Speed Hitch-Hiking:

D=RT limits us from getting to the stars. Smart engineers invent new means of propulsion which increase the R (Rate), while cosmologists and theoretical physicists try to envision ways to cheat traditional Newtonian values for T (Time) and travel into the future. We just need some big steps if we are ever to overcome the vast distances of space. I leave the subject of time travel to others.

But what about traveling at 1.4 million miles per hour. This is something we can do soon. Our fastest rocket to Pluto in 2006 travels at just 51,000 MPH. Is it possible to get this 38x performance increase in speed within the next few years? Here is what I would suggest:

Paul Walsh published an article on the Astromart web site http://www.astromart.com/news/news.asp?news_id=441 on January 28, 2006 titled "Two Exiled Stars Are Leaving Our Galaxy Forever". In the article Paul discusses stars being expelled from our galaxy at speeds estimated to be nearly 1.4 Million MPH. Theory says that the stars were part of a binary star system that ventured too close to the super massive black hole at the center of the galaxy and were given a major gravitational boost being catapulted by the black hole out of our galaxy. Since we can find these events, we need to find an "Exiled Star" heading near us, we could intercept it along its path out of the galaxy and by obtaining an orbit around the "Exiled Star" become its traveling companion at 1.4 Million MPH.

While I am sure that we can do the math behind this, the events are rare and worst still, we cannot select the direction of the journey. But even this is not beyond our imagination. While a star traveling at 1.4 MMPH would not change direction very radically, small changes over long periods of time are within our imagination anyway.

Now too lets generalize this hitch-hiking approach to high speed space travel. Why not hitch rides on one or more comets and visit the outer distances of our solar system? Maybe we could even use the comets or any other object leaving our solar system to leap-frog to an "Exiled Star" heading in the direction we wish to travel.

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Other Thoughts on Traveling to the stars: I don't believe that we can send colonies of humans to the stars. In such a journey the people might reproduce over generations as the star-ship makes its way over time. Such a journey is too long and it is simply too dangerous for human anatomy, in my opinion. But there would be a way to package and preserve pre-harvested human eggs and human sperm. Machines would be constructed to protect the cargo until arrival then create human beings through in vitro fertilization. Other machines would nurture, educate and grow the new infants in orbit around some New Planet Earth. Humanity's children would be the offspring of our technologies.

Mel

January, 2006