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Old 2010-05-30, 05:20   Link #21
MrTerrorist
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoweGear View Post
Not to be insensitive to the topic at hand, since like the rest of you here I'm a space nut, however when I first saw the topic title this immediately came to mind:





And the vastness of the universe is one of it's many appeals as Terrestial Dream's image shows.
Me too. I love that show. There was even a cameo by R. Lee Ermey and Coolio!
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Old 2010-05-30, 08:30   Link #22
SaintessHeart
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Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
Space is the future, if humans don't go to space, there is no hope in survival at all. If we don't go to space, our existence might as well be useless.
Wait....does your nick C.A actually means Char Aznable? Sieg Zeon!

However I do agree with that line though. We are just too comfortable on earth and we are simply strip mining our lands to make ourselves even more comfortable. Human psychology is progressive : it always wants better things.

Kind of funny that Vexx never posted in this thread : thought space and science technology was within his field of interest (shared simultaneously with his wife and anime).
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Old 2010-05-30, 11:40   Link #23
Ricky Controversy
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Originally Posted by Nintendo View Post
Because if they created speed of light transportation, no matter what they will have the technology to wipe us out in a matter of months.
This isn't strictly true. It's a common misconception that technology progresses in discrete levels, and anyone who has X must also have Y because X is on the same or higher level than Y. But the truth is that not only do areas of study move at different paces, but the technology that people actually make use of and cultivate is technology that they find useful. While we find this extremely unlikely, consider the possibility of a species that has developed far-ranging space travel tech, but has also not experienced a war in the last million years, and they developed this tech in the period since. If they even have any functional weaponry, it'd be a huge surprise, let alone if it were developed to some inconceivable level.

It'd certainly be interesting to meet some super-advanced civilization and learn from them, but that's just necessarily a lot less likely for us as long as we aren't also star-hopping. I'm seeing a scenario sort of like the setting of the MechWarrior storyline, where humans have expanded far over the course of centuries and centuries, but in truth they are still primarily concerned with the goings on of their own tiny pocket of the galaxy, and aliens haven't entered into it all that way down the road.
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Old 2010-05-30, 12:11   Link #24
Ledgem
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricky Controversy View Post
Every so often, I hear that this scientist or that scientist claims we have the technology to make quite significant improvements in our methods of space travel, if only our governments were willing to devote enough of their budget to it, and it makes me sad because it seems likely to me that this is true, though I'd think we should sort out some of the mess on Earth before we start putting too much effort towards that.
Yeah, and I'd like the government to further fund the lab I'm in because we have a really neat treatment for cancer in progress. Ask anyone in my lab and they'll tell you it could be a revolutionary approach. Ask any other lab (especially competitors for funding) and they'll likely tell you a different story. But that's science - if we knew for a fact that our hypothesis would work, we wouldn't need to do experiments to test it.

Part of the reason why space travel may not be getting too much attention is because there are a large number of hurdles to jump through before it's meaningful. Suppose we could easily travel great distances through space - that's great, who cares? Until we can easily get onto and off of planets it's relatively meaningless, aside from making observations. Improving technology to launch things into space, colonizing and terraforming - these are areas that need to be worked out before long-distance space travel becomes important.

Yet as Ricky Controversy alluded to, the thought of planetary colonization makes me nervous. Human societies are already pretty unstable with one another, and at this point in time things are very commercially-motivated... I don't like the thought that space exploration and planetary colonization would be all about commercial exploitation and fighting for claims to land/resources.
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Old 2010-05-30, 12:24   Link #25
SaintessHeart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricky Controversy View Post
This isn't strictly true. It's a common misconception that technology progresses in discrete levels, and anyone who has X must also have Y because X is on the same or higher level than Y. But the truth is that not only do areas of study move at different paces, but the technology that people actually make use of and cultivate is technology that they find useful. While we find this extremely unlikely, consider the possibility of a species that has developed far-ranging space travel tech, but has also not experienced a war in the last million years, and they developed this tech in the period since. If they even have any functional weaponry, it'd be a huge surprise, let alone if it were developed to some inconceivable level.

