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Interstellar Ark

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the yeah-good-luck-with-that dept.

Space 703

xantox writes "There are three strategies to travel 10.5 light-years from Earth to Epsilon Eridani and bring humanity into a new stellar system : 1) Wait for future discovery of Star Trek physics and go there almost instantaneously, 2) Build a relativistic rocket powered by antimatter and go there in 22 years by accelerating constantly at 1g, provided that you master stellar amounts of energy (so, nothing realistic until now), but what about 3): go there by classical means, by building a gigantic Ark of several miles in radius, propulsed by nuclear fusion and featuring artificial gravity, oceans and cities, for a travel of seven centuries — where many generations of men and women would live ? This new speculation uses some actual physics and math to figure out how far are our fantasies of space travel from their actual implementation."

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Or... (5, Interesting)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059300)

I would just take billions of pill sized coctails of bacteria from all extreme regions of the earth and fire them off semi randomly throughout the galaxy, wait a billion years for them to evolve and contact us back.

Re:Or... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059334)

Girls Gone Wild 1,000,002,007 CE: Human Spawn Edition!!

The engineering (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059434)

The engineering and logistical problems of sending a gazillion tons
of materials , the labor, etc,. would not be feasible.

Water - several million tons of salt-free water for the construction
Water - ditto for the colonists

Engines, superstructure and ALL they entail - Trillions of dollars
Sheilding - Several trillion more
Life support - this has not been fixed - see ISS

Get a grip. Dream on, but get a grip.

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059492)

thats how the earth was populated to begin with

Re:Or... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059564)

I would just take billions of pill sized coctails of bacteria from all extreme regions of the earth and fire them off semi randomly throughout the galaxy, wait a billion years for them to evolve and contact us back.

Yes, but how can you guarantee that any of them will evolve into telephone sanitisers?

- RG>

We could... (3, Funny)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059304)

we could do that, but the odds of us being screwed over by either a gamma ray burst or some other dangerous interstellar space event would be pretty high.

but then again, the resulting mutations might come in handy.

Re:We could... (5, Interesting)

rasputin465 (1032646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059358)

>>we could do that, but the odds of us being screwed over by either a gamma ray burst or some other dangerous >>interstellar space event would be pretty high.

Actually, the odds of something like that happening would in fact be pretty slim (similar to the probability of the earth getting destroyed by such an event). I think the odds of the "crew society" destroying themselves = 30 years into the mission would be much higher. Didn't Douglas Adams have something like this in one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books?

Re:We could... (2, Interesting)

B'Trey (111263) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059460)

Not sure about Douglas Adams but check out Gene Wolfe's "Book of the Long Sun" series

Ark B? (5, Funny)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059312)

So, let's take a passenger manifest...

  • telephone sanitizers
  • American Idol contestants
  • MPAA lawyers
  • CowboyNeal
  • ...
  • profit!

Re:Ark B? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059332)

Don't forgot the adult diapers for anyone crazy enough to sign up for it ... :-)

Re:Ark B? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059408)

and don't forget your towel.

Re:Ark B? (1)

module0000 (882745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059482)

Have you considered though, that weeks after departure of the Ark fleet B departs with all the telephone sanitizers... Earth's entire population could be rapidly wiped out by a virulent disease contracted from a particularly dirty telephone?

Re:Ark B? (4, Funny)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059570)

or more likely...

  • 2 jihadists
  • 2 crusaders
  • 2 revolutionary marxists
  • 2 trilateralist capitalists
  • 2 illuminati
  • 2 merivingian roylaty
  • george jefferson
  • archie bunker

and two guys that are each half black and half white, but on oposite sides of their faces, oh and a big cache guns. The ark arrives empty aside for kryton, an evolved cat, a hologram, a sentient computer, and the last man alive_ a vending machine repair man.

7 centuries isn't feasible for humans (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059314)

or a travel of seven centuries

How many human societies have survived 7 centuries unchanged?

Heck, just look at how much language has changed in the last century ...

Or imagine trying to talk to someone from the 1300s ...

Besides, how would you select the crew and avoid any more "diaper rash" candidates?

Re:7 centuries isn't feasible for humans (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059556)

Or imagine trying to talk to someone from the 1300s ...

Well, I know two centuries ago, lots of people spoke Latin (not to mention throughout the reign of the Catholic church).

