1. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    Do you think interstellar travel will ever be possible?

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Miller0700, Sep 15, 2016.

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  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most sci-fi postulates FTL, simply to get interstellar interaction within a reasonable time-frame; but Einstein's theories suggest that FTL is only possible by burning more matter than exists in the universe, so that's problematic. Warping of space is another suggestion; might get around the infinite energy needed problem; but both this and FTL run into the problem of scraping the space-travellers off the back wall after you've accelerated to cruising speed.

    The other way to do it is some sort of stasis field, whereby the crew are kept effectively refrigerated for the journey, thus not ageing and arriving with a useful life-span ahead of them. The original Planet of the Apes used this. Several problems with this:

    1/ Effective shielding from interstellar radiation whilst en route.
    2/ Effective automated systems to ensure the crew are kept alive; air, water, food, waste products.
    3/ Effective automated systems to cope with en route surprises; even if this only amounts to waking up the pilot.
    4/ Some way to maintain muscle tone whilst inactive, and in the weightlessness of space.
    5/ Even if you can get up to near light speed, it's still going to take you years to get to the nearest star system, and twice that to get back. Assuming you've spent most of the time in suspended animation, so you haven't aged, your wife will suddenly be ten years older than when you left her. And the starship that was so cutting edge when you left will be old hat. And the war that you went off to fight in will probably have been solved by diplomacy long ago; or by extinction of the species!

    It's worth mentioning that if you can manage to reach a significant fraction of light speed, time will slow down, so that your ten-year journey to the nearest star system will actually seem to take a lot less, so you'll hardly age anyway.
     
  3. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    We have most of the technology needed to build a slower than light generation ship. The problem would be funding it and actually putting it together. And of course, we have no target destination.
     
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  4. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. Call it faith. People need to have faith in something, and I have faith that everything you and I are doing today, is so that, in a billion years from now, some spoiled prick gets to live Star Wars.
     
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  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Shadowfax, get hip with your SF scenarios, buddy.

    Guys like me, we're not thinking Cheston Heston, cigar at the controls, we're thinking Seed Ships - craft full of sperm, eggs - hurtles past Voyager and beyond, little robots, a nursery, new society upon the outcrop moon of Hawking.

    Though, if my mission, launched in 2248 AD - if technology supersedes the technology of 2248 AD - in the year 2324 AD, then...a craft launched several years later might overtake the original mission [midway, halfway, or on the way].

    You see?

    This conundrum problem keeps myself, the great scientists of the world, awake at night. I read it in a book, actually.
     
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  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think people said the same thing about the Moon. And the sky in general before that. Or propelling a naval ship against the winds and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck.

    The technology and logistics does not exist today for interstellar travel. We would have to either develop new resources to make the existing technology big enough, or we would have to develop new technology that would make better use of the resources available to us.
     
  7. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Perhaps, perhaps, no one knows the future, after all.

    Though the possibility of the human race locked to the Earth is very disappointing
     
  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As always, there's an XKCD about that :(

    [​IMG]
    The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there's no good reason to go into space--each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Just because it can be done doesn't mean it will be done. At all.

    Electric cars were possible in the early 1900's and again in the early 1980's, but then they all got snatched off the road and forcibly disappeared. Why?

    Economics.

    America opted for shitty-ass VHS tapes instead of the far superior Beta format and the even better Laser Disk format. Why?

    Economics.

    The only reason we bothered going to the moon was because it was the biggest dick-measuring contest of all time. American Cock vs Russian Хуй (pronounced khui).

    Economics is the science that Science Fiction loves to ignore.
     
  10. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only thing that would probably trump economics is a threat to our survival as a species. And by the time that threat became apparent enough it trumped economic concerns, I doubt we could put something together before being wiped out.

    So unless a ready made, cheap method of interstellar travel falls into our lap, I doubt we'll be sending people out of the solar system for a long, long time.
     
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  11. Miller0700
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    Miller0700 Contributing Member

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    Here's a interesting video on the subject by Vsauce:

     
  12. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hitler has been quoted as saying "America will never pick up a gun if it means putting down a cash register."
     
  13. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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    I doubt we'll ever put another person on the Moon again.

    The default state of affairs in the forseeable future is going to be "Up to our assholes in alligators" as resources run out and climate change gets worse. People are going to keep treating the world as inexhaustible, and new advances in food or energy production will be used not to improve the lives of the 80% of the world who can fairly be called poor, but to allow us to add a billion, then another and another billion mouths, all living at just over starvation level. People looking towards the stars will be told that we can't afford to waste precious resources on pipe-dreams, and we'll keep on muddling around on this rock until something, probably a multiply-resistant superbug, perhaps the end of fossil fuel, maybe even an asteroid next week, wipes us out as a species.

    And then there are the technical challenges of interstellar travel...
     
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  14. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    I believe as long as we have an economic system like the one now, we will never get it done. But terraforming tech could be in the future. Mars would be first, then they could take it from there.
    Plus the odds of us blowing each other up is way higher then developing light speed.
     
  15. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    Eh, but economics is based on what people prioritize or value, and that's always subject to change. Right now our economy prioritizes maximizing profits of private firms, in ancient Egypt the economy prioritized building giant stone pyramid tombs for pharoahs. Who knows how things could change in the future. Probably not in our lifetimes, but "never" is an awfully long time.

    It also depends on how you define interstellar travel. By most definitions, Voyager 1 is in interstellar space already, it just hasn't reached any other stars yet. If Breakthrough Starshot succeeds in getting an iPhone-sized probe to Alpha Centauri, will that count? That could happen as early as the 2060s, with some improbably good luck.
     
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  16. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think this thread is defining "interstellar travel" as putting humans into interstellar space.
     
  17. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well that would be a neat thing if it ever becomes an option. :)
     
  18. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Yes. And probably sooner than we think. Too many people say no because they're stuck in a scientific paradigm - relativity - and believe it's the be all and end all of knowledge. And yes, relativity does in essance say no to the question. But to assume - or worse accept - that relativity is the extent of all possible physics knowledge is short sighted to say the least.

    It's like the allegory of the cave - Plato. (The ancient Greeks said it all first). In essence he had a whole bunch of people chained up in a cave staring at shadows on the wall, some of those shadows cast by objects outside of the cave, and then trying to decipher what the outside world was like from those shadows. Naturally they would have no hope from their limited perspective of gaining any sort of accurate picture of what the outside world was like. The same is true for us. Our physics is only a shadow on the wall, and to pretend it is anything else is almost delusional.

    Or to put it another way - we don't know what we don't know.

    We are all simply waiting for the next great discovery that will revolutionise our understanding of the universe. And when it comes along we'll probably all be left wondering at how we could have been so stupid as to believe what we did even a matter of decades before.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  19. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Proxima would be a good first destination. I think they recently discovered a planet in the habitable zone of the star. I would get on the first generation ship to Proxima.
     
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  20. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Wouldn't head to Proxima Centauri if I were you. It's a faint red dwarf so the light would be crud. Also as part of triple star with Alpha Centauri A and B you're likely to get some strange lighting / radiation / temperature extremes at different points in the cycle.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  21. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    The light isn't a problem, since the planet is very close to its star (the nature of planets in the habitable zones of red dwarfs). I'd be more worried about the radiation. We definitely need to send a probe before we think about launching a mission like sending a generation ship to Proxima b.
     
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  22. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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  23. Iain Aschendale
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    Iain Aschendale Contributed Member Contributor

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