IMG_1345 Is Interstellar Space Travel Possible?
Al Jackson, John Gibbons, Alan Porter and Paige Roberts / Ewing on the "Is Interstellar Space Travel Possible?" panel. John pointed out that there is a perception that the problem with interstellar travel is the speed of light, but in reality getting close to the speed of light is not even a question. A fusion bomb-powered spaceship would take an amount of fuel the size of a small planet to reach even a 10th of the speed of light. There's no way to do it on a planetary energy budget. The only way to do it is to colonize the solar system first, and to gain a solar system-sized energy budget.
A common science fiction scenario, generation ship, was also discussed on the panel. Paige doesn't think a generation ship would have much chance of arriving to the destination and colonizing a distant planet, because over many generations the people in the ship might evolve or progress to the point where they don't remember where or why they are going; or don't care. Or that they wouldn't overuse their resources. It's unlikely that they'll stay the same and faithful to their purpose. Alan Porter also thinks it's implausible.
So, sad to say, we did not brainstorm new and promising ways to get out to interstellar space.
Read more about ArmadilloCon in my blog posts, especially about the ever-popular What You Should Have Read panel, where our well-read panelists recommend the year's best science fiction, fantasy, and horror books.