Is off world colonization as bogus as they say?

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HEV_tux

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So please forgive me as i am only a high school physics student with no super teachings, but i have to ask


Everybody seems so intent on confirming that we will be dead from either global warming or the sun heating up in like 2000 years, but with the advances science is making (microchips, screens thinner than paper, machines made from atoms. etc) is it honestly that bogus to believe intersteller travel might be possible? we used to think the world was flat and that the sun revolved around us? Isnt it possible that humanity will expand throught the galaxy. and is it so rediculous to believe that we might learn how to use technology to control the sun? or fix global warming? etc?


I ask because i want to know what scientists think about this stuff. Thanks!
 
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MeteorWayne

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The biggest impediment to interstellar travel is that:

A. The speed limit is the speed of light
B. As or now, we can only achieve a VERY small part of that speed, even with spaceraft with no squishable humans aboard.

The result is that interstellar travel for humans will not occur in your lifetime, even at your tender age :)

As for colonizing Mars, it's possible, since it doesn't require such extreme speeds, but I fear it will not happen even in your lifetime. Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it. We humans do not seem to be prepared to spend what it will take.

Welcome to Space.com.
 
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Shpaget

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Hi and welcome,
Be assured that humans will still be around in 2000 years, well at least the Sun won't explode any time soon.
Some other global catastrophe might occur but if it does, it's probably going to be man made, not some coming-from-space event.
Interstellar travel will, I'm afraid, have to wait for some really fundamental change in Physics and Math. Our current technology is nowhere near the capability of transporting anything that far in even remotely reasonable time. Interplanetary travel, and perhaps even colonization is actually possible even with today's technology. I believe that in couple of hundred years there will be self-sustaining lunar colonies with people living their entire lives there, not just visiting.
Fixing global warming (if you believe everything politicians say :p) is happening as we speak.
Controlling stars will have to wait. Those little buggers are really not that manageable.
 
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crazyeddie

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HEV_tux":3htdixuh said:
So please forgive me as i am only a high school physics student with no super teachings, but i have to ask


Everybody seems so intent on confirming that we will be dead from either global warming or the sun heating up in like 2000 years, but with the advances science is making (microchips, screens thinner than paper, machines made from atoms. etc) is it honestly that bogus to believe intersteller travel might be possible? we used to think the world was flat and that the sun revolved around us? Isnt it possible that humanity will expand throught the galaxy. and is it so rediculous to believe that we might learn how to use technology to control the sun? or fix global warming? etc?


I ask because i want to know what scientists think about this stuff. Thanks!
We're not all scientists here, but we are well-read on the subject. ;)

There's nothing "bogus" or impossible about human interstellar travel, as long as you are willing to concede the following points:

1. It will be incredibly expensive,

2. it will be very time-consuming,

3. it will be a considerable engineering challenge, and

4. it will not be practical until we either develop faster propulsion systems or hibernation technology.

But if you are asking if interstellar travel will ever be like what you see on Star Trek, I think the answer is, "no one knows, but probably not".

Fixing global warming might actually be quite easy, albeit expensive. We could build a soletta, to reflect back some of the solar insolation. Or, we could launch thousands or millions of small, reflective mirrors that will orbit the Earth and bounce back a small percentage of the sun's rays. These solutions are expensive and have consequences, but they are not insolvable.
 
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HEV_tux

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thanks guys! these are exactly the kind of answers i had hoped for

A few responses:
Oh i know it wont be possible in my lifetime (unless medicine takes a leap and increased life expectancy tremendously ;). but i was just wondering. I know all about the theory of realetivity, but i feel like with the kinds of work scientists are doing, its possible to find ways around it. Last i checked are shuttles go what is it? .08% the speed of light?

I certainly hope global warming is fixable, every news report i hear talks about how its going to end the world and they seem so excited to tell us about it!

it seems like science is putting things smaller and smaller but not bigger and bigger (smaller elctronics, study of microorganisms etc.)
 
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Shpaget

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If you take 8000 km/h as the top speed of a space shuttle and compare it to speed of light, it is 0,000027 c, or 0,0027% of speed of light.
You see, it's just a fraction of it.

High speed record for a manned vehicle, which is held by Apollo 10, is 11000 km/h, (0,000037 c).
At that speed it would take us more than 100 000 years to reach the nearest star.
 
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kelvinzero

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This is a link I like to inject into these sorts of conversation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_So ... ts_by_size

Most of the objects on this list smaller than the earth are potentially colonizable, and without any major advances in physics.

Many of them are just floating rubble-piles of rock and ice. However the case can be made that this makes them the ideal home for the future of humanity. These have all the chemical elements we need, shielding from radiation, access to solar power (at least for anything not further than the asteroid belt) and are much MUCH easier to launch from and land on than the earth.

Furthermore, the homes we can build on these worlds will be far more interesting than anything we could do on another earth clone.

To conquer these worlds all we need are basic common-sense advances in technology: Artificial biospheres, efficient recycling, and ISRU.
 
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neilsox

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Orbital speed in low Earth orbit is about 28,000 kilometers per hour, with respect to Earth's equator. I suppose with respect to the North or South pole of our Sun is more applicable to interstellar travel, so 11,000 kilometers per hour may be faster than the record for a manned vehicle? Comparison involves three dimension vectors and is very direction dependent.
I agree with Kelvinzero, we can sort of colonize a near Earth asteroid by 2029, if we are willing to spend a trillion dollars, put the colonists at high risk, and send them supplies annually forever. By 2032, the cost could be down to 1/2 trillion dollars, even less if we planned more efficiently than typical.
If we colonize lots of asteroids, one of them will eventually, be ejected from our solar system, by a near miss = interstellar travel will then have begun, but delivering the annual supplies will be increasingly difficult as the centuries roll on. Neil
 
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MeteorWayne

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Just as a reference point, here is a page that shows the 5 spacecraft that are leaving the solar system Of course, they are unmanned, but just wanted to provide an upper limit to what we have done so far. A manned craft, would of course be much heavier, and would need to accelerate at lower g forces.

http://heavens-above.com/solar-escape.a ... 104&tz=EST

The Voyager 1 speed relative to the sun is 61,502 km/hr (17.084 km/s....multiply km/sec by 3600 to get km/h).

That is 0.006% c (or c times .00006)

Wayne
 
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