It'd certainly be interesting to meet some super-advanced civilization and learn from them, but that's just necessarily a lot less likely for us as long as we aren't also star-hopping. I'm seeing a scenario sort of like the setting of the MechWarrior storyline, where humans have expanded far over the course of centuries and centuries, but in truth they are still primarily concerned with the goings on of their own tiny pocket of the galaxy, and aliens haven't entered into it all that way down the road.
I am more towards the Mass Effect storyline where the possible science advancements generated the "change in gravitational field" via the element of eezo and electric fields. Unified field theory anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
Yet as Ricky Controversy alluded to, the thought of planetary colonization makes me nervous. Human societies are already pretty unstable with one another, and at this point in time things are very commercially-motivated... I don't like the thought that space exploration and planetary colonization would be all about commercial exploitation and fighting for claims to land/resources.
The main difficulty would be to strike a balance about who owns where. Like what syn said in the previous page,

Quote:
Originally Posted by synaesthetic View Post
Space development will make amazing and lightning-fast advances, but only when people figure out how to make a profit in space. As long as space development is government-driven, it will go precisely nowhere.
So yeah. That's about it. I wonder how much NASA spent in their space program since the past 30 years.
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Old 2010-05-30, 13:07   Link #26
Ricky Controversy
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Well, if we're thinking about things that space can offer by way of resources we need, then the big one that we know of so far is real-estate. We've not encountered any magical wonder elements that we could benefit a lot from that is only obtainable or practically obtainable in space, so the primary reason would be to combat overcrowding and the difficulties that arise from it. The problem with that is that to make that land of any use requires a significant 'down payment' of resources to develop the lifeless soils of other worlds into something useful.

Really, that's the sweeping issue with space as a whole: the investments required to make anything of it are huge. Especially during the foundational phases while we're still screwing things up and leaving crap in orbit, there will be many tasks required to make space life functional that are in no way profitable ventures, and so will fall to governments to fund. I gotta be honest with you, I don't see any government being terribly excited about having to budget for a Planetes style space-junk collection service, but it would sure as heck be necessary.
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Old 2010-05-30, 14:22   Link #27
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Space has always been a great interest of mine, being a sci-fi nerd. So much so, that I read up on all theories and methods and likelihoods of various things.

Alien life:
The Earth has been around for at least a couple billion years. The universe itself has been around far long. Within that billion years, mankind has only been present and sentient for a few thousand. In galactic terms, if you said the entire universe has only been around for a year, mankind came about December 31st at 11:59pm.

Give the increasing rate of technological growth we've made in the past thousand years, you begin to realize the odds of ever meeting aliens anywhere near out level of progression is incredibly small; if we meet any at all, they will be swimming around in mud puddles, or so far advanced they may as well be magical gods. And the most likely explanation, is that we'll never meet alien life anything like that at all; entire civilizations will have most likely arisen and died out, long before we get any kind of meaningful space travel.

In short: Don't hold your breath for any meetings of alien life (unless there's some sort of higher power deliberately adjusting the growth of several alien species, so we all evolve at the same rate).

Space travel:
The reason we won't be going anyway, is because people don't have the guts to do what needs to be done. What we need is a heavy lifter rocket, and the best we've got is a nuclear rocket. That is the only thing that is ever going to economically lift enough into orbit to create a decent sized space station or spacecraft. But because people are so afraid when you mention the word "nuclear," we'll forever be ground-bound. Why so good? They are over twice as efficient as the Space Shuttle engines, meaning you need much less fuel. And for lifting things off Earth, less fuel means less weight, means you can lift more up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_thermal_rocket

Space elevator? Maybe, but that is still science-fiction, as we don't have the materials needed to construct one yet. There are still major hurdles to overcome. Nuclear rockets were proven feasible back in the 60s and 70s (google NERVA).

