario is one of the major reasons to colonize space in the first place.
If we are content to colonize only this star system, that's fine. But then all we're talking about is, for example, a Mars colony. So this ignores the question of why do we want to colonize interstellar space in the first place. If we're going to ignore the question, then we aren't really solving the problem of interstellar space travel, now are we?

Creating solutions to problems we already know how to solve more efficiently (and additional problems on top of that) doesn't help matters any.

All you did was ignore the question or make the problem more complicated with your responses. Which is fine, if that's the route you want to go.

I'm looking for less complicated, more efficient, actual solutions which don't ignore the problem.
  #24  
Old 05-03-2013, 09:53 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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The only counter (and hope) that I can offer is the following, taking into account we are talking about a scale of tens or even hundreds of thousands of years from now.

That being stated, consider the following:

1. Around 2000 years ago, our civilization believed the world might be flat (Eratosthenes is generally credited with discovering the curvature of our planet around 200 BC)

2. 800 years ago our civilization was just discovering the science of navigation and true north with little ability to do more than coastal sailing.

3. Just 200 years ago the idea of Earth based flight by man and machine was ludicrous (with apologies to Leonardo!).

4. A mere 100 years ago, the moon and other planets might as well have been as far from our reach as the Abell 1835 galaxy (which is over 13 Billion light years away)

In just the last 60 years we have accumulated exponentially more science, discovery and innovation than the previous millions of years that make up the entirety of our existence combined. So it stands to reason that their are concepts and technologies completely foreign to us which would make interstellar travel possible 500-5000 years from now (surely closer to the latter I agree).

The smartest minds on the planet have consistently missed - by a wide margin - on any form of prediction and technology seems to be advancing at an ever increasing rate. Are we certain that 1000 years from now, even Einstein wont be proven wrong on some level or that some unimagined technology could make the impossible, possible?

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  #25  
Old 05-03-2013, 09:55 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Dude, generation ship.
  #26  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
Personally, I predict that in a few centuries at most there won't be a significant amount of what we would call humans anywhere, in or out of this system.
In what way of speaking? Are you talking about a nuclear annihilation? If so, then, well, it's certainly possible we'll wipe out a very large chunk of humanity...though I'd imagine there would still be a fair few left. Maybe we'll cause our own extinction in a few centuries. Definitely a possibility. However, excepting that.....

If you aren't talking about nuclear annihilation, how do you figure? Evolution doesn't happen that fast. We've been anatomically modern in our current form for around 200,000 years, and the genus is around 2.4 million years old.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:01 AM
WordMan WordMan is offline
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I am quite willing to accept the premise of the OP given what we know today.

But humans have regularly demonstrated:
a) An inability to anticipate what we may discover
b) An inability to understand how that will evolve our understanding of the world/universe/reality around us - and what is possible in terms of tools we could then produce.

Or, a different way to ask the question - how big is the distance between the tech of 1,000 years ago vs. the tech of today VERSUS the tech of today vs. what we might be capable of 1,000 years from now (if we and the Earth are still around)?

Personally, I wouldn't bet against another Newton/Einstein level revelation or two along with the way. How many Einsteins are we away from coming at the space-travel challenge in a very different way we look at it now?

Last edited by WordMan; 05-03-2013 at 10:02 AM.
  #28  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:01 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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I didn't see any comment on sublight voyages other than generation and sleeper ships. What about digitized minds, robots, and stored DNA? We don't have to transport whole people across the gulfs; we build them on arrival, or we don't bother with old-style biological bodies at all. So send out as many relatively-small probes as we can build, and accept that some fraction will go awry or be destroyed.
Already commented. If you can send the robots, you can obviously send the clones as well. It would be much simpler and take up less space, and requires less advanced technology. Over-complicating the problem isn't necessary, since the problem is already complicated.

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As for the predicted demise of humanity within 100,000 years: quite possible. But shouldn't we try to avoid that?
Sure. One solution would be to ensure that we colonize other star systems.

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Preserving our home world (as long as the sun remains amenable) and reaching out as far into space as we can manage--these seem like they should be fundamental species motives.
I concur, this is why I try to reduce the size of the problem, not create new and unnecessary ones.

