Long Bet Update

I’ve been surprised by the sizable reaction to my bet with Tibor Pacher, not just in terms of comments here but in related e-mails. For those of you who missed the original post, I found Tibor’s prediction that the first interstellar mission would be launched by 2025 to be an irresistible target. Tibor posted the prediction on the Long Bets site, and the way this works is that someone willing to make a bet on the prediction puts down the money upfront and challenges the predictor to match it.

Negotiations follow, the outcome being that if the terms are worked out and the bet is accepted, it is finalized. Both parties send in their money, and the money grows over the years in a long-term investment portfolio called the Farsight Fund. Ultimately, either the Tau Zero Foundation or (Tibor’s choice) the SOS-Kinderdorf International, will enjoy the result.

Now that Tibor and I have finalized the terms, the details will go up on Long Bets as soon as our funds arrive (which should be in a few days). Until then, I thought you might be interested in some of the details we settled upon. Among other things, we have agreed that:

  • The mission can be a manned or unmanned, either a flyby probe or a spacecraft intended to be captured by the target star’s gravitational field. The mission will have been designed expressly as a mission to another star, and as not an outer-Solar System mission that simply keeps going, with a star more or less along its route of flight.
  • The allowed launch location of the spacecraft is any place in the Solar system within the orbit of Neptune, either from the surface of a Solar System body or from any orbital position.
  • The mission duration must be less than 2000 years.
  • As a minimum requirement for the mission the spacecraft shall be capable of delivering data for at least one scientific measurement.

The actual text of these details and a few other matters will be posted soon on the Long Bets site — I’ll provide the link once it’s available. And as I’ve told more than a few people, I would be delighted to be proven wrong on this matter, for it would mean that our technology is advancing at a far faster clip than I currently assume, and also that enough public support will exist to make such a mission possible. That sort of optimism (even though I think it’s premature) is a bracing tonic after the weekend’s loss of NanoSail-D, a solar sail deployment experiment.

I have to hand it to Paul and Tibor, they have a lot more optimism than I can claim, or wish to have. The loss of the light sail experiment makes number three loss that I know of ( previous Russian and Japanese experiments were destroyed during failed launches ). And of all provable mainstream concepts, this one is sure to work. If we can only get the damn things into orbit to test them!

Then maybe centuries hence, our descendants can have their own legend of The Lady Who sailed The Soul.

Of Solar Sails, Bets and Optimism

24 responses

  1. The Highwayman | Reply

    “I have to hand it to Paul and Tibor, they have a lot more optimism than I can claim, or wish to have.”

    I dunno, Dad, I think you have enough optimism for everyone… light-years beyond anything I could muster for humanity, that’s for sure!

    Course, as you’re well aware of, my optimism lies in another realm!

  2. Hi dad2059 et al. …

    * The mission duration must be less than 2000 years.

    * As a minimum requirement for the mission the spacecraft shall be capable of delivering data for at least one scientific measurement.

    Huh…say what…?!

    With a mission less than 2000 years would mean that the civilization/s that launched probe would not longer be extant nor even be monitoring the launch.

    The mission must deliver data for at least “one” scientific measurement…? One measurement transmitted back to whom. Surely there’l be no mission control left to even monitor any feedback from the star probe using any current state of the art propulsion systems.

    I thought I’d supply some figures I’ve worked out so folks can let it sink into their arithmetically challenged heads as to just how “far” even the nearest star system lies relative our system. All this stuff is nothing but pipe dreams and a waste of good money that could be spent on earth to better the human condition.

    Proxima Centauri at 4.2 light years equals a distance of approximately 25.2 trillion miles, light traveling 5.9 trillion miles per year.

    500,000 mph trip time 5703 yrs
    1,000,000 mph trip time 2852 yrs
    2,000,000 mph trip time 1426 yrs
    4,000,000 mph trip time 713 yrs
    8,000,000 mph trip time 356 yrs
    16,000,000 mph trip time 178 yrs
    32,000,000 mph trip t 89 yrs
    64,000,000 mph trip time 44 yrs
    128,000,000 mph trip time 22yrs
    512,000,000 mph trip time 11yrs

    Acquisition of Proxima Centauri system in 4.2 years at
    670,680,000 mph= distance@ light travels per hour, but time would have to be allowed for deceleration as not to overshoot the target system. No technology exists at this time to achieve even 10 percent of light speed in normal space.