- RG>

Re:7 centuries isn't feasible for humans (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059574)

Would it really need to survive unchanged? I mean as long as it survived with a reasonable level of know how, it would probably be alright.

The human problem is likely just as big as the technological problem, but the people that walk off the ship don't actually have to speak the same language as the people who walked onto the ship(if they read a lot they will speak a roughly similar language anyway).

Human Evolution (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059578)

I doubt we would evolve much being trapped on a ship like that.

Perhaps our grey matter might, since there woudlnt be much to do but think. ( and play service tech ) but i dont see much real evolution.

Re:7 centuries isn't feasible for humans (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059592)

> How many human societies have survived 7 centuries unchanged?

Chinese culture has. But why are you adding a requirement that the society on ark is impervious to change? As long as they don't get a culture of punching holes in their shielding they should be OK.

They forgot option #4 (1)

PIPBoy3000 (619296) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059610)

In my mind, option #4 is "Evolve humans so that interstellar travel is easy". That might mean long lives, smaller space-adapted bodies, or purely digital beings, transmitted via a series of relays placed by robotic probes.

Perhaps the resident life forms (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059316)

may not be all that enthuastic about having humanity brought to them.

We can call it the "B" Ark (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059318)

Yeah, but then who will make sure all our phones are clean?

Re:We can call it the "B" Ark (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059448)

When you think about it though, the telephone sanitizers should really have gone in the "C" Ark, since they perform actual work. The other problem is that if we travel that far into space we need people who are capable of handling themselves in potentially dangerous situations, and directors of marketing just aren't a good choice.

Rendezvous with Rama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059322)

Maybe Arthur C. Clark wasn't that far off...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rendezvous_with_Rama [wikipedia.org]

Re:Rendezvous with Rama (3, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059416)

Well, Rendezvous with Rama itself didn't explore the idea of human beings en route across the galaxy, since Rama was then just a mysterious alien object that dipped into our solar system, got explored a bit, and then departed. It was only those atrocious sequels penned by Gentry Lee that had humans staying on it and riding it out to far away places. Apparently the only thing Lee found worth exploring in the concept was puerile sex scenes and soap-opera intrigues, and lots of 'em.

I'd recommend instead Gene Wolfe's Book of the Long Sun [amazon.com] which, even if the technology is a bit out there, is a much more likely scenario from a sociological point of view. If you're looking at a journey of hundreds of years in a ship big enough to seem like an expansive world and not just cramped quarters, there's going to be people dividing into factions based on disagreements, there will probably arise a class difference between those who do the steering and those who are just "cargo", and there will be people at the end of the voyage who will not want to disembark from home onto a potentially unpleasant colony world.

Why? (2, Interesting)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059324)

I don't mean to be existential about this but why? We don't have a mission from God to spread and conquer. It seems a little strange how atheists are very keen to strike down the pointless values of religion, yet still believe in many aspects which have no basis.
What's the goal here? After billions of years the human race is all over the galaxy, few billion years later and its all over the universe. And then what? We cling on for dear life as we exploit the last few sources of energy as black holes swallow up any traces of our fantastic achievements.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059344)

Bummer. But if, after billions of years, humanity can't figure out a way to expand past/extend the universe itself, then what would have been the point of preserving resources if it all dies anyway?

Re:Why? (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059392)

But, the grandparent point is still valid. Why should we care? Even if a meteorite will strike earth in 150 years, it does not matter to me personally. I will be gone by then.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059548)

Because we're a race of dreamers and we get excited by the idea of spreading beyond the confines of our planet, our solar system, and even our galaxy?

By your argument, why bother crawling out of the ocean? Why bother crawling out of bed for that matter? You'll be dead sometime anyway, and everything you've done in your life won't have mattered one bit.

Daniel

Re:Why? (1)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059350)

The goal is to spread the evil tendrils of humanity throught all of space, destroying and/or subjugating everything we encounter. As it has been, so it shall always be.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059364)

The goal is to spread the evil tendrils of humanity throught all of space, destroying and/or subjugating everything we encounter. As it has been, so it shall always be.

We have seen the Borg ... and he is us.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059400)

because it is human nature. To wonder and explore. If we intend to survive as a race we will need to get off this rock. I personally don't think humans will be able to survive on earth in the next 1000 years. Perhaps sooner.

