The 80,000-Year Voyage to Alpha Centauri (VIDEO)
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October 17, 2012

The 80,000-Year Voyage to Alpha Centauri (VIDEO)

 

 

           

 

With current propulsion technology only able to move spacecraft at 0.005% of the speed of light, a one-way trip to the star system nearest our Sun, Alpha Centauri, would take 80,000 years to travel the four light-years to our nearest stellar neighbors, according to Sidney Perkowitz, Candler Professor of Physics Emeritus at Emory University.

Accepting that interstellar travel will, at very best, take decades, some experts are now considering using suspended animation, or even carrying the DNA and other resources necessary to recreate humans on an unmanned ship.

Starting with the development of a rocket engine that can reach high velocity, humans are not short of initiative, but, as Perkowitz describes, even with engines based on photon-powered sails or nuclear fusion, we are still a long way from reaching the speed of light.

Some theoretical models offer intruiging options, such as Miguel Alcibierre's idea to contract space–time in front of a spaceship and expand space–time behind it to create a bubble that would propel the spacecraft at any speed without violating special relativity.

Focusing on this example, Perkowitz explained that the maths is impeccable but that the model requires negative mass, which, to the best of our knowledge, doesn't exist: "With the exploration of the solar system by the US space agency NASA and others well under way, and with the discovery of hundreds of exoplanets orbiting distant stars, it may be time to contemplate the next great jump outwards."

Of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri system, the dimmest -- called Proxima Centauri -- is actually the nearest star. The bright stars Alpha Centauri A and B form a close binary as they are separated by only 23 times the Earth- Sun distance - slightly greater than the distance between Uranus and the Sun. 

The Alpha Centauri system is not visible in much of the northern hemisphere. Alpha Centauri A, also known as Rigil Kentaurus, is the brightest star in the constellation of Centaurus and is the fourth brightest star in the night sky. Sirius is the brightest even thought it is more than twice as far away.

By an exciting coincidence, Alpha Centauri A is the same type of star as our Sun, causing many to speculate that it might contain planets that harbor life. 

Indeed, yesterday European astronomers announced that they have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope atESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. Alpha Centauri A is the brightest component, Alpha Centauri B is the slightly fainter second star and Alpha Centauri C is the much fainter Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is slightly closer to Earth than A or B and hence is formally the closest star.

 

Comments

In newtonian space, which is hyperluminal but inertial, it would take even less than five years at a simple acceleration rate of 9.8 m/s2. So it is not a problem of acceleration nor power, it is just a problem of energy.

Or look at it this way: it you want to keep accelerating during half of the way, it is about 2E16 meters, a force of 1 Newton boils down to 2E16 Joules wasted. For a manned mission, guess you want to accelerate at least 1000Kg at 10 m/s2, so you need 2E21 Joule and our total yearly energy consumption for all the Earth, nowadays, is about 4.74E20 Joule.

I think that any design should start by assuming that we are not willing to put more than 1E18 Joule/Year to the project.

Not to be contrary, but there is always the Orion Drive. 1950's technology can move humans at almost 1% the speed of light.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

Meanwhile, maybe we should be looking at other ways of travelling across space, by remote viewing etc.

Even if we do get to the speed of light, which is theoretically impossible, many stars would still be inaccessible. So either find negative mass or BEND THE SPACE!

