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Iggy's Debating Society

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 4:29 am

How, and when, will the human race achieve interstellar space flight?

There are many ideas currently circulating about how best to go about interstellar flight. The closest star to us is about 4 light years away: conventional chemical rockets achieve maximum speeds of about 40000 mph, so at that speed it would take 70000 years to reach. The ideal way would be to develop hyperspace flight... but there's a slight problem in that we don't even know if it's possible, let alone technologically feasible. More practical ideas include:

- Solar sails - using a huge sheet of material kilometers wide to capture light from the sun or from a high powered laser to 'sail' to the next star. An issue with this is slowing the craft down once it reaches its destination.
- Ion/Plasma engines - eject a steady stream of particles to gain enormous speeds over a long period of time. An issue with this is the amount of fuel required to last the trip.
- Ramjet Fusion engines - 'scoop' hydrogen from space and 'burn' it in a fusion reactor to provide thrust. An issue with this is the size of the scoop needed - about 160km wide!
- Nuclear Pulsed Rockets - basically, throw h-bombs out the back and ride the wake! There are some obvious issues with this Razz.

I took these from a book, and I agree with the author's assessment that Ramjet fusion engines would be most effective, despite the large size needed. If we wanted to we could build something 160km wide in orbit, no problem, and don't forget that at some point we'll have to send the whole population of the solar system into space before the sun dies - we'll need some pretty big ships for that! And once the craft got up to speed (about 77% the speed of light), relativistic effects would mean that time would slow down, meaning that huge distances could be travelled in a crew member's lifetime.

Post your favourite idea! Razz

As for when it'll happen, I don't know. I think we'll have fusion technology in full flow by the end of this century, and I think we could easily have manned missions to Mars by 2050. It's a big step though to interstellar travel, so I'm gonna go for a conservative 5000 years. If we got this far from our early ancestors technologically in that amount of time, I think it'll require the same sort of leap again and the same sort of timescale. Plus don't forget we have politicians to slow the process down a whole lot.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:18 am

Years ago i saw a few documentaries about anti-gravity "engines", some scientists made round plates of superconductors and let them rotate and the gravity force above those plates was much lower than the normal 9.x we have on earth. They had the idea to make air-/spacecraft with such engines.

A similar effect was achieved with huge magnets, they made a tiny spider "fly" inside such a magnetic field. Magnetism hasn't been fully explored yet, it has many connection to gravity and there might be some very useful applications that could be made once we get to master the power of magnetism.

So my idea is, space ships powered by gravity/magnetism.

I also like the idea of how it's possible to travel in time, although only to the future, like Iggy says, if we manage to fly at almost light speed, time slows down; if we would manage to fly to the next star system at almost light speed and then fly back, the travelers would have aged much less than those left on earth affraid

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:08 am

That would be all well and good slowing down time, but as mass is proportional we would become way to "heavy" and all of our skeletons would turn to mush under our own mass. In my opinion slow and steady wins the race and we should invest in some body/mind freezing technology with a ship on auto pilot. Or even create a space ship so big that it can support an eco system and send a colony that lives for generations on a massive ship that is essentially just like living on earth but eventually your great great^1000 (or some number that makes 70000 years worth of generations) grandchildren will land on a new planet.
My 2 cents
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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:18 am

Mass would only appear to increase and time to slow down if you observed the spacecraft from Earth - those aboard the spacecraft would feel no change at all. But yeah, you make a good point, and it's that sort of strategy which would allow us to get to the stars earlier, since advances in cryogenics will come before major advances in propulsion and construction I think.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord~Deathspeed on Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:20 am

I think these "anti gravity" engines would work, however i bet they would be more worried about how to run it than to make it happen cos they are just utter ****kers


they wanna sort out our engery crysis first tbh

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:46 pm

Iggy I beg do differ, although the travelers would not notice there time slowing down, this is only because there brains would be functioning slower too, everything traveling close to the speed of light has its time slow down but of course they don't notice. However I cannot see how they would not notice there mass changing. It has been proven (partical accelerators) that both time slows down and mass increases with a radio active particle. Knowing the half-life of the partical means you know how long it takes to decay, however when its speed was increased in the accelerator for a period of time and then decreased, it had not decayed as much as its half life would have suggested as for the partical not so much time had passed, also the force to accelerate it had to be increased the closer it got to the speed of light as its mass was increasing.
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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 10:48 pm

Yes that's true, but only for the observer. If you were the particle you would experience no change whatsoever.

Imagine you're on a train with one-way windows, that allow you to see into the train but not out. You could be moving at any speed, and you would have no idea how fast you are moving, since relative to you on the train, nothing is moving. If the train was travelling at near the speed of light, you would still feel no different - however an observer watching you through the windows of the train would see that your time has slowed down and could deduce that your mass had increased. This is one of the very weird principles of special relativity.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:51 pm

No no Very Happy I agree that the time change is relative to the observer but the mass is not. If the object did not increase in mass there would be no conservation of momentum at high speeds (close to c). This is because its not possible to accelerate past the speed of light so acceleration is decreased as you get close to c, however if you are still applying a constant force momentum must be increased so your mass must increase if you speed is not. Thus our masses would increase.

