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back to article Could Doctor Who really bump into human space dwellers?

“Oh, you might have spent a million years evolving into clouds of gas... and another million as downloads, but you always revert to the same basic shape: the fundamental human. End of the universe and here you are. Indomitable, that's the word! Indomitable! Ha!” - the Tenth Doctor. Much discussion is given over to the timey- …

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Working both ends of the problem

Clearly I'm not an expert (as I shall now reveal with this question) but, as well as trying to mitigate the amount of damaging radiation that hits you in the first place - with lead, water, "force fields", etc. - what are the prospects for being able to just fix the damage?

Medical nano technology clearly isn't there yet, but is it within in the realms of plausibility (in the same kind of timescales that we are talking about for travelling to Mars, etc.) to imagine that you could have nanobots roaming within you that could just fix up a reasonable amount of the radiation damage or at least cleanly dispose of newly formed cancerous cells, etc.?

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Re: Working both ends of the problem

The radiation isn't that big a problem. The radiation on Mars is manageable, and unless you get really unlucky and there's a huge solar flare the radiation during the trip wont kill you either. You'll get a slightly raised cancer risk, but nothing as bad as, say, smoking.

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Re: Working both ends of the problem

We've had about six x-ray events from the sun this past week.

That would put some suckage onto any trip to Mars!

But, good old oxygen is *really* good at blocking x-rays and gamma rays. Hence, the idea of water being used as a shield.

It's portable, can be potable, necessary for life and is also great for making fuel.

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Re: Working both ends of the problem

Maybe a outer hull covered in ice, long term storage, & protection for ship ?

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The first thing we'll have to sort out is universal time (UTC).

With every object in an orbit having a different day cycle, do we try to keep everyone to Earth time or adjust it to each planetary day?

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I think the important thing is to have a regular day(work/play) and night(sleep) cycle or people have all kinds of psychological and medical problems. This cycle has to be regular and close to 24 hours as well. What actual 'time' you want to call it would depend on how often you contact Earth and for what purpose.

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Universal time does not exist. The concept of "Now" is meaningless in space thanks to this guy called A. Einstein and his General Theory ...

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Windows

Re : "A. Einstein and his General Theory"....

apart from the fact that he was a foreigner and that every true blooded member of the British Empire knows that GMT is the only time you need to know - regardless of where you are. Tiffin anyone?

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Mars will be so separate from Earth that the colonists will no doubt use local time.

Space stations in orbit around Earth will likely use GMT, just like the ISS already does.

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Anonymous Coward

Special, not general

General relativity is Einstein's theory of gravity. It's special relativity that deals with time dilation etc.

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Re: Special, not general

Both do.

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Headmaster

Time on Mars...

Read Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. A Mars day is longer than an Earth day...

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DM Penfold.. I read the new scientist this week too

The concept of now is based on your frame of reference. Einstein postulated after a thought experiment using a train and a reference point that an observer closer to the reference point would see the train cross the reference point before an observer further away. This made now subjective not objective.

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Re: Re : "A. Einstein and his General Theory"....

UTC *is* the way to go. It's a standard and such standards are really handy when it comes time to call back home.

Of course, it's also likely that local time would be used as well, hence dual time being used.

For day to day, local time. It's always nice to know when the sun is going down. ;)

For communications and reports, UTC.

Can't count on the bean counters at home knowing how to convert local time to their local time.

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"The concept of now is based on your frame of reference."

True, but the time differential is so modest as to be unnoticeable until one is moving at 95%+ the velocity of light.

There would be some very mild clock drift, something that could impact crypto, but not something easily noticeable by our meat selves.

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Re: Time on Mars...

Kim Stanley Robinson gets round the difference in day length by having the clocks "stop" for 40 minutes between 12:00 and 12:01, producing a period of time referred to as the "Martian Time Slip". It's really the only practical way to keep measuring time using the same units as on Earth while still accounting for the difference in day length.

The important thing is that humans could still do things like measure speed (kmph) or schedule meetings at prearranged times, providing they allow for the Time Slip if any of your measurements extend over midnight.

Of course we'd have to throw Earth months and weeks out of the window as the year would have 668.59 days, and no convenient 28-day moon. We'd also have to figure out the Martian equivalent of leap years.

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Einstein postulated...

I don't understand how that affects "now".

The observers are simply receiving visual information at different times.

Just because you can observe something happening, it doesn't mean it's happening *at that instant.*

It's just like watching a live stream of a football match that's lagging a few seconds.

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Re: Einstein postulated...

