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2017-03-25

An Interstellar Laser Cutter For Long-Distance Massless Transit

I’ve been wanting to write up various ideas I’ve come up with. Depending on motivation levels, this might become a series.

This idea is, I would say, the optimal approach for long-distance space travel, given our current understanding of physics. It lets you travel at the speed of light, plus some constant overhead.

The basic idea is that you use an extremely powerful laser to burn and cut a distant planet, moon or asteroid, thereby (somehow) bootstrapping artificial life. The main downside is that it’s a “post-singularity technology,” which is to say it’s not useful without being able to create general artificial intelligence or biological life from scratch.

The laser would have to be in space, to avoid atmospheric distortion, and a target would need to be chosen without an atmosphere and with some sort of suitable surface material. It would probably emit something much higher energy than visible light.

Advantages:

Limitations:

I’ve posted cynical things about space exploration[#] before. I think that as long as our ideas and technology are rapidly improving, the fastest approach is to wait. That said, a giant space laser will still require conventional rockets, so I’m not opposed to multiple approaches being tried in parallel.