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The 100 million year project

Launch a time capsule and catch it 'round the bend
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This carefully prepared time capsule would be launched tangentially across the galaxy, intended to reach earth in a hundred million years on the other side.

Obviously careful planning and great expense would be required to let it maintain course for that long, and that's kind of the point.
Voice, Feb 20 2013

Chord of a circle http://www.mathopenref.com/chord.html
As mentioned in an annotation [Vernon, Feb 20 2013]

[link]






       When you say 'tangentially', do you mean 'tangentially'? And if so, in which direction (ie, in the same direction that we are travelling, or directly opposite to that)?   

       If you are launching it tangentially forward (ie, in the same direction as we are going), then it will have to travel with the same velocity as we are, which means it'll be right next to us for the next 100 million years, and therefore not much of a surprise.   

       If you are launching it tangentially backward (ie, opposite to the direction we are going), then it'll have to be given an equal and opposite velocity to us. Sadly, that means we will encounter it on the opposite side of the galaxy with a closing speed of about 972,000 miles per hour. We're gonna need a bigger catcher's mitten.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013
  

       I believe Voice means to launch it directly, straight across the galaxy on the same plane as our solar system's orbit around the galaxy. That presents a few problems, but mostly that it would take quite a bit of thrust.
DIYMatt, Feb 20 2013
  

       There seems to be a large mass in the way of that route.
RayfordSteele, Feb 20 2013
  

       Given current technology, in both propulsion and the science of knowing where things are that we cannot see in any way, I suspect that 100 million years, even 100 million tries over 100 million years might still fail to result in a singe successful return using this technique. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that even if we mined the earth into as many pieces as we could and fired them out at a rate of one hundred million a year for as many years as we could sustain that, that not even one piece would end up passing through the galaxy again by the "across to the far side and back, path". That even if you scattershot the entire galaxy in the form of small high speed pellets not a one of them would return to pass through the galactic orbit.
WcW, Feb 20 2013
  

       //I believe Voice means to launch it directly, straight across the galaxy//
Ah, so he means "tangentially" in the sense of "in the direction as different from being tangential as it is possible to get". Silly me.
  

       //even if we mined the earth into as many pieces as we could and fired them out at a rate of one hundred million a year for as many years as we could sustain that, that not even one piece would end up passing through the galaxy again//
Well, perhaps we could start with Wales and see how it works out.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013
  

       You are all quibbling over details related to the just the trajectory.   

       More feasible would be to send it on a path that did a close fly-by near the 2 or 3 nearest stars such that it eventually returned home after 100 million years. This also resolves problems related to fast interstellar travel, like impossible propulsion issues and erosion caused by relativistic interstellar micrometeorites and gasses.   

       Of course, then the technology in it might be used to humanities detriment by the damned dirty apes.
Kansan101, Feb 20 2013
  

       //What the hell is with all the Welsh bashing ?// Your honour, I may I call my first witness, [8th of 7] to the stand.   

       //a close fly-by near the 2 or 3 nearest stars such that it eventually returned home after 100 million years//   

       Wouldn't it just be simpler to hide it behind the sofa for the 100 million years? Or, if it contained cash, pop it in a building society?
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013
  

       //What the hell is with all the Welsh bashing ?//   

       Well, it's not like they're going to be bothered by it, seeing as they haven't got the Internet there yet.
ytk, Feb 20 2013
  

       //they haven't got the Internet there yet.//   

       That's a little harsh. A printout of the internet is sent by mail train to Wales twice a week.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013
  

       Well, what good is /that/ going to do them? Or is it accompanied by someone to read it out loud?
ytk, Feb 20 2013
  

       I do believe the appropriate descriptive word is "chord", not "tangent".   

       You could consider sending the capsule across the galactic disk slightly differently than exactly through it. There is always "over the disk" or "under the disk". And in terms of parabolic trajectories, what with there being quite a significant attracting mass in the middle of the disk, it seems to me to be quite theoretically feasible.   

       In practice, of course, you still have to deal with the fact that the Sun is going around the galactic center at a speed/direction combination that you don't want to include in the capsule's proposed parabolic passage. Quite a bit of energy will be needed to get that capsule on the correct course.   

