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  1. #1
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    Exclamation RFC: Inter-Super Cluster Travel

    Hello!

    In one of my sci-fi stories I don’t travel between planets, stars, galaxies or even galactic clusters—I travel across dozens and even thousands of galactic super clusters. As far as I can tell, this is, not to put too fine a point on it, simply a matter of time. This is truly traveling across the universe and, if you add to this, as my story does, that you cannot accelerate past the speed of light, then you are really having the time of your life and a whole lot more. However, can it really ‘work’?

    Traveling across such distances is clearly possible, in fact it has been done, if by nothing else than by photons (light). Nevertheless, we must face it, if we cannot travel faster than light and we cannot do anything about the distances involved than the only thing we are left with is time so, what would it take besides lots of time?

    It would take:
    1. An enormous and renewable energy source.`
    2. Renewable, nanite based materials that would hold up to deep time (billions of years) without decaying.
    3. A sufficient renewable biosphere to supply air, water, food, etc.
    4. Immortal or at least very long lived beings.
    5. Hibernation chambers that could suspend life for millions of years at a time to keep our immortal beings from going insane by the passage of deep time.

    So, we have an energy source what will propel our craft up to .99999 the speed of light and power it for millions of years (in my story, this is two black holes). We have a structure that will survive both the distance and time and not decay or wear away. We also have a renewable planetary biosphere to provide the requirements of life for beings who will live long enough and we have a way to keep them sane. Finally, we have another not so little built-in advantage—the compression of time from not only our near light speed but also from our proximity to two singularities.

    Are we read to cast off?

    Well, that depends on how far (i.e. long) we want to go. There’s at least one element I’ve left out--the universe is expanding and, not only is that expansion already exceeding the speed of light if we look at our observable universe end to end, it is constantly accelerating. Eventually we will be stymied by this.

    Is there a way around this short of an FTL drive? I do not really want to tell you how my story gets around it but I can point in the general direction, which I’ll do in my next post.

    Rusty

  2. #2

    Interesting premise

    Well, for travel like that, a Dyson sphere would probably be your best bet. Failing that, maybe a Ringworld/Orbital/Halo.

    Something to consider regarding the expansion of the universe. As the "size" increases, more and more light is getting redshifted. In a few billion years, we wouldn't be able to see other galaxies, as the light would be redshifted too far down the spectrum. Our entire universe would then be reduced to the visible galaxy. How would that play into your storyline?

  3. #3
    Registered User livens's Avatar
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    Interesting concept. I have read several books that deal with traveling, or possibly traveling, insane distances. Some come up with really strong materials combined with massive ships to be able to survive the journey (Robert Reed's Marrow). And some use the propulsion system itself as a shield like in Poul Anderson's Tau Zero. Many other cool ideas that go away from transporting any actual 'bodies', either just data to get a mind somewhere or the information to create new life once you get there.

    Personally I think being able to build an entirely new ship in-situ combined with a generation style survival tactic would be the most realistic. Traveling at those speeds you can certainly collect enough materials to do so. I am not overly optimistic about being able to build something that would last long enough. Think of it like your own body. Its not able to last more than a few years without everything breaking down. Natures solution, gradually replace every piece cell by cell so that every 4 years or so you have a completely new body For a spaceship it could just be part of the maintenance schedule that every component has a set life span and is replaced before a catastrophic failure happens.

    As for hibernation and long life... I don't think so. Without some super-science method of preserving living tissue I think after a few thousand years you would end up with a pile of goop once thawed.

  4. #4
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    This is the same concept used in Alastair Reynolds's Pushing Ice. Time dilation plays a huge role in this. As in the Reynolds novel, it is possible to travel to the edge of the observable universe by constant 1G acceleration within 100 years (from the perspective of the ship and those on board; in the outside universe billions of years are passing of course). You'd require enormous energy sources to start the thing going and slow it down again at destinations, but a lot of the other problems are taken care of by simple time dilation. Of course, accelerating to 99.99999999% of c and decelerating are nontrivial technical problems, but probably easier than having to have people who can live for millions of years (they wouldn't have to, merely a couple of centuries).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldroud View Post
    Well, for travel like that, a Dyson sphere would probably be your best bet. Failing that, maybe a Ringworld/Orbital/Halo.

    Something to consider regarding the expansion of the universe. As the "size" increases, more and more light is getting redshifted. In a few billion years, we wouldn't be able to see other galaxies, as the light would be redshifted too far down the spectrum. Our entire universe would then be reduced to the visible galaxy. How would that play into your storyline?
    Hi Aldroud!

    Thanks for your reply! Regarding the type of ship--for other reasons, I needed something new (besides I wanted something new anyway!). Re expansion--unless new discoveries have been made, current thoughts on this put it closer to 100 billion years. However even if it were a 'few' my story would be okay with that.

