HomeArticlesWill Humanity Reach Another Star In Your Lifetime?
Will Humanity Reach Another Star In Your Lifetime?
August 29, 2019
This real-life lore video is made possible by brilliant.org stay tuned for an exclusive brilliant offer available only for real-life lore viewers at the end of this video. I’m sure that many of you growing up like me used to spend time dreaming about visiting another planet or another star. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “born too late, to explore the world and born too early to explore the universe,” which implies that our ancestors explored the unknown parts of Earth while our descendants will be exploring the unknown parts of our universe, leaving us in the 21st century as the awkward middle children with little exploration to accomplish. But is this really the case? and could our civilization actually reach out and touch another star during your lifetime? For reference the nearest other known star closest to our sun is here called Proxima Centauri, but it’s still 4.25 light-years away from us That doesn’t seem too bad So let’s explore how to get there using current technology. I’ve talked about the voyager 1 space probe in previous videos, so to summarize, this probe is the farthest away from earth that a man-made object has ever been so far. It is currently almost 140 astronomical units away from our sun, meaning that it’s 140 times farther away from the sun than earth is. To have reached this distance, voyager utilized gravity assists from both the Jupiter and Saturn to reach a speed of 17 km/s. But even at this far away distance and at the same speed, it would take voyager another 73,000 years to reach Proxima Centauri. NASA, however is currently set to launch another space probe just next year in 2018 that will become the fastest moving object humanity has ever created. It’s called the parker solar probe and it will be sent to study the outer corona of the sun. Utilizing repeated gravity assists from Venus, the probe will enter into an elliptical orbit around the sun and at its closest point to the sun in orbit, the probe will achieve a velocity of an amazing 200 kilometers per second. That’s fast enough to zip around the entire earth at the equator in 3 minutes and 24 seconds. But it’s still only a tiny 0.07% of the speed of light which means that even at that speed it would take the probe well over 7,000 years to reach proxima centauri So is there any technology that we could reasonably see happening in our lifetime that would enable us to at least see another star system up close? Various ideas have been proposed throughout history but perhaps the most credible one is a recent idea called Breakthrough Starshot. I briefly mentioned Breakthrough Starshot in my video from two weeks ago, but i didn’t go into very much detail about how ambitious and revolutionary this project really is. If successful, breakthrough starshot will be one of the most important events of the entire 21st century. The plan calls to develop a tiny ship on the scale of centimeters weighing only a few grams with a sail attached to it, 4 meters across by 4 metres tall. It actually calls for a thousand of these tiny ships and sales to be created and for all of them to be lifted into orbit by a larger mothership on a conventional rocket. Once in orbit the mothership will deploy one tiny ship and sail at a time. The sail attached to the tiny ships will work much like a sail does on a boat on earth but instead of wind providing the necessary propulsion it will be a huge 1 square kilometer ground-based array packed with high-powered lasers. This square kilometer of lasers will all concentrate to their collective power onto the tiny sails of the ships one at a time, and this should be capable of propelling each vessel to 20% the speed of light in only 10 minutes. Once all 1,000 ships are on their way, they should be able to reach proxima centauri in about 20 years. And since the scheduled flight time is in the year 2036, that means that the first human-made spacecraft to arrive in another star system could take place in the near-ish future of 2056. That’s not to say that the project is without any problems however, A collision with even a speck of dust at that speed would destroy any of the craft, which is why 1000 of them are going all at once so at least some of them will make the journey. In addition the square kilometer laser array on the ground will use up 100 gigawatts of power for each sale that it propels. Which is roughly equivalent to the peak electricity consumption in france at 7:00 in the evening. Acquiring that much power is difficult but still possible. Finally, the cost of the entire project is estimated to be at 10 billion dollars, which sounds like a lot at first, but consider this, Nasa’s budget for 2018 is 19.1 billion dollars, and the cost for the International Space Station has been 150 billion dollars. The U.S. military budget meanwhile in 2015 was nearly 600 billion dollars and the us federal budget for 2018 is well over 4 trillion dollars. Taking 10 billion dollars out of any of these enormous amounts of money is not very much to ask for. Especially when you consider that there is a planet that orbits inside the habitable zone of Proxima-Centauri named proxima-Centauri b The ships from Breakthrough Starshot will be capable of taking pictures of this mysterious planet that could reveal oceans, continents, and other surface features if they exist. Proxima-Centauri B will become the primary focus of future human colonization efforts in our galaxy. 10 billion dollars is a very small price to pay for potentially securing the future of human civilization in our universe. And although all of us watching this video were likely born in the century before humans themselves will visit another star system, we can take pride in laying the foundations for our descendants to be the explorers that will carry our names and legacies with them. Any society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in. If you still have lingering questions regarding the math behind interstellar flight, how planets outside of the solar system are discovered, or how we know how big the universe is, then you should know that this video was directly based off the astronomy course offered at brilliant.org. Brilliant is a truly wonderful online learning platform where you can learn about For example, in their astronomy course they have a section where they help you calculate the time it would take to accelerate a solar sail to 20% light speed, and how long it would take the sail to reach the Alpha-Centauri system, which is the exact math that i used in the creation of this video. To learn much more about interstellar travel or any other interesting topics, This free trial is currently only offered to those who click on brilliant.org/reallifelore in the description. So if you liked what you just watched and you’re curious to learn more give brilliant a try and you’ll be supporting my channel at the same time. inside of the habitable zone of Proxima-Centauri, named Proxima-Centauri B. If revealed to be truly habitable in this way, math and science in an easily approachable way by solving fun and challenging problems. head over to brilliant.org/reallifelore for an exclusive 3-day free trial. Cheers.