       And at the end of the trip, the same amount of energy will be needed to make the capsule match course and velocity with the solar system....
Vernon, Feb 20 2013
  

       "Wouldn't it just be simpler to hide it behind the sofa for the 100 million years? Or, if it contained cash, pop it in a building society? — MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 20 2013"   

       Simpler minded, maybe.
Kansan101, Feb 21 2013
  

       As an outsider to the UK's current dynamic of internal geopolitical disdain, my opinion may not be valid, but I would stand behind a campaign to eliminate Welsh-bashing by promoting strong dislike of the French, or failing that then at least having a good sneer at residents of the Inner Hebrides.
Alterother, Feb 21 2013
  

       I'm trying to think of an analogy.... no earthly scale is appropriate. Imagine however that we consider just the fate of our most elegant and rapid projectile, the photon of light. No other projectile has better chances, none is cheaper or faster, none can be launched in greater numbers, and yet even so, given a beam of them lased into space we could not expect to hit the mark, the distance and interference in such a journey is impossible to overcome. The echos of our radiation never return to us from the other side even though by the merits of the properties of space they should.
WcW, Feb 21 2013
  

       // The echos of our radiation never return to us from the other side even though by the merits of the properties of space they should. //   

       You've got it on backwards: 'by the merits of the properties of space', which I assume means 'according to the laws of physics', the reflection of our own radiation obviously _shouldn't_ return to us, because it doesn't.
Alterother, Feb 21 2013
  

       If we sent the probe on the best trajectory we could calculate, then in 90 million years we could start transmitting a homing signal from earth and the probe could guide itself in. If you could make the probe go fast enough it would only need to have a power source that lasted about 12 years, not 100 million, due to relativistic effects. Again, the thrust required for this would be considerable (like an antimatter drive firing continuously for decades).
DIYMatt, Feb 21 2013
  

       If it was going that fast, it would be beyond escape velocity and not come back.   

       Well, maybe... if you set it up to do a very tight slingshot around the black hole at the center of the galaxy. But it's going to be downright un-neighborly if your device pashes into somebody's home planet along the way.   

       But - more to the idea - what would we want to communicate to someone that far in the future? Or, to look at it the other way - say our progenitors of, say, a million years ago had found a way to send us a message, would we be impressed? Interested? Amused?
lurch, Feb 21 2013
  

       "by geometry, yes, but by all other sciences, no."
WcW, Feb 21 2013
  

       In the incredibly bad movie _Starship_Troopers_, the bad aliens were sending asteroids clear across the galaxy and hitting targets. And somehow having the asteroids drift in very slowly.   

       That wasn't the worst thing about the movie. Sadly.
baconbrain, Feb 21 2013
  

       The worst thing about the movie was handing one of Heinlein's most interesting and original novels to the director of 'Showgirls'.
Alterother, Feb 21 2013
  

       There could have been way more toplessness for one thing.
rcarty, Feb 22 2013
  

       //If it was going that fast, it would be beyond escape velocity and not come back.// The idea isn't for it to loop around, the idea is for it to meet Earth on the other side of the galaxy when our solar system finally makes its way over there. The speed of the probe would need to average about 1/4 of the speed of our solar system in order to meet it there.
DIYMatt, Feb 22 2013
  

       There actually WAS a little toplessness in that movie, probably not included in the original book. Probably the best thing about the whole movie, aside from the mercy of Heinlein dying before the movie was made.
normzone, Feb 22 2013
  

       The 'toplessness' in the book came in the form of an advanced and (in some ways) more enlightened human soceity free from hidebound prudery and openness to sexuality. In the film this was interpreted as a free ticket to a gratuitous communal shower scene.
Alterother, Feb 22 2013
  

       Considering that the average species lasts about 4 million years, and that we've been around for around 40,000-100,000 years (of which we've only been able to send and receive radio signals for about 100 years) I would think it highly unlikely anyone would be around in 100,000 years to read our ancient Digital Age messages, let alone 100M years from now.
UnaBubba, Feb 23 2013
  

       My sofa just got launched tangentially to Earth's orbit at exactly Earth's speed. I guess that's why it just sits there in my living room. I blame Newton.
sqeaketh the wheel, Feb 23 2013
  

       Actually, if it were launched tangentially to Earth's orbit, it would not be staying put. However, you would re-encounter it 24hrs later.
MaxwellBuchanan, Feb 23 2013
  

       This might be a bit difficult, how about just launching a time capsule that travels alongside Haley's comet (or some other comet) then splits off and lands at some pre-determined spot when it returns?   

       Anyway, brilliant concept. [+]
doctorremulac3, Mar 22 2019
  
      
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