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(Science Alert)   Calculations now suggest we could one day build a rocket that travels 99.999% the speed of light. Space just got closer   ( sciencealert.com) divider line
    More: Spiffy, photon rockets, Espen Gaarder Haug, General relativity, Standard Model, journal Acta Astronautica, Physics, ultimate speed limit, Norwegian University School  
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2757 clicks; posted to Geek » on 14 Apr 2017 at 11:50 AM (31 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2017-04-14 11:03:54 AM  
What's more exciting to me than the possibility of traveling great distances when approaching the speed of light is the possibility of traveling "forward in time" due to time dilation.  Now THAT is interesting.
 
2017-04-14 11:10:15 AM  
It'd still take you forever to get anywhere.
 
2017-04-14 11:31:05 AM  
There's a lot missing from this.  HOW much fuel would be needed to convert to light energy for HOW much thrust?

I mean, give me a spaceship with 100 bagillion Ping-Pong balls, and a bunch of millenniums, and I'll get that thing moving really fast.  But that's not exactly the most practical manner of traveling.
 
2017-04-14 11:32:51 AM  
How do you steer it around obstacles, if the ship smacks into something the second you see it?
 
2017-04-14 11:51:18 AM  

8 inches: What's more exciting to me than the possibility of traveling great distances when approaching the speed of light is the possibility of traveling "forward in time" due to time dilation.  Now THAT is interesting.


It's not real time travel.  Light speed travel is.
 
2017-04-14 11:56:32 AM  
that's one massive rocket
 
2017-04-14 12:00:08 PM  
We need to build this faster, mars isn't far enough. The suns going to blow, we only have 14 billion years. Get on it guys... * incites motivation.
 
2017-04-14 12:01:17 PM  
How is space closer if we have no idea how to build anything close to it?
 
2017-04-14 12:08:13 PM  

SkittlesAreYum: How is space closer if we have no idea how to build anything close to it?


I'm pretty sure space is just as close or far away as it ever was... Space isn't the thing we're trying to move.
 
2017-04-14 12:09:48 PM  
I once calculated my penis could be 9 inches long. Doesn't mean it's gonna happen.
 
2017-04-14 12:10:45 PM  
img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-04-14 12:11:13 PM  
It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).
 
2017-04-14 12:14:23 PM  
DO IT!!!!!
 
2017-04-14 12:15:10 PM  

mangobunny: It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).


So, what do we do?

img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-04-14 12:16:08 PM  
 
2017-04-14 12:16:13 PM  
The Y axis on that farking graph is a piece of farking work
 
2017-04-14 12:18:46 PM  

mtrac: Spoiler: you'll die quickly from radiation.


And it'll be fun when the craft hits, say, a particle of dust.
 
2017-04-14 12:21:16 PM  

martissimo: The Y axis on that farking graph is a piece of farking work


Logarithmic scales are quite common in engineering.  What's your problem?
 
2017-04-14 12:21:21 PM  
Espen Gaarder Haug is a professor of quantitative finance at the Norwegian University School of Life Sciences

Hmm...color me skeptical.

While the promise of using any fuel as long as it can be converted entirely into light Energy

And there it is.  Thermodynamics would like a word with you.
 
2017-04-14 12:22:33 PM  

Candygram4Mongo: How do you steer it around obstacles, if the ship smacks into something the second you see it?


Turn your headlights on.
 
2017-04-14 12:23:55 PM  
*folks in materials science laughing, slapping one another's backs*
 
2017-04-14 12:25:25 PM  

NewWorldDan: martissimo: The Y axis on that farking graph is a piece of farking work

Logarithmic scales are quite common in engineering.  What's your problem?


The note that it's a logarithmic scale is so small I couldn't even read it till I went back and squinted, I don't fark with my glasses on, so I guess it's cool, I mean I already knew it was just by the factor of 10 just didn't see it noted
 
2017-04-14 12:29:25 PM  
the photon rocket has been talked about since at least the 60s.  the only fark worthy part of the article is that the scientist is a professor of quantitative finance who discovered that  The math he uses is kind of like physics math.

Economics is an attempt to use math designed for physics to predict economic phenomena.is it really surprising that the maths are similar?
 