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. The Highwayman | Reply

    Those flight times (given the Lorentz Transformation) would be slightly abbreviated, (for the crew) Carl, however, I share your view that humanity is better off directing it’s time and resources toward earthly issues.

    Of course, any system (automated or otherwise) sent out would still not be heard from for years. There is the distance the return signal has to traverse to consider, too. Even at c, we’re looking at nearly a decade from launch before we get any intel, unless the transmission was continuous. Still, any sudden event transpiring at either end must abide by the laws of physics, requiring time to process. Physics, at least as far as we understand it, is ruthless in these matters.

    I find gardening a great escape from reality, myself.

  4. Greetings Highwayman… : )

    Me too, as far as gardening and enjoying my precious moments in cosmic time and space. I live on acreage in Washington State and for me to simply tale a primally satisfying leak off my deck at 2am ie., Foster’s Bitters inspired on a full moonlit night while I gaze at the distant stars is enough to make me appreciate my place in time and space and the cosmos along with the the fact that the stars and their possible associated planetary systems are far too distant from the ever meddling spacecraft based ways of mice and men from Earth…! : )

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. Actually, I really couldn’t prove how far these systems are from Earth, any more than I can prove how old the Earth is. The same scientists that claim the Earth is billions of years old, and that we are ascended from primates, tell us rather emphatically that the stars are trillions of miles away. Most everything we know about science and the natural world, that we cannot verify by sight and personal experience, we must take on faith. We must take some ‘expert’s’ word for it, because we cannot see these things or verify them in any personal, tangible way.

    Religion is not the only discipline that requires faith. Faith seems to play a very significant role in our being. It is a driving force, for good or bad. My personal observation and belief is that the two were never meant to be separate.

    I can understand where the old marine is coming from. Once, I was caught up in the romance of science fiction, and dreamed of starships and exotic lifeforms on other far-away worlds. The one glaring inconsistency to me was why couldn’t man sort out his social problems, yet still accomplish such technological miracles like land on the moon and transplant organs, and visualize colonizing space. It was illogical that such a being as Homo Sapien should have evolved through so much, only to arrive at the chaos we have now.

    The concept of Christianity, as explained to me, along with a natural philosophical gift, gave me more answers than questions… diametrically opposed to what Humanism could provide. I learned that science, as commonly understood, could not be science as defined, as it wasn’t definitive, and relied on far too much theory and speculation to allow it to remain what it was by popular definition.

    Religion at least admitted that it’s basis was founded upon faith. Science claimed to rely on tangible observation and definitive experimentation. I see very little of that, compared with the massive speculation that goes into quantum mechanics… no less natural science!

    Was anyone around to witness the universe being born? No one. Yet, science tells us just as dogmatically as any preacher that it happened as a result of a inter-dimensional, super-hot singularity. (Big Bang)

    So… what DO we believe?

    I believe what makes sense, and best explains the society we have today. Science claims to tell what and who we are. So does religion… with one added feature… WHY. Why we are the way we are.

    The scales, for me, finally tipped from balance.

  6. I dunno, Dad, I think you have enough optimism for everyone… light-years beyond anything I could muster for humanity, that’s for sure!

    Okay, so I’m busted, you got me. I’ve got more optimism in my little left toe than you two Herbie Shlep-rocks have in your entire bodies! LOL! 8^))

    The concept of the 2,000 year time frame is that the Tau Zero Foundation and Perenginus Interstellar are using the multi-generational approach, citing examples the construction of the great Medieval Cathedrals that literally did take generations of craftspeople to construct. Also they cite businesses that have been in existence for hundreds of years, so projects of this sort isn’t beyond the scope of possibility.

    Will it happen? Kind of doubtful, given the condition of Western Culture at this point in time, as much as I hate to agree with you gloomy gus’.

    But that doesn’t mean it’ll never be undertaken. I think it will eventually, just not by us or 2025.

