Warp Speed Kills
Warp speed kills, according to William Edelstein of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. He claims that the thin wisp of hydrogen gas that permeates interstellar space would be transformed into a deadly radiation beam that would burn both instrumentation and humans in a spacecraft that approached the speed of light.
(Warp speed kills)
For the crew of a spacecraft ramping up to light speed, interstellar space would appear highly compressed, thereby increasing the number of hydrogen atoms hitting the craft.
For a crew to make the 50,000-light-year journey to the centre of the Milky Way within 10 years, they would have to travel at 99.999998 per cent the speed of light. At these speeds, hydrogen atoms would seem to reach a staggering 7 teraelectron volts – the same energy that protons will eventually reach in the Large Hadron Collider when it runs at full throttle. "For the crew, it would be like standing in front of the LHC beam," says Edelstein.
The spacecraft's hull would provide little protection. Edelstein calculates that a 10-centimetre-thick layer of aluminium would absorb less than 1 per cent of the energy. Because hydrogen atoms have a proton for a nucleus, this leaves the crew exposed to dangerous ionising radiation that breaks chemical bonds and damages DNA. "Hydrogen atoms are unavoidable space mines," says Edelstein.
The fatal dose of radiation for a human is 6 sieverts. Edelstein's calculations show that the crew would receive a radiation dose of more than 10,000 sieverts within a second. Intense radiation would also weaken the structure of the spacecraft and damage its electronic instruments.
Slow down and live, Mr. Sulu.
From New Scientist. Thanks to @Nyrath for the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/18/2010)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 11 )
Related News Stories -
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...' - Bruce Sterling, 1985.
SpaceX Spacesuit Design Transmitted By Elon Musk
Welcome, SpaceX, to the club of space suit imaginers and makers.
Will A Steel Umbrella Stop Russia?
'Everyone was aware that the damned platform was wandering around in its own orbit...' - EB White, 1950.
NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars
'They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough ... they burrow in...' - Greg Bear, 2014.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Foldable Galaxy Phones, I Swear They're Coming (Maybe)
How hard can it be?
Bacteria Behave Differently In Space
'The Republic struggled to control its Sours...'
Brain Connected To Internet - ‘Brainternet'
Artificial Spider Silk
You can also use it to make a roof - on an asteroid.
MIT Tunes Ions For Frictionless Surface - Superlubricity!
'My telelubricator here neutralizes the interatomic bonds the surface of any solid...'
Seiko Astron Always Knows Your Time Zone
'Harrington glanced at his wrist watch - a bulky affair - and whistled.'
Robot Buddhist Priest Chants, Drums
'He crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth...'
Koniku Kore, Mouse Brain-Based Chip, Detects Explosives
'As a matter of fact, this mouse is going to keep on thinking forever.'
CNH Industrial Autonomous Tractor Concept Video
'...the tiny red glints of self-guided tractors.'
The Neuroon Open Sleep Tracker For Lucid Dreaming
'Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer on the bedside shelf.'
Siri Now Smoother, Perkier (Thanks, Deep Learning!)
'Good morning, Dr. Chandra. This is Hal.'
China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation
'Programmed to hang... in a hexagonal grid pattern.'
Neuralink, The Latest Elon Musk Passion
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE [a mainframe computer] what we wanted...'
RFly Drones Rule The Warehouse
'The wasp homed unerringly on the face of the honeycomb...'
Will The FDA Approve This Antiaging Drug?
'So what we're looking for now is... an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug.'
Rule Of Humans By Software Not Transparent
'The Council itself could be overridden by a superior power...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories