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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 6:52 am 
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D00D! wrote:
Aka, you can't use modern science (or anything to come in the next few years) to explain space exploration since we haven't even develop the proper technolodgy to send humans past the moon yet. We either have to use vastly radical or hypotherical concepts (which would take decades to prove) to really be able to understand effective and pratical space travel.


Or...just maybe it's a Conspiracy Theory.

(Do click the link, it's a short story titled Conspiracy Theory, not some stupid Flat Earth shit)


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 7:53 am 
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Man, as easily as past aerospace developments were subverted into weapons, I'd actually be sort of afraid of a development that could be a dangerous weapon by accident. Not to mention our current rockets still blow up now and again...

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 9:35 am 
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Alright then Mr Astrophysics, the gauntlets are off.

This isn't just about astrophysics. there are a dozen other diciplinces that have to be drawn.

Alright, let us suppose we found ourselves an alien ship that is fully functional and does not need any additional intervention, just punch in the coordinates and go. This gives us a shortcut to space right? Wrong.
First, we need to know that there is something out there that is actually worth our time which means either a resource rich body or a planet capable of supporting life (or at the very least close enough for us to terraform it) For such information, we need to be advanced enough in the fields of Astrogeology and Astrobiology.
Second, we need to plot a course for it, Astrometry is needed to calculate both our course and the eventual destination. Remember, hardly anything in space is not moving, even we on earth is orbiting the sun which orbits the milky way and god knows what else.
Third, when we finally reach the planet, we need to begin the study the chemical and geological components of said planet/body. Can you guess what field it is? That's right, Astrochemistry and Planetary Science.
If all you want is to take a joyride through space, then be my guest. Hop in there and go as far as you want, just don't be surprised when you return to the spot where earth was and find that it's not there.

Alright, I freely admit that there are many things that I do not understand about Astrology but I do know enough to say that the vast majority of it is made up of theory and unexplored concepts.
Sure, we do have a Big Bang theory, but as I said before, it's just a theory. What we do know of the Big Bang is based on the background radiation as well as the general distance between galaxies. We have been as of yet, able to find much evidence or explanations for the earliest (and most crucial) instant for when it happen. It is our best supported theory but it is nowhere near rock-solid proven in astronomy
Then what about black holes? What we do know about them can only be observed beyond the event horizon, we have yet to send any probes in. Can we simply only base our science on speculation on what's inside? After all, once past the event horizon the laws of physics no longer hold up. To sum it up, knowledge of black holes are only superficial since none of us have explored it with probes or proper instruments.
Things like evolution and the Earth are easier to prove than something which is way out of our scale and capabilities.
All our current information on space are primary superficial, what we can observe and what abides to our general model of physics so that we can predict, past that and it ends up quantum physics which we know little about.

And to further clarify, humans have been on earth for 500 million years, earliest written history dates back to around 5000 years and current astronomy dates back to 2000 years. Actually exiting the orbit happened in 1942. I was trying to make a point in how short our history is compared to the lifetime of universe so I am sorry for causing any confusion.

And Skrim, yes we do have the technology or at least close enough to make travel within the solar system possible but my question is, what's the point? The only things of interest right now are Mars (which is a potential terraforming candidate), Titania (which has water and therefore potentially life) and a few deposits of materials on various asteroids. If for anything other than bragging rights, then sure we can always send a space craft to Pluto and back. But for countries to fully support space travel, first we need an incentive to actually go out there and bring back something useful. And of course we still have no means for interstellar travel.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:03 am 
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D00D! wrote:
And of course we still have no means for interstellar travel.


Might have something to do with c being a constant.

Nearest star to us (nevermind if it has planets or not) is (a little over) 4 light years away. Even if we were to send a craft there at anything even approaching the speed of light (in a vacuum) it'd still be an 8+ year round trip (for those of us left behind).

Not exactly conducive to a mission that brings back anything useful for the generation that sent the ship. Much less the terrors of "what if something goes wrong." Not only could we not help them, we wouldn't even know it for a vastly long time (say they break down half way there; that's 2 years before "We Get Signal" and another 2+ before we can get a rescue team there--might as well just build a second team and ship 'em out)

There are already issues with creating a space project for observing Jupiter/Jupiter's moons: it's an 18 month trek for a space probe and there is an (approximately) 8 minute delay between commands sent and commands received.

And that's only halfway out of the solar system!
(Well, not quite. More like ~0.01%, assuming that the oort cloud extends to 50,000 AU, the outside of which defines the gravitational boundary of the solar system).


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:52 am 
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Venator wrote:
Skrim wrote:
Yeah, Nuke Pulse is pretty inefficient. It is presently in a banned status, too, AFAIK.