  7. The Highwayman | Reply

    Ha-ha! Gloomy Gus, is it? Hey… I know how the story’s going to end! Can science give you that same assurance? 😉

    My hope (and I do have hope!) just lies along a different pathway. Sure, and I’ve already admitted that faith has a lot to do with everything in this, but when you allow yourself the leeway to consider the alternatives open to the believer, it makes a lot of sense.

    True, I don’t trust men or their devices (plans) any further than I can throw them. Neither do you, I’ll wager! We’ve been around too long to buy the elitist’s snake oil.

    No, I look at things from a philosophical stance, and Philosophy is a recognized discipline. You have had a rather tainted version of Christ’s religion presented to you, as have most others. Granted, I probably fell into the truth mostly by ‘fate’ and not through any special ability of my own, but what I know to be truth is vastly different from the conventional understanding of Christianity. The religion of the “fundies” doesn’t even come close to that of true Christianity.

    Anyway, your topic is about space travel, and I agree that man isn’t going anywhere with that for various reasons. We just don’t have anywhere near the technological savvy needed to traverse interstellar space… assuming, of course, that the scientists indeed know what they’re talking about in terms of distances and properties. The politics keep getting in the way, too, and as long as there are opportunistic elitists around, their self-serving interests will always come before the concerns of humanity.

    Mankind has the seed of rebellion in him, and even if religion turned out to be fantasy, given our track record, we’re doomed to follow a course of self-annihilation. Sooner or later, some egghead in a white coat and pencil case will devise a weapon that will do us all in. A gloomy scenario to be sure, but arrived at logically, as any species that supposedly having survived the primordial hell, should, one would think, have evolved much farther than it has.

    Exploring space isn’t like exploring the ocean. This is a vastly different realm. Even dead wood can traverse the world’s oceans, and any idiot in a canoe can travel on water. It takes a vastly different creature to take on space, and we don’t have the nearness or familiarity of space that we have with Earth’s lakes and rivers and oceans. We’ve all of us experienced water for ourselves, but only have the word of scientists (many employed by elitists) as to what space is, and what it consists of.

    Ask yourself if you are a man of faith or science, Marine, and see if you can differentiate between the two!

  8. Hi dad2059…

    I guess my main gripe about all these highly expensive programs whether private or government sponsored is they continue to waste resources; ie., $$ on highly speculative endeavors rather than focusing on getting our spaceship “EARTH” in order…first!

    We “need” massive solar farm arrays, wind farms, tidal generation, coal gasification plants etc. to solve our impending energy related demise.

    It’s a proven fact that algae can produce copious amounts of fuel oil far more effectively than creating ethanol from corn etc.

    Even Branson is eagerly working on his silly-assed space flight for consumers’ schemes; so his company can satisfy the ever-hungry jaded palates of those that wish to demonstrate their wealth in a conspicuous way.

    Damn, damn, damn to the 100th power I say…enough is enough!

    Ok, lets say science has a breakthough in propulsion and comes up with superluminal method of traversing to other planets and the stars.

    Based on how earthmen currently demonstrate their chronic “planet of the chimps” behavior; our most important export will be internecene violence; ie., space wars along with pollution to these far off worlds as we do on earth. Earthmen are nothing but a bunch of highway ridin’ lowlifes pitchin’ candy wrappers and beer cans out the windows of their exploratory pulltoys.

    Right now there’s thousands of both active and dead satellites orbiting the earth not including space junk that measures down in centimeters. The moon is littered with junk, so is Venus and Mars with our feeble attempts to explore “distant worlds”. /:|

    In most cases we know far more about these places than we do about what lies beneath our oceans or the regolith.

    Until earthmen make a committment to live in peace and to work collectively for the betterment of all mankind, we have no business going beyond the “beltway”…!

    Carl Nemo **==
    p.s. aka “Herbie Schlep-rock” /:|

  9. Okay, so you guys don’t trust human beings to do the right thing what-so-ever, I get it. Neither do I for the most part, speaking from personal experience.

    I know from the Christian point that you hold HW isn’t the “standard” Christianity per se, but like you said, it’s still belief and a personal point of view, it’s the “truth” as you see it, not the truth, even though Christianity as a whole has claimed it for two thousand years.

