Superseding _Heinlein in Dimension_

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Alexei & Cory Panshin

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Mar 20, 2002, 6:23:47 PM3/20/02
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The concluding portion of the text of _Heinlein in Dimension_
has just been posted on my website, Alexei Panshin's The Abyss of
Wonder, at http://www.panshin.com. The only thing remaining is
the index, which Cory will be uploading when she has it complete.

I owe Cory a lot of thanks for all the work she has done to
get the whole book up on a regular schedule. Thanks are due as
well to George Price of Advent for his willingness to allow the
posting of the complete text of HiD while he still has copies of
the p-book for sale.

I intend to knock on George's door again very shortly to ask
his permission to reprint the nearly two-year-long discussion by
SF professionals in PITFCS which followed the publication of
_Starship Troopers_. If he agrees, I will be posting all of it in
The Critics Lounge Annex.

With the full text of _Heinlein in Dimension_ now in place,
let me renew my offer of a copy of my book _Transmutations_ to
anyone who does me the favor of catching a factual error in HiD,
and a numbered and autographed first edition of _The World Beyond
the Hill_ to the first person who can identify the great gray
greasy error all set about with fever trees which has been eluding
notice in HiD for thirty-five years.

Anyone with questions about the circumstances under which HiD
was written and why the book takes the approach it does can find
an essay entitled "The Story of _Heinlein in Dimension_" in The
Critics Lounge on my website which tell the tale.

In 1965, I wrote in the final chapter of HiD: "I prefer to
look on this book as an interim report, and one that can and
should be argued with. Even in the ground that it covers, there
remains much to be said. I hope others will take the time to say it."

Unfortunately, after all this time there has yet to be
another book which looks at Heinlein's fiction as a whole and
attempts to consider what its phases and changes mean. That isn't
the fault of _Heinlein in Dimension_. That's the fault of all
those who believe they see Heinlein more clearly than HiD did, but
just haven't gotten around to writing it down yet.

Me, I think Heinlein is an elephant in the dark, and all
those down at the fly whisk end of things need to pay careful
attention to everybody who thinks they're dealing with a palm
leaf, a spear, a hosepipe, a wall or a pillar.

I think _much_ more can be said about Heinlein and that it
_ought_ to be said. In that spirit, I'd like to offer the
following axioms for the adequate and complete Heinlein criticism
which has yet to appear:


1) The life and works of Robert Heinlein are subject to
exactly the same process of examination, discussion and assessment
as the life and works of anyone else.

2) No single commentator, observer or critic has possession
of the one true view of Heinlein and his work, or the one and only
right mode of approach to them.

3) All viewpoints should be heard.


Beyond these basic ground rules, I have my own ideas about
the post-HiD Heinlein criticism I would like to write and to read.

In his memoir, _Astounding Days_, Arthur C. Clarke wrote:

"One of the greatest values of sf is the way it can challenge
long-held beliefs, and make the reader appreciate, after he has
stopped foaming at the mouth, that the external world need not
always conform to his hopes or expectations. It forces one to
think -- which is why so many people dislike it. Van Vogt was
very good at this kind of provocation; Campbell was better (when
he didn't overdo it) -- and Robert Heinlein was best of all."

The Heinlein criticism I want to see would be exactly like that.


Alexei Panshin


"There are more to everything than its appearance."
-- Chinese Fortune Cookie


Jim Harris

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Mar 21, 2002, 10:34:38 AM3/21/02
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Alexei & Cory Panshin wrote:

> In his memoir, _Astounding Days_, Arthur C. Clarke wrote:
>
> "One of the greatest values of sf is the way it can challenge
> long-held beliefs, and make the reader appreciate, after he has
> stopped foaming at the mouth, that the external world need not
> always conform to his hopes or expectations. It forces one to
> think -- which is why so many people dislike it. Van Vogt was
> very good at this kind of provocation; Campbell was better (when
> he didn't overdo it) -- and Robert Heinlein was best of all."
>
> The Heinlein criticism I want to see would be exactly like that.
>
> Alexei Panshin

Actually, what I'd like to see if an extension of this. I'd like to see
research on writers who were inspired by Heinlein's initial challenges and
then went on to take the challenge further. Sort of second-stage Heinlein
where he boosted newer writers towards a further orbit. STARSHIP TROOPERS
and THE FOREVER WAR is one example. Your RITE OF PASSAGE is another. Did
anyone ever question your ending for ROP? It was more extreme than ST but
did you get called a fascist?

