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Interstellar Spaceflight
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One of the recent essays I listened to on audio was Timothy Ferris' "Interstellar Spaceflight: Can We Travel to Other Stars".

In it, he talks about the difficulties of traveling between stars. Basically, the main problems are:

1) It's a long damn way
2) It takes a lot of energy

Near the end of the essay, he posits that if there are a number of intelligent species in the universe, they've probably settled for communicating with one another rather than trying to physically visit each other (because of the constraints).

He envisions a sort of interstellar internet, a high-speed, interconnected lattice of communications between intelligent species. Cool idea.

I read a lot, though not all of it is exclusively sci-fi. I always feel like I'm behind the curve. I suppose most SF writers, when they think of a new idea, the next thought that follows is, "Hmm, has somebody already done exactly the same thing already?" I don't know. Maybe they don't.

Anyway, I don't remember any SF stories or books that use such a communication network as a plot point. Anybody out there read anything like this? Carl Sagan's Contact fictionally fulfilled the SETI fantasies of receiving a transmission, which was then used to build a vehicle capable of physically wormholing it across the universe. There are similar tales of aliens broadcasting stuff to us, but I don't recall multiple alien races conversing via an Internet-type superstructure.

Also, I noticed people on Greg's site talking about Micronauts. I don't remember much about them, except that when I was little I thought they were cool. I had one with little helicopter propellers on his back.

I wonder if it would be plausible to build an itsy-bitsy spaceship near the edge of the solar system and accelerate it with something like a particle accelerator. Have it build up to a massive velocity, then fling it along the desired trajectory. With nanotechnology, it might not be such a stretch to have a flea-sized interstellarnaut.


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