Interstellar travel: all those tiny impacts add up


Staff member
4 Jun 2021
2,047 (3.76/day)
In most videos and discussions about really high speed interstellar travel at some fraction of the speed of light, the one thing I've thought about that they don't usually talk about are the super high speed impacts with the diffuse dust and gas at very low pressure out there in space. But those things matter. A whole lot. Not only are the impacts a helluva lot harder, but much more frequent too as the ship covers enormous distances in a short time.

This video talks about what happens when the ship impacts this stuff and the kind of shielding required at just 0.2c (speed of light). Personally, I think the only proper solution to this problem will be some sort of force field extending out from the ship, mainly towards the front to deflect those particles. Now, since we don't have sci-fi style force fields and likely never will, it would have to be an electric field which is doable in principle. It also won't work against uncharged particles, so it's not a silver bullet fix.

Check out the video and be fascinated by this problem. If you have any suggestions for fixing this, let's hear it.

Nerd level: impactful.

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