I found this article the other day and it has some very interesting points on how, realistically, we would travel to another star and or planet. I used the word realistically because it made sure to shoot down all the sifi stuff that would and could potentially make this journey very easy. But I think the purposes of this article was to show how difficult a journey like this could truly be through interstellar space.
First I wanted to say that I do not like saying things are impossible, I don’t like to say that anything is truly IMpossible, meaning that it could never ever ever happen. That is a very bold statement in my opinion and I think is a very serious claim especially when it comes to things of this nature. I would argue that we know and understand maybe about 5 to 10 percent of our universe, so to make a claim like this is somewhat silly in my opinion. Saying that FTL travel is impossible is simply silly in my opinion, for the simple reason that we do not know enough about our universe. Yes, currently with our technology it is not possible, but that does not mean that it is truly IMpossilbe, meaning that nature does not allow it. In my expert opinion FTL might be possible, we just have not figured out how to do it yet and or lack the technology. 150 Years ago if you told someone that you could talk to someone on the other side of the planet instantaneously they would say no way that is impossible, nature does not allow for that. Well , it is possible, just at that time we did not have satellites and or cell phones, basically we did not have the technology to achieve this feat. At the end of the article the author makes mention to this and more or less changes her tune.
What I think is kind of funny is that everything that is discussed in the article is all stuff I have talked about before on my previous posts. Albeit I did not have any so called “experts” to refer to in any of my posts. But I will say that one thing that I never really talked about in depth was the idea of putting humans to sleep for extended periods of deep space travel. This idea is certainly interesting and there are many animals that accomplish this feat for months at a time, such as bears. However, that sort of hibernation is not exactly what we are talking about when it comes to deep space travel. What we are discussing is the more or less stopping of all function at a cellular level by cooling down the body.
The key to and problem here is the cooling down of the body. As the article states chemistry slows down as the temperature drops, but it does not cease all together. Also there is a lot of damage that occurs on the cellular level when the body temperature is lowered. Crystals begin to form in cells, from the water in the cells, which can damage them. Obviously this is a problem when it comes to this discussion. Any time any sort of cellular destruction occurs that is going to be a problem.
Despite all the fascinating aspects discussed in the article the authors did not mention the idea of dehydrating a body to the point where there is almost no water in a cell, therefore no, or very few crystals can from causing little to no damage in the cells. I am certain there is a point to where a body would die without enough water, we know that can and has happened to people before, but there has to be a point or a level of extreme dehydration where the body can still function. I would describe this point as the Dehydration Point (clever name I know). A point where the body will begin to shut down if it loses any more water, sort of like it’s no turning back point. I would imagine this system could be implemented from a saline solution given intravenously to astronauts. They could be given just enough water or fluid to keep their bodily functions functioning. I would think this could potentially help in the hibernation process. But if we could travel faster that the speed of light, then none of this will matter.
As I mentioned in my opening statement I do not think FTL travel is impossible, we simply just do not know enough about the universe or have the technology to achieve it. Think about all the fascinating things we know about electricity. We can manipulate it, store it, carry it with us, use it in a variety of ways only because we know and understand most of if not all of its properties. Now apply that same principle to the universe and you see what I am getting at. I believe that if we can eventually reach an higher understanding of our universe, then we could certainly begin to manipulate it as we do electricity or any number of other things we fully understand.
One of the last things the article mentions is biological engineering astronauts for space travel. I have mentioned this before and think it could possibly be one of the easiest and most cost effective in terms of energy and money that we could achieve in the next 50 years or so. Relatively speaking I think it is the only solution mentioned that is probably within our grasp in the grand scheme of things. However, even if tomorrow we crack the genetic code and are able to manipulate genes in any shape or fashion we want, I think that will open up the door for other political and social debates. Just because we can manipulate a person’s genes that does not mean we should. Personally I do not have a problem with it, but this sort of science will certainly bring out some craziness no matter which side of the spectrum you are on.
While a child is in the womb if a scientist could fix potential problems, eliminate certain diseases that are hereditary, or any other number of issues, why not? Think of the potential savings in future health care cost. If you could pay $5,000 or $10,000 possibly more to have a perfectly healthy child that has been rid of all genetic diseases and genes that are predisposed to cause cancer or any other ailments, what parent would not pay that? Would you pay a large lump sum to all but guarantee that you would be healthy, ridding your body of any chance of developing any genetic disease? I think I would certainly entertain the possibility, especially if insurance paid for some of it. Although, if through this process everyone was mostly healthy then I am not sure what that would do to health insurance premiums?
From there, there is the potential to create the near, genetically, perfect human. Going further we could certainly design humans for specific jobs, but in theory this sounds good and practical, it could also open the door to a genetic class system that is the perfect setting for a dystopian sifi novel. But perhaps this sort of genetic manipulation would be only used on astronauts and they would be designed for deep space travel.
Genetic manipulation is certainly a slippery slope, but in my opinion the good by far and large outweighs any bad that a rational person can argue. Perhaps in the future astronauts will be built and grown rather than born and trained.