2017-04-14 12:51:48 PM  
This is another case of 100 paper utopias for every profitable farm.
 
2017-04-14 12:58:25 PM  

electricladyland: We need to build this faster, mars isn't far enough. The suns going to blow, we only have 14 billion years. Get on it guys... * incites motivation.


This is one of the reasons I don't fully understand Mars. It doesn't buy us much. Let's look at moons that can support life, have tidal energy, and are protected by the parent planet's magnetosphere. And the gravity would help protect us as well (though may draw risk toward us too). In theory we would have to worry less about being star-dependent.
 
2017-04-14 01:03:41 PM  

ToastmasterGeneral: I mean, give me a spaceship with 100 bagillion Ping-Pong balls, and a bunch of millenniums, and I'll get that thing moving really fast.


You'll also need a palletzillion of paddles.
 
2017-04-14 01:04:07 PM  
While we're just making shiat up why not make your 'photon exhaust' into a perfect beam that you're outrunning at near lightspeed too.  you can take off from a giant mirror and get extra thrust as the reflection hits your ship until you're up to speed.

Then after rotation you can use your magic energy converter to use the incoming reflection photons for fuel.

Since, you know, we're basing all this on technology that doesn't exist.  We might as well have not just a photon engine but one with a laser exhaust that's coherent over a few thousand lightyears right?
 
2017-04-14 01:19:49 PM  
Very serious question for the physics buffs around here. Since relativistic speeds are only a pipe dream at this point, has any model really shown the time dilation that would occur when humanity reaches... hell even 0.1c? I'm thinking the trip to Alpha Centauri wouldn't be a 4.xx year trip for them, even if it is for us standard Sol orbiters.

Next question. Without a "Great Zero" (read: the center of the actual universe where the big bang started), how do we know how fast we're actually going normally. Is it possible we're already at a significant (read: greater than 0.01c) relativistic speed which is offsetting our baseline in the first place?
 
2017-04-14 01:23:33 PM  

BlazeTrailer: electricladyland: We need to build this faster, mars isn't far enough. The suns going to blow, we only have 14 billion years. Get on it guys... * incites motivation.

This is one of the reasons I don't fully understand Mars. It doesn't buy us much. Let's look at moons that can support life, have tidal energy, and are protected by the parent planet's magnetosphere. And the gravity would help protect us as well (though may draw risk toward us too). In theory we would have to worry less about being star-dependent.


yes we really need at planet that has a star and also magnetic defence from the stars radiation. Or as you say some planetoid that has the building blocks of life with some kind of geothermal activity. We need some way to maybe perfect terraforming and mars might be that platform even in the next 100 years (UAE). Just as practice, like a throw away planet or even an industrial base to build the next generation of "starships".
 
2017-04-14 01:28:23 PM  
Powered by COAL!!!!
 
2017-04-14 01:34:18 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: mtrac: Spoiler: you'll die quickly from radiation.

And it'll be fun when the craft hits, say, a particle of dust.


It's like you guys don't even read Asimov
 
2017-04-14 01:37:02 PM  
I saw that episode of Star Trek.   It didn't end well for the Lt. who started like hyper-evolving or some shiat after reaching the maximum possible speed.
 
2017-04-14 01:39:38 PM  
img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-04-14 01:42:30 PM  

clkeagle: SkittlesAreYum: How is space closer if we have no idea how to build anything close to it?

I'm pretty sure space is just as close or far away as it ever was... Space isn't the thing we're trying to move.


Maybe that's the problem...

img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-04-14 01:53:29 PM  

BlazeTrailer: This is one of the reasons I don't fully understand Mars. It doesn't buy us much. Let's look at moons that can support life, have tidal energy, and are protected by the parent planet's magnetosphere. And the gravity would help protect us as well (though may draw risk toward us too). In theory we would have to worry less about being star-dependent.


We still have a lot more land on earth we can use before we have to spend all the resources and time to colonize Mars, which might still be impossible.
 
2017-04-14 01:57:23 PM  

IronJelly: I saw that episode of Star Trek.   It didn't end well for the Lt. who started like hyper-evolving or some shiat after reaching the maximum possible speed.