Exactly, that is what I always think whenever I see any explanation of relativity, it is pretty much JUST the observers observing at a different time due to time-of-flight for light.. yes I get that gravity altered time, that is proven (GPS satellites rely on this fact to keep in sync) but I am much less sold on speed changing time...

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Re: Einstein postulated...

Exactly, that is what I always think whenever I see any explanation of relativity, it is pretty much JUST the observers observing at a different time due to time-of-flight for light

Zounds! It appears all the physicists are wrong and you are correct. I suggest you contact the Nobel commission at once.

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Re: Einstein postulated...

I was just pointing out how I've always seen it...

A more helpful response would be to help me understand how this works...

can you answer the following? or point me at a resource that can help me understand it...

Assume you have two atomic clocks, one you place on earth, the other in a big space probe...

that probe flies off at say 25% of the speed of light and returns 10 years later...

What is the difference in the atomic clocks when the probe returns?

My problem is that when I read the explanations, both the probe and earth have valid frames of reference, so while the probe seems to have time slow down as it speeds off, from the probes frame of reference should it now also see earth slow down as it speeds away from it? that is the part that baffles me....

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Re: Einstein postulated...

This is the basis behind the old Twin Paradox. One twin speeds off in a spaceship on a round trip to Alpha Centauri, while the other twin stays on Earth. Conventional wisdom says the twin who travels ages much slower than his counterpart on Earth (assuming he travels fast enough for significant time.

However the paradox appears to state that each twin sees the other twin accelerate away at great speed, according to their own frame of reference, so why doesn't each twin arrive back younger than the other?

The resolution to this is that although it appears that each twin experiences the same as the other (i.e. sees the other accelerate away), they actually do not. The twins are not in identical frames of reference. One twin (on the spaceship) experiences more acceleration than the other. He also experiences a journey to Alpha Centauri and back, involving changes in velocity. The other twin remains on a planet circling a sun.

In your example the clocks on the Earth and on the Probe also have valid but not identical frames of reference. The probe experiences additional acceleration (up to 25% of C) whereas the clock on Earth experiences the same acceleration due to the planet's gravity.

As to the amount of time dilation the probe would experience, at 25% of the speed of light (assuming the probe accelerated to this speed very quickly), if the probe's round trip took 10 years, then when it arrived back on Earth its clock should read only 9.68 years.

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Haven't finished a Ship, and some are worried about clock on dashboard ...

Local time is only needed, for burn calcs etc, beacons @ waypoints to bring you to their local time ...

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Time delays are the major difficulty

Perhaps instead of linear video logs, they could use "choose your own adventure" style updates? The sender would try to anticipate the kinds of questions and scenarios that the nauts might have, then package up all the data into something like an Infocom or SCUMM format for playback in a non-linear way up on the ship. They could also have Max Headroom-style virtual actor software (complete with tunable voice synthesis a la Hatsune Miku) sent up with them, so that the nauts could interact with something that looks and sounds something like the people back home (all without wasting valuable transmission bandwidth).

The CYOA games that they send up might have a bit of replay value, too, and would give people a bit of entertainment value (both watching/playing and crafting their own modules to be sent back) for the long journey.

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Re: Time delays are the major difficulty

I think too much is made of this problem. After all, within the solar system, messages sent by radio will get to their destination way faster than messages sent by courier did Earth, yet people managed to organize things back before the invention of the telegraph and the telephone.

Just forget about voice -based communications and use some kind of e-mail. It is true the delay prevents real-time remote control of anything, but that is one reason why you might want to send intelligent humans on such missions.

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Re: Time delays are the major difficulty

Nah. Everyone texts nowadays anyway.

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So far from what we read in science articles that the mere fact of moving is meaning you are breaking the time/space barrier itself. THe only way to do this would be to unlock the tardis from the planet it resides on.

Unless he is using the power of the planet to power his tardis. His tardis could be killing the planet while he goes about the universe. This much power must mean he is controlling a very very weak black hole at the center of the planet. HE uses the space time effct to travel like the Enterprise does but stands still while doing it. I am sure a few plents with a micro black hole will explode a few times before they build the very first tardis. Perhaps that was how the tardis was built. Designed to blow up planet dying so they could bring in new planets. By accident the engineer became the first time traveler and his co workers stand in judge ment against him all the time and his 1 coworkers hates him so much this becomes his arch enemy,

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Anonymous Coward

I'll have what he's having

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

You don't watch much Doctor Who, do you?

