To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts:
1. Legal Standing. 2. Safety Awareness. 3. Economic Viability. 4. Theoretical-Empirical Relationship. 5. Technological Feasibility.
In this post I will explore Safety Awareness.
In the heady rush to propose academically acceptable ideas about new propulsions systems or star drives it is very easy to overlook safety considerations. The eminent cosmologist Carl Sagan said it best “So the problem is not to shield the payload, the problem is to shield the earth” (Planet. Space Sci., pp. 485 – 498, 1963)
It is perfectly acceptable if not warranted to propose these technologically infeasible star drives based on antimatter and exotic matter, as academic exercises because we need to understand what is possible and why. However, we need to inform the public of the safety issues when doing so.
I do not understand how any physicist or propulsion engineer, in his/her right mind, not qualify their academic exercise in antimatter propulsion or star drive with a statement similar to Carl Saga’s. At the very least it gets someone else thinking about those safety problems, and we can arrive at a solution sooner, if one exists.
We note that the distinguished Carl Sagan did not shy away from safety issues. He was mindful of the consequences and is an example of someone pushing the limits of safety awareness in the spirit of the Kline Directive, to explore issues which others would (could?) not.
We have to ask ourselves, how did we regress? From Sagan’s let us consider all ancillary issues, to our current let us ignore all ancillary issues. The inference I am forced to come to is that Carl Sagan was a one-man team, while the rest of us lesser beings need to come together as multi-person teams to stay on track, to achieve interstellar travel.
In interstellar & interplanetary space there are two parts to safety, radiation shielding and projectile shielding. Radiation shielding is about shielding from x-ray and gamma rays. Projectile shielding is about protection from physical damage caused by small particle collisions.
I may be wrong but I haven’t come across anyone even attempting to address either problems. I’ve heard of strategies such as using very strong electric fields or even of using millions of tons of metal shielding but these are not realistic. I’ve even heard of the need to address these issues but nothing more.
Safety is a big issue that has not been addressed. So how are we going to solve this? What do we need to explore that others have not? What do we need to seek that others would not? What do we need to change, that others dare not?
Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.
Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.