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  #11  
Old Jan 25th 2013, 10:50 AM
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This thread is all about wild and unhinged speculations.

Lets just assume that sometime in the next couple of decades we invent fusion energy. That would help us get us past the big 21st century problem of oil depletion and global climate change.

So, assuming that we don't destroy this planet and modern society completely in the next half-dozen decades (as looks increasingly likely), and assuming that we do invent fusion in the near term, my question is, how long do you think it would take for humans to develop space travel technology?

Star Trek for example is set in the 25th century and they have warp-drive engines, transporters and replicators. Do you think this would be a realistic projection for the future?
Well, technically we have "space travel technology." With fusion we could probably develop better space travel technology, but true interstellar travel would still take years and years. The things that keep us from developing warp-drives, transporters, and replicators all seem to be different/more than just not having enough energy. Conceivably, we might stumble across one of them before we get to fusion.

Actually, what I find even less realistic about Star Trek's 25th Century than the technology, is their notion that, with all that tech in hand, humanity will manage to unify across all racial/religious/cultural divides, eliminate crime, poverty, war and money, and create an interstellar socialist utopia. I'm not sure I buy the line that the new technology which could potentially make us more powerful will also, ipso facto, make us better people.
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  #12  
Old Jan 25th 2013, 11:34 AM
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Well, technically we have "space travel technology." With fusion we could probably develop better space travel technology, but true interstellar travel would still take years and years. The things that keep us from developing warp-drives, transporters, and replicators all seem to be different/more than just not having enough energy. Conceivably, we might stumble across one of them before we get to fusion.

Actually, what I find even less realistic about Star Trek's 25th Century than the technology, is their notion that, with all that tech in hand, humanity will manage to unify across all racial/religious/cultural divides, eliminate crime, poverty, war and money, and create an interstellar socialist utopia. I'm not sure I buy the line that the new technology which could potentially make us more powerful will also, ipso facto, make us better people.
Much of the early hard core science fiction I read had distinct class divisions with imposed conditions that would be considered horrendous by the utopia crowd. Futuristic technology but the same human cultural failures. Nor were they penned in hopes of landing a TV or movie deal.
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Old Jan 25th 2013, 01:33 PM
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I don't think that we will develop fusion technologies before we develop cheap sustainable solar energy. I think that there might be some minimum energy needed to create fusion that is yet unknown and might be too large for current technologies. But that is more of a feeling that real scientific fact. We might end up with fusion, and if so we might develop the kind of space travel that will get us to planets near by and maybe to the nearest star.
but we won't be able to develop the kind of technology that will allow us to travel the galaxy a la star trek because fusion in of itself is not enough to break the relativistic effect.
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Old Jan 25th 2013, 07:01 PM
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To add some counter-productive criticism to the thread:
There is no theoretical or experimental sign of fusion becoming a realistic prospect in the foreseeable future.
In the current context, if it were discovered/invented it'd probably get patented and be too exclusive and/or prohibitively costly to make a substantial difference.
What most people tend to forget in the context of peak oil is that the loss of that resource is not just a problem for mobility or heating. The truly enormous array of petroleum derivatives will have to be substituted too and all at the same time.
Fusion alone wouldn't solve all problems, far from it.

As for speculation, I'll pass. We're probably all going to be wrong anyway.
I'm quite aware of the unlikelihood of nuclear fusion techology within the next couple of decades. That's why I made it a baseline assumption. Without that, all future speculations are likely to be nothing more than Mad-Max or apocalyptic scenarios.
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Old Jan 25th 2013, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dilettante View Post
Well, technically we have "space travel technology." With fusion we could probably develop better space travel technology, but true interstellar travel would still take years and years. The things that keep us from developing warp-drives, transporters, and replicators all seem to be different/more than just not having enough energy. Conceivably, we might stumble across one of them before we get to fusion.

Actually, what I find even less realistic about Star Trek's 25th Century than the technology, is their notion that, with all that tech in hand, humanity will manage to unify across all racial/religious/cultural divides, eliminate crime, poverty, war and money, and create an interstellar socialist utopia. I'm not sure I buy the line that the new technology which could potentially make us more powerful will also, ipso facto, make us better people.
I mentioned fusion power not as a source of power for space travel, but rather to address the looming doomsday scenarios here on earth with our fossil fuel supply problems and global climate change. Without fusion, I don't see how we can get past this century with going all Mad Max and once that happens, scientific research becomes moot.

I certainly agree with your critique of the utopian Star Trek universe. Our track record suggests that more technology just seems to make humans even more nasty than we were before.
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Old Jan 26th 2013, 12:53 PM
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Default Re: Future Science & Technology

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
This thread is all about wild and unhinged speculations.

Lets just assume that sometime in the next couple of decades we invent fusion energy. That would help us get us past the big 21st century problem of oil depletion and global climate change.

So, assuming that we don't destroy this planet and modern society completely in the next half-dozen decades (as looks increasingly likely), and assuming that we do invent fusion in the near term, my question is, how long do you think it would take for humans to develop space travel technology?

