Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Interstellar Hydrogen Prevents Light-Speed Travel?

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the einstein-brought-in-backup dept.

Science 546

garg0yle writes "As if relativity wasn't enough to prevent us traveling at light speed, Professor William Edelstein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is now claiming that the interstellar hydrogen, compressed in front of the ship, would bring the journey to a shocking end. 'As the spaceship reached 99.999998 per cent of the speed of light, "hydrogen atoms would seem to reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts," which for the crew "would be like standing in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam."'"

cancel ×

546 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

old news... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170844)

They already figured this out nearly a hundred years ago.

Fuckin' Noobs (5, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170848)

That's what the deflector array is for.

Re:Fuckin' Noobs (0, Offtopic)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170888)

His post really should have been modded a 5 funny

Re:Fuckin' Noobs (4, Informative)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171002)

Not to mention the Bussard Collectors.

Re:Fuckin' Noobs (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171100)

...and how would you get to Ludicrous Speed without them?

Re:Fuckin' Noobs (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171186)

Take it easy. The guy works at the school of quackery, for god sake.

Re:Fuckin' Noobs (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171292)

UM, I thought the plan was to scoop them up and use them for fuel, ie. you WANT those hydrogen atoms to pile up in front of the ship.

Ask the Ricers! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171366)

You need a scoop AND a fin.

Damn it, now they tell me (5, Funny)

verbalcontract (909922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170858)

And I was just about to get into my 99.999998% lightspeed spaceship.

Do keep up, dear boy... (4, Insightful)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170862)

After reading the article (yeah, I know...) tow thought spring to mind...

1) Warp drive doesn't posit a traditional "go-very-fast-through-normal-space" type of spacecraft engine - it warps[*] space-time (hence the name!) in front of and behind the spacecraft - see here [wikipedia.org] for an explanation. The spacecraft itself is sitting in a bubble of normal space, possibly even at rest.

2) Um, ramjets [wikipedia.org] , anyone ?

Seriously, any number of sci-fi authors have covered this problem in enormous detail over the last few decades

Simon

[*] And because this is /., I expect you all to forgive me for using the present tense here [grin]

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170948)

[*] And because this is /., I expect you all to forgive me for using the present tense here [grin]

Possibly. But it doesn't give you a free pass on spelling 'two' as 'tow' and not pluralizing thoughts in your opening sentence!

MEIN FUHRER! I CAN EDIT!

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (4, Funny)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171062)

You did not just link me to a astrophysics article of wiki that's worse than tv tropes for me
 
I'm at 8 articles from just the first link you provided.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (0, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171128)

Seriously, any number of sci-fi authors have covered this problem in enormous detail over the last few decades

Sci-Fi AUTHORS .

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171382)

yeh, you know, the guys who invented computers, robots, floppy disks, cell phone... etc....

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (0, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171416)

yeh, you know, the guys who invented computers, robots, floppy disks, cell phone... etc....

No, no they didn't.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (2, Interesting)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171564)

Perhaps not those specific things, but...

http://www.technovelgy.com/ [technovelgy.com]

"Explore the inventions and ideas of science fiction writers at Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) - over 1,865 are available. Use the Timeline of Science Fiction Invention or the alphabetic Glossary of Science Fiction Technology to see them all, look for the category that interests you, or browse by favorite author / book. Browse more than 2,770 Science Fiction in the News articles. "

Dave

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (4, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171386)

Some of those authors have / had engineering and science degrees. That is part of what made them good at their job. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke are classic examples.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (5, Informative)

Space cowboy (13680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171426)

Let me recap for you (both of the below points taken from the links I provided...):

1) Proposed by the physicist Miguel Alcubierre, popularised by Star-Trek.

2) Proposed by the physicist Robert W Bussard (hence "Bussard Ramjet"), popularised by Larry Niven (the author), and even referred to by Carl Sagan on TV and in books...

Various other authors have used the same ideas. Perhaps I ought to have mentioned that I'm a physicist too... And the gentle humour regarding tense was supposed to clue you in that I wasn't suggesting we had a practical solution just yet... I wish I'd spelt "two thoughts" correctly, though.