Rassillon and Omega created the Hand of Omega- a remote stellar manipulation tool- and used it to turn the star Gallifrey orbited into a black hole. Sciency stuff far too boring to fit into the TV show happened, and they had a near-infinite source of power and odd Quantum effects with which to power their time travel experiments. Omega was trapped on the 'other side' of the black hole, returning occasionally to... take revenge... or something. It's been a while.

In the New Who it's been shown that the TARDIS is sufficiently big inside to hold its own collapsing star. So that's where the power comes from.

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"Unless he is using the power of the planet to power his tardis."

According to Doctor Who mythos, his people created an artificial black hole, which was then confined under their capitol city (well shielded, of course). That is the energy source for every TARDIS and their entire civilization.

As each TARDIS had that same named black hole in it, one can only imagine some particle entanglement deal going on below the event horizon, but above the singularity proper.*

Well, save for one episode, where he held an entire supernova inside of the TARDIS...

*Yeah, I know. Entangled particles that have one partner experiencing the hellish conditions below the event horizon would have their entanglement broken-maybe. But, that takes time, which essentially ceases to exist beneath the event horizon. ;)

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Re: You don't watch much Doctor Who, do you?

"Rassillon and Omega created the Hand of Omega- a remote stellar manipulation tool- and used it to turn the star Gallifrey orbited into a black hole."

Sort of. It wasn't *their* star that was manipulated. It was a different star that was then transported back to Gallifrey.

Omega was trapped beneath the event horizon inside of a control center, where he was able to see into the singularity. In a gaffe, which was a theory at the time, the singularity opened into an antimatter universe and somehow Omega got turned magically into antimatter.

Which magically survived on Earth for a bit, where he should have been a briefly incandescent meter wide ball of plasma, before it expanded and erased much of Earth...

As for the New Who, that is arguable. They can have it that the Doctor got tired of having to recharge the TARDIS, so he harnessed a supernova or they can do whatever else they want to do.

That is one of the nice things about being writers and producers. ;)

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Problem with getting rich people to pay

Those typically don't want to pay. Just look at the Concorde. Though tickets were expensive it had to be subsidized, and of course Concorde flights, like all flights never were affordable to the general public.

An interesting game changer might be the space elevator. If we actually manage to build such things, many of the problems would be gone instantly. We could just move stuff up there without the problem of having to carry the fuel to carry it upwards with it. And once you have reached a decent orbit the rest doesn't need to much energy.

I personally see the "space inhabitance" process as more of like the stuff mold does. Mold has spread over distances unimaginable to an individual colony. However if you just manage to go on and spread yourself you will be everywhere you can be.

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Re: Problem with getting rich people to pay

Those typically don't want to pay. Just look at the Concorde. Though tickets were expensive it had to be subsidized, and of course Concorde flights, like all flights never were affordable to the general public.

This just means they don't want to pay for glorious shit, so the taxpayer steps in because he's supposed to pay for glorious shit at the call of a politician preening his feathers using glorious shit.

How that makes sense is anyone's guess. Maybe that taxpayer had preferred a new frying pan instead. Oh well.

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Re: Problem with getting rich people to pay

My understanding is that in the later years of its life (and before 9/11) BA made Concorde pay by the simple expedient of charging what it cost to provide the service. It turns out that when your company's paying or you're just obscenely wealthy price is relatively elastic. Of course, that was in the context of development costs having been covered by the taxpayer and obviously wasn't viable in the long term. But it does suggest that you shouldn't be too cautious in charging what might seem to be outrageous prices from day one.

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Re: Problem with getting rich people to pay

"An interesting game changer might be the space elevator."

That's still a hell of a lot of energy lifting up the load into orbit. It isn't a perpetual motion machine!

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Answers?

Rather than providing travellers with a set of answers to possible questions they should be equipped with the means to solve problems on their own, both intellectually and physically.

Traveller to Earth: "vital modul xyz broke. Please send replacement!" - "Sure, it takes 1 year to produce and 3 years to send. By the time it arrives you all dead." Alternative answers: "parlament cancelled the budged", "what?! Leyland Yutani went bust. Sorry.", "disaster broke and destroyed most of civilization. Over and out."

Anyway, having a small group of people locked up together almost indefinitely... How are the odds that they will kill each other sooner or later? (Rather than proper astronauts I'm thinking about volunteers such as wanted for Mars mission. The BigBrother type of volunteer...)

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Re: Answers?

"How are the odds that they will kill each other sooner or later?"

That one is easy.

The first one to murder a crewmate gets to go streaking in interplanetary space or on the Martian surface, whichever is closest.

Brutal, but it's largely been effective throughout human history.

Now, for fist fights, well, sell tickets for crew entertainment.

