Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scientists: Stray Hydrogen Atoms Can Kill Starships Traveling Faster Than Light

Some 'scientists' are arguing that single atoms in space become deadly hazards at faster-than-light speeds:

Interstellar space is an empty place. For every cubic centimetre, there are fewer than two hydrogen atoms, on average, compared with 30 billion billion atoms of air here on Earth.[...]

Special relativity describes how space and time are distorted for observers travelling at different speeds. For the crew of a spacecraft ramping up to light speed, interstellar space would appear highly compressed, thereby increasing the number of hydrogen atoms hitting the craft.[...]

The spacecraft's hull would provide little protection. Edelstein calculates that a 10-centimetre-thick layer of aluminium would absorb less than 1 per cent of the energy. Because hydrogen atoms have a proton for a nucleus, this leaves the crew exposed to dangerous ionising radiation that breaks chemical bonds and damages DNA. "Hydrogen atoms are unavoidable space mines," says Edelstein.

Well, duh, Edelstein. That's what the deflector dish is for.

Sheesh. When I read articles like this, I can only conclude that the peer-review system is completely broken.

via Popular Science


Johnny Cat said...

Seriously nice geek cred there, John. Wish you were in MY sci-fi club back in school.

Mike said...

Peer Review is all an elaborate hoax to make proofreading seem like a laudable profession.

Mike said...

Whoops, that should have had this link, but that was a good one too.

John said...

I used to read ChicagoBoyz daily. But a few months ago, I left a comment wherein I strongly, but politely, disagreed with Lexington. He deleted it. I first thought that it was a glitch, so I re-wrote my comment. Lexington deleted it again.

I emailed the webmaster and asked for an explanation. He said that my comment had been deleted, but wouldn't explain why.

So I stopped reading ChicagoBoyz. I really liked that blog, but I won't go if I'm not welcome.

John said...

Thanks, JC. You had a sci-fi club in high school? All I had was French Club.