Friday, December 11, 2009

Dark Matter and Black Hole Powered Starships

Once upon a time, it was the science fiction authors who believed in the possibility of interstellar voyages and the scientists who were skeptical. These days, so many SF authors have given up on traveling between the stars as a naive and impossible fantasy. So I'm glad to see this piece in the New Scientist, "Dark Power: Grand designs for interstellar travel," in which mathematicians Louis Crane and Shawn Westmoreland at Kansas State University in Manhattan  propose ways to shorten the trip to Proxima Centauri from 74,000 years to "just a few" years.

I was particuarly interested in this bit of Ian M Bank-ish speculation:
"Crane then wondered what would happen if intelligent civilisations could make black holes. This would mean that life in these universes played a key role in the proliferation of baby universes.... He believes we are seeing Darwinian selection operating on the largest possible scale: only universes that contain life can make black holes and then go on to give birth to other universes, while the lifeless universes are an evolutionary dead end."

3 comments:

gary gibson said...

Thanks for posting that link - that's *my* next book sorted out.

Lou Anders said...

Isn't it though? Particularly the end comments...

j purdie said...

You don't give any credence to New Scientist do you? The oily rag sinks lower and lower each week.