You're clearly a shifter. In this universe, that never happened, it's the Berenstein Bears, and Sinbad never played in a move named "Shazaam." Shaq played in a move called "Kazaam."

/jeez, did the Nazi's win where you came from?
 
2017-04-14 01:58:44 PM  

electricladyland: BlazeTrailer: electricladyland: We need to build this faster, mars isn't far enough. The suns going to blow, we only have 14 billion years. Get on it guys... * incites motivation.

This is one of the reasons I don't fully understand Mars. It doesn't buy us much. Let's look at moons that can support life, have tidal energy, and are protected by the parent planet's magnetosphere. And the gravity would help protect us as well (though may draw risk toward us too). In theory we would have to worry less about being star-dependent.

yes we really need at planet that has a star and also magnetic defence from the stars radiation. Or as you say some planetoid that has the building blocks of life with some kind of geothermal activity. We need some way to maybe perfect terraforming and mars might be that platform even in the next 100 years (UAE). Just as practice, like a throw away planet or even an industrial base to build the next generation of "starships".


That I can live with. Let's start with Luna. Then we can also use that as a launch point perhaps.
 
2017-04-14 02:00:18 PM  

ajgeek: IronJelly: I saw that episode of Star Trek.   It didn't end well for the Lt. who started like hyper-evolving or some shiat after reaching the maximum possible speed.

You're clearly a shifter. In this universe, that never happened, it's the Berenstein Bears, and Sinbad never played in a move named "Shazaam." Shaq played in a move called "Kazaam."

/jeez, did the Nazi's win where you came from?


Sorry, you can't escape them.

img.fark.netView Full Size
 
2017-04-14 02:11:04 PM  

mangobunny: It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).


Perhaps, but what we need to do is stop thinking about this in terms of human travel (for now). If we can build an engine that can go even a fraction of the speed of light, build a thousand probes and send them off in every direction. What we need is more information - it's way too soon to be thinking about actual exploration.
 
2017-04-14 02:20:55 PM  

ImpendingCynic: mangobunny: It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).

Perhaps, but what we need to do is stop thinking about this in terms of human travel (for now). If we can build an engine that can go even a fraction of the speed of light, build a thousand probes and send them off in every direction. What we need is more information - it's way too soon to be thinking about actual exploration.


I don't necessarily disagree, but that information has to get back to us. We aren't receiving useful information for a number of years no matter what we do, but the same would be true in sending human explorers.
 
2017-04-14 02:23:45 PM  
So serious question - how would you stop something assuming you could get it that fast to begin with?
 
2017-04-14 02:25:01 PM  

ajgeek: Very serious question for the physics buffs around here. Since relativistic speeds are only a pipe dream at this point, has any model really shown the time dilation that would occur when humanity reaches... hell even 0.1c? I'm thinking the trip to Alpha Centauri wouldn't be a 4.xx year trip for them, even if it is for us standard Sol orbiters.


The Lorentz time dilation factor is gamma = 1/sqrt(1-(v/c)^2).  For v/c = 0.1, that works out to only a 0.5% time dilation.  You need to get closer to the speed of light for that to be significant.

Next question. Without a "Great Zero" (read: the center of the actual universe where the big bang started), how do we know how fast we're actually going normally. Is it possible we're already at a significant (read: greater than 0.01c) relativistic speed which is offsetting our baseline in the first place?

The point of relativity is that "how fast we're actually going" is a meaningless question without qualification:  velocity is only meaningful relative to some observer.  We could be at rest with respect to one observer, but moving at near-lightspeed with respect to another.

To be more nitpicky than you probably wanted:

Interestingly, in Big Bang cosmology, even though there is no center of the universe, there is still a "preferred" class of observers with respect to which one could choose to measure velocity:  the "co-moving cosmological observers" that view the cosmic background radiation as isotropic (same in all directions).  Perhaps counter-intuitively, this is basically all galaxies in the universe.  Very loosely, you can think of galaxies as being like pennies taped to the surface of an expanding balloon (space).  The galaxies are moving apart from each other, but in another sense they're "sitting still" on the surface of the balloon so you could think of that as a zero baseline for velocity.