Okay, so we can lift things into orbit; what then? A nuclear rocket is still a rocket, and only good for getting you out of Earth's gravity well. There are several possibilities, but my money is on VASIMR. While Solar Sails and Ion drives would be more efficient, they accelerate too slowly to get humans anywhere. Nuclear Thermal Propulsion might grant higher speed, but requires tons of fuel to get places, and in space, weight is everything. VASIMR is the best of both worlds, using minimal fuel and a nuclear reactor for energy. 90s to Mars is a reality right now (and likely the trip time could be lowered even more as the technology is further developed.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variabl...oplasma_Rocket

Okay, so that works for out solar system, but what happen other star systems? The nearest ones are still many light years away. For that, we need FTL travel. Unfortunately, that's still a hurdle. There have been some proposed, with only the Alcubierre Warp Drive equations seemingly possible. It essentially creates a bubble around the craft, and that bubble travels FTL light, while the ship inside it is well below light speed; so it doesn't violate any laws. But there are still matters with regards to how exactly you build everything that is needed, so it's a long ways off (and may not even be possible).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive

My money is still on wormholes, which theoretically can take you through time and space in an instant, but there's no idea on how we can create those. But it's partially why I like the Stargate series, since they use wormhole travel.

Why does space travel matter anyway?
This is the important question, and I can sum it up in single phrase: Because we currently have all our eggs in one basket. If an asteroid hits, or a super-volcano blows, or any one of other major disasters, human life can be easily wiped off the Earth. We need to colonize Mars, and other planets, to ensure humanity will continue.

In the short term, there are tons of valuable resources in our own solar system; if we can develop cheap enough technology to get at them, we can ensure we have enough for thousands of years at the very least. For instance, if we can get fusion power running, the moon itself has a ton of Helium-3 that's a vital fuel for it. Fusion power can theoretically provide power for everyone on Earth cheaply and easily.

Summary:
Develop Nuclear Thermal Rockets to get tons of stuff into orbit for larger space craft and space stations -> use VASIMR to move around between Earth, the moon, the asteroid belt and Mars (and perhaps some moons like Europa) -> collect materials and get fusion power working -> work out FTL travel.

Even if FTL travel isn't possible, we can detect habitable worlds with our telescopes, and building a large generation ship to travel to one over the course of 50 years or so, isn't impossible. There are more than enough resources in the solar system to make one cheaply, if we have ship construction facilities in space.
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Old 2010-05-30, 14:40   Link #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaintessHeart View Post
However I do agree with that line though. We are just too comfortable on earth and we are simply strip mining our lands to make ourselves even more comfortable. Human psychology is progressive : it always wants better things.
My stand with space exploration is very simple actually and is not about progress, but survival.

Its an absolute need to go to space if humans want to preserve the species or whatever humanity becomes in the future.

The planet doesn't last forever, the ultimate deadline is in 4 billion years when the sun goes red giant. Humans must leave the planet and the solar system itself no matter what.

Its a must to explore space and if humans can survive long enough, will definitely populate space itself in the future.
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Old 2010-05-30, 15:45   Link #29
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Hahaha... It's childish to call a dream childish. It is indeed unrealistic to some degree but it's a possibility on some levels, unfortunately it ends there.

Space travel or even Space colonization would be plausible if resources were spent more wisely and the worldwide globalization wasn't in the state it currently is. As for the notion of Space and beyond I think it matters little; I doubt we will get off of here in time to see our own destruction. If we do get beyond then our resources would be severely limited unless we learned the technology to mine from meteors or asteroids, refining said rocks for materials and resources would certainly some a problem... initially anyways.


Things slow us down from this dream in all actuality. Our other goals, our budgetary concerns, the government, so on and so forth. I doubt it's probable but it's always possible that humans will start caring about one another on a large scale and actually band together to do something worthwhile.

That possibility however, is small. But people don't always need unification - that is what large corporations like NASA exist... So I really wouldn't know. Never was interested in space since I always thought we'd never reach it. Well reach it as in a large amount of people living in it.

Who knows? Most of mankind could live in outer space with it's benefits and negatives (Example of negative: Living in a sterile environment, a.k.a space tends to weaken an immune system.) While Earth is actually turned into a farm planet meant to feed the colonies.. Or some other kind of facilitating.

...*sigh* One year war here we come.
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Old 2010-05-30, 15:48   Link #30
james0246
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I thought the series was called Space: Above and Beyond...

edit: damn someone already made this joke...stupid cell phone not showing LoweGear's image...