    Does science have the “truth”? It does show material and falsifiable evidence most of the time, but that has turned out to be dogma too over the years. The answer lies in the middle I say and we just haven’t discovered it yet.

    And Carl, people have chanted the mantra of “spending the money home at first” for over forty years. Well, NASA only spends 1/6th of 1% of the US budget, and you say that’s still too much?

    You’re sucked up into the propaganda that space travel is expensive and bad, try getting your money from the real culprit, the goddamn Pentagon! Their budget is 600 billion Federal Reserve Notes. Compare that to the 16 billion NASA gets, and still gets cut first! Sheesh!

    Take your righteous anger out on the right people, and ask youself whether the money NASA never got was better spent at home.

    And who got the money!

  10. The Highwayman | Reply

    Actually, Marine, you’ll notice that I never quibble about the $$$ involved, because as we both know, the $$$ are worthless. They’re just imaginary money that we claim has worth, backed ONLY by our own intrinsic worth. If the sheeple ever got that concept locked in their heads, the economy would change drastically.

    It’s never been about natural science, it’s been about the science of commerce. That, my flat-topped friend is the religion of this world! It’s the ruse that the elitists use to enslave us. Attaching a $$$ value to a human being is like trying to put a price on love, or an artifact of deep sentimental value – you just cannot do it!

    The Bible is more than just a collection of whimsical moral ditties, written to entertain self-centered individuals more concerned with – you guessed it – commerce – and eeking out a living in a commercialized world, it is a also an economic and scientific document provided to balance off the lop-sided society constructed by Satan. In it, it says that we have been “bought with a price” and not just the price paid for our redemption. We sold OURSELVES into slavery by accepting the banker’s fraudulent funny money as our system of currency, and accepting their taxes and leadership over God’s.

    We accepted THEIR pseudo-economy over God’s NATURAL one.

    What has this to do with space travel? The same book you scoff at speaks of other worlds and other races, and they are aware of us, but there is a problem… we just can’t be trusted around the corner with associating with them. One of the deceptions of the devil is to plant the idea in men’s minds that the universe is falling all over itself trying to contact us, when it’s actually the reverse. They want nothing to do with humans while they’re in their current state. They know all about us, and cannot help us when we won’t even help ourselves.

    We allow evil to flourish, because we, ourselves, ARE inherently evil. Self-centered, egocentric little blobs of flesh on the universal scene that pollute everything we touch. Traveling into space won’t change the man or his condition. Also, I believe we’ve been lied to about space and it’s properties. How do I know this? My spiritual sense and my common sense tells me that if they can lie about origins and natural science, they can lie about other things as well. Sound negative? I never want anything so bad that I don’t ask questions. It’s like buying a house or a car, you ask the hard questions, even though you want that item!

    Sorry. Science as touted doesn’t demonstrate anything that cannot be influenced or biased, and engages in speculation on many unobservable subjects. It requires the same amount of faith needed to accept the observations of men who lived thousands of years before us, and those observations have stood the test of time, whereas “science” is always changing their opinions. No matter how many translations you write, the Bible’s central theme has never changed, whereas origins have been redefined and rewritten many times, just in the last one hundred years!

    I believe with all my heart, Dad, you will get your chance, if faithful, to explore the cosmos, but it won’t be because of man’s prowess. My greatest argument against that happening is with you, yourself, and your discouragement with the system and the Matrix. You know how bleak the situation is, and how entrenched the Matrix is, and how stupid John/Jane Q. Public is.

    And really… REALLY… what the hell difference does it make HOW you get there, as long as you get there, hmmm?

    I haven’t given up on space, my friend… just the system.

  11. It requires the same amount of faith needed to accept the observations of men who lived thousands of years before us, and those observations have stood the test of time, whereas “science” is always changing their opinions. No matter how many translations you write, the Bible’s central theme has never changed, whereas origins have been redefined and rewritten many times, just in the last one hundred years!

    Oh believe me, I’m just as skeptical of mainstream science as I am of Abrahamic religions, I have you to thank for that!