However after crunching the numbers I have to retract my problem with flints solution as (75kg*0.5*100000000^2)/(300000000^2) this being a 75kg person traveling a third the speed of light, means an increase of 4.167kg's so i think we would survive. Very Happy
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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:26 am

Fair enough Very Happy.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Mon Jun 15, 2009 4:20 pm

Blood wrote:an increase of 4.167kg
geez.. i guess we'll have to find some other way of transporting our women, there's no way they gonna voluntarily agree to increase their weight by over 4 kg Very Happy

i read up on the topic of superconductors/gravity, it seems that several unrelated scientists observed this effect, but it couldn't be reproduced, and now there's a prize of 1 million euro on finding a reproducible way to defy gravity by use of superconductors.

given the current options, and the speed of scientific advance in the last century, i would say we will need another 300-500 years to find a way to send ships to outer space, at speeds that are high enough that the cosmonauts would actually reach the next star system (and not their great-grandchildren). the problem with that is that it will take a lot of time (observer from earth time) until this team comes back to relate what they have found.

the next steps will then be to explore our surroundings, find a suitable place to settle on, found one or maybe several colonies, and finally get the hell out of here before our yellow dwarf explodes. in a sense this might become a very confusing time since people will travel back and forth between earth and the colonies, and due to this time travel effect some will age much faster than others; just think about two twins of which one travels through space all his life while the other stays on the same planet, at some point the traveling twin might be as old as his brothers children or grandchildren.

yea these are all just theories.. but being partially a mathematician i approximate the scientific advance in the future by help of the one in the past.. if you compare what we have now to what we had 10, 50, 100, 200, 1000 years ago, the advance we made is not linear but exponential (compare to Moore's Law which he stated in 1965 and which is still in effect these days), so it would be just normal if we advanced at a much higher rate in the coming centuries.. thats why i go for an optimistic 300, pessimistic 500 years.

as about the way the actual spacecraft engines will work, i'm not sure how exactly but i'm sure that almost endless amounts of energy will be needed to travel at such speeds; and i'm sure the guys at CERN will come up with some way to produce so much energy in the near time. (maybe even this year after they fix their new toy that they broke last year lol....)

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord'Doom on Tue Jun 16, 2009 1:50 am

THE EARTH IS AN APPLE!

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:02 am

Lord'Doom wrote:THE EARTH IS AN APPLE!

Um... no... it isn't? Surprised

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord~Deathspeed on Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:48 am

nice doom, putting it black so it blends in .....

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord~Hughsinkler on Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:50 pm

Heres a biggie: Does God Exist?

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Tue Jun 23, 2009 6:21 pm

well his hand has been seen in the universe

as seen here



and here



and here



the 2 last are prolly photoshopped XD

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Tue Jun 23, 2009 8:36 pm

That's hardly proof Gunner Razz.

I don't really know either way... to quote Hot Fuzz: 'I'm open to the concept of religion, I'm just not entirely convinced by it'.

Basically, there are some things about the Universe that I don't think we'll ever be able to answer - so my limited human brain screams 'divine intervention'. But I'm not convinced by the way people go about practicing religion - 'worship' seems a bit pathetic to me. I therefore believe that there is some sort of God, but I don't think he/she/it is anything like the one portrayed in today's religions. I'd be happy to be labelled as an agnostic - not a firm believer, but not an atheist either.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:19 am

there is surely some higher power that we humans will never be able to understand, the intelligent people are well aware of this. but since its not possible to explain this to dumb people (which made up about 99,9% of the population at the time our current religions were founded), some other, easily understandable concept had to be made up - so the wise men came up with a "god" and wrote a few easily understandable books, to give hope to the poor and dumb people of the old times.

but dont mind my opinion, everyone perceives religion in his own way and thats good like that, cause religion a very personal thing.

how about a new topic.... what do you think about the Higgs Boson, will the CERN guys find it or not? i personally hope they will NOT find it which will force them to rethink all our physics.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Wed Jun 24, 2009 9:13 pm

I expect them to find it, but I agree, it would also be quite good if something totally different and unexpected showed up.

I think that we must have got something fundamentally wrong with our standard model somewhere - the equations seem much to complicated to me to be correct, it's not something as simple as E=mc^2. And our two greatest theories, general relativity and quantum mechanics (the standard model) are totally incompatible, so one of them, or both of them, must be wrong. That's not really a real reason, just a gut feeling of mine.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord~Hughsinkler on Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:32 am

Flint wrote: i personally hope they will NOT find it which will force them to rethink all our physics.

Yeah, and we would all start failing our physics papers lol

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Lord~Deathspeed on Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:13 am

Lord'Hughsinkler wrote:
Flint wrote: i personally hope they will NOT find it which will force them to rethink all our physics.

Yeah, and we would all start failing our physics papers lol

agreed and these so called degrees will than be worthless

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:17 pm

Lord~IGNGN wrote:.. just a gut feeling of mine.

Albert Einstein wrote:It is better for people to be like the beasts...they should be more intuitive; they should not be too conscious of what they are doing while they are doing it.

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sat Jul 18, 2009 7:21 am

An interesting development in our quest for immortality...

In a novel I read while on holiday (The Reality Dysfunction, by Peter F. Hamilton), the author describes huge, living, habitats in space, the product of incredible genetic engineering, which incorporate the minds of the people who die within them into the habitats own, totally fair and balanced, governing personality. An interesting way of keeping your thoughts and memories alive for all time, and I would imagine living under the dictatorship of a faultless (and importantly, non-human) mind would be much more appealling than a democracy. That's if anything like a habitat could ever be constructed, or more appropriately, grown. Smile

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Re: Iggy's Debating Society

Post  Guest on Sun Jul 19, 2009 4:22 am

neat fantasy story.. i might imagine that this "overmind" is not so faultless, im thinking of all the criminals that would pursue some evil agenda even after their death.. err.. i mean after the death of their body.. because, who says they will turn to being good.. i wouldnt want to be governed by the combined mind of criminals gangsters and sick people Very Happy

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