1. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    The Realism of Space Travel

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Xeno, Jul 20, 2009.

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    Here's the thing, for the past three or four hours I've been having an arguement on MySpace with one of my friends, who claims that my decision to study "The Development of Realism in a Science Fiction Space Settting" is fundamentally flawed due to the unrealistic nature of Space Travel.

    Now, we've been debating this for a long time now, and I wondered what your thoughts on the matter were?

    Is manned space travel beyond our solar system (practical or non-practical) or even just existence outside of Earth, based on current technology, achievements and/or possible developments of said technology realistic?

    Can space travel ever be 'realistic' without being foreseeable?

    Are we setting our sights too high?

    For the record, 'foreseeable' as in 'the forseeable future'.

    I may even use replies from this thread in my research project, if my lecturers give me permission. :D
     
  2. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    Currently, it is impossible. Mars is a long shot due to stellar radiation. In order to defend travelers from cosmic rays, ships need prohibitively massy shielding systems. I'm sure we will find ways around it, just not today (or tomorrow)
     
  3. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    I think I may have to refine my OP a bit... Hang on.
     
  4. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

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    I may have to fire back in a couple of hours, I have a meetign to go to. I love space, I'll gladly discuss it with ya.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Existence outside of Earth is currently impossible. Defending from harmful radiation/rays is not the biggest issue. There are unmanned spacecraft currently past Pluto. For a manned expedition, Mars is a one way trip. The cost and manpower involved in sending crafts into space is enormous.

    So, I guess your friend is right on this one. But don't let that hinder your research. I think what you are studying is a really interesting and thought-provoking topic.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Define forseseeable. Some people can envision events hundreds of years ahead of them, others can barely envision beyond the tip of their nose.

    Sciece fiction is an art of envisioning that which is possible, yet might never come to pass. Fantasy is the art of envisioning that which is unlikely in any time or place.

    Both deal with postulating a setting and the rules of cause and effect, and projecting possible outcomes.

    If the postulates are well founded upon solid science, and on rules that are not demonstrably inconsistent with our understanding of science, then it's realistic science fiction.

    I think your friend is very shortsighted, or demands an awful lot of proof for his realism.

    Is he from Missouri (The Show Me State)?
     
  7. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Done, for the context of the thread.
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    One other question: Can do define space travel better? How far is it you want to go? We have already begun traveling through space. And do mean manned or unmanned vehicles? Obviously, we take more precautions with manned missions and that tends to stall space travel due to safety reasons, training, etc.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My point is that foreseeable depends on who is prognosticating, and how skeptical the listener is.
     
  10. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    More than anything, economics must be considered, and is so very often simply glossed in science fiction.

    Capt. Picard ~ "The economics of the future are somewhat different in the future... ...we strive to better ourselves."

    Lilly ~ "You mean you don't get payed?"


    There are technologies which we have now. Right now! But which we do not use because of economic concerns. Electric cars have been feasible since I was a kid, but, um.... where are they?

    The fact they we can do a thing does not mean we will do that thing when it comes to technology. We could build spacecraft with large, comfy, spacious interiors decked out with office furniture and tables fro IKEA like we see in science fiction, but would we if not doing so were more economic?

    I have a feeling, given human nature, that economics would win out.
     
  11. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    Done.

    As for Cog, I mean does something have to be foreseeable to you as in "It WILL happen" to be realistic?
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    We have already gone outside our solar system (I'm assuming here that our solar system stops at Pluto). One of the craft we sent is still sending signals back and is currently past Pluto. There was a cool photo a while back showing how Earth looks from beyond Pluto. I think I saw it on NASA's picture-a-day website.
     
  13. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    *sigh*
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Of course not. Foreseeable only means that there is a reasonable probability that it could happen. Galileo foresaw flying machines, but our present day aircraft don't operate by means of flapping wings.

    The details are often wrong, but the major elements are what matter.

    The fact is, we strive to turn such prognostications into reality. Our daily lives take for granted a fanciful idea proposed about half a century ago by a science fiction writer. Arthur C Clarke came up with the idea of orbiting communiactions satellites that are now the backbone of our global communications.

    If we don't dare to dream, what will shape our future reality?

    What we write about space is realistic if we do a good enough job that it inspires our future developments.
     
  15. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    If you're discussing it in a literary context, then "realism" is a term you have to be careful with - it doesn't just mean "realistic", and that might be what your friend was getting at. I think science fiction like you're talking about would be better described as Naturalistic, rather than Realistic, in literary terms; that is, that it is not "real" or observable, but is presented as though it was.
     
