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View Full Version : We "picked" the wrong star to build an interstellar civilization from?



goatboy
2008-Aug-05, 05:58 AM
Other than jumping from Kuiper object to Kuiper object, manned space adventures cease at Pluto because, after all, distance is a bitc*h unless you're Jean Luc Piccard.

When I'm feeling selfish, I bemoan that we're so distant from other suns. 4 light years to our neighbor, the Centauri brothers? There's plenty of stars out there where other "safe" non-exploding stars exist a mere few light months distant (Say type G2 and smaller, big stellar neighbors are dangerous). There's no need to travel to the gamma ray soaked galactic center to find such lucky stars either, not given how many stars there are.

Other than generation ships, or wildly, almost "sinfully" (yet I admit delicious) theoretical experimental propulsion, all of which are still painfully slow, what chance do we have to experience another sun's warm and comforting rays vicariously through interstellar astronauts climbing alien hills? To watch and listen to delightful broadcasts only a light month or two later. To know you could hop onto a spaceship and land on a planet 1 light month distant in ... say a few years travel time. To know in a few thousand years humanity will probably exist -- in a month's space and time -- on multiple planets orbiting several stars. The Centauri brothers are only 1/2 a light year from their cousin Proxima, and they're our nearest stellar companions.

I'm wondering how earth's civilization, from the dawn of spaceflight forward, would be influenced by the existence of multiple, safe stellar companions within a handful of light months distant from our sun? Would the "possibility" of a conceivable, eventual interstellar civilization cause man, and his society to dream?

Neverfly
2008-Aug-05, 06:19 AM
We didn't pick our star.

But I understand your sentiments.
It IS excruciatingly frustrating- the distances involved.
Even a generational ship is a very small consolation.
Because we on Earth wouldn't experience it- and they wouldn't experience Earth:|
That's totally different.

It's not the same as an Earthling going to another star and planets...
Our only "hope" is some kind of FTL or Tunneling technology.

Currently, that seems impossible.
But that does not mean that it is impossible- so... may the future tell...

toothdust
2008-Aug-05, 06:24 AM
I think given enough time our current limitations will fade and we will travel the stars. Just as once crossing the Atlantic ocean was an immense feat, on par with us going to the moon or Mars, one day traveling the stars will be no big deal.

This will take a great leap in our technology, a great leap in our mental state as a society and species, and most likely a reason to go, such as searching out resources. Pure speculation, but I am an optimist. In our life times? Who knows, maybe, but probably not just hop on a ship and skip to another system. Our grandkids (I am 23 btw) much more likely, pending we don't fall into anarchy or completely wipe ourselves out.

But technology does a funny thing of just exploding. Think about the fact that my grandparents had a horse and buggy when they were toddlers, no electricity, no running water, and airplanes had yet to be invented. By the time they died, we have nuclear weapons, spaceships, nano-technology and a global informational "brain" (the internet).

Think where we will be in another 100 years....

goatboy
2008-Aug-05, 06:29 AM
We didn't pick our star.


I'd put the quotes on "pick" in bold print if I could :)




Totally, it is frustrating. It's fun to dream though.

doma
2008-Aug-05, 06:37 AM
There's hope if you're patient,
It's theorized that every few million years another star passes close enough to our ort cloud to dislodge a bunch of objects which then fall in towards the sun to become comets. And the ort cloud is only ~50,000 AU away from the sun.

For example, according to this wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oort_cloud) "... during the next 10 million years the known star with the greatest possibility of perturbing the Oort cloud is Gliese 710."

So, we need only wait several million years for Gliese 710 to pass by then we can hop over to it. :neutral:

I hope it doesn't turn out to be planetless. :( It'd be a bummer to wait that long then have nothing to hop to.

I am not the patient type, so I feel your pain. Let's cross fingers for a propulsion breakthrough.

Edit: According to this link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gliese_710) Gliese 710 will pass as close as 70,000 AU (1.1 light years) in 1.4million years.

Drunk Vegan
2008-Aug-05, 06:38 AM
Hey, an answer to the Fermi paradox. They don't want to come here because it's in the boonies and shipping lines would be far too long to bother with.

