Can .99c Be Achieved? Exploring Interstellar Travel Possibilities

In summary, it is theoretically possible to build a vehicle that can accelerate to .99 C, but it would require significant advances in technology that are not currently on the drawing board. Beamed propulsion, matter/antimatter reactions, and Bussard scramjets are not viable options for interstellar travel. The potential for a warp drive to significantly decrease the amount of energy needed for interstellar travel has been proposed, but there are still many challenges and limitations to making it a reality. Wormholes are also a possibility, but they also require technologies that may not be possible to achieve. In short, while the concept of traveling at .99 C is possible in theory, the practicality of achieving it is currently very low.
  • #36
ryan_m_b said:
No offence but I am always surprised when people feel the need to say this. Ideas like this are always long term goals needing huge amounts of work in a variety of fields to even assess properly, which is fine as long as the limitations are realized and discussed. More often or not people simply propose 'fantastic answer X' and discuss the ramifications rather than the necessities of that idea.

Using your example yes; no one ever does wake up with a fully formed idea but once they have one they work out what all the known hurdles are, work out the hurdles of those hurdles and then set to work discussing the issue with as much information as possible. There is a big difference in discussing the feasibility of an idea and proposing it when there is no proper basis to be discussed.

So your saying that anytime anyone ever has an idea they should never tell anyone about it so they never set any long term goals in any field and the limitations are never realized and discussed. And if they don't have the correct qualifications or skill set and can't even overcome the first hurdle by them self then... I guess the idea might as well have never occurred. It's actually more likely that someone without a master's in physics will come up with a wonderful idea because they don't have all these entrenched concepts of what is and is not possible from years of memorizing and spitting out exactly what teachers want us to say, most of us convincing ourselves that all the popularly accepted theories are laws. Ideas, especially fantastical ones, are the foundation for any kind of progress. If you look at history you yourself can see patterns. Scientists ridiculed the idea of humans flying. Many people over the years tried to disprove them and failed. Yet the idea remained out there because someone proposed it without knowing exactly how to do it and someone finally made that idea a reality. If no one ever spoke of that idea because no one knew exactly how that would work then we would not have planes and everything resulting from that including the space program and the huge boon of technology off the 1960s space race. Actually let's just go back to being cavemen who don't know how to do anything. I'm not going to tell you about how if you rub your hands together it feels warm and we should try rubbing other things together to see what happens because frankly I don't know exactly how it works.

Basically your inherent idea of having to prove something before you even propose it being discussed is pretty much a paradox... Unless of course your some kind of science god and then you wouldn't need to propose it being discussed. I don't know if you realized but by responding to me you proposed the unfounded unestablished idea that in order for something to be discussed it must be established therefore your point is null and void merely by the fact that you posted that. AND even if you were right your response was discussing my unfounded and unestablished idea which apparently according to you shouldn't be discussed so by using our superior math skills you see your post does not equal what it would need to in order to be true therefore it is not a correct answer.

I want to make it clear I am in no way supporting the references to He3 mining, merely his idea of rather than establishing human colonies instead establishing robot outposts used as colonies or gas stations or trajectory adjusters etc. That is in no way a bad idea and sarcastically mocking him for posting it is just wrong. Next time you go to the future is there enough room in your time machine for me to come too? Little bit of sarcasm there because without overcoming the huge technical hurdles ideas like time machines are just interesting fantasies.

And Drakkith I don't think you really understood what I was attempting to say. But that's kind of wrong... The applicable technologies are invented or improved usually resulting from the idea that something should be invented or improved. Unless I'm misunderstanding you which I might.
 
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  • #37
Monsterleg said:
So your saying that anytime anyone ever has an idea they should never tell anyone about it so they never set any long term goals in any field and the limitations are never realized and discussed.

Not at all, I was specifically saying the opposite of this.

Monsterleg said:
And if they don't have the correct qualifications or skill set and can't even overcome the first hurdle by them self then... I guess the idea might as well have never occurred.

Nope. What I was saying is that it's perfectly fine to have some ideas but it is pointless without acknowledging or raising the point of the technological hurdles.
Monsterleg said:
It's actually more likely that someone without a master's in physics will come up with a wonderful idea because they don't have all these entrenched concepts of what is and is not possible from years of memorizing and spitting out exactly what teachers want us to say, most of us convincing ourselves that all the popularly accepted theories are laws.