Contrary to what science still believes, at the time of the Big Bang there were no atoms but only waves carrying energy through the infinite Void. If we could view the Universe from outside, It would look like an egg-shaped cloud with winds running in perpetual motion inside of It. The energy is like those winds running at maximum speed and pushing out the borders of the Universe.
The Universe continues to expand as the waves that travel at the border of the Universe have never encountered, nor will ever encounter, any interference from the Void. These waves will forever expand the Space of the Universe they create and leave behind.
Wave-behavior relates to the medium in which the waves travel.
Thus, wave-behavior at the border of the Universe is different than wave-behavior within the Universe.
Inside the Universe, waves change their frequencies by colliding with other energy during their travel. These waves, because of the encountered interference, continue to transform part of their original energy in other forms. Waves travel gradually releasing heat, or amounts of energy, and their original short wavelengths, in time become longer and longer as they carry less and less energy than they did when they first started to travel. These waves lose energy releasing it in form of other waves with wavelengths longer than their own.
For example, the gamma rays, over time, diminish their energy level (and their frequency) to become X rays, from X rays they will become ultraviolet and so on. The original quantum is not lost but distributed into other forms of energy through "spontaneous symmetry breaking".
Once reached an almost flat longitude (and lower critical energy level) these waves solidify into hydrogen atoms breaking up their energy in opposite elements, like the split ends of a broken hair.
When the hydrogen atoms are reached by the heat of other incoming waves they fuse together to create more complex forms of energy.

http://www.wikinfo.org/Multilingual/index.php/Wavevolution

Dear all,

I posted this for another article, but I think that it is actually more suited for this article.

There are billions of civilisations out there, but we will never visit another solar system, because the distances are simply beyond comprehension. It will take something like 50,000 years just to reach the closest star. Just the same, we will never be visited ourselves, either. That is good, because we will not survive the environment on another planet. The distances protect us from a death by any one or more of a horrible fatal demise.

The chance of us making contact with a civilisation is slight, because we don't know their FREQUENCY, DIRECTION or TIME of electromagnetic transmission. Each of those three variables are infinite. Even if we only had to pick one of those, it would be nearly impossible, but three will make it that much more so.

Should we make contact, chances of interpreting their message, is remote. We were unable to interpret the ancient Egyptian writings. The aliens are likely to be even more difficult to interpret, than those of the ancient Egyptians.

Though we seem doomed to be left alone in the universe, there are billions of civilisations out there and there may even be some that communicate with each other, forming a kind of email pen friendship society. They will be able to send to each other, whatever we are able to transmit to each other here on Earth. Once a civilisation is located, it is easy to make contact with them again.

I am a firm believer in ET and I speculate about it often, but I know that we are centuries from being able to eliminate those infinite barriers, that bar us from making contact. It is possible that we may be able to pick certain values that seem to be obvious to use, but that is a long odds gamble.

In spite of that, we should try. If ET is out there (and they are), then it is our duty to try to make contact. There will be huge gains to be received from ET, when the time comes. We are comparatively primitive, but we will not remain so. When we eventually do make contact, our technical advance will accelerate exponentially.

Let's do it but let's be aware of the size of the task.

Regards to all you Earthlings from

Karl Rasmussen, Australia

120 years ago Sir Robert Ball, Lowndean Professor at Cambridge, pondered on this very subject and mentioned it on his lecture tours.
At Goole in Yorkshire in trying to convey to the audience the distance to the nearest star, he alluded to Henry Wilson, the chairman, who was manager of the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway. Ball suggested that if he were ever to extend the railway to Alpha Centauri, he recommended that the fare should be calculated at 100 miles per penny. How much would this immense journey cost? Well, take to the booking office 5000 carts each carrying a ton of sovereigns, in total £700,000,000, an amount then equal to the National Debt. Would they get any change? There would be a long wait whilst the clerk counted the money and they should not be too surprised when they were asked for another £103 million before getting the ticket.

I recently saw a documentary on human intelligence. It stated that the human brain was designed for fight or flight decisions suitable for a hunter-gatherer. This means that the average brain has difficulty seeing too many steps into the future. I think that it is this limitation that causes the majority of people to declare interstellar travel impossible. History has shown that the impossible is only temporary. Humans will explore the Alpha Centauri system in person one day. It might take a thousand years or civilization could reset 80 more times and it will take a million years or more. But it will happen one day and when it does, we will be doing it with largely the same hunter-gatherer brain we've always had. It might take a dozen more Einsteins over the eons, but we will find a way. We are a very young species. People think we are at the apex of our civilization today. That is only true until tomorrow.


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