Neverfly
2008-Aug-05, 06:38 AM
I think given enough time our current limitations will fade and we will travel the stars. Just as once crossing the Atlantic ocean was an immense feat, on par with us going to the moon or Mars, one day traveling the stars will be no big deal.
Apples and oranges.
Airflight, fast ships and space travel have always been possible, and theoretically possible and mathematically possible.
FTL, however, is totally different.


This will take a great leap in our technology,
Very great, indeed.

goatboy
2008-Aug-05, 06:38 AM
I think given enough time our current limitations will fade and we will travel the stars. Just as once crossing the Atlantic ocean was an immense feat, on par with us going to the moon or Mars, one day traveling the stars will be no big deal.

I hope so. I'm not confident in our ability to create worm holes no matter how advanced our technology becomes.



This will take a great leap in our technology, a great leap in our mental state as a society and species,

I hope so. Perhaps it takes several million years to invent FTL? Perhaps technological innovation takes (and should take) that long. Still, I wonder if E=MCsquared is beatable.

goatboy
2008-Aug-05, 06:47 AM
The thrill of a relatively nearby star. A landscape warmed by anther sun. There's no need to break E=MC2 for that, this stellar scenario exists all over the universe. A viable, super cool interstellar civilization is possible all over, just not here. I'm guessing the mere existence of nearby suns would cause a society to push hard for interstellar settlement.

slang
2008-Aug-05, 08:00 AM
Hey, an answer to the Fermi paradox. They don't want to come here because it's in the boonies and shipping lines would be far too long to bother with.

I read a short story the other day where aliens were happily zipping around the galaxy, but considered our part of it a desert, emptied of life in a previous interstellar war.

GOURDHEAD
2008-Aug-05, 12:52 PM
The answer my friends is blowing in the interstellar wind.

novaderrik
2008-Aug-05, 06:56 PM
I think given enough time our current limitations will fade and we will travel the stars. Just as once crossing the Atlantic ocean was an immense feat, on par with us going to the moon or Mars, one day traveling the stars will be no big deal.

This will take a great leap in our technology, a great leap in our mental state as a society and species, and most likely a reason to go, such as searching out resources. Pure speculation, but I am an optimist. In our life times? Who knows, maybe, but probably not just hop on a ship and skip to another system. Our grandkids (I am 23 btw) much more likely, pending we don't fall into anarchy or completely wipe ourselves out.

But technology does a funny thing of just exploding. Think about the fact that my grandparents had a horse and buggy when they were toddlers, no electricity, no running water, and airplanes had yet to be invented. By the time they died, we have nuclear weapons, spaceships, nano-technology and a global informational "brain" (the internet).

Think where we will be in another 100 years....

they didn't have electricity, plumbing, cars, or airplanes in Duluth in the 1950's?
or do people in your family not have kids until they are in their 70's?

YamatoTwinkie
2008-Aug-05, 07:49 PM
they didn't have electricity, plumbing, cars, or airplanes in Duluth in the 1950's?
or do people in your family not have kids until they are in their 70's?

Well, to be fair, nova did say "when they were toddlers". To be alive before the Wright's first flight (1905) requires the parents/grandparents to be in their early 40's when they had children. Possible, yes. Likely, no.

CJSF
2008-Aug-05, 09:42 PM
Well, to be fair, nova did say "when they were toddlers". To be alive before the Wright's first flight (1905) requires the parents/grandparents to be in their early 40's when they had children. Possible, yes. Likely, no.


And keep in mind that in many places, horse and buggy transportation dominated well into the 1920s, and very rural areas didn't have electricity either. Suburanization hadn't started yet either, so one didn't have to be too far away from a city (like Duluth) and be well into the rural hinterland.

CJSF

Argos
2008-Aug-05, 09:59 PM
When I'm feeling selfish, I bemoan that we're so distant from other suns. 4 light years to our neighbor, the Centauri brothers? There's plenty of stars out there where other "safe" non-exploding stars exist a mere few light months distant

Being that closer could help with communication, but there would still be a mighty hurdle to transportation.

stutefish
2008-Aug-05, 10:22 PM
Another way to look at it is that we "picked" the perfect star system to build a starfaring civilization.