It's one thing to say Heinlein challenged long-held beliefs, the important
thing is what people did with this insight. And I'm not sure if they did
that much.

Science fiction has run out of steam, which is a common statement today,
but I think Heinlein knew it back in the sixties. He headed off on a
tangent and I don't think many followed.

ORPHANS OF THE SKY was one of Heinlein's best pieces of original thinking
and its probably the least reprinted of his books. Brian Aldiss and Gene
Wolfe have explored the idea, but the generational ship is probably the
least popular idea for a science fiction story and probably the most
practical concept for getting people to the stars. Wolfe turns the idea
into a baroque fantasy, although a powerful literary vision, it doesn't do
much to promote the idea of space travel.

Well, I babble on too much... But you get the idea.

If Heinlein was such an insightful writer, then what have we learned from
those insights?

Jim Harris


Don Aitken

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Mar 21, 2002, 4:32:58 PM3/21/02
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On Thu, 21 Mar 2002 09:34:38 -0600, Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu>
wrote:

I hope nobody minds if I move this out of the Panshin thread - I think
a lot of people are avoiding those!

>ORPHANS OF THE SKY was one of Heinlein's best pieces of original thinking
>and its probably the least reprinted of his books. Brian Aldiss and Gene
>Wolfe have explored the idea, but the generational ship is probably the
>least popular idea for a science fiction story and probably the most
>practical concept for getting people to the stars. Wolfe turns the idea
>into a baroque fantasy, although a powerful literary vision, it doesn't do
>much to promote the idea of space travel.
>

It was reprinted last year in the UK in Gollancz's "SF Collector's
Edition" - expensive (£9.99) large-format paperback. It may not have
sold well, beacuse I picked up mine for £3 within months of
publication.

I was pleased to find it, because I hadn't read it since I was a
teenager. It came as near to disappointing me as Heinlein ever has.
Although it bears a 1963 copyright date, I don't think it can have
been much revised, if at all, from the 1941 version. The ideas are
there, but some of the writing is pretty clumsy. It's nowhere near as
good as, say, Double Star, which I've also just reread. That book has
plenty of ideas, and also, surprisingly, reveals RAH as a real expert
on the functioning of constutional monarchy; I say that as somebody
who has made a serious study of the subject. Right there you can tell
that this was a man who really *thought* about forms of government and
the way they functioned, unlike most of the RAH wannabes out there.
But the thing that really struck me, reading the two books in quick
succession, was how much more smoothly and efficiently he was telling
the story.

--
Don Aitken

Jim Harris

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Mar 21, 2002, 5:41:31 PM3/21/02
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Don Aitken wrote:

When I wanted to reread it last year I had to buy a used copy on
http://abebooks.com . Since then it's been reprinted in the U.S. It is old
Heinlein, but I still find it has a great sense of wonder. I've read that the
generational ship idea wasn't new to Heinlein, but I've never read an earlier
story. If mankind is going to reach the stars, it will be by the slow boat
method. FTL is a fantasy. Cold storage is probably unworkable.

Now how many SF stories do you see using generational ships? Not many. It's
like readers don't think it's sexy enough. People want STAR WARS where people
zip around the galaxy in their personal rocket ships that can travel between
stars in a matter of hours like a commute between NYC and DC.

Maybe no one wants to fantasize about getting on a rocket that's going to be
like living on a aircraft carrier for the rest of their lives without getting
anywhere. Even if that's true, people need to explore the idea.

Regarding ORPHANS IN THE SKY, it would take many generations to forget the
purpose of the voyage. But what if intersteller travel took 2000 years? Do
we give up or go?

