Monday, July 3, 2017

The Way Humans Will Get to the Stars #Science #Space #Fantasy

If you follow this type of space material at all, likely you're familiar with the fact astronomers are finding exoplanets around other stars even faster than kids find toys in their McDonald's Happy Meals.  There's been a tremendous diversity of such planets discovered and more are found every day.

Ed:  are there toys in Happy Meals?

No idea.  I don't have any kids.

The tiny problem with all these exoplanets is we have no way to reach them.  China launched their mondo monster, the Long March, but blew it up after liftoff due to some technical failure.  That booster is one of the most powerful on Earth but it's still a pipsqueak next to a starship.

Note:  it was unusual to see such a large booster fail since the Chinese space program is highly-sophisticated and usually it seems like programs anywhere get past the point of blowing up primary boosters to then evolve into working out other types of problems but those ones don't usually return.

Interstellar travel is one of the future legends much like fusion power in which it will be really cool if they ever figure out how to do it but that doesn't seem likely any time soon.

There's tremendous research going into neural networks, insertion of external processing capability into the brain with various artifices, and the extension of all of this toward the idea of the virtual human who lives beyond the confines of a physical body.

Ed:  if you're going to throw the tired diatribe of Scientists are Creating Electronic Souls, I'm outta here.

I don't know that one, mate ... but ... hum a few bars and maybe we can pick it up.

And then it got a little bit loose.

Likely you have seen or heard of the research which is heading in this direction and the current article isn't for throwing an itemized list of citations but the Regulars know that's typically the Rockhouse way.  The object is to get a bit looser than that but still with respect for the science at the root of it.

Ed:  oh, right then ... you're going to send the electronic souls which are not really electronic souls on a beam of light to another star.

Well, thanks for sucking the heart and soul out of my story.

Ed:  you're welcome.  You would have droned on about extending the idea of exopeople who live outside their bodies and then you will go on about sending that electronic signal in the form of light through space.

Well, yes, I was going to do that ... but ... I'm not stopped.  There's more.

Sending that light beam to another star or, much better, to another planet is a nice trick but it won't do anything unless there is some type of pre-installed kit on that exoplanet to receive it.

Ed:  of course we need a robo ship flying out to build all this kit and assemble it as necessary on the exoplanet ahead of time.

Sure, that's true, but there's still the Time Dilation Effect even when the starship does not exceed the speed of light.  Therefore, by objective time on Earth, the spacecraft may take a century to reach the other star.

Ed: fair enough but we're going by subjective time on the starship and ...

We start sending the light signals maybe twenty years after by Earth time since the starship should already have landed by subjective ship's time.

Ed:  the light signal will still take a couple of years to turn around for the acknowledgement on Earth it was successfully received.

Sure but the key is it will eventually be received and in about twenty-five years.

Note:  the above was vaguely stolen from a sci-fi story in which the problem to solve was the long propagation delay due to the speed of light when sending signals between Earth and, say, Mars.  They decided the answer was to do it the way women play cards and both ends never stop talking / transmitting.  That analogy may be offensive to some but, after watching "The View," the approach seems logical.

Ed:  we will get to the stars the same way they got here.  Gee, that's so poetic.

Isn't it, tho.  So start writing and stop bothering me, Poet Man.

There's only one thing which comes from sending humans directly to some other planet in that they become dead humans in short order since we know far less about any given exoplanet than we even know about Mars where we will also wind up as dead meat unless the neo Martians are as smart and talented as Matt Damon.  (Ref:  "The Martian")

Note:  the Rockhouse has confidence that really will happen since we're not convinced politicians are humans much less represent us for anything.  We will get there.

Ed:  only because the idiots in the Air Force want a military base on Mars!

Sure, that's true but that makes it sound like you have no choice.

Meanwhile, we want this at a level beyond that or many levels and we want to be sure the astronauts we send somewhere won't immediately die because of some horrible circumstance we could not see or anticipate.  Therefore, we will send robos to build the receiving station and then we will visit by light.  It may well be our destiny that we never physically set foot on another star's planets but that doesn't preclude building a neural network in a robo which is so clever it can sense the feeling of the ground.

That robo is you and those feelings come to you.  However, there's still the You back on Earth and have a ball figuring out how it works when there are all these extensions of yourself all over the place.

On that cheery note, the Rockhouse is out.

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