I mean, if we can build a viable generation ship, why leave it? After all, star systems containing resources to replenish such a ship's stocks of raw materials must be much more common than star systems containing earthlike planets suitable for colonization.

goatboy
2008-Aug-05, 11:12 PM
Being that closer could help with communication, but there would still be a mighty hurdle to transportation.

It would be a huge hurdle, yet it's still "practical" from a logistical perspective. I'd think solar sails would be a wonderful way to travel 1 light month.

IsaacKuo
2008-Aug-06, 12:11 AM
I am actually pretty excited about our star system's position. Our nearest neighbor is the alpha centauri system--which is amazingly cool. A double system and a red dwarf, all in one! That's pretty cool, isn't it?

Okay, it's not as cool as if we started off in the Alpha Centauri system, but it's the next best thing.

As for methods of fast interstellar propulsion--using near term free electron laser technology it's plausible to design a FAST interstellar propulsion system. I've run numbers for a cruise velocity of .45c and it's not actually too bad--at least for an unmanned probe. The costs for a manned mission get pretty scary, but you could cut those costs by an order of magnitude if we assume that long range relativistic particle beam aiming is perfected.

The most technologically novel part of the scheme is the high performance rocket drive to brake at the destination and return to the Solar System. I favor a relativistic kinetic impact powered rocket. For this, the starship is a large torus shaped magloop. It puffs some sacrificial propellant which explodes into a relativistic plasma when small drones collide with it. This plasma expands in all directions, and is deflected by the starship's magnetic field for thrust.

The drones are small flakes of tungsten foil which are accelerated by a solar powered X-ray laser in orbit around the Sun. A 5km diameter tungsten zone plate focuses a 17.8nm X-ray laser onto a swarm of drones out to 4.3 light years, accelerating them up to relativistic speeds. By the time the drones reach Alpha Centauri, they are traveling fast enough that kinetic impacts provide more energy than even antimatter.

sohh_fly
2008-Aug-06, 02:14 AM
interesting scenario painted here ,,..but the make up of these other stars could they be suitable .... i mean how about the photon output,the gravitational strength,the make up of gases .....would it be the same as our star for holding onto life?

is there no difference in accordance to our existence out there?

just a thought

V_Zhd
2008-Aug-06, 02:38 AM
An important unknown factor is the existence of exoplanets. It doesn't make much sense to go to a star if there aren't inhabitable planets or usable resources there (aside from harvesting the star's energy). It could be that our neighborhood is comparatively abundant with stars that have exoplanets, which I would prefer over closer stars that don't have any planets.

tofu
2008-Aug-06, 12:42 PM
I bemoan that we're so distant from other suns. 4 light years to our neighbor, the Centauri brothers? There's plenty of stars out there where other "safe" non-exploding stars exist a mere few light months distant

Don't you think that close proximity to another star would disturb the Oort cloud? We have a mass extinction due to comet or asteroid impact every few tens of millions of years. What if Earth-like planets in those other solar systems have such an impact every million years? That would make it unlikely that a technological civilization could arise there.

Robonaut
2008-Aug-06, 12:57 PM
Apples and oranges.
Airflight, fast ships and space travel have always been possible, and theoretically possible and mathematically possible.
FTL, however, is totally different.


Not quite sure what you mean by this. As impressive as Roman civilization was, I don't see them as having too much of a chance of building a rocket and flying to the moon. Spaceflight just wasn't possible for them, given their technology.

I don't see how FTL travel is any different to us than spaceflight was to the Romans. We don't know how to do it, and were not even sure that FTL is possible, but that doesn't mean that human civilization 2,000 years from now won't have an entirely different theoretical way of viewing the universe that makes FTL plausible and achievable.

IsaacKuo
2008-Aug-06, 01:11 PM
The Romans didn't have a theoretical basis for predicting that it would never be possible.

Furthermore, the Romans could have seen examples which show what may someday be possible. For example, birds could fly so they'd know airflight was at least possible. Had the Romans been sufficiently observant, they may have made a connection between falling stars and meteoroids. If rocks can fall from the heavens, then it may be possible to go back up in the other direction.

