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Posted November 15, 2012
Due to some comments I made about “Starship To New Earth NOW” based on its overview instead of the actual content, it was suggested that I could better understand it if I read it. So now I feel obliged to review it.
First I am sure the author, Phillip Duke Ph.D. is sincere in what he wrote. The book says “this is the only book ever published, claiming that star travel is achievable now in both theory and practice.” To be able to convince people that it is possible, it needs to show why the math of people saying it is impossible with current technology is wrong..
It is proven that nuclear reactions produce more than a million times more energy than the chemical reactions powering present day rockets, and so atomic power could easily supply the constant thrust energy necessary for acceleration to and deceleration from near light speed.
The million times factor is correct, however there is no math to indicate that is enough energy.
At only one g (the force of gravity) the Star Ship will closely approach light speed in one year.
Again the author didn’t give his math. However when the formulas of relativity are used the result is 3.61 years of one g acceleration are required to get to 0.999c. It appears the author used the Newton formulas which do give about a year. This is strange as the author mentions several times his premise is based on using relativity.
There should be no problem with the starship carrying enough uranium fuel and water propellant for a return trip. I cannot reliably calculate how much water would be required, because information regarding the steam pressure in an atomic submarine's boilers is classified.
I feel that is a cop out. While the information on atomic submarines is classified, there are other ways. The laws of physics aren’t classified, one way is to calculate based on a “perfect” reactor. If the results say it is possible, there is a chance, however if the math indicates that it is impossible with a perfect reactor, then it definitely would be impossible. Also the US government has actually built fission rocket motors, they were only static tested, i.e. mounted in test stands. This was project NERVA, because it isn’t classified, all the information about how much thrust it produced and how much propellant it used is available. Then there is unclassified information from NASA where they did the math and state for an unmanned flight at 0.005c. “If you use a nuclear fission rocket (Isp~ 5,000s) you need about a billion super-tankers of propellant.”
Also the idea that no one else is considering interstellar travel, there is project Icarus. Note the current design for Icarus is to use fusion, because fission reactions don’t release enough energy.
So my conclusion is that while the author is sincere in his beliefs, the math doesn’t back him up. That is current technology isn’t capable of sending probes to other stars much less people. If the author feels that I have overlooked something that makes my conclusion wrong, I would suggest that he publish a revision with the math to show that I and others are wrong.
As for should anyone else read the book? If you want to make your own decision about the content then yes, if you think it is an interesting idea then maybe, if you expect a book that will actually tell you what is required to build an interstellar spacecraft then no.
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