It turns out that due to gravitational attraction within galaxy clusters and such, actual galaxies aren't exactly at this zero baseline (the have some nonzero "peculiar velocity" deviating from the cosmological Hubble flow, or Big Bang expansion.  And of course stars orbiting within a galaxy are always changing their velocities.  It turns out that the Sun has a small amount of peculiar motion with respect to a co-moving cosmological observer, about 0.001c.
 
2017-04-14 02:31:34 PM  

IronJelly: I saw that episode of Star Trek.   It didn't end well for the Lt. who started like hyper-evolving or some shiat after reaching the maximum possible speed.


You're mistaken, there was no such episode.  Incidentally, it's a shame that "Voyager" was cancelled halfway through the second season.  I thought that show was on the threshold of becoming great.
 
2017-04-14 02:32:30 PM  

ajgeek: Very serious question for the physics buffs around here. Since relativistic speeds are only a pipe dream at this point, has any model really shown the time dilation that would occur when humanity reaches... hell even 0.1c? I'm thinking the trip to Alpha Centauri wouldn't be a 4.xx year trip for them, even if it is for us standard Sol orbiters.

Next question. Without a "Great Zero" (read: the center of the actual universe where the big bang started), how do we know how fast we're actually going normally. Is it possible we're already at a significant (read: greater than 0.01c) relativistic speed which is offsetting our baseline in the first place?


Relativistic speeds are common. It is all relative, literally. The math for calculating the time dilation is quite straightforward and used in all kinds of precision applications. At .1c, the factor is only ~1.005, or less than 2 days over the course of a year. Simply put, to a traveler going .1c for a year, the people he/she left behind will experience a little less than 2 extra days.
 
2017-04-14 02:34:06 PM  

mangobunny: It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).


8 year round trip from and outside perspective. From someone inside the ship time should slow down by 99.999% as well, meaning it would take 4 minutes (or 40 minutes, I'm not sure if I put in the correct number of 0s)
 
2017-04-14 02:34:31 PM  

TheJadedJester: So serious question - how would you stop something assuming you could get it that fast to begin with?


fsmedia.imgix.netView Full Size


Serious answer:  you'd turn around and fire your engines in the opposite direction.
 
2017-04-14 02:36:44 PM  

MindStalker: mangobunny: It's still over 8 years round trip to the nearest star system, but you could take a day trip to Pluto. Unless there's a work-around for the light barrier we're probably not going to do much exploring beyond our solar system (seen some interesting ideas but they are very much at the "what if?" stage).

8 year round trip from and outside perspective. From someone inside the ship time should slow down by 99.999% as well, meaning it would take 4 minutes (or 40 minutes, I'm not sure if I put in the correct number of 0s)


That is of course ignoring the days/weeks/months? it would take to get up to such speeds.
 
2017-04-14 02:39:54 PM  

BlazeTrailer: electricladyland: We need to build this faster, mars isn't far enough. The suns going to blow, we only have 14 billion years. Get on it guys... * incites motivation.

This is one of the reasons I don't fully understand Mars. It doesn't buy us much. Let's look at moons that can support life, have tidal energy, and are protected by the parent planet's magnetosphere. And the gravity would help protect us as well (though may draw risk toward us too). In theory we would have to worry less about being star-dependent.


The solar energy on those distant moons is much much lower, so we'd have to have nuclear power for all of our systems including heating. Doable, certainly.  Mars is just a stepping stone, and yes, not long term habitable, but the amount we would learn as a species from trying to get there would be worth it.
 
2017-04-14 02:40:47 PM  
The headline (and really the article itself) is kind of ridiculous.  The article is actually arguing that a rocket must travel slower than previously theoretically believed possible, but the headline is spinning it as if there's some new theoretical way to achieve high relativistic speeds.

Right now, relativity doesn't set an upper limit on how close to the speed of light you can get:  theoretically at least, you can go to 0.99999999999999c or as close as you like.  This professor is using some dubious quantum gravity-inspired arguments to claim that there is actually a theoretical maximum speed limit a rocket that is less than the speed of light, around 0.99999c or whatever.

The paper is not making any engineering claims about whether it is practical to achieve this speed limit.
 
2017-04-14 02:41:04 PM  
Does the good professor have any ideas on how to construct a craft that can take the rate of acceleration necessary to achieve that speed, preferably without self destructing?
 
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