Ridiculous. Without the proper training your ideas will be inherently simple, not thought out and ultimately unworkable. The rest of your writing about master's degrees and education is drivel, proper education in science is not just spitting out answers.
Monsterleg said:
Ideas, especially fantastical ones, are the foundation for any kind of progress. If you look at history you yourself can see patterns. Scientists ridiculed the idea of humans flying. Many people over the years tried to disprove them and failed. Yet the idea remained out there because someone proposed it without knowing exactly how to do it and someone finally made that idea a reality. If no one ever spoke of that idea because no one knew exactly how that would work then we would not have planes and everything resulting from that including the space program and the huge boon of technology off the 1960s space race. Actually let's just go back to being cavemen who don't know how to do anything. I'm not going to tell you about how if you rub your hands together it feels warm and we should try rubbing other things together to see what happens because frankly I don't know exactly how it works.

For a start it is a fallacy that even if scientists ridiculed in the past and were wrong that it is wrong to always point out the flaws. Secondly the vast majority of knowledge and technology has been discovered and devised by scientists. You have a naive view that scientists occupy some clichéd ivory tower of dogma. You are also completely missing my point again. I have not said anything against coming up with ideas and proposing them, I was suggesting that discussion has to revolve around the exploration of the technological hurdles involved rather than a discussion of the ramifications of the technology.
Monsterleg said:
Basically your inherent idea of having to prove something before you even propose it being discussed is pretty much a paradox... Unless of course your some kind of science god and then you wouldn't need to propose it being discussed. I don't know if you realized but by responding to me you proposed the unfounded unestablished idea that in order for something to be discussed it must be established therefore your point is null and void merely by the fact that you posted that. AND even if you were right your response was discussing my unfounded and unestablished idea which apparently according to you shouldn't be discussed so by using our superior math skills you see your post does not equal what it would need to in order to be true therefore it is not a correct answer.

Rubbish, I have suggested nothing of the sort. Here is a very simple example for you;

I was opposing;
"Here is blue sky idea X. If we had blue sky idea we could do A, B, C, D, E..."

And encouraging;
"Here is blue sky idea X. I think that A, B, C, D, E...are all important technological hurdles to overcome. Here are my ideas about that, what are yours? I think it's important because with blue sky idea we could do A, B, C, D, E..."

So put simply I am encouraging discussion of the hurdles over discussion of the ramifications because without the former the latter cannot be done properly.
Monsterleg said:
I want to make it clear I am in no way supporting the references to He3 mining, merely his idea of rather than establishing human colonies instead establishing robot outposts used as colonies or gas stations or trajectory adjusters etc. That is in no way a bad idea and sarcastically mocking him for posting it is just wrong. Next time you go to the future is there enough room in your time machine for me to come too? Little bit of sarcasm there because without overcoming the huge technical hurdles ideas like time machines are just interesting fantasies.

Your tone here is completely out of order. I have not mocked anyone. You have completely misunderstood everything I have said and have then acted in an arrogant way towards a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man" of what I have said.
 
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  • #38
So what your saying is you're not opposed to the proposition of a new idea, merely the way in which he was trying to use a farfetched idea to answer a problem without any foundation for it to actually be applicable?
If so that makes me feel a lot better. I get pretty irritated when people tell other people they aren't allowed to have ideas.

ryan_m_b said:
Ridiculous. Without the proper training your ideas will be inherently simple, not thought out and ultimately unworkable. The rest of your writing about master's degrees and education is drivel, proper education in science is not just spitting out answers.

That is a very simple concept I'm surprised your arguing this. Maybe you think I meant that someone without the skill set will make it a reality? No I meant that they can propose ideas that wouldn't normally be considered because they are removed from all the information. It's a pretty standard concept applying to every aspect of life not just science. Maybe I just didn't phrase it right. Someone who is disconnected from a situation often offers a new viewpoint or idea that hasn't already been assessed by those involved with it.
ryan_m_b said:
For a start it is a fallacy that even if scientists ridiculed in the past and were wrong that it is wrong to always point out the flaws. Secondly the vast majority of knowledge and technology has been discovered and devised by scientists. You have a naive view that scientists occupy some clichéd ivory tower of dogma.

