What would be the fastest way to travel to Alpha Centauri?

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zenonithus

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If humans could invent it that is. If it was a huge transport ship what sort of engine would it require?

Idealy the ship would take approximately 100 years to travel. Or preferebly less.

Any suggestions?
 
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ramparts

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Well, I'll admit I don't know much about space travel, but just to clear things up: do you want it to take less than 100 years for the people on board, or people back on Earth? There's a well-known effect from special relativity that anything travelling sufficiently fast (that has to accelerate to get to that speed) will age slower than the thing that stays put, so the astronauts on board will be a lot younger than the people back home ;)
 
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zenonithus

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ahh, heh I see what you mean. never really thought about that :)

I guess more-so the people on board the ship. So as one theory I read said they'd probably have to live on the ship and their future ascendents would colonise the planet.

I only say 100 years to give a more realistic time of travel. The idea is once they reach and colonize the planet, technology advances in another hundred years or so and they can travel back to earth in say five years (on the ship)

So if the journey was say 100 years on the ship, how much time do you think would pass on earth?
 
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MeteorWayne

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This doesn't belong in Physics...when I figure out what forum it belongs in it will be moved. The location will be mentioned in the pinned "Moderator Actions" topic at the top.
 
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zenonithus

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sorry, wasn't sure where to post this either. I assumed physics may have played in figuring out the engine.
 
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darkmatter4brains

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The quickest way would be via a wormhole, like in the movie Contact. Supposedly, it's theoretically possible. Unfortunately, the human race is probably about a million years away from having that kind of technology!

Within our current technological abilities or with what we're likely to develop in the foreseeable future, there is no quick way.
 
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baulten

Guest
Of known propulsion mechanisms, an anti-matter driven engine could take a crew to Alpha Centauri in around a decade under the best conditions.

Realistically, though, the best feasible propulsion mechanism would be the nuclear pulse propulsion system proposed in Project Orion. It'd take about 100 years to reach the system.
 
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matthewota

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As of today, there is no known proven, developed technology that could send people to Alpha Centauri in less than 100 years.

We simply do not have the knowledge to mount such an expedition. It is a fantasy promoted by sci fi writers.

We are better off developing the resources in the Solar System. They are within the reach of our current technology, using ion engines.
 
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origin

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zenonithus":3fyjjm11 said:
ahh, heh I see what you mean. never really thought about that :)

So if the journey was say 100 years on the ship, how much time do you think would pass on earth?
Since you are travel at less than 1/20 the speed of light there would be very little relativistic effects. 100 years on the ship would equal about 100.1 years on earth.
 
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zenonithus

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cheers guys.

Yeah wormholes would be ideal, though the concept seems very alien.

How would you imagine a nuclear pulse propulsion based ship to look? How would it look traveling? Is there a large explosion that send it forward at the near speed of light?

How about an antimatter based ship? Are there any good examples of what one may look like or perform? ie. movies etc?
 
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andrew_t1000

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How about a BMF light sail?
If you flew out through the south solar pole magnetic field, you could get a bit more acceleration from the solar wind that streams out there.
Once you get out of the heliopause, the Galactic wind would be even stronger, which seems logical considering how much the sun's magnetic field is distorted.
It might take a while to get a fair percentage of C, but with a constant, albeit small acceleration, a flight time of way less than a century might be possible.
I've tried searching for data on the Galactic wind, but I haven't been able to find anything.
Since bother Voyager probes have left the heliopause (how do you spell it?), I was hoping there would be some data available.
 
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