If you're just going to send robots and computers, with the intent to create the people when you get there, you might as well freeze the people and send them too. I guarantee you that livestock and seeds and stored food reserves and actual people will be easier to turn into a colony than manufacturing one cell at a time and trying to build a human colony from that.

The issue is getting there in the first place. So we're talking about firing sperm into space (a large number of redundant spacecraft) at very slow speeds (we're talking hundreds of thousands of years to destination) which was my entire point. We're not going to be doing that, because it's prohibitively expensive and the duration is longer than 100,000 years.

I mean, if you're going to go that slowly, you might as well put a message in a bottle and literally hurl it to the next star system. Never mind with all this technology nonsense. Just send out a bunch of probes filled with bacteria and shit, and hope it crashes into a planet sometime in the far future. Make panspermia a reality.

If you're going to replicate people using Star Trek replicator technology, then all you send is a computer with a database containing detailed files on DNA, a sensor array that detects star systems and knows how to navigate, and you send a replicator, and you build a billion of these things, and you send them at cruising speeds of 10,000 miles per hour in all directions, and hope that a few of them survive the journey and crash into alien planets.

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Why do you hate humanity, pizza man??
Well, mostly because of the kind of nonsense that causes people to murder other people in the name of their imaginary friend. And the folks that don't tip.

I'd be willing to freeze them and send them out as probes. They're useless to us down on Earth anyway.
  #29  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:11 AM
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Why would we not know anything about the local conditions before we got there? That'd be awfully silly of us, to go to all that effort to send a ship there without even looking to see what the conditions are, first. We're already pretty close to having the technology to detect life around other stars, certainly much closer than we are to being able to build a starship.

And yes, according to everything we know (or think we know) about physics, the trip would take a very long time. Or at least, a very long time compared to our individual lifespans. But it's still a blink of an eye compared to geologic timescales.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:15 AM
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Oh, and stop worrying about interstellar debris. For all practical purposes, there isn't any such thing. Even in our relatively dense solar system, and even in the asteroid belt, one of the densest regions of our solar system, do you know how our space probes avoid hitting anything? They just ignore the asteroids entirely, and trust that they won't be so incredibly unlucky as to hit something.
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Old 05-03-2013, 10:18 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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I disagree that machines to build people are no easier to transport than people. You don't need a woman, you just need a 'womb' and gametes. The tricky part is the mechanisms to support the infants and children. That's why assembling 'adult' bodies from non-organic materials on site might be most practical. Specialized robots to do this can certainly be smaller and simpler than the general-purpose bodies they build. Then download the stored minds. Then cultivate the bio-babies, if we're still attached to flesh as part of authentically human identity.

ETA: I would say that the murderers and bad tippers should be ineligible for either the cold-transport or the encoding. We may not want them here, but it would be worse to make them our legacy to the stars.

Last edited by Peremensoe; 05-03-2013 at 10:23 AM.
  #32  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by chargerrich View Post
The only counter (and hope) that I can offer is the following, taking into account we are talking about a scale of tens or even hundreds of thousands of years from now.

That being stated, consider the following:

1. Around 2000 years ago, our civilization believed the world might be flat (Eratosthenes is generally credited with discovering the curvature of our planet around 200 BC)

2. 800 years ago our civilization was just discovering the science of navigation and true north with little ability to do more than coastal sailing.

3. Just 200 years ago the idea of Earth based flight by man and machine was ludicrous (with apologies to Leonardo!).

4. A mere 100 years ago, the moon and other planets might as well have been as far from our reach as the Abell 1835 galaxy (which is over 13 Billion light years away)

In just the last 60 years we have accumulated exponentially more science, discovery and innovation than the previous millions of years that make up the entirety of our existence combined. So it stands to reason that their are concepts and technologies completely foreign to us which would make interstellar travel possible 500-5000 years from now (surely closer to the latter I agree).

The smartest minds on the planet have consistently missed - by a wide margin - on any form of prediction and technology seems to be advancing at an ever increasing rate. Are we certain that 1000 years from now, even Einstein wont be proven wrong on some level or that some unimagined technology could make the impossible, possible?
Thank you. I came to post exactly this.

