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Starships

Posted by: Star_Voyager - Mon Aug 30, 2004 12:06 am
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Starships 

Are Starships likely to happen soon?
Yes 19%  19%  [ 8 ]
No 81%  81%  [ 34 ]
Total votes : 42

Starships 
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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 28, 2005 2:30 pm
I know - the husband of my sister has been habilitated successfully last december and my sister herself has been Assistant Professor although she hadn't ready the Habilitation - fate didn't give her a chance: she died last year...

There is a debate about the requirement of a Habilitation study here in Germany - there are pros and contras of it - as usual.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 28, 2005 8:27 pm
Wow. This is rather absurdly off-topic. But I see your point, Ekkehard: a degree is not worth very much if nobody knows what it means.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 29, 2005 7:27 am
Hello, spacecowboy,

yes, the last few posts were off-topic - the first a little bit and the last more - and we should return to the topic of this thread.

But sometimes such off-topic posts in a thread increase the understanding of each other - these few off-topic posts here concerned german academic titles as a source of informations about the background of german persons.

The initial off-topic post clarified to me that other posters here may have the question if my background is below bachelor-level, at bachelor-level or at master-level - or above master-level. This may of meaning for the look of posters on my own posts. So I provide a terminating explanation about my title and other german titles here:

The title "Diplom-..." cannot be compared with bachelor or master anyway. The "Diplom" is required to have access to the chance to get the title "Doktor" which in turn is required to get access to the chance to get a "Habilitation". To have a "Habilitation" is required to become a Professor. To get my "Diplom" I head to write a scientific study and to accomplish five scientific exams.

Scientific studies for a "Diplom" - called "Diplom-Arbeit" - have the only purpose to prove that someone knows to do scientific work - they don't conribute anything to scientific progress. But this all together is a proof that someone really is able to contribute to scientific progress - and then he can do that by writing a dissertation (called "Doktor-Arbeit" in german". A dissertation contributes to the scientifc progress some way. Additionaly someone who wants get the title "Doktor" must chosse between two alternatives: a) additional exams (would be five if I myself were the one) or b) a "Rigorosum". A "Rigorosum" is a scientific discussion with professors about the dissertation - my sister choosed this alternative (but she was no Economist). A "Habilitation" in principle is similar but while a "Doktor-Arbeit" consideres a special topic or problem of one sub-discipline a "Habilitations-Arbeit" - or more correct "Habilitations-Schrift" - considers a larger and more general topic or problem of a range of sub-disciplines. To be able to do so is considered to be required for a professor because a professor has to "teach" students at least one sub-discipline and the fundamentals of his science.

There are sciences without a "Diplom" but with a "Magister" - a "Magister-Arbeit" has to or can be written. The "Diplom" is considered to be superior to the "Magister" - but this is of no meaning for the access to the "Doktor". The "Magister" can't be compared to "Bachelor" or "Master".

A vague comparison might be possible perhaps to "Fachhochschule" (Bachelor) and university or "Wissenschaftliche Hochschule" (Master) - but be very very cautious.

I have written my "Diplom-Arbeit" about a topic of the sub-discipline competition, got insights in additional sub-disciplines by the bdvb, by books, journals and by my profession and job - by learning from an asking others and by thinking myself.

And I am always very intersted in other sciences which often if not always have topics and sub-disciplines in common with each other and with my own science: I am interdisciplinary oriented. ...

And all this I use here at the board and in this thread as well as in other threads.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:43 pm
Hrmph. A bachelor's degree simply requires courses, while a Master of Science degree (I'm not sure about Master of Arts or such) requires a Thesis -- reasonably short paper on some sort of particular research problem. You essentially have to prove that you can do research without your instructors standing over you with whips. A Doctor of Philosophy (the only real doctorate -- the names go by the old Greek Tree of Knowledge, hence the fact that a mathematician and an engineer both get Ph.D's, instead of Sc.D's [Doctor of Science -- a very rare and little-accepted title]) must write and have published their own dissertation, and face a panel of review -- essentially an oral exam on said dissertation. Dissertations are usually the length of a short novel, whereas a thesis is more like the articles published in scientific research journals.

This sounds somewhat like your own Diplom and Doktor progression -- although I certainly wish that we had such a "Habilitation" process in this country. I know many people with advanced degrees who are nearly incapable of teaching. On the other hand, we don't seem to have any corollary to your Magister.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 29, 2005 12:59 pm
Hello, spacecowboy,

to be habilitated doesn't mean that that scientist knows to teach really. There are many professors who don't know to teach really.

