Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Generation ships v. hibernation ships?

  1. Aug 21, 2016 #1
    I'm a fan of hibernation ships because the crew that is selected to go is the crew that lands on the new world. I have a tough time seeing a crew that is 222 generations removed from the original crew being ready to investigate and develop a new planet.

    However, I'm open to other views, so whatcha got?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2016 #2

    Bandersnatch

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Let's see, advantages of hibernation:
    + properly trained and motivated mission crew
    + easy recruitment of stable individuals ('would you like to see another world?' vs 'would you like to spend your remaining days and die in a confined artificial environment?')
    + no need for elaborate hydroponic, entertainment, educational, and every other kind of facilities required to keep a society alive, sane, and trained for the intended mission
    + low power consumption en route
    + lower mass = lower fuel requirement = faster travel time

    Whereas advantages of generation ships:
    + IS SO COOL, DUDE! I mean, a city in space, yo.
     
  4. Aug 21, 2016 #3
    Better than mine. Full props, Bandersnatch. BTW, how are things on Jinx?
     
  5. Aug 21, 2016 #4

    Bandersnatch

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Heh, I'm not the Larry Niven kind. I'm the Lewis Carroll sort.
     
  6. Aug 21, 2016 #5
    T'was a brillig choice.

    Have you seen "The Last Mimzy" or read "Mimzy Were The Borogroves"?
     
  7. Aug 21, 2016 #6

    Bandersnatch

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I can't say I have. I should definitely put it on my reading/watching list, though.
     
  8. Aug 21, 2016 #7

    phyzguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    If you look ahead a few hundred or a few thousand years, it's easy to imagine that large numbers of people will be living in space habitats of the type envisioned in Gerard O'Neill's "The High Frontier". These structures could be quite large and quite pleasant places to live. Once people are accustomed to living there, it really doesn't change things very much for the inhabitants to propel one of these structures toward a distant star. If you go through the energetics, accelerating a space habitat up to ~1% of the speed of light seems feasible, which gets you to Alpha Centauri in about 500 years (15-20 generations). Life wouldn't be all that different for the people in the structure - they would be living in the same environment, and they would still be in constant communication with the Solar System, they just couldn't physically travel back to locations in the Solar System. So they would be giving up the opportunity to travel to other Solar System locations in exchange for access to a new solar system. Once they arrive at the new star, they could begin building new habitats and start expanding through the new system. I think many people would opt to make such a journey.
     
  9. Aug 21, 2016 #8
    I can't help but thinking of the "intermediate" generations as throw-aways in generation ships.
     
  10. Aug 21, 2016 #9
    An asteroid colony dont have to maintain life support without exterior resources for hundred years. Probably a hundred people enough for a mining colony since they swap people with Earth, while a colony seed on a distant planet rather require thousands of people.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2016
  11. Aug 21, 2016 #10

    phyzguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    In what way are they "throw-aways"? They will be living out full, comfortable lives. You were born here on Earth and you will die here without having achieved a new destination. Does that make you a "throw-away"?
     
  12. Aug 21, 2016 #11

    phyzguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I agree on the order of thousands of people would be required. Building a space habitat with comfortable room for thousands of people (or more) is quite within the realm of possibility. Obviously we are far from being able to build and maintain such a structure for hundreds of years today, but there are no physical limitations to doing so, and it is easy to imagine that we will have that capability in a few hundred years. To me this is a much more believable way of reaching the stars than trying to achieve velocities near the speed of light, which seems energetically out of reach.
     
  13. Aug 21, 2016 #12
    Hibernation would definitely be easier to manage; less wasteful, and more effective from several viewpoints, as discussed above.
    However we don't actually have a proven hibernation technology, and maybe it can't be done.
    Generation ships however could be constructed with present day technology if anyone was inclined to throw enormous resources into such a project.
     
  14. Aug 22, 2016 #13
  15. Aug 22, 2016 #14
    I consider it far more likely to be called impractical, rather than impossible.
     
  16. Aug 22, 2016 #15

    phyzguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    We do have the capability to freeze fertilized ova. What about robotically crewed ships that travel with a cargo of fertilized ova, then thaw the ova and raise the children to adulthood when they arrive. Far-fetched, but maybe possible?
     
  17. Aug 22, 2016 #16
    As far as I know the proposals in some sci-fi for hibernating of people involve freezing them to extremely low temperatures.
    the idea being that this would cause all their biochemistry to cease, and indeed that is very likely to be the case.
    The problem is in restoring the biochemistry of the now technically dead person to it's previously functioning state when they are warmed up again.
     
  18. Aug 22, 2016 #17
    "Well, back in 2157 this guy invented an electromagnetic hibernation system that is completely safe..."

    ;)
     
  19. Aug 22, 2016 #18
    If we have robots good enough to teach them how to survive on a new planet why not just send the robots, and tell us if the planet is actually worth the trip?
     
  20. Aug 22, 2016 #19

    phyzguy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I think the odds of us finding a nearby planet where we can survive on the surface as we do on Earth is vanishing small. We are simply too finely tuned to conditions on Earth. Look how up in arms we are about a 2 degree change in the temperature of the Earth. So I think any colonization of other solar systems will either be in space habitats or in enclosed habitats on planetary surfaces. Space habitats can be built in any solar system as long as there is starlight and raw materials.
     
  21. Aug 22, 2016 #20
    I understand that is an as-yet-unsolved difficulty. I would still argue it is feasible in a way FTL, for example, is not.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: Generation ships v. hibernation ships?
Loading...