Simon

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171210)

If this 'warp' were applied to one mass, hydrogen, then it should apply to anything in space -- nebulae, planets, suns, black holes. Most science fiction doesn't go that far. I suspect there are exceptions.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (2, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171636)

IANAP, but I believe the idea is that empty space require less energy to 'warp', and that a few disparate atoms and molecules don't significantly change that energy requirement (which albeit is still huge). However, when you fill space with a lot of mass, and mass is energy, it presents a 'resistance' to warping that drives energy costs up to accomplish the goal. Such is my understanding of science-fiction FTL physics. ;-p

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171226)

Yes, and if I have the magic ring I can disappear too!

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171324)

Most engineers have no imagination.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171472)

The Pak Scouts ran one bussard ramjet in front of another, with the second burning the exhaust from the first as fuel! If you don't have a hyperdrive, all that hydrogen is a feature, not a bug.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171554)

When I was reading "Protector," I wondered why they didn't run them in series. Cumulative thrust would have put the ship closer to light speed.

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (4, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171500)

Seriously, any number of sci-fi authors have covered this problem in enormous detail over the last few decades

Yes, any number of sci-fi authors have handwaved around these problems for the last few years. Actual scientists, not so much. And, as with TFA, the conclusions of the ones that have been less than sanguine. (From the POV of actually doing it.)

Re:Do keep up, dear boy... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171612)

Seriously, any number of sci-fi authors have covered this problem in enormous detail over the last few decades

I thought they changed their name to SyFi.

so if I stand in front of the beam... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170866)

I go back into the past ?

Re:so if I stand in front of the beam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171232)

Exactly; then you will change the space time continuum so you would blink out of existence.

Let's just hope... (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170872)

Let's just hope the engine controls aren't made by Toyota, or it'll be hitting that speed whether the crew want or not.

Re:Let's just hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171078)

The faulty parts were actually made in America, to sabotage Toyota and start a FUD campaign to encourage Americans to become afraid of foreign cars and buy GM's pieces of shit. But what about the Woz' criticism of his Prius? [huffingtonpost.com]

The answer to that question is that the Woz is a bearish girly-man who dosen't know how to drive. If he can't even handle a Prius, he'd probably kill himself driving a Corolla or Town Car.

Re:Let's just hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171224)

They're facing more than one recall right now, for things other than some gas pedal assemblies made in the U.S.

And beyond that - those gas pedal assemblies obviously passed any quality assurance that Toyota had in place. It's their job to make sure that the parts they are buying are up to the specifications. They failed to do that.

FUD campaign? Take off the tinfoil hat and get back to me.

Re:Let's just hope... (2, Insightful)

SleeknStealthy (746853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171368)

I am afraid toyota's quality problems far exceed simple material issues PPS / PA46 caused by a friction lever or faulty floor mats. Toyota stopped testing their cars properly prior to launch and relied on everyone else to be their test dummies. This is gross negligence on the part of any manufacturer and now they are only beginning to pay the price. I think everyone should be scared when they press on a brake and it takes a second to begin slowing the car down. You would think when you design a car the braking system would have a pretty high priority when testing. I mean if a car company gets one piece of equipment right, it should be the one to stop the 1 ton+ bullet flying out of control. I am just waiting for all the software bugs in the ECU to come out.

Pffft... (1)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170876)

Just engage the Edelstein compensators.

Come to think of it, this professor is probably hoping to have some scifi tech named for him.

Re:Pffft... (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171106)

I thought that they just called it navigation shielding, originally they just talked about it to protect against asteroids, but looks like they would be far more useful against hydrogen.

simple solution: (5, Funny)

notgm (1069012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170882)

put a hydrogen-atom-splitter on the bow of the ship, they'll just get cut in half and fall out of the way.

Re:simple solution: (1)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171058)

dont forget to reverse the polarity of the bow deflector

Re:simple solution: (5, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171338)

You joke, but that might be an actual solution. If you can go that fast, why not postulate some other technology. Something that causes hydrogen to have a 50% probability of being on the left, 50% on the right. Just for a microsecond. Let it collapse back to the middle once you've gone past.

Really you'd want to create some sort of probability donut. Fly right through the middle. I propose calling it the Homer-Schrodinger shield.

Re:simple solution: (4, Funny)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171446)

Hmmm.... something tells me that cutting a large number of single protons in half right in front of the ship would more than double their problems....

LHC (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170884)

"hydrogen atoms would seem to reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts," which for the crew "would be like standing in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam."

Wow, free energy!

Re:LHC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171108)

And just accelerate a bit more and it'll create a black hole to warp into another universe!
That's really Interesting! :)

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170890)

That is why there is a main deflector, you idiot.

