A Conversation for Travelling to the Stars

Why reach a star?

Post 1

Fruitbat (Eric the)

Why are people so keen to reach a star? Okay, it's a science fiction cliche and a romantic ideal - travel to those distant points of light we all see in the night sky....

I want to visit the planets that (I hope) are in orbit around those stars. Nobody's gone to our sun recently because once a spacecraft reaches the orbit of Mercury it'll likely melt...or be very close to the start of melting. There's nowhere to disperse the heat, you see...

A sane trip would involve a specific destination; only a TV series would send a crew and cargo out into the deep space (opposite of shallow?) without a specific planet to land on: that makes for good drama, but not good survival.

Turn the lens around for a moment. How many civilisations are currently looking at our sun as a distant speck of light in their night sky and wondering if there's a habitable planet somewhere nearby? (Probably quite a few, given the amount of media noise we've sent out for the past 100 years....)

Fruitbat


Why reach a star?

Post 2

Nobody Particular

Maybe when we say "Travel to a Star" we mean a planet taht revolves around it.

Even with the help of modern tchnology and Telescopes we can only see the Stars in our sky. We cannot see any planets outside of our Solar System at all. So we aim for the things we can see, like stars.

I hope that distant space travel and possibly time travel will exist in the relatively near future. Because contrary to popular belief, we do not have all the time in the world to figure this one out. Don't get me wrong, we have loads of time and all, but not infinate.

Given that an asteriod does not hit the earth and eath is not attacked by Krikkit warriors or something, we expect the earth to be around for another 2.5 billion years. This is because our sun goes through phases. It is slowly right now expanding. It expands and contracts every so often. During our last ice age it was believed that the sun was at it's smallest. It is currently expanding right now. And it is predicted that in about 2.5 billion years it will reach its maximum size, boil the oceans, and then scorch the earth.

Sounds like fun huh? So we really need to get our arses moving on the space travel here.


Why reach a star?

Post 3

Orcus

1. Scientific curiosity, the chance to study at close quarters a star other than our own sun.
2. In 4.5 billion years (give or take a day or two smiley - winkeye) the sun will become a red giant and to survive as a species, we will have to go somewhere else.

Regarding 1. Whoah! Bit of a pricey experiment. Also, in order to reach there in the first place, its going to require a fairly advanced knowledge of nuclear physics so you would imagine we'd have learnt quite a bit already.
Regarding 2. Kind of assumes we're going to last that long really.

In short, I agree with you, its a nice dream but its highly unlikely to ever happena and is a bit pointless for a few billion years anyway.

Good article though.



Why reach a star?

Post 4

Yeliab {h2g2as}

The first thing we have to do (and this is meaning the world as a whole) is realist that killing eachother just isn't sensible. Once we get over that, admitidly huge, hurdle we can put our colective minds, resourses and work onto anything. Just think what one individual can do (Einstein etc,) and then multiply that by a rather big amount, and that's the what this world can do.

personally we should go to Mars first. Hmm... actually I vote for going to Europa!


Why reach a star?

Post 5

Nobody Particular

LOL! You are right about that first Hurdle there!

I think that a good step has already been taken, though it be a very small one relatively. It is the International space station. We are working together with Russia i believe to make this monsterously huge thing. It shows some signs that we might be beginning to aknowledge the fact that this space travel thing is going to require teamwork- lots of it!

But at least we are making progress........................

Nobody Particular


Why reach a star?

Post 6

Fruitbat (Eric the)

Orcus, "In short, I agree with you, its a nice dream but its highly unlikely to ever happena and is a bit pointless for a few billion years anyway."

I'm surprised to see this line as it's not what I meant at all. I am very keen to travel from this world and check out another one. Ever since watching Apollo lift off and land on the Moon, I wanted to go too. The cost of space travel is exhorbitant, true; the payoffs are equally rewarding, although often they must be pointed out to people before we see them: where did WD-40 come from? A direct result of a technology developed for the space programme....and almost everyone reaches for it when they've got something that needs unsticking or a bit of lubricating.