Last edited by james0246; 2010-05-30 at 16:37.
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Old 2010-05-30, 16:05   Link #31
Kamui4356
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricky Controversy View Post
This isn't strictly true. It's a common misconception that technology progresses in discrete levels, and anyone who has X must also have Y because X is on the same or higher level than Y. But the truth is that not only do areas of study move at different paces, but the technology that people actually make use of and cultivate is technology that they find useful. While we find this extremely unlikely, consider the possibility of a species that has developed far-ranging space travel tech, but has also not experienced a war in the last million years, and they developed this tech in the period since. If they even have any functional weaponry, it'd be a huge surprise, let alone if it were developed to some inconceivable level.
Actually, it is true. Any interesting* drive is also a weapon of mass destruction. You don't need to develop weapons to go along with the drive, the drive itself IS a weapon.

*Interesting here being defined as able to get you from place to place in a solar system in a reasonable amount of time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
Space has always been a great interest of mine, being a sci-fi nerd. So much so, that I read up on all theories and methods and likelihoods of various things.

Alien life:
The Earth has been around for at least a couple billion years. The universe itself has been around far long. Within that billion years, mankind has only been present and sentient for a few thousand. In galactic terms, if you said the entire universe has only been around for a year, mankind came about December 31st at 11:59pm.

Give the increasing rate of technological growth we've made in the past thousand years, you begin to realize the odds of ever meeting aliens anywhere near out level of progression is incredibly small; if we meet any at all, they will be swimming around in mud puddles, or so far advanced they may as well be magical gods. And the most likely explanation, is that we'll never meet alien life anything like that at all; entire civilizations will have most likely arisen and died out, long before we get any kind of meaningful space travel.

In short: Don't hold your breath for any meetings of alien life (unless there's some sort of higher power deliberately adjusting the growth of several alien species, so we all evolve at the same rate).
Well, our existence provides compelling evidence against super advanced alien intelligence in our corner of the galaxy. If there were, earth would have been colonized or taken apart for raw material before we even evolved.

Quote:
Space travel:
The reason we won't be going anyway, is because people don't have the guts to do what needs to be done. What we need is a heavy lifter rocket, and the best we've got is a nuclear rocket. That is the only thing that is ever going to economically lift enough into orbit to create a decent sized space station or spacecraft. But because people are so afraid when you mention the word "nuclear," we'll forever be ground-bound. Why so good? They are over twice as efficient as the Space Shuttle engines, meaning you need much less fuel. And for lifting things off Earth, less fuel means less weight, means you can lift more up.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_thermal_rocket

Space elevator? Maybe, but that is still science-fiction, as we don't have the materials needed to construct one yet. There are still major hurdles to overcome. Nuclear rockets were proven feasible back in the 60s and 70s (google NERVA).
Given the radiological effects wide spread usage of nuclear rockets would have, a space elevator is still the way to go. We should have the materials to construct one in the next 50 years, and we don't really have a need to get off of earth right now.

Quote:
Okay, so we can lift things into orbit; what then? A nuclear rocket is still a rocket, and only good for getting you out of Earth's gravity well. There are several possibilities, but my money is on VASIMR. While Solar Sails and Ion drives would be more efficient, they accelerate too slowly to get humans anywhere. Nuclear Thermal Propulsion might grant higher speed, but requires tons of fuel to get places, and in space, weight is everything. VASIMR is the best of both worlds, using minimal fuel and a nuclear reactor for energy. 90s to Mars is a reality right now (and likely the trip time could be lowered even more as the technology is further developed.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variabl...oplasma_Rocket
Umm... what? A nuclear rocket doesn't magically stop working once you get into space. Of course the only one we could build right now is an orion drive, but once again, getting off earth and into space isn't something we need to do right now, with current technology. Also, you realize a VASIMR is an electric rocket, right? It might be the best fuel/thrust drive we can build now, but long term eventually fusion drives will surpass it.

Quote:
Okay, so that works for out solar system, but what happen other star systems? The nearest ones are still many light years away. For that, we need FTL travel. Unfortunately, that's still a hurdle. There have been some proposed, with only the Alcubierre Warp Drive equations seemingly possible. It essentially creates a bubble around the craft, and that bubble travels FTL light, while the ship inside it is well below light speed; so it doesn't violate any laws. But there are still matters with regards to how exactly you build everything that is needed, so it's a long ways off (and may not even be possible).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcubierre_drive
It's based on questionable math. In reality there is no reason to believe faster than light travel is possible. Also we don't need it anyway. It's entirely within the laws of physics to build a drive capable of reaching significant fractions of c, which put nearby star systems into reach within a human lifetime. Using such drives, a civilization could completely colonize a galaxy within 10 million years.

