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Interstellar travel

  1. Feb 22, 2016 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2016 #2

    Borg

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    With today's technology - yes, it's a fantasy. The article spells it out pretty clearly.
     
  4. Feb 22, 2016 #3

    phinds

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    I haven't looked at the article but you'll find many threads on this forum pointing out all the issues that make it a fantasy.
     
  5. Feb 22, 2016 #4
    The argumentation is limited to humans traveling with existing or at least prospected technology at relativistic speeds in order to colonize an exoplanet (possibly occupied by hostile aliens!) and to get a return of investment. Finally the conclusion derived from these shortsighted assumptions - that such a project would be impossible and foolish - is presented as universally valid. I simply don't like it.
     
  6. Feb 22, 2016 #5
    but assuming we have the technology it would still be impossible to travel through all that dust without damage? To me, that is the ultimate limitation IMHO!
     
  7. Feb 22, 2016 #6

    phinds

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    That seems to be a self-contradictory statement. "Having the technology" INCLUDES having a way to get through the dust.
     
  8. Feb 22, 2016 #7
    I should choose my words carefully. I meant "propulsion technology" that major firms are investing in etc at the moment.
     
  9. Feb 22, 2016 #8

    phinds

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    OK, but propulsion technology is just one of many things that would be needed.
     
  10. Feb 22, 2016 #9

    Borg

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    Even this is an overstatement. The only currently possible propulsion technology improvements are things that can help to get to the other planets quicker. Nobody is working on an interstellar drive nor is it technically feasible. We're stuck in this solar system unless we discover something fundementally different about physics.
     
  11. Feb 22, 2016 #10

    Drakkith

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    Or we have a really, really good reason to leave.
     
  12. Feb 23, 2016 #11
    Necessity is the mother of invention. The tone of the article suggests we should've stayed in Africa, a voyage to another continent would be extremely dangerous and there would be no guarantee of a profitable return. I agree that there are monumental challenges that we may never overcome. It also seems more likely that our machines (rather than humans themselves) will be the first visitors to other star systems. Especially given the current direction of exploration in our own Solar System - we've sent our machines to the outer reaches, rather than going ourselves.
    I agree with Drakkith, if people had a good enough reason to flee the Earth they just might come up with something. While current science and technology are inadequate, who knows what future innovation will bring?
     
  13. Feb 23, 2016 #12

    Borg

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    It sounds like you're saying both that we should do it and it can't be done. :oldconfused:
     
  14. Feb 23, 2016 #13
    I'm admitting it can't currently be done. I'm not saying it's outside the realm of all possibility. The message of the article seems to say "give up on any extra solar endeavor." Seems a little defeatist to me.
     
  15. Feb 23, 2016 #14
    It would need a really, really good reason not to leave. We will start colonizing the solar system as soon as we learn to permanently live in space. After planets, moons and asteroids our descendants will colonize the Kuiper belt and finally the Oort cloud. At the outer edge of the Oort cloud they are almost halfway to the next star. Drifting around the Sun (which is just a bright star out there) or to another star makes no difference for such a colony. They have no reason not to take the last step into another system with new resources. Always preventing all deep space colonies from leaving the Solar system would be hard work - even for god-like entities. And there is no reason to do so. Trying to reach the other stars first makes much more sense.
     
  16. Feb 23, 2016 #15

    Borg

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    It's like a race of intelligent ants building a bridge across the atlantic.
     
  17. Feb 23, 2016 #16
  18. Feb 23, 2016 #17
    Fair comment, but well established physics will still be the same.
    At present it's incomprehensible what kind of engine could accelerate a fairly massive ship to a substantial fraction of light speed,
    but it's not impossible in principle.
    I think the really insurmountable problem will be interstellar dust particles which can't be seen before the ship hits it,
    and when it does hit, it would release energy in the order of a fair sized nuke, (directly on the surface of a fragile habitat).
     
  19. Feb 23, 2016 #18
    probably. But they may have an entirely different approach to the problem. Besides, I'm sure there are all sorts of consequences of known physics of which we are unaware. If 20,000 years isn't enough, how about 20,000,000 years?
     
  20. Feb 23, 2016 #19
    It is a waste of time to read this article
    Many people are working on problems of interstellar flights since the 1970s
    http://www.icarusinterstellar.org/project-daedalus-background/

    If you look only on propulsion technology, then we have many new theoretical and even now practical ideas since the 1970s.
    We can think of now for an electroplasma drive which can be 300 km/s fast
    We can think of later for a fusion drive which can be about 10 % of light speed (look at Andreas Hein and his Ghostship he designed and was awarded for in 2013). The design includes not only the fusion technology. It is also the complete spaceship with electromagentic shields and Berilium surface against dust and space radiation. Old conceptions were with 60 cm aluminium walls.
    This is only the technology with man more things to think about, but many people are also working on sociology and psychological problems for a generationship.
    But I think (it's my opinion and not of the most interstellar enthusiasts) that it makes sense only if we have a true WARP drive. Many things would be easier. Not only because we could fly much faster than light. But then we have only one really big problem and this will be energy production for a WARP drive. We need 500kg Antimatter for a 10-meter WARP bubble with an effective velocity of 10c, if we calculate for the ordinary alcubierre drive in oscilation. So we need an matter/antimatter reactor like in Star Trek. But where to get 500 kg antimatter? How much energy we would need to produce 500 kg antimatter in LHC? What would it cost?
    But anyway
    I still believe that we can solve all problems in time. And I think this will be not too far in time. We have many conceptions and ideas. And if we have all the theoretical ideas then we can take over in practice 50 years later. The biggest problem is only the money. And the capitalististic system is not efficient enough to get money for such a project before in 200 years (serious calculations based on calculations of ISS of Andreas Hein University munich)
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2016
  21. Feb 24, 2016 #20
    I saw this article earlier: http://www.zmescience.com/space/lasers-mars-travel-04232/ I have doubts about some of the time estimates, but I think this will probably be our first real propulsion system out of the solar system. A space based laser in solar orbit could theoretically push a small craft to a fraction of the speed of light and send it on a flyby mission to nearby stars.
     
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