Buckyballs are a health hazard. Does the term exponential growth mean anything to you?
A bunch of rocks The surface of Titan. So you give someone an inch and they want a yard. Given them a rocket ship and suddenly they want a star ship.
SF writers want to use exotic settings on alien planets, but the real estate in our solar system mostly looks like a bunch of rocks. I know that those spoil-sports at NASA have ruined our solar system for SF writers since their nosy space probes failed to find dinosaur-infested jungles of Venus and scantily-clad Martian princesses.
But they haven't sent probes to other stars yet! Why not turn my rocket ship into a star ship? The basic problem is that interstellar distances are freaking huge.
The introduction begins like this: You just won't believe how vastly hugely mindboggingly big it is. I mean you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space. At an ordinary speed — say, a reasonable pace for a car in a megalopolitan traffic, two kilometers per minute — you would consume almost nine million years in crossing it.
And in Sol's neighborhood, the stars averaged some nine light-years apart. Beta Virginis was thirty-two distant. There is a glowing dot for the Sun, and one millimeter away is a microscopic speck representing the Earth.
Imagine this ten-centimeter model floating above your palm. This would put Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, at about meters away. That's feet, the length of about two and a half football fields or four and a half New York city blocks!
Glance at the ten-centimeter solar system in your hand, then contemplate the nearest solar system four and a half city blocks away. And the center of the galaxy would be about kilometers away about mileswhich is a bit more than the distance from Chicago, Illinois to Houston, Texas.
How long do you think it is going to take to travel such distances? As an example, the Voyager 1 space probe is currently the fastest human made object with a rest mass, zipping along at a blazing This means that in the space of an eyeblink the little speed demon travels a whopping eleven miles!
What if it was aimed at Proxima Centauri it isn'thow long would it take to reach it? Which means that if Neanderthal men had launched something as fast as Voyager 1 to Proxima, it would just barely be arriving right now.
And the joke's on them. Neanderthals are extinct so not even their descendants would reap the benefit of any scientific broadcasts from the Proxima probe.
A similar argument could be used against any interstellar probes we could launch. This leaves us with two alternatives: Well, three, if you count "faster than light", but that will be covered later. As Gordon Woodcock put it, the three methods of travelling to other stars are " go slow ", " go fast ", and " go tricky.
A society capable of building a successful interstellar generation ship will also be capable of building an interstellar relativistic ship simply by virtue of its tech level.
Building a perfect, failsafe biosphere as required for a generation ship is not necessarily simpler than building an antimatter-fuelled torch drive, and unlike the latter can't be solved by throwing more power at it.
And this is not even discussing cryogenic sleep. It is not necessarily simpler to build a successful, interstellar generation ship than it is to build a successful, interstellar relativistic ship, and the latter is preferable for almost any use case.
The one major advantage of generation ships is probably payload. Distance between stars is huge, traveling said distance slower-than-light will take a huge amount of time, human beings have a very limited lifespan.
You may think that, because it's not physically impossible, that it's inevitable that humans will travel this way one day. Sadly, it looks like blasting your way between the stars the hard way requires magical technology too, just as FTL does.
We've talked about this before on the blogbut unfortunately, the really good conversation was about comments in and about 8? Here, I'm going to cover two points: There are a lot of problems, what with providing air, water, food, radiation protection, decent meteor defenses, a working clothes cleaner, producing food reliably, recycling trash, keeping people healthy and able to step onto a planet again, and last but not least, completing a human life cycle from conception through birth to maturity and senescence.Consider: a single light-year is an inconceivable abyss.
Denumerable but inconceivable. At an ordinary speed — say, a reasonable pace for a car in a megalopolitan traffic, two kilometers per minute — you would consume almost nine million years in crossing it.
This is quite a sad chapter. It contains a character death and the whole story is quite dark. It begins at the beginning of Prisoner of Azkaban and is AU thereafter. Also note: this story is a "Snape is Harry's biological dad" story.
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