Re:Why? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059456)

yes and we had doom says like you more then 1000 years ago chanting the same bullshit to a different tune. we are still here, and will be for quite some time.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059404)

I don't mean to be pragmatic about this but why not? There have always been people that have said, "Why? Why go exploring? What's the point? We're all quite comfortable right here, thank you very much." Fortunately for the human race, there have always been those who pushed off into the unknown anyways. Frequently they're never heard from again, but it is surprising how often they succeed, and bring back new discoveries and ideas.

This is no different. You don't learn much by sitting in a cave, and there's no telling what we might become, what might happen in all that time. It's worth a shot.

And if a few billion years is all we have ... I say let's take it! That's much better than just sitting here on that cosmic bullseye known as "Earth" waiting for the next cataclysmic event to take us out for good.

Re:Why? (1)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059438)

Why? The same reason we don't kill ourselves as soon as we realize we are mortal and their is nothing that will prevent our ultimate death. The same reason that makes us get up in the morning and go on with our lives. To make the most of the time we have.

Re:Why? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059498)

At least, to make something of the time we have. As Chris Danchekker from the Inherit the Stars trilogy said, "The pressure of finite time is surely the greatest motivator."

Re:Why? (1)

brejc8 (223089) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059580)

I suppose you're right in the sense that if we only cared about things which happen within our own lifetimes, the world would become a nasty and dull place. Most scientists work in order to be remembered after they die (even though they aren't around to enjoy it). It just feels like the old computer games which was just one level over and over again which got harder and harder until you die (Ernie Cline quote), except there is no leader board, no second level. Eventually the game gets boring because you realise that although the process might be fun it is fruitless and there really isn't a second level or a prize for getting a million points.
Our desperation to throw our DNA around is interesting. Would a colony of cats somewhere in the galaxy not be as satisfying? (serenely would be funnier) Same technological challenges, same source planet. Somehow committing genetic suicide is a bad act even though it has little reasoning about it.

Re:Why? (1)

mpoloks (1062844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059406)

if you set it that way, lets say that God created humans to be "learning agents". We have the curiousity and we have
the ability to act upon to what we have learnt so far. Maybe it is a mission to learn more and then use that
knowledge to learn even more and so on...until we reach God and our mission will be complete.

Re:Why? (1)

DarthChris (960471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059430)

I was going to mod this thread, but I feel I have to answer you here.

Firstly, your argument could be extended thousands of years back in time to when there were very few humans (we originally evolved in the plains of Africa, IIRC). Why explore/expand? Ditto for many other human civilisations recorded (to be fair, some of them did claim to have deity-assigned missions).

Secondly, population growth. There is a physical limit to the number of people any village, country or even planet can sustain - and barring wars/natural disasters, human population naturally grows quite rapidly (as does most, if not all, living beings). If we are to sustain our species, we need to find new space.

The mention of wars/natural disasters is another point - geology shows there have been several mass extinctions, and we don't know when the next one will occur. Moving to other planets will allow us to, as the cliche goes, prevent us from having all our eggs in one basket.

Finally - and for us humans I believe this to be the most important point - curiosity. We just have to know what's out there.

Re:Why? (1)

OpenSourced (323149) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059444)

"Why" is always a personal question. Each person has its own reasons to do as he/she does. All that we do in our lives is futile since we are doomed to die. You choose a path, and act as if it had meaning for you, even if you know that all paths end in the same place.

So if you can find enough people that want to use their lives in such an adventure, there is no "Why" to ask. They will do it. The only problem, of course, is finding that people. You don't have a lot to offer, really. So a real pressure will be needed if such a thing is ever to become reality. In the meantime it's fun to speculate. Or at least, I find it so :o)

Re:Why? (1)

Kasis (918962) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059470)

Many were increasingly of the opinion that they'd all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.

Douglas Adams

Ocean, trees, continents, planets, galaxies, universe...

I'd like to see what comes next.

Re:Why? (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059486)

If I can't get to fly a Millenium Falcon around in space, I want at least a future generation to be able to.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059494)

isn't the answer obvious? we are in search of hot alien pussy!

thats right i'm not giving your stupid question a seriously reply because it doesn't deserve one.

atheism is a disbelief in god, not the disbelief in basic human nature, which is to explore and learn.

your trying to draw conclusions on things billions of years in the future. people thought in the 1950's we would all have flying cars by now and look how close they were, so how close do you think your uneducated predictions will be?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059506)

If you don't see the point, then kill yourself right now.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059522)

What's the goal here?