I need to reread DOUBLE STAR. Haven't done that in a long while.

Jim Harris


James Gifford

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Mar 21, 2002, 6:17:40 PM3/21/02
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Jim Harris wrote:

> Now how many SF stories do you see using generational ships? Not many. It's
> like readers don't think it's sexy enough. People want STAR WARS where people
> zip around the galaxy in their personal rocket ships that can travel between
> stars in a matter of hours like a commute between NYC and DC.


Or, in LeGuin novels, between AC and DC. :)

--

| James Gifford - Nitrosyncretic Press |
| http://www.nitrosyncretic.com for the Heinlein FAQ & more |
| Tired of auto-spam... change "not" to "net" for replies |

Jani

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Mar 21, 2002, 6:43:46 PM3/21/02
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"Jim Harris" <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote in message
news:3C99FD8E...@memphis.edu...


> It's one thing to say Heinlein challenged long-held beliefs, the important
> thing is what people did with this insight. And I'm not sure if they did
> that much.

I think that's at the heart of it, Jim. RAH challenged beliefs on a lot of
levels, including science, engineering, religion, social psychology - damn,
he didn't stint. A generational ship is only one facet of that, and perhaps
people pick up on the part of RAH that they can cope with and understand.
I'm no engineer, and the idea of sending my children out on a generational
ship - ack. For me, the amazing thing about OotS was that they hadn't killed
each other long before - and then I looked at what he was saying about the
socio-political structure on the ship. Now *that made sense :)

Jani

bookman

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Mar 22, 2002, 6:18:47 AM3/22/02
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Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote in message
news:3C9A619B...@memphis.edu...

<SNIP>

>
> When I wanted to reread it last year I had to buy a used copy on
> http://abebooks.com . Since then it's been reprinted in the U.S. It is
old
> Heinlein, but I still find it has a great sense of wonder. I've read that
the
> generational ship idea wasn't new to Heinlein, but I've never read an
earlier
> story. If mankind is going to reach the stars, it will be by the slow
boat
> method. FTL is a fantasy. Cold storage is probably unworkable.
>

<SNIP>

> Jim Harris

What about constant-acceleration ships? I haven't run the numbers,
but at speed-of-light, round trips to the nearest few stars would be
possible, time-wise. At 1 Gee constant, it still oughta be do-able
for one generation, one way.

Let's infest the universe! Heh-heh-heh...

Rusty the bookman


Andrew Preston

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Mar 22, 2002, 7:33:50 AM3/22/02
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"Jim Harris" <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote in message
news:3C9A619B...@memphis.edu...
> Don Aitken wrote:
>
> > On Thu, 21 Mar 2002 09:34:38 -0600, Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu>
> > wrote:
> >
> > >ORPHANS OF THE SKY was one of Heinlein's best pieces of original
thinking
> > >and its probably the least reprinted of his books. Brian Aldiss and
Gene
> > >Wolfe have explored the idea, but the generational ship is probably the
> > >least popular idea for a science fiction story and probably the most
> > >practical concept for getting people to the stars. Wolfe turns the
idea
> > >into a baroque fantasy, although a powerful literary vision, it doesn't
do
> > >much to promote the idea of space travel.
> > >
<<bits snipped... I agree with em, and am on the lookout near home for the
book.. haven't read it in a decade or too *grin*>


> Now how many SF stories do you see using generational ships? Not many.
It's
> like readers don't think it's sexy enough. People want STAR WARS where
people
> zip around the galaxy in their personal rocket ships that can travel
between
> stars in a matter of hours like a commute between NYC and DC.
>
> Maybe no one wants to fantasize about getting on a rocket that's going to
be
> like living on a aircraft carrier for the rest of their lives without
getting
> anywhere. Even if that's true, people need to explore the idea.
>
> Regarding ORPHANS IN THE SKY, it would take many generations to forget the
> purpose of the voyage. But what if intersteller travel took 2000 years?
Do
> we give up or go?
>
> I need to reread DOUBLE STAR. Haven't done that in a long while.
>
> Jim Harris
>

Harry Harrison wrote a generation ship book called "Captive Universe" which
had a similar feel to Orphans of the Sky. Basic premise was to take Aztec
culture villages, genetically held back intelligence wise as the passengers,
with a crew watching over them. Once the ship arrived at it's destination,
the two villages would be allowed to intermarry, releasing the dormant
'genius' gene.
The Aztec taboos were viciously enforced, with death being a penalty for
breaching.. harsh, but in line with the Aztec traditions.


