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Thread: The Starship is ready. But where will you go and what will you find? Do you even need to be sure of such details?!

  1. #1 The Starship is ready. But where will you go and what will you find? Do you even need to be sure of such details?! 
    Forum Junior Double Helix's Avatar
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    So your Starship is fully stocked and ready to travel, and given a very generous top speed of 0.5 c. But how will you know where to go? You are not likely able to take food and supplies to last for many decades of travel. Clearly one would need to make a travel plan from what can be observed from Earth - telescopic views of "likely" destinations. With high resolution scopes, one might be able to find at least a watery world with an oxygen atmosphere (highly desirable), and with a stable "sun". This might indicate life, since molecular oxygen is unstable and any planet with substantial amounts may very well have plants growing on it. But there must be a limit to what can be detected by imaging from Earth.

    So absent an "invitation" from a certifiable alien communication telling you for sure where to go, one assumes any "destination" must depend on images of other worlds made from Earth - those which might suggest the most likely place to touch down and either live, or failing that, at least obtain water (for drinking and making oxygen), plus organic material, etc., to make food, etc. to continue your star trek.

    Of course your Starship would have enormous telescopes (various types), of its own, deployed after it sets off, taking high resolution images of all planetary systems on your voyage. One hopes this could assist you to find a habitable world, with life modeled exactly like that on earth, itself an unlikely prospect. Onboard telescopes might require that you redirect your route as you travel, revealing more appealing planetary systems. This all seems to represent a very serious problem for interstellar travel : Knowing where to go, and reaching a place where you can survive, since it is probably a one-way trip with limited options to choose from!

    Perhaps someone in the travel industries can give us ideas of how to plan a one-way trip to a distant star system, and not having to worry about finding acceptable accommodations once you arrive. And be sure to take the correct "currency" to make sure you are welcomed with open arms, or tentacles, or whatever. Gold might seem like water to some aliens. How can you know what to give them so they do not eat you, or enslave you. Becoming fast friends would seem like a top priority, unless you happen to be the most advanced life form yet to appear on the "destination" planet.

    It seems that a great deal of planning would need to be made to cover all possible problems before starting such a trip, so travelers could hope to reach a survivable destination, at the very least.....


    Last edited by Double Helix; February 13th, 2021 at 05:24 PM.
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  3. #2  
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    I am very doubtful we will ever do interstellar travel; I think no ship that could make the trip could ever carry enough people and equipment and supplies to sustain itself on the voyage let alone establish a viable colony upon arrival. I think survival in space - aboard ships or stations, on planets, moons or asteroids - will require the capabilities of a large, advanced industrial economy to have a chance of success.

    I expect any planet with it's own life will be uninhabitable by humans; the chances the biochemistry will be compatible with ours seems low, even if it bears strong similarity to ours. Perhaps more dangerous the more similar, not less. Nothing in nature can make the variety of toxins, poisons and allergens that Life can come up with. Besides potential diseases, infestations and predations.

    Such a planet would be of great scientific interest although sustaining a mission objective over such distances and time frames would be difficult; the safety, survival and comfort of the crew will probably become the overriding priority and the further from Earth the less bound to follow through they may feel.

    I think whatever the destination it would involve establishing orbital habitation and re-supply from asteroid/comet type materials independent of any planets or else plan to stay aboard and for the ship to last longer than the lifespans of the crew.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    I am very doubtful we will ever do interstellar travel
    I have to agree with this, I wish we could but I just don't see it. Hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy, but we can't get there from here. Oh well...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    I expect any planet with it's own life will be uninhabitable by humans; the chances the biochemistry will be compatible with ours seems low, even if it bears strong similarity to ours. Perhaps more dangerous the more similar, not less. Nothing in nature can make the variety of toxins, poisons and allergens that Life can come up with. Besides potential diseases, infestations and predations.
    Aside from the unlikely aspect of interstellar travel, the biochemical "repertoire" of alien worlds is not likely to match our own in a number of respects.

    The stereochemistry alone, adopted by life on earth, would be an unlikely fit in other worlds. It would seem, certainly for some of these isomers, to be a random "selection" which occurred when life began. But that is just a guess since no one really knows enough about the details of abiogenesis. But just considering amino acids, 19 of the 20 have chiral centers, and we all use the L isomer (almost exclusively). It seems the only value of alien life would be the organic compounds that could be harvested and converted into chemicals we could use.

    In the end, however, this seems a minor barrier to our successful colonization of other worlds. Most people who fantasize about such endeavors do not understand the vast distances involved, and the rather delicate nature of life, at least on Earth. This also suggests that the probability of visitation from aliens is also unlikely. And if they tried to eat us, they might be poisoned by our stereochemical variations alone.

    Simple "colonies" on the Moon are excessively ambitious, to say nothing of Mars. It seems highly probable that travels to the stars only exists in the realm of "science fantasy", which plays well in the movies, but faces major hurdles in reality.
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