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XPRIZE Blog: Hold That Thought... Forever?

XPRIZE Blog: Hold That Thought... Forever?

Friends, if we're going to explore space, we need to talk for a moment about what we might have to do if we never achieve warp drive... or worse — if warp drive turns out to be possible, but actually using it is terrible idea (that sound you hear in the distance might be a Hekaran scientist yelling about the damage to the spacetime fabric induced by warp-speed travel). You and I know that the distances between the stars are almost unfathomably huge; even traveling at or near the speed of light, it'll take decades (if not centuries) to poke around our corner of the galaxy to see what's what — and that's without factoring in the unavoidable relativistic time-dilation effects.So how are we going to manage those long journeys between the stars? If we send out ships, the people on them are going to need to breathe and eat, and that takes a lot of supplies. We basically have two options:We can build ships with their own self-sustaining ecosystems and fill them with enough people to ensure a healthy breeding population, point those ships at the nearest promising-looking planets, and fire up the engines. Hopefully, once they arrive, there'll still be people on board — although they may be the descendants of the original crew 10 (or 100) generations removed. Essentially, we'd be preparing little capsules of human civilization and sending them into the void, hoping the inhabitants don't mutate enough to self-destruct along the way or present a threat to anyone else. That approach might present some problems. After all, life in a hollow world can get…complicated.

Jon Sung is a contributing writer for XPRIZE and copywriting gun-for-hire to startups and ventures all over the San Francisco Bay area. When not wrangling words for business or pleasure, he serves as the captain of the USS Loma Prieta, the hardest-partying
fan club in San Francisco.

XPRIZE is an innovation engine. We design and operate prize competitions to address global crises and market failures, and incentivize teams around the world to solve them. Currently, we are operating numerous prizes, including the $30M Google Lunar XPRIZE, challenging privately funded teams to successfully land a robot on the Moon’s surface, and the $10M Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE, challenging teams around the world to create a portable, wireless,
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