One of the biggest arguments put up during the 1960s against the space race was that the money could be better spent on urban social problems than on sending a couple of astronauts into space....yet look at the results: we've seen our world through a dramatically different perspective which has changed our attitudes towards it forever; we've got some amazing technology that's benefitted everyone (communications satellites repairable in space; the Hubble [one of those satellites repaired in space] has recently revealed a black hole: another theoretical possibility proven true; spectacular IMAX films.....)

As for how much time we'll need to get there....who can tell? This is what was needed to get us as far as we've come:
A political-urgency which motivated a nation (the Americans) into funding a MASSIVE undertaking (both inventing and then using the technology);
The financial, technological, intellectual and physical resources necessary to make all of that happen;
The support of the populations of nations (otherwise those friendly governments would soon become unfriendly)

Today, people are queuing up to become astronauts; children have a real hope of going into space when they grow up because this isn't just a dream any more;
The technology that got us into space has evolved dramatically; our knowledge of how to do it and what's next has evolved tremendously. Space is a hostile environment and we must tread carefully when venturing into it.

What's necessary is the commitment to continue
The financial resources to keep going (probably funded by major corporations which can use space-based manufacturing as an asset);
Individuals willing to risk the journey (can everyone see my hand waving for attention?);
Breakthroughs in cosmology (what Einstein and Hawking did and do) which'll take us to the next level;
Breakthroughs in technology - new materials that can take the requirements for space travel.

All of those stories about Asteroid Miners and inter-solar commerce are probably going to be next....maybe even within my lifetime if we keep going (I turn 38 this year)....

Hope that makes my position a little clearer.

Fruitbat



Why reach a star?

Post 7

Orcus

Err... Yes it does (not wanting to be caught in big, pointless argument). Sorry for misinterpreting. Actually I agree on almost all of that as well, I too wanted to be an astronaught when I was a kid and it is undeniable that technologies have come from it that we might not have seen otherwise. It might also be worth noting, however, that World War II initiated the rocket program, the nuclear technologies and many other technoligies too so it is not always good things that spawn a massive increase in our technical capabilities. Lets try and make sure we don't have to go through something like that again, is surely something to think on.

I was really just trying to be a bit pragmatic about the possibities of going to another star, not the planets. Of course we should explore (and exploit) the rest of our own solar system - mining on a dead moon of Jupiter is not going to destroy our own local environment so lets do it if it is economically viable.

I also take your point about


Why reach a star?

Post 8

Orcus

(what happened there?) ...other civilisations. Wonder if they like Friends? smiley - winkeye


Why reach a star?

Post 9

Yeliab {h2g2as}

Orcus: "Of course we should explore (and exploit) the rest of our own solar system - mining on a dead moon of Jupiter is not going to destroy our own local environment so lets do it if it is economically viable."

I'm going to have to disagree with you there. We realy can't just go about mindlessly collonising and then subsequently destroying world after world in our quest to stay alive. We really need to think about what were are going to do to these places before we go. Look at how we have, and continue to, wreck the Earth surly we can't be trusted with others can we.

Thought from a selfish PoV who cares, as long as no one else lives on them.

We have to learn from our mistakes and take measures to ensure the future of the solar system for generations to come, by looking after other worlds.

If we can manage a solar system, with colonies on some of the enhabiable rocks and mines on others then we can reach out. And maybe by that time we can contact other life forms (I'm rooting for life on Europa) around other stars, and compair notes.

Wow, there is one hell of an exciting furture for Humans, if we make it.


Why reach a star?

Post 10

Nobody Particular

It will be very exciting if we acheive far space travel and/or colonization of places other than earth. It will not be in my lifetime for sure. Maybe not even my childrens (when I have them) But it will come. Unless ofcourse if total Anarchy breaks loose throughtout the whole world some day......


Why reach a star?

Post 11

scinceorfiction34

Reaching a star would be theoreticly impossible do to the distances. Not because it is too far to reach but because of what could happen to the stars while we're still travelling. If stars are as far as scientist theorize, chances are the star would implode by the time we got there.

Unless..... The stars are far closer than scientist think.

So hope for luck.smiley - smiley


Key: Complain about this post

Why reach a star?

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more