In contrast, we have a theoretical basis to expect FTL travel may be impossible, and we see no evidence of any counterexamples in the universe. We see natural examples of mindbogglingly powerful plasma streams at near-c speeds, with jets of material as big as galaxies. But nothing exceeding c.

Maybe FTL travel is possible, but our situation with FTL is not equivalent to the Romans's situation with spaceflight.

goatboy
2008-Aug-06, 08:14 PM
Don't you think that close proximity to another star would disturb the Oort cloud? We have a mass extinction due to comet or asteroid impact every few tens of millions of years. What if Earth-like planets in those other solar systems have such an impact every million years? That would make it unlikely that a technological civilization could arise there.

That's the only drawback I can conceive of. Perhaps the existence of nearby stars will tend to clear the cloud out a bit by the time we came along? Maybe an Oort cloud develops differently with multiple star systems in close proximity? I don't know. I'm not saying it's not more dangerous, I just don't know. I don't think the potential for intelligent life has been proven to be dependent on a star system existing relatively "alone", there are simply too many unknowns. An extra Jupiter might help screen more away perhaps.


By the time we can send astronauts one light month distant, rogue comets will be easy to deflect of course.

AndreasJ
2008-Aug-06, 09:57 PM
Don't you think that close proximity to another star would disturb the Oort cloud?
A few light months happens to be the distance to the Oort cloud - if neighbouring stars were regularly found at such distances the cloud couldn't have formed in the first place.

tofu
2008-Aug-10, 02:23 AM
A few light months happens to be the distance to the Oort cloud - if neighbouring stars were regularly found at such distances the cloud couldn't have formed in the first place.

Ocean high tides on Earth are only a meter or so - if our Sun, or even the Moon is regularly found at such distances then the ocean couldn't have formed in the first place.

cjameshuff
2008-Sep-05, 03:33 PM
Ocean high tides on Earth are only a meter or so - if our Sun, or even the Moon is regularly found at such distances then the ocean couldn't have formed in the first place.

Your cosmology seems questionable. The sun and moon are much, much closer than the Oort cloud.

Tidal effects fall off with the cube of distance, as they result from the difference in gravity across the object...they are proportional to the derivative of gravity. The sun produces tides on Earth, but the much-smaller, much-closer moon produces bigger ones. A reasonably average star in the Oort cloud (or at the distance of the Oort cloud in another system) would not cause noteworthy tides.

It might very well prevent planets from forming on which to observe those tides, though. IIRC, planets could just barely have stable orbits in the habitable zone around Alpha Centauri A, and the fact that anything further out is unstable due to the influence of A.C. B makes it unlikely for anything to form in those orbits.

And yes, we unfortunately have a great deal more reason to think FTL is outright impossible than our ancestors had to believe space travel or supersonic flight were. The question with both was always whether it was possible to build a self propelled craft with a sufficiently powerful engine...supersonic bullets were well known centuries before supersonic planes, and Newton developed all the needed math for reaching orbit. Before that, birds flew, leaves blew, and gliding toys existed to tell us flight was possible.

casey10s
2008-Sep-05, 04:26 PM
Well, to be fair, nova did say "when they were toddlers". To be alive before the Wright's first flight (1905) requires the parents/grandparents to be in their early 40's when they had children. Possible, yes. Likely, no.

My dad's parents were both born in 1899. They passed away in 1977 and 1982. They lived during the time from when there were no planes until we landed on the moon. What a leap of technology. Hopefully we can make this leap of technology again in the near future for aerospace.

It seems that for my generation, the technology leap is for computer technology. This started with the huge mainframes for the few to the full range of computers (and all of their applications) from the very small to the very large that we have today that anyone can get and use. Maybe the next generation will be a major leap in some other field, like medicine.

Drunk Vegan
2008-Sep-05, 10:23 PM
^ I'm betting nanotechnology and genetic engineering.

The future of progress is in the very, very small.

JustAFriend
2008-Sep-06, 01:05 PM
Go back and watch (or rent) the old George Pal movie "When Worlds Collide".

....you really DONT want stars that close to the solar system, kids....

publiusr
2009-Jan-13, 12:25 AM
I support human space exploration. But it will be robots that do the prep work--because they don't ask for cost-benefit ratios, get distracted or bored, etc.