Imagine 500 years ago if I told someone that I could take a device the size of the palm of my hand and talk to someone half way across the planet. I would get laughed at.
  #33  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:23 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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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?

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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.

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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.

Quote:
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.

Quote:
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.
  #34  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:26 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Oh, and stop worrying about interstellar debris. For all practical purposes, there isn't any such thing. Even in our relatively dense solar system, and even in the asteroid belt, one of the densest regions of our solar system, do you know how our space probes avoid hitting anything? They just ignore the asteroids entirely, and trust that they won't be so incredibly unlucky as to hit something.
LOL

I don't want to be on the interstellar craft designed by this guy.

Reputable scientists all agree the matter in between the stars is, in fact, a problem.

Being ignorant of the problem isn't a solution to it.
  #35  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:29 AM
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Anyone know what the theoretical distance limitations on qubit information transfer are?

Last edited by Muffin; 05-03-2013 at 10:32 AM.
  #36  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:33 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Originally Posted by Peremensoe View Post
I disagree that machines to build people are no easier to transport than people. You don't need a woman, you just need a 'womb' and gametes. The tricky part is the mechanisms to support the infants and children. That's why assembling 'adult' bodies from non-organic materials on site might be most practical.
Okay, we'll agree to disagree.

In the meantime, we have human women, and they can make more people already.

When we invent the technology your fiction requires, then we can measure its size, and then our debate will be over.

I still betcha a human woman will be smaller than such technology, and easier to make. For example, I can make a human woman just by fuckin' one.

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Specialized robots to do this can certainly be smaller and simpler than the general-purpose bodies they build. Then download the stored minds. Then cultivate the bio-babies, if we're still attached to flesh as part of authentically human identity.
Keeping in mind this does nothing to address the problem of getting there in the first place, and that we already know how to make human bodies without need of such technology, and that it adds complicated steps to an already complicated problem, and that it won't affect the travel time in the slightest, sure.

I just want to return to my main premise, which is that we're trying to make the problem easier to solve, and the number of problems involved to be a smaller number, and the number of years required to be fewer. Increasing the number of problems without solving any of them doesn't help.

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ETA: I would say that the murderers and bad tippers should be ineligible for either the cold-transport or the encoding. We may not want them here, but it would be worse to make them our legacy to the stars.
Whatever happened to the Christian concept of redemption and forgiveness?

Give them a few thousand years to think about what they've done, I say.

Last edited by Askthepizzaguy; 05-03-2013 at 10:34 AM.
  #37  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:35 AM
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LOL

I don't want to be on the interstellar craft designed by this guy.
I like this design.
  #38  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:37 AM
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I'm not aware that NASA relies on the notion of interstellar travel for any funding; they have a hard enough time getting funding for interplanetary work.
Yeah, this.

Since when has Nasa been in the business of promising interstellar jaunts? Even getting a manned Mars mission off the ground is pretty hard going.
  #39  
Old 05-03-2013, 10:50 AM
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I am quite willing to accept the premise of the OP given what we know today.

But humans have regularly demonstrated:
a) An inability to anticipate what we may discover
b) An inability to understand how that will evolve our understanding of the world/universe/reality around us - and what is possible in terms of tools we could then produce.

Or, a different way to ask the question - how big is the distance between the tech of 1,000 years ago vs. the tech of today VERSUS the tech of today vs. what we might be capable of 1,000 years from now (if we and the Earth are still around)?

Personally, I wouldn't bet against another Newton/Einstein level revelation or two along with the way. How many Einsteins are we away from coming at the space-travel challenge in a very different way we look at it now?
I can accept this idea as a concept. The issue is that you still need to get there, and no amount of technological advancement avoids the problem of getting there, and getting there means moving at some speed, for some length of time.

At certain speeds, the matter you're sending is in real danger of being damaged or destroyed by the medium you're moving in.

What is the theoretical limit for moving through ocean water, for example? You could construct the craft out of exotic molecules, and it will still be made out of atoms, yes? How fast can those atoms move through water before they no longer resemble the craft you built? There's a hard, physical limit you're running into. And generating shields to push the water out of the way still requires energy, and a lot of it, to move matter in such a way, and at such speeds. And there's a limit to how much energy you'll extract from matter, because that involves cosmological constants.