My memory of Orion is shaky, but I seem to remember that you have to get it a good distance into space before you can even use the main engine, or face the prospect of nuking a good chunk of the area on launch (be it at ground zero or a high-altitude airburst, it's not going to be pretty).

---------

Solar sails are nice to think about, but when you consider the sheer area of a sail to generate a decent velocity, it becomes a bit mind-boggling (as duestchland1 mentioned).

One idea that I've always had a pet interest in is the "fusion ramjet", a rocket which uses a giant magnetic "funnel" to suck up hydrogen and power a fusion engine. It's got the obvious benefit of not having to move the weight of it's own fuel and the equally obvious downside that, like Orion, it'll rip the planet a new one if you turn it on in-atmosphere).


I have a preference for Solar Sails and Bussard Ramjets, because those are the only propulsion systems hypothesized that take the reaction mass off the ship - in Solar Sails, it's the light or charged particles from an off-ship source(the Sun, or a big laser), and in Ramjets, it's hydrogen in the vacuum.



Unfortunately, we just don't have the engineering capacity for Bussard Ramjets at this time. The only non-FTL propulsion types I find truly capable of interstellar travel are Antimatter Drives and Bussard Ramjets, both of which are currently beyond what we can do now.

A Ramjet would need a freakin' utterly huge uber-powerful magnetic funnel and a way to fuse incoming hydrogen(not just deuterium, mind you) without slowing it down(because that would cause unacceptable drag). We haven't even been able to build a commercially reasonable fusion power plant yet(though ITER is on the job).

As for Antimatter Drives(I'm talking about pure Antiproton Annihilation Drives here, not Antimatter-Augmented Fusion or Antimatter Something-Core), they're the most powerful things that carry their reaction mass on board. But given that all the particle colliders in the world put together, working year round, can only generate enough antimatter to power a few light bulbs, these aren't going to be feasible anytime soon.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:13 pm 
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Skrim wrote:
Venator wrote:
Skrim wrote:
Yeah, Nuke Pulse is pretty inefficient. It is presently in a banned status, too, AFAIK.


My memory of Orion is shaky, but I seem to remember that you have to get it a good distance into space before you can even use the main engine, or face the prospect of nuking a good chunk of the area on launch (be it at ground zero or a high-altitude airburst, it's not going to be pretty).

---------

Solar sails are nice to think about, but when you consider the sheer area of a sail to generate a decent velocity, it becomes a bit mind-boggling (as duestchland1 mentioned).

One idea that I've always had a pet interest in is the "fusion ramjet", a rocket which uses a giant magnetic "funnel" to suck up hydrogen and power a fusion engine. It's got the obvious benefit of not having to move the weight of it's own fuel and the equally obvious downside that, like Orion, it'll rip the planet a new one if you turn it on in-atmosphere).


I have a preference for Solar Sails and Bussard Ramjets, because those are the only propulsion systems hypothesized that take the reaction mass off the ship - in Solar Sails, it's the light or charged particles from an off-ship source(the Sun, or a big laser), and in Ramjets, it's hydrogen in the vacuum.



Unfortunately, we just don't have the engineering capacity for Bussard Ramjets at this time. The only non-FTL propulsion types I find truly capable of interstellar travel are Antimatter Drives and Bussard Ramjets, both of which are currently beyond what we can do now.

A Ramjet would need a freakin' utterly huge uber-powerful magnetic funnel and a way to fuse incoming hydrogen(not just deuterium, mind you) without slowing it down(because that would cause unacceptable drag). We haven't even been able to build a commercially reasonable fusion power plant yet(though ITER is on the job).

As for Antimatter Drives(I'm talking about pure Antiproton Annihilation Drives here, not Antimatter-Augmented Fusion or Antimatter Something-Core), they're the most powerful things that carry their reaction mass on board. But given that all the particle colliders in the world put together, working year round, can only generate enough antimatter to power a few light bulbs, these aren't going to be feasible anytime soon.


Solarsails are good for space travel within a solar system but outside it is where things get tricky, our sun ain't all powerful enough to supply ships lightyears away. It is cheap though since it doesn't actually use fuel, a ship with solarsails are most likely on the low end of maintainece costs.

Ramjets on the other hand are not very ideal, assuming that even with enough fuel floating about in space, we are still using fusion/fission based reaction. Not very good since the are the basic form of matter-energy transmutation.

Finally anti-matter drives, actually these babies stands a very good chance if we can somehow obtain enough anti-matter. Sure, we take forever just to gain enough from the colliders but there may be other ways as well. There is a good chance that somewhere outside in the universe that still contains isolated pockets of anti-matter, cross your fingers that they are close enough that we can actually harvest them. Still, I suspect that if enough research is done in the Quantum realm, they may be a chance to discover so called low-energy anti-matter production.