Quote:
My money is still on wormholes, which theoretically can take you through time and space in an instant, but there's no idea on how we can create those. But it's partially why I like the Stargate series, since they use wormhole travel.
The thing with wormholes, even if you make one, you need to move the other end where you want it the slow way. Also not that relativity still applies, so now it's a time machine too.

Quote:
Why does space travel matter anyway?
This is the important question, and I can sum it up in single phrase: Because we currently have all our eggs in one basket. If an asteroid hits, or a super-volcano blows, or any one of other major disasters, human life can be easily wiped off the Earth. We need to colonize Mars, and other planets, to ensure humanity will continue.
True, but none of those are likely in the short term. Plus, most of them are unlikely to cause the extinction of humanity.

Quote:
In the short term, there are tons of valuable resources in our own solar system; if we can develop cheap enough technology to get at them, we can ensure we have enough for thousands of years at the very least. For instance, if we can get fusion power running, the moon itself has a ton of Helium-3 that's a vital fuel for it. Fusion power can theoretically provide power for everyone on Earth cheaply and easily.
True, and one day in the not to distant future we will claim the riches of our solar system.

Quote:
Summary:
Develop Nuclear Thermal Rockets to get tons of stuff into orbit for larger space craft and space stations -> use VASIMR to move around between Earth, the moon, the asteroid belt and Mars (and perhaps some moons like Europa) -> collect materials and get fusion power working -> work out FTL travel.
Nuclear thermal rockets are pretty much the worst thing you could use to get into space, unless you don't care about the continued habitability of the planet. A few aren't going to be a problem. However, regular, widespread usage? Enjoy your fallout. They're far more useful to get from point a to point b in the solar system.

Quote:
Even if FTL travel isn't possible, we can detect habitable worlds with our telescopes, and building a large generation ship to travel to one over the course of 50 years or so, isn't impossible. There are more than enough resources in the solar system to make one cheaply, if we have ship construction facilities in space.
FTL travel almost certainly isn't possible. Though we don't need generation ships either if we have relativistic drives. Remember, we don't need to go to stars 100 light years away. We go to a star 10 light years away and start a colony. They then build up and eventually go to stars 10 light years from them, ect, ect. Also, remember time dilation.

edit: For a nuclear rocket we could likely build in the near future http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_salt-water_rocket

edit2: Also, I'm forgetting about laser sails. Similar to a solar sail only instead of relying on the solar winds, they rely on a huge laser or array of lasers. The further away you get the less efficient it is, obviously, but using such a system interstellar travel is possible, and you don't need to worry about taking your fuel with you.
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Old 2010-05-30, 16:10   Link #32
Sheba
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
My stand with space exploration is very simple actually and is not about progress, but survival.

Its an absolute need to go to space if humans want to preserve the species or whatever humanity becomes in the future.

The planet doesn't last forever, the ultimate deadline is in 4 billion years when the sun goes red giant. Humans must leave the planet and the solar system itself no matter what.
It might even be before, who know what mass extinction is looming over the horizon. Seriously, when I read about those that occured in the past and might occur again, I am thinking that Earth and Universe are two entities that just don't care.

Quote:
Originally Posted by james0246 View Post
I thought the series was called Space: Above and Beyond...


Yes it was.

I think that its french title was Space 2063, in english in the text.
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Old 2010-05-30, 16:10   Link #33
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Originally Posted by Arbitres View Post
I doubt it's probable but it's always possible that humans will start caring about one another on a large scale and actually band together to do something worthwhile.
This, I think, is the biggest stopper to any space travel - humanity just can't stop this silly bickering and blowing each other up. I am somewhat reminded of the words of Nono from Planetes, who, having never set foot on Earth, looks up at it and says something like 'from here, you can't see the borders, the individual countries, just the planet as a whole'.

I don't think running out of fuel will be a likely scenario, as you can still produce hydrogen and oxygen with nothing more than seawater and electricity, which you can get from nuclear/solar/tidal/whatever means.

However, if extraterrestrial life does find us, we are completely doomed. They will have no use for us whatsoever (why would they pop over here to be nice and submit to us?) and would wipe us out in short order. Think how quickly and easily the US wiped out the Iraqi military and that was just with a few decades worth of Earth technology.