Hahaha I feel like we're arguing about a relationship, how many times does one person drag up something from the past and the other person says that's not fair =p It is not wrong to point out the flaws because many scientists get carried away with assuming that the theories they are working under are fact. Yet historically many of the theories that are often purported as fact change completely over time. So the pattern shall continue today. Yes I believe that most scientists feel that they know everything which is partially why I'm working towards my degree, I plan on disproving as many scientific ideas as I can as well as proposing new ideas to work with. I do know a few scientists who are open-minded but the majority I have met and read about in articles are very arrogant and act like anyone without this education that I driveled all about is not even worth listening to. I don't know what your definition of scientist amounts to at this point because when talking about the vast amount of technology and knowledge we are talking about the entire history of the human race so I don't think I'll get into that it's too ambiguous. But I would like to note that different people place different value on different kinds of knowledge so that's probably better left out of your statement because knowledge is everything from how to pick your nose effectively and sneakily to what the color of a star 25 million light years away is. I would put my money on the nose-picking knowledge winning out as being more "useful" even though I personally would rather know about the star. Then it breaks down to did a scientist make that up and does more useful knowledge qualify as more knowledge and how can something like the color of a star be knowledge when we don't actually know it's just like 99% accurate and that would be an endless argument and a waste of time and no one would be right.

ryan_m_b said:
Your tone here is completely out of order. I have not mocked anyone. You have completely misunderstood everything I have said and have then acted in an arrogant way towards a strawman of what I have said.

I will apologize as it was my choice to behave that way regardless of what you did. I still feel like you mocked him but if it wasn't because of the idea itself just the way he was attempting to use it then I don't really care because I have no real interest in the whole He3 thing. I don't think I've ever seen strawman used like that that's pretty neat I'm going to keep mental note of that. Start throwing that at people and watch their confusion :smile:
 
  • #39
Monsterleg said:
That is a very simple concept I'm surprised your arguing this. Maybe you think I meant that someone without the skill set will make it a reality? No I meant that they can propose ideas that wouldn't normally be considered because they are removed from all the information. It's a pretty standard concept applying to every aspect of life not just science. Maybe I just didn't phrase it right. Someone who is disconnected from a situation often offers a new viewpoint or idea that hasn't already been assessed by those involved with it.

This is fine in every day situations where a new viewpoint can notice a problem or something. Your previous posts make it sound like NASA tourist B can barge into the control room, point out something on the screen, and suddenly everyone is like "Ohhh..." and bam, the satellite is fixed.

It is not wrong to point out the flaws because many scientists get carried away with assuming that the theories they are working under are fact.

This is a very widespread misconception. ALL of science is fact only to a certain accuracy. Newtons laws of motion ARE a fact. They work correctly in certain situations, and we use them in those situations. But they aren't 100% accurate and don't apply to everything. That doesn't make them wrong or not fact. Very few things turn out to be completely true or false or wrong or right.

Yet historically many of the theories that are often purported as fact change completely over time. So the pattern shall continue today.

Yes, just like relativity is proposed as fact currently, as is Quantum Mechanics. And they both ARE facts to the best degree that we can use that term. Again, they may not be 100% accurate and may change to give way to a more accurate theory, but that does not make them false.
Yes I believe that most scientists feel that they know everything which is partially why I'm working towards my degree, I plan on disproving as many scientific ideas as I can as well as proposing new ideas to work with.

Well, I hope you don't feel bad when you discover that there is a reason that only certain ideas are considered mainstream science.

I do know a few scientists who are open-minded but the majority I have met and read about in articles are very arrogant and act like anyone without this education that I driveled all about is not even worth listening to.

Have you ever considered that there might be a reason OTHER than them being arrogant and close minded that they don't listen to people?

I would put my money on the nose-picking knowledge winning out as being more "useful" even though I personally would rather know about the star.

That's nice but I don't see how the argument of what is "more useful" has any place here.

Then it breaks down to did a scientist make that up and does more useful knowledge qualify as more knowledge and how can something like the color of a star be knowledge when we don't actually know it's just like 99% accurate and that would be an endless argument and a waste of time and no one would be right.

If something is 99.99999999% accurate, you don't consider us to "know" it? If so, then no one knows anything, as nothing is 100% accurate.