The goal is the preservation of the human species. This planet, in fact, this solar system has a limited lifespan. A very long lifespan in human scales but nevertheless a limited one (though the lifespan of this planet, at least as a comfortable place, may be a lot shorter if we aren't careful).

Naturally, you can disagree that survival of the human species is a worthy goal or even desirable, but what a pessimistic perspective it is to consider oneself not only useless but potentially harmful.

Why? To leave politicians and lawyers behind (1)

Morgaine (4316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059536)

>> What's the goal here?

The goal here is the same as the one which made the Pilgrims leave the old world on the Mayflower ... there was too much crap imposed on them by the rest of society.

Of course, after a few hundred years, that same crap appeared in the new world. That's life.

And that's precisely why this kind of voyage to pastures new must be repeated again and again.

Re:Why? (1)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059568)

I don't mean to be existential about this but why? We don't have a mission from God to spread and conquer. It seems a little strange how atheists are very keen to strike down the pointless values of religion, yet still believe in many aspects which have no basis.
Atheism is simply the absence of belief in a god. That doesn't mean they lack belief, nor necessarily that they lack religion.

What's the goal here? After billions of years the human race is all over the galaxy, few billion years later and its all over the universe. And then what? We cling on for dear life as we exploit the last few sources of energy as black holes swallow up any traces of our fantastic achievements.
Unless you subscribe to a religion, there is no ultimate goal. Everyone has their personal aims and ambitions, and trying to subscribe some overall meaning to existence is, I feel, somewhat missing the point. In the absence of an absolute authority, meaning is relative and personal.

Re:Why? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059598)

You got out of bed this morning. The answer to your question is going to be similar to the explanation for that. It might be as simple as "Why not?".

I think you forgot: (3, Funny)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059338)

* Decode and activate appropriate chevrons on that Stargate-thingy.

Step one.. (4, Insightful)

AsnFkr (545033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059340)

.....might be to determine if Epsilon Eridani has any terrestrial planets to live upon. Boy would our ancestors 700 years from now be upset if they got there only to find no place to land.

Re:Step one.. (1)

broller (74249) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059412)

In the century or more that it took to build the Ark, perhaps we'd have a better idea of where to aim it.

Re:Step one.. (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059440)

Well, they could send along a few executives from McDonalds and Starbucks, then at least they'd be able to build a hamburger joint and a coffee shop there.

Re:Step one.. (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059442)

Well, that would mean sending a robot probe first, I would think. With no living crew it could theoretically be able to travel even faster, shaving some time off that 700 years, and then you wait 10.5 years for the answer to come back at the speed of light. Still we're talking centuries to find out, if nothing happens to the machine on the way out and if no alien race that's already there vaporizes it before it can report back.

Better would be to give the ship a list of target stars likely to have planets, and give it enough reserves to hit every star on the list if necessary. That would take a few thousand years of real-time, but I don't suppose it matters. Nobody that was around when it was launched would live to hear about the first planetfall anyway.

Re:Step one.. (1)

Nimloth (704789) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059562)

Not to mention, if they leave now and budget 20$ for parking once they get there, by the time they get around to landing the US Dollar won't be worth jack s**t.

Too many problems (4, Insightful)

tidewaterblues (784797) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059368)

How would you ever get that many people to cooperate that consistently over that long of a time period? How would you prevent the intermediate generations from feeling like they are meaningless just because they only exist to father the generations that will be able to accomplish something? The rate of clinical depression caused by that would be probably staggering. How do you prevent the development of new religions or philosophies or conspiracy theories that would hinder the progress of the voyage, or perhaps express doubts its goals? Not to mention the more mundane problems like new bacteria and viruses mutating on the tiny ecosystem and wiping out all of its occupants, and liberationists starting political revolutions (ala: we didn't choose this voyage, why should we finish it?), and psychopathic serial killers, and the question of how such a tiny economy would maintain itself (do we go communist or capitalist on this voyage)?

