General Question

ragingloli's avatar

What is the least energy intensive option for timely interstellar travel?

Asked by ragingloli (47296points) April 16th, 2015

For example, you want to travel to Proxima Centauri in less than a few years.
Which takes less energy, creating an artificial wormhole between Earth and PC, or using an Alcubierre-White warp drive travelling at, let us say, 10c?
What other options exist that are allowed by current physics?

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21 Answers

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osoraro's avatar

Current technology? Not possible.

ragingloli's avatar

I am not asking about current technological feasibility.

talljasperman's avatar

I would rent @ragingloli ‘s ship

talljasperman's avatar

Astral traveling would work but you would have to have a base first.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

I would wager a wormhole would work the best. It seems that if we can fold dimensions in such a way – we can significantly shorten the distance, thereby shortening the time taken to travel it. If we have the technology to do that, making the precise measurement required to make the trip instantaneous shouldn’t be a problem.

osoraro's avatar

@ragingloli I misunderstood the question. You said “allowed by current physics”. I read it too fast. I thought you had meant, “Allowed by current technology.”

Wormholes, no. None have ever been observed, and you’d probably die going through them. Warp fields, no. They don’t exist. Probably what I would say is put people in a hibernating state, automatically ventilate and feed them, put electrodes on them to stimulate the muscles, and put them in a big vat of goo that will absorb the acceleration. Then put them on a ship that can accelerate at, say, 10g for years, and then flip around a decelerate at the same rate once you’ve reached halfway.

flutherother's avatar

Interstellar laser sails.

gorillapaws's avatar

If the EM Drive turns out to not violate the laws of physics, it could be one option.

talljasperman's avatar

A solar sail.

SmashTheState's avatar

Probably the most realistic option is a specialized AI housed in a quantum computer the size of a pea equipped with von Neumann nanomachines which can bootstrap manufacturing at the other end, slingshotted past the sun and then accelerated to an appreciable fraction of C with a solar sail. The nearer stars could be only a couple of decades away at those speeds. Hairless monkeys are of course never going to go to the stars in aluminum cans full of food, water, air, and astronaut poop.

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dabbler's avatar

It’s speculated that an AW drive will take the energy equivalent of a largish planet or smallish star.

A wormhole is a said to require mastery of energy on the scale of fractions of galaxies.

So, AW wins that one.

I suspect there is something else we can do related to manipulation of the subatomic-scale dimensions described by string theory, the ones beyond 3 spatial dimensions and one time dimension. But I don’t have any idea how to calculate how much energy that approach would take to deploy.

talljasperman's avatar

How about a super powerful teleporter?

ragingloli's avatar

the most recent estimate is actually less than 700kg

Afos22's avatar

So what you would need to do is launch a space craft from earth and go toward the moon. You would narrowly pass the moon, and using the moons gravity, you would slingshot around back towards, gaining speed from the moons gravitational pull. You would slingshot around the earth in a similar fashion, gaining speed, and then move into bigger and better gravitational slingshots, Saturn, Jupiter, The Sun. Picking up more and more speed, until you direct the last slingshot towards your destination.

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dabbler's avatar

@ragingloli 700kg sounds manageable, especially if the device can take any old mass like the “Mr Fusion” of ‘Back to the Future’. That’s something we could do with trash or old tires etc.

Esedess's avatar

The problem with wormhole travel is that it requires 2 linked gates. One to enter the wormhole from your departure destination, and one to reopen subspace at the arrival destination. This is further complicated by the clutter of gravitational fields and naturally occurring wormholes (black-holes) along the straight path between the 2 gates. In a best case scenario, with no cosmic interference along the trajectory, you would still need to have been to the destination and constructed a catch gate prior to this trip. But, after those two gates were constructed, it would be the most energy efficient way to go.
Theory also suggest that you could just construct one gate at this end and point it at a naturally occurring black-hole to use as the catch… But that’s only in theory, and without consideration to the continued existence of the craft. A naturally occurring wormhole would destroy anything we could build. It would bring you back into normal space and crush you at the same time, unless we could outfit a ship with an opposing field… But if we could pack all the energy and technology required for that ominous feat into a single vessel, then you’d be able to warp space-time locally around the ship and throw yourself in and out of sub-space without the need for gates in the first place.

SmartAZ's avatar

“This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.”

There are no helpful answers in this topic. A big part of science is conjecture, which means making up “What if” scenarios. Often those scenarios get discussed a lot for a long time, and people begin to assume they are true just because they keep hearing them. The big bang is one such scenario. The big bang exists only in somebody’s imagination. It was needed to explain implications of the expanding universe conjecture, which was needed to explain the receding galaxy conjecture, which was based on the observed red shift in light from galaxies and the assumption that the red shift is caused by the Doppler effect. If that assumption is wrong then the entire collection of conjectures is without support. There are other possible causes of red shift.

Wormholes, Alcubierre Drives, and so on are conjectures, offered to stimulate imagination but never observed in real life. So the only valid response to your question is “I dunno.”

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