He made several good points during the book.

Estimated voyage duration ... 500 years

The ship was a hollowed out asteroid, taking decades to build.

The fact that there was a crew and technology backing it up enabled the
'magic' of the Aztecs to be performed (not allowing the sun to rise for
example)

The watching crew were themselves genetically modified, with no high
intelligence, but a deep seated compulsion for the procedures of ship
maintenance.

Both of the populations of the ship resisted change, even to the point of
diverting the ship past the original destination just to keep the status
quo. The original designer (politician?) of the ship was the god to the crew
by the time the book's events take place.

It was an enjoyable book in general, and would make a good juvenile too
perhaps.


Andrew


TreetopAngel

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Mar 22, 2002, 10:07:56 AM3/22/02
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"Andrew Preston" makes a suggestion:

Thanks Andrew! I will have to look out for that one. I love Harry
Harrison!

TreetopAngel
(back to the bookstore)

Mac

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Mar 22, 2002, 4:22:24 PM3/22/02
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On Fri, 22 Mar 2002 22:33:50 +1000, "Andrew Preston"
<agpr...@bigpond.com.nospam> wrote:

>Harry Harrison wrote a generation ship book called "Captive Universe" which
>had a similar feel to Orphans of the Sky. Basic premise was to take Aztec
>culture villages, genetically held back intelligence wise as the passengers,
>with a crew watching over them. Once the ship arrived at it's destination,
>the two villages would be allowed to intermarry, releasing the dormant
>'genius' gene.
>The Aztec taboos were viciously enforced, with death being a penalty for
>breaching.. harsh, but in line with the Aztec traditions.

**************
Thanks for mentioning this.
Don't know how I managed to miss it.
---Mac

Gary Cavender

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Mar 22, 2002, 7:31:25 PM3/22/02
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On Fri, 22 Mar 2002 11:18:47 GMT, "bookman"
<Thebo...@kc.rr.NULL.com> wrote:


>What about constant-acceleration ships? I haven't run the numbers,
>but at speed-of-light, round trips to the nearest few stars would be
>possible, time-wise. At 1 Gee constant, it still oughta be do-able
>for one generation, one way.
>
>Let's infest the universe! Heh-heh-heh...
>
>Rusty the bookman


Making a few assumptions:
1) Ignore the Lorantz-Fitzgerald Contraction and the
Penrose-Terrell Rotation
2) You have unlimited reaction mass
3) You will travel in a "straight line" to your destination
(I know - can't be done)

Setting the stage:
1) You want to visit Proxima Centauri 4.07 x 10^16 m away
(4.3 light years)
2) Acceleration = 9.8 m/s^2
3) Initial velocity V(i) = 0
4) Final velocity = c (3 x 10^8 m/s)
5) d = V(i)t + 1/2at^2 and d = v(f)t - 1/2at^2


Accelerating at a constant 1 g, you'll reach the speed of light in
3.06 x 10^7 sec. (354 days). During this time you will have traveled
4.59 x 10^15 m. At that point you will have another 1.58 x 10^16 m to
go. Now at a constant speed of c, it will take an additional 5.25 x
10^7 sec (another 608 days). At this point you are halfway to Proxima
Centauri.

Now turn the ship around and begin to experience an acceleration of a
-9.8 m/s^2. The distance you have to travel is 2.04 x 10^16 m (the
second half of the trip). The time it will take (at the constant
acceleration of -9.8 m/s^2) will be 6.44 x 10^7 sec (746 days). At
the end of this - you will have traveled 4.3 light years in a total of
4.8 years.

