View Full Version : 6 Reasons Space Travel Will Always Suck

Lyra Jean
06-29-2011, 05:59 AM
I was reading Cracked.com and came upon this article. Considering how many people read/write SF I thought you all would enjoy it.

Article here (http://www.cracked.com/article_18547_6-reasons-space-travel-will-always-suck.html)

Caitlin Black
06-29-2011, 08:52 AM
All basically one big reason why humans won't bother even trying to reach a different solar system without massively cool technology, such as the replicators mentioned. Or teleporters.

But I still enjoyed reading the article. :)

06-29-2011, 01:32 PM
I am not sure about the concepts of 'impossible technology' mentioned here. There has actually been a lot of serious thought by real scientists into some of the technology discussed in this article and the concensus is that some of it is plausible theoretically if not practically possible now...

Replicators (one thing I have not read anything on yet) are surely along from the tech tree from current recycling technologies. You put in stuff you don't want (torn clothing, old newspapers, tin cans, faeces, urine etc) and these things are broken down to make an atom soup which can then be used to make other stuff - food, water, clean clothing etc. Ok, the breaking down and reforming bit is hard but I can see us getting there eventually. :)

FTL travel has been extensively discussed and I have seen a number of serious science tomes takng the concept seriously. Two main methods - wormholes and warp drive - have been considered possible by physicists (I would quote which ones but my book collection is somewhat out of the way at present... moving...). Wormholes avoid Einstein's theory by shortcutting through the universe but require technology we don't currently have (including something called exotic matter, ask a phycisist if you want to know what that means, I'm too scared in case they answer :) ) to make the wormhole stable. Once that is achieved, however, phycisists predict that FTL is possible using one of these.

warp drive (according to one book I read) requires creating a field of warped space around your vessel which you can (apparently, my understanding of this is not good, there were equations...) move through space in a way that means you can avoid the issues of relativity. Again, it is possible if advanced tech were available. Though one issue that was mentioned was that, due to relativity, people in the front of the ship would be in a different rate of time than those in the back of the ship... they may also be moving at different speeds which means the ship may fall apart...

As i say, all of these are well into the 'if we had some as yet undiscovered scientific concept' area of physics speculation but it does show that Sci fi quite often gets it right and also science and science fiction do feed off one another...

I was surprised they did not mention Space elevators, though... from what I have read we are close (with current nanofibre technology) to making Arthur C Clarke's idea of energy neutral space travel a reality. For those who don't know what it is, its a giant elevator hitched to a geosynch satellite which can be used to transport men, equipment and supplies into orbit without needing to use loads of expensive rocket fuel. It is energy neutral because you lift an equal weight to what you are lowering so the carriages counterbalance.

The only reason no one has yet considered building them, I think, is because of the massive initial cost. Governments in general are interested in short term results so they can win elections and so are quite happy to spend, say, 6 billion to put a man on the moon or mars for the publicity but less willing to spend 20 billion or more on an ongoing project which may not even be complete by the time their term ends and so someone else takes the credit for :)

A lot of interesting thoughts in the article, though, and well worth a read for anyone wanting to consider realistic space travel. Much of this I already knew from my 'Physiology of unusual environments' module at uni...

Caitlin Black
06-29-2011, 01:37 PM
Yeah, I totally agree that the "impossible" technologies can be invented one day. Personally I'd love to be the one to invent them. I have some theories, but I'm not hugely knowledgeable about cutting-edge physics, so it's hard going.

But it's a fun way to spend an hour, just writing down some ideas and seeing how things are linked.

I also firmly believe that once one impossible technology is made possible, all the rest will follow. I might be mistaken on this, but a lot of the requirements sort of flow into one another. Figure out how to break the rules once, and all the rest shouldn't be too difficult for a dedicated person to figure out.

/science nerd

Caitlin Black
06-29-2011, 02:20 PM
The way I see it:

Someone invents replicator technology. Let's assume that to be able to be used efficiently, they need to be able to alter which atoms are in the atom-soup. For instance, if you had some really useless chemicals, they couldn't be used for much, and you'd be stuck with a proverbial bad smell on board the ship.

So, someone manages to turn water into, say, a hot dog. Or something similar. Different atoms anyway.

