Interstellar Travel » True Interstellar Travel

In the New Scientist 4 September 1999 edition there was an article on Plasma Drives which could be built to reach speeds of ten million kilometres a day. Even this is only about 1/250 times the speed of light. If there is a hypothetical planet within the habitable zone of Epsilon Eridani, one of our nearest stars, it would take slightly over 2,500 years to reach it using the hypothetical plasma drive described in the article. Going one further an article entitled “Dark Power – A Grand Plan for Interstellar Travel” by Marcus Chown was published in the New Scientist of 28 November 2009 suggesting methods of sending star ships at half the speed of light to the nearest stars. This would make it just about possible to send probes to some of the nearest star systems. It would still need a journey of getting on for 20 years to even reach our hypothetical planet in the Epsilon Eridani system. Colonisation in the old sense of the word would be almost impossible. But looking into the far distant future and borrowing a few ideas from Aldous Huxley's tale of a Brave New World it is just conceivable that human eggs and sperm preserved in liquid helium, at only a few degrees above absolute zero, could be sent on a journey to our hypothetical planet round Epsilon Eridani to pioneer life on the young planet even before it had started to evolve there of its own accord. Such an undertaking would have to include the transportation of the eggs and sperm of other animals and a huge collection of plants seeds – a whole vast ecology in fact to start life on a young planet would have to be sent to the Epsilon Eridani System to short cut the normal process of evolution which would usually be expected to take hundreds or even thousands of millions of years. These ideas would seem repugnant as well as unnecessary to many people, including the present author of this website, but are not outside the bounds of possibility to the superscience of the far distant future.

Even if close to light speeds ever becomes a reality it will still only be possible to reach the nearest star systems in anything like a reasonable time span IF THE SPEED OF LIGHT IS THE ONLY BARRIER TO INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL.

The only real possiblity of the true easy interstellar travel, such as is envisaged in Stargate, Star Trek or in Carl Sagan's 'Contact', is by using worm holes in space-time or some other as yet undreamt of means of travel. PERHAPS WE SHOULD NEVER FORGET THE LAWS OF ARTHUR C CLARKE.

Ray Goodwin

Somewhere there are mountains
Glistening in the snow
Somewhere there are mountains
That we shall never know

Somewhere there are rivers
Flowing fast and free
Somewhere there are rivers
That we can never see

Somewhere there are oceans
And sun drenched island sands
Forests full of creatures
In vastly distant lands

Somewhere there’s a planet
Beneath an alien star
The people watch our tiny sun
And wonder where we are

One day perhaps we’ll find them
Across the void of space
Perhaps through ways as yet unknown
We’ll meet them face to face

The author of this web site Ray Goodwin holds B.Sc. Degrees from London University in Chemistry, Geology and Physiology and an M.Sc. in Biochemistry. He has spent most of his professional life teaching in Colleges of Technology. On his retirement he has entered the fields of astronomy, astrochemistry, astrobiology and space sciences. He has spent a great deal of his retirement in visiting amateur astronomy societies and in attending European Space Agency Symposia in ESTEC in the Netherlands and other scientific conferences in England and Sweden. He regularly attends the yearly European Astrofest in South Kensington London and other meetings in the UK. He has written scientific articles and given a number of lectures on diverse scientific subjects.

Readers of this web site are invited to e-mail the author ( and discuss their opinions of the topics dealt with and suggest any changes which they think may be helpful.

Life in the Cosmos Website
Version 01.00 - April 20, 2015.