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Space Science

Starships In a Century? 314

An anonymous reader writes "In the New York Times, Kenneth Chang writes about the 100-year starship conference, where 'an eclectic mix of engineers, scientists, science fiction fans, students and dreamers' discussed ideas for how to travel across interstellar space, including 'how to organize and finance a century-long project; whether civilization would survive, because an engine to propel a starship could also be used for a weapon to obliterate the planet; and whether people need to go along for the trip.' Some of the proposals were pretty far out, such as Joseph Breeden's concept for an engine-less starship (propelled using a gravity slingshot on a near-sun trajectory). Others were a little less forward thinking, although still futuristic by current standards of space exploration: nuclear rockets, fusion, lightsails, and so forth. So, can we go to the stars? Wait a hundred years, and we'll see!"
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Starships In a Century?

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  • Re:Probably Not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @04:40PM (#37766870)

    Unless we can harness the energy of the atom much better, and design propulsion systems around Fusion Explosions with enough power to hyper accelerate us at higher than gravitational effect of earth, star travel is going to be very unlikely.

    Unnecessary. I'll never visit Fiji but humans DO have airline service to Fiji.

    How long can you stand to travel as opposed to being "home", lets say a year. Build a station, send it out one years distance, however far away that is. Build the next station, send it out two years distance. Keep pushing stuff on the train and you'll eventually hit the next star.

    Your argument is we "need" for some unspecified reason, to have all this high tech junk so there's only about 4 of these stations between us and the next star. My argument is who cares if there's 4 or 400 or 4 million stations between here and the next star, it'll all work just as well as a colonization / space travel policy. Much as I like the idea of air service to Fiji, I frankly don't care if I need to make 15 connections stops and transfers were I to try it. Even if my body could never reach Fiji, we still technically as a species have flight service to Fiji.

    The majority of the human population might therefore eventually live "enroute" on various stations. OK, so what?

    And nobody knows the effect of 2G acceleration over long term (probably worse than weightlessness) because we can't simulate it for more than very brief periods.

    Sure we can. Take a large (to get lots of data) melting-pot of a nation (to remove racial effects) and have their corporate owned government propagandize them to eat grains and corn syrup and other carbs until their weight doubles. Wait a lifetime, analyze the results. Hmm, I wonder where we could run this experiment? It would seem that a lifetime is not so good, a year or so is frankly no big deal.

  • Re:In other words... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 19, 2011 @05:10PM (#37767230)

    When I said people, I meant it in the literal sense. Technology on Earth will advance as the starship makes its journey, so it's possible that they (the people of Earth) will come up with something much more advanced before the first starship even reaches its destination. Also possible a second starship will make it to the destination before the first.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!