Honestly you seem a little biased against "scientists". I'm not sure why. Do you not enjoy personal computers, air conditioning, mp3 players, comfy chairs, good food at a reasonable price, medicine, and millions of other things that never would have been developed had scientists not existed?
 
  • #40
And Drakkith I don't think you really understood what I was attempting to say. But that's kind of wrong... The applicable technologies are invented or improved usually resulting from the idea that something should be invented or improved. Unless I'm misunderstanding you which I might.

I'm saying that people don't wake up one day with crazy advanced concepts that then get worked out and made into reality. To me, crazy advanced concepts mean something that hands down isn't feasible at the time, at all. If yours is something less drastic, then maybe. It all depends on what you mean.

Edit: To me your post implies that this concept is thought of, and then a short time later with little difficulty it is made. Like the idea of a "backyard scientist" somehow proving all of science wrong and whatnot.
 
  • #41
Drakkith I'm kind of confused because I think you didn't understand most of what I said I'll do my best to clear it up.
Drakkith said:
This is fine in every day situations where a new viewpoint can notice a problem or something. Your previous posts make it sound like NASA tourist B can barge into the control room, point out something on the screen, and suddenly everyone is like "Ohhh..." and bam, the satellite is fixed.
Nonono that isn't what I meant at all lol. Although I will not refute that there is a possibility it could happen :-p

Drakkith said:
This is a very widespread misconception. ALL of science is fact only to a certain accuracy. Newtons laws of motion ARE a fact. They work correctly in certain situations, and we use them in those situations. But they aren't 100% accurate and don't apply to everything. That doesn't make them wrong or not fact. Very few things turn out to be completely true or false or wrong or right.
Using that argument I can say anything is fact... You're right nothing is 100% accurate so instead of saying everything is fact how about you say there are no facts, merely factors of varying accuracy. That helps your point a lot more than saying everything is fact just with different accuracies. It is more clear and is saying almost exactly the same thing. Except I guess your wording makes it sound like the statement goes against what I was saying and my wording supports it hmmmm. You should have brought up how every single theory is based upon other theories and that if we didn't assume that the foundation theories were fact then we'd never make any progress which beats my argument hands down. Then I'd say you have to draw a line because certain theories I'm willing to let be considered fact and certain theories I wouldn't. But then you can say well that would never work because drawing a line is a result of the opinion of whoever draws this line, plus you could then say that my whole argument about new ideas. New ideas are based not upon the solid foundation theories but generally are based off the theories I would consider too shaky. Then I would be beaten so my whole point about not treating theories as fact would be pointless. There you go. If I encourage the creation of new ideas in science, which I very much do, then I have to be able to consider current theories as fact.

Drakkith said:
Well, I hope you don't feel bad when you discover that there is a reason that only certain ideas are considered mainstream science.
I'm kind of confused by this statement but no I won't feel bad if I can't disprove anything because by the process of attempting to disprove it I give myself a very solid foundation to work with it if it survives. I'm not some conceited person who has to disprove everything I'm just a skeptical curious lad. I seek to learn as much as I can, hence my whole reason for arguing about such things, if you can give me an alternative way of thinking about something and "win" the argument I'm not going to be mad, I've just learned something new. I take it into account and reassess my own thoughts accordingly. That's why I enjoy discussions or arguments or whatever you want to call them because whatever happens I will learn something based on how you argue and if you happen to convince me of something I've learned a whole new way of thinking. It's a healthy process to always seek to learn.

Drakkith said:
Have you ever considered that there might be a reason OTHER than them being arrogant and close minded that they don't listen to people?
I have most definitely considered it I usually don't make rash generalizations about anything. It is a pattern I have repeatedly noticed even when they are currently wrong or they turn out to be wrong later.

Drakkith said:
That's nice but I don't see how the argument of what is "more useful" has any place here.
I was kinda making a little joke about all that it was completely irrelevant. Separate that paragraph into two sections and it'll make more sense to you.

Drakkith said:
If something is 99.99999999% accurate, you don't consider us to "know" it? If so, then no one knows anything, as nothing is 100% accurate.

Honestly you seem a little biased against "scientists". I'm not sure why. Do you not enjoy personal computers, air conditioning, mp3 players, comfy chairs, good food at a reasonable price, medicine, and millions of other things that never would have been developed had scientists not existed?
Once again that went along with the whole knowledge thing that was a little joke you obviously misunderstood.