Wouldn't there then be a premium on space on board the ship? I mean, if you want to be able to do major structural repairs, or even just feed yourselves before you defecate enough matter to go back into the replicators (eww! There'd have to be a sanitary way of doing such things...) then you'd need extra stuff, right?

Now, you don't need all empty space to be full of oxygen - the human body doesn't need that much pure oxygen to survive. So you can have a percentage of the oxygen being used to create other stuff, then later you use waste to create more oxygen, see? The more open space there is, the better the cycle works, and the less dangerous it is.

So that takes care of 2 of those Cracked article's problems with one technology.

All you'd really need to fix the other problems is faster than light travel, and anti-grav technology (which would be crucial in creating artificial gravity, in my opinion).


Caitlin Black
06-29-2011, 02:24 PM
Oh, and I forgot...

The reason you'd really want to be able to change which atoms are present via replicator technology is this:

Space ships. Suppose NASA finds a big empty field. They then send up some floating devices (anti-grav FTW) to mark out a cubic sort of shape. Cue the replicator, and you turn some oxygen into a space ship and the tower you need to be able to get into it, complete with rocket fuel.

Cheap, quick, easy, and you can have huge space ships no problem. (Well, except taking off would be harder with more weight. But then you'd have anti-grav to help you out.)

Bam. Another of Cracked's problems solvered.

/second ramble

Caitlin Black
06-29-2011, 02:25 PM
So come on people! Invent the ability to change atomic structures (alchemy, yo) and anti-gravity.

Then we'll see what we can really do in space.

(Sheesh. I should be a motivational speaker!)

06-29-2011, 03:02 PM
LOL. All great ideas.... my wife actually has a theory that the last invention mankind will ever make is the holodeck. Once that is done no one will be bothered to make anything else cos they'll be too busy gaming in the holodeck.

Actually, that's pretty much happening now with MMOs :)

Lyra Jean
06-29-2011, 04:48 PM
The one that came to my mind was the living space on the ship. Where is all this new technology stored aboard the ship. Even if we had artificial gravity it's pretty tight fit.

06-29-2011, 06:01 PM
So come on people! Invent the ability to change atomic structures (alchemy, yo)...
Well, actually we already can change atomic structures - including lead into gold. It just take ludicrous quantities of energy.

...and anti-gravity.Anti-gravity? In space?

5. Men never ask directions when they get lost.
And in space, it's pretty damn difficult to give directions.
"Uh, yeah, just keep going this way, then turn left at nothing, keep going a few parsecs past all the nothing and hang a right at the end of nothing."

6. No smoking section.Just like on earth, you can smoke outside. ;)

06-29-2011, 06:02 PM
The one that came to my mind was the living space on the ship. Where is all this new technology stored aboard the ship. Even if we had artificial gravity it's pretty tight fit.
Air (which is what most of a living habitat would be) is pretty light. I imagine the living areas could be pretty big, if you wanted. I mean, you don't exactly have to worry about aerodynamics...

Caitlin Black
06-30-2011, 03:13 AM
Anti-gravity? In space?

Not exactly in space, but in a space ship.

You mark out which side of the ship you want to be the floor. You mark the ceiling.

Anti-grav on the ceiling will push you toward the floor. The regular gravity of the floor part will help keep you secured to the floor.

You then have a point of reference and stability, ie. artificial gravity. You can have it at different strengths depending on what you need by tweaking a few things (such as mass of the outer hull).


07-05-2011, 09:42 AM
I was reading Cracked.com and came upon this article. Considering how many people read/write SF I thought you all would enjoy it.

Article here (http://www.cracked.com/article_18547_6-reasons-space-travel-will-always-suck.html)

That was good. It makes me realize I need to do a lot more research for my "sci-fi story with as realistic science applied as possible". Stupid science!

Julie Reilly
07-05-2011, 10:29 AM
Anyone who has ever twirled a yo-yo (or similar object) on a strong around and around has created artificial gravity.

You simply make your spaceship cylindrical, with concentric cylinders for each floor and make it spin at a rate which duplicates Earth's gravity. That's the easy bit.

The hard bit is MAKING it spin, and making it move in the required direction whilst spinning.