We're not going to extract from a neutron more energy than is contained within the neutron. We can't conjure matter and energy like magic. We live in a physical universe and we are bound by its laws. Math is not something we can avoid with pretending. We have to find a way to make the math work.

The amount of energy required to move a few atoms of water out of your way, if you're traveling near the speed of light, is immense, because you've got to either project energy/forces very far away from your ship (to the tune of a few million miles) or you've got to accelerate that matter very quickly, which adds to the energy cost.

And the problem of getting there slowly is that it takes too long. Even our nearest stellar neighbors would take hundreds of thousands of years traveling at speeds wherein we could maneuver out of the way of debris larger than a grain of sand. Then, it's got to be a star system worth getting to. Imagine we travel to Proxima Centauri and find that there's a gas giant there and nothing else.

Well of course we find out before we travel. But finding out doesn't change whether there is a habitable (for even loose definitions of habitable) globe to colonize. There either is or there is not. And if there is not, that means you have to travel to a different, and more distant, star system. Which adds to the travel time.

Given my prediction that this wouldn't happen within 100,000 years, taking more than that length of time to get to another star system satisfies the requirements of my prediction. If you want to get there faster, you have to figure out how, and you don't do that by either ignoring the problem, or imagining ways to make the problem more complicated.

Agreed, you could build a probe that can assemble matter out of energy. That's possible. It still needs to get there in one piece. How long will it take?

That's the challenge.

If it takes too long, then just send in the clones. You haven't saved me any time. I want to do this before 100,000 years have passed. Tell me how.

Then tell NASA how, because they don't know either.
  #40  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:00 AM
Askthepizzaguy Askthepizzaguy is offline
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Yeah, this.

Since when has Nasa been in the business of promising interstellar jaunts? Even getting a manned Mars mission off the ground is pretty hard going.
Well, I hear folks like Neil Degrasse Tyson and all sorts of physicists and astronomers and scientists of all stripes tell us that the reason we're funding NASA isn't just to collect data, but to spread humanity throughout the stars.

We already have probes collecting data. So why fund manned missions to anything? Why colonize Mars? If you really want to assure humanity's future, you have to escape the Sol system. We already have the technology to colonize Mars. It's just prohibitively expensive. So you watch the science channels and discovery channels and you hear all these scientists talk about looking beyond, and ensuring humanity's long term survival, and all this, and they build up our interest by talking about possibly needing light-speed travel, and that's all well and good to keep the public interested in space.

But if you want to make good on those promises, you need a method of getting there. And to me, 100 thousand years is a ludicrous amount of time to wait. We might as well strap people to the next Voyager-style probe for all the good that does. So talk about the technology that allows us to do this faster.

All I see so far is folks ignoring the problem, adding to the travel time, or requiring technology we don't have to do things we already know how to do.

I already know how to make the problem worse. You don't win the Nobel Prize for that kind of an idea. We're not trying to make the problem worse, we're trying to solve the problem or make it less daunting.
  #41  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:01 AM
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iiandyiiii iiandyiiii is online now
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In this thread I came up with a bad-ass solution to the problem of a sudden, impending extinction-level-event in the near future- here's a slightly modified version that I think works here:

Seedships. They can take their time- it doesn't matter if it takes hundreds of thousands of years to get there, if that's the only safe speed to travel between the stars. One big problem with spaceships is all the mass for people and life-support- food, air, water, recycling, etc. So we eliminate that. Load up automated ships with genetic material (and life forms that can be frozen or otherwise suspended, like seeds, bacteria, embryos, etc)- and send them out on their way towards various star systems that may have earthlike planets. Then the robot ships land on a world with some water and whatnot, and start an accelerated "evolution" program- first seed the soil and atmosphere with microorganisms. After a few years (or dozens or hundreds or even thousands more- there's no hurry), when the soil and atmosphere is at a certain level, the robots start planting the plant seeds, along with defrosted bee and ant embryos, and work their way up the tree of life- when the conditions are ok for the next "level" of seeding, create and release those animals (fish into the ocean, insects/amphibians/reptiles on land, etc). Sort of simulate the biological history of Earth, thus creating a new ecosystem in the time frame of perhaps tens of thousands of years- as weird and different as it undoubtedly will be, as the released life adapts to a new environment. The robots can stop at the point that the baby animals need a mama to take care of them (so no birds and mammals, probably). And the final step will be fertilizing the stored human eggs with the stored human sperm (or defrosting the human embryos), growing them in an artificial womb (perhaps cloned from frozen tissue), and having soft, furry robot mamas (perhaps with projected human faces) feed the babies formula, talk baby talk, and play them videos from the ancient human culture to teach them language and human interaction.