Re:Too many problems (1, Interesting)

Mastema262003 (872472) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059508)

Generation 1 would have to be very carefully selected. Generations 2+ would have the benefit of on-ark education which would need to feature REAL courses in rationality, critical thinking, math, science, teamwork, etc, rather than the drivel that is taught in public schools today. It would probably help to have the on-ark language be Lojban http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lojban [wikipedia.org] or some such, just in case there is any truth to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapir%E2%80%93Whorf_h ypothesis [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Too many problems (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059510)

Maybe for the final objective. But the first couple generations would get to see things with their naked eye that no one else has ever seen. Imagine seeing the rings of Saturn in person. There would be plenty to see.

Re:Too many problems (2, Interesting)

robably (1044462) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059542)

The human race is already on an Interstellar Ark. We already face these questions, but we muddle by.

My choice would be to send lots of Generation Ships out from Earth - we have all our eggs in one basket, and it doesn't make sense to only make one more basket.

Re:Too many problems (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059544)

Probably the way the people of Diaspar survived in The City and the Stars: longer generations and a self-aware central computer capable of keeping things on track. In other words, you don't leave them to themselves. In any event, that's why I think it would be much better to forget the Heinlein-style Generation Ship and focus on developing cold-sleep technologies instead. That way you just fish-stick the original crew and have the ship thaw 'em out when they get where they're going.

Re:Too many problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059552)

Simple. Regulate it all with a supercomputer.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL...

Re:Too many problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059572)

How would you ever get that many people to cooperate that consistently over that long of a time period? How would you prevent the intermediate generations from feeling like they are meaningless just because they only exist to father the generations that will be able to accomplish something? The rate of clinical depression caused by that would be probably staggering.

Yep that pretty much sums up modern life on planet Earth. :)



You are correct though, not only do we need some break throughs in physics, but some in psycology and philosphy as well. Personally I think they should just fish for people for a deep space mission from the uber nerd crowd. As long as there was a few dedicated game developement groups, a soda production plant, and a sweet LAN I don't think too many would care/notice if they were in space. A little genetic screening keeping the worst of A-type personality types out of the gene-pool till they got to the destination would eliminate most of the infighting, and some mandatory drunken social interaction to prevent the extinction of the crew. Of course a fan-boy riot over which is better Unreal Tournament 2707 or Quake CXXXIV is always a distinct possibility.

Re:Too many problems (1)

Wilson_6500 (896824) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059602)

You simply don't _tell_ the intermediate generations. Take the first however many thousands of generations and plant them in the ark, which looks as much as possible like an island isolated in the water, or a huge city with no perceptible exits to the outside. Eventually if you can keep the first few generations from spilling too many beans, you end up with a Truman Show or Dark City of sorts--except that it's flying through space.

This idea, of course, is full of problems. How do you remind everyone what they're supposed to do when they get wherever they're going? What happens if they break through the outer wall? What if the "crew" finds out they've been duped since two generations ago and decides to turn the thing around and ram it into Earth out of spite?

Wow. That's _several_ sci-fi movies/books/video games waiting to be made. Discover the destiny of your entire generation! Help the rebellion turn the Ark around and get your children back to Earth! PREVENT the rebellion from turning the Ark around--and do it without killing everyone because you can't afford to lose them!

Re:Too many problems (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059608)

How would you prevent the intermediate generations from feeling like they are meaningless
What prevents this particular generation of earth inhabitants from feeling meaningless? If you don't believe in any afterlife, then aren't we here on Earth only to father the next generation?

What if.. (1)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059370)

After 7 centuries, the ark gets to its destination only to realize that because of buffer overrun bug in software, the landing craft refuses to deploy.

Doh!

pointless - techology will overtake it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059372)

technology will progress at a faster rate than the ark does.

In 50 years time, you could probably build a spaceship that can overtake the ark go visit this star system and comeback to earth all in the same afternoon.

Re:pointless - techology will overtake it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059388)

If that happens, I'll get one of those, and just fly in circles around the ark to piss everyone inside off, before returning home for dinner.

Re:pointless - techology will overtake it (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059532)

Then in 50 years time we could send a second ship to meet the first and upgrade it. And then 50 years later a third ship to meet the ship and upgrade it a second time. Each 50 years of travel could act as an experiment. I'm sure things will come up in the first couple years that people didn't think of that can easily be fixed.

Yeah, but... (5, Funny)

kerrbear (163235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059376)

They will all be really bummed out when during their journey of centuries, somebody invents #1 and gets there ahead of them.

