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Posted: 12/17/2010 12:09:36 PM EDT
I've been thinking a lot about space travel lately and I got to wondering about the type of society that humans would need to have in space.





First let me set up the scenario:





As you may or may not know, right now we believe that the fastest speed that anything can travel through space is the speed of light. As I understand it, according to Einstein, nothing can go faster than light, and if you tried to then nature would slow you down so that you couldn't. Scientists state this as an absolute fact, but since we've never traveled at any speed even remotely close to the speed of light, I like to add to "as far as we know". Maybe we'll learn more as we get closer to traveling at light speed and figure out that you can go faster than light.But I digress.





Let's assume that Einstein is right and you cannot travel faster than light. Now due to the vast distances in space, travel through space to another star, even at 99% of the speed of light would take decades. So one thing that keeps coming up is the idea of generational spaceships. Scientists that I hear talk about this kind of stuff tend to shrug off the idea of a generational space craft, but IF light speed is the fastest we'll ever be able to go, then it may become necessary to build generational ships in order to send man kind into deep space.





So let's say that 200 years from now we determine that the only way to get into deep space is to build a generational space craft, and so they build a flying city ship (think Stargate Atlantis or Independence Day) capable of eventually reaching 99% of the speed of light and send it off into space packed with people. All of the technical considerations are taken care of. They generate artificial gravity, they have sufficient fuel, they have sufficient living space, they have little farms on board to grow food, they have plants to generate oxygen, they have a 100% efficient water recycling system, etc.





Now let's say they sent this ship on a mission to a star that is 1,000 light years away because telescopes have discovered a new Earth there, which has no intelligent life on it. The purpose of the mission is to colonize the planet so that humanity as a species is spread out as much as possible to ensure the survival of our race. But, it's going to take 1,000 + years to get there, so the people on the ship are going to need to have some kind of society.





What kind of society would be the best kind of society to accomplish the mission? Take the following into consideration:





1. You want to ensure the survival of as many of the crew and passengers as possible. The original crew and passengers would obviously die out, but you want to ensure that there are replacements born on the ship.





2. You want the people on board the ship to continue to learn and innovate.





3. There are finite resources available in terms of food, water, air and living space.





4. You want the people who arrive on the planet to maintain a spirit of independence.





5. You cannot afford any major fractures in the society aboard the ship. Any major upset to the society would be devastating to the mission.





So, how would you structure such a society in order to accomplish the goal of getting people capable of surviving on the planet to the planet.





The way I see it, the people would need a certain amount of indoctrination to ensure that certain values are instilled and maintained. But that may limit certain liberties and restrict thought over time.





You would also need to control things like sexuality in order to ensure reproduction, while controlling population expansion and avoiding genetic degradation. Things like homosexuality and infidelity would probably be intolerable. You would probably need to have arranged marriages based on matches that would ensure diversity and strength of the gene pool. But outbreaks of STDs or unplanned pregnancies would have to be controlled. Euthanasia and forced abortions in some cases may be necessary.





You would also need to take steps to ensure as much harmony as possible. Crime would have to be intolerable, without imposing punishments that would reduce the population or the work force. Class warfare and religious differences would be intolerable.





You would also need to manage labor. The ship is always going to need janitors and plumbers as well as doctors, engineers and scientists. That could probably be accomplished by setting up work rotations where everyone on the ship spends time working each job. It would probably benefit everyone by having them learn multiple skills and passing those on through the generations.





I have a lot more thoughts on this too. But I am interested to know what others think.

 
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:26:48 PM EDT
[#1]
Democracy is right out.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:31:50 PM EDT
[#2]
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:33:18 PM EDT
[#3]
If it's an "ARfcom" society it won't last 6 months.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:34:28 PM EDT
[#4]
that's what Earth is. A space colony run amuck.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:35:54 PM EDT
[#5]
I read that as Humane society in space.  
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:37:03 PM EDT
[#6]
Cryostasis?
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 12:38:16 PM EDT
[#7]
Quoted:
I read that as Humane society in space.  


me too
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:09:34 PM EDT
[#8]
I believe the big problem with sub-light interstellar travel is that space isn't completely empty.

Even dust would transfer a lot of energy at a relative velocity even a fraction of light speed,  makes the whole project extremely difficult.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:14:55 PM EDT
[#9]



Quoted:


I believe the big problem with sub-light interstellar travel is that space isn't completely empty.



