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How Many People Do We Need To Live Among The Stars?

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interstellar travelThis isn’t a “how many people would it take to screw in a lightbulb” type of riddle. Provided we can figure out interstellar travel, the next question is how many people we’d need to put on spacecrafts to begin to populate whatever new world we find. Different scenarios have different timeframes. Maybe it will only take roughly one human lifetime to get to, say, Proxima Centauri, which is over 4 light years away. Or maybe it we’re talking about a couple of lifetimes, which would affect the numbers of humans we’d need on board. It’s a question with so many variables that it sounds impossible to calculate, but if science has taught us anything, it’s that everything is calculable. Whether the numbers are correct is another question, and it seems like the initial calculations significantly underestimate how many people we need to colonize another star system.

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Seven Possible Scenarios For Manned Interstellar Travel

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starshipSince we learned that Voyager 1 has been in interstellar space for over a year, it’s become a bit easier to imagine that someday humans might follow. At the moment, we’re a bit more focused on getting humans to Mars and watching how that goes on reality TV, but scientists are thinking big and many of them believe that we can make major strides in interstellar travel in the next 100 years. That is, if the government gets its act together.

Of course, while some scientists believe colonizing space is an eventuality, others believe it’ll never happen, and some, including NASA’s former Breakthrough Propulsion Physics Project head, Marc Millis, question the claim that we could reach the stars this century. The problem is that we don’t currently know of a way to power these trips, and even when we do figure that out, it’ll take a while to implement those technologies in interstellar spacecraft. Still, even Millis is game to try — he founded the Tau Zero Foundation to research technologies that might propel us beyond the solar system.