Star Trek for example is set in the 25th century and they have warp-drive engines, transporters and replicators. Do you think this would be a realistic projection for the future?
I think that what's more likely to make space travel possible in the short term than engineering that allows near-light-speed or greater-than-light speed travel is longer-lived humans. Scientists have already had success stopping and even reversing the aging process in mice.

There are two variables that we control when it comes to interstellar travel (assuming that distance is fixed and discounting the concept of a "worm-hole" or something along those lines): speed of travel and lifespan. Most people focus on the former, assuming the latter to be fixed. But if humans could live indefinitely, spending a few decades or even centuries traveling to another solar system becomes at least feasible (psychological ramifications of living for centuries and spending decades cooped up in a ship notwithstanding).
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Old Jan 27th 2013, 09:56 PM
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I think that what's more likely to make space travel possible in the short term than engineering that allows near-light-speed or greater-than-light speed travel is longer-lived humans. Scientists have already had success stopping and even reversing the aging process in mice.

There are two variables that we control when it comes to interstellar travel (assuming that distance is fixed and discounting the concept of a "worm-hole" or something along those lines): speed of travel and lifespan. Most people focus on the former, assuming the latter to be fixed. But if humans could live indefinitely, spending a few decades or even centuries traveling to another solar system becomes at least feasible (psychological ramifications of living for centuries and spending decades cooped up in a ship notwithstanding).
Yes, that seems like a reasonable projection for 'near-term' space travel - rather more realistic than some kind of 'warp-jumping' technology. Some of the nearest star systems are 'only' about 10-17 light years away. Travelling at 1/10th of the speed of light would be about a 100 to 170 year journey, which could be 'doable' with some kind of anti-aging or cyrogenic technology.

Unfortunately, this kind of approach begs the question of "why?" One normally establishes distant 'colonies' because they are profitable for trading, or because they are sources of important raw materials, or because they are strategically important. Undertaking this kind of a long distance colonization seems rather expensive and therefore unlikely without largescale political sponsorship (like an 'Apollo program').
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Old Jan 27th 2013, 10:08 PM
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I suppose I should come clean about my ulterior motives in this thread. I am dabbling with the idea of writing a science fiction type novel, so I'm toying with some ideas about space and the potential for space travel over the course of the next half-dozen centuries.

I've always been intrigued by the idea of earth-based society growing ever larger and outwards into the solar system and to the stars beyond. I like to speculate about the relative near-term beginnings of the process, rather than just skip ahead a few thousand years when everything was already invented or established long ago. That being said, I really would like to have space-travel technology for a science fiction novel. I'm just trying to think of the best way to handle the idea of it.

Being the student of history that I am, I'm intrigued by the idea of making up future history for amusement and entertainment - and perhaps the setting of a galactic space novel. So that's the origin of this thread (reading Dune does this to me!).

Anyone got any more ideas?
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Old Jan 27th 2013, 10:17 PM
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Default Re: Future Science & Technology

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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Yes, that seems like a reasonable projection for 'near-term' space travel - rather more realistic than some kind of 'warp-jumping' technology. Some of the nearest star systems are 'only' about 10-17 light years away. Travelling at 1/10th of the speed of light would be about a 100 to 170 year journey, which could be 'doable' with some kind of anti-aging or cyrogenic technology.

Unfortunately, this kind of approach begs the question of "why?" One normally establishes distant 'colonies' because they are profitable for trading, or because they are sources of important raw materials, or because they are strategically important. Undertaking this kind of a long distance colonization seems rather expensive and therefore unlikely without largescale political sponsorship (like an 'Apollo program').
There is a sucker born every minute. Two firms I'm aware of are attempting to raise capital for eventual harvest of precious metals (?) from asteroids and space debris. Sounds like a 401k manager investment.
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Old Jan 27th 2013, 10:33 PM
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Default Re: Future Science & Technology

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This is certainly reasonable and rational. Any intelligent observer looking at earth future 50 years now is faced with the high probability that your pictures will be exactly what it will look like, given our present course.

That's why I predicated this thread discussion on the baseline assumption that fusion power will be discovered sometime in the next few decades. Without that, I fear your photos will become all too realistic. Fusion energy is the minimum baseline of technology for human society to keep growing upwards and outwords. Without it, I fear we are doomed to watching our fossil fuel sources dwindle away while the planet's climate becomes increasingly problematic.

Just remember, that as the oil crisis hits us harder and harder, that will act as a major drag on development and the economy, inducing long term recessions and depressions and that will hinder any attempt to build new energy infrastructures needed.
I suppose... Although, just so you know, theer are many scientists here in Russia who believe oil is, in fact, infinite.
http://rense.com/general75/zoil.htm

I don't know. Certainly, Russia still seems to have enough oil. Places like Bashkortostan are full of it

Tatarstan too

You go there, you see them pumping steadily everywhere. Russia's oil breast is not running dry any time soon

And, of course, Russian oil platforms are also running full on the Caspian and on the Northern seas


And the tankers are not stopping either



No, I have faith in our oil industry. And, okay... some good money invested in it too

The ecologists, Greenpeace and such, protest against oil.

But they do not have so much support
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