Sounds Familiar... (5, Informative)

martyb (196687) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059378)

For an interesting read on what such a ship might be like, take a look at: Rendevous with Rama [wikipedia.org] by Arthur C. Clarke. I read it not long after it came out and thoroughly enjoyed it. Highly acclaimed, too:

  • Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1973
  • Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1974
  • Jupiter Award for Best Novel in 1974

I think we have to face option 4 ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059380)

Option 4: We have to face the fact that we can't do it. For the forseeable future, such a trip is impractical bordering on impossible. Check back again in several centuries to see if there is any hope of this limitation being overcome ... it certainly doesn't look like it at this point in time.

Re:I think we have to face option 4 ... (2, Insightful)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059604)

Not really sure why you posted as AC as you have a good point. Though as some one who's been rather interested in history (Greek through to now) I've noticed a very strong trend in over coming goals. Lets assume that since boats were 'invented', lets say x years ago where x is when the native Australians might have done it - 30,000 years - or the more common understood starting point - 15,000-8,000 years - as our time frame, we will call that the start of non-normal travel (normal being by foot) - I would like to avoid over land travel as I doubt we can even guess when the first person rode a horse.
 
Anyway under that assumption lets really view the time frame. The last 30000 years have been boring on the sea if you were in a boat with only limited jumps forward until 4000 years ago when the jumps really started to pile on top of each other and suddenly boats really started moving forward. Overland travel saw this event over the last 300 years from horse back to maglev trains. Powered planes didn't even exist at the start of last century and within a century of existing they have already reached scramjet abilities (some thing books I've read from the sixties joked about as never happening in their life time or even ever). Which leaves us with space flight...From the Germans flinging rocks around in WW2 to landing rovers on Mars and exploring it in well under a century. The advances have been insane so really as long as there are advantages to the general population and adventures like this don't detract from needing issues I believe the question becomes why not?
 
As for the time scape between now and when black holes wipe out everything it isn't worth thinking about. Many generations will have hopefully had a bit more fun while living as a result of exploring everything...Heck there may even be life out there that gives the question to the great answer.

Are we doing option 3 now? (4, Funny)

rohar (253766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059382)

When I skimmed over the article, 2 things popped into my head.

  1. The relativity principle that gravitational and inertial mass are equal when they don't have to be makes me think that possibly there is no such thing as gravity and we are just accellerating in a 4th dimension at 1G and when this is presented to us in 3 dimensions the effect appears as gravity.
  2. Corn meal waffles would taste good on a Sunday morning.

maybe I misunderstood but... (3, Interesting)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059384)

it seems like it would actually be 1400 years as he's presumed constant 1G acceleration towards the destination for the whole trip. Once you got there you'd need to go into a decreasing orbit and slow down for about 700 years (assuming 1G) too!

Re:maybe I misunderstood but... (2, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059472)

Hmmm, after 1400 years - impact at 0.99999 C, due to a minor imperial to metric conversion error...

Re:maybe I misunderstood but... (1)

LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059502)

No, we just slam on the brakes at the end. If you don't survive it's your own fault. Seatbelts save lives.

Re:maybe I misunderstood but... (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059504)

Didn't read the article, hmmm ...?

After the acceleration phase, there is a period of coasting flight at constant velocity, then deceleration to arrive at destination at zero velocity. This implies more fuel since we need to accelerate in the first phase a mass of fuel which will only be consumed during braking, which translates into the squaring of the exponential:

Re:maybe I misunderstood but... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059600)

which translates into the squaring of the exponential:

What? Is that anything like a reverse-algorithmic?

Re:maybe I misunderstood but... (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059520)

Perhaps a simpler way would be to put the ark in orbit around a suitable moon. You could then send out smaller shuttles which would need much less energy to decelerate.

Otherwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059396)


Go catch up with Battlestar Galactica and avoid all the trouble.

Canned ape (5, Interesting)

arevos (659374) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059398)

It seems to me that there is a 4th solution, assuming that it is possible to build a computer powerful enough to simulate a human mind, and that it is possible to upload a human consciousness into such a structure. Sending a machine across interstellar distances is likely going to be significantly more practical than trying to transport billions of tonnes of habitat. You don't have to worry about setting up complex biospheres; all you need is a computer significantly robust to survive in interstellar space, and we have more experience in this field than in self-supporting biospheres.