And so after the thousands of years or however long, the first humans in millenia will awaken to a new (and undoubtedly much stranger) Earth, to frolic and build a new civilization, and experience new and weird psychoses brought about by having been raised by furry robot mamas.

Last edited by iiandyiiii; 05-03-2013 at 11:03 AM.
  #42  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:03 AM
dataguy dataguy is offline
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Then again, maybe some of the limitations are not technical, but ethical.

The Outer Limits: Think Like a Dinosaur

Last edited by dataguy; 05-03-2013 at 11:03 AM.
  #43  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:04 AM
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Interstellar?!? Too easy. I predict commuter intergalactic space travel soon, and it will be with an internal combustion engine. It’s just a matter of balancing horsepower and g-force.
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“Do you believe in such nonsense?” "No, but they say it works even if you don't believe in it.”—Niels Bohr
  #44  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:16 AM
YogSothoth YogSothoth is offline
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But you just gotta believe!
  #45  
Old 05-03-2013, 11:35 AM
Peremensoe Peremensoe is offline
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Colonizing Mars is a reasonable step on the way to any 'manned' (in any sense) missions beyond the system. We may "have the technology" in a drawing-board sense, but as with all explorations, I'm sure we'll learn a lot more by actually going and doing it.

So while NASA isn't working on interstellar objectives directly, nor promising them, as far as I've heard, the in-system targets are still progress on that long road. Neil deGrasse Tyson is not wrong to say that funding NASA now makes sense for our distant-future species objectives.

But it is true that, to justify NASA funding now to most people, the argument that it will help us address the present and near-future problems of Earth (which I believe is also valid) is the more compelling angle.
  #46  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:25 PM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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Then you had better come up with a way to stop Voyager 1, if it is not already travelling in interstellar space.
Been gone, what, 35 years? Its signals take 17 hours to reach Earth, so it'll be roughly a light day away at 50 years into its mission. That'll put it a light year away in only 18,500 years.

OK, just go faster, get there sooner. No brainer. Until you get to where you're going and need to stop.
  #47  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:31 PM
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I am quite willing to accept the premise of the OP given what we know today.

But humans have regularly demonstrated:
a) An inability to anticipate what we may discover
b) An inability to understand how that will evolve our understanding of the world/universe/reality around us - and what is possible in terms of tools we could then produce.

Or, a different way to ask the question - how big is the distance between the tech of 1,000 years ago vs. the tech of today VERSUS the tech of today vs. what we might be capable of 1,000 years from now (if we and the Earth are still around)?

Personally, I wouldn't bet against another Newton/Einstein level revelation or two along with the way. How many Einsteins are we away from coming at the space-travel challenge in a very different way we look at it now?
Devil's advocate: it's a little harder in this case because we are fighting basic, universal laws of physics, not just an arbitrary technological barrier.
  #48  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:42 PM
Smapti Smapti is online now
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IMHO, our efforts and resources are better spend in solving earth-bound problems. Otherwise, we are likely to snuff ourselves out or soil our nest long before technology provides a life raft to some other place.
I would argue that "ensuring that the entire human civilization and/or species isn't wiped out by a nuclear war, pandemic, or natural disaster of a global scale that we can't possibly foresee or prevent" is among those "earth-bound problems".
  #49  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:42 PM
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beowulff beowulff is online now
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I'm holding out for galactic colonization by the silicon-based children of the mind of Man. On a crusade to find and wreak vengence upon the race who caused our extinction.
Never forget that, Sam!
  #50  
Old 05-03-2013, 01:31 PM
Capt Kirk Capt Kirk is offline
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No, say it is not so dear OP. You are breaking my heart

::sneaks out to find new user name::

Capt

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