    Cheers,
    Rusty

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by livens View Post
    Interesting concept. I have read several books that deal with traveling, or possibly traveling, insane distances. Some come up with really strong materials combined with massive ships to be able to survive the journey (Robert Reed's Marrow). And some use the propulsion system itself as a shield like in Poul Anderson's Tau Zero. Many other cool ideas that go away from transporting any actual 'bodies', either just data to get a mind somewhere or the information to create new life once you get there.

    Personally I think being able to build an entirely new ship in-situ combined with a generation style survival tactic would be the most realistic. Traveling at those speeds you can certainly collect enough materials to do so. I am not overly optimistic about being able to build something that would last long enough. Think of it like your own body. Its not able to last more than a few years without everything breaking down. Natures solution, gradually replace every piece cell by cell so that every 4 years or so you have a completely new body For a spaceship it could just be part of the maintenance schedule that every component has a set life span and is replaced before a catastrophic failure happens.

    As for hibernation and long life... I don't think so. Without some super-science method of preserving living tissue I think after a few thousand years you would end up with a pile of goop once thawed.
    Hi Livens!

    Hello again! I glad you pointed these books out. Tau Zero I'm pretty sure I've read but can't remember the story off hand--Marrow I pretty sure I haven't read. I read so many sci-fis they start to blur, LOL, but I was just looking for something new to read. I've gone too far into my writer's shell with book 2 and a distraction or two.

    I think its every 6 or 7 years that every atom in your body has been swapped out but now that I think of it that info is probably 20 years old.

    But, as you suggested, 'just part of the maintenance schedule' is my 'nanite' based approach and remember, this species has advanced to the point of knowing and understanding everything (everything that is knowable that is) and, their bodies are made of nanites and submites so their sleep chambers come with 100 million year warranties, LOL.

    As an aside...another little detail of their ship is that it travels inside the event horizon of two singularities (or unistates), opposite charges and a bit of technology using exotic material to maintain their mutual orbit, the ship (a Blackship) surviving within the ZOB between the two singularities and, knowing everything, they of course have a trick for getting out of the event horizon when they want to.

    I will also attempt to cheat a bit with the time compression... For instance At 0.999999 of the speed of light, almost two years pass for every ship's day. If we continue to accelerate to 0.99999999999999 c, for every day on board, nearly twenty thousand years pass for the observer at rest. However, I'm also very close to two singularities and I want to have this bump up the time compression exponentially--I'm tossing this around in the science forums now.

    Cheers,
    Rusty

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead View Post
    This is the same concept used in Alastair Reynolds's Pushing Ice. Time dilation plays a huge role in this. As in the Reynolds novel, it is possible to travel to the edge of the observable universe by constant 1G acceleration within 100 years (from the perspective of the ship and those on board; in the outside universe billions of years are passing of course). You'd require enormous energy sources to start the thing going and slow it down again at destinations, but a lot of the other problems are taken care of by simple time dilation. Of course, accelerating to 99.99999999% of c and decelerating are nontrivial technical problems, but probably easier than having to have people who can live for millions of years (they wouldn't have to, merely a couple of centuries).
    Awesome book! I remember it well. In 'Spiral Slayers' a speed stepping technology exists which helps. I'm too sleepy to do the math but something seems wrong with that journey. In any event my ships must make stops along the way. Reynolds is one of my favorite authors!! He's like bad to the bone!!

    Cheers,
    Rusty

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by rustyw View Post
    There’s at least one element I’ve left out--the universe is expanding and, not only is that expansion already exceeding the speed of light if we look at our observable universe end to end, it is constantly accelerating. Eventually we will be stymied by this.
    If you can't travel faster than light, how is the universe expanding faster than light? Seems like that would be a research area that might let people travel faster than light.

    Edit: Nevermind! Googled it. The universe is expanding faster than the speed of light with respect to one galaxy compared to another (relative speed only), which won't help travel.
    Last edited by phil_geo; August 15th, 2013 at 02:36 PM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by phil_geo View Post
    If you can't travel faster than light, how is the universe expanding faster than light? Seems like that would be a research area that might let people travel faster than light.
    This thought is a good one but I'm not sure how one would approach it. At the very least; look to the edge of the observable universe at cosmic North and it is receding at the speed of light (if not more) then...look to the edge at cosmic South and it also and it is also flying away at c or greater. You get the picture. Or from another angle the universe is between 13.7 to 13.8 billion years old depending on your source. That is the time the universe has had to expand. Yet just our observable universe is 97 billion light years in diameter.

    Cheers,
    Rusty
    Last edited by rustyw; August 15th, 2013 at 04:04 PM.

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