(Someone please check my math)

Gary Cavender

Jim Harris

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Mar 22, 2002, 7:59:19 PM3/22/02
to
bookman wrote:

> What about constant-acceleration ships? I haven't run the numbers,
> but at speed-of-light, round trips to the nearest few stars would be
> possible, time-wise. At 1 Gee constant, it still oughta be do-able
> for one generation, one way.
>
> Let's infest the universe! Heh-heh-heh...
>
> Rusty the bookman

That's probably the optimal way to go. Nice gravity, builds up huge speeds, can
go places in a lifetime. But I'm not sure about practical propulsion systems.
I think for that kind of energy you need anti-matter engines, and that might not
be possible, or practical because of the radiation. If you search Google for
"interstellar propulsion" you will find lots of ideas, but also lots of problems
with each. It's been awhile since I researched this, so my memory isn't very
good. Put I think practical scientists are only hoping for a small fraction of
the speed of light.

I think we should infest the universe. Even with slow methods, you can infest
the galaxy.

Jim Harris

Jim Harris

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Mar 22, 2002, 8:09:41 PM3/22/02
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Gary Cavender wrote:

I can't check your math because I lack the skill. I'm impressed and wish
I could whip out mathematical thinking like that.

By the way, what would be the relatistic affect of those 4.8 years? If
the whole trip was done instantly at lightspeed, the trip would take 4.3
years. You have acceleration and deceleration to and from light speed at
354 days each, but it only adds .5 year to the trip. That doesn't sound
right. Can you explain that?

Jim Harris

David Wright

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Mar 22, 2002, 8:16:56 PM3/22/02
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"Jim Harris" <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote in message
news:3C9BD5D8...@memphis.edu...
> Gary Cavender wrote:
>

(snip)

> By the way, what would be the relatistic affect of those 4.8 years? If
> the whole trip was done instantly at lightspeed, the trip would take 4.3
> years. You have acceleration and deceleration to and from light speed at
> 354 days each, but it only adds .5 year to the trip. That doesn't sound
> right. Can you explain that?
>

I can't give you a mathematical answer either, but basically, the problem
appears to me to be that for most of the trip, you are not traveling close
enough to the speed of light to have that big of a relativistics effect. If
you could accelerate and decelerate instantaneously, then you could make the
trip in zero elapsed personal time in the 4.3 years of regular time.

David W.


Jim Harris

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Mar 22, 2002, 8:18:04 PM3/22/02
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Andrew Preston wrote:

That sounds interesting. I'll try and track down a copy. It does seem like an
overly involved way to create a ship board society. I'm not sure all of that is
needed. 500 years is like from Christopher Columbus to now. But the technology
would be in place to keep people educated. But even by old standards, we have
remembered our history and haven't forgotten all that much.

Jim

Gary Cavender

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Mar 22, 2002, 11:07:02 PM3/22/02
to
On Sat, 23 Mar 2002 01:09:41 GMT, Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu>
wrote:


>By the way, what would be the relatistic affect of those 4.8 years? If
>the whole trip was done instantly at lightspeed, the trip would take 4.3
>years. You have acceleration and deceleration to and from light speed at
>354 days each, but it only adds .5 year to the trip. That doesn't sound
>right. Can you explain that?
>
>Jim Harris
>


The "trick" to the problem is the acceleration.

Distance to travel At the speed of light With acceleration of 1 g
4.59 X 10^15 m 177 days 354 days

The same would be true with negative acceleration. Traveling at
constant speed takes 1/2 the time it takes when undergoing negative
acceleration.

As a result, the advantage of traveling at the speed of light isn't as
great as one may think.

