Even if we Reach Light Speed – is Colonization a Possibility?

Interstellar space travel is one of the main draws of the fantasy genre. It has been more than a century that we as a whole race have fantasized about traveling to other star systems, discovering other worlds, colonizing them, finding new life forms, even waging wars with aliens but how close is it to reality? Is it even possible to colonize when one is limited by the physical “speed cap” that has been put upon us? Or is the speed of light even reachable for us?

Well to keep it nice easy and short – no. Traveling with the speed of light requires an object to lose mass. The light is able to do it since photons have none of it. Light is composed of photons, which are massless particles. The theory is that it has speed and momentum but no mass meaning that the particle can achieve the long-desired speed of light or 299,792,458 meters per second. To be fair, achieving this speed would enable us to colonize the whole solar system but what happens when we go beyond? Is it enough? To be fair, considering the fact that the closest star to our solar system is 4.22 light-years away (meaning that it takes 4.22 years of travel with the speed of light to get there) it doesn’t give us much headroom. 

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What are astronauts even going to be doing during their free time? Fortunately, we have some clues as to what they are supposed to do. On the International Space Station (ISS) humanity is always swapping astronauts in and out. It’s not all work and no free time though. The idea is that after some time they have to have fun somehow otherwise everyone would become extremely depressed. Flight planners on Earth usually schedule a time for astronauts to have fun and relax. Things like looking out of the window (which is much more fascinating than from your home on Earth). Sunsets and sunrises occur every 45 minutes from there so it’s an extremely interesting experience. Apart from that they usually watch movies, play music, read some books. 

Space theme has become something of a trend in the world as of now. This is in the face of SpaceX becoming the first private company launching humans into space. It has caused a huge boom in the creative community with the internet getting filled with space-related content. The gambling industry is not going to fall from this trend though as we are already seeing loads of space-themed casino slots to play online that funnily enough sometimes go by the motto “astronaut’s favorite game.” Jokes aside though, the interest in space is an extremely important step for humankind in general. Scientific innovation is the main driving force of technological advancement in the 21st century. Peering into space up above gives us the ability to think of more comfortable and beautiful ways to live here on the surface of our blue planet.

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A renowned physicist Michio Kaku, who is known as one of the founders of String Field Theory (a subset of String Theory), has argued in his book The Future of Humanity that our future lies in stars rather than Earth.

In a phone interview with National Geographic, he has stated his admiration towards innovators like Elon Musk who are actively working on transforming the space travel.

He goes to explain why laser porting may be one of the best ways to reach other galaxies at that. The book itself makes some shocking assumptions like a famous quote “Either we must leave the Earth or we will perish.”

The quote is not fully unfounded though. The idea that Earth is too small for the population of the entire human race is becoming more and more visible. Wars, plagues, poverty, shortage of food, and water. All of this is considered preaching doom in the western world, however, it is not far from reality for a lot of people all across the world. With a significant part of humanity still struggling to survive in the vast hinterlands of Africa, war-torn middle-east, or just poorly developed regions of India or the Republic of China.

Climate change is also coming up fast and it is becoming clearer day by day that all we can do is slow down the process. It is not all that bad though. Humanity and its activities that are required for our existence have accelerated the coming of such a colossal event but it doesn’t mean that we are all going to up and die one day. There are still numerous mechanisms we can operate to make sure that humanity survives.

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On the other hand, if we start looking at the history of our planet we will notice that 99.99% of all life forms have gone extinct. We can argue that humanity is different since we have something that other animals and insects do not – the ability to think freely and create. One thing is for certain though – things do change and if we do not adapt we will die. Here at the office, we are firm believers in humanity. Humans are extremely good at one thing – survival.

We outpace and outmatch literally every being that has ever existed even though we do not possess the physical power of a bear, nor we have jaws and teeth that can easily break bones and by far we are not the biggest animals out there. There’s one thing that we have over everyone else – a space program. 

Jokes aside though, the space program is one of the biggest achievements that humans have ever done. The first steps on the Moon is a milestone no other live being in our reality has achieved.

This by far does not mean that we have to pollute and destroy our planet though. The idea is that it’s quite impossible to transfer the whole population of the earth to Mars or any other planet at hand. If anything, the red planet is three times smaller than Earth and has almost no resources that we require for a living.

As Carl Sagan once said Earth is located in the middle of the shooting gallery with lots of asteroids in our way, which not only haven’t been discovered but cannot even be seen with our technology. He humorously urged to become at least two-planet species before we start experimenting with the livelihood of Earth. 

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It is worth noting that we do not actually need to be able to travel with a speed of light to reach Mars. The issue is terraformation. Both Musk and NASA are focusing on Mars as their next milestone. The issues arise immediately on ground zero. Sending astronauts to Mars isn’t as easy as sending them to Moon.

The idea is that it only takes 3 days to get to the moon but Mars is quite a bit more far away. In the best-case scenario, once the planets align it takes 9 months to get to Mars and then a couple more for the planets to realign themselves again and the same amount back. This is a two-year endeavor with problems like weightlessness, cosmic radiation, and micrometeorites that are proving to be huge issues for humans that aren’t really designed to live outside of our 9.8g gravity area. 

If we draw parallels between settlers on Earth it is easy to notice that back in the day wherever humans would go we would have animals to hunt, plants to grow, and soil on which to grow them.

Mars has none of these. It means that we have to bring everything from Earth. We require robots that will build needed infrastructure, then genetically engineered crops that are able to survive in those conditions and nanotechnology that gives us the ability to have lightweight but also extremely robust materials that are already made to be domes on Mars. 

Mars aside, if we are talking about deep space expiration as we have already mentioned there is a huge problem at hand. It requires years and years to travel on the intergalactic level even with the speed of light. Unfortunately even thinking about sending humans that far away is the furthest stretch of fantasy possible.

As of now, we are better off shooting different robots in every direction and studying everything we can to make sure that once we have the technology we would be able to send us to furthest stars. 


We monitors and writes about new technologies in areas such as technology, innovation, digitization, space, Earth, IT and AI.

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