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  #11  
Old 04-27-2008, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Berengarius7 View Post
A few months ago, i saw a web article from a university in California that has actually built a working impulse engine that can drive a ship at 100,000 yards a second. ... It's closer than we think people.
100,000 yards/second comes out to around 3400 mph. At that rate it'll take 3 days to get to the moon (250,000 miles away), 416 days to get to Mars (assuming 34,000,000 miles closest approach), and 92 years to get to Neptune (assuming 2,800,000,000 miles closest approach), and that's not even close to leaving the solar system. This also doesn't take into account acceleration/deceleration times, because we don't have inertial dampers -- feel free to accelerate from 0 to 3400, just don't expect to experience it as anything but a thin paste across your aft bulkhead. We aren't "close" by any stretch of the imagination. Enterprise's opening title sequence may have lulled you into a false sense of linear technological progression, but the next logical jump from the (completed) ISS is not the Phoenix's prototype timewarp impeller.

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All we need now is practical artificial gravity, warp drive and deflector screens, and we're in business. ... All we have to do, is do it.
Hate to sound like a downer, but artificial gravity, warp drive, and deflector screens are some of the more improbable pieces of big tech in Star Trek, right up there with the transporter in being next-to-impossible with our current understanding of physics.

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We could have been standing on Mars ten years ago if we weren't dumb enough to quit trying. The human race really needs to get our collective heads out of our collective butts. Our sun isn't going to keep burning forever.
You make it sound like it is every human being's duty to reach Mars, and that they have failed as people if they don't. Also, we've had practical spaceflight for something like 50 years. The sun will keep burning for something like 5,000,000,000. We've got time.
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Old 04-28-2008, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by TrekkieTechie View Post
Hate to sound like a downer, but artificial gravity, warp drive, and deflector screens are some of the more improbable pieces of big tech in Star Trek, right up there with the transporter in being next-to-impossible with our current understanding of physics.
In fact there are other alternatives to deflector screens that are far more feasible at this stage than an actual deflector. Hull plating or something similar is far more likely. The mostly feasible idea is to charge the skin of a ship's hull then introduce a plasma to the exterior. The charge on the hull would cause to plasma to adhere to the hull and provide a barrier that could absorb radiation and particles instead of deflecting them which is harder to do. Of course the concept of plasma adhering to a polarized metal surface has only be done on small scale laboratory tests, and we are a long way off from even a working proof of concept prototype much less something that can be placed on a spacecraft.

The optimism for many of these technologies is great, but despite of lot of social, political, and economic obstacles, there are also real practical scientific and technological barriers that need to be overcome.
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Old 05-02-2008, 08:36 PM
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Well, if you want to surround the ship with a plasma, you'll need one hell of an electrical generator, MASSIVE magnetic coils, and about 50 years of research to be able to create a steady feild that large... Wouldn't it just be easier to point the ships tail at the sun, so that both it's mass and the propellant would act as a sheild? Also, for really intense solar storms, you could create a "storm shelter" inside the HAB module. Might not be comfortable, but it would suffice for the few days it takes for such a storm to pass.
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Old 05-03-2008, 12:34 AM
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Well it's only a concept that has only been done on small scale lab experiments. I doubt an alternative is going to be as simple as leaving a section of the ship pointed at the sun the whole time. First off you need some shielding in other faces of the ship any way because it's impossible for you to keep the tail pointed at the sun the whole trip. There will be times you'll need to adjust the ship's orientation for maneuvering. Secondly, there's probably a potential risk of heat damage to that section of the ship after extended periods of time facing the sun. And radiation shielding isn't as simple as putting a mass of metal in between you and the source. Certain forms of radiation can be safely blocked by metal, while other forms of radiation will actually be converted to another form of radiation by metal. You have to be very selective about the types of material you use to block radiation based on what type of radiation you deal with. I have to go back to my radiation safety manual, but for example I believe it's beta particles that you don't block with metal. The reason is because as the electrons pass by the atoms in the metal, they get drawn to the metal and change velocity. The change in velocity results in the beta particle losing energy and that energy is then given off as heat and x-rays (this is how X-ray machines work). So you may have shielded yourself from a beta particle, but now you're being bombarded by x-rays. I believe certain plastics are considered a safer shield in this case.

In reality, you don't need to surround the entire ship with the plasma. Just the habitable section of the ship. The real question is how thick of a layer do you really need.

Other options include placing the ship's water and liquid hydrogen fuel supplies in positions where they could provide shielding.
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Last edited by Akula2ssn : 05-03-2008 at 10:20 AM.
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:10 PM
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Thanks for reminding me of the wavelength/heat change. I'd forgotten about that. Actually, I seem to recall that berryllium changes most harmful radiation into heat... but I could be wrong about that. (It's been ages since I read up on this stuff... I generally just leave it to the experts) I think I remember that because that was the design for the mini-nukes for the old Orion pulse drive. They used a conical slug of the metal to transform the blast heading for the pusher plate into heat primarily, (the same way radiation from the sun is altered when it passes through glass, keeping you from tanning in your living room) thus greatly reducing the need for a shadow sheild.
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:20 PM
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Oh, and on the subject of social priorities: Yes, we're wasting huge amounts of money, effort, and lives in the middle east. But at the same time, we're also about to fire up the single largest supercollider in the history of the universe. (see the "BadAstronomy.com web blog for some details.) With it, we hope to figure out the last peices of the puzzle concerning super symetery, string theory, dark matter, and the Higgs feild equasions.

Mankind has always been this way... we slaughter and act like barbarians, while delving into subjects that reveal to us the innermost secrets of creation. It's frustrating when you think about what all that effort and money and people could have accomplished, if it had not been poured down the rathole of an unnesseccary war.

(Next time, don't elect a pinhead... or rather, allow an election to get so close, that one gets installed.)
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Old 05-03-2008, 02:49 PM
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Well it's also an issue with the fact that even though we are "one nation" but we are also 50 individual states each with its own interests. State representatives individually can waste a great deal of money on their own, and as a whole it's just as astronomical as a war effort. I mean let's face it, we love our bacon.

We also cannot ignore the unfortunate fact that we also tend to benefit from technological developments that were developed because of needs that arose during wartime. Because of the issues of armor piercing weapons that have been the cause of a lot of casualties, transparent aluminum has begun testing during the past few years. While the Air Force is testing it for military applications, interest has been expressed in it's application in hurricane areas.
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Last edited by Akula2ssn : 05-03-2008 at 03:04 PM.
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