All of these drives are very useful to reduce the mass needed on spacecraft but they still don't solve the problem of sub-luminal travel. If each of these drives were to work somehow, we would face the prospect of cheap spaceships. Problem comes with travesing distance, even if ships were cheap, they would still take years, nay decades to reach anywhere outside the solarsystem.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2009 11:30 pm 
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Basically, my choices are:

In-System: VASIMRs in the near future. Fusion drives and solar sails in the farther future.

Interstellar: Bussard Ramjets or Antiproton Drives, depending on what is more feasible(Ramjets if there's enough fuel out there, AM if it can be produced easily). Some form of space-warping FTL in the far future.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 2:31 am 
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Personally, I have a long-standing love for nuclear salt-water rockets.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 3:54 am 
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Darlos- you have no problem with a brain in a jar controlling ninja gold miners in the far future. Why is space-friction an issue?

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 4:05 am 
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Because it's related to the game. Jars of brains (or dirt, for that matter) aren't. :roll:

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 8:20 am 
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The Fat Sand Rat wrote:
Darlos- you have no problem with a brain in a jar controlling ninja gold miners in the far future. Why is space-friction an issue?
Are you joking? Or were you just never around for my rants on this issue? At any rate, this isn't the place for it. Start a thread or PM me over there if you want to talk about it.

Now, since we seem to have launched off into interstellar travel discussions, how about the issue of worm holes? Basically, rather than putting some kind of FTL drive on a ship, you instead just have points in space you can move between easily.

I'm not really 100% familiar with the theory behind this kind of stuff, nor am I going to launch into it at the moment, but I've always kinda liked the implications behind such a system. Since in order to use such things, we'd first have to build them. As previous posts have said, it'd take 4 years just to get to the closest star, and that's at light speed. So in order to set up some kind of jump gate system, we'd have to send out expeditions to reach a desired destination and set up the other side of the gate. The good news of that would be that once they get that done, they can just come right back using the gate that was just completed. The bad news, of course, is if something goes wrong, they're borked.

Despite the theory behind worm holes and the like, I think it makes for an interesting setting, where civilization slowly crawls out from the solar system over decades and centuries through expeditionary forces that bravely strike out into the frontier to set up a new jump gate. How exciting, and even romantic.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 12:41 pm 
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Wormholes are wading knee-deep in the science-fiction category. There are many issues unresolved surrounding the worm-holes, some of them very basic.

For example, how do you spot a wormhole? Do they emit some special particles? Or do they give off radiation? Maybe they are some sort of powerful source of gravity in which case we have to randomly sprinkle space dust and see where it gets sucked up. What are the special characteristics that makes a wormhole a 2 way trip and not a death trap? Heck, I don't think anyone has ever managed to find themselves a natural wormhole.

Which leaves artificial wormholes aka jump-gates. First off, how are you going to compress space and distance between the two points? Or if you're talking about going through another dimension then how do you enter it then? Is the dimension safe for travel? How are you gonna navigate through it then?

As convenient as it is to simply enter a gate and pop out from the other end, the science behind it is way too shaky and unproven. And no it won't be exciting or romantic either. Without FTL, it would be a long boring journey to set up the gate. Even if we were to develop a cryogenic solution for the pilots, what about the people left behind? Would you, as an unlucky civilian chosen to sponsor but not participate in an event whose conclusion (be they success or failure) will likely take place long after your death? The world would be in an uproar if they were to allow only a select few to breach past the solar system.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2009 1:41 pm 
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D00D! wrote:
As convenient as it is to simply enter a gate and pop out from the other end, the science behind it is way too shaky and unproven. And no it won't be exciting or romantic either. Without FTL, it would be a long boring journey to set up the gate. Even if we were to develop a cryogenic solution for the pilots, what about the people left behind? Would you, as an unlucky civilian chosen to sponsor but not participate in an event whose conclusion (be they success or failure) will likely take place long after your death? The world would be in an uproar if they were to allow only a select few to breach past the solar system.

Okay yeah, the trip would be boring as shit probably. That wouldn't stop entertainment from romanticizing it though. Heck, it sounds like a great premise for a sci-fi drama already.

Also, if the trip took some reasonable number of years, I don't think it would be too much of an issue for the travelers, especially if they could instantly come back once the thing was set up. Somehow removing the idea of a return trip makes it sound less painful. I don't think cryo stasis would really be necessary, unless we wanted to go some ridiculous distance that required it.

And the world being in an uproar? I don't think so. Most people don't even want to go to another country, let alone leave the planet or the solar system. I'm pretty sure everyone would understand that it'd be a cramped and boring job anyway. They'd probably be more excited about the coming gateway. Heck, if I knew some poor slobs were gonna go out and do that, and all I had to do was wait ten years, I wouldn't complain. I'm content with doing things on earth. Maybe I'm weird? But I somehow doubt it.

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