    Once science starts to accept the possibilty that reality is more than just the five senses and religions start to accept the possibility reality has more natural causes that just aren’t discovered instead of the simplistic “Satan caused it” or “God’s will”, I’ll start believing in something again.

    Until then, all bets are off.

    Except for space travel. It has the potential to uplift us all.

    Or like most endeavors, get corrupted by elitist assholes and destroy us.

  12. Yeah, I know what you mean about “God’s will” being misinterpreted, it’s kind of an embarrassing point with us. Most times, it’s just our will looking for justification, and has nothing to do with God or the devil. Man is pretty good at dreaming up evil deeds on his own, too, probably out-doing Satan on many things. I believe a fair amount of introspect and self-evaluation doesn’t hurt, before palming off everything on God.

    Again, you’re agreeing with me that science and the Gospel have always gone hand-in-hand, but people keep trying to segregate them. As far as you not believing in anything, I think you’re passionate enough about the things that interest you… like honesty and integrity, space, et al.

    Life is all about change, and believe me, I’m not one that likes change! Sometimes, though, we’re forced to rethink our cherished beliefs. I’ve tried to find ways around my beliefs, and I’ve tried to see the humanist point of view, too. You’re right, sometimes there are points of intersection, but the main issues are very opposed to one another. God usually doesn’t trump the processes He, Himself, made, but that is His prerogative as Creator, and He has done it in the past. Overall, He allows mankind to pursue it’s their own course, which is the essence of fair play.

    Man was uplifted before God by Christ, Who stooped to our level to rescue us from a fate we deserved. He came of His own volition, not being asked, and He gave up His own position as the second member of the Godhead to pay the debt for a bunch of rebels that couldn’t have cared less about Him. Who among us would do that for our enemies? Yet, because of that act, there have been millions throughout history that have given their own lives for humanity, when such an act would be absurd from the evolutionary viewpoint.

    There is something about mankind that seeks after a higher state of being, totally contrary to the day-to-day concerns of merely surviving in the evolutionary paradigm. You say we want to return to the stars, our primeval home, well… where is the difference from looking heavenward for our Creator, and being with Him? No matter how you look at it, our salvation, as it were, lays outside the boundaries of this planet. The semantics don’t allow for chance happenings, but that there is a design to life, and a purpose. Otherwise, we would be content to remain here and hunt and gather.

    Seeing the premise and the ultimate goal is the same, I prefer to do away with the middle man, and cut to the chase of getting in touch with my Creator and being with Him.

    Whether by starship or on wings of glory, I care not!

  13. Hi dad2059…

    “Well, NASA only spends 1/6th of 1% of the US budget, and you say that’s still too much?”

    I think we’d find it quite startling as to how much is funneled into NASA and other agency “black budget” programs from the main 600 billion dollar defense budget. The money is siphoned from the main budget into USDA accounts then moved from the benign USDA to wherever into “poofsville”…!?

    “Take your righteous anger out on the right people, and ask youself whether the money NASA never got was better spent at home.

    And who got the money!” …?

    Btw, rest assured I’m not angry with you or your site content. You’ve read my ongoing commentary and sentiments on these issues for quite some time now. I suspect alot of the money has simply ended up in the offshore accounts of MIC CEO’s, third world dicatators who have to kick back a goodly portion to their patrons in Congress and a huge amount is simply wasted on R&D for new pulltoys for the MIC. Just watch “Future Weapons” on the Discovery Channel and its enough to make any sane person wanna puke when you see the endless stream of nonsensical “killtoys” that are being developed at the behest of the Pentagon and their eager Congressional supporters; ie., traitors as far as I’m concerned.

    I always enjoy your site material and it’s great that you get a good head of steam in my boiler on occasion. : )

    Btw, before the “Long Bet” crowd goes to the Centauri system they best figure how we’re simply going to get back to the moon and build some cities under domes etc. as we’ve all scene in sci-fi sketch artist renditions of such settlements … /: )

    Carl Nemo **==

  14. “as we’ve all scene”…should be “seen”… sorry for the typo 😀

    Nemo **==

  15. Boy, I guess we do get up a head of steam over space travel boys!

    HW my friend, I don’t know what happened to you where anything human is never to be believed at all, never, ever, well, I can say I’m not that bad, and I hope to never get to that point. While I definitely don’t believe authority what-so-ever, I do believe in my family and close friends. Even you. So no, all human beings aren’t born evil scum beyond redemption except through some sky being. Again, even you.