From your informations it seems as if the Tethis required for the Master of Science degree is or may be superior to some Diploms. A Diplom not necessaryly consideres a particular research problem. In Enterprise Economics a "Diplom-Arbeit" simply is a study for a company for purposes of practice mostly - so in these cases it's no research problem. In Political Economics it's different but only partially research problems are considered. When I was at that point I had the choice between a three-month-"Diplom-Arbeit" which is designed by a professor and is listed in a catalogue and a six-month-"Diplom-Arbeit" which is free designed by the student and in general is expected to be focussed on research and science.

It's very hard to do comparisons to the angloamerican system - and I don't know if a "Fachhochschule" will force courses only or if they will continue to insist on a "Diplom-Arbeit".

Thank You Very Much for your informations - they may be of much value for one of my workgroups in the bdvb.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:20 pm
During this thread I mentiones several problems for starships and for travel to other stars nearby. If I remember correct (I didn't read back through this thread) I mentioned logistical problems too because of the extreme distances between stars and their planetary systems. Space stations in the interstellar space look problematic to me.

Additionaly I said that generation ships might prove to be problematic because of political developments onboard of such ships and other circumstances.

But what do you think about the recently detcted object which the astronomers have problems to consider to be a planet but is larger than Pluto? One or two scientists at least assume that more objects of that size are going to be detected during the next years - and at least one of them assumes that there will be Mars- or Earth-sized objects in those distances too.

If they exist in the solar system then they might exist in other systems too - including those in close vicinity of the solar system. Perhaps Alphy Centauri is orbited by such objects.

Then there might be solution for going to other stars. If at least some of the distant Pluto-, Mars- or Earth-sized objects are in distances to each other that are not farther than Pluto's distance to Earth then they could be used for planet-hopping towards the outmost boundaries of the solar system. If at the same time the according objects of Alpha Centauri are in such a constellation too and are around closest to those objects of the solar system then the planet-hopping could be continued to Alpha Centauri's system.

So planet-hopping could get us to Alpha Centauri. At each planet used for hopping stations would be installed then there would be reasonable infrastructure which could assist communication - no vehicle would need to communicate to Earth directly but could communicate to the closest object where a station is installed. This could simplify the operation of unmanned probes as well as it could be used by mankind to expand into the system of Alpha Centauri.

What's currentlly known about the newly detcted object is that the surface seems to consist of frozen methane. So ISRU could be applied to provide new propellant to the probe or the system ship - there are XPRIZE temas using methane as propellant. It would be interesting too if at those objects or at Pluto He3 and Deuterium could be found too.

The newly detected object requires more than 500 years to terminate one orbit. More distant object will require more years - so a favourable constealltion may last long - a non-favourable too. But if there are a lot such objects then the probability is significant that there nearly always will be at least one favourable constellation.

What do you think about it? What about the one aspect or the other? Could there be very faint stars in similar distance as Alpha Centauri but not detected yet because of being that faint?



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Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 08, 2005 2:56 pm
This sounds similar to another thought had by an SF author (don't know who, but the title of the novel was Permanance), that what we consider interstellar space would basically be saturated with brown dwarf stars, and that starships would bounce between those, using the magnetic fields to accelerate along the way. Both that and your Kuiper Belt concept are great ideas (Next Rest Stop: 1.05 ly), reducing the time spent in empty space between stopovers. Unfortunately, without a good engine that can produce constant, moderate thrust (shoot, I'd settle for 0.25g), they're both also somewhat academic. The idea of using solar sails or ion engines just doesn't fly in my opinion (not that my opinion counts for much in the grand scheme of things, anyway).

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Post    Posted on: Mon Aug 08, 2005 3:30 pm
Hello, spacecowboy,

of course your thoughts count - they are ranging among the best here seen from my point of view.

I was thinking about the planet hopping because it would remove problmes I was talking about earlier: repairs, machine shops and much more.

Regarding drives and engines I have in mind the pulsed fusion engine - according to people like Ulrich Walter such a vehicle could achieve velocities high above what engines ar capable of seriously under design and development currently - plasma drives included.

The idea of planet hopping would remove some problems mentioned in this thread only - you are right, it's academic. The complete thread is - for the next decades or even centuries at least. But why not worjking out it farther and more detailed.



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Post socioeconomic considerations   Posted on: Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:54 pm
The topic of interstellar travel is an interesting one both from a practical and theoretical perspective. Setting aside the technological problems for a minute, what about the political feasibilty?

