Space Travel Beyond the Solar System -Is It Possible? VIDEO
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April 17, 2009

Space Travel Beyond the Solar System -Is It Possible? VIDEO

Space-travel-photos-heat-insulation-hazard-1

SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak talked to the New York Times about going to other planets, and why we wimpy fleshbags weren't ever going to manage it.  Though this attitude may be influenced by a career of holding still and waiting for signals to arrive, he still makes some good points - and when a guy who watches the entire universe the way you'd watch your inbox talks, it's a good idea to listen.

The main obstacle to manned exploration of other planets is the truly mind-melting distances involved - measured in light years, basically "the fastest speed in the universe multiplied by a really long time", meaning that even the closest planets are lifetimes away at any conventional speed.

Shostak's solution is an army of intelligent robots, and we have to say that as solutions go it's hard to find a problem that wouldn't solve.  Robots can be accelerated far faster than fussy humans, who are all "I'm hungry" and "I'm thirsty" and "I need oxygen to survive" about interstellar travel.  An armada of intelligent probes could map entire worlds for us, perhaps even bootstrapping their own factories and tools on arrival, sending back enormous amounts of data without us ever having to set foot outside our gravity well.

We will anyway, of course, and that's where we and Dr Shostak disagree.  He paints a penned-in picture of humanity cut off from the rest of the universe by enormous distances, viewing alien worlds as interactive TV programming at best.  But humanity's entire history has been that of moving out as far as they can and living there as well, with little things like "is it possible to survive" taking second place to the need to explore.  The only thing that'll could stop us colonising the solar system is if we wipe ourselves out first, and once the eight-or-whatever planets are full (with entire nations in the asteroid belts) we'll set our sights further afield.

Limitations on interstellar exploration tend to say things like "according to current scientific knowledge" or "would require more energy than we can produce", which are reasonable until you realize they could equally apply to any other point in history.  Getting to the moon would have required more horses than available to mankind in the 1700s, but that doesn't mean there wasn't another way to propel a craft.

Cryosleep, generational ships, downloading our dinky selves into silicon hooked up to a growth-vat and a sample of skin: whatever it takes to get out of the solar system, some distant day an awesome group of individuals will do it.

Posted by Luke McKinney


Boldly Going Nowhere

Comments

Data ships. Data ships with the ability to clone and grow Humans after arrival at a target star will be how we get to another star system. Keep in mind though that the Philidelphia Experiment (if it really happened) teleported a ship through spacetime using high intensity electrical currents. Time/Space may be more plyable than we currently understand. Also, with so much circumstantial evidence pointing to the exixtance of UFO's there is a chance that we already have access to FTL drives. For more info check out the "Disclosure Project online.

I don't understand the pessimism. The Orion and Longshot propulsion projects could easily get 10% of the speed of light using nuclear bombs. Granted that's still a 40-50 year trip to the closest stars but still at least "plausible." And plausible is only a short ways away from practical. Don't have to go the length of the galaxy in luxurious star trek-esque cruise control on the first time out. Slow and steady wins the race.

Pessimism comes from fear. Most people are afraid of the unknown, so they tend to think negatively about the future of space exploration. I personally believe our first contact with another alien race will be in the form of Virtual Reality. Perhaps we will create ourselves in VR, and send it throughout the Universe in a laser data stream. Allowing other races not only to get out signal...but see and feel how we live.

Then again, I did sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. LOL

If the lightspeed limitation for matter or energy is indeed absolute, and I suspect it is, all the sf stories (which I love) about FTL notwithstanding, then human interstellar travel will surely not be what we expect. It will occur, there is no doubt. But unless it is possible to travel at velocities that turn the few interstellar ions into a raging wall of radiation, the individual time required will be forbidding. Of course there will be a few to whom, compared to their lives, even a long dangerous trip is preferable.

But they will not be exactly comparable to 15th and 16th century explorers. The times involved are years, not months, and that is just for the closest stars. It's unlikely there will be humanly habitable worlds around the very closest stars.

And getting there the first time is not the end of it. ALL commerce between such systems will be limited by the speed of light. Perhaps humans will learn to survive thousands of years. Perhaps.

Ask yourself, though, what currently existing organisms can plan in terms of decades and centuries? The answer may not be appealing, but it's obvious: Corporations.

We may think we are slowly spreading humankind. But I suspect that the larger story will be the spread of corporate intelligence.

I totally agree. Man is frail but we will move out to the stars one way or another.

'Faster than light' is still under study and will take sometime.
Warp drive is more near future......................they are somehow moving within struggles of funds and lot of hopes.

I bet that in 50 Y from now they will se that humans or robotized units within space ships will reach the nearby stars....and beyond.

Can't say more now.
Good luck to those of those days.

Obviously, we shall advance beyond Earth. We will have no alternative in a few thousand years, or less if we don't slow down and reverse global warming/and/or climate change. Or we will run out of resources and room due to overpopulation, or poor management. So some well funded, genius types with a can do attitude, will develop some FTL drive or warp drive or physics tricks to achieve travel to distant worlds in a fraction of a lifetime. I believe it is possible, otherwise, why would all of that fascinating Universe be 'out there' to explore? If intelligence(s) other than ourselves, exist, but rarely, we should have plenty of options for colonization. Within a few hundred light years, anyway.

Oh look at you puny humans, talking about dragging your skinny asses through space faster and faster, just like you do with your horses and sea ships, and complaining it will take too much "time" to get to the nearest star systems... if you want to fly like an eagle, stop thinking like chickens!

