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EvilEye
2007-Feb-21, 11:57 PM
I was trying to find a place to put this, so I will ask it as a question.

In many other threads we are asking questions and giving answers about space and/or time travel.

Here's my question.

If (hypothetically) tomorrow we created a vessel or way to get from here to the nearest habitable planet in 100 years, would it make any sense to bother?

Wouldn't we improve on the technology exponentially and be there before we get there?

What I mean is... they leave on this trip to explore with the hope of finding extra-terrestrial life. And when they get there, they find humans exactly like them, who have been there for years. Meaning they find explorers who left Earth AFTER they did.)


To put it in simple terms...

If my friend invented the first car, and told you he could get from California to NYC in a week, that would be incredibly impressive. But if by the end of that week, I had a jet, when he got to NYC he would find me waiting for him sipping a bourbon and asking him what took so long. To him, it would seem like time travel.

I know it isn't the same thing, but the question is... Why bother leave on a journey across space that takes so long, when by the time we get there, we may already be there?

Nowhere Man
2007-Feb-22, 12:03 AM
This has been used in several-many SF stories.

The answer is, becasue we don't know that we will invent a FTL star drive. There may be no way to sneak around the speed of light.

Fred

Ken G
2007-Feb-22, 12:17 AM
The general point is well taken, though I think the number "100 years" is overly optimistic because it would require near-relativistic travel. But I think what you are saying is that in any mission design there must be included an argument that tries to anticipate the rate of technology advance, such that it only makes sense to embark on a mission at a point in the technology curve where you think you really will get there first. Note that "exponential" advance is only one phase and cannot be sustained-- all technologies eventually "saturate", and at that point, you would embark on the mission. To use your car analogy, yes the first cars only went like 15 mph, and decades later they were going 55. But now its decades after that, and the safe speed is maybe 65 or 70. The exponential phase of car and road design is long gone.

EvilEye
2007-Feb-22, 12:23 AM
The general point is well taken, though I think the number "100 years" is overly optimistic because it would require near-relativistic travel. But I think what you are saying is that in any mission design there must be included an argument that tries to anticipate the rate of technology advance, such that it only makes sense to embark on a mission at a point in the technology curve where you think you really will get there first. Note that "exponential" advance is only one phase and cannot be sustained-- all technologies eventually "saturate", and at that point, you would embark on the mission. To use your car analogy, yes the first cars only went like 15 mph, and decades later they were going 55. But now its decades after that, and the safe speed is maybe 65 or 70. The exponential phase of car and road design is long gone.
You are correct, and I was just using the idea hypothetically.

A walker and a bicycle could be used as well. But then people would say I didn't take horses into account.

The idea was is it smart to take on a lengthy journey when there is enough time for the people you leave behind to develop beyond yours. (Obviously, you can't advance when you are focused on a mission, and have no resources other than those you are using for the mission.)


Wow... Y'all are incredible thinkers!

Much love, from a podunk backwood guy finally thinking.

Kaptain K
2007-Feb-22, 12:37 AM
The simple answer is that you got to the point of being able to make the trip in 100 because your ancestors "pushed the envelope". By pushing the envelope, you enable/encourage your descendants to do better!
As an analogy, we did not get from the Wright flyer to the SR-71 by waiting for the technology to develop.

Van Rijn
2007-Feb-22, 01:25 AM
The simple answer is that you got to the point of being able to make the trip in 100 because your ancestors "pushed the envelope". By pushing the envelope, you enable/encourage your descendants to do better!
As an analogy, we did not get from the Wright flyer to the SR-71 by waiting for the technology to develop.

And if I were one of those descendants in the new system watching the old ship arive, I would have great admiration for the pioneers that took that chance. I don't believe such a flight would be wasted.

phaishazamkhan
2007-Feb-22, 02:17 AM
I reckon that the stellar systems which are the destination for generation ships oughta be considered off-limits unless they end up being really hostile. Just so those pioneers can start something with a fresh slate and maybe have a little broadcasted message saying "We can help" if they are overwhelmed by the task.

NEOWatcher
2007-Feb-22, 01:38 PM
If I finish my "star drive", I'll pick you up on my way past. ;)

Delvo
2007-Feb-22, 06:56 PM
If I finish my "star drive", I'll pick you up on my way past. ;)...unless the way it works means you're not really travelling along the line between source and destination (more like "Andromeda" or the new "Battlestar Galactica" or "Bablylon 5" than "Star Trek" or "Star Wars").