    And no Nemo, I know you weren’t talking about me, I was just saying that NASA isn’t taking all the money for the poor, or for a sustainable future. What little pittance NASA gets is pissed away by traitorous, incompetent administrators like Griffin, who says it doesn’t matter if China gets back to the Moon before we do. Helllooo? How about the ‘high ground’ and helium3 to be mined? ( Talking to Griffin here ).
    ( Still ranting at Griffin )
    Not only does H3 make good fuel for supermodern nuclear reactors to make fuel cells, how about for fusion warheads too asshole?

    The only thing I can think of why Griffin can be so non-chalant about the Chinese is that he knows the Pentagon has super weapons that can even counter what the Chinese, or the Russians can come up with in the future. Which could very well be reverse engineered UFO tech, like anti-gravity missiles that can change direction on a dime, cloaking devices that can hide orbital anti-satellite missile forts and manned space craft that can go anywhere in the Inner Solar System without constant refueling.

    Can I prove this? Naw, it’s all speculation on my part. But ask yourself this, why did Rummy the Mummy ask the Pentagon in 2001 how 2.7 trillion Federal Reserve Notes come up missing in their previous GAO audit? Then suddenly, nothing was further said and The Mummy never again asked.

    Apparently even the neo-communists didn’t have a high enough security clearence!

  16. The Highwayman | Reply

    “HW my friend, I don’t know what happened to you where anything human is never to be believed at all, never, ever, well, I can say I’m not that bad, and I hope to never get to that point.”

    Hey, you’re making me out as some kind of antisocial freak, here, Jarhead! I’m talking about the establishment, not ordinary folk. We all of us tinfoilers could be accused of being paranoid, you know, what with the popular conception of the term.

    As for the biblical perspective on humanity as being lost without a “sky-being” intervening, well, you put it rather crudely, but that’s the gist of the matter, yes. Sorry… I didn’t make the rules, but it’s no harder for me to believe that than I’m descended from flotsam in a primordial sea.

    Anyway, I suspect I’ve digressed too far, and this IS a secular blog. If Mirthy were here, she’d be telling me to take it elsewhere, so I’ll go with the biblical assertion that spiritual things are spiritually discerned, and stick with the posted subject as far as I can.

    I have no idea what weaponry the Matrix has, or is close to having, and I have no idea what their technological ability is. Like most foilers, I’m just forever speculating.

    Perhaps it’s time to just sit back and wait for a chance to say “I told you so.”

  17. The Highwayman | Reply

    Akisimet, the Nazi grabbed my last comment, Marine.

  18. Hey you old gear-grinder, without our little philosophical discussions we have at times, it would be boring around here! So don’t go sitting back. Besides, it’s not in you to kick back and not say anything for very long!

    But yeah, this is supposed to be a secular blog. I try to keep my blog persona and real-life one separate. Or make an attempt to anyway.

    My personal reality is totally different!

    If people think that’s dishonest, well hey, Superman had an alias too y’know!

  19. I released ya gear-grinder. I’ll beat Akismet later.

  20. See if you can tell which comment I made!

    Hmmm, lemme see…

    Not Stupid
    Just another little item I was better off not knowing about!

    Hey, you sanctimonious commenters… we’re descended from apes, right? He’s just doing what his genetic programming’s telling him to do!

    Shaddup, already!

    Am I close?

  21. The Highwayman | Reply

    It’s surprising I wasn’t deleted for that one! They’ve booted me for a lot less.

    You win the prize, Marine… two days furlough with Annie Coulter!


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  23. Hey…..i think we have to a look for manned mission only when we’v capability to travel wid velocity c/2 or even more and you hv discussed for missions upto 2000years that’s impossible for next few centuries or even more. <a href=”http://bruceleeeowe.wordpress.com” rel=”nofollow”< EXPLORE the new ideas of intersteller travells

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