Assuming we don't wipe ourselves out first or make space impossible to actually get into due to debris (hello again, Planetes) I would like to see humans pushing out into the stars.
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Old 2010-05-30, 16:36   Link #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C.A. View Post
Its an absolute need to go to space if humans want to preserve the species or whatever humanity becomes in the future.

The planet doesn't last forever, the ultimate deadline is in 4 billion years when the sun goes red giant. Humans must leave the planet and the solar system itself no matter what.

Its a must to explore space and if humans can survive long enough, will definitely populate space itself in the future.
Assuming the species live that long that is.

In reality, if Humanity does not go on a green revolution and find an alternative source of clean energy and renewable resources, Earth will be stripped bare in a couple of century.

The next logical step will be terraforming Mars and mass emigration follows. Then will we speak of interstallar travel.
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Old 2010-05-30, 17:27   Link #35
Ricky Controversy
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Originally Posted by Kamui4356 View Post
Actually, it is true. Any interesting* drive is also a weapon of mass destruction. You don't need to develop weapons to go along with the drive, the drive itself IS a weapon.

*Interesting here being defined as able to get you from place to place in a solar system in a reasonable amount of time.
Certainly true, though it would require a minimum of structural repurposing to make the drive usable as a weapon in a way that doesn't also cause the ship significant damage if we're assuming the ships haven't been weaponized from the start, wouldn't it? My point is not so much that these hypothetical advanced civs wouldn't have the ability to field significant destructive power, so much as that their possession of superior travel technology does not imply an immediately available arsenal...but again, it's assuming a lot to suggest a possible culture that has not experienced armed conflict in so long as to not weaponize new technologies.


Quote:
...and we don't really have a need to get off of earth right now.
I agree with that, but since this seems to be something you've given a fair amount of thought, I'd be curious if you had any personal thoughts about when that pressing need hits, if we rule out potential apocalypses and are just thinking of the course of human growth.

Quote:
It's based on questionable math. In reality there is no reason to believe faster than light travel is possible. Also we don't need it anyway. It's entirely within the laws of physics to build a drive capable of reaching significant fractions of c, which put nearby star systems into reach within a human lifetime. Using such drives, a civilization could completely colonize a galaxy within 10 million years.

FTL travel almost certainly isn't possible. Though we don't need generation ships either if we have relativistic drives. Remember, we don't need to go to stars 100 light years away. We go to a star 10 light years away and start a colony. They then build up and eventually go to stars 10 light years from them, ect, ect. Also, remember time dilation.
While that's by far the more realistic take on things than the FTL fantasy, most people set their minds on the subject of space exploration for the purpose of entertaining themselves, and primarily wish to limit themselves to consider the science that benefits that vision. We live in a period in Earth's history where technology is making global communication and cohesiveness more and more possible by the day, even if we don't take full advantage of it. It's not surprising that most of us in more developed areas of the world take human interconnectedness for granted, and we would like to think that the same thing will just extend itself out to an interstellar scale.

I'm not saying it's impossible, because that's a stupid thing to say where science is concerned, but I don't think that wish is likely to come true.
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Old 2010-05-30, 17:38   Link #36
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Another thing to consider is that even if we somehow colonize all these places, they will likely develop into distinct and near-disconnected cultures due to the difficulties in transporting information over such distances. We couldn't have an intergalactic internet, for instance, at least not according to current science. Though the idea is actually quite intriguing; picturing a galaxy of humans loosely connected but for the most part very distinct and alien to one another. It would be comparable to Earth not so long ago, when human cultures were isolated.
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Old 2010-05-30, 17:48   Link #37
Ricky Controversy
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Originally Posted by ChainLegacy View Post
Another thing to consider is that even if we somehow colonize all these places, they will likely develop into distinct and near-disconnected cultures due to the difficulties in transporting information over such distances. We couldn't have an intergalactic internet, for instance, at least not according to current science. Though the idea is actually quite intriguing; picturing a galaxy of humans loosely connected but for the most part very distinct and alien to one another. It would be comparable to Earth not so long ago, when human cultures were isolated.
Well, the idea of completely distinct cultures built around various stellar systems or perhaps (relatively) close systems is one that Frank Herbert expressed a great deal of interest in, and despite the globalization we take for granted now, his case for its appeal remains resonant today: cultural evolves by way of cycles of divergence and convergence.

