Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Set The Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Given the human lifespan, our fragility, and, if general relativity theory is actually true, the dilation of time, it seems that plausible and practical interstellar travel is a will o' the wisp, a pipe dream that will never be realized.

I was born in the early '70's, which meant that I had a good amount of "golden age" sci-fi to read. I watched Star Trek faithfully every day after school. I was a sucker[and still am] for anything related to outer space. Much of sci-fi and futuristic novels had either implicitly or explicitly the notion that humanity had solved the problem of supraluminous velocity, or, to put it bluntly, how to quickly get from A to B when A and B were thousands or even millions of light-years apart.

Now, in 2005, we're still worrying about putting a man on Mars. We've had a probe leave the solar system. But the only suggestions that I've seen for interstellar travel that seem even remotely plausible are the various ramjets and "scoopers" that slowly accelerate to c [the speed of light] over a few years and stay there. People would be put in suspended animation, or, more plausibly, generations of people would live on the vessel while the ship sailed through the large vacuums of space.

But even if, say, the 50th generation of the original crewmembers of such a ship arrived at whatever destination, how would they meaningfully communicate back to Mother Earth? This brings up again the limitations imposed by the speed of light.

When I was growing up in Baptist school in the 70's, there was this wood beam sticking up out of the ground with 4 or 5 tires of varying heights nailed to it. My friends and I would each sit on a different tire and either play Star Trek or spaceship, all while wearing our corduroy bellbottoms. I can't speak for my former fellow imaginary crewmates, but I had hoped that, by this age, I'd be in space. But, as of 2005, I'm still driving a car and firmly ensconced on terra firma.

I've heard of various other possibilities, which possibilities I'm not sure I know well enough to take the chance of garbling them while posting them here. These other possibilities for travelling large distances seem pretty farfetched, to say the least.

Speaking for myself, I've given up the idea of space travel in this lifetime. Even if commercialized space travel happens over the next 40-50 years, I'd imagine it would be so expensive that a middle-class Joe like myself couldn't afford a cruise to Mars. And, being a science officer [they wear the powder blue shirts] in whatever Space Corps develops looks like it will not be a reality either. But, if such a Space Corps does materialize, don't let the recruiter sucker you into being a red-shirt security guard!

What about black holes and other assorted singularities out there [if there are any such other types of singularities]? I remember that 1979 Disney movie The Black Hole that had that simply scrumptious and babe-a-licious older woman Yvette Mimieux [who also looked pretty good in The Time Machine as one of the Eloi] --- wait, I'm getting off topic here --- anyway, the ending was complete weirdo stuff. If I understand that movie, they go through the black hole and come out somewhere else in the universe. I don't know what the basis is, either mathematically or physically, for viewing a black hole as a gateway to some other part of the universe [or even a part of another universe]. I would think that you'd be crushed to death instantly, so even if 72 Lusty Virgins awaited your sensual commands on the other side, you wouldn't be around to enjoy it.

Going back to, I think, 1981, I played Starmaster on the wood-panelled Atari 2600 VCS, and warping across the galaxy there was taken for granted. Then, in '83, IIRC, a friend had the mighty Atari 400 computer and we played Star Raiders, where again one could warp to one's content [provided that you had enough energy]. All these made me want to travel through space. But, my travels are limited to NorCal traffic in a rather modest car. Yes, it is the PP-mobile, but I really want a spaceship, still, at age thirtysomething. :-(

What's the theological angle here? This is pure speculation, so take it with a grain or even a mountain of salt. What if the speed of light is designed to keep us hemmed in so that we can't spread our corruption to other parts of the galaxy, or, even the universe, where, just perhaps there are impeccable and rational life forms who don't need human corruption? Just a thought, and probably not an original one.

Here's another speculation from the comfort of the desk chair: perhaps exploring the universe that God created is part of the next life. Again, this is just a thought, and probably not original either.

I really don't mind any scenario, as long as Yvette Mimieux is part of it...


Blogger c.t. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 4:58:00 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

If that link is cut-off go back and click on the permanent link for the post, and it will show...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 5:00:00 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I understand that the odds that it's you are miniscule, but it's the only Yvette M. pic on that site that wasn't PG-ish, and I know Frank Turk reads your blog...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 5:03:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

c.t. --- please don't comment here. Please don't even come here anymore. Porn links are not welcome here at PP.

Take your act elsewhere. Any future comments you make will be deleted.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 11:27:00 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

The Pink Floyd song "Set the controls for the heart of the sun" is now replaying itself in my head thanks to your post title! <mock fuming> :)

Thursday, November 03, 2005 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

I should've named the post "Interstellar Overdrive." Too late now.

Thursday, November 03, 2005 5:01:00 PM  

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