Gary Cavender

Don Aitken

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Mar 23, 2002, 9:25:03 AM3/23/02
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On Sat, 23 Mar 2002 04:07:02 GMT, gary...@charter.net (Gary Cavender)
wrote:

>On Sat, 23 Mar 2002 01:09:41 GMT, Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu>
>wrote:
>
>>By the way, what would be the relatistic affect of those 4.8 years? If
>>the whole trip was done instantly at lightspeed, the trip would take 4.3
>>years. You have acceleration and deceleration to and from light speed at
>>354 days each, but it only adds .5 year to the trip. That doesn't sound
>>right. Can you explain that?
>>

>The "trick" to the problem is the acceleration.
>
>Distance to travel At the speed of light With acceleration of 1 g
>4.59 X 10^15 m 177 days 354 days
>
>The same would be true with negative acceleration. Traveling at
>constant speed takes 1/2 the time it takes when undergoing negative
>acceleration.
>
>As a result, the advantage of traveling at the speed of light isn't as
>great as one may think.
>

But you can't ignore relativistic effects (nor can you talk about
travelling "at" the speed of light). I suspect that the way to
minimise your travel time is to keep up a steady release of energy,
sufficient to produce a 1g acceleration at rest, until you are halfway
there. Is this necessarily true, though? Most of the energy will go
into increasing your mass rather than your velocity, so the
acceleration is *not* constant, but decreases over time and approaches
zero as your velocity approaches c. In any case, it is not as simple
as your calculation suggested, and I am not convinced that your method
even gives a reasonable approximation. I think the way to approach it
is to start from the fact that momentum is conserved.

Once up on a time I could have done this calculation. Ah, me!


--
Don Aitken

TreetopAngel

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Mar 23, 2002, 10:19:27 AM3/23/02
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"Gary Cavender" Totally confuses me with:

<whimper>
I can't, I don't have enough toes!

TreetopAngel
(math challenged)


Mike Dworetsky

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Mar 23, 2002, 10:40:07 AM3/23/02
to

Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote in message
news:3C9BD369...@memphis.edu...

> bookman wrote:
>
> > What about constant-acceleration ships? I haven't run the numbers,
> > but at speed-of-light, round trips to the nearest few stars would be
> > possible, time-wise. At 1 Gee constant, it still oughta be do-able
> > for one generation, one way.
> >
> > Let's infest the universe! Heh-heh-heh...
> >
> > Rusty the bookman
>
> That's probably the optimal way to go. Nice gravity, builds up huge
speeds, can
> go places in a lifetime. But I'm not sure about practical propulsion
systems.
> I think for that kind of energy you need anti-matter engines, and that
might not
> be possible, or practical because of the radiation. If you search Google
for
> "interstellar propulsion" you will find lots of ideas, but also lots of
problems
> with each. It's been awhile since I researched this, so my memory isn't
very
> good. Put I think practical scientists are only hoping for a small
fraction of
> the speed of light.

Even with matter-antimatter as source of energy, you would find it difficult
to travel between the stars at relativistic speeds, if you had to take the
fuel with you.

Non-relativistic generation starships are possible in principle, 1g constant
acceleration at relativistic speeds as in Time for the Stars probably isn't.
Just remember, you have to accelerate the huge reaction mass in the tanks as
well as the payload of crew and equipment. And you have to have enough fuel
left to be able to slow and stop at a suitable destination.

But remember Heinlein's calculation in Expanded Universe about the effects
of constant acceleration--you can do quite a lot even if you can only do
1/100g continuously.

Light sails and laser propulsion as in Forward's Flight of the Dragonfly and
Niven and Pournell's The Mote in God's Eye are theoretically feasible, but
like any such venture very expensive.

The other problem is the gas and dust between the stars. At a sizeable
fraction of c, the problem of shielding against impacts is going to be quite
serious. See A C Clarke's Songs of Distant Earth for interstellar travel at
the limits of known or extrapolated known physics.

But book me a ticket on the first ship, just in case...

--
Mike Dworetsky


bookman

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Mar 23, 2002, 4:23:17 PM3/23/02
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Mike Dworetsky <mi...@platinum198.u-net.com> wrote in message
news:2t3n8.238$7L2.4...@newsr2.u-net.net...

As for the 'stuff' on space, if you could do E=MC^2,
and has a good feild, then collect & use that mass.

Bussard Ramjet?