1) First of all, move all your research into understanding how the human mind perceives the universe where you live. Understand your ability to understand. Understand the limitations in your thought-processes so that you might have a chance of transcending it (understand that the box exists, study the box, then thinking out of the box by getting your mind out of the box).

2) Then, after understanding the nature of your own minds and thus getting rid of your own self-imposed limitations, move to understanding the universe "around" you. Understand the nature of reality (please... PLEASE, stop thinking about time. There is no such thing. Get over it.), the nature of what is right in front of you as it is, not as you would like it to be. After such realizations, you'll understand, in an existential level, how you can get to Andromeda using less energy than the energy you wasted away in your keyboard's keys by replying to this comment.

3) ?????????????

4) Profit!

150 years ago - we had no idea we could talk and send pictures over massive distances , we had no idea about computers and the Internet , we couldn't drive cars and we couldn't fly in aeroplanes and spaceships . What will the next 150 years bring ? Interstellar travel ? - probably - if we don't stuff up things any further .

The only way is the unity among our nations to one global realm with a common goal of survival as a human race and our Planet.

If we stop wasting our efforts in separate nations and join as one (think of all the different space programs that compete rather than joining of resources) we could evolve faster into space and technological advances.

Europe is developing ITER the Fusion Power reactor(500MWper1000second). Energy sources like this can be harassed properly and safely we could extinct the use of fossil fuels and look deeper into better ways of developing new technologies for day to day use. Forget lowering emissions destroy the probability of any emissions. Huh? what is carbon emissions? we could say.. We actually have the tech and the knowledge, yet we care too much about costs when its our future at stake.

--->Money is the only thing that will destroy us yet it is the only thing that keeps us "civil"<----

Stephen up there knows that we as humans are naturally selfish and greedy that this would never happen accidentally. When we kill ourselves to near extinction like usual we "evolve". Sometimes I wish I wasn't a human, as we are so destructive it makes me sick. We are the only race that finds ways of killing each other, rather than sharing what we have, that we have to learn and force in our brains through academic propaganda (aka School). Some intelligent life-forms we are.

cablejim23, your a queer! :)

It may be possible

Human space travel beyond the Solar System will never happen - ever!!
Why, well the following may be part of the problem:
1. Time and distance are major and unsolvable factors - forget star trek and all that fictional rubbish.
2. Food and oxygen for years of travel
3. Our bones will dissolve in zero gravity
4. Our bodies will end up like pizzas with solar radiation
5. Hit even a grain of sand at super high velocities and you are history.
6. Imagine being couped up with fellow humans for more than a few weeks - they would kill each other for sure
7. Not to mention illnesses, boredom, instrument problems - so far the best made electronics are not expected to last more than 30 years
8. Humans are one of millions of species. 99% of all species that have ever existed, are now extinct and we will certainly go thge same way - and quicker than you think!
No it is a nice thought but no practical solutions will ever surface to address all of the above problems, simply because there are huge and insurmountable.
And what do you do when you arrive at the nearest star with a habitable planet? Send a message back to say we have arrived and then wait 10 years for a response, only to find the Earth bound radio operator asks you to repeat the message due to static - 20 years for a reply back!!!!!!!!!!
My case rests.

Lets assume it is technically possible at some point in the distant future (which I doubt)we have a great drawback - the human condition and it's mindset. Humanity, as it is, seems incapable to unite and agree on very little. Such a project would require a universal focus, not just in expertise and finance but in good relationships and will. The last thing needed, would be some rejuvenated 'space race'. No, I'm afraid there are many set-backs and they are not just technical. That said, who knows we may progress and produce a world that Roddenberry was fond of imagining but again, I doubt it.

an earlier poster refered to the fact that 150 years ago , no one knew anything about tv , radio , aeroplanes or nuclear energy for that matter , while thier have been amazing scientific and technological breakthroughs in the past century and a half , those were all achieved on our home plannet , whole different ball game when you add in the obstacle of monumentally large distances , i would hazzard a guess in saying that a successfull mission to mars might be achieved within a hundred years from now and that a trip beyond our solar system within a thousand years from now , like in the movie avatar which is set in the year 2154 , in order to keep people remotely interested , timelines for space exploration tend to be unrealistically ambitious , considering the fact that the planet pandora was 45 trillion KM away , the year 3154 would have been a more likely time setting , the universe is really that large

Realizing we don't really have a way to burst the light-speed barrier, perhaps we should take an unexpected way around the Almighty's means of imprisoning our species here. Our solar system is littered with small moons and protoplanets, none of which would attract much attention as they sped through interstellar space. Given the hazards of our fragile species' exploration into territories which may already be somebody else's, we should go quietly but aggressively. If we can turn those moons and protoplanets into colonized, maneuverable space transports, using the natural resources on the ones we select, we could expand humanity's range in a deep-time plan. Mars' moon, Phobos, and our very own moon could be a previous such effort's relics already in evidence. Self sufficient, each colony would capitalize on its own creativity over the many generations of travel aboard its own planet. It would be like launching your Viking ship in unknown seas with no intention of returning. Banished forever from SOL, your colony must make it or break it along the way and wherever you decide to go -- with the further species-survival mandate of everlasting exploration and colonization.

The answer to interstellar travel is possible through something that we haven't tried, nor even thought about... time travel. We must realize that speed is not the ticket to interstellar travel... it's time, and through time we can travel lightyears in only a matter of seconds, or maybe in no time at all. But, before we are able to master time, new math has to be thought up. If we continue to remain in the dark ages of today, we will NEVER, EVER get there. If we are ever able to think out of the box we are stuck in, interstellar travel is guaranteed.


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