Likewise, it doesn't seem like it'll be too many decades before we have the technology construct a computer powerful enough to simulate (to a reasonable degree of accuracy) the trillions of parallel interactions that occur every second in our brains. Figuring out a way of mapping neurons to 1s and 0s is likely to be a far more difficult problem, but it seems to me that this would be a relatively simple problem compared to creating some manner of ark-ship. Research into this is likely to be relatively inexpensive by comparison as well, as we could start by mapping brain structures of simpler animals (such as Lobsters [accelerando.org] ), and then work our way up.

I suspect that when humanity does visit the stars, it'll be as lumps of silicon (or some more exotic material) strapped onto a dirty great big rocket. Ships that lug their own biosphere around with them are just too costly and complex by comparison.

Re:Canned ape (2, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059450)

Figuring out a way of mapping neurons to 1s and 0s is likely to be a far more difficult problem, but it seems to me that this would be a relatively simple problem compared to creating some manner of ark-ship. Research into this is likely to be relatively inexpensive by comparison as well, as we could start by mapping brain structures of simpler animals (such as Lobsters), and then work our way up.

Kurzweil has been proclaiming the rise of machine intelligence now for some years, but his chronology is starting to look extremely optimistic. When it's a triumph to even explain how cockroaches walk [slashdot.org] , it's evident that describing the full range of human consciousness is a long way off.

4th method... (1)

crabbie (1065598) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059488)

Park pick-up in field. Wave down spacecraft. Enjoy complimentary anal probe. Take hot bath. Hibernate, dreaming of naked dancing Bollywood starlets. Arrive at third planet of Epsilon Eridani system to discover George Bush is dictator of the world. Rod Serling voice-over and out.

Re:Canned ape (1)

xkillkillx (987532) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059500)

So that's why the Cylons were invented in the first place....

Re:Canned ape (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059576)

Why bother with a human consciousness. Just send a spaceship with a powerful AI in charge of frozen fertilized ova of humans and thousands of other species, and have the ship decant them into artificial wombs and grow all the colonists, plants and animals from scratch. Have the AI and robot extensions raise the children and teach them how to be good colonists. That would probably be easier (and a lot more predictable) that trying use a human brain translated into a computer ala Max Headroom or a simulated "human".

That was the basic plot of James Hogan's "Voyage from Yesteryear". Interesting read.

Have cake and eat it. (2, Insightful)

dcray2000 (969850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059446)


Why not all three?

Start out with the generational ship. Resupply them with constant acceleration anti-matter probes.

Then we'll pick everyone up in a few hundred years and carry them the rest of the way with warp drive.

Read Francis G Rayer's (1)

drfishy (634081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059452)

The Star Seekers... My 4th grade teacher read it to us as a class and I remember it clearly to this day. It's about the exact same space ark concept...

Orphans of the Sky (1)

Evilest Doer (969227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059462)

It will come about! It is the Will of Jordan [wikipedia.org] ! The Ship is all! Anyone who says otherwise will be fed into the Matter Converter.

Sounds like a plot for a corny (not!) 4x game! (1)

deunan_k (637851) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059464)

The possibilities of what'll happen have been explored countless times. One of the most recent with most vivid possibility comes from (of all sources) a computer game. Anyone remembers Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri [wikipedia.org] ?

Now, where did I put my CD..

They even spin-off a few novels out of it..

Of course, he forgot Number 4 (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059478)

A robot-piloted ship with the crew held in suspended-animation or some kind of a stasis field until vessel arrived at the target star. That is preferable to a generation ship, in that (assuming by some miracle I got to be a crewmember on such a vessel) I would actually be alive when the ship reached its destination, rather that hoping that my great-great-great-great-whatever-grandkids make it there. You know, kind of like the Botany Bay, where Khan and his friends were stored fish-stick fashion until Kirk & Co. foolishly thawed them out.

Who would go ... (1)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059480)

From the article:

This prospect undoubtedly constitutes the most immediate psychological brake, but not inevitably the deepest, that every normally made human being will oppose first of all to the idea of a life in the Ark.

Well, maybe if there was free broadband ...

Lots of smaller arks (2, Insightful)

m0nstr42 (914269) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059512)

Instead of building one large ark and setting up for one large catastrophic failure, build lots of smaller arks that can fly in formation. If one runs into an asteroid or breaks down, the rest will be OK. It may even be possible to allow for transportation between the different arks.