Imagine how fascinating it would be for a Solar culture to meet up with one of the distant colonial cultures after centuries of independent development. Think of all the things that would change and potentially enrich one another. Language, music, art, literature, sciences, philosophies...I, for one, think a galactic diaspora has a lot of potential.
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Old 2010-05-30, 18:46   Link #38
Kaijo
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Well, our existence provides compelling evidence against super advanced alien intelligence in our corner of the galaxy. If there were, earth would have been colonized or taken apart for raw material before we even evolved.
Yes and no. Due to the laws of physics, unless they've figured out FTL travel, there could be several other planets with intelligent life, and they just can't get here. With travel time of thousands of years (space is really frikkin' big), it's impractical and pretty much impossible.

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Given the radiological effects wide spread usage of nuclear rockets would have, a space elevator is still the way to go. We should have the materials to construct one in the next 50 years, and we don't really have a need to get off of earth right now.
I'm not quite sure you understand nuclear rockets, but most people don't and thus why the idea wasn't pursued more heavily. They don't just out radiation to launch. There are tons of nuclear reactors around the world, and we haven't reduced our planet to a radioactive wasteland yet. On a basic level, all a nuclear reactor does is produce heat. In one providing energy, the heat turns water into steam, which drives a turbine. For a nuclear rocket, the heat is used to shoot out exhaust. *Any* current rocket shoots out more pollution than a Nuclear Thermal Rocket would.

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Umm... what? A nuclear rocket doesn't magically stop working once you get into space.
Of course. But it requires a LOT of fuel. Roughly half that than of conventional rockets (which is it's biggest draw), but for true space exploration, you can't be tugging a bunch of fuel around. You need compact drives with a compact fuel source, unless you wanted to lug more fuel up from the planet (which is inefficient). That's what makes ion drives so nice; they can accelerate constantly using a tiny, tiny amount of fuel (but it's slow acceleration, and thus better for probes than human spaceships).

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Also, you realize a VASIMR is an electric rocket, right? It might be the best fuel/thrust drive we can build now, but long term eventually fusion drives will surpass it.
Yes, but we don't have fusion working yet, and who knows how long that will take? VASIMR is pretty much proven to work. Oh sure, they have some tests to run still to work out the kinks, but it's a fairly well-understood technology. It's one that we could build today, if we had the money and will.

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True, but none of those are likely in the short term. Plus, most of them are unlikely to cause the extinction of humanity.
Maybe. There are no dinosaurs around today, though, are there? Earth has had Extinction Level Events (ELEs) before. And even if an asteroid impact doesn't kill every human, it'll kill off most of humanity and force us back into the stone or copper ages. We haven't located every Earth-crossing Asteroid yet, so one could hit tomorrow, and toss enough dust and material up into the atmosphere to block out the sun for hundreds of years, killing off most plant life, with most animal life following.

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Nuclear thermal rockets are pretty much the worst thing you could use to get into space, unless you don't care about the continued habitability of the planet. A few aren't going to be a problem. However, regular, widespread usage? Enjoy your fallout. They're far more useful to get from point a to point b in the solar system.
Could you tell me how you think nuclear rockets work?
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Old 2010-05-30, 21:06   Link #39
Ledgem
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Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
I'm not quite sure you understand nuclear rockets, but most people don't and thus why the idea wasn't pursued more heavily. They don't just out radiation to launch. There are tons of nuclear reactors around the world, and we haven't reduced our planet to a radioactive wasteland yet.
Nuclear reactors are grounded and aren't moving around. People are afraid that they may blow up, but we're able to manage them and have also built a number of safeguards to prevent issues.

Rockets are mobile and move at high speed. You can't build the same protective mechanisms into a rocket as you can into a grounded reactor. If a rocket launch were to fail or if a rocket fell out of orbit and the rocket broke into dozens of pieces that scattered over a swath of land, you'd have some trouble.
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Old 2010-05-30, 23:22   Link #40
LeoXiao
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...There's also the issue that a nuclear rocket would spew out tons of radioactivity that would seriously screw up any electronic device to cross its wake.
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