(Trust me, microgravity fights would be not so much violence as a comedic event.)

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Re: Answers?

Sex is the solution to that problem, the only way to send up a group of people for a lifetime together is to ensure they are getting lots of sex, so viagra in the diet...

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Re: Answers?

Brutal, but it's largely been effective throughout human history.

Citation needed. When has capital punishment been demonstrated to be effective at preventing murder?

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Before we go to the stars

We need to mature as a species. We're a pretty ignorant group at the moment. Wars, genocides, killings in the name of God, etc.

At the very least, have a "No religion" rule past the ionosphere. It won't solve all issues, but it's a start.

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Re: Before we go to the stars

If the history books are anything to go by, we've been a pretty ignorant species since time immemorial. Nothing is going to change in that area anytime soon, so why not go forward.

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Get me John Galt on the phone!

AND DAMN THE TORPEDOES!

And now you already got people whining about not enough collectivism in space. Those asteroids belong to WHOM? All of HUMANITY? Right. How whiney can one get.

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Re: Before we go to the stars

"At the very least, have a "No religion" rule past the ionosphere. It won't solve all issues, but it's a start."

I don't know. I seem to recall someone reading from the holly bauble from the Lunar surface, way back when I was a kid.

As for the rest, genetics makes me consider humanity a breed of Chimpanzee. I usually refer to them as Chumpanzees.

Of course, I'm better. I'm Homo Confusedus.

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Boffin

The way to build a space station/planetary shuttle

is probably to do it Russian style, rather than US - traditional lumps of metal rather than very very high-tech composites; bimetalic strip thermostats rather than computers and ADCs.

Something you can fix with a big enough hammer, basically, rather than something that requires you to build a nano-scale fabrication system.

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Re: The way to build a space station/planetary shuttle

"Something you can fix with a big enough hammer, basically, rather than something that requires you to build a nano-scale fabrication system."

Funny movie, but in reality, nobody is hitting shit with a hammer in space.

Hammers only break things in a bigger way.

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Re: The way to build a space station/planetary shuttle

I think it's inflatable, a "jumping castle" spaceship, with inner shielding flight deck/cargo area, but more lift from inflating out "rooms/areas" of ship with heated Helium (or Hydrogen, if game), via Ventilation systems, so it can be recaptured as fuel after using it for lift, Coating outer hull with ice will give Radiation Protection, I think like a big Drum, with inner core/spine FlightDeck/Engineering etc.

However I feel it's a moonbase first, to Mine ICE, & materials to build more ships, but I think we could make a inflatable "MOONBASE" & land it ready to go, in crater, near a Fuel/Air/Water Dump they call ice.

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instant communications

What about instant communications using photon entanglement? That should work, in theory, shouldn't it?

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Re: instant communications

No, and it doesn't even work in theory. That's the point.

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It's only a matter of time. And money.

Time because technology progresses in pace with people's motivation for getting off this ball. 3D printing, for instance, has solved a lot of the problems of getting spares when gear fails on Mars, while the Peak Everything scenarios pretty conclusively show that the Earth is not going to be a nice place to be in two hundred years or so.

Money because space colonies will take a very long time to become profitable. Yeah, there's fantasies about helium 3 and gold and diamonds and whatnot, but the cost of transport is so high that there's no substance it'd be cost effective to transport back to Earth. It might be cost-effective to transport humans out, tho, as the emigrants will sell/leave nearly all they have behind..

I expect I'll live long enough to see the first Mars colonies. With a spot of luck I'll even be in one.

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Re: It's only a matter of time. And money.

"Time because technology progresses in pace with people's motivation for getting off this ball. "

People have *never* had motivation for getting off of this ball.

"3D printing, for instance, has solved a lot of the problems..."

Erm, 3D printing requires gravity. No 3D printer exists that operates without requiring gravity and I'm dubious that one could do so. :/

Hopefully, some enterprising engineer will prove me wrong. I'll be the happiest man ever born!

"It might be cost-effective to transport humans out, tho, as the emigrants will sell/leave nearly all they have behind.."

I'd do so in a New York minute. That lasts about as long as one shake in the nuclear world.

I'd miss the grandkids, but they could visit... ;)

I'm sure they'd miss me playing Surly Claus at Christmas.

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Re: It's only a matter of time. And money.

3D printing only requires a force ensuring that the plastic is deposited and stays where place. Having the 3d printer spinning at the end of a centrifugal arm (orientated so the forces are aligned correctly) would presumably work, alternatively suction/air pressure might also be sufficient?

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