Why rush to get there last? (1)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059516)

Why not wait a while? In the past 100 years, there have been more technological breakthroughs than it pretty much all of human history before that. Isn't it likely that in the next 100 years we'll find a way to get us that far in a lot less than 700 years? I mean, even if we knocked it down to only 100 years, we'd have people there 500 years faster. Hell, they'd probably be stopping off at the "ark" to pick people up and take them the rest of the way.

As well as we might be able to determine if planets have atmospheres, lands and oceans in the next few decades, we don't know that they'll be habitable. What if we get there and there's something wrong with the soil that makes planting food impossible? The ark's survivors won't ever be able to live beyond the means of what they can grow on the ark. In the end, we need a way to get people there fast enough that if the first choice turns out to not be habitable for some reason, they can go somewhere else. I dunno about you, but after 700 years of traveling, if I was in the generation arriving to find a planet I couldn't live on, I'd probably be seriously bummed!

I'm all for moving us out to interstellar distances, but I don't think we really need to do it today. On top of which, with the rate that technology is advancing, by the time such a stupendous project were completed, we'd probably have already come up with a way to cut the trip in half.

O'neill (2, Insightful)

Indio_do_Xingu (675644) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059518)

If you have the tech and money to build something like an O'Neill structure, you don't need to leave the solar system for thousands of years...

Humans can handle more than 1 G (3, Interesting)

Gorgonzola (24839) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059524)

The article states "The only theoretical limit is the acceleration, which should be kept within physiologically acceptable limits for a human, that is to 1 g or 9,81 m/s", which is not quite true. Jet fighter pilots have to take up to nine G during dog-fights (more than nine G leads to black outs), which is one of the reasons why on the long run the jet fighter pilot will become obsolete, since UAV's can handle more. The nine G figure is unrealistically high, but there are no reasons to assume you can't have a realitivistic rocket that starts out with six G for a short while and then drops its acceleration off to about two G. Combine this with some form of suspended animation, which we can already do for mice [bbc.co.uk] and all of a sudden the relativistic rocket becomes less far out.

Ark Ship (1)

Ikyaat (764422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059526)

Where do I sign up?

Someone has read too much SF... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18059528)

Let's see what's wrong with this idea:
  • 1st. generation is leaving earth, we presume they can (and will) reproduce and that every couple gets at least 2 kids and not more than 4
  • 2nd. generation is not there by their own free will, they are not as happy about their situation as their parents were. There may be at least some of them who do not want or can not get kids (imagine this "Dear Lucy, we know you are married to Mary but for the greater good of our mission we need you to have Andrews child. Sincerly Mission Control"). Some of them may have mental disabilities.
  • 3rd. generation will have increased amount of the same problems as 2nd. generation wich will require more children per. couple.
  • 4th. generation, 25% of the population is related to eachother.... + all the previous problems...
  • 7th. generation are 80% people with mental disabilities... or everyone dead because they didn't want to fuck with the family...
...and in the end... just like in the book... they arrive just to discover that people from earth have colonized the place 3 generations ago because someone did invent the Warpdrive.
The problem is that we assume that our children will do what we did... and they do in fact have their own free will... it is not the technology that will fail this scenario, people will fail.

break through in propolsion (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059540)

generational trips can't work due to the danger of large radiation bursts and micro metero's. it's dangerous to spend months in space let alone your entire life. the obvious answer is to spend less time reaching your destination, and for that we need another break through in propolsion to happen.

classical means? (1)

NewToNix (668737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059558)

"featuring artificial gravity

Remains "Science Fiction", just like the first two ideas...

For a total of zero currently possible strategies proposed.

Missing option: (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059560)

Spool up the FTL Drive; begin jump-prep. Let's hope we don't get too close to the atmosphere, else we might fall like a rock.

Number 3 bears resemblence to Star Trek, as well.. (1)

_hAZE_ (20054) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059586)

I seem to recall an episode where a civilization was loaded into a large hollow asteroid and hurled into space. Yes, this [wikipedia.org] was it.

I think I've read a number of stories with similar plot, actually. Not that that's a bad thing, just thought I'd point out that it's not an "original" idea. Gotta love sci-fi. =)

a gigantic Ark .. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18059588)

Send a gigantic Ark full of robots instead ..

--

CmdrTaco: my posts are stuck in pending for days now.
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