Rusty the bookman
all I want is to emulate DD Harriman's death <G>

William Hughes

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Mar 23, 2002, 6:09:38 PM3/23/02
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On Sat, 23 Mar 2002 21:23:17 GMT, in alt.fan.heinlein "bookman"
<Thebo...@kc.rr.NULL.com> wrote:

> As for the 'stuff' on space, if you could do E=MC^2,
> and has a good feild, then collect & use that mass.
>
> Bussard Ramjet?

"Riding the Torch" by Spinrad, IIRC.


Tony

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Mar 23, 2002, 11:22:52 PM3/23/02
to

Just to point out a couple of TV related items in this same vein of
thought - see the ST:TOS episode "For the World Is Hollow and I Have
Touched The Sky" about a generation ship in a hollowed asteroid AND the
1 season show "The Starlost" - very similar to "Captive Universe" in
storyline but also akin to the story of "Orphans" - conceived by Harlan
Ellison but heavily bastardized by the producers resulting in H.E.'s
name being removed at his request and a pseudonym substituted for the
creator's name.

jeanette

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Mar 23, 2002, 11:32:11 PM3/23/02
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Several months ago I asked about a book I had read over twenty years ago
about a generation ship. I couldn't remember the name. I got
suggestions and read several interesting books but until last week, I
had not found the book I was looking for. Someone sent me an email with
the name NON-STOP or STARSHIP by Brian W. Aldiss. I read the last page
and it is the one. I will be re-reading the rest of the book next week.

I am not even going to think about doing the math--but to quote 3/8/02
TIME FOR KIDS "Imagine traveling in a spaceship at a speed of 25,000
miles an hour ..... It would still take you .... more than 100,000
years to reach Proxima Centauri." (The closest star after our sun--25
trillion miles.) I know you guys are talking about going faster than
that--but my point is, that it will take a (incomprehensible to me) very
long time.

I would be interested in what kind of people would be going if it was to
be a generational ship. None of the books I read talked much about the
beginning of the trip. The Howards left because they felt they had no
choice. The only reason I would do it would be if things were really,
really bad on Earth. You are committing your grandchildren's
grandchildren to life in a "can". Would they hate you for it? What if
a large portion of some future generation decided they didn't want to
reproduce. Would they be forced to in order to keep a diverse gene
pool? Would jobs be passed down from parent to child? That seems to be
the pattern in some of the books. What if somebody doesn't want to be a
navigator? How many people would it take? How big would the ship have
to be? Who would pay for it (there would be no rewards, even research
ones in the foreseeable future)? What kind of society would there be at
the end of the trip and is that what we want for our (humans) future?
These problems are not new on "spaceship Earth". But there is a lot
more room to move away if you are not happy.

In my opinion, cold sleep with some sort of rotation of ship's crew
would be the only practical way. I just can't imagine how a group could
be picked to start a multi-generational venture that would have a
reasonable guarantee of a successful end result. How many psychologists
would have to go along?

Jeanette--who has a commitment next week that may keep her away from the
group, but who will be back.

charles krin

unread,
Mar 24, 2002, 12:10:55 PM3/24/02
to

so use a magnetic/electric "funnel" to fuel your space ram jet....as
has also been used for generation ships in several books...

then you only need laser clusters ahead to break up any bits of pre
planetary matter big enough not to fit into the ram scoop...presumably
anything too big to break up is big enough to see and avoid in time...

ck
--
country doc in louisiana
(no fancy sayings right now)

James Nicoll

unread,
Mar 24, 2002, 2:48:39 PM3/24/02
to
In article <3C9BD5D8...@memphis.edu>,

Jim Harris <jha...@memphis.edu> wrote:
>Gary Cavender wrote:
>
>> Making a few assumptions:
>> 1) Ignore the Lorantz-Fitzgerald Contraction and the
>> Penrose-Terrell Rotation
>> 2) You have unlimited reaction mass
>> 3) You will travel in a "straight line" to your destination
>> (I know - can't be done)

snip math

>> (Someone please check my math)
>>
>> Gary Cavender
>
>I can't check your math because I lack the skill. I'm impressed and wish
>I could whip out mathematical thinking like that.
>
>By the way, what would be the relatistic affect of those 4.8 years?