You are very correct I am extremely biased against scientists. It's pretty ironic that I seek to be one. Idk... I kind of wish I lived in the medieval ages I would be an awesome knight. But yes I guess even knights need science.

Drakkith said:
I'm saying that people don't wake up one day with crazy advanced concepts that then get worked out and made into reality. To me, crazy advanced concepts mean something that hands down isn't feasible at the time, at all. If yours is something less drastic, then maybe. It all depends on what you mean.

Edit: To me your post implies that this concept is thought of, and then a short time later with little difficulty it is made. Like the idea of a "backyard scientist" somehow proving all of science wrong and whatnot.
That is not what I was saying at all. In "fact" :-p you just reiterated a point I had been attempting to make earlier.
 
  • #42
Monster, I have no idea what you are getting at. You don't make any sense and seem to contradict half of what you said previously, and I for one do NOT like to argue. It just irritates me. Also, this is a forum, so unless you REALLY make it clear that you're joking with something, then it most likely isn't going to be taken as a joke at all.
 
  • #43
I too have no idea where this thread has gone. You do seem to have a severe misunderstanding of what science is Monster and what scientists actually do. You say you want to disprove as many scientific theories as possible? This is what science is all about! We all spend every hour working as hard as possible to test established knowledge to destruction. But when something works a billion times in a row in the same conditions you don't expect it to change the billionth and first (and if it did you would suspect some hidden factor has changed and would be prompted to look for that). Good luck in your degree, if it is in science I'm sure you will be happy to see how it really works.
 
  • #45
Maximilan said:

The problem with antimatter, apart from the fact we cannot contain it nor make it in usable quantities, is that if we could manufacture and store it we have just created the worst weapon ever. How would you feel knowing that flying around the system were ships that could decimate most of the life on Earth just by crashing into it?

In my opinion it often gets overlooked that if we did attain the horrendous energies needed for space travel there are very bad implications. It's akin to fitting every commercial jet with a nuclear bomb ready to go off at the slightest nudge.
 
  • #46
Ryan_m_b said:
In my opinion it often gets overlooked that if we did attain the horrendous energies needed for space travel there are very bad implications. It's akin to fitting every commercial jet with a nuclear bomb ready to go off at the slightest nudge.

But which is more likely: will man listen to the voice of caution, or continue to strain even more to hear the faint whispers that come back from the dark at CERN? (dun - dun - dun)

"In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?"
- William Blake



My apologies to the original poster for side tracking this thread - this will be my last post. Thank you guys for your input, I think I'm good to go for my shot at Sci-Fi :)
 
  • #47
Ryan_m_b said:
It wouldn't matter if it increased its acceleration, it just needs to have a constant acceleration but there are problems with this:

A) Supplying it with enough fuel to get to 0.99c - taking a http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VASIMR" as the best speculative ion drive with a specific impulse of 30,000 seconds you would need ~1000 parts kg fuel for every 1kg of ship

B) Having enough thrust to reach 0.99c in a reasonable time - taking VASIMR again if we assume a 1 tonne ship with 1000 tonnes of fuel then with a thrust of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster#Comparisons" the ship will be capable of an average acceleration of 1e-6 and would reach 0.99c in roughly a million years.

C) All the other engineering issues of energy, waste heat etc
What do you mean move through a shorter space? From all reference frames the ship would have traveled the same distance.

I was talking about from an observational point of view but yes I agree, it will have still covered the same distance although it might appear time and length contraction concerns would seem somewhat different dependant on the non relativistic observer, naively at least.
 
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  • #48
Maximilan said:
But which is more likely: will man listen to the voice of caution, or continue to strain even more to hear the faint whispers that come back from the dark at CERN? (dun - dun - dun)

"In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?"
- William Blake

My apologies to the original poster for side tracking this thread - this will be my last post. Thank you guys for your input, I think I'm good to go for my shot at Sci-Fi :)

Well the Pandora's box of nuclear warfare has been open for over 60 years now and despite coming close we had the sense not to have a war of that kind. The argument of "it's there therefore it will be done" does not stick I'm afraid. The idea of some countries getting nuclear weapons is enough to invoke a worldwide diplomatic crisis, imagine how it would be if you proposed building vehicles that could wipe out the planet?
 

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