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Canada Space Television Science

Human Survival Depends On Space Exploration, Says Hawking 438

thomst writes "The Winnipeg Free Press posts a story by Cassandra Szklarski of the Canadian Press about an email interview with Stephen Hawking in which the astrophysicist and geek hero opines, 'Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.' The story also covers the upcoming Canadian debut of Hawking's new TV series 'Brave New World With Stephen Hawking,' and his excitement about ongoing work at the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ont. investigating quantum theory and gravity."
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Human Survival Depends On Space Exploration, Says Hawking

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  • Re:Space ninjas (Score:5, Informative)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:26PM (#38112518)

    Without gravity, we'd die.


    Without WEIGHT, we'd die. Not quite the same thing.

    A spin habitat will do nicely to provide weight (and, if looked at in the proper general-relativistic way, gravity), without the need for large masses and the other inconveniences of gravity.

  • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @09:28PM (#38112536)

    Why be idiotic enough to put a reactor in the lifesystem when you can park it outside?

  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:30PM (#38112910)

    Garbage disposal in transit is a problem, stuff you throw out the airlock follows you to your destination.

    How so? Assuming you throw it at greater than the escape velocity of your craft (how big is this craft?) surely it will continue to diverge from your path at the same velocity?

  • Re:Space ninjas (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:46PM (#38113040)

    A spin habitat will do nicely to provide weight

    Unless it's really freakin' big, the Coriolis forces will be a bitch, though.

  • Deja vu much? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hermanas ( 1665329 ) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:38PM (#38113424)

    Once, I would have written it off to deja vu and went on with my life. But the same article, 3 times? I might be human, but my memory is not that terrible, Slashdot!

  • by Ruie ( 30480 ) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:36AM (#38113832) Homepage

    There seems to be a basic human assumption that power plants must reside within the habitable portions of a craft. In reality, the powerplant(s) might be very distantly attached by spars. A mile long spar will introduce some interesting engineering challenges (depending on the materials used to make the spars) but it will most certainly remove most of the radiation hazard.

    And, this is where someone asks, "Why in hell would you want mile long spars? How big do you want this craft to be?" Well - thinking in interstellar terms, we don't have the technology to exceed the speed of light. Interstellar colonization will be done with generation ships. They'll have to be BIG, to carry a large DNA pool, plus ship's crew, plus the support personnel that will be needed by the colonists. Unless we get FTL, ships will have to be freaking HUGE! So, putting any hazardous power plants at the far end of a mile long spar just makes sense!

    Exactly. There is no better shield than 1/r^2. And, instead of a spar, you can just use a 40km cable and do formation flying. Zero weight radiation shielding!

    The actual radiation hazard comes from space itself - it is not empty but full of high energy radioactive stuff. See for example EEv particles [] - they are fortunately rare, but still have a chance of hitting a sizable interstellar craft. On Earth we are shielded from them by the atmosphere (they trigger less harmfull radiation showers). Lesser energy charged particles are deflected by Earth magnetic field.

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