Oh noes (3, Funny)

gparent (1242548) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170896)

Guess we'll just have to go at 99.999997% of the speed of light then.

Re:Oh noes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171334)

... or 100.000001%, at which point ... well, to be quite honest I have no idea what the hell happens but I suspect the rules change.

Re:Oh noes (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171594)

You can't accelerate to light speed. In fact, the energy requirements of accelerating anything to within a few hairs of the speed of light would have insanely huge energy requirements. I'd say if we could get a manned spacecraft to go 5% to 10% the speed of light, we'd probably be doing pretty good, and must have some pretty awesome source of energy.

Re:Oh noes (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171360)

That's pretty damned slow when it comes to interstellar travel. Alpha Centauri (or is it Proxima?) would take a four year journey one way, and that's the second closest star to the earth.

Clearly (1)

Hell O'World (88678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170900)

If you want to travel light speeds, you have to convert yourself into light first.

Yes, ONLY interstellar hydrogen... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170902)

Curses! We were almost there!

So what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31170920)

By that time we'll have our deflection shield up. The hydrogen would simple flow around the bubble as it will not see the hole in space/time we will be creating to travel that fast. The other option is to simply not go that fast but faster leaving the hydrogen in our dust. Est that suck'azzz.

Considering the energy required. . . (5, Insightful)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170924)

. . .to GET to .99999998 c, this is unlikely to be a concern. And if you have the effectively-infinite energy to move a ship at this speed, providing sufficient shielding should be a trivial exercise in additional hand-wavium. . . .

Re:Considering the energy required. . . (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171450)

...or one could slow down at 0.999 c and the trip is going to be two minutes longer.

Re:Considering the energy required. . . (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171530)

...or one could slow down at 0.999 c and the trip is going to be two minutes longer.

Except from the perspective of the people on the ship, thanks to the Lorentz factor having the form 1/(1-(v^2)/(c^2))^0.5.

Re:Considering the energy required. . . (3, Interesting)

delt0r (999393) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171632)

Some numbers! If the ship is just 100kg with cargo, then you need 6.36e22 J to get to .99999998c assuming 100% efficiency. About 1.4e21 J hits earth everyday from the sun. So a earth sized solar panel will collected the energy required in about 4 and half days. All assuming no energy losses.

Scientist-Schmientist (1)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170928)

"Hydrogen atoms are unavoidable space mines."

Uhh.. Hey, Mr. Scientist... Ever hear of deflector shields? GOSH!

Going out on a (geeky) limb... Don't warp drives (again, geek-out time, so just accept they exist a la Star Trek) make a bubble that the ship moves through that goes faster than light, instead of accelerating the ship up to and beyond light speed? I believe I've read that Einstein's theories technically allow for something moving faster than light, if that something can manage to alter their local space-time?

Warp drives don't exist (0, Troll)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171476)

I know, it is a shocker but I found out when I went outside that A: the light, it burns and B: Star Trek ain't real.

It's not about a velocity of light speed (2, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170932)

Spacetime is curved, so even if the ship is traveling at 15mph, it reaches its destination in a time indicating FTL travel. The actual distance traveled is much shorter, though.

This is the stuff you should already know before you apply to Starfleet.

Ramscoop (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170950)

So use a ramscoop to collect all the hydrogen that's in the way and use it for fuel. Sheesh.

easy solution (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170962)

All you have to do is navigate around the hydrogen atoms.

Re:easy solution (1)

popeyethesailor (325796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171188)

Yeah, why can't they just put ABS on it?

Re:easy solution (1)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171370)

Somebody set up us the atom bomb.

Workaround! (0, Redundant)

slushdork (566514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170982)

I have a cunning plan to work around this problem: only travel at 99.999997% of the speed of light!

Exactly what I told the first 1.08 x 10^72 (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170986)

Einsteins that I met on the way to this planet.

Wally Warp,
    The guy who learned to JUMP to hyperspace and not accelerate into it.

Faster than light speed - Ludicrous speed (1)

Jetrel (514839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31170988)

What the hell was that? They've gone to plaid!

True, But Irrelevant... (5, Insightful)

wintermute3 (191382) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171004)

I don't think anyone seriously contemplating relativistic or FTL travel expects to be physically accelerated to such speeds. After all, if stationary interstellar hydrogen is effectively hitting you at teravolt levels, it means that every particle in your body (and the ship) has actually been accelerated to velocities equivalent to the particles in the LHC beam. Not bloody likely. We need warp drive, subspace, wormholes, or something else to solve the problem, not ridiculous conventional acceleration.

