No Sleeping to the Stars?

posted in: Blog, Science | 0
Stars in the Tarantula Nebula (NASA, Hubble, Aura, 04/01/99)

For many years I’ve read Science Fiction novels that required passengers to sleep in order to endure the many years it would take to travel from Earth to a planet in another solar system.

The science made sense. We can’t travel faster than light so therefore the only way for this to work is to enter some sort of hibernated state where we don’t age. Even the latest shows continue to utilize this method, proving it to be tried and true, and generally accepted by the science fiction fandom at large.

This article states it would not work as easily as we’d all be led to believe. There was a study that determined the metabolism of sleeping humans would lose fat at a dangerous rate and require supplementation along the way. Now I’m aware there are scenes in movies where the sleeping person is connected to all kinds of tubes and wires, and we can safely surmise and such nutritional needs are being met by the ship’s life support systems along with oxygen and waste removal, but it did prod my writer’s mind. Part of writing science fiction is looking out for these types of facts and coming up with plausible solutions.

First off, one solution was to simply travel faster and we created faster-than-light (FTL) travel such as warp speed, and diving into black holes in one system but emerging from another. Or, something like a “star gate” on a planet would whisk you away wherever another gate had been built. It is still called fiction for a reason, but these seem a bit like cheating in my mind, almost magical in scope instead of science based.

Another solution was to keep the passengers awake and procreating, leaving their descendants to arrive at the final destination. This presented all sorts of social challenges I find quite interesting for the new generations born upon the ship who never new Earth and didn’t have the same ambitions or motivations their parents did to leave. The ship was their “Earth”, their home, so did they really want to abandon that at the journey’s end? If Earth was doomed, then they would hold the responsibility of continuing humanity. Could you handle that as say the fifth generation with spaceship born parents, grandparents, etc.? Earth stories would have become legend by then and your reality was within the confines of the metal (or whatever material) shell separating you from outer space.

What do you think? Are there other solutions for crossing vast spaces between systems and even galaxies? Multiple dimensions where you are everywhere at once and can step off at any point in time or space? What are your favorite methods, or do you prefer to focus on the story and leave the science to the professionals? Please comment below!

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