Even dust would transfer a lot of energy at a relative velocity even a fraction of light speed,  makes the whole project extremely difficult.


Yes, but there are already technologies emerging which can protect space craft from particles in space. On Sci-Fi Science they talk about covering space craft with nanotube woven fibers which would protect the craft from particles that collide with it.



As I said, all of the technical challenges are taken into consideration for this scenario. I believe that we will eventually be able to overcome every obstacle to deep space travel/exploration.



 
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:28:02 PM EDT
[#10]
1000 years is a super long time for the human race, consider the last 1000 years we went from Viking longboats to spacecraft from warrior kings to republican democracy.

I think no matter how much you tried to keep the people in check, in less than 100 years, the ship goverment, most likely military rule with a civvie panel overseeing, would be replaced.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:36:10 PM EDT
[#11]
Upload the original colonists and run them slowly so the trip takes only a few subjective years. They can be temporarily sped up in case of problems with the ship, and life-support, shielding, and social issues will be much simpler.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:49:07 PM EDT
[#12]
If a generation ship can survive for 1000 years in deep space, why would the crew need a planet when they arrive?  Planets might be considered dirty, uncontrolled environments after 1000 years in space.  If the generation ship could carry a payload that makes colonization of a virgin planet possible, why not carry a payload that makes construction of another generation ship or a space habitat possible?  


Steve
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:49:11 PM EDT
[#13]
another thing to think about is that in the 1000 years after the launch, technology at home may advance to allow faster than light travel.  which would allow a fresh group of colonists to arrive at the destination well ahead of the original group and have the planet colonized and established for hundreds of years before they arrive.  imagine their surprise...

if I remember correctly, there was a star trek next generation episode where there was a sealed city that only had resources for a certain amount of people.  people were raised to do a certain job, and they really had no choice in the matter.  massive planned community.  didn't work out too well when they got a look at the choices the enterprise crew had in life.
Link Posted: 12/17/2010 1:54:14 PM EDT
[#14]
Easiest thing to do is make a BIG, WIDE, and THICK, but very low mass shield made out of vacuum foamed ice and asteroidal rock harvested in the outer solar system, get it up to speed on the nose of your spacecraft, and then let it go to coast a few million miles in front of you, and your ship travels in it's wake.

Or even a stack of several ultra-thin sheets of mylar several miles wide flying in formation (perhaps rotating slowly so previous holes don't line up) would be enough.

A small micro-meteoroid or dust grain colliding at an appreciable fraction of c (speed of light) will go off with the force of a small nuclear bomb. You don't want to be anywhere near it.  However, even pretty insubstantial shields should vaporize them before your ship gets into contact with any secondaries. (hopefully) Even the thin scattered hydrogen atoms in the interstellar medium act like cosmic rays at those speeds when you hit them.

Then the shield just flies off into deep space without you as you break at the destination star system, and if you're leaving after exploring (which would probably still be a multi-year stay) you just manufacture a new shield out of local materials.

Quoted:
Upload the original colonists and run them slowly so the trip takes only a few subjective years. They can be temporarily sped up in case of problems with the ship, and life-support, shielding, and social issues will be much simpler.


I agree, post-human entities are much more likely to be making the trip rather than "meat people" as we know them today. The flexibility of being a digital personality may be so liberating our ancestors (if they could be considered such, and aren't just pure AI's from the get-go) might not really care for human bodies, when they can occupy or control any ship, probe, or robotic device at will as the needs dictate.

Link Posted: 12/17/2010 3:58:52 PM EDT
[#15]


Quoted:


another thing to think about is that in the 1000 years after the launch,
technology at home may advance to allow faster than light travel.  
which would allow a fresh group of colonists to arrive at the
destination well ahead of the original group and have the planet
colonized and established for hundreds of years before they arrive.  
imagine their surprise...



if I remember correctly, there was a
star trek next generation episode where there was a sealed city that
only had resources for a certain amount of people.  people were raised
to do a certain job, and they really had no choice in the matter.  
massive planned community.  didn't work out too well when they got a
look at the choices the enterprise crew had in life.




Maybe humanity on Earth was wiped out by a gamma ray burst from WR-104.
 
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