- Michael

Bussard ramjet or other solutions perhaps? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171014)

In a Bussard Ramjet, the hydrogen is a feature, not a bug, something to be used as fuel. If not that, design the ship aerodynamically (is that the right word?) with a long sharp prow to deflect the hydrogen. Of course, by the time we can actually build such a ship, other solutions will be around. Our current issues will be as antiquated looking as 19th century notions of a flying machine.

7 teraelectron volts? (3, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171036)

I'll bet that would sting.

Re:7 teraelectron volts? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171104)

Not for very long.

Re:7 teraelectron volts? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171622)

It's not the voltage, it's the amperage.

What would happen? (1)

RedMage (136286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171038)

Interesting - what WOULD happen if you stood in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam? Does it cut/burn like a laser, or something else? Just wondrin'...

Re:What would happen? (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171120)

Interesting - what WOULD happen if you stood in front of the Large Hadron Collider beam

The collider would shut down for two years due to some component overheating.

Re:What would happen? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171138)

It makes block holes out of you.

Re:What would happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171322)

I think one of the scientists at the LHC said it would be roughly equivalent to 180 kilograms of TNT exploding in your chest. Ow.

Re:What would happen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171328)

The could take a nice proton-ray picture of you.

Re:What would happen? (1)

confused one (671304) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171456)

It would burn a tiny hole in you; but, that wouldn't matter because the radiation flux would kill you within seconds.

Somebody would bloody kill you (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171618)

They had enough problems already, anybody going to mess with it this time is going home in boxes.

HAHA SHIELDS (1)

wtbname (926051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171068)

HAH Noobs thats what the NAVIGATION SHI... aww damnit.

Current Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171102)

How can the earth be round? Would one not fall off? Preposterous!

Re:Current Science (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171342)

Of course you would not fall off, gravity rays from the dome of the heavens are constantly pushing you down to the surface of the earth.

Eggheads Love This Hooey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171146)

I however, do not. Let's try to build a ship that can get to mars with 1G constant acceleration/decceleration first. And let's figure out how to install some fairly massive shielding against the already damaging background radiation in our non-relativistic vehicle. These problem is hard enough.

Eggheads get all excited about another order of magnitude or another significant digit. Yeah, they are out there at the edge of human knowledge expanding the boundaries. Great. Applications need to catch up with them quite a lot.

Fascinating limitation (3, Insightful)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171170)

So, what he's saying is that the interstellar hydrogen density will limit us to no more than about 9600 light years nonstop at a continuous 1g acceleration/deceleration.

Given that even a matter/antimatter conversion drive would require about 116,000,000 tons of reaction mass (half antimatter) for every ton of payload, it would seem that we're going to be hitting a great many limits long before this particular limit begins to be meaningful.

incorrect (1)

Atreide (16473) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171198)

AFAIK Luke, Han and friends did not collide with some giant Hydrogen ollider.
They just nearly collide with a giant artificial moon.

Easily fixed! (1)

get quad (917331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171220)

How about a giant windshield wiper wiping slightly faster than the speed of light? amirite? amirite?

Important fact missing (1)

alewar (784204) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171228)

According to the theories developed by Tessa Wendel, once you are traveling faster than the speed of light the nature of gravity changes from attraction to repulsion. This means that a spaceship traveling that fast would be effectively shielded from small objects by the gravitational force.

This is a problem?!? (1)

wbav (223901) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171244)

It seems like this would be a solution to a problem, mainly power. Granted, it is power already spent by the ship, but is there any reason why it couldn't be shunted back into the system? It seems that it would mitigate the problem of power requirements for FLT.

news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171250)

when i was young (30years ago ... *snif*) it was already quite well known that even with 10% light speed interstellar matter tend to heat up your spaceship until destruction .... so whats new about that with even faster speeds?

This is, of course, impossible. (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171272)

This is, of course, impossible - which is why the advertising executives of the star system of Bastablon came up with this slogan: "If you've done six impossible things this morning, why not round it off with breakfast at Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe?"

All that says is that we can't hit lightspeed... (1)

VShael (62735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171284)

through the medium of interstellar space.

I'm pretty sure I can't travel at 30,000 mph through the ocean either. Through space, not as big a problem.