  16. Etan Isar
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    Etan Isar Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I can define fantasy as naturalistic, too. So that's not a very useful term when discussing a genre that can range from outright bolognium to actually feasible technologies.

    One example of where sci-fi can be realistic is in terms of how the physics surrounding actual space travel work. Like, star-fighters are not faster than starships, and you can't have dogfights in the same way you do with atmospheric craft.
     
  17. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Just as an afterthought, I would give a read to the preamble in more modern reprints of Arthur C Clarke's classic, The City and the Stars. It is based on an earlier novel he wrote called Against the Fall of Night which he began in 1937 and did not get published until 1946.

    He rewrote the novel into the novel The City and the Star because the original novel was written before the advent of a huge spring forward in technology which made the original novel, as Clarke himself said, naive.
     
  18. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Travel within the solar system is quite possible with current gen. technology. The major space agencies of the world (like the U.S.'s, the E.U's and Russia's) are capable of creating creating independant space stations and a colony on Mars. However it would take a lot of man power, time and money. Without the proper motivation, say a new cold war, then it's doubtful that it'll actually happen soon.

    Now, as for travel to other solar systems, that would really be pushing out current tech to it's limits. It would take a couple generations to get to the Centauri system (the closes system to ours). So nothing short of a so called mega-ship (with a population of a city) could pull it off. To travel between solar systems in a relativily short amount of time would require a brand new method of space travel (say the discover/creation of a worm hole or a new type of engine).
     
  19. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I doubt anyone right now has the capabilities of making a colony on Mars. We can't even have a colony on the moon. Even worse, we haven't sent a person on the moon in 40 years. Even if we had infinite money and manpower, we would still not be able to colonize the moon given our current technology.

    If you go fast enough, then for the travelers the trip could be as short as 1 second no matter the distance. For those on Earth (the observers) the trip might take generations, but relativity says that those traveling at fast speeds aboard the spaceship will reach their destination in a shorter amount of time given fast enough speeds.
     
  20. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    cosmic radiation is not a problem if you spread a magnetic field around your ship like a bubble. it will repel the rays and keep the crew safe.

    as far as the length of space travel goes, that is why there must be enough crew members on a single ship to ensure proper reproduction. children would be raised with the knowledge of space travel and how to work on the ship, as well as the objective of the mission. so even if the original crew members die due to the length of the voyage, the mission would still be carried out successfully.

    lack of gravity affecting growth and other such things can be easily avoided by constructing the whole spaceship to rotate as it propels itself through space, to create gravity similar to Earth's. this rotation could be easily manipulated to create different g's.

    now if you wanted to try to get to a place in space in a significantly less amount of time, you want solar sails.

    so whoever your friend is, i'm not sure if he knows what he's talking about. and if he thinks he does, i think he might have missed a couple of memos concerning space travel.


    but anyway, here's the main point. if the human race can imagine and dream it, it will happen. it is realistic. that's how it has always been, and that's how it will always be.
     
  21. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't forget, we already have automated sattalites scanning the Martian terrian and have manually controlled rovers taking samples of the terrian. With current technology, we can send machines over first to set up the colony and start planting crops within the structure to create oxygen. Send a second automated ship to land there with supplies and then finally send humans to add the finishing touches to the colonies buildings. It wouldn't require an technology that isn't currently being used by Nasa or the military.
     
  22. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There is no way that machines can set up a colony. We don't even have machines that can make a small colony on Earth. That would require very good AI. Frankly, I really don't see people ever colonizing Mars. The moon is probably our best bet since it's close and we know more about it than we do about Mars.
     
  23. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    There are already 'unofficial' plans for a moon base. In all fairness, We can build a base in the Arctic, or the Sahara, the only difference with the Moon is the lack of air.
     
  24. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I know NASA has a plan for a moon base, but it most likely to be abandoned because of the large amount of financial support needed. Instead, they are planning to focus on things like going to Mars or asteroids close to us.
     
  25. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can understand them not going with a moon base. Honestly we really would't gain that much from a colony on the moon. The only thing the moon would be effective for is a "space port" so to speak.

    Have the long range space craft in orbit around the moon, or landed there. Use short range space craft to go from Earth to the moon. This way the long range space craft won't have to deal with lift off, sense it takes a lot of fuel and a very powerful engine to escape Earth's gravity. And it would be wise to set up a similar space port system near any world we plan on colonizing.
     

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