I recall from one of Asimov's essays - and I trust him to have done the math properly - interstellar travel would be possible if a craft could sustain an acceleration of 1G for a year measured in ship's time. By that point its relative velocity would be such that time dilation would bring a large region of local space within range of the vessel. Of course the craft would have to turn 180d and reverse acceleration for another year if it hoped to stop at the target solar system. Still, two years travel time seems a reasonable compromise for the crew on board.

On the other hand, time dilation would have the effect of generations passing back on Earth. One has to wonder what kind of political and economic system could support such an enterprise, given the problems of funding projects of only a few years duration. How could people in the public or private sector be persuaded to finance an endeavor that neither they, nor their children, nor their great-great-grandchildren could hope to see the slightest return from? The closest analog I can think of is for someone who is terminally ill to buy space in a cryogenic chamber in hopes of being revived in a more medically advanced civilization. And in that case, the benefit is obvious and the cost is something that can be paid for by the individual. What arguments would apply to paying for such an enormous undertaking as an interstellar space mission with such an incredibly long range goal?


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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 09, 2005 6:57 am
There are at least two "concepts" of interstellar travel discussed in this thread. Planet-hopping would mean a kind of concepts where the focus isn't on velocities and especially not on relativistic velocities. So the political impacts and questions are different - the questions of political meaning would be the investments into equipment at very far distant planets, the topic to send astronauts there, the required periods to get essential results and the minimu period of operation needed etc.

So it would be interesting to look into how it could be done, how fast, on what basises and much more. When I thought about the travel that way yesterday in the evening I considered an evolutionary expansion into another system (Alpha Centauri) which would occur by automats and probes for a long time first. But it could be different also.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:50 pm
Thank you for the very flattering compliment, Ekke; my point was that the things said here will likely not have much impact on how technology develops, or how it is implemented -- or maybe it will........ Of course, I don't have the slightest problem with continuing this thread and keeping on with the thought experiments. That's what I'm in training to do for a living, so I'm all for it.

And perigee's got it right: if we get a good moderate-and-constant-acceleration drive, we can get to another star in a reasonable amount of time. And generations is still far better than the millenia required by other methods, such as a solar sail.

The problem being the drive itself. We got ones that'll punch you at 20g's or so for a few seconds, and we got ones that'll run forever with an acceleration of something like one-thousandth of one g. We ain't got that mythical 1-g constant-acceleration drive.

Of course, my thought is that by the time that Generations Ship gets to its destination, it'll be likely to find a flourishing society of people who started out hundreds of years after them -- when the magic way of builidng an FTL drive was developed.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Aug 09, 2005 3:48 pm
I'm puzzled a little bit - I left the acceleration/velocity-question aside in favor of infrastructural thoughts. If there are a lot of objects out there of a size between Pluto and Earth then they could be used like the stones in the see the surfaces of which are a little bit above the water so that it is possible to step on them and to achieve the other shore.

The stones seem to be larger and could remove some challenges of generation ships:

1. Plants for getting fodd could be made grow on those planets - it wouldn't be required to provide greenhouses or something like that on the ship.

2. Replacement parts foor repairs etc. could be provided on those planets - the ship wouldn't have to carry them

3. On those planets medicals and other equipment for health and medical purposes could be provided.

The list could be completed.

All this could save time, space for stored, crewmen and the like.

Next no generation ship that travels directly from Earth to another star would be required because each generation could travel the distance planned and settle then until the next generation continues the travel. Those planets wouldn't be a nice environment - nor is the ship. If portions of the ship could be made a nice environment a portion of each of those planets could be made a nice environment too.

The ship would still be a star ship - nothing has been changed except the required velocity: it could be reduced.

Faster-than-light-velocities are required only if the generation that begins the flight should arrive at the destination themselves. But then it wouldn't be a generation ship any longer.

Because of this I have been speaking of different concepts used in this thread.

Prior to such a travel reconnaissance is required by robots and probes - these too could use those planets. and at each of those planets interferometers, telescopes, sensors and the like could be installed to try to look as deep and detailed as possible into the system which will be the destination of the travel.

Where do you see the problem with this? Partially it's similar to installing a radio telescope at the far side of the moon...



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:07 pm
Whar about starting the construction of an unmanned star probe - as a first precursor of starships in the next 50 years by sending components into a solar orbit beyond Neptune, keep tracking their positions for many decades and let mount and integrate them automatically and robotically?

I suppose it to be possible that they can be disintegrated again if required or desired. Parts and components might return to Earth by applying reusable interplanetary vehicles.

The components might be small and light and travel at low speed by light sails while they might use conventional or electrice drives to enter the desired orbit and folding the light sail.

The low speed would make it easier to recall components if desired.

What about it?



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