Most SF geeks would agree that if we're ever going to exceed C, we won't be doing it in meatspace.

Slight difference in density (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171290)

The protons in the LHC are a little closer together than those in interstellar space. Density in interstellar space is about 1 atom per cubic centimeter. I can't readily find a number for the cross-sectional area of the LHC beam, but it is surely less than 1 cm^2 and each ring has 2835 x 10^11 protons over its 27 km length -- or better than 10^8 protons per cubic centimeter.

So no, it's not quite like standing in front of the beam from the LHC, not by a factor of a hundred million.

relativity (1)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171300)

I guess that we're just lucky that Earth is moving at roughly the same speed as those hydrogen atoms.

Lightspeed is so 1960's. (1)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171326)

Why don't we talk about big robots with lightbulbs for heads while we're at it? Even at lightspeed, it would take us 100,000 years to reach the other side of just our OWN galaxy. Sure, it seems infinitely fast, but it's really not going to get us anywhere all that interesting in a single lifetime. What we NEED, is to clone Hawking's brain a few thousand times, hook them all up to a central logic unit, then set them to work on a real Warp Drive.

Re:Lightspeed is so 1960's. (1)

Thanatos81 (1305243) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171484)

You're talking a Beowulf cluster of Hawking-brains? I for one welcome our new Skynet!

Re:Lightspeed is so 1960's. (2, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171492)

Sure, it seems infinitely fast, but it's really not going to get us anywhere all that interesting in a single lifetime.

For the personal traveling at that speed, it most certainly WILL be a single lifetime. In fact, the trip would seem to them to be instantaneous.

Re:Lightspeed is so 1960's. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171528)

I think the ARTICLE meant STUPIDITY (Score:?=sorry to bro)
by myspace-cn (1094627)

Come on, some of you remember.

the two most common elements in the universe?

Ionized hydrogen? (1)

durrr (1316311) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171406)

Wouldn't the hydrogen exist in ionized forms, and thus be possible to divert by electric fields? A 99.999% spaceship would probably have enough of an energy supply to power the LHC a few times over and thus be able to shield the significant part of the craft from any LHC strenght radiation?

Re:Ionized hydrogen? (1)

k8to (9046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171580)

Using electromagenetic radiation to deflect particles when you're travelling at 99.999% of the same radiation... well, it is unlikely to help that much.

Perhaps you could send a drone or some shiznits way out in front of the ship, emitting the fields, but i'm not sure what's going to protect it.

Sounds like good news to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171412)

One of the problems with traveling in interstellar space is that there's not a lot of reaction mass out there to propel you. But if the hydrogen is dense enough to cause drag, it's dense enough to use as fuel too. So this sounds like good news for interstellar travel.

Physician, not physicist (2, Funny)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171440)

What does this guy know about space travel? He's a prof at a medical school, FFS. This is rocket science, not brain surgery!

I'm disapointed (1)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171496)

We don't need 99.99999% of the speed of light. We need FTL (Faster Than Light), for before 2012 please !

Economics (4, Insightful)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 4 years ago | (#31171512)

Interstellar travel is fundamentally an economic paradox — ignoring, of course, such fantasies as Warp drives.

Sending a Shuttle-sized craft to Alpha Centauri in a matter of years would require roughly the current total energy consumption of humanity.

Only when our civilization advances to the point that we harness a significant portion of the Sun’s total energy output would the energy budget for interstellar travel approximate the same proportion of the energy budget we spend today on interplanetary missions.

One can suggest “sleeper ships,” but building mechanical devices that will survive thousands of years is as hard a problem as throwing them across light years of distance. Any gas will leak out of any container in such a timeframe, and no plastic or rubber seal would last a fraction of the time necessary. The next thought is to provide power to the ship during the long journey, but you need as much total energy as for getting there fast — and, if you can comfortably survive for millennia in interstellar space, why even bother with stars in the first place?

Oh — and the Fermi Paradox applies especially well. Assume that it takes even ten thousand years to colonize a remote solar system, and the entire galaxy would have been overrun by now if a colonizing civilization had started in the terrestrial Jurassic period.

Interstellar travel makes for great space opera, but it has no more bearing on reality than unicorns and dragons.

Cheers,

b&

Easily Solved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31171602)

With shield technology. Because any civilization capable of constructing ships capable of flying at close to the speed of light will likely have shields that will protect them from interstellar radiation.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>