None. He said he was ignoring relativity. If you use relativistic
equations, at one gee halfway and one gee the other half (ie; no lithobraking
at Alpha C (1)) it only takes about 3 1/2 years to get to AC. If you do use
lithobraking or star-ramming to slow down or some other abrupt method of
stopping, one gee will get you there in something like two years four
months.

Ignoring nasty side-issues like 'where's the reaction mass coming
from' and 'avoiding dust particles with the kinetic energy of the nuclear
arsenal of Britain', a magic one-gee drive that never needs refueling
will get to Alpha C in 3.5 years, Tau Ceti in a bit over five, the center
of the galaxy in 24, Andromeda in about 28 and the observable horizon of the
universe in about 45 years, although in the last case like the end of the
rainbow the observable horizon will have moved by the time you go 15
billion light years.

The catch is the farther you go, the more your calender and the
one at home will disagree if you go home: round trip to Alpha C will
take seven years by the ship's clock and twelve by Earth's but round
trip to the center of the galaxy will take just under fifty years for
the ship and about seventy millenia for Earth. Remember to get paid for
the duration measured from Earth and not from the ship.

James Nicoll

1: Or the varient in Barton and Capobianco's _Alpha Centauri_, where they
brake from 1/7th C using Alpha Centauri C's photosphere. Star ramming,
the new extreme sport of the 23rd century.
--
"I think you mean 'Could libertarian slave-owning Confederates, led by
SHWIers, have pulled off a transatlantic invasion of Britain, in revenge
for the War of 1812, if they had nukes acquired from the Sea of Time?'"
Alison Brooks (? - 2002)

James Nicoll

unread,
Mar 24, 2002, 3:10:13 PM3/24/02
to
In article <3c9bc721...@news.charter.net>,

I think I see a problem here. It should take you no longer
to slow down than it did to speed up, so the deceleration phase should
be equal to the acceleration phase: 3.06x10^7 seconds and 4.59x10^15 m,
for a total of 6x10^7 s spent in boost mode and 9.2x10^15 m in boost
mode, leaving around 3.2x10^16 m in coast mode at C.

>Now turn the ship around and begin to experience an acceleration of a
>-9.8 m/s^2. The distance you have to travel is 2.04 x 10^16 m (the
>second half of the trip). The time it will take (at the constant
>acceleration of -9.8 m/s^2) will be 6.44 x 10^7 sec (746 days). At
>the end of this - you will have traveled 4.3 light years in a total of
>4.8 years.
>
>(Someone please check my math)

I get 3.4 years coasting and 1.9 years boosting for a total of
5.3 years.

Let's see, if it's a relativistic ship it accelerates
for a year and gets to 0.78 C, covering around 0.57 ly. It will
want to slow down so make that 1.15 ly, taking two years as far
as the ship is concerned. That leaves 3.15 ly at 0.78 C, or about
four years, except at 0.78 C time dilation will be about 0.63
so the ship will measure that four years as taking 2.5.

Total time to Alpha C, about 4.5 years, within the sort of
time span people used to use to circumnavigate the world.

Unfortunately, after Alpha C, the pickings for sunlike stars
are slim: Epsilon Eridani at 10.5 ly or 9.5 years to reach is the next
closest. Thanks to the way volumes work, the number of targets goes
up quickly with ship time after that, though.

Mike Dworetsky

unread,
Mar 24, 2002, 4:29:34 PM3/24/02
to

charles krin <ck...@iamerica.net> wrote in message
news:eavr9u0l16tdhbqa7...@4ax.com...

Well, easy to write stories based on it, but very hard to do either,
especially as the interstellar atoms are mostly neutral and unaffected by
magnetic fields. Ionizing might be possible using lasers. And how do you
make such a magnetic field of the required size???

Still, if you can get the bugs out of it, could work I suppose.

--
Mike Dworetsky


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